Tuesday, May 31, 2005

AggieCatholic

Texas A&M ... You might be an Aggie Catholic.

If "Whoop!" is included with your responsorials...
If your pastor begins a homily: "Now here are five ways you can avoid..."
If you whip out during the sign of peace...
If the opening ritual of the Mass begins "Howdy..."
If you have ever sung Pange Lingua to the tune of the War Hymn...
If you think Muster, E-Walk, or a t.u game should be feastdays...
If seeing a gun rack on your priest's truck causes you to think of squirrel soup...
If you love philosophy due to the library's collection of Aquinas...
If you have ever asked your priest to bless your boots- and he accepted...
If while singing the Angus Dei, you remember hunting season opens next week...
If you've wished for Fr. Kurt to consecrate the wheat tortilla's at Freebirds!...
If you think Maroon is a liturgical color...
If Old Sarge or Miss Reville are included in the Litany of the Saints...
If someone says "Lumen Gentium/Catechism/Humane Viate" and you don't think it's a disease...

If you walk into daily mass- and think for a minute it's Sunday...You might be an Aggie Catholic!

Monday, May 30, 2005

In Memoriam

+JMJ+

In an incredible act of Providence, Memorial Day this year rests on the feast day of St. Joan of Arc, one of several patron saints of soldiers. The others, incidentally, are St. George (of dragon fame), St. Michael the Archangel, St. Hadrian, and St. Ignatius de Loyola, S.J. (whoop!).

On this day to remember veterans and the sacrifices that they have made for our country, I have been thinking hard about what to write here today. I knew that I had to write something, but I didn't know what it should be. Then there came a point when I realized that my words were inadequate. I can speak of God, morality, metaphysics, and the like with only moderate difficulty at best, but now, I am silent. So I began to think of what I should put up in the veteran's honor.

I thought about putting up the text to a song that I love, called "The Patriotic Chourus". The reason for that was a part of the refrain that goes "And victorious in war shall be made glorious in peace." I thought about putting up a soldier's prayer, but couldn't find one that suited the occasion. Then it occured to me to draw from Scripture. The Psalms seemed the most natural thing to use. At first I thought about using Psalm 90, with its "A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand: but it shall not come nigh thee", but once more it didn't quite resonate. Finally, I settled for Pslam 45. I remember that in the movie "Zulu", it was described as a Psalm "written especially for the soldier", and looking over it, it becomes quite apparent why. Therefore, in honor of those who have fought, and most especially those who have died, I present to you the 45th Psalm.

Unto the end, for the sons of Core, for the hidden. Our God is our refuge and strength: a helper in troubles, which have found us exceedingly. Therefore we will not fear, when the earth shall be troubled; and the mountains shall be removed into the heart of the sea. Their waters roared and were troubled: the mountains were troubled with his strength. The stream of the river maketh the city of God joyful: the most High hath sanctified his own tabernacle.

God is in the midst thereof, it shall not be moved: God will help it in the morning early. Nations were troubled, and kingdoms were bowed down: he uttered his voice, the earth trembled. The Lord of armies is with us: the God of Jacob is our protector. Come and behold ye the works of the Lord: what wonders he hath done upon earth, Making wars to cease even to the end of the earth. He shall destroy the bow, and break the weapons: and the shield he shall burn in the fire.

Be still and see that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, and I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord of armies is with us: the God of Jacob is our protector.

+Ad Majorem Dei Gloram+


"The single best augury is to fight for one's country."
-Homer, The Illiad

Correction: At the begginning of this post, I erroneously mentioned that today was the feast of St. Joan of Arc. As I tend to do sometimes, I accidentally got my dates mixed up. Today is the day that, in 1431, Joan was burned at the stake. May 8th is her feast day.

"Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends." -John 15:13

Sunday, May 29, 2005

"Devoutly I Adore Thee"

+JMJ+

In keeping with the day, here is another Eucharistic work by St. Thomas, called Adoro te Devote. The translation is the best one, one by the English poet Fr. Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J. (go Jesuits!). Of all the stanzas, the second one is my favorite. The line that it ends with may be one of the finest in all of Latin poetry. When I read the fourth, I have to wonder if Thomas was playing around, even just a little, when he wrote "I am not like Thomas". One of life's great mysteries, I suppose. Given the impersonal style of his writings, its unlikely that it is, although given that it is poetry and not purely scholarly, there is perhaps a slight chance.

Godhead here in hiding, whom I do adore,
Masked by these bare shadows, shape and nothing more,
See, Lord, at thy service low lies here a heart
Lost, all lost in wonder at the God thou art.

Seeing, touching, tasting are in thee deceived:
How says trusty hearing? that shall be believed;
What God's Son has told me, take for truth I do;
Truth himself speaks truly or there's nothing true.

On the cross thy godhead made no sign to men,
Here thy very manhood steals from human ken:
Both are my confession, both are my belief,
And I pray the prayer of the dying thief.

I am not like Thomas, wounds I cannot see,
But can plainly call thee Lord and God as he;
Let me to a deeper faith daily nearer move,
Daily make me harder hope and dearer love.

O thou our reminder of Christ crucified,
Living Bread, the life of us for whom he died,
Lend this life to me then: feed and feast my mind,
There be thou the sweetness man was meant to find.

Bring the tender tale true of the Pelican;
Bathe me, Jesu Lord, in what thy bosom ran---
Blood whereof a single drop has power to win
All the world forgiveness of its world of sin.

Jesu, whom I look at shrouded here below,
I beseech thee send me what I thirst for so,
Some day to gaze on thee face to face in light
And be blest for ever with thy glory's sight.

+Ad Majorem Dei Gloram+
"The opinion of those who say with regard to the truth of faith that it is a matter of complete indifference what one thinks about creation, provided one has a true interpretation of God[...] is notoriously false. For an error about creation is reflected in a false opinion about God."
-St. Thomas Aquinas

Catholics, I'll tell you how to fix your church

I ran across this editorial earlier, and thought ya'll might enjoy it too!


Catholics, stay with me and I'll tell you how to grow your church

FRIENDS of the papist persuasion, I'm delighted to present the latest installment of this newspaper's Continuing Lecture Series, "How to Save the Church of Rome." With a heritage of 20 centuries and more than a billion adherents worldwide, Roman Catholicism, it's plain to see, is hanging by a thread. We, your fellow Christians, are happy to ride to the rescue.

Now, please, take this criticism in the spirit in which it is given--flabbergasted disbelief that any human organization larger than the Bowling Green Moose Lodge could be so backward in its beliefs and practices. And kindly don't be so gauche as to point out that when Mainline Protestants give survival instructions to Roman Catholics, it's a lot like Yoda giving dunking tips to Yao Ming.

It would be a downright breach of ecumenical concord to quote the 2003 Barna Research survey that reported, "Mainline Protestant denominations have experienced the most significant slide, dropping from about one out of five adults a decade ago to one out of eight today [13 percent]," while the Roman Catholic population has held fairly steady, accounting for 25 percent of U.S. followers of Jesus.


Go, Go read the rest of the article!

Corpus Christi

+JMJ+
While Thursday was the normal day of the Feast of Corpus Christi, the powers that be decided that in certain places, it would be celebrated on Sunday instead. From what I understand, this is because in most places, people do not have that day off, so they move it in order to allow people the opportunity to celebrate properly.

The origins of the feast are really quite nice (particularly for Thomists). In 1264, following a Eucharistic miracle (a miracle where the consecrated Species take on the accidental properties of flesh and blood) Pope Urban IV asked St. Thomas Aquinas to compose the offices for the feast day, including arraingment of the liturgical readings and hymns, as well as the psalms and prayers for the Liturgy of the Hours. To quote Kurt Vonnegut, "And so it goes..." Now we have a feast to honor the greatest sacrament in the Church, a feast which has a special significance in this Year of the Eucharist. So, for your spiriual and intellectual pleasure, I present to you a meditation on the Eucharist by St. Thomas entitled "O Precious and Wonderful Banquet!" from his Opusculum.

Since it was the will of God's only-begotten Son that men should share in his divinity, he assumed our nature in order that by becoming men he might make men gods. Moreover, when he took our flesh he didicated the whole of its substance to our salvation. He offered his body to God the Father on the altar of the cross as a sacrifice for our reconciliation. He shed his blood for our ransom and purification, so that we might be redeemed from our wretched state of bondage and cleasnsed from all sin. But to ensure that the memory of so great a gift would abide with us for ever, he left his body as food and his blood as drink for the faithful to consume in the form of bread and wine.

O precious and wonderful banguet, that brings us salvation and contains all sweetness! Could anything be of more intrinsic value? Under the old law it was the flesh of calves and goats that was offered, but here Christ himself, the true God, is set before us as our food. What could be more wonderul than this? No other sacrament has greater healing power; through it sins are purged away, virtues are increased, and the soul is enriched with an abundance of every spiritual gift. It is offered in the Church for the living and the dead, so that what was instituted for the salvation of all may be for the benefit of all. Yet, in the end, no one can fully express the sweetness of this sacrament, in which spiritual delight is tasted at its very source, and in which we renew the memory of that surpassing love for us which Christ revealed in his passion.

It was to impress the vastness of this love more firmly upon the hearts of the faithful that our Lord instituted this sacrament at the Last Supper. As he was on the point of leaving the world to go to the Father, after celebrating the Passover with his disciples, he left it as a perpetual memorial of his Passion. It was the fulfillment of ancient figures and the greates of all his miracles, while for those who were to experience teh sorrow of his departure, it was destined to be a unique and abiding consolation.


+Ad Majorem Dei Gloram+
"To wisdom belongs the intellectual apprehension of things eternal; to knowledge, the rational apprehension of things temporal."
-St. Augustine

Saturday, May 28, 2005

"Demon" Alchohol?

+JMJ+


A little morality post, just to stretch the ol' muscles a bit.

The drinking of alchohol seems to get varied treatment, depending on which religion you adhere to. The Mormons consider it absolutely forbidden. Most Baptist churches at least discourage, if not forbid, its imbibing, as do Pentecostals and other Calvinist sects. Most other Protestant sects are neutral to lukewarm about it. The Catholic Church not only has no problem with it, but produces (and has invented) multiple forms of it

Absolutely considered (ie, considered alone, all other factors notwithstanding) there is simply nothing wrong with drinking alchohol. We see people using it in the Bible all the time. Probably the most common justification used is Jesus' turning the water into wine at Cana in John 2. That being said, there are circumstances where consuming alchohol would be immoral. 1) If it causes another to sin, either by creating a confusion about the moral law or creating a temptation to drink excessively; 2) if it leads to drunkeness; and 3) if it is against the law of the land

When scandal occurs, it means that through an action, a person causes a confusion in another person about the moral law which may cause them to sin later on or goes against their morality to such an extent that belief becomes difficult for them. When the latter happens, it usually means that a person says "well if this is how Christians behave, then I don't see how I can be a Christian." Mentioned several times in the New Testament, the two best examples as it on this would be when Christ says in Matthew 18:6 "He that shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea." (A footnote to the Douay-Rheims translation reads: "Shall scandalize"... That is, shall put a stumbling block in their way, and cause them to fall into sin.) and when St. Paul writes in his letter to the Romans "It is good not to eat flesh, and not to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother is offended, or scandalized, or made weak." (14:21) A note on moral offense: if you can excersize some self-restraint and not complain, then by all means do. If the sight of another person drinking does offend you greatly for one reason or another, by all means let them know, but do it kindly, not out of moral superiority. For those who recieve such a request, please be considerate and honor this as best you can

That leads pretty well into the second part of it, when by drinking you create an unnecessary temptation for another to sin by observing you drinking. Let's say, for example, that me and my pal Slim want to get together for dinner. I would like to drink wine with my meal. Slim is a recovering alcoholic, and I know this. When he sees me drink my wine, he really, really, really wants some. He's tempted something awful at the moment. If the temptation becomes so great that he gives in and drinks the wine (and later "crawls into the bottle", as the expression goes), that would most definitely be my fault. I should have been more considerate of Slim's needs as a person with a chemical dependancy and simply not had the wine.

To drink to excess is sinful because it goes against the virtue of temperance, and is condemned by St. Paul as he says "Let us walk honestly, as in the day: not in rioting and drunkenness" (Rm. 13:13) According to St. Thomas, when you drink excessively without knowing that you will become intoxicated, the sin is venial, but when you know that you are consuming more of a beverage than you ought and you know that the drink is intoxicating, then it is a mortal sin. The reasoning being that because a thing is evil because it deprives natural goods (the demonstration of which is a post unto itself), and reason being a great good whereby we discern the avoidance of sin and commitance of virtue, its deprivation from the human is a grave matter.

Now the law. If it is against the civil law for me to consume liquor, then it is also against the moral law for me to do so. This is commanded by Paul when he says to Titus "Admonish them to be subject to princes and powers" (3:1) and by Peter when he writes "Be ye subject therefore to every human creature for God's sake: whether it be to the king as excelling; Or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of the good." (1 Pt. 2:13-14) Because a government needs to work towards the common good of its charges, which means among other things maintaining peace, the Christian is bound to obey the government for this sake. When people act against the laws arbitrarily or immorally, they sow discord and unrest by undermining an agent necessary for the unity and peaceful co-existance of a society. Since causing discord and unrest are contrary to peace and the general welfare, such actions are to be avoided.

There's four objections that can be raised against this last principle:

The first problem that anyone would have with this is that this makes morality seem somewhat arbitrary. Let's say that Slim (no longer an alcoholic) is in Germany and I am here in Texas. We want to drink "together" by consuming some beer at the same time as one another. We are both 18, and both performing the same act. Yet it is magically sinful in Texas? Or is it that Texas is somehow obeying the natural law by forbiding drinking below 21, while Germany doesn't, meaning that we are both sinning by the act?

The answer is that we are in fact not performing the exact same actions. In addition to all the other actions that Slim is going through, I am also breaking the law. That's the hitch right there. The moral law doesn't require that those of a certain age abstain from drinking, but it does requires that just laws be obeyed. (In an interesting application, this would actually mean that when you break the speed limit, also a law, it is a venial sin. I'll bet $100 that that doesn't even begin occur to most people. I didn't realize it until that fact was pointed out to me back in March.)

The second problem is that laws about drinking may vary (at least in the U.S.) from state to state, or even town to town. A person should not be expected to be versed in every single law of an area just so that they don't break any laws. The time and effort that it would take to aquire such knowledge is too great to be imposed upon the average person.

While it is very cumbersome to memorize evey last detail of every law, finding out certain ones such as "what is the drinking age?" or "is shooting fireworks on the Fourth banned?", particularly if you think it may come up, is not too unreasonable. Asking a friend or making a phone call to the local police station about the matter shouldn't take more than a few minutes. If all else fails, you could always play it safe and not drink.

The third problem is that in certain circumstances, the prevailing culture either requires, encourages, or considers normal drinking at a certain age/position, such as proposing a toast, which would mandate wine or the like be imbibed (mostly you'll hear this one from college students, though.)

The response is threefold. First is that in this argument, what is called the naturalistic fallacy (that 'is' equals 'ought to be') is committed. Simply because an action is normally done, it by no means follows that it should be done. Heck, if the Old Testament is any indicator, if the majority of the people are doing it, the odds are better that an act shouldn't be performed. If it happens that you need to propose a toast, there is nothing in the rules of etiquette that prevent water from being used as a substitute for wine or champagne. If its informal enough that one of these two drinks isn't being used, then any liquid should suffice for making a toast. If all else fails and the incredibly unlikely scenario occurs that you (a legal minor) are asked to give a toast which must involve champagne, simply point out that it is illegal for you to do so under such conditions and politely decline.

The fourth problem is that this would mean that anyone who is under the drinking age sins when they drink the wine at communion.

Two solutions: 1) most, if not all, places have special laws exempting religious services from the drinking age. 2) Its not wine they're drinking, its blood. Don't take my word for it, just ask Jesus.

There is a fifth argument, but it is not particularly aimed at the principle itself, but more towards modification of the laws, though it can be used as an excuse to drink as a minor. The argument is the "military argument", and basically runs as follows: "at the age of 18, people can fight for their country, so they should be able to drink too."

The answer: if the government sees fit to change the drinking laws so that the draft age and the drinking age coincide, then that is its perogative. For whatever reason, it has decided to maintain the ages as they are. Perhaps the risks of military service are more obvious than those of immoderate drinking, and so greater caution and judgement is used on the whole. At any rate, brining about change of this law by breaking it is not a valid option. St. Paul points out in Romans 3:8 that it is wrong to use immoral methods to justify a moral end, and warns of the fate of those who do. The issue of what laws passed by government (if any) do warrant disobediance, not unlike what was seen in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s is a topic all its own. And so I sow the seeds of future posts, both here and in other places. Let's see what I can reap.

+Ad Majorem Dei Gloram+


"The wine urges me on, the bewitching wine, which sets even a wise man to singing and to laughing gently and rouses him up to dance and brings forth words which were better unspoken."
-Homer, The Odyssey

In Case You Were Wondering...

+JMJ+

Right, so a little while back, fj pondered which 20th century pope I would be. Well, here's the answer...
Bl. John XXIII
You are Pope Bl. John XXIII. Everybody loves you.


Which Twentieth Century Pope Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

+Ad Majorem Dei Gloram+
"Three things are necessary for the salvation of man: to know what he ought to believe; to know what he ought to desire; and to know what he ought to do."
-St. Thomas Aquinas Two Precepts of Charity

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Humanism

+JMJ+

From an article yesterday by the Houston Chronicle:

Born and brought up in the Jewish religion, [Dr. Ray Daily, an opthamologist who served for 24 years on the HISD board of directors] was not very religious, said her son, Louis Daily, jr. She embraced humanism, which has been called many things but perhaps is best described as a philosophy for those who think for themselves.

I do believe that I would have to take issue with this definition of "humanism". There are many brands of humanism, from Christian humanism to secular humanism, embraced by philosophers such as John Dewey (which would be part of the reason why religion and mythology are both in the same section in the Dewey decimal system). Given the context, secular humanism seems to be what is being referred to in this paragraph.

Generally, when humanism is left unmodified, the assupmtion may be made that the reference is to secular humanism, which is why the definition for secular humanism is usually included in any dictionary heading of "humanism", typically the last of three or four definitions.

The most basic definition of humanism, that which every variant of it has in common, is a particular emphasis for the individual value of the individual and any adherant to the system will have humanitarian concerns, with a belief in the inherent goodness and overall optimistic outlook on human nature. Given this, it is not hard to see how one could be a Christian humanist, or a humanist who professes religious belief in general.

Oftentimes, those who profess to be humanists will place greater interest in one's welfare in this life over the next, to a greater and greater degree until you arrive at secular humanism, which not only denies the importance of considering the afterlife during this life, but outright rejects any belief in the afterlife and dismisses all religion as mythology.

In addition to this, there would be two other reasons why "a philosophy for those who think for themselves" would be a poor definition:

1) There are people who, by the free use of their own intellect, possessing no inhibitions or other mental defects, who come to philosophical systems other than humanism, such as Platonism, Aristotelianism, Kantianism, Thomsim/neo-Thomism, etc. They have thought the issues out for themselves, and have come to something other than humanism. Therefore, since the property of thinking for oneself is not by necessity restricted to humanism, and since definitions of philosophies ought to distinguish them from other systems, which this does not do, it is a poor definition.

2) There are people who are humanists primarily for other than intellectual reasons, such as parental upbringing or cultural prevalence. Since there are those who are of this philosophy that did not "think for themselves" in a strict sense of the term but who meet the basic requirements of humanism (the definition above), and a definition of a philosophy should be able to apply to who hold to the philosophy, it is a poor definition.

Not to mention the rather insulting implication that those who adhere to a religious system are somehow incapable of thinking for themselves. I myself was born and raised Catholic. Nevertheless, there was a time where, while remaining in the Church, I critically examined the Catholic worldview and did find it to be the most logical one, a period which began around the 6th grade and came to an end last year upon gaining an in-depth knowledge of the system of St. Thomas. Not to mention those such as G.K. Chesterton who came into the Church after a similar examination conducted from the outside.

That's all on philosophy from me for the moment. The next time I post on philosophy, I'll have the re-write of the ethics paper.

+Ad Majorem Dei Gloram+

"There are those who hate Christianity and call their hatred an all-embracing love for all religions."
-G.K. Chesterton, in an article written for the Illustrated London News, January 13, 1906.

Just the Two of Us

+JMJ+

Seeker of the Way has been good enough to mention us in a post on his blog:

This blog is kept by a Jesuit novice. Now before anyone pulls out the torches and pitchforks, let me assure you that this guy seems quite orthodox, and let me remind you that the same order that nowadays gives us guys like VerEeck (the liturgical dance dude, I'm still not sure how you spell his name) has also given us guys like Fr. Mitch Pacwa. My only criticism of the blog is that the "Roma Locuta Est" phrase moves down with you as you scroll down. But other than that, it's a great site!

Ladies and gentlemen, that would be the first time I've been referred to as a "Jesuit novice". Incoming novice, new novice, upcoming novice, all these I have been called, but never yet a "Jesuit novice". Well, I think its time to bust out the carbonated white grape juice! (Also, the semi-comparison to Fr. Pacwa and begging for the faithful not to burn me at the stake was rather touching)

Two things of note, however:

1) I am not the only person who runs this blog, nor would it be remotely possible for me to do so. Even if I had the ability to post every day (which I may have at the moment but won't very soon), I would not be able to set up such a sophisitcated site as I am, alas, utterly incompetent in the ways of computers. Even typing this is a strain on my skills, though I do hope to get better. Credit, therefore, must also go in a very large way to featherjinxer (aka "fj"). You can tell which posts are hers and which are mine by looking at the beginning and end of each post. If it doesn't start with "+JMJ+" and end with "+Ad Majorem Dei Gloram+", plus a delightful and either amusing or meaningful quotation, its hers. I'll put up a bio post soon enough to help make the distinction.

2) Fj fixed the phrase thing.

+Ad Majorem Dei Gloram+

"A life that cannot be swayed by any adversity from its fixed and upright resolve is better than
one that is easily weakened and overthrown by transitory misfortunes."
-St. Augustine, On Free Choice of the Will

What Have Tony the Tiger and the Grinch in common?

christmas

Thurl Ravenscroft; he was the voice of Tony the Tiger as well as the man who sang "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch." His voice can also be heard in Lady and the Tramp, Cinderella, and many other Disney movies. He died Sunday, at age 91.

"I'm the only man in the world that has made a career with one word: Grrrrreeeat!"



Monday, May 23, 2005

New word!

I learned a new word!

"Circuminsession" -it is the reciprocal existence in each other of the three persons of the Trinity.

In Greek, it is "perichoresis" -dancing together. The Trinity dances together for all of eternity!

This was a word made up by theologians since the human language is so limiting- if we say "the Son is generated by the Father," then it sounds as if the Father came before the son, or if we say that "The Spirit proceedes from the Father and the Son," it seems as if Father and Son came before the Spirit. As a result of the problems language like this can cause, a bunch of guys who enjoyed theology got together and came up with the word circumincession.

I foudn the Latin in Sheed's "Theology and Sanity." Great book- expalins to the layperson a Thomist view of theology. This book will be GREAT for my catechumens who want to delve into theology! This is a GREAT book for those interested in Aquinas, but not ready to dive into the Summa!

A New Disturbance in the Force....

+JMJ+


I have now seen the new "Star Wars" movie. Twice. (and I am actually willing to see it again.) Once on Thursday and once on Friday. The time on Friday was nice because it was in the afternoon, so the theatre was relatively empty with the exception of myself and those I was with, allowing me free reign to pepper the viewing with my [ego] fantastic wit [/ego]. I'll get the griping out of the way before lauding it.

My major problems with the movie:

1) I still have no explanation as to why R2-D2 can no longer fly.

2) So wait, you're telling me that Obi-Wan Kenobi was there for the delivery of both Luke and Leia, but he forgot that Leia was Luke's sister in Episode V? (He clearly knew who Leia was, as she sent him that famous "Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope!" message that we all know and love.) There's senile, and then there's senile.

3) Jar-Jar Binks lived and Mace Windu died.

4) The Lamaze droid at the end going "Ooobaaah, oooobaaaah." No special words or mantras to help ease the pain, please, just pump her with the drugs. Having spent a summer in a maternity ward (where I was present for a few deliveries) I have a certain amount of knowledge on this. Ladies, if I am wrong, and you really would prefer "ooobaah" to an epidural, I deeply apologize.

5) Jar-Jar Binks lived and Padme Amidala died.

6) The "romantic" dialogue. Shakespeare Lucas ain't, and Romeo and Juliet this wasn't. The biggest reason this was a problem for me is that Skywalker's betrayal of the Jedi and turning to the Dark Side is supposed to be driven by his forbidden love for her. An example would be:

Anakin: You're so beautiful
Padme: It's only because I'm so in love.
Anakin: No, its because I'm so in love with you.
Padme: So your love blinds you then?
Anakin: That's not what I meant.
Padme: No, probably not.

So begins the destruction of the Jedi order. And my intelligence.

7) While Mace Windu indeed did not "go out like some punk" as per Mr. Jackson's request, every other Jedi did. SPOILER:The lightsaber fight put up by the three Jedi with Windu as he tried to arrest Palpatine was pitiful at best, and with the exception of perhaps Master Voss, all of the others were dealt with in a way that is pretty pathetic if you consider that they are supposed to be in tune with the Force so that they can avoid getting shot in the back by a stormtrooper. I can only assume that they got their Jedi skills from the same place that teaches the Imperial forces how to shoot people.

8) The point at which Obi-Wan declares that "only the Sith deal in absolutes", [fantasy] at which point the irony police come in and arrest him for denouncing absolute statements using an absolute statement. [/fantasy]

9) Jar-Jar Binks lived and Count Dooku died.

10) That had to have been the most ridiculous opening crawl of all six movies.

I did like it though. It wasn't as good as the second one, but it was better than Episodes I and VI. For one thing, John Williams did not rest on his laurels quite so heavily as he did on the second one, although I thought the love theme from it was wonderful. Particularly enjoyable was the music for the final lightsaber duel between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader.

There was also some pretty good acting. Ewan McGregor and Ian McDiarmid both did wonderful jobs. If what McGregor did wasn't Oscar caliber, then it was pretty close to it. I really loved the scene at the end where he laments Vader's crossing over to the Dark Side. Natalie Portman, sadly, got short changed, since the only lines she got to say, for the most part, were Lucas' dreadful imaginings of what romantic dialouge is. She did do the best she could with what she had, however, and was rewarded with one of the best lines in the whole movie: "So this is how liberty dies. With thunderous applause." Any faults in her character development I blame on the script, and not the actor. Hayden Christensen, however, has no such excuse. Let us all be thankful that by the end of it all he was covered from head to toe with Vaderwear, and no longer had any lines of his own (James Earl Jones came back for the voice of Vader.)

When the emperor said to Anakin "Good is a point of view, Anakin. And the Jedi point of view is not the only valid one." the first thing that came to my mind was Benedict's line about the "dictatorship of relativism." That's probably about as literal an example of that as you are going to get this side of Paradise. Also the follow up line to that:

Obi-Wan: Anakin, Chancellor Palpatine is evil.
Vader: Well from my point of view, the Jedi are evil.
Obi-Wan: Then you're lost!

Overall, a pretty entertaining flick. About two and a half hours in length, you may want to make a run to the bathroom either before the movie starts, or whenever a scene occurs where Anakin is getting all googley-eyed with Padme.

For further information, here is the review from Decentfilms.com. Its PG-13, and a little dark, so you may want to be careful about how young the child is who sees this film. Particularly disturbing for many could include the assasination of the Jedi, and Darth Vader's (implied) slaying of the younglings and padawans at the Jedi temple.

+Ad Majorem Dei Gloram+
Anakin: You hesitate... the flaw of compassion.
Obi-Wan: It's not compassion. It's reverence for all life, including yours.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Which Pope are You?

Which Pope are you?

I'm Pius XII!!!
Pius XII
You are Pope Pius XII. You're efficient and
dedicated, but not very approachable.


Which Twentieth Century Pope Are You?


Who better than the Pope who made sure the Sistine Chapel was "closed for rennovations," as were the musems and whatnot when Hitler was to visit, and that he had to be out of town when Hitler was in!

Wonder who David is?

The Fallacy of Middle Ground

It seems that many, Catholic and non alike, have sought refuge in an imaginary middle ground between unbelief and wholehearted and complete submission to Christ and His truth. Perhaps you share with me the weariness of hearing of so many things wrongheaded, compromised or simply taken lightly. Are there any out there who believe with all their might that everything the Catholic Church teaches on faith and moral is true, absolutely, without equivocation? And, more, are there souls who have a firm and abiding intention to observe all of moral law, in their thinking, opinions, actions and even secret desires? Does anyone, in other words, aspire to sanctity anymore, or are there left only those who more or less feebly try to avoid only the more gross transgressions of God’s commandments? What I keep hearing and seeing is compromise and platitude among the so-called faithful and outright rebellion and flagrant disobedience from many others. Once in a while I would like to hear something Catholic that is pure, untainted and unflinchingly loyal to the whole truth. Am I perhaps becoming an old crank, a disillusioned malcontent who finds fault with everything? Possibly. What I want, just once in a while, please, is to rejoice unhesitatingly over something and not have to be content to with a half-measured enthusiasm.

Source

Thursday, May 19, 2005

"Thank Heaven for Little Girls"

+JMJ+

For the uncultured among you, the title is a reference to the song that Maurice Chevalier sang in Gigi (the Broadway version as well as the movie, from what I am reliably told).

Yesterday, two young girls had set up what looked at first glance to be a lemonade stand. After he came back from his daily run, my dad suggested that I go out and buy two cups, seeing as how I had two quarters in my pocket anyways. I went, although instead of finding lemonade as I expected, I found childrens books there. They were so excited to have a customer that I decided to buy two books instead of the lemonade. The two girls were very nice and polite, and the older of the two (at the age of what looked to be five) was even kind enough to tell me which of the books there was her favorite, presumably to aid my selection. I picked out two books, one on the Pledge of Allegiance and Read to Your Bunny by Rosemary Wells, paid and thanked them, and then went on my merry way.

I suppose if there is a lesson to be gained from this, it is that when a couple of kids set up a selling stand, and they are clearly putting in a good effort as these two were to sell it and show courtesy to the customers and whatnot, I'd make it a rule of thumb to buy something from them. General advice. Of course, if they are rude, lazy, put forth no effort, etc., I leave it to your discretion, but on the whole, I think it makes a good rule.

One thing is certain, though. If the kid is selling books and tells you which one is their favorite, under no circumstances are you to buy it. Donate a quarter and complement them, or take the book and give it back as a gift, but never buy it. They'll be thankful for that later on.

+Ad Majorem Dei Gloram+
"Power corrupts. Absolute power is kind of neat."
-John Lehman (Secretary of the Navy from 1981-7)

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

"The Lord of Armies is With Us"

+JMJ+

A little Psalm 45 reference for you all on this delightful May afternoon. I believe I mentioned earlier that I wrote a paper for my Military Ethics (PHIL 315) final exam. I have taken the liberty of providing the outline I made for it prior to the test. Since we were allowed to bring in notes on a certain amount of paper, the outline is more or less the paper itself. Sadly, the actual paper written is not here, since my prof. won't be giving it back to us. Perhaps later I will re-write the essay, but for now, the notes.

Backround: In June of 1944, the U.S. Government considered bombing the concentration camps in Germany, Auschwitz and Birkenau in particular. We were given several documents and memos, and asked to analyze the morality of the situation. My response:

====================================================================
1) (first assertion) One key aspect of the rules on engagement known as jus in bello is the discrimination of targets. That is, a requirement to distinguish when fighting between soldiers and non-combatants. The formerare valid military targets, the latter are not.

2) (follow up) It seems highly doubtful that such discretion is being sought, since they are discussing the "feasability of a througouh destruction" of the camps.

3) (opposing argument, quote from memo) "Presumably, a large number of Jews in these camps my be killed in the course of such bombings...[but] such Jews are doomed to death anyhow."

4) (response) Simply because an aggressor intends to commit an atrocity does not give you the right to commit the same atrocity. In a war where at least part of your motive is to prevent the spread of an evil ideology, you give the enemy moral victory by commiting his crimes for him.

5) Furthermore, attacking "as a matter of principle", to provide "evidence of the indignation aroused" of what the Nazis are doing by doing so in turn is self-defeating.

6) (counter-argument) However, the Nazis are murdering the Jews deliberately and systematically out of no motivation but hatred and eugenics. The Allied forces, on the other hand, do not actively desire to see the Jews killed, but do so as a regrettable side-effect of the bombing raid. Were there no prisoners in the camps, Allied fores would still have a desire to destoy them. The principle of double effect, therefore, permits this unfortunate but uncontrollable occurance.

7) (reply to this counter-argument) In his section on double effect, Mr. [Michael] Walzer, [in his book Just and Unjust Wars] examines a unit in the Korean War who fired randomly into the brush in the hopes of killing the enemy forces there. They did not actively desire to kill civillians, but this desire alone would not have justified the soldiers in the event of civillian casualties.

8) (quote from the section) "The intention of the actor is good, that is, he aims narrowly at the acceptable effect; the evil effect is not one of his ends, nor is it a means to his ends, and, aware of the evil involved, he seeks to minimize it, accepting costs to himself.

9) An active attempt to minimize civillian casualties must be undertaken, something more substantial than "we don't want to do it, but its the cost of doing buisness." Such an attitude is degrading to human dignity on the whole, and would severely violate Kant's principle treating the human being as an "end-in-itself". Given how they are speaking of "thourough destruction", it does not sound like they intend to leave even buildings such as infirmaries and prisoners barracks up. Such carelessness violates non-combatant immunity, since even though they don't actively violate the priniple, neither do they act to respect it.

10) Neo-Thomist Fr. John Ryan said [in his essay "Modern War and Basic Ethics"] that "when an entire city is destroyed [...] the military objections are destroyed indirectly and incidentally as part of a great civil centre, rather than vice-versa." The allies are not just targeting the military barracks, or the crematorium, or the gas chambers, but all of Auschwitz, which includes the Jews living there. Such an attack would then be outright murder.

11) (Introduction to second assertion) St. Thomas Aquinas, in his Summa Theologae, wrote that "If a man, in self-defense, uses more force than is necessary, it will be unlawful." (II-II:lxiv:7)

12) (second assertion) Because violence, even in war, is to be avoided, unecessary use is immoral. Any attacks in combat which are not tactically necessary are therefore immoral.

13) The language of the memo does not indicate that tactical considerations are the first prority. No strategic vitality is suggested, and the very notion that this has strategic value is not mentioned until the end, almost as an afterthought.

14) Even if the value was there, there is an obvious lack of intent. Because the primary intent is not attacking a vital area, but expressing moral outrage, an argument from tactical considerations would be dubious at best, and deceitful at worst.

15) (additional argument in favor of bombing, quoted from memo) "Some saving of lives would therefore be a most likely result."

16) (reply to the argument) Such a utilitarian calculus can only be employed an an absolute necessity, which does not exist. For human rights to be disregarded optionally or voluntarily implies that they can be ignored at will, which seems to contradict the whole notion of what a "right" is.

17) Mr. Walzer argues: "Whenever that conflict [between winning and fighting well] is absent, [utilitarian] calculation is stopped short by the rules of war and the rights they are designed to protect."

18) Even if the calculus could be used, it is idiotic to think that the Jews saved would live for long. Some would die from the elements, others from wounds gotten during the raid, others re-captured, still others shot on sight by the S.S. troops who survive the raid. One thing is certain: no tattooed, branded Jew is going to survive long in the middle of Nazi-occupied Poland.

19) Given that it would be unjustly harming the detainees in the camp, that no serious tactical value lies in attacking the camp, and that even if utilitarian calculi could be considered, little good would come, such a raid is immoral and tantamount to a war crime.

=================================================================


I toned down the rhetoric a bit, expanded on point two (no. 12), rather than just letting St. Thomas argue for me, and explained in greater detail why a utilitarian view could be taken in absolute necessity, and what that means (pretty much just when you are going to kill someone no matter what you do), but pretty much that's the paper. Looking back, I think it does deserve to be re-written. And so I'm off...

+Ad Majorem Dei Gloram+

"One reason why I don't drink is that I want to know when I'm having a good time."
-Nancy Astor

Oh sure, you call them "Supreme" now...

+JMJ+

On an interesting historical note, today is the anniversary of the Supreme Court's Plessy v. Ferguson decision, where the beloved and wise men (no female justices back then) who sat on the highest court in the land decided that 1) "separate but equal" was completely constitutional, and 2) in the Old South, black people would actually be treated equally. (sometimes, you really have to wonder...no,no you don't. I take that back. Wondering means that you don't quite know the answer, although the logic used on that one does give me pause.)

I would suggest that on this day you all add in your intentions a prayer for equal rights and social justice, including the poor, marginalized, and of course, those who are not yet born.

+Ad Majorem Dei Gloram+

"I would remind you that you are addressing a superior officer!"
"No, merely a higher ranking one."
-Down Periscope

Your Rosary and You (aka "There's Something About Mary...")

+JMJ+

Doubtless there have been too many Catholics to count who have used that title or a clever play on it in the seven years that have passed since the movie first came out, but its a good one nonetheless. My esteemed colleague, fj, shall continue with news rants. I, in the mean time, would like to do something a little more relaxed. As C.S. Lewis pointed out at the beginning of his quite good work Reflections on the Psalms, "A man can't be always defending the truth; there must be a time to feed on it."

I like the Rosary. A lot. A whole lot . Most definitely a big fan, advocate, and practitioner of the "Rosary a day" concept. In his apostolic letter "Rosarium Virginis Mariae", John Paul II, (perhaps soon enough "the Great") said that "with the Rosary, the Christian people sits at the school of Mary and is led to contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ and to experience the depths of his love." Amen to that, Holy Father.

In each of the mysteries, we see a new aspect of the Gospels, and can approach this aspect in a number of different ways. For example, in my latest round of mysteries, I have been focusing on the role of love and charity in them. In the round before that, I contemplated the parallels between my priestly vocation, before that humility, before that graces, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

The focus of the Joyful mysteries is almost entirely on Mary (or so my experience has shown me). The Annunciation, the Visitation, the Nativity, the Nativity, the Presentation, the Finding in the Temple, we are definitely looking at the firstfruits of Christ's ministry from a Marian P.O.V. Definitely a "must pray" for anyone who is considering a major lifestyle change or facing a major decision.

In the Sorrowful mysteries, the focus is obviously on the Passion, but I always see an additional emphasis, that of Christ's humanity. Particularly striking for me is the Agony in the Garden. Even when not saying the Rosary, it is good to think back on that section whenever there are troubles in one's prayer life. Vividly real for me is Jesus, nervous and a bit anxious about what is to come, praying fervently, stumbling over his prayers to his Father. What we do in our moments of despair and fear tell quite a bit about us, and our priorities. When you cling to God so fully and so faithfully, He will become the person you instinctively turn to. Great to contemplate during times of trouble, or in memory of those departed. Not to mention the Easter triduum.

The glorious mysteries really put the "triumph" into "Chruch triumphant". If the Sorrowful mysteries help us to see the human aspect of Christ, the Glorious mysteries help us to see the Divine aspect of His Church. The relation between the Sorrowful and the Glorious mysteries is unique among the four sets. The Glorious mysteries are very much the "follow through" to the Sorrowful. One thought, actually, would be to pray the Sorrowful in the morning, and then the Glorious in the afternoon or evening. The Sorrowful mysteries remind us that in times of trouble, we should turn always to God before all else, and the Glorious mysteries remind us why. Here is seen the reward of the faithful, not the least of which is the crowning of the B.V.M. as Queen of Heaven, and the love of Christ for His Church in the sending of the Holy Spirit. Best said after reading anything by (Episcopal) Bishop John Shelby Spong, Sr. Joan Chittester, et al.

In the Luminous mysteries, the sacerdotal Christ comes out the most. This morning was actually the first time I got to "test drive" the Luminous mysteries, and I must say, its "good bull", as they say in Aggieland. Between the institution of two sacraments (Baptism and Eucharist), the start of His public ministry at Cana (with a crackerjack dialouge between Jesus and Mary that amuses me every time I read it), the kick-off to the Sermon on the Mount, and the firm establishment of Christ as a prophet (during the transfiguration, for you neophytes), all the major highlights (no pun intended) of His public ministry are covered here. I'd recommend it for Sundays in general, or if you are about to do any sort of public speaking on behalf of the Church (even a simple talk for catechumens at RCIA).

Another good way to pray the Rosary, if you aren't feeling too "mysterious" at the moment would be to say a decade, and between each decade, read a pre-selected section of Holy Scripture, it can be Old Testament or New, as long or as short as you want. After reading it initially, go back and meditate on what you have read. Really give the Scriptures a chance to speak to you. This is God's inspired message to the faithful for their guidance. If you want to hear what the Lord has to say to you, this would perhaps be one of the easiest ways to go about it.

WARNING: WHEN LETTING GOD SPEAK TO YOU THROUGH SCRIPTURE, IT IS USUALLY HELPFUL TO ACTUALLY LET HIM DO THE SPEAKING AND MAKE SURE YOU JUST AREN'T PUTTING WORDS IN HIS MOUTH.

Of all the wonderful ways that God and His Church provide for us to give ourselves to Him in prayer, the Rosary is certainly the most famous, even coming into practice in Protestant circles, and with good reason. The repetitive nature of the decades set up an ideal state of mind for contemplation and meditation on God, the mysteries, Scripture, or just about anything your little heart desires. So kick back, enjoy your Rosary, and spend a little time with mom and Pop.

+Ad Majorem Dei Gloram+
"One does not read in the Gospel that the Lord said: ‘I will send you the Paraclete who will teach you about the course of the sun and moon.’ For he willed to make them Christians, not mathematicians."
-St. Augustine

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Farmers WHOOP!

sheepFirst, a collective "Awwwwwww!" Now, I am a rancher. My grandpa is a farmer- he grows corn and soybeans up in MN, on the Iowa boarder. Me, though, I love sheep and cattle. I don't mind a hog or two ever couple years, or keeping a few chickens around, but for income, it is sheep and cattle (well, I had to sell everything off to afford tuition, but once I am out of school, I will start up again). I absolutley love 'em. Give me a good suffolk/hamp cross flock, a few chi's or charlet's- angus if I must, and a schedule that runs something like 5am to 5pm doing nothing but solid physical work, and I am the happiest person in the whole entire world. I simply love working the land, feeding my animals, fixing fences, meding tack, doing stuff in the barn, working the flock, mowing hay, shearing, all of that back-breaking labor, I love.
This is why it saddens me so that the family farm is becoming a thing of the past. You can barely keep a small (let's say less than 50 head) ranch afloat today. The government wants low food costs, and we have them- lowest in the world, -but it is absolutely killing the farmer, and subsidies just don't help out that much. The "animal industry" really has turned into an industry. Chickens, pigs, and dairy- they are all vertically integrated. Sheep and cattle are lucky- it is going to be very hard to vertically integrate them because of their requirements. There is not a quick turnover- 6 weeks before chickens are ready for breeding or slaughter, 2 days to 2 weeks to wean piglets, and dairy cattle needs explain what happened to those industires. It isn't yet feasable to keep hundreds of cattle in a dirt pen on feed for anything other than slaughter. We still rely on pasture grazing for our cows and wean/year-lings.
Sigh. I don't really have much to say but that I hope I am able to get a good job once I'm out of school. Ranching, if I'm good at it- which I will be ;), can pay for itself and a little, but you aren't going to be surviving on that income alone by any means. St. Isidore, pray for us!
Here, pictures of some of my old show animals just for ya'll:


Image hosted by Photobucket.com


These guys are absolute BABIES, they are about 300lbs at slaughter, 800 if you let them get full grown!

Image hosted by Photobucket.com Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Show sheep- the first two are medium wools (meat sheep, suffolk hamp X's), the second is a Southdown.

VOT(un)F Again!

Poor VOTF- let's let them know that there are actually Catholics who *gasp* agree with Church teaching, and that Catholic organizations should actually represent such teachings!

Angry Twins lead me to this: See Seeker's post HERE!

Don't know what I'm talking about? Here was the first incident!

"Only in cases of Rape, Incest, or Life Endangerment"

Yeah right.

We have said over and over again that's unacceptable, and it only leads to abortion-on-demand, or contraceptive abortion, yet the lib's don't seem to believe it.
Well, here is more proof, although I doubt pro-choice people will think any more about this than they do anything else.

A dramatic rise in repeat abortions has reinforced fears that women are
increasingly having terminations for lifestyle reasons. One in three abortions
is now carried out on women who have had at least one before. Women between 20
and 24 have taken over from teenagers as the largest age group to have
terminations, while only one in 100 abortions is carried out solely because of a
medical risk to the baby
[but the abortion isn't a medical
risk, is it. Whatever happened to doctors simply treating things that are
broken?]
Campaigners warned that the emotional and physical risks of
abortion were being "swept under the carpet".
[No
way!]

Here, on a similar vein.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

I continue

I am still playing with the template and layout and whatnot. I know, I totally switched everything around now! Keep with me. The text isn't great atm, but it is readable. I will be fixing it up this week to facilitate reading a bit more, and actually match the blog and so on. Suggestions, and browser problems, are appreciated. All I've had time to check was IE. Feel free to leave comments!

Again, I AM AWARE the font colors are quite funny, weird, and don't look right.
-I am also aware of the comma. That is SUPPOSED to show author name auto. but it isn't working yet...

Thanks!

Oh No!

Watch out for those... Angry Twins!

I love them, I love their blog, they are going on "the list!"

Friday, May 13, 2005

New Inquisitor Named

LevadaThis was announced on Friday- the 13th- Our Lady of Fatima, anyone?

It's Archbishop Levada, of San Francisco, CA. I've seen quite a few interesting reactions on this, especially considering the problems in the diocese he helped to run. This appointmentmakes me think that (WARNING: Rambling):

I trust our Pope- and I think this may be a very good thing. Doctrinally, Levada seems to be orthodox, and B16 worked with him on both the Catechism (Levada was the ONLY American) and in the CDF for many years.

Levada is used to working with dissedents. He was assigned to San Fransico because of his orthodoxy. Working in a liberal diocese in a liberal area of the United States, I can see how Levada may be orthodox, and will now has a chance to really stretch his theological muscles. This move might also be seen as B16 sending a clear message that he knows what is happening in the US, and someone in a high position from our own backyard will be watching and correcting the Church in America. I have faith in my Pope-he knows what he is doing!

On the other hand, for those of you who think Levada is a bit to heterodox- what a better place for him to be than under B16's nose? And either way, this appointment leaves a hole in the Archdiocese, and a chance for B16 to appoint someone totally new, and give some fresh air to the area.

In addition, the Latino population is a HUGE part of our Church- and the Pope appoints a Latino as the new head of the CDF.

Here is a good speech by him I ran across, for anyone interested- Whoever is not with me is against me.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Mortals=Fools (Puck was right)

+JMJ+

Sometimes I think that doing this is beneficial to my health. No, really. If I didn't spout off my opinions and gripes on here, I'd either keep it all inside, which would give me an apoplexy sooner or later, or I'd go and gripe to people, usually the persons involved if available, at which point they would maim/kill me. So let's all give a big round of applause to the internet and these fine people here at blogger.com for keeping me alive.

Every morning, I get my news fix. I read Zenit with my coffee before lauds, and the Houston Chronicle over breakfast shortly after. This morning, I read an absolutely remarkable story here about more activity in the Texas State Legislature, that prestigious body of lawmakers who, when things aren't going their way, runs off and pouts in another state so that nothing can be done. (Anyone remember the summer of '03?)

At the moment, they are considering a law that would require stricter parental consent for minors getting abortions. Now, I seem to recall a time not so long ago when I couldn't go for a checkup without my parents standing right behind me. This is how things were until the day I turned 18. So, if I don't have the ability to get my height measured and things looked over in general, why on Earth are young girls allowed to obtain a surgical procedure without parental permission?

Now, back when the U.S. Supreme Court was hearing the case to strike down juvenile executions, there were several arguments presented, including that the minor does not have sufficient maturity to be held to the same level of accountability as adults, and so should not be treated like adults. As many of you know, I am big on the concept of the "million dollar question". For me, that is the question regarding an argument which, in the deft handling of one solitary sentence, essentially reduces the argument or point made to either a pile of idiocy or uselessness. For this case, the million dollar question was asked by Justice Antonin Scalia, when he asked something along the lines of "so wait, you're telling me that they don't know enough to be treated like an adult when they are killing someone, but they do when they are requesting to have an abortion?" This was, in fact, almost exactly what they were trying to tell him. He ended up voting against the ruling, but he deserves some credit for that question. Quite a bit of credit, really.

Then there was the part where the Women's Health and Family Planning Alliance (WHFPA) lamented that as a result of various laws, abortions performed had reduced to a mere 300. Now, call me crazy, but when a law makes the number of abortions go down, isn't that generally regarded as a good thing? Even Sen. Clinton uses the "safe, legal, rare" rhetoric when she speaks of abortions. Well, I suppose its still safe, its definitely still legal, and its also becoming rarer. I'm not seeing the problem.

But, of course, what would an abortion debate be without hearing from the National Abortion and Reproduction Rights Action League (NARAL)?

"They're obsessed with restricting and obstructing as opposed to preventing," said Kae McLaughlin, executive director [of NARAL].

Well, actually, if you think about that statement for more than, let's say, five seconds, the flaw in the logic will become perfectly clear. When you make it difficult to do an action, that is a method of prevention. If I make it illegal for Jane McKay to get an abortion (that was a completely made up name, by the way), then that at least makes it less likely, if not impossible, for Jane to get her abortion. Hence I have prevented Jane as much as I can. Now, of course humans have free will, and short of putting her in a jail cell until the kid comes out, I can never absolutely prevent the abortion. But I do remember learning in my Poly Sci class that in areas that have more stringent abortion laws, fewer abortions on the whole (ie, both legal and illegal) occur, so in passing such a law, they would almost certainly be preventing abortions from occuring.

Ms. McLaughlin, as I recall, was the same woman who, back when the Democratic party was tossing around (in a very hypothetical manner, I presume) the possibility of dropping abortion from the platform, said that that wasn't necessary, but that they should re-phrase their stance in "religious language". I must admit, I'd be very interested in seeing what that entails.

Just so long as we can all agree that simply putting "Thou shalt..." before a statement does not constitute "religious language".

+Ad Majorem Dei Gloram+
“The 'assured results of modern scholarship', as to the way in which an old book was written, are 'assured', we may conclude, only because those who knew the facts are dead and can't blow the gaff... The Biblical critics, whatever reconstructions they devise, can never be crudely proved wrong. St. Mark is dead. When they meet St. Peter there will be more pressing matters to discuss.”
-C.S. Lewis, Christian Reflections

King Takes Bishop

+JMJ+

I really do wish that were solely a chess reference. Boy do I. But no, evidently the Chineese have one of the Catholic bishops, and the Church would kinda like him back. According to Zenit:

Four years ago a bishop of the Chinese underground Church disappeared, and the government denies knowing anything about his fate.

Wanting information, the Chinese underground Church -- which recognizes the Pope's authority, but is not officially approved by the Beijing authorities -- made another public request to the government for confirmation of the detention of Bishop Shi Enxiang from Yixian, in the province of Hebei, explained AsiaNews.

I'm not even going to go into jokes about AsiaNews, gov't control, etc. Trust me, though, they're plentiful.

The authorities were after Bishop Shi Enxiang since 1995. He eventually disappeared, at 81, from his niece's home in Beijing on the morning of April 13, 2001.

I think that if the secret police is wasting time kidnapping bishops who are older than my grandparents, they need to seriously re-evaluate their priorities.

The family went to the police for information on his whereabouts, but were met with the latter's refusal. Beijing's police also denied knowing anything.

Well, at least they're honest about that much.

source

It's going to be a loooong day. Perhaps I'll share with the class what I wrote up for my Military Ethics final later on.

+Ad Majorem Dei Gloram+

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

"The Talk"

+JMJ+

I am going to become a priest. This is no secret, particularly for those who know me, and especially among those who don't. (pardon my dry humor) The vow of chastity which calls me to celibacy is something I have no problem with (not that I never struggle to follow it, but I support the concept wholeheartedly) and even am a staunch supporter of it. I see it as a unique way of freeing yourself for the sake of ministry, heeding the advice of St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 7 to remain as he was (a "confirmed bachelor") and a noting of Christ's statement in Matthew 19 giving blessings to all who desired to make themselves unmarriable. For obvious reasons then, I will never have children, and will most certainly not be giving them the sex talk that fathers so love to give.

Here, then, is the sex talk that as a priest I might not otherwise give. Let's face it, when was the last time your pastor stood up for the homily and said something that had even the slightest thing to do with sex? If it was just last Sunday, ask how often he talks of things like this. If it is fairly frequently, find out how in sync he is with Rome's teachings. If you are still saying "my pastor's doing fine by this standard" I would like to buy your pastor dinner. If you are Catholic and think that I am being sexist by constantly referring to the pastor with male pronouns, you may want to confirm that you are in fact attending a Catholic parish.

There were two inspirations really for this. The big one, the one that really got me going this morning was a thing developed over the course of a UChicago scavenger hunt (evidently a very popular thing), a take on www.thefacebook.com, whose name I don't particularly care to type. Its title features a word that is, well, just not a good "out-loud" word. That and I don't want to give "hits" to that wretched site. It shows an overall lack of respect for human sexuality that I think is so desperately needed, particularly in Amercian society. This is one of those times when I think both Dems and Reps have it wrong. The Left wants to do too much, in teaching children how to put on condoms and beginning sex education at the tender age of 5 (Don't believe me? Here's proof). By "sex education", I don't just mean giving them the "birds and the bees" facts of life. I'm talking "this is how to use a condom" "touching can be fun" etc. That's a bit much for a five year old. The Right, on the other hand, just wants an "abstinence only" sort of thing which involves me saying "its in your own best interest to not have sex yet". Right. Like people aged 14-19 are really concerned about their own best interest when it comes to sex. As far as most guys are concerned, their own best interest is having sex.

Respect for the dignity of the individual has many aspects to it, not unlike any individual.[fanatical Jesuit mode]Part of it comes with social justice, when we recognize that a person who is poor is usually there not by their own doings, but because someone who is rich wants to stay that way. Part of it comes with implementing the "culture of life", when we come to cherish the mere fact that a person lives as an incredible gift from God, and that the dignity inherent in human life is something bigger than any single person, so that none of us should be able to end it at will. Part of it comes with seeing the beauty of our sexual aspect, of how this truly makes us in the image of God, because it gives us something that no inanimate object has: the ability to create. Even other animate objects have not nearly so much will or control over it as we do. Mating season comes, and they mate. We will an act of creation, deliberately, and out of love. Such a gift is not to be taken lightly, and yet it is made fun of all too often. [/fanatical Jesuit mode]

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying it can only be done upon a sacred altar with an angelic choir singing Gregorian chant. There can be a lighter side to everything. Lord knows I enjoy the lighter side of it. But there comes a point when it is too much. The total irreverence exhibited by many crosses a major line. If you look in the news, Texas just passed a law saying that high school (and below) cheerleaders could no longer do suggestive moves in their routines. The million dollar question that some have started to ask: why did this take a legislative act? Why weren't the parents so disgusted by their daughters "grinding" and the like that they put a stop to it themselves? And even bigger: why, after condoning all of this suggestive action, are they shocked/surprised when they engage in what they frequently suggest off the field?

Of course, this can also be taken to the other extreme, where the human is completely defined by sexuality, a point of view expressed by Bishop John Shelby Spong when he said that the Catholic Church "de-sexed" Mary by making her a perpetual virgin. Sexuality is a part of our identity, and a key part, but having or not having sex is not what makes it. Proper use is what exalts this aspect of us, and Scripture is good enough to guide us in what is "proper use". If we use it improperly, it cheapens it, it says "this gift does not have sufficient value to be above doing (insert action here) with it". And just for good measure, since no book on Earth that I have ever read comes with the ability to correctly and without error interpret itself (although the footnotes to the NAB were a good try, but the jury is still out on the "without error" part) we have the magesterium there to help us correctly discern the meanings (cf Jn 17:17, Mt. 10:40, Lk. 10:16, Jn. 14:17, et al).

And with that, I think I shall dismount the soapbox for the moment.

+Ad Majorem Dei Gloram+
"I'm shocked, SHOCKED to find that gambling is going on in here!"
-Louis to Rick, Casablanca

Pope's Unruly Flock

.

I'm not dead yet!

+JMJ+

For those of you wondering, no I am not dead. I was not ill. I was busy and burnt out, sometimes both. Between final exams and vigourous defenses of the Church and Benedict (one literally lasting all night long) I have been busy.

In happy news, I have indeed been accepted to join the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits, for the uninitiated) as a novice next August 14th. Fortuneatly, this did not ruin our acceptance into St. Blog's parish, particularly with the orthodoxy examination. I love my order, and wouldn't join any but they, but I'm the first to admit that there's more than a small number of progressives among them. Gone are the days when the Jesuits were feared and known for their ultra-loyalty to the pope. Now that mantle seems to have passed on to Opus Dei, although we've still got our fourth vow of special obedience to the pope (we just break it a lot, you see). (begin fantasy) No, no, a mere three vows is not enough for your average Jesuit. The masses say "no more, no more! We're avowed enough as it is!" Not Jesuits. With a steely look reminiscent of Kevin Bacon in Animal House, we cry out "Thank you sir, may I please have another!" (end fantasy)

One thing's for sure: nobody seems to take good ol' St. Ignatius seriously anymore when he says things like "We should always be disposed to believe that that which appears white is really black, if the hierarchy of the Church so decides" . (That's a real St. Ignatius quote, btw)

But at any rate, I am now on my way to being a Jesuit, and if I play my cards right, I might actually be ordained in time to retire.

+Ad Majorem Dei Gloram+
P.S. For those of you wondering, yes I do plan on doing two more posts on Capital Punishment. However, they are involved enough that I have decided to wait until after finals are over and I have a bit more time on my hands to write them out and give them the quality treatment they so well deserve.
" 'My country, right or wrong' is a thing that no patriot would thing of saying except in a desperate case. It is like saying 'My mother, drunk or sober.' "
-G.K. Chesterton

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Flash Election

I grabbed this from the Curt Jester- it's about the Election of Benedict!

Sad Sunflowers

FlowerThey are sick :(. There has been a disease going around attacking all the sunflowers. I wonder if it is related to corn smut, and if they can perhaps find a gene to integrate, or turn one off/on to help the plant resist this disease. Funny how these things seem to come up after a semester studying GM productions, patenting, and plants.

"The effort to convince Congress that the money is critical comes at a time when the nation's sunflower crop is expected to rebound from a disastrous 2004 growing season. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is projecting 2.75 million acres of all types of sunflowers, a 47 percent increase from last year and the biggest crop in five years.The scientist, Jinguo Hu, is developing DNA markers for various sunflower genes. Crop breeders can use those markers to determine if hybrid varieties have certain genes that make them resist diseases or insects. "If we have DNA markers, we don't have to do field testing," Vick said. "We can just analyze the DNA to see if the gene is there or not."

Saturday, May 07, 2005

A Gnashing of Teeth

...from certain heterodox sects, I think I can hear.

As we have expected no less (although I think some of the media may have been surpised), B16 has reaffirmed and upheld the constant Catholic teachings on abortion and euthanasia. I just appreciate news reported without trying to bash the Church once and awhile!

Pope Benedict XVI said Saturday he will resist attempts to "water down" Vatican teaching, indicating he will uphold Pope John Paul II's unwavering stands against abortion and euthanasia and will work to guarantee obedience to Church doctrine... The pope "must not proclaim his own ideas, but ever link himself and the Church to obedience to the word of God, when faced with all attempts of adaptation or of watering down, as with all opportunism," Benedict said... "Freedom to kill is not a true freedom but a tyranny that reduces the human being into slavery," the pontiff said to ringing applause from the congregation... "The pope isn't an absolute sovereign, whose thoughts and desires are law," Benedict said. "On the contrary, the ministry pope is the guarantor of the obedience toward Christ and his word.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Yay Arinze!

arinze
On April 25th, Cardinal Arinze, (ok, ok, David: My Lord Cardinal Arinze), was made Bishop of Velleteri-Segni! He's 72 years old, and has been ordained for 46 years, and was considered to be among the papabile in this last conclave. He's orthodox, and a true defender of Catholic doctrine. I love 'im! If you recall, Velleteri-Segni is Pope Benedict's old haunt.

PP Again

PP has decided to launch a campaign against the CC and our Holy Father for his "backward views." Wow, the Pope is Catholic! Can you believe it?

I especially love this part "Planed Parenthood has launched a campaign to motivate all of its members and supporters, nominal Catholics and non-Catholics, [gee, why no actual practicing Catholics-could there actually be something to Church teachings?] to send letters to the editor, requesting that Pope Benedict XVI reconsider his “backward views” [Eh, if baby-killing and promiscuity are a backward views, I think I'll keep 'em] and change his opinion on sexual morality....

The campaign manager justified this action, saying that the “the Church has tremendous influence over many governments, especially in Latin America, and plays a powerful role in shaping social and political norms around the world. [Right on, PP! At this time when religion is constantly reported as obsolete, useless, out-of-touch, and only for extremeists, you remind us how very alive Catholicism is, and how greatly it influences society.]

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

E-bay Boycott OVER!

We've Won!!!
Here is an excerpt from the letter:

"...we have concluded that sales of the Eucharist, and similar highly sacred items, are not appropriate on eBay. We have, therefore, broadened our policies and will remove those types of listings should they appear on the site in the future. "

Ok, now as soon as the add it to their banned item list officially on-the-website....!