Tuesday, October 18, 2016

On cue, somebody takes the bait

Wikileaks:  Here are some John Podesta emails.  Some of them involve plotting against the Catholic Church's teaching.

Some liberal American Catholics:  We.are.doubling.down.

source:  Google and Internet

That's right, in a hole and still digging.  Writing in Commonweal E. J. Dionne, Jr. asserts that it is actually those liberal American Catholics supposedly caught by the Wikileaks release fomenting change within the Church...those are the real good guys.  After all, they're the ones who really support Pope Francis.  Dionne:

Ironically, a “Spring movement” did arrive in the church—but from the top, with Pope Francis’s election in 2013. Also ironically: Many of the conservative Catholics inclined to denounce the Clinton camp have been critical of Francis—it gives new meaning to the term “more Catholic than the pope”—while more liberal Catholics like Podesta have championed him.

and then in conclusion:

The factual bottom line is that in private correspondence, the two Clinton campaign officials said nothing anti-Catholic, although they did not reproach the critical comments of their friends.
As a progressive Catholic myself, here are the lessons I draw.
Liberals are free to criticize religion in general or particular religions, but they should resist casual put-downs of Catholics and Christians that they’d condemn if they were directed at other faiths.
Conservatives in the Catholic hierarchy need to pay attention to Pope Francis and ponder the high costs of tying a church with a rich tradition of social teaching to the right end of politics.
Finally, this episode is part of an ongoing argument among more liberal and more conservative religious people, and it will long outlast this election.
Read it all here.


Monday, October 17, 2016

Light of the Righteous

Rabbi Jacob Neusner died Saturday, October 8.  The American Academy of Religion, which Neusner served as President in 1969, posted a lengthy memorial written by Aaron Hughes, Professor of Jewish Studies at the University of Rochester.

Hughes concludes: "Zekher tzadik livrakha. May the memory of the righteous be a blessing."  Amen.

Read it all here.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Did They Really Think That Would Work?

OK, so a couple recent posts have staked out the reasons for not supporting Donald Trump's campaign.  There has been one reviewing an article criticizing Democratic vice-presidential candidate Tim Kaine.  Now it's time to heave a few large stones at the Democrats generally.  Thanks to Wikileaks, we now know


Not only that but Democratic party leaders created their own Catholic advocacy groups to foment their changes from within the Church.  Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good?  Yep.  Catholics United? Yep, them, too.  

Let's repeat that:  these groups were created to bring about change within the Catholic Church--changes that corresponded nicely to mainstream Democratic Party politics.

Let that sink in. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Finitude Strikes Again

So about eighteen months ago I blogged about Indiana and its governor, Mike Pence.  In 2010 then U.S. Congressman Pence had been the only Republican, House or Senate, to attend the Faith & Politics Institute's annual Civil Rights Pilgrimage to Birmingham, Montgomery, and Selma, Alabama.  I mentioned all this because, at the time, Pence was cast as one-dimensional, cardboard reactionary.  I haven't lived in Indiana since 1991, so I am neither a supporter nor critic of Pence.  I simply thought the then-descriptions of him were woefully incomplete.

Well, since then, obviously, Pence has become Donald Trump's vice-presidential candidate and therein lies the problem.

We are all human.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Paging Julian Felsenburgh

Blogger note:  Just recently this blog took on discrepancies between Tim Kaine's political stances and his affirmation of his Catholic faith.  This post, working from material composed earlier this year, provides balance with a critical view of the Trump campaign.

Robert Hughes Benson's Lord of the World.  Folks, you need to read this book.  It matters not that the book was published in 1907, the same year as St. Pius X's Pascendi, five years before the Titanic sank, seven years before Gavrilo Princip shot Archduke Ferdinand, thirty-two years before Hitler invaded Poland.  The novel features euthanasia, the loss of religious liberty, anti-Catholicism (because they're two different things), globalization, total war, martyrdom, demagoguery, and the miraculous.

Bradley Birzer, author of illuminating studies of Christopher Dawson and Tolkien, earlier this year  posted this brief article at The Imaginative Conservative.   I myself was reminded about Benson and this particular novel by this Crux article by John Allen, Jr.  Both Benedict XVI and Francis have recommended the book.  Benson (1868-1914), whose father had been Archbishop of Canterbury, was a celebrity convert and priest.  Once quite popular among English-reading Catholics, his reputation has vanished since the Second Vatican Council.

Lord of the World follows the parallel trajectories of Father Percy and his doppelganger, Julian Felsenburgh, a senator from Vermont (no, I am not making that up) who is clearly the anti-Christ.  Secularism has pushed all religion to the fringes as the masses chose instead this world's pleasures (euthanasia and what amounts to physician-assisted suicide are readily available).  Only Rome the city itself resists as it has, through international treaty, become the sole earthly haven for Catholics.  Martyrdom awaits any Catholic who dares declare the Faith openly.  Meanwhile a worship of divinized earthly powers spreads like wildfire.  Amassing this new awakening, and yet remaining above it all, stands Julian Felsenburgh.  Traveling across the world at record speeds, Felsenburgh successfully unites the entire planet, save Rome, under one government.   Meanwhile, Father Percy sees his clerical friends lose their faith and the Church lose even what little it retains on earth.  The impending victory of Felsenburgh's atheist materialism seems complete.  The conclusion, though, must be read all the way to its very last words.  No spoilers here.
(Pic credits:  Ave Maria Press & Wikipedia)

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

That Ain't What The Word Means

Shaking off the dust on this blog.  My apologies for the lack of output;  it's been a very busy time.

And right when all the great blogging issues come before us:  the election, baseball postseason, Pope Francis' in-air press conferences, football, the start of a new semester...

All of that will receive due consideration.  This Wall Street Journal op-ed by William McGurn, though, merits a quicker response.  Mainly because it lays out clearly, that for all the reasons why Donald Trump is not a fit candidate--let alone acceptable choice--for the Presidency, and all the reasons casting doubt on Hillary Clinton's candidacy, one of the real problems is actually Virginia Senator Tim Caine, Clinton's vice-presidential candidate.  Look up "devastating take-down" and you'll find this post.

When he walks onstage Tuesday night for this year’s vice-presidential debate, the junior senator from Virginia will carry with him a résumé that shouts respectability. ...
In sum, Mr. Kaine is a garden variety Catholic Democrat of the early 21st century. In this capacity, the orthodoxies that now define his party and might once have disturbed a practicing Catholic bother him not at all. These include abortion on demand, underwritten with taxpayer dollars.
In some ways Mr. Kaine’s rise represents the yielding of the old pro-choice Catholic Democrat represented by Mario Cuomo—“I am not implying that we should stand by and pretend indifference to whether a woman takes a pregnancy to its conclusion or aborts it” said he at Notre Dame in 1984—to the brave new world where son Andrew Cuomo says that those who oppose abortion “have no place in the state of New York.” Whatever else this is, it marks a comedown from the high hopes of liberal American Catholicism in those heady days before JFK became the first Catholic president.
We have heard this before.  Kaine embodies the "Cafeteria Catholic" approach so loved in America:  I'll have some of that liturgy, a big serving of spirituality, a sprinkling of Mary, but no thanks, none of that pro-life stuff.  I'm trying to cut back.  All the while Kaine touts his "Catholic" identity.  To which McGurn and everybody else responds:

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Studying History Gets Messy

And maybe that's all right.  The problem is that we need to keep digging into our own pasts--individual and collective--to (re)discover the foundations of the self and community...and how those stand themselves atop other foundations, things we did not see at the time.

For example, growing up in small Midwestern towns meant enduring poppy Rod Stewart songs like this:

Ah yes, the hair, the overproduction, the same time that produced Starship's "We Built This City," arguably the worst pop song ever.  Downtown Train captures that same time; saccharine tunes song by aging rock stars.  This is why we listened to Def Leppard and Motley Crue.

Then lo, while digging around Bruce Springsteen songs I discovered.... "Downtown Train" by its original creator, gravel-voiced Tom Waits.  Listen and prepare to be shocked.

Those who listened to music like Waits', of course, already knew this...but that's not the point.  They're not "right" so much as the neatly-packaged Stewart remake aptly suited the slick, overproduced 80s decade in which it appeared.  Waits' original harkens to an earlier, edgier time, and certainly a rougher experience of urban America.  Waits fans will probably balk at that, wanting some thing deeper, but that's enough...at least for now.

There are other examples that could be discussed here, but the point is that studying history, even when it's the history of Christianity, can lead to similar discoveries of the rougher, edgier Church.  One course this semester is doing just that and is just now running aground of the great Christological debates from Nicea to Chalcedon as well as the great martyrologies prior to Constantine's conversion.  For unreflective undergraduates or naively devout evangelical Protestants this history--rooted as it is in real places and real people--presents some messy, unavoidable realities. The slick, easy, saccharine story they've been fed previously about Jesus, Christianity, and the Church simply does not hold up to the historical record. I know about this because, as blogged here over the past four years, I went through roughly the same experience.  So hopefully they will enjoy a resurrection of sorts in the semester, witnessing how the Gospel spread throughout the world, formulating the foundations of Christian belief as it went.