Thursday, July 25, 2013


Nothing like a week long, 6-hours-a-day discussion of the theology of the Church!  A very inspired--and inspiring--group, and the upshot is that the human future of the Church has a few more good hands to uphold it.  I say "human" because, obviously, God upholds the Church so its future is assured.  Still, it's nice to know there are some folks doing some good work out there.

Two things:  enthusiasm for Jesus, the Church, and its sacraments.  This is a group that really does love Christ and the Church and thus speaks openly about needing communication with the Lord.  They're excited about what Pope Francis brings and will bring to the Church, and they remain enthusiastic about emeritus Pope Benedict XVI.  There's also a corresponding mistrust of American cultural enthusiasm which bent on sweeping away the Church's global structures of rule of law, as if an immediate decision--often made hastily and without full appreciation and consideration of the repercussions--is always best.

Finally, a growing realization that the Church needs again--a tune we hear frequently--greater catechetics.  The Church's "best kept secrets"--its social justice traditions, its spiritual diversity, and its celebration of human dignity--are not arcane artifacts hidden away in triple-locked safe rooms.  They're all readily available, if Catholics--and quite frankly others interested in bettering human life--would but develop some enthusiasm and immerse themselves in what the Church already offers freely.

It's all there.

Friday, July 12, 2013

find a way--or make one

So said Admiral Perry about his trek to the North Pole.  And it's good advice to remember in these days.  Despair is not an option.  There is far more good in this life and in this world, and God, having made our lives and our world, calls us to it all.  In both the macro- and microcosm, good exists.  We have but to find it, and in so doing celebrate and nurture it.

Sometimes we feel ourselves doomed to failure, and we might often feel as if we don't know what we're looking for, since very little "good" seems evident.  But it is there.  The storm will pass.  The night will end and the sun will rise.  Pray, and press on.

And some times some of the very people who otherwise serve as impediments to our search for the good can, perhaps inadvertently, aid our quest.  One of the best examples from my own life came within the past year from somebody who, in unleashing a stinging rebuke of John Paul II's life and career (a tirade which convinced me to no longer listen to this person at all), riffed on John Paul's favorite--and inaugural line--of his papacy:  "Be not afraid!"  Well, that might have been the only time this person ever got anything right...because that is indeed the case.  "Be not afraid!" is another way of saying "find a way--or make one."

So fret not.  Remember the prayer at Mass: "deliver us, Lord, from every anxiety and graciously grant us peace in our day."  We simply need to remember that Christ has, in fact, freed us--from anxiety and fear.  And in so doing, illuminated our search for the good in our own lives.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

zombie porn mania

<<shameless attempt to grab counter hits: blog titles with only buzz words>>

Fear of the brain-eating, and apparently unstoppable, undead masses.

And we can't turn away from that fear.  In fact, much like the dog and the fool, we can't help but return (Proverbs 26:11).  PS, that's the porn part.

With the release of the movie World War Z, it seemed time that somebody try to make sense of the religious themes with all this zombie mania.  Turns out somebody beat me to the punch--and published a book, to boot.  Something to add to the summer/autumn reading list.

Some of this craziness had to start with 2004's Dawn of the Dead remake (complete with opening credits accompanied by the late Johnny Cash's last hit "When the Man Comes 'Round"):  apocalyptic music singing of final judgment accompanied by harried shots of unrestrainable riots and a quick descent into Hell. Now it's gotten to the point that weekend 5k road races aren't enough.  To have a good time you need to be chased.  You can even buy zombie apocalypse t-shirts.  And not just by telemarketers or bratty teenagers.

All of it sparked by....the brain-eating, unstoppable undead zombie masses.

Spiritual diabetes angle:  it's not just xenophobia, but a sort of xeno-polloi-phobia. We're now afraid of the masses of strange others.  "the stranger" her/himself--we're now fine with that.  Catholic social justice insists on the intrinsic dignity of every human being from conception to natural death.  Liberation theology insisted for decades that the poor retain their dignity and proximity to God.  Even college undergraduates (another set of zombies, perhaps?) with their individual ethical relativism want to insist on a certain laissez-faire morality that recognize the freedom and integrity of other individuals.

But a mass of others--especially if they're....Republicans, Democrats, Roman Catholics, Jews, born-again Christians, Mormons, Unitarian-Universalists, Muslims--that's a different story.  "They" just keep coming--and obliterating "us."  OH MY GOD, WHAT WILL WE DO???  WE ARE DOOMED. 

So in a time when a chunk of the American populace fears Obamacare's HHS mandate for its very real infringements on religious freedom, while another chunk fears pro-life intrusion into reproductive freedom, while third and fourth chunks stew about the political opposition's machinations for electoral control, in such times it might make sense that our most popular meme might be the zombie apocalypse.  The brain-eating, unstoppable undead others hellbent on OUR destruction.

Gee, ain't nihilism great?  Livia Soprano might be the dowager queen of this worldview.

And a biblical note for the runners out there:  train all you want to outrun the zombie.  Buy the t-shirts about "fast food."  And then read Amos chapter 5, especially verses 18-20.

Spiritual diabetes cure--and like all diabetes cures, this takes a while, it's not a quick-fix, sugar-high like the rush of running from zombies--take a stroll through Francis I's Lumen Fidei and recall its predecessors by Benedict XVI:  Caritas in veritate and Spe Salvi.  The Roman Catholic tradition--the Church, yes, and its all-too-fallible members, and its ideas and practices--remains a harbor and feast to recharge, refresh, and encourage us all in these zombie-mad days.

And for Katrina Fernandez, who raises an interesting point about Francis' style, patience.  The day will surely come when those currently loving Francis's cool groove (and, admittedly, it is pretty cool) will find themselves facing an unexpectedly difficult choice:  turn away to follow another spiritual fad or admit Francis, as pope, leads both the revisionists and the traditionalists, the Opus Dei supernumeraries and those struggling to get to Mass on time, the liberal and the conservatives.

Because in the Church there are certainly differences...but there are no zombies.