For New Testament Geography I Wasn’t Taught in RCIA UPDATED

Originally posted on June 6, 2011, it took a while but it recently became worthy of an update.

There will be no music post this morning folks, because music was presented here yesterday. Instead, I’m just going to share the map above which shows color-coded tracks of the missionary journeys of St. Paul. As the title to the post suggests, none of this was taught to me while I was in RCIA. I suspect that this is because it is more important to hear the Good News, than it is to learn New Testament geography. [Read more…]

Abraham Lincoln on the Importance of Freedom of Conscience and Religious Liberty

Everyone knows how easy it is in the age of the internet to cobble together a saying that meshes with the popular mood of the times, and then attribute it to a giant of philosophy, art, or politics. Often times these alleged quotes seem too good to be true. And after a little cursory check, you know, actually looking for a reference that verifies said quote, you come up empty, and toss it in the trash.

This practice is so prevalent that the following quote “attributed” to Abraham Lincoln has become a joke all it’s own, [Read more…]

Because Catholics Say Stuff Like This…And Mean It

You know, like soon after their city has been devastated by a nuclear bomb. Catholics, being fallen human beings, say other stuff that is less encouraging too. But thoughts like the ones above are timeless, beautiful, and true.

I have faith that I will meet Takashi Nagai in person one day.

Which reminds me! My friends Ian and Dominic Higgins are busting their buns trying to squeeze the film version of Nagai’s life into the can before the next anniversary of the Nagasaki bombing rolls around (August 9). I’m talking about All That Remains. [Read more…]

Because the Catholic Church is Flying Under the Gaydar, and Way Over It Too UPDATED

In fact, she transcends homosexuality in the same manner that she transcends everything, be it politics, economics, justice, health, and every other category you can name that involves the human person. Everyone who is a member of fallen humanity, say “aye!”

The Anchoress, Mark Shea, Marc Barnes, Michael Voris (!), and I all line up on the same side of the room when it comes to the teachings of the Church on homosexuality. Why? Because we believe her teachings. And though I can’t speak for my friends standing on the same side of the room with me, I can speak for myself when I admit that I once did not. The same is true for the Church’s teachings on marriage, divorce, contraception, the death penalty, etc., etc. Like many a (former) Protestant, see, I was my own Pope. The buck stopped here. [Read more…]

Because Blaise Pascal Knew The Art of Risk Management and the Importance of Consequences


The late economic historian, and former financier Peter Bernstein explains this fact well in an article published in the New York Times during the early innings of the tumult of the U.S. debt crisis. Bernstein authored a half dozen classics, among them Against the Gods, the Remarkable Story of Risk, which was published in 1996.

It was in that book that I became reaquainted with Blaise Pascal, [Read more…]

Because On this Ship, I Don’t Have to Decide Everything UPDATED

There has been a lot of fur flying around lately regarding prodigal groups (possibly) coming back into the fold, while others get a solid scolding, etc. Since the season of Advent, Catholics have endured changes to the Liturgy and a new version of the Missal, and we’ve had to relearn lines we had memorized since forever. And lately the HHS Mandate has been seen as a galvanizing moment by many, me among them, and only as a distraction by others. In the immortal words of  Rodney King, “can’t we all just get along?” [Read more…]

Because God Is A Crazy Farmer, Thankfully! UPDATED

I’ve been working in the yard around Casa del Weathers. One thing I’ve been doing a lot of lately is weeding. Not that I have some sort of pristine yard that I need to keep up so I can one up the Joneses, or anything. But I like my flower beds to contain flowers, and not weeds. As for my yard, which out back (especially) is pretty much a random assortment of weeds and grasses that are shade tolerant, I pretty much follow the dictum to live and let live.

Except for the dandelions. [Read more…]

A Letter to Saint Joseph

Dear St. Joseph:

It’s your feast day in the Church today, and even if you don’t want to be bothered, because you’re a real worker bee, lots of folks are going to extol your virtues ad nauseum today. None of us are sure what those are though, so you’ve kind of become the “fill in the blank” saint for all that is true, good, and solid, if not quite beautiful. [Read more…]

From Slave to Bishop, Everything You Wanted to Know About St. Patrick, And More

I love reading about the lives of the saints. Especially from the old books like those found on the YIMCatholic Bookshelf. That is where I found the following narrative. It’s funny, because the author says “not much is known about…” and then launches into a 3,500+ word essay on St. Patrick and St. Brigid.

What I share below is just the part about St. Patrick, his story, and how he has been depicted in the art of the Church. [Read more…]

For “Ghetto Catholicism?” Not Hardly.

Karl_Rahner_by_Letizia_Mancino_Cremer

Karl Rahner, by Letizia Manico Cremer. Source.

 

The thoughts I share with you now were originally published in 1961, and in English in 1963. Yet today, to this humble reader at least, they seem prophetic. Taken from the first chapter of the first volume of the title you see below, Fr. Karl Rahner, SJ, explains why in the Post Christian world of today, opting for the ghettoization of the Church is a non-starter.

Instead, he argues we should embrace the fact that we are a disapora people, because frankly, we have always been called to be so. For as the cross was Our Lord’s “sign of contradiction,” so too is the Church called to be the same, as it was in the beginning, briefly ceased to be in the Middle Ages, and is now again resuming this holy, and necessary, calling. “Take up your cross, and follow me.”

As I’ve mentioned before, we are called to be salt, light, and yeast. We are not called to be the new pharisees of the Catholic Ghetto. Fr. Karl helps me to see why below. My comments are in bold italics.

from Mission and Grace: A Theological Interpretation of the Position of Christians in the Modern World

My thesis is thus: Insofar as our outlook is really based on today, and looking towards tomorrow, the present situation of Christians can be characterized as that of a diaspora, and this signifies in terms of the history of salvation, a “must”, from which we may draw conclusions about our behavior as Christians…

How about a quickie refresher on the definition of diaspora? Go with 2) a & b here.

What, after all, does a person do if he sees the diaspora situation coming and thinks of it as something which simply and absolutely must not be? He makes himself a closed circle, an artificial situation inside which looks as if the inward and outward diaspora isn’t one; he makes a ghetto. This, I think, is the theological starting point for an approach to the ghetto idea.

The old Jewish ghetto was the natural expression of an idea, such that Orthodox Judaism was ultimately bound to produce it within itself; the idea, namely, of being the one and only Chosen People, wholly autonomous, as of right, in every respect, including secular matters, and of all other nations as not only not belonging in practice to this earthly, social community of the elect and saved, but as not in any sense called to it, not an object towards which there is a missionary duty.

But we are called to be missionary people. To be ambassadors for Christ, as a well known, inspired writer exhorts us to be. Fr. Karl makes it clear here,

But a Christian cannot regard his Church as autonomous in secular, cultural, and social matters; his Church is not a theocracy in worldly affairs; nor can he look upon non-Christians as not called; nor can he with inopportune and inordinate means aim to get rid of the “must” with which the history of salvation presents him, namely, that there are now non-Christians in amongst the Christians or real Christians in amongst the non-Christians. His life has to be open to the non-Christians.

Hmmm. There’s that word “theocracy” again. Not a good idea. Fr. Karl explains why,

If he encapsulates himself in a ghetto, whether in order to defend himself, or to leave the world to judgement of wrath as the fate which it deserves, or with the feeling that it has nothing of any value or importance to offer him anyway, he is falling back into the Old Testament. But this is our temptation, this ghetto idea. For a certain type of deeply convinced, rather tense, militant Catholic at a fairly low (petty-bourgeois) cultural level, the idea of entrenching oneself in a ghetto is rather alluring; it is even religiously alluring: it looks like seeking only the Kingdom of God.

Nice trick, that. Jon Stewart, of the very secular Comedy Channel news spoof “the Daily Show,” recently shared some words (language alert!) about how strident tactics wind up backfiring. Roll clip.

Now back to Fr. Karl, with my editing and emphasis.

Here we are, all together, and we can behave as though there were nothing in the world but Christians. The ghetto policy consists in thinking of the Church not only as the autonomous community of salvation (which she is) but as an autonomous society in every field. So a Christian has to consider [a Catholic poet being] greater than Goethe, and have no opinion of any magazine except [Catholic magazines]; any statesman who makes his Easter duties is a great statesman, any other is automatically a bit suspect; Christian-Democratic parties are always right, Socialists always wrong, and what a pity there isn’t a Catholic party.

The insistence, for the sake of the ghetto, on integrating everything into an ecclesiastical framework naturally means that the clergy have to be in control of everything. This results in anti-clerical feeling, which is not always an effect of malice and hatred for God. The interior structure of the ghetto conforms, inevitably, to the style of that period which it is, in make-believe, preserving; its human types are those sociological, intellectual, and cultural types which belong to the period and feel comfortable in the ghetto; in our case, the petty-bourgeois, in contrast to the worker of today, or the man of tomorrows atomic age.

It is no wonder, then, if people outside identify Christianity with the ghetto, and have no desire to get inside it; it is the sheer grace of God if anyone ever manages to recognize the Church as the house of God, all cluttered up as she is with pseudo-Gothic décor, and other kinds of reactionary petty-bourgeois stuff.

You can say that again! How, then, do we get beyond this “ghetto” mindset while not falling into the error of relativism?

We may be preserved from this danger, which has become a reality only too often during the last few centuries, by a clear-sighted and courageous recognition of the fact that the diaspora situation of [the Church] is a “must” in the history of salvation, with which it is right to come to terms in many aspects of our practical conduct.

You know, Christ never promised us a rose garden. Those “two greatest commandments” need to be not just pondered, but applied. All the while keeping these thoughts in mind,

Mankind is at its best when it is most free. This will be clear if we grasp the principle of liberty. We must recall that the basic principle is freedom of choice, which saying many have on their lips but few in their minds. —Dante Alighieri

The Catholic Church must be a clear beacon of hope, and a contrarian “choice” for the world today. I believe she is, otherwise I wouldn’t have bothered to become Catholic.


Update: Music for Mondays selections inspired by this post.

Update II: I couldn’t have said this better myself.


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