January 14, 2013

When Christ comes to us, he does not come for the sake of pun­ish­ment; he comes to per­fect us in love. It is we who cry out, “You are hurt­ing me.” We can be so com­fort­able in our fear. But what I detect, in both the blind man of Jerusalem  and the hypo­thet­i­cal pris­on­ers in Plato’s cave, is fear also of truth. We can be so com­fort­able in our igno­rance. We can become com­fort­able with lies — includ­ing the lies we tell ourselves. Christ wants to throw that all away. He wants our per­fec­tion — our phys­i­cal per­fec­tion, our intel­lec­tual per­fec­tion, our moral per­fec­tion. But we have to let him. We can only cry out for so long, “You are hurt­ing me,” before we realize we are hurt­ing our­selves by our resis­tance to Christ. [Read more] Read more

January 13, 2013

God has a remark­able pro­cliv­ity for accom­plish­ing his work through the mate­r­ial things of this earth – but fore­most among them, pos­si­bly, is water. At the very begin­ning, God is said to be “mov­ing over the face of the waters.” Before God has cre­ated any­thing, water exists. He cre­ates the “heav­ens and the earth,” but as yet they are “with­out form and void.” They are just the raw mate­ri­als, cre­ated ex nihilo. But there is water; when God says, “let there be light,” his spirit is upon the waters. And then, God’s very next cre­ative act is to “sep­a­rate the waters from the waters” (Gen. 1:6). Water exists with God from the beginning. Who can list all the times God uses water to accomplish his purposes? [Read more] Read more

January 11, 2013

The most pow­er­ful argu­ment that Catholic apol­o­gists have against sola scrip­tura is that it is self-refuting. If all that is required of Chris­tians for faith and prac­tice is to be found in Scrip­ture alone, then why isn’t sola scrip­tura in the Bible? Is sola scrip­tura not a require­ment for faith and prac­tice? Protes­tants know that they have a dif­fi­culty here; they know that, in order to truly defend sola scrip­tura, they must do so from the only epis­te­mo­log­i­cal grounds they per­mit them­selves: They must show where sola scrip­tura is to be found in the Bible. If they can’t, then sola scrip­tura fails its own test. Clever attempts are some­times made to bypass this neces­sity on the part of the Protes­tant apol­o­gist. [Read more] Read more

January 10, 2013

Bp. Fel­lay is exactly right that great harm has been done to the Church since the Sec­ond Vat­i­can Coun­cil. But — and it is extra­or­di­nar­ily impor­tant to get this right — the source of that harm was not any­thing the Coun­cil said, but rather those who used the Coun­cil as an excuse for what­ever wild inno­va­tions the mis­guided mind of man could dream up. Could a bet­ter job have been done in exer­cis­ing Church dis­ci­pline and erad­i­cat­ing this kind of stuff? Prob­a­bly. Could a bet­ter job be done going for­ward? Almost cer­tainly. But a Hydra-headed mon­ster takes time to kill, and John Paul II and Bene­dict XVI have done a very good job clarifying what the Coun­cil said and what it did not. [Read more] Read more

January 9, 2013

Unusual as the ques­tion sounds, this is in fact the claim that the polemical rogue John Bugay makes. The title of this arti­cle is “The First Adam, Sola Scrip­tura, and His Com­mis­sion as King, Priest, and Protes­tant.” Yes, it would seem that Adam was a Protes­tant. Did you know that? I didn’t. But it’s remark­able what you’ll find out on Failablogue. PR attempts to derive this curi­ous claim out of some pas­sages in a book by G.K. Beale called A New Tes­ta­ment Bib­li­cal The­ol­ogy. Beale is dis­cussing the first com­mis­sion of God to Adam imme­di­ately after the Cre­ation. From the start­ing point of some relatively dry, aca­d­e­mic, and innocu­ous pas­sages, Mr. Bugay pro­ceeds to leap a thou­sand miles. [Read more] Read more

January 7, 2013

As far as par­a­digm shifts go, I don’t find many con­verts describ­ing what the expe­ri­ence of one feels like. Some do. When still in RCIA, how­ever, I had the ter­rific oppor­tu­nity to lis­ten to Dr. David Anders describe his con­ver­sion from Calvin­ism to the Catholic Church. He was one of the first to artic­u­late cer­tain Catholic teach­ings, which I was still strug­gling with, in a way that made sense to me and which I could embrace. That was still a dif­fi­culty for me at the time: Cer­tain teach­ings I could under­stand log­i­cally, but there’s an impor­tant dif­fer­ence between that and being able to say that you’ve crossed the bridge between hav­ing some­thing in your head and hav­ing it in your eyes . [Read more] Read more

January 5, 2013

Today is Twelfth Night. I love vigils of any kind the Church gives us, but this one may be my favorite apart from the Easter Vigil. In an important way each is like the other: At the Easter Vigil we wait for Resurrection—Christ come back to us from the tomb; on Twelfth Night we wait for Incarnation—Christ come to us in the manger and adored by wise men. Christmas begins in Nativity and culminates in Epiphany. We wait for Christ, and we wait, and follow, and at last we behold Him, born or risen. Each year on Jan­u­ary 5 I keep an old habit of reread­ing Twelfth Night. Like any drama­tist, Shake­speare is best watched on the stage (or film, if you are lucky). But I’ve not had much luck with Twelfth Night. [Read more] Read more

January 3, 2013

Over on Fail­ablogue to­day (he calls it Tri­ablogue, which I think is optimistic), the polemical rogue John Bugay in­forms us, with his cus­tom­ary mad zeal, that “God is not some kind of loon.” It’s good to know we can agree with him on that. Who among us says that God is? It’s odd we should need to be told this. Is Mr. Bugay swat­ting the air against imag­i­nary flies again? Does he suf­fer floaters? These are real ques­tions, I am afraid. The point of the ar­ti­cle, which I read with sober and caffeinated attention, is that God (not be­ing a loon) would want us to un­der­stand all that He has re­vealed to us. Well, yes. But then the poor man wan­ders off and gets lost down tan­gled paths of non se­quitur. [Read more] Read more

January 1, 2013

How many who say they see instead walk through life and miss it all? How many come to the Eucharist  and walk straightway out of Mass with Christ in their mouth and still chew­ing? I’m com­par­ing the expe­ri­ence of the blinded who see to the expe­ri­ence of artists and vision­ar­ies; and the rea­son we need them   is, in Dillard’s words, “to teach us how dull is our vision.” Artists show us the cre­ated world, in unusual and star­tling ways. Through them we learn to see, though we’ve always had eyes. They shows us what we’ve missed. They wake us up. Who can read a descrip­tion of grapes or trees, like that of the newly-sighted quoted by Dil­lard, and ever look at grapes or trees the same way again? [Read more] Read more

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