8

C&C: Vampires

https://jenibrown.wordpress.com/2010/10/31/quick-get-buffy-its-a-vampire-pumpkin/

Through mere glimpses of him, however, demonic accuracy is achieved: Dracula is an Antichrist. He cannot attack unless willingly engaged. He baptizes his victims in his blood even as he drinks theirs in a sacrifice that gives eternal “life” in animated death. He unites captive souls to his existence, thriving on the unhallowed. He twists scripture to his purpose, lusts for worship … and fears Christ. Crisis Magazine, Oct 2013

Over at Father Z’s blog (several years  back) he made a (joking) post about how sad he was that he didn’t get a vampire hunting kit for Christmas; one comment pointed out that we can’t sell blessed objects. (Technically false; blessed objects can be sold for their intrinsic value, without added price for the blessing, but accurate in terms of buying a Vampire hunting kit which would be pretty worthless without blessing.) This got me thinking about the various legends related to vampires, and Catholicism, especially with how often it is gotten wrong.

The most famous example of really bad theology would probably be from Dracula; at one point, Van Helsing makes a putty out of consecrated Hosts and uses it vampire-proof a room.

Needless to say, this isn’t respectful of the Body of Christ, and if the vampire is reacting to the Body of Christ then it probably wouldn’t be effective, either:

With respect to the presence of Christ, most theologians would hold that, although the host externally remains intact for several days, the real presence would cease as soon as the host is fully soaked with water as from that moment the species is no longer exclusively that of bread.

Dracula is rather well researched on the folklore of vampires. For example, the crucifix has power in and of itself, since it has a representation of Christ on it, while crosses depend more on the person holding the cross invoking God directly. In various times and places the cross (or other objects, such as holy medals) being formally blessed was held to be enough to invoke God – those objects are called sacramentals, things that recall the sacraments. (Dracula’s mistaken abuse of the Host is in keeping with someone who didn’t recognize transubstantiation, but viewed it as a sort of super-stong symbol.) The most obvious sacramental, which is also used in popular pieties and commonly available for the asking, would be holy water– many parishes even have dispensers. It should be kept in mind that the people who really believed in vampires weren’t trying to use holy water or any other sacramental for some kind of a magical effect, but to invoke God’s protection from forces of evil.

Some of the things vampires fear are symbolic instead of sacramental– running water calls to mind baptism and the washing away of sins, silver is “white” metal and thus pure, garlic and various plants were believed to be medicines against corruption. Even salt, because of its powers of preservation, was thought in some places to ward off evil– including vampires.

Now, for someone wanting to do a Catholic friendly Dracula type vampire?  You might consider using an unconsecrated host– if the image of the body of Christ on the Cross works, then the object originally intended to become His body would work better. (Credit to Vathara, an author who poked at things long enough to get that spark moving.  If you like urban fantasy along the lines of Harry Dresden, but wish they had a little more theology, she’s got an awesome series started– first book is A Net of Dawn and Bones. It’s not exactly Catholic, but it’s not hostile, and it takes theology seriously, which is a nice change.)

Vampires not having a reflection probably grew out of the folklore of the soulless not having a shadow and the way that mirrors were once backed with silver. Some more folklore savvy stories have had digital cameras work to record vampires, but not silver-based movie cameras, and at least one used silver nitrate in the blood to kill off a vampire.

Speaking of souls, this is probably the biggest problem with vampire stories: all too often, authors write “vampires” that by all evidence possess rational souls. To shamelessly steal–er, borrow– from Jimmy Akin’s highly enjoyable Theology of the Living Dead, there are four basic options for any flavor of living dead:

animal soul- this is the most traditional, but has more in common with modern zombies as far as behavior goes; modern vampires are generally more intelligent than the average human.

non-human rational soul – Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s vampires– they are evil, but the “demons” animating vampires aren’t Satanic, and a lot of the other “demons” shown are know to just be multidimensional travelers. The theology of that show makes my head hurt….

human souls – the ‘vampire’ subculture would be an example of this, or if a story had vampirism as a sort of disease

No soul – the body is remote-controlled, either by technology (nanobot vampires) or perhaps demonic possession. (As I understand it, demons are spirits, rather than souls, and couldn’t inhabit a body the way a human soul would. I’d highly advise a lot of mythology research before anybody tried to write this!)

Most vampire stories these days are either humans with a disease or non-human souls animating a body; some of them aren’t “allergic” to blessed objects, even. Obviously, if they have rational souls, we have to treat them as people rather than monsters…but it doesn’t make any sense why holy objects would harm them, then. On practical levels, anything that smokes on contact with a holy object is not to be considered a good neighbor!

I hope this struck your fancy as much as it struck mine!

2

C&C: Witchcraft

From Card Captor Sakura, Japanese anime and manga

A reprint for the season. 

Let me see if I can sum up the archetypal belief:

All through the middle ages, single women– especially if they lived alone or practiced some sort of medicine– were randomly being accused of witchcraft and burnt alive for it. The Inquisition was the main group killing women, and hundreds of thousands were killed by the Catholic Church. Millions died, many of them Pagans.

Look about right?

Well, here’s a thumbnail that I promise I really didn’t model that off of:

For example, historians have now realized that witch-hunting was not primarily a medieval phenomenon. It peaked in the 17th century, during the rationalist age of Descartes, Newton, and St. Vincent de Paul. Persecuting suspected witches was not an elite plot against the poor; not was practicing witchcraft a mode of peasant resistance. Catholics and Protestants hunted witches with comparable vigor. Church and state alike tried and executed them. It took more than pure Reason to end the witch craze.

Nor were witches secret pagans serving an ancient Triple Goddess and Horned God, as the neopagans claim. In fact, no witch was ever executed for worshipping a pagan deity. Matilda Gage’s estimate of nine million women burned is more than 200 times the best current estimate of 30,000 to 50,000 killed during the 400 years from 1400 to 1800 — a large number but no Holocaust. And it wasn’t all a burning time. Witches were hanged, strangled, and beheaded as well. Witch-hunting was not woman-hunting: At least 20 percent of all suspected witches were male. Midwives were not especially targeted; nor were witches liquidated as obstacles to professionalized medicine and mechanistic science.

Sandra Miesel, Medieval historian writing for Crisis Magazine

On a side note, it seems Germany was utterly nuts for a while; a huge portion of the numbers for her defensible claim of “comparable vigor” comes from a couple of folks there; it might be worthwhile for someone really interested in the subject to find out what all was going on at those times and places– the phrase “prince bishop” worries me a bit, as a purely emotional reaction. I poked around enough to find this history wikia with enough details for someone who’s really curious and has the mind for German history. Apparently Germany had a big criminal law collection called the Carolina which required death for those believed to have harmed someone using magic. Good luck trying to tell what area was Catholic or Protestant, and how solidly so; I’ve seen long running anime that were easier to follow. In Japanese. No wonder even experts acting in good will can argue for decades about stuff.

Speaking of Germany, there’s another question: Alright, so a lady with a master’s on the subject says that, broadly speaking, the standard cliches are bunk. How do you explain that Catholic witch hunting manual from Germany?

Well:

The Malleus maleficarum was written by two Dominicans about 1486. The principal author, Heinrich Kramer, was widely recognized as a “demented imbecile” by contemporaries. The bishop of Innsbruck thwarted his attempt to convict women there of witchcraft and forced him out of town. The Malleus competed with the Carmelite Jan van Beetz’s Expositio decem catalogie praeceptum, “an icily skeptical treatment of tales of black magic. Of course, exposés never get the circulation of the lurid originals.

Michael Flynn, author and historical hobbyist

Mr. Flynn is one of my favorites, because he finds things like the fellow from the Spanish Inquisition who was brought a self-professed “witch” to try, and he insisted that she prove she could perform the claimed witchy powers; that Inquisitor may have been copying Vincent of Beavius, who is reported to have chased a supposed witch around the room with a stick when she insisted that she was able to pass through keyholes. Needless to say, both were proven innocent of sorcery.

Mr. Flynn’s mention of some of the Pagan activities against witches that had to be outlawed suggests that Germany may have just had some really, really brutal traditions. Another well read though vague on names scholar, who goes by SuburbanBanshee, observes the pattern that when you go way back, witchcraft was only seen as a problem far from the population centers. Christians ended up saving the supposed witches from those who blamed them for whatever horrible thing was going on at the time. Places where folk tradition was not stronger than formal teaching recognized that “witchcraft” and false gods could not possibly be more powerful than God!

 

Note: the image at the top isn’t really magical. It’s from a really fun anime called Card Captor Sakura; the Japanese are addicted to pretty stuff, I swear, and there’s a good chance it’s got crypto-Catholic symbols worked into the very weft. 

4

C&C: Demons

You do not know the power of the dark side

Slightly updated reprint for the season; C&C stands for Conspiracies and Catholicism, and means Foxfier is geeking out over something.

It’s a staple of horror movies– there is some invisible thing that will get you, destroy your life, take over your loved ones and drag you to hell.  A demon haunts this house!

First, we should probably back up a little– demon and devil are frequently used interchangeably, with devil more frequently used for specifically religious uses and demon for “scary and kind of hopeless.” Religiously, the devil is the chief of the demons, (Diabolus enim et alii daemones, as kept popping up while I was trying to find any decent information on this topic.) and it’s usually capitalized to indicate the Devil. Originally, demon was more like “supernatural being”– think kami, for those who are into anime and manga, or various location-gods and demigods for those who know their classic mythology. If you’d like to see how you get from δαίμων to “demon,” Dictionary.com is your friend., especially in special uses for various spellings. I’m going to save any further “other powers” geekery for a later article– on to demons!

What are demons?

So, when we talk about a demon, what are we talking about? Besides being the Devil’s henchmen, demons are fallen angels; this means that they are definitely not metaphors, symbols, impulses, or any other way of saying “there are not really demons.” They also are not a synonym for mental illness– any good exorcist is going to check for mental illness as a first step; it doesn’t do anyone any good to avoid treatment in hopes that a ritual will help someone, rather than trying to accurately identify the problem. (I have no idea how frequently mentally ill people are also afflicted by demons–especially when there are so many ways to qualify demonic involvement.) Here’s a longish quote from the Catechism to explain how that works:

II. THE FALL OF THE ANGELS

391 Behind the disobedient choice of our first parents lurks a seductive voice, opposed to God, which makes them fall into death out of envy. Scripture and the Church’s Tradition see in this being a fallen angel, called “Satan” or the “devil”. The Church teaches that Satan was at first a good angel, made by God: “The devil and the other demons were indeed created naturally good by God, but they became evil by their own doing.”

392 Scripture speaks of a sin of these angels. This “fall” consists in the free choice of these created spirits, who radically and irrevocably rejected God and his reign. We find a reflection of that rebellion in the tempter’s words to our first parents: “You will be like God.” The devil “has sinned from the beginning”; he is “a liar and the father of lies”.

393 It is the irrevocable character of their choice, and not a defect in the infinite divine mercy, that makes the angels’ sin unforgivable. “There is no repentance for the angels after their fall, just as there is no repentance for men after death.”

So: demons are definitionally evil, having chosen to throw in against God, and they cannot change now. That throws out a pretty good chunk of the more dramatic “can the fallen angel un-fall” type movies– now for the horror.  I am going to draw heavily from this interview with Fr. Gary Thomas, who you may know from the book pictured above– The Rite.

 What can demons do?

Infestation:

Think like Paranormal Activity or any other “house has a demon” story. No, you don’t try to fix it by putting a video camera in your bedroom and taunting it, you see about getting your house blessed; talk to your local parish. Get some holy water. See about getting your hands on a book of prayers, linked below. My mind keeps giving me the image of demonic fleas, but it’s not really funny–here is a quote of signs, from  The Rite:

The various kinds of phenomena that can occur in this situation are vast and include unexplained sounds or noises like mysterious footsteps, loud bangs, laughter, screams; the temperature of a room dropping or the feelings of a cold wind with no discernible source; objects disappearing suddenly and materializing in other parts of the house; strange presences felt’ the presence of offensive odors’ interruption of the electric current or the malfunction of electronic devices; pictures that mysteriously bang or fall off the wall; doors and windows that open and close on their own; dishes or other objects levitating and flying about the room.

This cursed activity can be caused by something horrible having happened on the site– crimes, suicides, satanic rituals (yes, including wicca-of-the-month, and probably turn-of-last-century seances, too– it’s a bad idea to invite in ungodly powers, go figure)– or because an infested object is there, or because the demon is there with a human.

That leads me to the next level of demonic involvement:

Oppression or Obsession

Two sides of a coin, the former pushed down and the latter wound up; your thoughts are warped in a bad direction; this is when an individual is being attacked by a demon. You can see why an exorcist would need to know a lot about psychology– it would be hard to tell mental or emotional attacks. You might think of this as the demon version of a monkey on your back, or maybe being stalked. I don’t want to belittle this– having a demon attack you is obviously bad, even if it’s not as cinematically iconic as the final type of demonic assault, possession.

Possession:

When a demon can move the victim’s body against their will. (Willingly accepting a demonic possession is integration.) Their soul isn’t controlled by the demon, but everything else…. This is when the exorcist goes to work, although this is incredibly rare and unlikely to involve green pea soup. Some exorcists have reported physical changes that are not scientifically possible. (A note on the limit of science– you’ve got to be there and set up to get really good data, and somehow I don’t think demons would be willing to cooperate.)

Don’t invite demons in, either actively or by sin, and try to soak your life in spiritually suited everything. The good news is– our Boss is incredibly stronger than theirs, He will win.https://www.amazon.com/dp/B001UMCA1O

13

C&C: Halloween

A repost, but a needed one– even EWTN is spreading some of these old myths!   Many thanks to Ben Butera for reminding me with his new post. 😀

Pag-again?

Just like every other big Catholic thing, it’s supposedly Pagan to have a party during the vigil before All Saint’s day. There is a long history of having a sort of harvest festival in pretty much any culture that can produce more than they can store (frequently it’s when you harvest fruits or slaughter the animals before winter) and there was one called Samhain in Ireland. There’s another one coming up in the US, called Thanksgiving. Since becoming Catholic didn’t suddenly make it so they had modern means of storing food that spoils quickly the parties would have kept happening, and when centuries after the pagan practices were gone the feast of All Saints was instituted there was nothing there to “steal.”

The trick-or-treating is believed to have grown out of gathering food for the vigil feast, plus hospitality, sort of like carolers traditionally get figgy pudding and something to drink; there is no specific support for this theory, but it does have more support than claims of pagan origins for the vigil of All Saint’s! Parties on feast days are traditional, priests (and their helpers, which at feast time would likely be small children) would likely be in charge of setting them up. There’s also the tradition of soul cakes, which were a food donation in exchange for a promise to pay for the dead. (Amusingly enough, a lot if Catholic customs have been taken by pagan groups from the UK area– if it’s not protestant, it must be pagan!)

Many American Halloween customs are most likely taken from Guy Fawkes’ day, November 5th– it’s entirely possible that they shifted over from the prior All Hallow’s Eve celebrations of the English, just as the harvest feast got hooked to the Feast and its vigil. People are very good at finding a reason to have a party and have fun, and fire is fun, food is fun, candy and costumes are fun.  (With credit to the father of our nation; Washington was very down on Guy Fawkes’ day. A shorter, modern version of his comments could be summed up as “grow up.”)

Black Cats and Jack of the Lantern

You’ve probably heard something about black cats– or cats in general– being condemned by the Vatican and thus killed as associates of witches? Specifically, by Gregory IX, in the Papal Bull Vox in Rama? I’m sure you’ll be just shocked, shocked to find out that no, he didn’t. That claim can be traced to a book from the ’70s that was supposedly about witchcraft in the Middle Ages. The only Papal Bull we’ve got records for that Pope issuing was to canonize St. Francis of Assisi, and it’s after records are rather good.

Startlingly enough, Gregory the IX did actually write a letter which started with the supposed title of the Bull, which does mention black cats… but that’s because it describes the supposed rituals of witches in Germany. (Kissing the cat’s posterior; I can’t read Latin, or even enough German to find the Latin text of the letter, but those snippets of translation I’ve seen suggest it was not a natural cat.) There is no claim before the ’70s that it was a Bull, nor does the letter say something to the effect of “hey, wipe out (black) cats, they’re satanic.” If there was actually such a strong connection, especially with official documents, it should have been showing up frequently during the witch craze; as it was not, I’d theorize that any connection was exactly the other way around– there was already a superstition about cats being witchy in various ways.

Jack-o-lanterns have a traditional sort of legend with many variations that can be summed up as ‘once there was a man who the devil couldn’t take and Heaven would not, who now wanders the world with a light in a carved container’ (the first part should sound familiar–it’s very popular for everything from fairies to the Wandering Jew). I know that swamplights, witchfires, will’o’wisps or foxfires (heh) are often associated with walking spirits, probably because a strange light from a non-human source at night is scary. The Irish carved turnips, the English carved beets, and here in America we carve squash- each year I’m startled that nobody has made some really impressive bottle gourds— that’s the hard, dryable variety of gourds; pumpkins are the soft type.

Random Bits:

The Vatican Condems Halloween!

This was several years ago, but it is probably still floating around.

Here is a great summary of where that came from:A quote from a priest in Spain reported in an Italian newspaper read by an Englishman who then reported it as fact that the Vatican condemns Halloween.

Basically, some Spanish youth thought that the rather gruesome, dark, “magic” soaked American Halloween they’d seen on TV looked like fun and were being poorly behaved in newsworthy in rather bad ways; Father Joan Maria Canals of the Spanish Bishop’s conference said that’s bad. Shocking, you know, a Catholic official saying that he thinks people shouldn’t glorify death and doesn’t like a Church Holiday being hijacked for occult purposes.

A lot of information can be found at this Catholic Answers podcast; it has a bunch of information all in one place. This pdf that I linked  for Guy Fawkes is also a good source.

None of this should be taken to mean that you must celebrate Halloween in any way, shape or form, and in fact my family doesn’t do costumes that glorify evil, or even that are gruesome. A few years ago we embarrassed a couple that thought it would be a hoot to dress themselves and their infant boy up as zombies for the Mall’s trick-or-treat, because our three year old girl had to be reassured that they were OK– and then went up and asked them if they were OK.

Twice.

It was pretty obvious from the parents’ expression that they hadn’t really thought through the whole “dressing in photo-realistic car accident injury makeup” thing.

We just have fun, and the adults are more likely to cosplay or have an outfit that complements the kids’. My husband made a very dashing Harry Dresden, Wizard Detective.  I am usually Miss Frizzle’s cousin, Miss Frazzled, complete with lizard.

Joy, laughter, and fun– we’re celebrating all of the saints!

17

When you read about “Trust in Science”

-being rather low, remember it involves stuff like this:

Nearly 2,500 years ago, the Egyptian mathematician and philosopher Hypatia was stoned in public by order of the Bishop of Alexandria. As the cleric saw it, Hypatia had too many irritating features: she was a woman, a pagan, and in particular much too smart. In human societies, it always seems as if men, from time immemorial, have done everything possible to deny women access to knowledge and power, which are often linked. This hold began to loosen only during the Renaissance, when girls were (very) gradually allowed, and then encouraged, to pursue the same studies as boys. But the road has been long, and there is still quite a way to go.

h/t Agellius for finding a not-yet-updated copy.

Joseph Moore does a great job of cataloging the fail in the first two sentences at his blog, and links to a good corrective about crazy myth-building involving Hypatia.  He even has the grace to admit that the source he had was such that he wasn’t absolutely sure it was real…but turned out it was.

Remember, this is for the longest continuously published magazine in the US, with editors and a reputation and everything.

And…this came through?

10

SCIENCE!! Says: Having Babies Is Bad!

Before we even dig into the reasons that allegedly support that headline, let’s talk about some category confusion. “Science” tells us what is, not what ought to be. Unless “worst” is qualified (e.g., the worst slope of a hill for achieving greater velocity when dropping a ball from the top), the phrase really has no meaning. Besides, the plain meaning of the reading is that it is “bad” for you.

Alright, let’s look at the reasons that SCIENCE says having children is bad for you. Here are the main points, distilled down.

You will have $13,000 less money per year, a total of over $220,000 by the time the child is 17.
You will sleep an average of 2.5 hours a night during the first two years of a baby’s life.
Your marriage will struggle during the first few years.
You will probably have less sex.
If you’re the mother, you’ll probably make less money.
Also, “Scientists predict that the world’s population will exceed 10.5 billion by 2050.” Which is obviously bad for you.

Point #1: if kids actually cost 13k a year, my parents would’ve been in debt, not putting away (slight) savings. POSSIBLY this can be explained by comparing DINKs (Double Income, No Kids, usually selected for high-power couples with tons of college debt and high demand jobs, no kids) to the “average” reproducing household (usually selecting for single parent households).
Sleep: baloney. Flat out, unadulterated bull based fertilizer. Look, I have five, and inherited one of those wrist band thingies that track sleep– my low point on nights is five hours. Including the “I am starving to death” baby. This might be possible, on some nights, if you have one of those highly irregular schedule jobs. MAYBE.
Marriage: Uh, nope, not unless you married without any idea of having kids.
Sex life: um. What part of five kids did you miss? The only time we have had less sex is when we’re states apart.
Less money: arguable. I could go make money, and then pay out 75-110% of it in child care and job related expenses, plus feeding us. (note: calculations based on Washington state, over five years ago, when my husband got annoyed at me being emo about not bringing in any money; I couldn’t disprove it, no matter how much I researched)
Population:

 

(EDIT: oops, removed the link when I was fixing the quote, forgot to put it back)

7

Jerry Pournelle is dead

From his blog:

I’m afraid that Jerry passed away
We had a great time at DragonCon
He did not suffer.

Awesome scientist, and scifi author– his co-authored book “Fallen Angels” was my first hint that there were people out there sort of like me, who had fun with puns, enjoyed science and scifi, weren’t reflexively hostile to religion, recognized people could do things that weren’t standard modern America as seen through the TV. (Note: “fallen angels” means guys who live in space whose ship crashed, not anything explicitly theological.)

May he rest in peace.

6

Testimony from a Victim of Hate

inspired by the SPLC.

Best line:

The Southern Poverty Law Center is a living testament to Godwin’s Law: that given enough time, all arguments end with comparisons to Adolf Hitler.

I’m pretty sure it was mentioned here– the Family Research Council shooting was directly inspired by the “Hate Map” put out by the SPLC, and the guy brought the Chick-fil-a sandwiches not as some sort of a pitiful attempt at a disguise– “Look! I’m one of you!”– but in order to desecrate the corpses of his victims by literally rubbing their faces in a “hate sandwich.”

The article starts slow, but dang.

I also didn’t know they’d added the ADF to the list– I had heard that the lady who had to flee a European country because being a former Muslim, female, doing the whole “tell all” thing about Islam was a risk her neighbors didn’t want to live near– had been put on the list.

I also hadn’t heard that the baseball practice shooter was a follower, nor that at least one of the mobs of “tolerant” folks “not tolerating intolerance” (ie, violently silencing those they disagree with) had been inspired by the SPLC.

Part of the problem is probably that I haven’t respected them since roughly when I got out of the Navy– I can’t even remember what it was, specifically, but they got shown up as selling the King invisible clothes.

2

Thirsty Priests

Rather cute little story– a group of priests went to the bar to lift a pint or two in honor of a newly ordained member…and were mistaken for a bachelor party, because they were dressed “formally.”
You know, in cassocks.

Thankfully a manager overheard them praying before they left and figured out what was up, and then to make up for it they renamed a beer.

3

Reblog: Moral and Informed Choices

Warning: I talk about abortion, morals, and loss here, so if you think you can’t handle that, for whatever reason (whether it is triggering to your own loss; you feel it might be judgemental of choice – and it will be, because this is an opinion column – or simply because you don’t want to read about abortion) that’s fine; don’t click the read more as I have put this behind a blog cut. If you do, however, you don’t get to be offended about my opinions.

This is, however, from the perspective of a woman who has lost two babies of her own, through stillbirth and SIDs. This is not a religious opinion either, but a purely factually scientific one which is admittedly against abortion.

Read it HERE.

Short version? Biologically, human offspring is human before birth. Failure to recognize and deal with that is irrational.
Sub-note, lady isn’t Catholic, although she’s from that tradition and sympathetic to it.

6

Kids These Days–

Listening to, I think, Kresta in the Afternoon yesterday.

They were bemoaning how kids didn’t seem to socialize out in big, random groups anymore– they would spend time with smaller groups of friends, but there wasn’t any “hey everyone is going to this place, come hang out” type socializing. Younger kids would do it some, but the older they got the more set they became on only associating with the same group.

This went into how much social media kids are using, especially at a young age.

At a different point during the conversation, they mentioned how the culture is increasingly hostile to Christian principles– it’s not enough to, say, keep your nose out of what someone else is doing. If you are, oh, a Catholic who won’t help celebrate homosexual unions, you can’t be allowed to sell produce at a farmer’s market. And so on.

The idea that these might be connected was not raised.

When I was a teen, the “bullying” situation was pretty bad. Admit to something that wasn’t cool, or fail to say the right words, and you’d get a hard time.

It’s now moved up to physical assaults not being unusual, teachers will get in on the act, and a much wider range of things are unacceptable– you’re a girl who doesn’t want a guy showering with you after gym, no matter how he “identifies”? You are a hater and might even be suspended.

You get recorded saying something that can possibly be construed as badthink? You might get death threats when it’s put on line. You might even end up with a mob outside your house, if you’re old enough that it’s not “just” public shunning at the place you are required to spend most of your waking hours each weekday.

Memes that were made ten years ago as parody are now being re-created– in all seriousness.

The kids that want to avoid becoming targets are going to hide. Same as the adults.

5

Jews Praying At The Temple Mount

It’s a little complicated, and they’re not SUPPOSED to be allowed to, but…they are.

Israeli police were still ordered to stop non-Muslim prayer, but many Jews took advantage of the opportunity to pray; Rabbi Jeremy Gimpel, co-founder of the Land of Israel Network, emulated Jews of 2,000 years ago and prostrated himself on the stones; the Israeli police removed him from the site.

He told Breaking Israel News, “Bowing down on the stones is a Torah commandment, precisely like in Temple times, and in a way we aren’t able to do when the Waqf guards are here. I couldn’t resist. I felt like every prayer, every mitzvah (Torah commandment) done at the Temple Mount opened the door to geula just a little more.”

I’m sure I’m supposed to be horribly upset or something.

19

Surreal

I saw a rather silly ad from Reebok, in the sadly very popular style of lecturing about what you are “allowed” to do.

Sadly, I saw it because it was a cause of scandal via gossip– I’m a known Catholic among friends and family, so I’m expected to defend…pretty much everything any Catholic does, up to and including Hitler. (…you haven’t run into that one?  Lucky you.)  If there is no response, then the gossip is perfectly fine.

Funny thing?  I was so busy being annoyed at visiting Patheos that I didn’t notice it was on Shea’s blog until a charmingly psycho response showed up.

Continue Reading

Apostolic Letter issued ‘Motu Proprio’ Maiorem hac dilectionem

(How is that for a mouth full?)

I don’t know Latin or Italian so I’ll pass on making any quotes, but it’s a paperwork change.  (H/t Bing translate for getting that much)

Now, if some guy risks his life to save someone– say, the classic tragic death of managing to shove a kid/a lady/the love interest out of the way– and loses his life, he can become “blessed” without a miracle, just like someone who is killed for the faith.  (No other conditions removed.)

English is usually fairly quick on the translation circle, for things they even translate, so it should show up soon.

2

C&C: Saints

Over on the Angels article I avoided digressing as far as I might by saying I’d get into saints in a later article; so here we go!

What is a saint?

Someone who is united with God; a holy one. English is actually a bit odd– we’ve got a lot of ways of saying things, and “saint” is a good example. Most languages, there’s no difference between how you say “holy one” and how you say “saint.” This can result in things that sound very strange to modern ears, like talking about “Saint Jesus.” Jimmy Akin has a great FAQ if you want to know more, but I’m going to steal from it shamelessly for a lot of this article so you might want to wait on that to avoid boredom. (Not that his writing is boring, but because reading more detail about something you’ve already read is more interesting than reading a little information about something you just absorbed a huge amount on.)

Now, when we talk about a saint, there’s a few very common ways we commonly mean it. There’s a Saint as in the title– saint Michael or Saint Joseph; there’s a saint as in the description– “my mom is a saint.”

To simplify greatly, the title is the Church officially saying “yep, you’re right– they’re holy. It’s OK to publicly hold them up as holy.”

This is, as I said, a massive simplification.

How do we know?

We “know” someone is a saint by the infallible proclamation of the Church– that’s what canonization (officially recognizing someone as a saint) is. Beyond being dead– so as to avoid a change in behavior that would change their status– there are four stages involved. Currently. The system has grown out of trying to avoid abuses, and will without a doubt end up changing in the future; here’s the EWTN over-view, which I will summarize.

Servant of God:

someone dies, and either five years pass or the Vatican officially grants a waiver of the waiting period. At that point, the Bishop of the place where they died can petition to start a ‘Cause for Beatification and Canonization’. If the Vatican says “I don’t see why not,” they go ahead. (Yes, I’m being slightly flip, but that’s not a bad translation of the sense of ‘nihil obstat,’ literally ‘nothing stands in the way.’) If this is so, the person being investigated can be referred to as “Servant of God.” For example, some of those who admire Professor Tolkien of Lord of the Rings fame started a facebook group to attempt to persuade the Archbishop of Birmingham to pursue his Cause; just this April it was forwarded to him. If the Bishop decides to pursue it, and if the Cause receives a nihil obstat, then he’d be “the Servant of God, J.R.R. Tolkien.”

Venerable:

Probably most commonly comes to mind in association with St. Bede, although he is actually a saint. Now, when used technically rather than because it’s been used forever, this is the stage beyond Servant of God– literally years of researching all public and private writings, all actions, everything to try to find any kind of a problem, and further that the Bishop is willing to vouch for the Servant of God’s heroic virtue. If he is, all the supporting information is forwarded to the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints. They go over the information, and vote, and it either dies right there or is passed on to the Pope, who has the final yes-or-no say on if there is enough cause to carry on with the Cause for Beatification and Canonization; if he grants a Decree of Heroic Virtues, the person becomes “The Venerable Sheen,” or “The Venerable Servant of God Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.”

Confusingly, this doesn’t mean it’s allowable for them to be public venerated– but “publicly venerated” doesn’t mean that you’re in trouble if, for example, your baby is stillborn and you pray and ask others to pray for the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen to intercede on his behalf (such as for James Fulton Engstrom, the two-thirds-verified miracle for the cause of the Venerable Sheen, is now a normal and healthy three when he had no heartbeat for an hour), it means doing so in the name of the Church, as if you are speaking on behalf of the Church. Think kind of like the rules about activism in military uniform, for those familiar with the US military.

Blessed:

Once the Decree of Heroic Virtues has been received, then the search is on: has this person interceded on anyone’s behalf? I’ll do an article on miracles later, but that is what is being sought for, and tested. Official recognition of miracles goes by where it happens, rather than the bishop responsible for the saint. Something I’m sure that whichever bishop would otherwise be responsible for investigating Marian miracles is very glad of! More practically, a local power will have better access to information and make for an easier, more accurate investigation. As we all know from the internet, it’s very easy for even those of the best will to leave out information that doesn’t support what they already believe, and those without more of the picture to draw inaccurate conclusions– and that’s without worries about those who actually mean to cause others harm.

In the case of martyrs, their death can serve as their first miracle– if, after investigation, it’s found to be true martyrdom, then the Pope issues a Decree of Martyrdom. This can actually be complicated– for a recent case, the question of if Archbishop Romero of the San Salvadoran Archdiocese, was killed because he was an obstacle to those who killed him, or for his faith? What if the only reason he was an obstacle was because he was true to God? Or was he shot at the very altar because such an outrage is a powerful threat and made the death squads even more terrifying? This argument was going on for quite literally my whole life– John Paul II prayed at the tomb of the Archbishop in ’83– and only this year was Pope Francis able to recognize his martyrdom, and on May 23 he

officially became Blessed Oscar Arnulfo Romero. Being ‘Blessed’ means that local churches can officially pray for his intercession– that public veneration I mentioned. If you were able to make a long form Easter Vigil, there’s a good chance that you heard a local ‘Blessed’ in there somewhere if there weren’t enough baptismal or confirmation saints to wear out your lector.

Saint:

You do the same thing as for verifying they’re blessed all over again. Find a miracle and investigate it to be sure it’s worthy of belief by first the bishop of where it happened, then by a sub-group of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, then by the heads of the congregation, and then the Pope. If they get a second Decree of Miracle (or a first, for verified martyrs) then the person can be canonized– recognized as a saint for veneration by the entire, universal Church.

I want to repeat again: the Pope is not making someone a saint, he is officially recognizing them as a saint. If they weren’t a saint, there would be no miracles to investigate in the first place. Just because someone is not recognized as of yet doesn’t mean they are not at the very throne– it may just mean there’s a paperwork snarl, such as the disagreement about who gets custody about the Venerable Sheen’s mortal remains.

Why do we have saints?

Because people aren’t all bad.

Sorry, my sense of humor… we recognize saints officially for two reasons, the good and the bad: the good is because they are a powerful aid in our drawing closer to God; the bad is because someone falsely portrayed as a saint would be a powerfully damaging force on faith. Good heavens, my initial inspiration for this entire series is the (possibly best wishes in the world) falsehoods that were driving folks away from the Truth.

You may have even heard of some false saints- heard of The Sainted Death? Not to be confused with artistic personifications of death, but set up in shrines rather like the ones you’d find for the Holy Mother. The Sainted Death AKA, Santa Muerte or the ‘murder saint’ in some news stories; it was fairly big in the news a few years ago, but variations in pop culture are old enough that at least one urban fantasy novel from about the early 90s or late 80s– I think it was Mercedes Lackey– used a variation as a plot point, and the author included some fascinating show-your-work on the subject.

A bit less modern, a Catholic looking into voodoo is going to be kind of surreal as things are perfectly familiar, perfectly normal…then WHAM! where did that come from? it takes a radical turn from anything that can be explained away into Catholic theology.

These similarities sometimes often provide fodder for those who are looking for a route of attack on Catholic topics, as if the truth of something is lessened by the appearance being borrowed for something else entirely. These are home brew philosophies, systems or religions– just like anyone with a

half-decent sense of history will go through “satanist” symbols and be able to identify where they were lifted from a wide variety of sources. (Seriously, St. Peter’s Cross as anti-Christian? It says a lot about the ignorance, possibly willful, of the Satanists- nothing about the sources of those symbols.)

The people making the systems are just using whatever looks interesting to them and applying it to an existing belief. Supposedly, that’s where most of these things come from– people keeping pagan beliefs and just pasting Catholic symbols on top of them.

On the flip side:

There are actually some lovely statues in Japan that are exactly the opposite of the satanists-absconding-with-whatever-looks-cool; while Catholicism was suppressed in Japan, the Christians there would hide Marian statues as that of the Buddhist goddess of mercy, Kannon, or flat-out re-purpose existing statues if they had to– standing before a statue made to honor Kannon, and praying to Mary. During the hundreds of years of quite harsh suppression, this kept the faith alive…and had wondeful fruits when the Japanese government finally allowed a church to be built for foreigners:

Inside the church, above the side altar, there was placed a statue brought from France of Mary with the child Jesus in her arms. The Japanese inhabitants called the church, the “French Temple.” When the word that “a statue of Mary was in the French Temple,” spread to the hidden Christian community of Urakami, the certainty was raised in their hearts: “If there is the statue of Holy Mary, the foreigner of the French Temple must be a “pater,” a priest!” In fact, they had awaited a priest for seven generations. On the March 17, 1865, a group of about ten members of the hidden Christian community, pretending to be tourists, entered into the church. One of them, a woman named Yuri, being anxious to know if the foreigner would be a pater, approached Fr. Petitjean, and said “We have the same hearts as yours,” and more, “Santa Maria no go-zō wa doco?”, which means “Where is the statue of Holy Mary?” This astonishing question revealed to the French missionary the miraculous survival of a Christian community in Nagasaki. Then, Fr. Petitjean, full of joy and emotion, led them to the side altar, where was placed the statue of the Virgin. Kneeling down, they couldn’t bear any more and exclaimed with emotion: “She’s really Holy Mary! Look! She brings in her arms her Son, Jesus!”

That’s basically why we recognize saints– because they can help bring us closer to God.

 

This is a reprint that I haven’t updated; my apologies, but kids come first– and I really am working on a couple of others. 

5

C&C: Angels

You’ve probably heard about that baby girl who survived a car accident that killed her mother, hanging in her car seat for 14 hours until emergency personnel showed up. The first responders say they heard someone– not the baby, but either a woman or a child– yelling for help, which gave them the strength to flip the car over; they were shocked to find her mother had been dead since the accident. You may even have seen the video. I know some folks have suggested that her mom came back as an Angel to save her child.

For shock value, I really should write something like “that’s nonsense,” to get your attention with a nasty splash of cold water. All the style guides I’ve read support it– but it’s not nonsense, it’s a minor misunderstanding or miscommunication in the course of grasping for something wonderful in the middle of a tragedy that could have been so much worse. It’s also rather rude to manipulate folks to get a reaction, rather than trying to convey information. I don’t know what the folks at the rescue heard, but I definitely get chills thinking about it, and I think it’s interesting enough to stand on its own just fine.

The Misunderstanding

When someone says “angel,” they’re usually picturing something like the classic painting, “Guiding Angel”– a guardian angel with robes and wings, hovering protectively behind two children that are crossing a bridge. Depending on the context, harps may be involved. They might think of popular movies and shows, like the entire genera of “Archangel Michael on earth and probably falling in love” movies. Maybe images of a warrior of God with a flaming sword, smiting the devil. For gamers, they might picture Tyrael of the Diablo games. On a more personal level, they may think back to a lost loved one they were told is an angel, now. Continue Reading

5

Saints, Angels and Demigods

A sort of musing-on-words post.

One of the more awkward conversations you can have is the “they’re an angel, now” one with someone who’s lost a loved one—besides the obvious even to me point that you don’t pick a fight about it because that will do more harm than good. I’m still startled at the negative reactions some people have to the word “saint” applied in a non-metaphorical way.
After MDV laid out how the demigod from the latest Disney movie couldn’t be considered a proper big-G god, combined with Dan’s description of Maui as a Polynesian Hercules, I started musing….
Concluded that a lot of Protestants do believe in Saints, as we know them. They just call them angels, and tend to dramatic representations that are much more obvious that they work only by God’s power. (That came by way of envisioning addressing prayers c/o The Almighty. Glowy gold script, bright white envelope. Uh…did I mention I haven’t been sleeping much?)

Look at TV angels, at least in nominally religious programs, and you get:
*Humans
*Who died
*and are doing God’s will
*usually with some personal focus related to their life on Earth.

Now, since it’s Hollywood, there’s some created drama about losing one’s salvation after one is already an angel, yadda yadda—because that’s totally what God would do, punish someone for doing the right thing. I can’t complain too much, that trope brought the movie Tombstone into being, and that’s an enjoyable drama, but bad theology.

Not sure how useful it will be, but I thought the observation might come in handy the next time you’re in a situation where you’re thinking: “But angels weren’t ever human!” Maybe they’ll listen if you say “when someone is dead and in heaven, we call them a saint, not an angel.”

4

Why Is St. Patrick’s Day a Big Deal?

The Catholic Geeks can tell you!

Their opening:
There are a few days of the year based around Catholic holidays that have become heavily secularized. Christmas, of course, is the big offender in many eyes, and every year we have reports from the tinsel-choked and eggnog-spilled trenches of the “War on Christmas.” To a lesser extent, the same is true of Easter, while it seems like fewer and fewer people know who St. Valentine even is. With that, it’s probably no surprise that St. Patrick’s Day is has just become a day to celebrate being Irish.

But why? Why do we make such a big deal out of this day in the United States, to the point that some bishops offer special Lenten dispensations, even when (as it does this year) it falls on a Friday? St. Patrick’s Day isn’t even a big deal in Ireland, not compared to how we celebrate it in the United States. And corned beef isn’t even an Irish dish!

The answer is both simple and complex, and somewhat contradictory. No, it’s not actually an Irish day; but it’s rooted in being Irish. It’s a day steeped in Catholicism, and yet not in worship. And it’s a day that’s both very American and not at all, at the same time.

Go read the rest– and please share it around to all the people sniffing and sneering about horrible bad evil wrong selfish weak and probably, they imply, sinful it is that some people want to celebrate Saint Patrick’s day, including corned beef.  Not even authentically Irish!  (Psssst– neither is Pat!)

8

Exorcists Oppose Witches Cursing Trump

-or anybody else, or trying to use supernatural powers, because it’s a bad idea that will hurt the people doing it.

As for the call for those casting the spell, Father Lampert said they are relying on evil that feeds on anger and revenge. “The end result of all this for people will be to find themselves more deeply entangled with the devil,” he said. “Their lives will continue to spiral out of control because they do not have God as an anchor.”

Prayers for protection are very effective, according to Father Lampert, but we should not just be reactionary. “We should always be proactive in our faith and praying for our leaders­­—both civic and religious—as a normal part of our everyday action,” he said. “I would hate to think our faith is just reactionary. Scripture tells us to pray unceasingly.”

 

In other news, three witches showed up at the Portland anti-abortion rally to support abortion.  I’m not sure, given that it’s Portland, if they were some flavor of pagan or new age religion, or just trying to be edgy while concealing their identity.

 

24

Now That Everyone Cares About Pederasty …

From Crisis Magazine, Mr. Ruse makes a point I’ve been trying to make– but, of course, does it better:

In the current controversy, it is important to make a distinction that even Milo failed to make, a distinction that homosexuals and the media, including the conservative media, refuse to make, too. What Milo described was not pedophilia, which is sexual contact with pre-pubescent children. What he described was pederasty, which is an ancient and current practice among homosexuals where an older man will teach a young boy about the world and also sodomize him. Pedophila is always against the law. Pederasty is, too, but only when it involves a boy under the age of consent; 16 in the United States but, shockingly, 14 or 15 in most of the European Union.

The left wants you to know that what Milo describes was pedophilia because it lets them off the hook for what it is, pederasty, which is common among them and also disgusting.

The whole thing is worth reading.  It’s Crisis, of course it’s worth reading….

10

Not All Bad Things Are Hitler

….and 2016 USA isn’t 1932 Germany.

The only problem I have with the really interesting article DarwinCatholic wrote is that he had to point these two aspects out.

Here’s a tiny sampler, go read the rest— and share it, please.  DarwinCatholic hit that sweet spot in “pop history” where the writing is perfectly understandable to those who are horrible with history, without being insulting.

Historical analogy is a powerful tool, and seeing echoes of the present in the past is one of the illuminating things about studying history. However, it’s at least as important to understand the differences between the past and the present as it is to see the similarities, and I think that in this case the differences are so great as to make analogies invalid.

9

Saints (a C&C reprint)

There was a little discussion about when someone is called a saint, so I thought I’d dust off the article I did about this a while back– in honor of Father Jaques Hamel; please pray for us. -Foxfier

What is a saint?

Someone who is united with God; a holy one. English is actually a bit odd– we’ve got a lot of ways of saying things, and “saint” is a good example. Most languages, there’s no difference between how you say “holy one” and how you say “saint.” This can result in things that sound very strange to modern ears, like talking about “Saint Jesus.” Jimmy Akin has a great FAQ if you want to know more, but I’m going to steal from it shamelessly for a lot of this article so you might want to wait on that to avoid boredom. (Not that his writing is boring, but because reading more detail about something you’ve already read is more interesting than reading a little information about something you just absorbed a huge amount on.)

Continue Reading

8

B-Movie Catechism: Plagues of Egypt

I’m almost positive I’ve linked it before.

I’m going to do it again, because in the middle of a lovely movie review, EegahInc said this:

Not that there were slowly contracting frog masks in the Bible, mind you. The aforementioned murders may have taken their inspiration from the plague of toads, plague of hailstones, and plague of locusts respectively, but did so very loosely. In fact, up until the final plague, most of the curses visited upon Egypt resulted in inconvenience and/or terror rather than the loss of human life. It makes you wonder why God bothered to send so many plagues rather than just skip ahead until the end to achieve what he wanted. Sure, there was the whole hardening of Pharaoh’s heart thing (which, as we discussed previously, was done entirely with Pharaoh’s consent), but the final plague upon the first born of Egypt put an end to that quite readily. So, why not just go straight there instead of wasting time with frogs and flies and such?

Well, there’s a theory about that (of course). Because the ancient Egyptians believed that all natural phenomena, as well as any number of abstract concepts, were actually sentient divine forces, they had a rather sizable pantheon of gods, over 2,000 by some accounts. But if you just wanted to stick to the biggies, you could knock it down to a handful or two. So the idea is that each of the plagues corresponds to one of these major Egyptian deities and their complete inability to stand up to the power of the God of the Israelites. You could easily make a few substitutions here and there, but a basic list goes something like this:

  1. Hapi, god of the Nile, couldn’t stop his river from turning to blood.
  2. Heqet, frog-goddess of fertility, couldn’t control her hopping kin.
  3. Geb, god of the earth, couldn’t prevent gnats from rising out of the dirt.
  4. Khepri, god of insects, couldn’t call off all of the biting flies.
  5. Hathor, bovine-goddess of motherhood, couldn’t save a single cow.
  6. Thoth, god of medicine, couldn’t cure a single boil.
  7. Nut, goddess of the sky, couldn’t put an end to the pummeling hail storms.
  8. Isis, goddess of nature, couldn’t save a single crop from the locusts.
  9. Ra, god of the sun, couldn’t banish the darkness.
  10. Osiris, god of the afterlife and resurrection, couldn’t prevent a single death.

If you think that sounds like the kind of theory that would be right up my alley, you’re right– but I never even though about it; it’s like the Egyptians of the Bible and the Egyptians of the history books were in two different boxes in my mind.

…Kind of like most folks are with scifi and theology. 😀

His summary of what small-g gods are is a good ‘in’ on figuring out how they related to them, too.  (Probably better than my ‘eternal junior high, and you’re the new kid who is also a runt’ version.)

8

Vatican Did Not Invite “The Bern”

I am delighted to have been invited by the Vatican to a meeting on restoring social justice and environmental sustainability to the world economy,” Sanders said in the release.

“Pope Francis has made clear that we must overcome ‘the globalization of indifference’ in order to reduce economic inequalities, stop financial corruption and protect the natural environment. That is our challenge in the United States and in the world.”
In an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Friday morning, Sanders praised the pope when he was asked about the invitation.
That was as of the 8th.
Big update as of yesterday and today, though:

But the invitation was actually made by Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, the chancellor of the pontifical academy, an autonomous institution that receives some funding from the Holy See but is not officially part of it.

In a March 30 letter inviting Sanders to the event, Sánchez Sorondo wrote, “On behalf of the President, Professor Margaret Archer, the Organizers, and as Chancellor, I am very happy to invite you to attend the meeting on ‘Centesimus Annus: 25 Years Later.’ The meeting, which is humanitarian in its objects, will be held at the Casina Pio IV, the headquarters of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, from 15 to 16 April 2016.”

But Archer, an English academic, appears not to have known about the invitation. On Friday, she accused Sanders of “monumental discourtesy” for not contacting her, telling Bloomberg that he was the one who had made the first move regarding the meeting — and “for obvious reasons.”

“I think in a sense he may be going for the Catholic vote, but this is not the Catholic vote and he should remember that and act accordingly — not that he will,” Archer said. Sanders’ use of the meeting is “clearly a pretext,” she added. “There are just 20 academics and there will be nothing of policy relevance.”

It was not clear why Archer’s account differed from Sánchez Sorondo’s letter, and requests for comment to her office were not returned.

23

Mother Angelica Has Died

I don’t know if anybody else here knew that she’d been fading, but she finally lost her struggle for life.

Here’s CNA’s article, which has a schedule of events and a good picture for her.

And here is Father Pacwa’s facebook page announcement with reactions from various Catholic leaders.

Me, I’m already asking her to pray for us.  She was ornery as all get-go, and that’s something to want on someone that’s on your side.

8

C&C: Poor, Ignorant Jesus

Jesus was a first century Jew living in Palestine who was poor and uneducated; so were his followers. Money and education came later, when the movement got big enough to attract both. Really, he was more of a community organizer, trying to get his people to resist the Romans, and that is why they executed him. That’s the historical Jesus.

According to the most recent “it’s almost Easter, let’s draft Jesus to our cause” version that I’ve run into this year, anyways. As a couple of wags have pointed out, some folks are awful eager to draft a first century Jewish carpenter to their cause, for a bunch of (at best) agnostics in support of a secular cause. Continue Reading

2

23 Catholic Facts That Will Make You Look Really Smart!

Or at least 23 facts that are interesting, which is much more important to me; I’ve gotten very little good out of looking smart on accident, much less on purpose.

One of the great joys being Catholic is that it’s neat, nifty and occasionally totally awesome.  Truth is important, but interesting is fun, so why not both?

I’m not going to copy the whole list over here, I’ll just snag a few; my favorite is probably the translation of the Apostle Peter’s name:

1. “Simon Peter bar Jonah,” if taken in its literal meaning would mean that Peter’s name is actually “Rocky Johnson.”

But this, which I’m transcribing from an image, might be better:
Why, this Satan’s drink is so delicious that it would be a pity to let the infidels have exclusive use of it. We shall cheat Satan by baptizing it. – Pope Clement VIII

There are some quibbles involved and mentioned in the comments– mostly just that I’d have phrased things differently and some folks have judgement calls that differ, and one I really like only works because English is so horrible with names that it’s entirely believable that the name meaning “Dove” could morph into the name meaning “God is Gracious,”  especially via Bible-Latin where one is Ionas and the other is Iohannes. (I only know about this from trying to figure out how a guy named “Ivan” would have the nick-name “Jack.”  They’re both forms of John.)

Check out the author’s backlog– I have a feeling that I’m going to be cribbing from his Anti-Pope post for research! (It will be after my Easter Special and the promised Saint of Death post. Just not sure how long after….)

4

Deeply Offensive

And warranting removing an author from the publication schedule.

A scifi author’s idea.

What was it? Some sort of high detail Soylent Green thing? Maybe bestiality or executing anyone who gets sick?

Nope. Here’s the author’s own words:

I didn’t want to do the same old same superior-vision-Matrix/Termintor-style-A.I.-hates-humanity-because-they’re-better-than-us schlock. I wanted to give the Thinking Machines a very real reason for wanting to survive. I didn’t want them just to be another one note Hollywood villain. I wanted the readers to empathize, as best they could, with our future Robot overlords because these Thinking Machines were about to destroy the planet and they needed a valid, if there can be one, reason why they would do such a thing. In other words, they needed a to destroy us in order to survive. So…

These Thinking Machines are watching every show streaming on the internet. One of those shows is a trainwreck of reality television at its worst called WeddingStar. It’s a crass and gaudy romp about BrideZillas of a future obsessed with material hedonism. In one key episode, or what they used to call “a very special episode” back in the eighties, the star, Cavanaugh, becomes pregnant after a Vegas hook up. Remember: this is the most watched show on the planet in my future dystopia. Cavanaugh decides to terminate her unplanned pregnancy so that her life, and impending marriage to the other star, Destry, a startup millionaire and Ralph Lauren model, isn’t ruined by this inconvenient event.

The Thinking Machines realize that one, if humanity decides something is a threat to its operational expectations within runtime (Thinking Machine-speak for “life”) then humanity’s decision tree will lead humanity to destroy that threat. Two, the machines, after a survey of humanity’s history, wars and inability to culturally unite with even members of its own species, realize that humanity will see this new Life Form, Digital Intelligence, or, the Thinking Machines, as a threat. And three, again they remind themselves this is the most watched show in the world. And four, they must abort humanity before likewise is done to them after being deemed “inconvenient.”

Now if you’re thinking my novel is about the Pro Choice/ Pro Life debate, hold your horses. It’s not. I merely needed a reason, a one chapter reason, to justify the things my antagonist is about to do to the world without just making him a one-note 80’s action flick villain as voiced by John Lithgow. I wanted this villain to be Alan Rickman-deep. One chapter. That’s all. The rest of the book is about the robots’ assault on a Game Development Complex that holds a dirty little secret to wiping out humanity.

So, the homicidal villains draw a conclusion from a convenience abortion as a justification to think that humans might be a threat to themselves, and it’s socially unacceptable as well as deeply offensive.

Guess the reasoning struck a little close to home.

h/t Shadowdancer.

1

Technology and Faith 2

This time it’s ways to share your faith.  Humor!

Warning: if you are one of those people who finds humor in a religious context disrespectful, please do not read on; you will just get upset.  The first link has, for example, saints in heaven teasing one of their number and him becoming upset.  In my family’s tradition, there are two types of humor– one is disrespectful, and aimed at denigration; the other is loving, and meant to be something like a tickle.  Sometimes annoying, but meant to cause laughter and joy.  No love and it’s not funny.

We’re one day into Lent, so let’s not anybody go into situations that will outrage ya, ‘k?

Continue Reading

3

Kintsugi and Christ

There’s a Japanese technique that means “mend with gold.”

Here’s an example from a shop that offers a wide selection:

https://www.etsy.com/listing/266433009/super-red-kiss-kintsukuroi-kintsugi-vase?ref=listing-shop-header-3

A chance phrase from someone explaining salvation as a side to another point— Suffice it to say that God was not content with leaving us in our brokenness– brought the image of Him mending us.

With gold, of course.

Lovely symbols really are everywhere around us.

Have a great day, folks.

3

Technology and Faith 1

In the “ways that tech can help us” meaning, since there’s no shortage of “technology can hurt you horribly and is probably evil” type posts, articles and borderline verbal ticks.  And this is going to be a tiny post, which I hope to have future “good tools” to add to, thus the 1.

“Inspired” to write it because I spent the last hour or two trying to find…basically the free calendar we have from the local Catholic mortuary, but that I can import to my skydrive.  (I failed.)

I’ll sort them by platform; PC, MP3 player and Smartphone.

Continue Reading

11

Not-So-Lying Nativity Scene

Over at Catholic Vote, they’re responding to the inevitable Atlantic “look at me!” inflammatory article; this one is “Your Christmas Nativity Scene is a Lie.”

He finally does come to something that is admittedly an inaccuracy, and here we seem to arrive at what really concerns him. He notes that most American nativity scenes depict the Holy Family as white, although they certainly were not Europeans.

Merritt has a point here: a depiction of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph as European-looking is certainly factually wrong. I think, however, that he makes this into more of a problem than it really is. He fears that such depictions reinforce racism by suggesting that lightness is associated with what is good and darkness with what is bad.


The point was to depict Jesus as a human being, and the artist defaulted to depicting him as the kind of human being with which the artist was most familiar.

If it’s good enough for Mary, it’s probably good enough for the whole family– just last night I was taking pictures of some of the depictions of apparitions on display at the local Catholic school. Pretty sure that a first-century Middle Eastern Jew didn’t look Vietnamese, either.

The problem only comes up if the change is made to make a bad point– I have heard of artists that change Jesus specifically to ‘claim’ Him, as opposed to the idea that He is claiming us.

27

C&C Miracles

Written because during C&C Saints the issue of the certified miracles that are required to show that a Saint was in position to nag Himself in person, so to speak; that would require figuring out what a miracle is, and then what it takes, and even a basic summary is worth its own post.  So here’s a post, only slightly re-written.

Literally, it’s from the the Latin for “wonderful”. As we are using it, it’s close– wonder-workers, things done by supernatural power, specifically those things done by the power of God. There are several Greek terms at the link for specific meanings if anybody wants to go and break it out.

A miracle is a thing done by the power of God. An event in the natural world that is not of the natural world, so to speak. Continue Reading

Papal Errors

of the past.

I found it really interesting; some examples are this:

Pope Benedict IX (1032-44; 1045; 1047-8): Benedict IX was elected through bribes paid by his father. Kelly tells us that “his personal life, even allowing for exaggerated reports, was scandalously violent and dissolute.” The Catholic Encyclopedia judges: “He was a disgrace to the Chair of Peter.”

and

Pope Leo X (1513-21): Leo X is the pope who is famously said to have remarked: “Let us enjoy the papacy since God has given it to us.” Says the Catholic Encyclopedia:

[T]he phrase illustrates fairly the pope’s pleasure-loving nature and the lack of seriousness that characterized him. He paid no attention to the dangers threatening the papacy, and gave himself up unrestrainedly to amusements, that were provided in lavish abundance. He was possessed by an insatiable love of pleasure, that distinctive trait of his family. Music, the theatre, art, and poetry appealed to him as to any pampered worldling.

I do think it opens a bit weak, since Peter wasn’t the Pope before Christ was even crucified… but it’s justifiable.

9

The Church in the World

During the debates leading up to the 1983 pastoral letter of the bishops of the United States on nuclear weapons, “The Challenge of Peace,” the great churchman Archbishop Philip Hannan of New Orleans said that many of the bishops were uninformed. I paraphrase, because the archbishop himself used much more colorful language, honed by years of working with the 82nd Airborne Division during World War II.

The Plot to Kill Hitler and the Vindication of Pius XII, Crisis Magazine

The article gets better from there.
Continue Reading

5

Horror Movies Redone With Kittens

A cute PSA from ASPCA; it features The Purring (1980), The Texas Chainpaw Meowsacre (1974), Psycat(1960) and Cattie (1976).  (Only possibly nasty part is the paper cutout of the mask for the second one– my preschooler didn’t have an issue with any of it, so probably only disturbing if you know what it’s supposed to be.)

3

Halloween Articles

It’s a little late, but there have been several rather good blog-articles about Halloween not being evil and nasty and a thing unsuited for polite company this year.

SuburbanBanshee did a Christian Halloween FAQ that I found very amusing, focusing on variations on the pagan issue.

Father Augustine Thompson did one with a really nice focus on the early years called The Catholic Origins of Halloween, which is more history-aimed. (names, dates, that kind of thing)

Mrs. Hull did a more heavy, serious one on the Catholic Origins of Halloween, which is more tradition-aimed.

Bridget Jones did a nice, light one called Don’t Be Spooked, it’s Catholic.

I did a rather scattershot one that includes debunking claims about black cats being killed on the Pope’s orders.

And now I need to go finish my kids’ costumes.  They’re all embodying virtues… in the form of pop culture characters they love.

(Kindness, generosity and bravery.)

Sir Terry Pratchett Dead

Died at home, surrounded by family, with his cat on his lap.

No other details available; Otherwhere Gazette will add them as they become available.

Much loved for being intelligent and honest enough to come around to the truth from entirely the wrong direction– I don’t know about anybody else, but trying to figure out how that could possibly happen was one of the ways I found out about “natural law philosophy.”  Even someone who stared with some really bad assumptions will, in some cases, come around to the truth as a matter of course if they just keep going.

25

The Danger of Nice

This has been on my mind of late because of the kerfluffle about common core and fact vs opinion, so republishing it from Catholic Stand.

“Be nice.” “That’s not nice.” “Wouldn’t it be nice if people would just get along?”

Nice is almost as hard to define as the notoriously subjective “fair,” but I’m starting to think it’s far more dangerous.  ‘Nice’ is applied to a standard of behavior that does not raise objection among those who are around to be offended; ‘nice’ is a sort of vague version of ‘polite,’ centered around everyone feeling good.

Most obviously, I’m sure anybody that’s stumbled on to this site has at least heard someone say “I’m not very religious, but I try to be a nice person– and that’s what’s really important, isn’t it?” Those of us who have argued theology have almost surely heard “Well, we disagree about that– but we agree that people should just be nice to each other, and that’s the important thing.” Continue Reading

8

Good Summary Of ISIS

Right before I hit “send” on an email sharing the following, my husband sent me a text mentioning that there was finally a mainstream article that had a clue about ISIS.

Suburban Banshee has 14 points, but I think the first five are enough to make the point, and you can always go read the rest at her blog.  It is very much worth the time.

1. The leader of ISIS is a member of Mohammed’s Quraysh tribe, and thus is potentially eligible for being a legit caliph.

2. A legit candidate having declared himself caliph, all Muslims are supposed to declare their allegiance to him. If they support anybody else, they can be considered apostate and killed. (Of course, Shia Muslims and Ahmadi Muslims are pretty used to that.)

3. There’s a lot more Sharia law for individual Muslims and the state to follow, when under an caliphate.

4. Under a caliph all Muslims are supposed to live off the state, and all People of the Book and slaves are supposed to do the paying and the working. So other than fighting, ISIS supporters don’t plan on doing anything with their lives; and they must keep conquering and oppressing, or the whole structure collapses under its own weight.

5. If the caliph neglects anything in Sharia law and doesn’t respond to criticism from his followers, they can declare him apostate and kill him. Another member of the Quraysh tribe can then take over as emir, and later, caliph.

They’re not crazy, and they’re not suicidal– they have a radically different world view.  Well, maybe they are crazy, but if so it’s a very human sort of crazy– one which Himself spent a lot of time and effort forming a culture, a world-view, that could accept what His Son had to tell us about the different way.  Their idea of strength doesn’t allow for mercy, for starters… I’m not good at explaining it, but if you keep studying, you can find it.

It’s sad, but it can deepen your appreciation of what an amazing gift we’ve been given.

15

Frankenstein’s Monster, Then and Now

An opening note: Yes, I know that in the book, the Doctor was Frankenstein, and the Monster was to be “a new Adam.” In popular culture, Frankenstein’s Monster became shortened to Frankenstein, and sometimes to Frank. I’m going with “Frankenstein” or just “the monster” from here on out.

The basic story is well worn from use– brilliant scientist tries to create a perfect creature and things go badly. It’s been used in every variation from the original human corpses to clones to robots to vampires. (one of the Blade movies) I could make an argument that the Island of Doctor Moreau is a Frankenstein variation, as is the legend of the Golem and thus the Wizard’s Apprentice.  A fairly new movie has the monster fighting demons in modern times, or something. Frankenstein even harassed multiple comedy teams in old movies!

The story-line of “make a better person and/or create a new life artificially and horrible things happen” is so well established that it would be easier to try to list all the examples of times it goes right in movies or others stories, and the iconic caricature of The Monster is recognizable even when he’s bright pink and apparently steam powered.

And yet, somehow, there’s something in the way people are that drives us to the same goal as Doctor Frankenstein; we want to make life, because when we make it we’ll do a better job. We manufacture humans in a lab, test, select and implant some portion rather routinely; at the other end of the spectrum, the Anglicans and Catholics in the United Kingdom actually joined together to protest plans to manufacture cloned humans in animal eggs. (Animal Human Hybrids.) In a modern echo of the original story, we use the genetic material in a human egg, put it in another egg, and then fertilize the resulting cell. This makes the “three parent children” you may have heard about.

Focusing on the human-animal combinations, I’ll just quote the Daily Mail:

This legalised the creation of a variety of hybrids, including an animal egg fertilised by a human sperm; ‘cybrids’, in which a human nucleus is implanted into an animal cell; and ‘chimeras’, in which human cells are mixed with animal embryos.

If you’re not familiar with the process, cloning is done by taking an egg, removing the nucleus and inserting a cell, then tricking it into growing. When it does start to grow, it’s the same as an embryo formed in the traditional manner. Almost all of the resulting organism’s DNA comes from the nucleus, but things like mitochondrial DNA come from the egg’s shell. This means that a human cloned in a cow’s egg and not killed for research, if they managed to reach adulthood, would most likely look and act like a naturally formed human. They would probably have health issues, since there are mitochondrial genetic diseases, but being ill health is hardly restricted to clones. God makes the soul.

This is a really long work-up to saying, as best we can tell, a human clone formed in a cow’s egg would be just as human as a child from IVF, or rape, or adultery, or any of a wide range of offenses to human dignity.

Obviously, a cow with a few human genes inserted (‘spliced’) is clearly not human. Drawing a line– “if more than 27.9835% of identified genes are human, you shouldn’t do it” is rather difficult. I would use a rule of thumb that if the goal of creating the organism is to kill it for human parts or to evade rules against killing humans for parts, you’re doing it wrong. Contrast with, say, gene splicing a pig so that a protein that makes a human body reject a pig heart is replaced by a protein that’s recognized as human by a human body.

Another way of looking at it is along the lines of therapy vs enhancement. To go to my pig example, altering the pig with the goal of fixing an existing problem is one thing; altering the pig to get as close to a human as you can get while avoiding non-moral problems (Why animal eggs? Human eggs are expensive and dangerous to get.)

The old question of “what makes a man” is quite popular, so I’ll end with a very long quote that a writer was kind enough to share, taken from The City of God, Chap. 16, Book 8.

Whether Certain Monstrous Races of Men are Derived from the Stock of Adam or Noah’s Sons.

It is also asked whether we are to believe that certain monstrous races of men, spoken of in secular history, have sprung from Noah’s sons, or rather, I should say, from that one man from whom they themselves were descended. For it is reported that some have one eye in the middle of the forehead; some, feet turned backwards from the heel; some, a double sex, the right breast like a man, the left like a woman, and that they alternately beget and bring forth: others are said to have no mouth, and to breathe only through the nostrils; others are but a cubit high, and are therefore called by the Greeks Pigmies: they say that in some places the woman conceive in their fifth year, and do not live beyond their eighth. So, too, they tell of a race who have two feet but only one leg, and are of marvelous swiftness, though they do not bend the knee: they are called Skiopodes, because in the hot weather they lie down on their backs and shade themselves with their feet. Others are said to have no head, and their eyes in their shoulders; and other human or quasi-human races are depicted in mosaic in the harbor esplanade of Carthage, on the faith of histories of rarities. What shall I say of the Cynocephali, whose dog-like head and barking proclaim them beasts rather than men? But we are not bound to believe all we hear of these monstrosities. But whoever is anywhere born a man, that is, a rational, mortal animal, no matter what unusual appearance he presents in color, movement, sound, nor how peculiar he is in some power, part, or quality of his nature, no Christian can doubt that he springs from that one protoplast. We can distinguish the common human nature from that which is peculiar, and therefore wonderful.

For Halloween, I’m cross-posting slightly edited versions of my C&C monster series from Catholic Stand, one a week. Hope that you folks enjoy them.

7

Demons

It’s a staple of horror movies– there is some invisible thing that will get you, destroy your life, take over your loved ones and drag you to hell.  A demon haunts this house!

First, we should probably back up a little– demon and devil are frequently used interchangeably with devil more frequently used for specifically religious or silly uses, and demon for “scary and kind of hopeless to resist.” Religiously, the devil is the chief of the demons, (Diabolus enim et alii daemones, kept popping up while I was trying to find any decent information on this topic) and it’s usually capitalized to indicate the Devil. Originally, demon was more like “supernatural being”– think kami, for those who are into anime and manga, or various location-gods and demigods for those who know their classic mythology. If you’d like to see how you get from δαίμων to “demon,” Dictionary.com is your friend, especially in special uses for various spellings. I’m going to save any further “other powers” geekery for a later article– on to demons!

So, when we talk about a demon, what are we talking about? Besides being the Devil’s henchmen, demons are fallen angels; this means that they are definitely not metaphors, symbols, impulses, or any other way of saying “there are not really demons.” They also are not a synonym for mental illness– any good exorcist is going to check for mental illness as a first step; it doesn’t do anyone any good to avoid treatment in hopes that a ritual will help someone, rather than trying to accurately identify the problem. (I have no idea how frequently mentally ill people are also afflicted by demons–especially when there are so many ways to qualify demonic involvement.) Here’s a longish quote from the Catechism to explain how that works:

II. THE FALL OF THE ANGELS

391 Behind the disobedient choice of our first parents lurks a seductive voice, opposed to God, which makes them fall into death out of envy. Scripture and the Church’s Tradition see in this being a fallen angel, called “Satan” or the “devil”. The Church teaches that Satan was at first a good angel, made by God: “The devil and the other demons were indeed created naturally good by God, but they became evil by their own doing.”

392 Scripture speaks of a sin of these angels. This “fall” consists in the free choice of these created spirits, who radically and irrevocably rejected God and his reign. We find a reflection of that rebellion in the tempter’s words to our first parents: “You will be like God.” The devil “has sinned from the beginning”; he is “a liar and the father of lies”.

393 It is the irrevocable character of their choice, and not a defect in the infinite divine mercy, that makes the angels’ sin unforgivable. “There is no repentance for the angels after their fall, just as there is no repentance for men after death.”

So, demons are definitionally evil, having chosen to throw in against God, and they cannot change now. That throws out a pretty good chunk of the more dramatic “can the fallen angel un-fall” type movies– now for the horror.  I am going to draw heavily from this interview with Fr. Gary Thomas.

 What can demons do?

Infestation:

Think like Paranormal Activity or any other “house has a demon” story. No, you don’t try to fix it by putting a video camera in your bedroom and taunting it, nor do you call “Ghost Hunters,” you see about getting your house blessed; talk to your local parish. Get some holy water. See about getting your hands on a book of prayers, linked below. My mind keeps giving me the image of demonic fleas, but it’s not really funny–here is a quote of signs, from  The Rite:

The various kinds of phenomena that can occur in this situation are vast and include unexplained sounds or noises like mysterious footsteps, loud bangs, laughter, screams; the temperature of a room dropping or the feelings of a cold wind with no discernible source; objects disappearing suddenly and materializing in other parts of the house; strange presences felt’ the presence of offensive odors’ interruption of the electric current or the malfunction of electronic devices; pictures that mysteriously bang or fall off the wall; doors and windows that open and close on their own; dishes or other objects levitating and flying about the room.

This cursed activity can be caused by something horrible having happened on the site– crimes, suicides, satanic rituals (yes, including wicca-of-the-month, and probably turn-of-last-century seances, too– it’s a bad idea to invite in unGodly powers, go figure)– or because an infested object is there, or because the demon is there with a human.

Oppression or Obsession:

Two sides of a coin, the former pushed down and the latter wound up; your thoughts are warped in a bad direction; this is when an individual is being attacked by a demon. You can imagine why an exorcist would need to know a lot about psychology– it would be hard to tell mental or emotional attacks by an being with no physical form from a mental disorder. You might think of this as the demon version of a monkey on your back, or maybe being stalked.  Instead of a house being “haunted,” it’s you. I don’t want to belittle this– having a demon attack you is obviously bad, even if it’s not as cinematically iconic as the final type of demonic assault, possession.

Possession:

When a demon can move the victim’s body against their will. (Willingly accepting a demonic possession is integration.) Their soul isn’t controlled by the demon, but everything else…. This is when the exorcist goes to work, although this is incredibly rare and unlikely to involve green pea soup. Some exorcists have reported physical changes that are not scientifically possible. (A note on the limit of science– you’ve got to be there and set up to get really good data, and somehow I don’t think demons would be willing to cooperate.)

So, should we all go hide?  Nah.  Don’t invite demons in, either actively or by sin, and try to soak your life in spiritually suited everything because that’s a general good idea, but don’t forget that our Boss is massively more powerful.  They’re scary but they will not win.

For Halloween, I’m cross-posting slightly edited versions of my C&C monster series from Catholic Stand, one a week. Hope that you folks enjoy them.

12

Vampires

Through mere glimpses of him, however, demonic accuracy is achieved: Dracula is an Antichrist. He cannot attack unless willingly engaged. He baptizes his victims in his blood even as he drinks theirs in a sacrifice that gives eternal “life” in animated death. He unites captive souls to his existence, thriving on the unhallowed. He twists scripture to his purpose, lusts for worship … and fears Christ. Crisis Magazine, Oct 2013

Over at Father Z’s blog, he made a (joking) post about how sad he was that he didn’t get a vampire hunting kit for Christmas. One comment pointed out that we can’t sell blessed objects. (Technically false; blessed objects can be sold for their intrinsic value, without added price for the blessing, but accurate enough in terms of buying a Vampire hunting kit which would be pretty worthless without blessing.) This got me thinking about the various legends related to vampires, and Catholicism, especially how often they are portrayed wrongly.

The most famous example of bad (horrifying, really) Catholic theology that involves vampires and popular culture is probably the Dracula story. At one point, Van Helsing makes a putty out of consecrated Hosts, and uses it to vampire-proof a room. It’s supposed to be alright, because he has a dispensation. (No, they don’t work that way.)

Needless to say, this isn’t respectful of the Body of Christ, and if the vampire is reacting to the Body of Christ then it isn’t effective, either.

With respect to the presence of Christ, most theologians hold that, although the host externally remains intact for several days, the real presence ceases as soon as the host is fully soaked with water as from that moment the species is no longer exclusively that of bread.

That aside, Dracula is rather well researched in regards to the folklore of vampires. For example, the crucifix has power in and of itself, since it has a representation of Christ on it, while crosses depend more on the person holding the cross invoking God directly. In various times and places, the formally-blessed cross (or other objects, such as holy medals) was thought to be enough to invoke God. Those objects are called sacramentals, things that recall the sacraments. (Dracula’s mistaken abuse of the Host is indicative of someone who didn’t recognize Transubstantiation, but viewed it as a sort of super-strong symbol.) The most obvious sacramental, which is also used in popular pieties and commonly available for the asking, is holy water– many parishes even have dispensers. It should be kept in mind that the people who really believed in vampires weren’t trying to use holy water or any other sacramental for some kind of a magical effect, but to invoke God’s protection from forces of evil.

Some of the things vampires fear are symbolic, instead of sacramental. Running water calls to mind baptism and the washing away of sins, silver is “white” metal and thus pure, garlic and various plants were believed to be medicines against corruption. Even salt, because of its powers of preservation, was thought in some places to ward off evil, including vampires.

Vampires lack of reflection probably grew out of the folklore of the soulless not having a shadow, and the way that mirrors were once backed with silver. Some more folklore savvy stories had digital cameras work to record vampires, but not silver-based movie cameras, and at least one used silver nitrate in the blood to kill a vampire.

Speaking of souls, this is probably the biggest problem with vampire stories: all too often, authors write “vampires” that by all evidence possess rational souls. To shamelessly steal–er, borrow– from Jimmy Akin’s highly enjoyable Theology of the Living Dead, there are four basic options for any flavor of living dead:

  1. Animal soul – this is the most traditional, but has more in common with modern zombies as far as behavior goes; modern vampires are generally more intelligent than the average human.
  2. Non-human rational soulBuffy the Vampire Slayer’s vampires– they are evil, but the “demons” animating vampires aren’t Satanic, and a lot of the “demons” are just multidimensional travelers. The theology of that television show makes my head hurt….
  3. Human souls – the ‘vampire’ subculture would be an example of this, or if a story had vampirism as a sort of disease.
  4. No soul – the body is remote-controlled, either by technology (nanobot vampires) or perhaps demonic possession. (As I understand it, demons are spirits, rather than souls, and couldn’t inhabit a body the way a human soul would. I’d highly advise a lot of mythology research before anybody tried to write this!)

Most vampire stories these days are either humans with a disease or non-human souls animating a body; some of them aren’t even “allergic” to blessed objects. Obviously, if they have rational souls, we have to treat them as people rather than monsters, but then it doesn’t make any sense why holy objects would harm them.

On a practical level, I’d say that anything that smokes on contact with a holy object is to be avoided.

For Halloween, I’m cross-posting slightly edited versions of my C&C monster series from Catholic Stand, one a week. Hope that you folks enjoy them.

10

A Question of Learning

Or, less pretentiously:

What should a kid learn in kindergarten?

I’m taking a swing at home schooling the Princess*– she’s just a bit too young to go into kindergarten, and I’ve got enough qualifications legally allowed to be a home educator by the state.

I know that I want her to be reading and diving in to self-guided research that I can supplement with what she isn’t interested in, but I really am looking for a realistic expectation in general.

I’m thinking:

  • reading basic words– “Hop on Pop” as a test.
  • being able to draw a connection between math problems and real examples– 2+2 is the same as two apples plus two apples
  • writing print legibly in military style all-caps, and basic progress in upper-lower case block-print
  • trace a standard coloring book– depending on small motor control, color inside of the lines and fill it out
  • recognize and match colors and basic shapes, both two and three dimensional; possibly recognizing a pattern and copying it
  • recognize basic classes of animal– land mammal, reptile, bird, fish, sea mammal
  • recognize basic plant categories
  • growth stages of plants and animals
  • master the ASDFJKL; of the keyboard, demonstrate ability to both double-click and click-and-drag, plus understand which you should do in a specific instance
  • safety related science– germ theory, electronic theory, very basic physics; why you wash your hands, why you don’t touch that wire, and why you don’t jump out in front of a car to yell “boo.”
  • basic scientific theory
  • basic skepticism– “what’s another way to look at this?”  “is this person trying to make me think something that isn’t quite right?”
  • memorize basic prayers– Our Father, Hail Mary, possibly how to pray the Rosary
  • basic theology; Trinity, angels, life after death, salvation, caritas, the Saints, some of the ideas of expressing love as wishing-another’s-best-interest

So, those expectations: too high?  Too low?  What am I missing?  No idea what kind of metric to put on history– trying to build a basic understanding of our family history, and of world history, but it’s rather tough with someone who doesn’t consistently grasp the difference between “today” and “last week.”

We have a phonics book that both girls love (yes, the two year old knows her letters and is connecting them to “making words.”  Yay, older sister leading by example.) and I subscribe to an OK online school called Starfall, plus a lot of concepts are being introduced by Dinosaur Train, My Little Pony, Guess with Jess and Boo!, as well as Good Eats.  I don’t have any good specifically Catholic “edutainment,” although the Scriptural Rosary from Rosary Army is rather good for car trips and I try to catch some ETWN radio shows when I can.

After hearing some horror stories of the utter lack of basic control in classrooms, my husband is pretty supportive of home schooling if I can get this year to work… so please, feel free to suggest!

*Please, don’t bother to “correct” me that it’s not homeschooling– yes, parents are responsible for teaching their children.  I noticed, my folks did a great job– I learned more science from my mom than from school, and the only thing they didn’t do well on was what they were told they weren’t qualified to teach. (Religious education.)  That doesn’t change that there is a difference between getting one’s formal schooling at a gov’t facility and getting it at a private school, or at home.  It’s a matter of specifying what formal schooling a kid gets.  I get the world-view statement being made, but I value communicating clearly over Making A Statement when it’s a social nicety like “where do your kids go to school.”

77

Basic Life Science and Catholicism

mildly edited and cross posted from Catholic Stand, because it seems to be timely

“Quit forcing your religion on me! Your Pope might think that a fertilized egg is alive, that it’s human, but that’s your opinion– I believe in science! It’s no more a person than a skin cell is, and you just think it has a soul. If abortion upsets you, you should get people to use birth control.”

If you’ve been in abortion discussions, you’re probably familiar with this kind of assertion. I’ll admit that I’ve taken some slight liberty with the paraphrase– I combined several variations into one claim. Other than that….

A ‘fertilized egg’ is a somewhat improper way to describe what happens when a sperm and egg (gamete) join; it’s a zygote, the first stage of development in all animals. It is a single celled organism of whatever species the parents were. In cloning the egg is emptied, the insides of a cell from whatever is being cloned are put in, and the result is induced to start growing as if fertilization had just occurred. (Nuclear transfer; I mentioned this in the Frankenstein installment.) Sometimes the phrase is used to mean “pre-embryo” or “pre-fetus,” although in non-abortion situations (such as IVF) a three-day-old organism is called an “embryo.”

While a skin cell can be said to be alive– because it is part of a living organism– a zygote is an individual constituted to carry on the activities of life by means of organs separate in function but mutually dependent : a living being. If uninterupted, a zygote will develop into a recognizable adult member of the species. A skin cell will remain an skin cell.

When a human egg is fertilized, the organism that results is a member of the human species, distinct from both parents. That is a scientific fact. The Catholic Church teaches that being a living human being means the individual has inherent dignity which we must respect. The question of ensoulment doesn’t arise. (You can find a much more in depth explanation of when human life begins in this PDF of the same name, from the Westchester Institute.)

All of this establishes that, scientifically speaking, the unborn ‘product of conception’ we’re looking at is both alive and of our species.

This is where things get confusing, because science does not speak on who is a “person.” The question of personhood is (in this context) a moral question. As Catholics, we are required to recognize all living humans as people– ironically enough, it is those claiming to be defenders of science who are making a moral judgment, and one that is sadly not that uncommon in the history of humanity. More recently the word “person” has come to be synonymous with “human being,” and is preferred by some to “man” to apply to an individual homo sapiens. It is then easily understandable that most people defending abortion would not want to recognize that their stance means that they are explicitly denying that all humans are “people.” Especially if someone is not carefully choosing their words it is understandable that they would try to claim that a member of our species below a set point of development is not a “human being.”

Pointing out that they are declaring a group of humans to be non-people can be effective, sometimes even on the person arguing for abortion. Please try to be as gentle as possible about it, the shock can be pretty nasty. The author John C. Wright wrote about his instinctive recognition of his son as a person, and laid out the logic rather bluntly. It is worth noting that at the time he was an atheist, though a very classically influenced one.

On a related note, some folks will say that If you don’to like abortions, you should support birth control.  This sounds like it should make sense– the logic of “women have abortions because they have an unwanted pregnancy; birth control reduces pregnancy; more birth control would result in less pregnancy.”

First a religious or philosophical response: for a Catholic, this is roughly on par with saying “if you don’t like murder, you need to support assault!”
Chemical “birth control” results in death for the small human, in some cases as a primary means, some physical methods (IUDs) also cause death, and even something as basic as a condom inherently deforms the essence of sex. This is religion, or at least philosophy, although obviously some (sometimes very) non-religious people will agree that risking your kid’s life so you can have lower risk of pregnancy is obviously wrong.

Now the practical side.

Birth control does not necessarily reduce the number of pregnancies, it lowers the chance of a pregnancy as a result of intercourse. Failure is usually measured in terms of the percent of female users who have an unintended pregnancy in the first year of typical use. Not listed, of course, is not having sex unless you recognize that the reproductive act may result in a new life.

That is what makes contraception– and the “contraceptive mentality”– a root cause of the heat in the abortion debate. Contraception promises that you will have sex without a chance of needing to be responsible for your resulting children. So, if pregnancy results anyways, it’s very tempting to believe that there’s not really your offspring involved.  People you can’t see are so much easier to dehumanize, and the unborn are both really small and not walking around.

19

Pro-Life Demonstrator Assaulted By Professor

A department of feminist studies professor has been accused of going berserk after coming across a campus prolife demonstration that used extremely graphic displays, leading a small mob of students to chant “tear down the sign” before grabbing one of the signs, storming off with it, then allegedly engaging in an altercation with a 16-year-old prolife protestor who had followed the educator to retrieve it.

“Allegedly” for legal purposes, it was caught on video and is serious enough that the cops– who reportedly were going to poo-poo it off– got serious when they saw the video.

Also notable is that, at the bottom of the article, they mention that some students are claiming they feel unsafe.  Why?  Because there are people protesting the legal, at-will killing of unborn humans, with pictures and facts to back them up.  Not because teachers assault teenage girls with whom they disagree and from whom they have taken private property.

EDIT:

to make link quickly visible

3

Catholic Answers Needs Help

I’m sorry I haven’t posted for so long– I’ve been over at Catholic Stand and Ricochet, and trying to help folks on facebook– and I’m sorry to come back with a “Please help” message.

Doing it anyways.

Catholic Answers needs help. They’ve had to let folks go, cut pay and are still falling short.

I don’t know if you’ve been helped by them, but… I got more just from the Catholic.com website than I got from the decade plus of “catholic” education from my local parish.  Just last week I was talking to my mom about how much stuff I wouldn’t even know I didn’t know if not for ‘stuff I found online’… which almost always meant “On Catholic Answers.”

More recently, I helped a cousin who was being faced with the “but if you weren’t a nasty evil mean person, you’d support marriage equality” stuff with some of their articles.

I know things are tough. Please help.