PopeWatch: Msgr. Hans Feichtinger

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Father Z directs our attention to an interesting piece in Crisis on analyzing the style of Pope Francis:

 

This is a quote from this good piece at Crisis by my friend of many years Msgr. Hans Feichtinger, who was until recently a long-time official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Read and decide for yourselves (with my usual emphases and comments):

Demystifying the Pope Francis Enigma

Every modern pope has had his own style. Paul VI was personally like a global student chaplain, intellectually sensitive and pained by the fact that so many were falling away from the Church. John Paul II was the international pastor, constantly on the move, proclaiming the truths of the faith and exhorting us to heroic virtues. Benedict XVI was the universal professor, who carefully thought about the most pressing intellectual issues facing the world today. Pope Francis? In true Jesuit fashion, he may be best characterized as the world’s spiritual director.

Consider the talk Francis gave to the cardinals and the staff of his curia with the long list of spiritual maladies that he wants them to address (December 22, 2014). [He basically beat the tar out of them.] Or look at some buzz lines from recent homilies at Santa Marta: the Church is a mother, not an entrepreneur; rigidity is the sign of a weak heart; theology is done on your knees; keep the temple clean—and do not scandalize the faithful by posting liturgical price lists; do not be afraid of surprises and of conversion. Think about how the pope repeatedly has likened modern forms of Christianity to ancient heresies. [Who can forget the unbeatable “self-referential Promethean Neo-Pelagian” line?] His homilies are like wake-up calls, at times hyperbolic, [at time?  often!] often provocative, reminders about the basic message of the gospel. Not to mention the pope’s unprotected speech in interviews, both in the air and on the ground. This is how the pope preaches his theology and spirituality.

Many of Francis’ pronouncements do not have the binding authority of obligatory teaching; i.e., they are not “magisterium” in the proper sense of the term—people are free to listen and pay attention or not, free to let themselves be challenged, motivated, or convinced. The Holy Father’s language touches the hearts of many, perhaps more than their minds—and presumably this is precisely the pope’s intention. He does not offer refined analysis, carefully weighing all aspects in order to arrive at affirmations that are beyond criticism. What he wants to do is surprise, challenge, provoke, or reassure, console, and support. [This is so.  Alas, what happens when he says things like “Who am I to judge?” is that swaths of people, mislead by the MSM and catholic sources, get the notion that Francis thinks homosexual acts are not to be judged as intrinsically evil.]

To appreciate the words of Pope Francis, it helps to remember the essential distinction between doctrine and theology. No theology can claim for itself the authority of the magisterium. Conversely, the magisterium cannot act as a substitute for theology. The distinction between doctrine and theology, however, is not clear to many who represent the pope’s pronouncements to the public. This is a problem, whether we and the pope like it or not, mostly because we are not used to making this distinction when reading papal pronouncements. [Good point.]

John Paul II and Benedict XVI worked hard composing the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Now Francis tells us: the Catechism is not enough. This is certainly true, but people make it sound as if he intends to abolish the Catechism altogether. All Christians, and the Church as a whole, are called to proclaim the faith truthfully and to live it authentically. We all know that there is never a perfect harmony between the precepts of the faith and how the Church and its members act; the solution to this problem is not to formulate a compromise [did you see that “not”?] —repentance and true reform has the aim of bringing our practice closer to the demands of the faith. This is where Francis puts his focus.

All popes need to be allowed the space to exercise their ministry as they see fit. But even more importantly, Catholics need to appreciate the enduring and radical difference between Christ and his deputy: The pope is here in order to ensure that no one and nothing else takes the place of Christ until the Lord himself returns. The pope, more than anyone else, is bound by the example of Christ, and needs to rely on his special assistance (what we call “grace of state”); he is the first of “all those who, holding to the truth, hand on the catholic and apostolic faith” (Missal, Roman Canon).

At the same time, [… this is where things get tricky…] the pope represents the Church before the world and before God. Pope Francis does not seem inclined to cover up disagreements within the Church. In many respects, he wants to be more in the Church than over it. When Pope Benedict declared his resignation, he did so acknowledging that he no longer had the strength to be pope. [Quaeritur…] Did he have to step down because we failed to help him carry the heavy burden of the Petrine ministry? And are we now ready to step up and support Pope Francis in the way and to the degree he needs it? We need a pope in order to be Catholic. But conversely, he needs us. An Italian journalist once put it very succinctly: “Dobbiamo amare il Papa—we must love the Pope.” According to the Bible, this love must be “without dissimulation,” literally “unhypocritical” (see the Greek of Rom 12:9). It is this spiritual authenticity that Francis wants us to acquire.

Pope Francis has made his choice about how he would like to exercise his office. Catholics respect his choice by taking his pronouncements and gestures for what they are, which includes not treating them as expressions of the primacy of teaching when they are not. Francis does not want to—and in fact he cannot—challenge the teaching authority of his predecessors; rather, he wants to help us “consider how to provoke one another to love and good works” (Heb 10:24). [NB:]Looking at a short, partially improvised homily as if its words were the equivalent of an encyclical of Paul VI is simply ridiculous, and is an offense against the pope’s own intentions. The pope is part of the living tradition of the Church, which is a tradition in the making. The Supreme Pontiff is affected by our inconsistencies, confusions, errors and doctrinal defects, in a double sense: his ministry cannot overlook these issues, and he is himself touched by them. To believe that all popes must be perfect and saints, theologically, is donatism, [Donatism] and historically, madness.

So what does it mean to look at Pope Francis SJ as the universal spiritual director? First of all, it does not mean doubting whether he really is the pope. [Some, amazingly, do.  And they have played games of intellectual Twister.] Surprisingly, perhaps, it is Benedict XVI who can help us find an answer. Already as cardinal, and even more explicitly as pope, he underlined the difference between Church doctrine and his own theology and exegesis: “Everyone is free to contradict me.”[cf his comments about his books Jesus of Nazareth.] Compared to a theological teacher and his student, a spiritual director generally has even more authority over the individual who entrusts himself to his care; at the same time, it remains even more up to the directee what to do with his director’s advice or whether indeed to seek it in the first place. In many cases, this is how Pope Francis seems to understand his own approach. Whether this is the best way of “being pope” remains to be seen, but it is certainly not without its merits. In any case, it comes with a price and has limitations. Indeed, we can be sure the pope himself is aware of these limitations, and we can trust that as a good spiritual director he also lets himself be challenged by others, resisting his own tendency to moralize and spiritualize issues that are in fact doctrinal. [Time will tell.]

Saint Paul reports the famous episode when he had to point out to Saint Peter how some of Peter’s practices were incoherent (Gal 2:11-21)—not that Paul would not have suffered from similar inconsistencies (Acts 16:3). The way Pope Francis acts seems to invite a similar kind of criticism, at least from people who can offer it sincerely and seriously. He is an approachable pope, thus Catholics need to drop the fear of approaching him, even if they approach with something other than praise for his actions. He speaks in his own way to the faithful, very different from his predecessors. Thus, lay Catholics, bishops and clergy will need to change how they relate to his words and gestures and distinguish more accurately with what kind of authority he acts and speaks. If Francis does not want to be as august as some of his predecessors, we should stop trying to force him.  [I sure hope to see a shift in his liturgical style and also in decorum in matters of audiences, etc.  But, who am I to judge?]

As we learn from Benedict XVI, we are often free to contradict the pope, because there is no such thing as an obligatory theology or spirituality, even if it is the pope’s theology or spirituality. We even may not be impressed by his personal style, preferring to wait and see whether his disarmament of papal ceremonies is the best way. Or in Francis’ language: Do not “divinize your leaders!” What is binding on the conscience of all Catholics, clergy and popes included, is the faith, its doctrine and tradition. Authenticity and truth are not the same thing, but certainly they are related, and the Church needs both in order to be truthful and credible: “Thus should one regard us: as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Now it is of course required of stewards that they be found trustworthy” (1 Cor 4:1-2). This pope is different, and therefore papists can and need to be different, too.

Continue reading

Various & Sundry, 3/17/15

- A couple of posts that look at the Democratic field for 2016. First Robert Tracinski on the Democrats weak bench.

The Democrats have an astonishingly weak bench of potential 2016 presidential challengers. National Journal runs down the list, and it’s not a very impressive roster. True, one of these could emerge, maybe a Democratic senator—Amy Klobuchar? Kirsten Gillibrand? Mark Warner?—but there’s no one with a lot of name recognition, even among Democrats, or much of a national political organization. There’s Vice-President Joe Biden, but I suspect his eccentricity is mostly tolerated because of the relative unimportance of his office. And then there’s Elizabeth Warren, who says she’s not running and who, besides, has all the down-to-earth, populist, all-American charisma you would expect from member of the Harvard Faculty Club. Other national Democrats include a bunch of septuagenarians—Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and the like—who are hardly up-and-coming young saviors of the party.

How is it that the Democrats have hollowed out their party so much that they do not have an extensive roster of young leaders waiting in the wings?

Tracinski notes how Bill Clinton placed his own political ambition ahead of his party’s needs. Barack Obama has done the same, and in my opinion, has been even more aloof from the rest of his party than either Clinton. This has all had the effect of wiping out the party as it loses election after election at the state and local level, further eroding its bench.

What they may not have anticipated is how badly this would hit them on the state level, where they have been wiped out in the statehouses. This further weakens the bench by ending the career of many a young Democratic politician before it even begins. It’s like a big league baseball team trying to recruit players without access to the “farm teams” where rising stars can gain experience and demonstrate their talent. And as with the effect on Congress, this specifically deprives the Democrats of talent outside a narrow demographic that dominates big cities and the coasts.

Michael Barone suggests this effect: “The geographically clustered Obama coalition—blacks, Hispanics (in some states), gentry liberals—tends to elect officeholders with little incentive to compile records that would make them competitive in target states and capable of winning crossover votes.” A few years ago, this was called the Emerging Democratic Majority. But that theory is in shambles, and it’s looking like Democrats actually pulled aReverse Southern Strategy. They were so intent on basing their electoral future on educated young people and racial minorities that they thoroughly alienate everyone else: whites, southerners, blue-collar workers, suburbanites—all the people they thought they could do without and found out that they can’t.

Victor Davis Hanson has a similar analysis.

A paradox arose in Obama’s efforts at encouraging bloc voting. To galvanize groups on the basis of their race, tribe, or gender, the Obama cadre has resorted to divisive language  — “punish our enemies,” “nation of cowards,” “my people” — that turns off independent voters and even some liberal white voters. When the president weighed in during the trial of the “white Hispanic” George Zimmerman by telling the nation that if he had had a son, that boy would have looked like Trayvon Martin, such an eerie tribal appeal bothered at least as many Americans as it may have stirred. Blacks and Latinos may appreciate Eric Holder’s constant sermonizing about white prejudice or Obama’s riffs on Skip Gates and Ferguson, but just as many other Americans do not believe that Gates was singled out on the basis of race and do not see how the thuggish Michael Brown, who had robbed a store and rushed a police officer, could conceivably become a civil-rights hero.

More importantly, there is no indication that Obama’s knack for firing up minority voters is transferrable in the same measure to other Democratic candidates such as Hillary Clinton. Once one appeals to tribal identity on the basis of race and appearance, one lives or dies with such superficial affinities. Hillary, in other words, is not Latino or black, and her winning 60 percent of the former or 85 percent of the latter would simply not be good enough under the formulaic racial bloc voting that Obama has bequeathed to Democrats. In addition, Obama seems to bestow voter resentment, as much as he does enthusiasm, on other Democrats. In 2014, it seemed that Obama harmed Democratic candidates a lot more than he helped them, especially when he reminded the electorate that his own policies were de facto on the ballot.

There’s much more at the link, all of it good. The Democrats have put all their eggs in one basket – both in the person of Hillary Clinton and the overall theme of identity politics.

The sad thing about the Democratic field is that it so bad that it’s starting to make the 2008 GOP candidates look like a field of dreams.

– Of course it’s not all roses for the GOP, as it does face a headwind when it comes to the electoral college.

Yes, the somewhat arcane — yet remarkably durable — way in which presidential elections are decided tilts toward Democrats in 2016, as documented by nonpartisan political handicapper Nathan Gonzales in a recent edition of the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report.

Gonzales notes that if you add up all of the states that are either “safe” for the eventual Democratic nominee or “favor” that nominee, you get 217 electoral votes. (A candidate needs to win 270 to be elected president.) Do the same for states safe or favoring the Republican standard-bearer, per Gonzales’s rankings, and you get just 191 electoral votes.

This is true, but as the previous two articles highlight, some of the identity politics that have given the Democrats this electoral college advantage might no longer be as powerful.

– Then again, does it matter who wins. As this scathing post from Drew M highlights, it’s difficult to root for a team, so to speak, captained by the likes of John Boehner.

– Msgr. Pope digs deeper into the sin of sloth. It isn’t just about being lazy.

That said, sloth does often manifest itself as a kind of lethargy, a boredom that can’t seem to muster any interest, energy, joy, or enthusiasm for spiritual gifts. Such people may be enthusiastic about many things, but God and the faith are not among them.

. . . And boredom feeds right into sloth. The “still, small voice of God,” the quiet of prayer, the simple reading of Scripture and the pondering of its message, the unfolding of spiritual meaning through reflection, the slower joys of normal human conversation in communal prayer and fellowship … none of these appeal to the many who are overstimulated and used to a breakneck pace. Sunday, once the highlight of the week for many (due to the beauty of the liturgy, the music, the hearing of the sermon, the joy of fellowship, and the quiet of Holy Communion), is now considered boring and about as appealing as going to the dentist, a necessary evil at best.  Thus, sloth is fueled by the boredom our culture feels at anything going less than 90 miles and hour.

Sigh.

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has decided that his 4,700-store enterprise is no longer just going to be offering customers coffee, frothy drinks, and overpriced pastries. His baristas will soon serve up a venti-size helping of social justice.

“Starbucks published a full page ad in the New York Times on Sunday — a stark, black, page with a tiny caption ‘Shall We Overcome?’ in the middle, and the words ‘Race Together’ with the company logo, on the bottom right,” read a Fortune Magazine report previewing a forthcoming Starbucks campaign in which the coffee chain’s baristas will be encouraged to talk about race relations with their customers.

I rarely go to Starbucks, mainly because I don’t feel like paying $2.50 for burnt-tasting coffee. This is just further reason to avoid the place. Because really, I fully expect bored twenty-somethings to provide meaningful dialogue about complex racial and political issues while serving coffee.

– The Ferguson Report reminds Dave French why he became a conservative.

And that malignancy has spread throughout the public institutions. Our local government’s core mission was dispensing favors. If you were part of the local elite, the normal rules of life simply didn’t apply. Speeding tickets? No problem. You need a conditional use permit? You got it! To this day one of the most satisfying events of my professional life was defeating the local zoning board in the first constitutional case of my career — winning the case after a local leader haughtily told my church client, “We can and will dictate how you worship.”

. . .Reading the DOJ’s Ferguson report took me back to the bad old days. It is the story of a small class of the local power brokers creating two sets of rules, one for the connected and another for the mass of people who are forced — often at gunpoint — to pay for the “privilege” of being governed. This is a very old story, and if the poor of Ferguson are overwhelmingly black, then it’s inevitable that a government built on exploitation will disproportionately exploit black citizens. I have no doubt that there are some racists in Ferguson’s leadership, but we also know that even black leaders will exploit black citizens in the cities they lead — setting up de facto rules that benefit the governing class at the expense of the poor. See, for example, Detroit.  It is entirely possible to believe (as I do) that the evidence indicates that “hands up, don’t shoot” is a fiction, even a malicious fiction, while also believing that the evidence indicates that Ferguson’s government was corrupt in exactly the way that government is typically corrupt.

 

The Left Begins to Notice That the Catholic Vote is Slipping Away

 

 

Over at Salon Patricia Miller sounds the alarm bell for her fellow leftists that the Catholic vote is taking a walk:

 

There’s no “Catholic vote” in terms of Catholics representing an electoral bloc that votes according to what their bishops tell them, or in lockstep with the tenets of their religion. Yet winning Catholic voters has been essential to almost every presidential victory in modern times. And the defection of Catholics voters has played a role in some of the most consequential congressional turnovers in recent history — from 1994 to 2014 — making Catholics the ultimate swing voters. And for Democrats, that could be bad news.

While Catholics have been swing voters since Richard Nixon’s second term, white Catholics are now identifying as Republican by historic margins. According to the most recent polling from the Pew Research Center, 53 percent of white Catholics now favor the GOP, versus 39 percent who favor the Democrats—the largest point spread in the history of the Pew poll. And for the first time, white Catholics are more Republican than the voting group usually considered the ultimate Republicans: white Protestants (a designation that includes both mainline and evangelical Protestants).

These are ominous signs for the Democrats, evincing a new and growing allegiance with the Republican Party that has long-term implications.

Since Miller is a pro-abort Catholic she really does not understand why this is happening as the rest of her post demonstrates.  Allow me to clue her in:

When the Tokugawa shogunate was stamping out Christianity in Japan, it made use of Fumi-e (stepping on pictures).  Regime officials would place pictures of Jesus or Mary before suspected Christians and order them to step on them.  Refusal to do so, if persisted in, would end in execution.  In our own country we are seeing the growth of a movement just as antithetical in theory to Catholicism and traditional Christianity as the Tokugawa shogunate, and it finds its home in the Democrat party.

What we have seen over the past few decades is the evolution of the Democrat party into an overtly anti-Catholic party.  The Obama administration is the culmination of this trend.  This of course is deeply ironic, because the Democrat party is a major party in this country with the help of the votes of tens of millions of purported Catholics. Continue reading

PopeWatch: Roberto de Mattei

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The best writings on Pope Francis come from foreign sources, the vast majority of which never appear in print the mainstream media in this country.  A typical example is this translation of an interview of historian Roberto de Mattei which is provided by Rorate Caeli.

 

 

“A revolution in family pastoral care regarding Communion for the divorced and remarried and homosexual unions is materializing. Like this, the Pope is disorienting the Church, from the cardinals right down to the parishes.” Two years on, since the start of Bergoglio’s ministry, the historian Roberto de Mattei, author of the famous Vatican II, A History Never Written, defines the Latino’s Pontificate as “enigmatic” and “filled with paradoxes”, and highlights the distance between Francis’ wishes and the sentiments of the Catholic world. According to “the finest intellectual of Italian Traditionalism” (copyright Alberto Melloni, who is on the opposing side) “with this Pope the Church is risking a schism brought on by those progressive bishops, like the Germans [for instance], who want to go ahead with the apertures even if the Synod in October rejected them.

Continue reading

March 17, 1865: Lincoln Comments on Confederate Plans to Enlist Black Troops

Last photo of Abraham Lincoln

Making a short speech on March 17, 1865 to the 140th Indiana Infantry regiment, Lincoln commented on the plans of the Confederacy to enlist black soldiers:

FELLOW CITIZENS—It will be but a very few words that I shall undertake to say. I was born in Kentucky, raised in Indiana and lived in Illinois. (Laughter.) And now I am here, where it is my business to care equally for the good people of all the States. I am glad to see an Indiana regiment on this day able to present the captured flag to the Governor of Indiana. (Applause.) I am not disposed, in saying this, to make a distinction between the States, for all have done equally well. (Applause.) There are but few views or aspects of this great war upon which I have not said or written something whereby my own opinions might be known. But there is one—the recent attempt of our erring brethren, as they are sometimes called—(laughter)—to employ the negro to fight for them. I have neither written nor made a speech on that subject, because that was their business, not mine; and if I had a wish upon the subject I had not the power to introduce it, or make it effective. The great question with them was, whether the negro, being put into the army, would fight for them. I do not know, and therefore cannot decide. (Laughter.) They ought to know better than we. I have in my lifetime heard many arguments why the negroes ought to be slaves; but if they fight for those who would keep them in slavery it will be a better argument than any I have yet heard. Continue reading

Saint Patrick Our Contemporary

For the end of the world was long ago,
          And all we dwell to-day
          As children of some second birth,
          Like a strange people left on earth
          After a judgment day.

          For the end of the world was long ago,
          When the ends of the world waxed free,
          When Rome was sunk in a waste of slaves,
          And the sun drowned in the sea.

          When Caesar’s sun fell out of the sky
          And whoso hearkened right
          Could only hear the plunging
          Of the nations in the night.

          When the ends of the earth came marching in
          To torch and cresset gleam.
          And the roads of the world that lead to Rome
          Were filled with faces that moved like foam,
          Like faces in a dream.

GK Chesterton, Ballad of the White Horse

 

 

 

A great deal of frivolity, much of which Saint Patrick no doubt condemns, obscures our perception of the great saint who brought the Cross to the Emerald Isle.  We forget many things about Saint Patrick as he is reduced to mascot status for Ireland.  Among things which we forget is that his time in regard to Catholicism is quite similar to our time, and that as a result Saint Patrick seems like quite a contemporary figure to me.

Catholicism in Western Europe during the life of Saint Patrick seemed to be on the path of extinction as military conquest by pagan tribes, or tribes nominally Arian heretics, seemed to presage an end to the Church in the West.  The urban centers were dying, the hearts of Christianity in the Roman Empire.  As Saint Augustine lay dying in 430, his beloved city was under siege of a Vandal army, and the Church in North Africa was entering a bitter night of persecution for a century.  In Saint Patrick’s Britannia, the Roman legions had been withdrawn and the Island was undergoing a pagan conquest which would virtually extirpate Christianity there.

In our time we see Catholicism on life support throughout Western Europe and predictions abroad about the death of the Church. Continue reading

Various & Sundry, 3/16/15

- Everyone else is linking to this G-File, so I might as well throw my hat in the ring. A very funny look at a really tragic situation.

It’s perfectly fine to want a woman to be president of the United States. All things being equal, I guess I might prefer it, too. But the question before the country isn’t, “Should we elect a category?” It’s, “Should we elect Hillary Clinton?” And these are wildly different questions. She’d “accomplish” being the first female president in the first second of her presidency. She’d then be Hillary Clinton for the next 126 million seconds of her presidency (Someone will check my math, I’m sure).

When someone asks, “Wouldn’t it be great to have a female president?” the correct answer, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, to be sure, is “Yes.”

When asked, “Wouldn’t it be great to have Hillary Clinton as president?” The correct answer, again with varying degrees of enthusiasm, is “Oh, dear God, no. No, no, no. No.”

I don’t think this will happen, but if somehow in just under two years the best this country can offer is Bush vs. Clinton, we’re going to need a do-over as a nation.

– And in case you didn’t have your fill of Clinton-bashing at NRO, here’s Kevin Williamson’s turn to play whack-a-mole. He writes of Hillary’s Faustian bargain in which she abandoned any pretext of trying to achieve measurable policy outcomes and seems to be seeking the presidency just to assuage her ambitions.

The story is as old as Faust. But what did Hillary Rodham Clinton get out of her infernal bargain? There is money, to be sure, the Clintons having grown vastly wealthy, but she does not give the impression of a person who is in it for the money — she seems like the sort of person who could live quite contentedly on a fraction of what she might make as an academic and an ornament to corporate boards. Bill Clinton was in it for the adoration and affirmation (and does not seem to despise money), but Mrs. Clinton cannot hide the wry cynicism with which she regards the public — she lacks her husband’s psychopathic gift for being simultaneously sentimental and predatory.

– It’s clearly a slow news day because this is what’s passing for news on the hard left: a three year old girl heard Ted Cruz say the world is on fire. According to the Einsteins that make up the far left Cruz’s incendiary rhetoric left this poor child scarred for life. Except, of course, she was totally fine.

“There was no tears,” Trant said, telling the show she told her daughter that ”Ted Cruz is the one that will put this fire out. And then she then looked at him as a hero.”

“I’m telling you: She was quite happy,” Trant added. “She was like, ‘oh? you’re going to put that out? We’re good. We’re good here.’”

If you think that the above story is a big deal, but roll your eyes at the mere mention of Benghazi, can you do me and the country a big favor: never vote again. Thanks. I’d say something about reproducing as well but this is a Catholic site.

– Over at One Peter Five, a rundown of Bishop Schneider’s ten elements of renewal in the liturgy. They’re all good, but numbers four and five really struck a chord with me:

4. The faithful approaching to receive the Lamb of God in Holy Communion should greet and receive Him with an act of adoration, kneeling. Which moment in the life of the faithful is more sacred than this moment of encounter with the Lord?

5.There should be more room for silence during the liturgy, especially during those moments which most fully express the mystery of the redemption. Especially when the sacrifice of the cross is made present during the Eucharistic prayer.

There’s a lot that can be said – and I hope to get around to saying it in a more detailed post – about the lack of reverence for the Holy Eucharist, and how we have diminished the sense of awe for the real presence.

Christian evangelicals: Those knuckle-dragging, anti-science Neaderthals not…

 

Contrary to the popular caricature that many politicians the mainstream media tout about evangelical Christians—likening them to knuckle-dragging, anti-science Neanderthals—a recent study, “Religious Understandings of Science,” found that ~70% of evangelical Christians believe that religion and science are not in conflict with one another. That is, they believe faith and reason are complementary.

pathways

The study, conducted by Rice University Professor of Sociology, Elaine Howard Ecklund, focused upon Christian evangelicals because they constitute approximately 26% of the nation’s population and frequently are depicted as the most hostile body of Christians toward science. About this focus, Ecklund stated:

We really wanted to determine if this claimwas based in any truth. Although many politicians and the media at large portray evangelicals as distrustful of science, we found that this is more myth than reality.

The professor’s findings:

  • 38% of Americans view religion and science as complementary; 35% of Americans view science and religion as entirely independent.
  • 48% of Christian evangelicals view science and religion as complementary; only 21% view them as entirely independent of one another.
  • 15% of Americans and 14% of Christian evangelicals agree that modern science does more harm than good.
  • 76% of scientists in the general U.S. population identify with a religious tradition.
  • Jews (42%), Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus (52% as a group) and the nonreligious (47%) are more interested in new scientific discoveries than evangelicals (22%).

Creationism vs. Evolution

These findings are noteworthy for a couple of reasons.

First: More Christian evangelicals than the population at large believe religion and science are complementary.

Second: The data indicate that fewer Christian evangelicals than the population at large believe religion and science are entirely independent of each other.

Third: It is astounding to learn that 76% of the nation’s scientists identify with a religious tradition and only 24% don’t. If one was to believe media interviews and investigative reports covering matters associated with science, one would mistakenly conclude exactly the opposite was the case.

In sum: The data indicate that the popular caricature touted by politicians and the mainstream media has it backwards. It’s the nation’s population at large that those politicians and the mainstream media should be lampooning, not Christian evangelicals.

But, of course, they can’t do that. Look what happened to Jonathan Gruber. And he was telling the truth!

Or is it that the mainstream media won’t do that? Why so? It’s impossible to assign a motive, but one can surely speculate that doing so furthers a much-cherished agenda: To drive from the public sphere all religious talk and especially the critique faith has to offer as a remedy from a science that is practiced devoid of religion.

Thank goodness, it appears 75% of scientists won’t or don’t do that…despite what the politicians and mainstream media would have people think to the contray.

 

 

 

To read Professor Ecklund’s study, click on the following link:
www.elainehowardecklund.com/research/

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, Omnibus, click on the following link:
richard-jacobs-blog.com/omnibus.html

 

PopeWatch: Joan of Arc and Rules

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Pope Francis continues berating those who follows rules set forth by the Church:

“This has also happened in the history of the Church! Think of poor Joan of Arc: today she is a Saint! She was burnt at the stake because she was considered a heretic… the inquisitors, those who followed the rules, those Pharisees: they were far from the love of God. And closer in time to us think of the Blessed Antonio Rosmini: all of his writings were placed upon the Index. You could not read them; it was considered a sin to read them. Today he is a Blessed. In the History of God with his people the Lord sent forth the prophets to tell His people that He loved them. In the Church, the Lord sends forth the Saints. And it is the Saints who carry forward the life of the Church, not the powerful, not the hypocrites: the Saints”. Continue reading

John Wilkes Booth: Born Under an Unlucky Star

 

Since the fall of 1864 John Wilkes Booth along with others had been plotting against Lincoln.  A supporter of the Confederacy, Booth was also a popular actor, a son of the great actor Junius Brutus Booth who had written  a letter, perhaps tongue in cheek, to Andrew Jackson, threatening to assassinate him.  His brother Edwin Booth, perhaps the foremost American actor of his day and who had saved the life of Robert Todd Lincoln, was a firm supporter of Lincoln and the Union, and had banned his brother from his house in New York.  Booth had an unexplained trip to Montreal in 1864.  It is tempting to suspect that he got in contact with Confederate intelligence operatives active in Canada, but no evidence has been found linking Booth to Confederate intelligence then or later.

Initially Booth and his co-conspirators had planned to kidnap Lincoln and smuggle him South and trade him for Confederate prisoners of war.  They gathered on March 17, 1865 to do so when Lincoln was en route to a play but Lincoln unknowingly foiled the plot by changing his plans.  Booth and his band awaited another opportunity.

In 1874 Asia Booth in a memoir of her brother, that remained unpublished until 1938, recounts a strange event that occurred to Booth while he was a schoolboy and that summed up his life: Continue reading

The Temptations of Christ-Part Four

1] Then Jesus was led by the spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil. [2] And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterwards he was hungry. [3] And the tempter coming said to him: If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. [4] Who answered and said: It is written, Not in bread alone doth man live, but in every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God. [5] Then the devil took him up into the holy city, and set him upon the pinnacle of the temple,

[6] And said to him: If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down, for it is written: That he hath given his angels charge over thee, and in their hands shall they bear thee up, lest perhaps thou dash thy foot against a stone. [7] Jesus said to him: It is written again: Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. [8] Again the devil took him up into a very high mountain, and shewed him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, [9] And said to him: All these will I give thee, if falling down thou wilt adore me. [10] Then Jesus saith to him: Begone, Satan: for it is written, The Lord thy God shalt thou adore, and him only shalt thou serve.

Matthew 4: 1-10

Go here to read part one of our Lenten examination of the temptation of Christ by Satan, here to read part two and here to read part three. With his first two temptations having been rejected, Satan was perhaps in a momentary quandary about what to try next.  One can almost visualize a Satanic smile as he determined the next temptation.

Most Jews assumed that the Messiah, the Son of David, would come to establish the liberty of Israel and to reign as King.  Josephus, writing about events occurring some three and a half decades after Christ’s crucifixion stated that this belief lead to the great Jewish revolt against Rome:  But their chief inducement to go to war was a equivocal oracle also found in their sacred writings, announcing that at that time a man from their country would become the ruler of the world. 

One of Christ’s Apostles may have been a member of the Zealots, one of whose slogans was Dominion Belongs to God Alone.  The Gospels say almost nothing about Simon the Zealot, so it is unclear as to whether he was a member of the Zealot party, or simply zealous.  That of course has not stopped speculation about him and the relationship, if any, of Christ with the Zealots.

Under occupation by a pagan power, Judea was always teetering on the edge of revolt, as Christ, and Satan, well knew, and the image of the Messiah coming in power and glory to restore the kingdom of Israel by force was irresistible. Continue reading

Ides of March: Continuing Fascination

CASSIUS

Stoop, then, and wash. How many ages hence
Shall this our lofty scene be acted over
In states unborn and accents yet unknown!

BRUTUS

How many times shall Caesar bleed in sport,
That now on Pompey’s basis lies along
No worthier than the dust!

CASSIUS

So oft as that shall be,
So often shall the knot of us be call’d
The men that gave their country liberty.

 

 

 

I think it would have amused the Romans of Caesar’s generation if they could have learned that the assassination of Julius Caesar would eventually receive immortality through a play written more than 16 centuries after the event by a barbarian playwright in the Tin Islands that Caesar had briefly invaded.  It would have tickled their well developed concept of the ludicrous, judging from Roman comedy.

In the above video William Shatner gives a pretty poor rendition of the Mark Antony speech.  Charlton Heston, below, shows him how it should be done:

 

 

It is strange the fascination that the assassination of Caesar, more than twenty centuries ago, continues to exert.  Popular historian Barry Strauss has just released a book on the assassination of Caesar, to join the ranks of the many volumes on the subject that came before.  (Strauss is a first rate historian, and I have purchased this book although I have not yet read it.)  Why should this assassination remain of interest?  I think the clue is Dante placing Brutus and Cassius, the chief assassins, in the maws of Satan in his Inferno.  Dante was a partisan of the Empire, and thus the murders of Caesar, the man who gave the dying Republic its final, fatal blow and set the stage for the Empire, were worthy to be placed in the mouths of Satan, along with Judas who betrayed Christ. Continue reading

March 15, 1865: Lincoln and the Almighty

On March 15, 1865, Abraham Lincoln took time to scribble a thank you note to Thurlow Weed.  A political fixer of the first order and a political powerhouse in New York, Weed had been critical of Lincoln after the Emancipation Proclamation and had only grudgingly supported him for re-election.  Interestingly enough, there is no record of Weed sending a letter to Lincoln complimenting him on the Second Inaugural.  Thus Lincoln was either mistaken, or the letter from Weed has vanished along with most correspondence written in the 19th century.  However, that fact is secondary to what Lincoln said in the note:

 

 

 

MARCH 15, 1865

     EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON

     DEAR MR. WEED:

     Every one likes a compliment. Thank you for yours on my little notification speech and on the recent inaugural address. I expect the latter to wear as well as–perhaps better than–anything I have produced; but I believe it is not immediately popular. Men are not flattered by being shown that there has been a difference of purpose between the Almighty and them. To deny it, however, in this case, is to deny that there is a God governing the world. It is a truth which I thought needed to be told, and, as whatever of humiliation there is in it falls most directly on myself, I thought others might afford for me to tell it.

          Truly yours,

                    A. Lincoln

Lincoln underlines in this note the passage in the Second Inaugural in which he thought the War might be a punishment from God inflicted on both North and South: Continue reading

The “Pernicious Habit of Charity”

As Catholic bloggers (or bloggers in general) know all too well, it’s easier to get into heated personal arguments on the internet than it is in person. Debates about various hot-button issues — abortion, capital punishment, just war, nuclear weapons, waterboarding suspected terrorists, voting for candidates who endorse immoral policies, etc. — can run to hundreds of comments. They also, at times, tend to degenerate into back and forth accusations of dissent from Church teaching, or not-so-subtle suggestions that those with the wrong stance on these issues are guilty of mortal sin.

With that in mind, I would like to offer a reflection that I have found helpful in dealing with these issues. It comes from one of C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters, and it concerns the ever-popular topic of how to respond to one’s enemies.

The Letters were written during World War II, and in this particular letter, junior demon Wormwood has asked his uncle Screwtape for advice on how to shape the attitudes of his “patient” — a young man of draft age living in England — toward the war. They know that “the Enemy” (God) commands His followers to love their enemies; therefore, one might assume they would do all they could to encourage the patient to hate his country’s enemies, the Germans. But Screwtape cautions Wormwood against that assumption:

“As regards his more general attitude to the war, you must not rely too much on those feelings of hatred which the humans are so fond of discussing in Christian, or anti-Christian, periodicals. In his anguish, the patient can, of course, be encouraged to revenge himself by some vindictive feelings directed towards the German leaders, and that is good so far as it goes. But it is usually a sort of melodramatic or mythical hatred directed against imaginary scapegoats. He has never met these people in real life-they are lay figures modelled on what he gets from newspapers. The results of such fanciful hatred are often most disappointing, and of all humans the English are in this respect the most deplorable milksops. They are creatures of that miserable sort who loudly proclaim that torture is too good for their enemies and then give tea and cigarettes to the first wounded German pilot who turns up at the back door.

“Do what you will, there is going to be some benevolence, as well as some malice, in your patient’s soul. The great thing is to direct the malice to his immediate neighbours whom he meets every day and to thrust his benevolence out to the remote circumference, to people he does not know. The malice thus becomes wholly real and the benevolence largely imaginary. There is no good at all in inflaming his hatred of Germans if, at the same time, a pernicious habit of charity is growing up between him and his mother, his employer, and the man he meets in the train. Think of your man as a series of concentric circles, his will being the innermost, his intellect coming next, and finally his fantasy. You can hardly hope, at once, to exclude from all the circles everything that smells of the Enemy: but you must keep on shoving all the virtues outward till they are finally located in the circle of fantasy, and all the desirable qualities inward into the Will. It is only in so far as they reach the will and are there embodied in habits that the virtues are really fatal to us. (I don’t, of course, mean what the patient mistakes for his will, the conscious fume and fret of resolutions and clenched teeth, but the real centre, what the Enemy calls the Heart.) All sorts of virtues painted in the fantasy or approved by the intellect or even, in some measure, loved and admired, will not keep a man from our Father’s house: indeed they may make him more amusing when he gets there.”

Continue reading

PopeWatch: Squeeze

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

From the only reliable source of Catholic news on the net, Eye of the Tiber:

 

 

At a press conference today in the nation’s capital, Cardinal Emeritus Roger Mahoney of Los Angeles announced that the USCCB is petitioning the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments to require that parishioners give a “good, humanity affirming squeeze” following the doxology which concludes the Lord’s Prayer during Mass.

“God’s people have been spontaneously doing this for years anyway,” Mahoney told EOTT, “We just want to bring uniformity by removing the awkward part. The people will now proudly raise their hands, which are held together as they have been doing, but when they finish praying ‘for thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever, amen,’ they will give that last squeeze, which is meant to communicate, ‘Don’t worry friend…I’m here for you until the very end of Mass.’” Continue reading

Spring?

 

Something for the weekend.  Well, after a February of frequent below zero temps and constant snow and ice, the snow has finally melted where I live, with just a few remnant patches.  Time for some classical music for Spring courtesy of Vivaldi, Strauss and Schumann.

Catholic Teacher Under Fire From Catholic School For Practicing Catholicism

 

 

Jannuzzi Facebook

I used to view as extreme those who predicted that faithful Catholics would face persecution.  Now such people every day are looking more like prophets.  What they forgot to note is that those doing the persecuting would often be fellow Catholics.

Mathew J. Franck at First Things gives this disturbing example of what I am talking about.

 

While Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone holds the line on the teaching of orthodox moral doctrines of the Catholic Church out in San Francisco, here in New Jersey a theology teacher in Immaculata High School in Somerville is threatened with dismissal from her position for . . . agreeing with orthodox moral doctrines of the Catholic Church.

Patricia Januzzi, the teacher in question, recently posted some remarks on same-sex marriage and homosexuality on her publicly accessible Facebook page. After remarking on the dubious proposition that protection of gays and lesbians as a class can be brought within the ambit of the Fourteenth Amendment, Januzzi wrote: “In other words they [advocates of same-sex marriage] want to reeingineer western civ into a slow extinction. We need healthy families with a mother and a father for the sake of the children and humanity!!!!”

Of course—of course—a firestorm erupted over this. Even (whatever happened to) Susan Sarandon weighed in with self-righteous condemnation (it seems her nephew once attended Immaculata). The principal of the school told Januzzi to take down her public Facebook page, which she did, and the school issued a statement a couple of days ago assuring the public that its “investigation” had “determined that the information posted on this social media page has not been reflected in the curriculum content of the classes [Januzzi] teaches.” Then followed the rote recitation of the gospel of “respect and sensitivity.” As stilted and impenetrable as all this was—Januzzi had not posted “information” but opinion, and what, after all, was the school telling us was not “reflected” in the classes it offers?—at least it seemed for one brief shining moment that this little flap would go away.

No such luck. Now it is reliably reported that Patricia Januzzi is under pressure to resign, and threatened with dismissal if she utters a peep about the matter. This is rapidly becoming an outrageous assault against a person whose worst offense was to speak with what some (but by no means all) would call an intemperate passion, in favor of the Church’s teaching. Continue reading

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