5

Bear Growls: Truth

 

Jesus saith to him: I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father, but by me.

John 14:6

 

 

Our bruin friend at Saint Corbinian’s Bear is in an ironic mood:

 

We will probably never know what Pilate meant when he asked Christ, “What is truth?” Sarcasm? The world-weary cynicism of a Roman official with one of the most difficult jobs of Rome? Or perhaps the echo of a genuine question from a decent young man long ago ground down by his responsibilities to a brutal empire?

In any case, it is the wrong question for our time and is causing Catholics far too much anguish and contention.
The question is not “what is truth,” and we betray our naïveté when we ask and our disloyalty to the Church when we complain. The legitimate question is “what does the Church now say the truth is?” In fact, the second question always answers the first, because of the inerrant truth-knowing feature built into the Church as an institution and the Pope in his office.

“Truth” is nothing more or less than what the Church, through its many channels, but in our day, primarily the Pope, says it is. We now understand that truth is a construct that is contingent upon the matrix in which we live. This matrix is comprised of our evolving language; our behavior; and the changing moral consensus of our culture as expressed in many different ways, ranging from our laws to popular entertainment. The truth is to be found in the current teachings of the Church.

The Church reflects the culture, and perhaps has done so for most of its existence, although we can only speak certainly of our own time.

It is irrelevant whether Church teachings are formal or not. Indeed, the less formal teachings of the Pope with a microphone in his hand loom larger in both the culture and the minds of individual Catholics. It is the informal teachings which are seized by the news gatekeepers, massaged, and then proclaimed in partnership with the Church – not merely reported, it is important to note.

“What is truth?” is not some great mystery. One of the main purposes of the Church is to be the authority that tells us what the truth is for our generation. The power of the keys means that the truth is whatever the Church – ultimately Peter – says it is. The Church is trusted with not just proclaiming the truth, but creating it.

It must be so.

The Bible is understood by all but the most conservative Protestant scholars as a collection of tales edited long after the events it relates by men who wished to promote different and sometimes conflicting agendas. It is certainly not historically reliable, according to the very best scholarship. Read the notes to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop’s Bible, the New American Bible, Revised Edition if you have any doubts. They will quickly disabuse you of any lingering Protestant tendency toward bibliolatry.

Only a fundamentalist would today hold up the Bible as containing “the truth.”

Only the most naive traditionalist would look to the teachings of the brutal, superstitious and exclusivist past of the Church to find the truth for today’s world.

Neither Holy Scripture nor poking around in the Museum of Church History can be the source of truth today. No, the truth is what the Church says it is, most immediately and importantly through the Pope when he utters his oracles to the interpretive priestly class of reporters.

Let go of the irrelevant past and embrace the truth as it has evolved right up to this second and is proclaimed by the Pope: Peter, upon whom the Church was built and to whom the Keys of Binding and Loosing were given in perpetuity. Yesterday’s Catholics owed the same duty to yesterday’s Church. Why would some of you, today, presume to be less faithful and arrogate to yourselves the authority to decide “what is truth?”

Do you imagine for an instant that the Pope himself could (if he would even think of such a crime, which he could not, protected from error as he is) weave a carpet of lies to spread beneath the Bride of Christ without an army of brave and faithful bishops rising up to challenge him? The teachings of the Pope are confirmed by the agreement of the clergy, the acceptance of the people, and his personal popularity with the entire world. You may trust him without question and to question him is to place oneself outside the Church.

What is truth? The answer is simple:

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7

Bear Growls: Continuum

 

 

Our Bruin friend at Saint Corbinian’s Bear has listed what he sees as the range of opinions about Pope Francis by Catholics on the net:

 

  1. Pope Francis is the respected successor to St. Peter, and, as such, is due slightly more veneration than was Emperor Hirohito in his day.
  2. Pope Francis may have a wobble in his orbit, but his ordinary magisterium remains just as worthy of respect and assent as any pope’s. That’s the LAW.  (Query: if the answer is that we need pay attention only as far as he is right, i.e. in line with other popes, then do we have to memorize Denziger, and how do we know those popes were right? Seems a bit over-engineered for a bunch of Galilean fishermen, if you ask the Bear.)
  3. Pope Francis can do no damage to the Church short of infallibly declaring some abomination before the Lord an Article of Faith, which is not going to happen.
  4. Look, you don’t have to pay attention to everything the old fellow says. Only the big stuff. (Like homosexuality and divorce?) The Church will be protected by God.
  5. Whatever you think about Pope Francis – and let’s admit he’s a few steps short of a tango – he remains THE POPE. Whom one must NEVER criticize. (Paging Michael Voris.)
  6. Entertain your private doubts, if you must, but you’re in danger of heresy, and in any case must never, ever criticize him for fear of starting up the Know Nothings again.
  7. Rome, we have a problem. Prudence and good taste dictate, however, that we do not speak of il Papa’s delicate condition.
  8. We have never quite seen anything like Jorge Bergoglio’s disconnect with the deposit of the Faith nor his willingness to perform end runs around around the Church itself via incessant media exposure. The man is a menace.
  9. No REAL pope would spout half the nonsense he does. Pope Benedict is still at the wheel and Bergoglio is flat out an antipope.
  10. No REAL CHURCH would ever elect someone as evil as Jorge Bergoglio, so he is Exhibit A in the case for sedevacantism.
  11. Jorge Bergoglio is nothing less than Damien in his old age. He is evil. In fact, he is at the very least the FALSE PROPHET. In other words, a cosmic player in the end times.
  12. We had a good run, but the warranty has expired on the Church. Time to become one of those Protestants that get salmon and honey while the praise band is warming up. (Do not tempt Bear.)

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3

Bear Growls: Predictions

 

 

Our bruin friend at Saint Corbinian’s Bear gazes into his ursine crystal ball:

 

The Vatican may be a rhumba of rattlesnakes, but too few of them are motivated by aberrant ideology to risk a repeat of Sampson’s after-dinner show for the Philistines.

Bear predicts there will be the usual polite language when Bergoglio go-goes, but inside, most prelates are going to be saying, “Boy, did we elect the wrong guy. How could we have been so stupid? Let’s get back to normal ASAP before the Bear hops a tramp salmon freighter and cleans house, but good.”

The Bear does not think the institutional Church enjoys turmoil. Nor does it wish to court schism, however small the risk. And, who knows? Perhaps there are 10 righteous men in Sodom-on-the-Tiber.

The next pope will be a reliable Italian. This whole darts-at-a-map thing has not worked out very well. His job will be to settle the hens down after that fox Bergoglio is gone. The era of the magisterium of the sound byte will be over. Everybody has seen what a disaster it has been.

Nobody likes to be made fun of incessantly.

There will be the usual suspects agitating, but the Bear repeats, institutions do not enjoy chaos. The mainstream plus the faithful will out-vote the cardinals of questionable orthodoxy.

The Bear does not think Bergoglio was voted in over a desire to extend Holy Communion to divorced and remarried persons. The Bear thinks he was elected to be the outsider that would fix things. Perhaps he even ran for pope on that platform. “I’m from Argentina. And if there’s one thing that Argentina is known for it is fixing problems with institutions.”
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9

Bear Growls: More of the Same

 

 

Our bruin friend at Saint Corbinian’s Bear points out that the Pope never misses an opportunity to disappoint:

 

The whole idea of blogging is that somebody does something and the blogger offers insightful commentary. But Pope Francis is so mind-numbingly stupid there’s just nothing to add.

Muslims mass-murder Christians in Egypt and the Pope says this:

We pray for the victims of the attack carried out unfortunately today, this morning, in Cairo, in a Coptic church. I am close to my dear Brother, His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, and to the Coptic Church and to all the dear Egyptian nation I express my profound condolence; I pray for the deceased and the wounded, I am close to the families and to the whole community. May the Lord convert the heart of all those persons that sow terror, violence and death, and also the heart of those that produce and traffic arms.

Sorry, Bear got nothing. Continue Reading

Bear Growls: That’s the Way It Is?

 

 

Our bruin friend at Saint Corbinian’s Bear gives us a Bear’s view of current events as gleaned from the mainstream press:

 

Here is a recap of world news based on the Bear’s cursory reading of stories the past few days. The Bear has been busy and may have gotten a few details wrong, but he’s pretty sure the gist is accurate.

  • WASHINGTON D.C. (March 24, 2017) — Trump the Usurper hosted a hunting trip for Soviet strongman Vladimir Putin. The pair were seen on the banks of the Potomac River clubbing adorable baby river seals to death with babies. Witnesses also report Trump the Usurper backed a dump truck full of $100,000,000 bills and buried a laughing Putin. The two men spent the rest of the afternoon playing in the pile of money like children in autumn leaves.
  • WASHINGTON D.C. (March 24, 2017) — Legitimate President Dear Leader Hillary Clinton staged a lightning raid on Richmond, Virginia yesterday, freeing thousands of slaves. Trump the Usurper had last Thursday declared the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments to the constitution null and void, opening the way for the return of slavery for the first time since 1957. A Gallup poll shows 100% of Americans support the campaign of Dear Leader to restore America to the golden years when Legitimate First Partner Bill Clinton was president.
  • PARIS (March 23, 2017) —  The religious harmony of France was broken by a White male using a loudspeaker to cry “Jesus is Lord” from the top of the Eiffel Tower. Witnesses say he had a distinct American southern accent and raised an enormous Confederate flag on the tip of the landmark. He mowed down thousands of curious Parisians gathered below with an automatic machine assault rifle firing bullets of depleted uranium. With a final cry of “Soldiers of the Cross do thou likewise” he detonate a 20 megaton nuclear bomb strapped to his back, destroying France.
  • VATICAN (March 24, 2017) — Today Generic Spiritual Leader of the World Pope Francis condemned frequent terrorist attacks by Christians. “Out of all religions, why do we only see Christians committing all these terrorist acts? The exclusivist nature of a religion that offers only one means of salvation can only breed hatred. Their beliefs taste like excrement in my mouth.” The pontiff announced that a new bible was being prepared that eliminates all references to violence and incorporates wisdom from other faiths.

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26

Bear Growls: Cross Examination

 

Our bruin friend at Saint Corbinian’s Bear has worked in the law mines.  Here are his remarks on cross examination:

 

Cross examination is the greatest legal engine ever invented for the discovery of the truth,” said John Henry Wigmore.  And he was right.

You may know that the chief difference between direct examination and cross-examination is that the lawyer may lead on the latter.  In other words, questions may (should always) be phrased as statements.  It is the most adversarial part of a trial that is itself the capstone of the adversary system of law. Continental countries prefer to use the inquisitorial system, in which a tribunal of neutral judges examine the evidence and reach a verdict.

Well, la di da.  

The genius of the Anglo-American system is that it allows both sides to fight it out, thus ensuring nothing will be left out, nothing left unchallenged. Assuming equal resources and skill of attorneys, and (most importantly) a judge who will allow real trial lawyers to do their jobs, the adversary system is fair, often dramatic, and always sporting.

Within this dramatic, adversary system, cross-examination is the crown jewel. Truly, the only way one may defeat an effective cross is to simply tell the truth.  How many times has the Bear seen a witness, say a police officer, implode on the stand, because he suspected every question was some sort of trick, and would deny the sky was blue before agreeing with the Bear on cross?

The Bear found that the best way to deal with an evasive witness is to patiently ask the exact same question, word-for-word, with the same inflection.  Yes, it seems weird, but everyone assumes the lawyer knows what he’s doing. The witness will not understand, will become disoriented, then frightened, and will look like a liar.  Too many lawyers get into arguments with the witness on cross, which is throwing away your superior position.  Just pray you have a judge who appreciates the trial lawyer’s role in an adversary system and doesn’t just become impatient and tell you to move on.

You have a right to an answer to a fair question.  And when the opposing counsel objects, “Asked and answered,” say, “Your Honor, that objection belongs only to the opposing side during direct, and in any case the witness has for reasons best known to himself, refused to answer my question.” (Commenting on the witness’ credibility like that might get you some pushback from the judge, but the Bear might not be able to resist, depending on a lot of things.)

Two State Police Detectives: Epic Fails on Cross

One time, an evasive state police detective turned to the judge in obvious distress, and pleaded, “But I don’t know how to get around that question!”  No kidding.  Luckily, the Bear had a good judge who bit the witness’ head off.

In another trial – this one for murder / death penalty –  the Bear’s question was, “why did you interrogate Mr. Pontious on videotape?”  The detective kept doggedly answering, “to get to the truth,” probably a stock answer they teach detectives at seminars on “Avoiding Wily Defense Lawyer Traps.”

However, the police had clearly decided the Bear’s client was guilty long before that, and, in fact, they already had the answers to all the questions they asked him on tape.  They had already interrogated him off camera, and this was just the production of the supreme piece of evidence against him: a videotaped interrogation.

Everyone – especially the jury – knew darn good and well the purpose was to secure a videotaped confession to use as evidence against the suspect at trial. Jurors are not stupid. If the witness had simply told the truth, the Bear couldn’t have touched him.  But the state police detective assumed that since the Bear was asking, there must be some trick behind the question.  He was desperate to portray himself to the jury as a disinterested philosopher, who would never get his hands dirty by producing evidence for trial. Which is, of course, ridiculous.

For thirty minutes, the Bear kept pleasantly asking the same question, in exactly the same way, like a tape recorder, and the detective kept giving different evasive answers.  Talk about looking like Captain Queeg! One question. Now, it is true this was a sneaky Bear trick. The Bear had decided the detective was not very bright, and would fall for the most obvious trick: asking for a truthful answer to an inconsequential question.

The Bear had a very good judge.  If time was being wasted, it was the witness who was wasting it, not the Bear.  Obviously, that is what the judge thought. The jury was less than impressed with the detective’s performance and ultimately he was blamed for losing a murder case. But that was a bit unfair. The jury just got that one right. With kind assistance from the Bear.

Adversary Does Not Mean Mean

Many people who have been taught by television shows – which must get the lawyer and the witness in one, tight shot – imagine the lawyer is in the witness’ face, yelling, until the witness breaks down and admits to the murder.  Jose Ferrer’s cross-examination of Humphrey Bogart in the Cain Mutiny is more accurate. Trial defense counsel is not friendly, but zeros in on the witnesses weak points relentlessly. There, the man on the stand himself revealed himself to to be unfit, which was the real issue at trial.

The Bear has no compunction about revealing the character defects that impact credibility in today’s great issues, through argument, satire or agitprop. Mark this well, visitors, friends and Woodland Creatures. Controversy is not just about the rightness or wrongness of this issue or that one. Let others argue about each apple. The Bear would lay his axe at the base of the tree, provided it were a rotten tree, bearing bad fruit, and expect nothing but praise from men of good will. Now that he mentions it, he has a vague recollection of the same imagery employed by someone.

Only one time did the Bear actually elicit an in-court confession while cross-examining a defendant. It involved a homosexual groping, and the details are not edifying. The Bear lined up all the hopes and effort this young man had placed in his budding Navy career, and, after a sympathetic pause, simply asked why on earth would he throw it all away? The kid had been worn down by that time, and said he just couldn’t help himself.

That was one of the Bear’s very first trials, and the feat was never repeated. Continue Reading

3

Bear Growls: The Caine Mutiny

 

 

Our bruin friend at Saint Corbinian’s Bear takes a look at one of my favorite movies:

 

Surely one of the greatest movies of all time is the 1954 naval drama The Caine Mutiny, based on Herman Wouk’s novel. It stars Humphrey Bogart, Van Johnson, Fred MacMurray, E.G. Marshall and Jose Ferrer. Bogart’s Captain Queeg is the skipper of an old minesweeper, USS Cain. One can hardly imagine a less glamorous ship. Queeg is quirky, rigid, and insecure. When he gets nervous, he rolls two steel balls in his hand.

His wardroom, instigated by Fred McMurray’s character — a writer — lose respect for Captain Queeg after a number of lapses of judgment. When Queeg reaches out to his officers to try to repair mutual respect, he meets a stony rebuff.

When a typhoon threatens to capsize the ship, Queeg does not seem up to the crisis. His executive officer, played by Van Johnson, relieves Captain Queeg of duty and takes command of the ship.

During the ensuing court-martial (the Navy does not take mutiny well) Captain Queeg takes the stand. What follows may be Bogart’s best performance, and is a film classic. We see in Queeg an ordinary man who was simply not up to the extraordinary responsibilities he had been given. Under the effective cross-examination of trial defense counsel, played by Jose Ferrer, Captain Queeg slowly strips himself of his dignity as his psychological unfitness for command is revealed.

Realizing what he has done, Captain Queeg, who has largely been allowed to testify in a narrative, offers to answer specific questions. There follows a series of tight shots of trial counsel, played by E.G. Marshall, and the other officers present, looking at Captain Queeg’s train wreck with a mixture of horror and sympathy as we hear only the clack of Queeg’s ball bearings.

It is hard for us to see a man who should command respect be revealed as incompetent. The captain of a U.S. warship is a father, a leader, and an exemplar. His commands are unquestioned. (The XO does all of his dirty work.) To see someone fall from such an exalted position is sad. What’s even worse is serving under such a captain.

We’re not sure if Van Johnson’s “mutiny” saved Cain or not. A few ships were lost, but the vast majority survived. What was clear was that the circumstances were extremely dangerous, and the captain’s actions were questionable. The trust between leader and led had already been eroded. It was a position no officer should have been put in. Van Johnson had to do what he thought best, and would never be certain he was right in substituting his judgment for his captain’s.

After the trial, a drunken trial defense counsel, played by Jose Ferrer, is hardly in a celebratory mood, despite his win.  He points out that while he was going to law school and the other officers were following their own civilian pursuits, Captain Queeg had the low-paying, unglamorous job, of maintaining a peacetime navy. He reminds them that when he reached out to them, they were cold. But it’s Fred MacMurray’s writer character, LT Keefer who is singled out for the worst treatment.

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1

Bear Growls: Mortality

Christ Defeating Death

He had been to touch the great death, and found that, after all, it was but the great death.

Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage

 

 

Our bruin friend at Saint Corbinian’s Bear had a recent reminder that bears do not live forever:

 

 

The evening before last, the Bear was lounging in front of his computer screen, when suddenly moderately severe chest pains struck. He waited for two minutes (having read somewhere that you should act on any chest pains that last longer than two minutes). Then he got up on his hind legs and announced to his driver, bodyguard and factotum, Red Death that we were going to the Veteran’s Administration Hospital ER right now.

 
After what might have been a sketch from the Three Stooges, with a special appearance by Buster, the Yorkie, who insisted on accompanying his master, Red Death and the Bear’s son managed to get the stricken Bear into the car.
 
During the thirty minute drive from the goat pastures of Zoar to the VA hospital, the Bear had to face the possibility it might be a one-way trip.
 
He pulled out his rosary and prayed it.
 
He contemplated his sins.
 
He was sorry.
 
He didn’t feel confident about judgment.
 
He regretted the drama of it all, as he imagined a medical team swarming all over his furry body, his family disrupted and grieving.
 
He told Red Death that he was open to massive employment of morphine if it came to it, short of hastening his death. (The Bear is a chicken, and Bears never turn down opiates.)
 
At the ER, they did an ECG. They drew blood. They put a line in. They hooked him up to a monitor. They gave him four baby aspirin to chew. The Bear asked for some diazepam. (Due to being frequently tranquilized by humans, the Bear has developed an appreciation for benzos.) His request was granted.
 
The Bear amused himself by making his blood pressure go up by picturing the Pope, and then making it go down by not. Seriously. He considered that the Pope might be hazardous to his health. He was, in fact, writing an ephemeris article about the Pope when he was afflicted.
 
He was ignored for an hour and a half, then they came in and took some more blood. The Bear was encouraged that otherwise they seemed have have forgotten about him.
 
Finally, a nurse came in and said everything was perfectly normal, and the Bear had not had a heart attack, and could leave. It was anticlimactic. Follow-up appointments were made with Cardiology.
 
This was a good way to start off Lent. Dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return. Who really plans for their death? It seems to the Bear that making it up as he went along was not the best way of preparing himself. Perhaps the Bear will develop this issue.

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7

Bear Growls: God, Cthulhu and the New Atheists

As faithful readers of this blog know, I am an admirer of the work of our bruin friend at Saint Corbinian’s Bear.  In 2014 he wrote an absolutely brilliant post bringing together God, Cthulhu and the New Atheists:

 

H.P. Lovecraft was a horror writer who invented a world much like ours, except undermined by unspeakable conspiracies aimed at the destruction of everything sane and good. Okay, exactly like ours. At the heart of his writings are ancient gods who shall soon return, bringing madness and mayhem for humanity.

The most well-known is Cthulhu, who lies in troubled sleep deep beneath the ocean. The interesting thing about Lovecraft’s gods is that they are not exactly evil as utterly alien. There are no points of reference to allow us to guess at their motives or judge their actions. At least one is literally insane.

We’re pretty sure the luckiest humans will be the ones who get eaten first.

Say what you want about Cthulhu, but Richard Dawkins would not pretend to know his designs and methods better than Cthulhu himself. (Dawkins would be existing as a brain floating in a Mi-go jar on Pluto in the Cthulhu mythos. Cthulhu does not suffer fools gladly.)

Dawkins advised God that if He really wanted people to believe in Him, He should appear at everyone’s bedside for a chat. Obviously, what Dawkins fails to consider is that perhaps God’s desire is not merely that people acknowledge Him as a fact. His methods may suggest other motives. Plenty of people seem to have no problem believing in and even having a relationship with God through faith.

How often it is the Herods and Dawkinses of the world who, sneering, demand a miracle.

Nobody wants to wake up to find Cthulhu squeezed into their bedroom, pulling down the bed sheets with his mouth-tentacles. (Nor Dawkins, for that matter.) Dawkins would not dare to play at knowing someone as utterly alien as Cthulhu. How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways.

Actually, that last sentence wasn’t about Cthulhu. (NABRE, Romans 11:33.) It takes a whole book of the Bible — Job — to say just one thing:  God doesn’t ask for our advice or approval, or tell us more than we need to know. He is Other.

It seems like 95% of the New Atheist arguments come down to some guy, perhaps with a string of failed marriages that testify to his own purely earthly incapacities, imaging himself as God, then snorting that he would do a better job. (The other arguments are the equally inept Orbiting Teapot, Flying Spaghetti Monster and Darwin. And believers are supposed to be the dumb ones?)

Sometimes the Bear wishes we all had a deeper appreciation for the mystery and otherness of God Almighty, and for our own limitations — especially those of the intellect and imagination. A little humility, if you will. When well-meaning clerics try to humanize God, to make him “safe,” they are robbing us of the reality they should be defending.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Psalm 111:10.

We do not have to imagine God as Cthulhu (in fact the Bear discourages that) but we should have a healthy fear of the Lord. For one thing, there is a judgment that each of us will face, and the possibility that it may not end well for us. But more to the point, we must have the humility not to make our own assumptions about the infinite, eternal, and all-powerful Holy Trinity. “Fear” is more like “awe,” or, more completely, according to Rudolph Otto, the experience of the numinous. Otto was a Lutheran theologian of the early 20th century who influenced, among others, C.S. Lewis in his The Problem of Pain. Otto wrote of the “non-rational factor” in religious experience. (This is not to say irrational.) He called the experience the mysterium tremendum. It is a holy dread, a desire to cover oneself, yet also a fascination.

The Bear knew a very small boy who found himself alone in his father’s still and dimly lit office with an American flag affixed to the wall. This profound experience bore all of Otto’s freight of fear and fascination, and of being in the presence of a mystery. This is of course a shadow of the encounter with the Living God! Here is what Isaiah, the greatest prophet of Israel, wrote:

1 In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and his train filled the temple. 2 Above him stood the seraphim; each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.” 4 And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 And I said:”Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts. (Isaiah 6:1-5 RSV)

We also know that while God may be more alien than anything we can imagine, He is goodness itself. He wants us not only to believe in Him — even the demons do that, and tremble (James 2:9) — but to love Him. He sent his Son to a shameful death as a rescue and a ransom. How reckless and wonderful! The Book of Revelation depicts Jesus as hardly imaginable, even frightening. How often does our reception of Our Lord in the Eucharist do justice to the holy dread and fascination with which we should receive the very Son of God?
“Who Is This Who Darkens Counsel With Words of Ignorance?”
         For my thoughts are not your thoughts, 
         nor are your ways my ways—oracle of the LORD. 
         For as the heavens are higher than the earth, 
         so are my ways higher than your ways, 
         my thoughts higher than your thoughts. 
(Isaiah 55:8–9). 

“Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm and said: Who is this who darkens counsel with words of ignorance?” (Job 38:1–2). You can read the rest here, on the USCCB web site, or in your favorite Bible. It is a wonderful read, and speaks to the mystery that is God, a mystery that Catholics are privileged to participate in through His grace.

We began with H.P. Lovecraft, but, happily, will end with C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Mr. Beaver attempts to communicate something Rudolph Otto might recognize. “‘Safe?’ said Mr. Beaver; ‘Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the king, I tell you.'”

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23

PopeWatch: Bear Growls: Sorry Saint Paul

 

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One of the more pernicious pathologies within the Church today is an ecumenism that neuters the command of Christ to the Church to “make ye disciples of all the nations”.  Our bruin friend at Saint Corbinian’s Bear takes a look at a dispiriting recent example:
The Vatican has just released a new document assuring everyone that it has no mission to the Jews.

This is not going to be politically correct. You have been warned.

The need to examine the Vatican’s proof-text (Romans 11:29) in context required a detailed examination of Paul’s clear teaching on the issue. That will be published in Part 2.

But for now, St. Paul wrote, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:8-9 RSV.)

Keeping in mind St. Paul’s double anathema, read what he wrote about the salvation of Jews:

We ourselves, who are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners, 16 yet who know that a man is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ, and not by works of the law, because by works of the law shall no one be justified.

(Galatians 2:15-16 RSV.)

Now, since a different gospel is preached because of interfaith relations, one may ask which is the more important of the two. It is not surprising to hear the Vatican say it has no mission to the Jews, and that Jews may or may not have a special Jew way to salvation.

If you want the photo op with the rabbi at the press conference, the only thing you have to bargain with is the truth. Today, interfaith relations are so important they have eclipsed the truth. In addition, Pope Francis has worked closely with an Argentinian Rabbi, Abraham Skorka, with whom he authored a book, “On Heaven and Earth.” We all know how Jorge Bergoglio’s personal connections influence Church policies.

The Protestants say Catholics believe the teachings of men. The Bear has to concede them the point too  often. The Bear is just an ursine mammal, but he would think twice about advocating a scheme in which knowing rejection of Jesus Christ was a routine method of salvation.

What does it really say about the need to be Christian — no, Catholic — to be saved, or, rather, our leaders’ opinions on that? We have often discovered clues that the Church now believes in universalism, that all persons are saved and Hell is empty. Bad ideas have consequences in the Church, and we should be alert for their expressions. One is this: if everyone is saved, religious differences become unimportant.

Now the Vatican repeats their favorite phrase on this issue: “For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.” Of course He didn’t revoke them. They got their Davidic dynasty forever, and they got their Messiah, in Whom the Law was completed. Elijah prepared his way in the person of John the Baptist, and Moses and Elijah — the Law and the Prophets — met with Jesus during the Transfiguration. Not to mention over 300 Old Testament prophecies fulfilled by Jesus’ life.

God never revoked his covenant, He completed it.

All Jews  have to do is accept it. Yet the Church has crossed them off the list of people to be asked in order to please men. Is the Bear alone in finding this monstrous?

How different from the early Church, where Jews were tirelessly proselytized! Why were Jews converting to anything under the urging of the Apostle Paul and other Christian leaders if it were not necessary?

But something is going on that makes interfaith relations more important than the truth of the faith, and  the salvation of souls of people we supposedly care so much about. The Bear sniffs the air, and there is something unwholesome on the breeze more often than not of late. The Bear finds himself typing “The Prince of This World” too often.

He fears for his Church as never before.

Ultimately, the Bear fears the Church is currently advancing a different program than the one Jesus began with St. Peter. Continue Reading

18

Bear Growls: Pope Francis the Angry

angry Pope Francis

A succinct, and, on the whole, accurate assessment of Pope Francis, at least so far, by Saint Corbinian’s Bear:

 

Pope Francis — this is his. There are no surprises to the man. We can all sit back and stop obsessing over everything he says and does. There’s nothing to figure out any more. He’s a Latin American bishop with naive, confused and passionate politics and a constricted view of the world. He idealizes the poor, not because they are needy, but because they are The Poor. The Catholic Church is being repurposed into something strange, vague. The tone of this Papacy is anger.

And pessimism.

23

Bear Growls: Pamela Geller

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Saint Corbinian’s Bear is bemused about the hysteria regarding Geller’s Draw Mohammed contest:

See the picture above. Does anything strike you as odd? Muslims attack us, and we are the ones who have to be reminded to be nice? This is a standard tactic: play the victim card. Close down discussion. You don’t want to be a hater, do you?

The condemnation of Pamela Geller’s free speech exercise in Garland, Texas by L’Osservatore Romano was unintentionally hilarious, as were thousands across the globe. They might as well have said that Muslims are mad dogs who can’t control themselves when something (Muhammad drawing, accidental Quran burning, the historical fact of First Crusade, Friday) triggers their irresistible urge to kill. Because in their warnings not to do anything that might offend our delicate Muslim cousins, they not only damn free speech, but could not be more condescending to the very people they’re trying to protect. They’re like Bear Safety Tips.

The Bear would not be the first to draw a comparison to someone blaming rape on the way women dress. “Geller had it coming.” Oh, come to think of it, the last person the Bear remembers doing that was Chief Australian Muslim cleric Taj al-Din al-Hilawi in 2006.

Sheik Hilawi was quoted as saying: “If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street, or in the garden or in the park, or in the back yard without a cover, and the cats come and eat it… whose fault is it, the cats or the uncovered meat? The uncovered meat is the problem.” Yep, ladies, better keep that cat-meat covered!

Pope Francis, who never saw a religion he didn’t like — except some elements of Catholicism — has said you cannot make fun of another religion.

Drawing a picture of a supposedly historical figure is not making fun of any religion. Giving some group advance veto power over speech is the end of free speech in principle. Continue Reading