‘I am not a pillar of the Church, but more like a flying buttress — I support the church from the outside.’
Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently in defense of the Faith that I have named him Defender of the Faith, has a question for us:
I have a serious question for which I’d like a serious answer. And I’m not going to provide any commentary of my own just yet; I’m much more interested in what you guys think. But should we flying buttresses of the Catholic Church, to borrow Churchill’s analogy, start seriously worrying right about now?
In considering the principle of gradualness in the divine salvific plan, one asks what possibilities are given to married couples who experience the failure of their marriage, or rather how it is possible to offer them Christ’s help through the ministry of the Church. In this respect, a significant hermeneutic key comes from the teaching of Vatican Council II, which, while it affirms that “although many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible structure … these elements, as gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, are forces impelling toward Catholic unity” (Lumen Gentium, 8).
Realizing the need, therefore, for spiritual discernment with regard to cohabitation, civil marriages and divorced and remarried persons, it is the task of the Church to recognize those seeds of the Word that have spread beyond its visible and sacramental boundaries. Following the expansive gaze of Christ, whose light illuminates every man (cf. Jn 1,9; cf. Gaudium et Spes, 22), the Church turns respectfully to those who participate in her life in an incomplete and imperfect way, appreciating the positive values they contain rather than their limitations and shortcomings.
In this respect, a new dimension of today’s family pastoral consists of accepting the reality of civil marriage and also cohabitation, taking into account the due differences. Indeed, when a union reaches a notable level of stability through a public bond, is characterized by deep affection, responsibility with regard to offspring, and capacity to withstand tests, it may be seen as a germ to be accompanied in development towards the sacrament of marriage. Very often, however, cohabitation is established not with a view to a possible future marriage, but rather without any intention of establishing an institutionally-recognized relationship.
In the West as well there is an increasingly large number of those who, having lived together for a long period of time, ask to be married in the Church. Simple cohabitation is often a choice inspired by a general attitude, which is opposed to institutions and definitive undertakings, but also while waiting for a secure existence (a steady job and income). In other countries common-law marriages are very numerous, not because of a rejection of Christian values as regards the family and matrimony, but, above all, because getting married is a luxury, so that material poverty encourages people to live in common-law marriages. Furthermore in such unions it is possible to grasp authentic family values or at least the wish for them. Pastoral accompaniment should always start from these positive aspects.
Various Fathers underlined the necessity to make the recognition of cases of nullity more accessible and flexible. Among the propositions were the abandonment of the need for the double conforming sentence; the possibility of establishing an administrative means under the responsibility of the diocesan bishop; a summary process to be used in cases of clear nullity. According to authoritative propositions, the possibility should then be considered of giving weight to the faith of those about to be married in terms of the validity of the sacrament of marriage. It needs to emphasized that in all these cases it is about the ascertaining of the truth over the validity of the obstacle.
As regards matrimonial suits, the speeding-up of the procedure, requested by many, as well as the preparation of a sufficient number of operators, clerics and lay people, dedicating themselves to this, requires an increase in the responsibilities of the diocesan bishop, who in his diocese might charge a specially trained priest who would be able to offer the parties advice on the validity of their marriage.
In the same way the situation of the divorced who have remarried demands a careful discernment and an accompaniment full of respect, avoiding any language or behavior that might make them feel discriminated against. For the Christian community looking after them is not a weakening of its faith and its testimony to the indissolubility of marriage, but rather it expresses precisely its charity in its caring.
As regards the possibility of partaking of the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist, some argued in favor of the present regulations because of their theological foundation, others were in favor of a greater opening on very precise conditions when dealing with situations that cannot be resolved without creating new injustices and suffering. For some, partaking of the sacraments might occur were it preceded by a penitential path – under the responsibility of the diocesan bishop –, and with a clear undertaking in favor of the children. This would not be a general possibility, but the fruit of a discernment applied on a case-by-case basis, according to a law of gradualness, that takes into consideration the distinction between state of sin, state of grace and the attenuating circumstances.
Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community: are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities? Often they wish to encounter a Church that offers them a welcoming home. Are our communities capable of providing that, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?
The question of homosexuality leads to a serious reflection on how to elaborate realistic paths of affective growth and human and evangelical maturity integrating the sexual dimension: it appears therefore as an important educative challenge. The Church furthermore affirms that unions between people of the same sex cannot be considered on the same footing as matrimony between man and woman. Nor is it acceptable that pressure be brought to bear on pastors or that international bodies make financial aid dependent on the introduction of regulations inspired by gender ideology.
Without denying the moral problems connected to homosexual unions it has to be noted that there are cases in which mutual aid to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners. Furthermore, the Church pays special attention to the children who live with couples of the same sex, emphasizing that the needs and rights of the little ones must always be given priority. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Charlton Heston never played Jesus in a film, to the best of my knowledge, but he famously was Moses and also played John the Baptist in The Greatest Story Ever Told. I so much wanted to hear him say, “You can have this sword when you pry it from my Cold. Dead. Hands!”
Deacon Michael D. Harmon
Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently for the Church that I have named him Defender of the Faith, takes a verbal axe at Midwest Conservative Journal to the latest bizarre explanation of why Christ was condemned by Pilate:
Premise: a Christian event that happened over 2,000 years ago has been pondered, studied and debated from the moment it occurred until the present day and general agreement about the significance of that event has been reached. You, on the other hand, with the able assistance of “Christian scholarship,” have come up with a Radically New InterpretationTM of the meaning of that event:
Jesus may have been crucified because his followers were carrying weapons, according to a scholarly analysis of New Testament books.
Dale Martin, a professor of religious studies at Yale University, says that this aspect of stories about Jesus, as told in the gospels, has received too little attention, but could alone explain Jesus’s execution and also show that the man from Nazareth was not the pacifist he’s usually made out to be.
The biblical books of Mark and Luke both state that at least one (and probably two or more) of Jesus’s followers was carrying a sword when Jesus was arrested shortly after the Last Supper, at the time of the Jewish festival of Passover. One disciple, Simon Peter, even used his sword to cut off the ear of one of those arresting Jesus, according to the Gospel of John.
This militant behavior almost certainly wouldn’t have been tolerated by the Romans, led by the prefect Pontius Pilate, Martin tells Newsweek. For example, historical documents show that it was illegal at the time to walk about armed in Rome and in some other Roman cities. Although no legal records survive from Jerusalem, it stands to reason, based on a knowledge of Roman history, that the region’s rulers would have frowned upon the carrying of swords, and especially wouldn’t have tolerated an armed band of Jews roaming the city during Passover, an often turbulent festival, Martin says.
“Just as you could be arrested in Rome for even having a dagger, if Jesus’s followers were armed, that would be reason enough to crucify him,” says Martin, whose analysis was published this month in the Journal for the Study of the New Testament.
Conclusion: you’re not only wrong but you’re dumber than a bag of hammers.
Paula Fredriksen, a historian of ancient Christianity at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, says Martin’s paper has several holes “that you could drive trucks through.”
For one, she doesn’t think it’s legitimate to assume that since carrying arms was illegal in the city of Rome, the same laws necessarily applied in Jerusalem. Control of the city wasn’t too tight, she argues, and the Roman prefect visited only during Passover, to help keep the peace. And during this time it probably would’ve been impossible to police the thousands of Jews that spilled into Jerusalem.
“I can’t even imagine what a mess it was,” she says.
Furthermore, she says, the Greek word used in the Gospels that Martin interprets as sword really means something more akin to knife. And these could be easily concealed, she adds. “Only professionals,” like soldiers, “carried swords,” she says.
While we’re on the subject of weapons, people didn’t carry staffs back then only because they needed help navigating the terrain. Staffs also offered [limited] protection against wild animals. Or wild people, whatever the case may have been.
Dear Newsweek or the Daily Beast or the Daily Tina Brown’s Ego or whatever you’re calling yourselves this week. Stop writing about the Christian religion. Just stop. You people have no idea how stupid you’re making yourselves look. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic, demonstrates yet again why I long ago designated him Defender of the Faith:
A continuing series
Thank you for your interest in writing for the National Catholic Reporter. Although we welcome your submissions at any time, we hope that these occasional posts help you to become exactly the sort of writer NCR is looking for. The following piece by Robert McClory illustrates two key abilities every great NCR writer needs to learn how to perform well. The first of these is how to:
Play dumber than a bag of hammers – Commenting on a recent column by Cardinal Francis George of the Archdiocese of Chicago in which George said this:
Now, George says, “society has brought social and legislative approval to all types of sexual relationships that used to be considered ‘sinful.’ Since the biblical vision of what it means to be human tells us that not every friendship or love can be expressed in sexual relations, the church’s teaching on these issues is now evidence of intolerance for what the civil law upholds and even imposes. What was once a request to live and let live has now become a demand for approval. The ‘ruling class,’ those who shape public opinion in politics, in education, in communications, in entertainment, is using the civil law to impose its own form of morality on everyone.”
I don’t understand what George is saying. If many states pass, for example, approval of gay marriage, aren’t Catholics free to oppose it in keeping with official church teaching, just as they are free to oppose the sale of contraceptives in drug stores? If the government requires insurance policies to cover the purchase of contraceptives, are not Catholics free to object, as George has done for months? But I don’t see how any of this amounts to a “ruling class” imposing “its own form of morality on everyone.”
The simple fact of that matter is that, unless he is too stupid to be allowed outside without supervision, McClory knows perfectly well what George means. But McClory has to pretend that he doesn’t; otherwise, he must explain why being governmentally coerced into committing a sin is fine as long as you’re free to feel bad about it as well as why being governmentally coerced into sin isn’t “imposing morality.”
The second ability any good NCR writer needs to know particularly well is how to:
Duck the question – Cardinal George continues.
“It means that those who choose to live by the Catholic faith,” [George] says, “will not be welcomed as political candidates to national office, will not sit on editorial boards of major newspapers, will not be at home on most university faculties, will not have successful careers as actors and entertainers. Nor will their children, who will also be suspect. Since all public institutions, no matter who owns or operates them, will be agents of the government and conform their activities to the demands of the official religion, the practice of medicine and law will become more difficult for faithful Catholics. It already means in some States that those who run businesses must conform their activities to the official religion or be fined, as Christians and Jews are fined for their religion in countries governed by Sharia law.”
One assumes that McClory knows that George’s last sentence has already happened several times since several private businesses have been driven into bankruptcy by the legal assaults of homosexuals. One also assumes that McClory remembers the Chick-Fil-A controversy of a while back in which the homosexual community as well as several prominent politicians publicly execrated Chick-Fil-A and wished for its destruction simply because its CEO opposed the concept of homosexual “marriage.”
Assuming that McClory knows all this, how does he respond? Like any great National Catholic Reporter writer would.
I hope some of George’s clearer-thinking colleagues would gather around their partner and urge him to consider a more positive, optimistic future for Catholicism. Is not the Holy Spirit still among us? →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently for the Church that I have named him Defender of the Faith, addresses at Midwest Conservative Journal the perennial question of what to do when a child decides to go astray:
From the dawn of time, parents everywhere have dreaded having to face that terrible moment when one of their children rejects the family religious tradition:
Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
One of the shabbiest, and bleakly hilarious, features of our time is the increasingly popular superstition that morality and sex have nothing to do with each other. That this is absurd we see all around us in shattered families, fatherless kids, a million abortions a year and hordes of truly pathetic individuals attempting to substitute promiscuity for love. Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels for the Faith so frequently that I have named him Defender of the Faith, takes the verbal buzz saw to one of the advocates of this rubbish on stilts:
Feeling guilty about the fact that your wife caught you doing your hot, young, female executive assistant? Or that your husband caught your hot, young, male executive assistant tapping you again and again? Not to worry, says self-described “Hollywood life coach and spiritual teacher” Lisa Haisha (which means that every word out of her mouth is brain-dead crap). We’ll just redefine “marriage” so that you don’t feel bad:
Don’t get me wrong… I’m not condoning adultery as we know it,
because I’m not strictly talking about sex.
But because it is so taboo, when you consider the historical context of marriage, isn’t being shocked by adultery a bit of an overreaction?
No. What part of this don’t you understand, “spiritual teacher?”
Of course, no one can deny that when you lie and do something behind another person’s back, you are doing something wrong. You’re breaking an agreement, and that lacks integrity. You’re breaking trust with the other person, which is most definitely hurtful. But in the course of a long term relationship, taking into account the practical realities of our human need to experience life on our own, or through experiences with other platonic or romantic relationships, perhaps a new kind of conversation can unfold with your spouse or partner where you jointly communicate your needs and set reasonable and practical parameters of what is and isn’t allowed in your marriage, so the negative and hidden behaviors associated with adultery don’t take place.
Translation: it really sucks that it took us this long to come up with pseudo-intellectual euphemisms for banging the babysitter but we’re only human.
Since marriage has evolved so much over the ages, and different cultures have different views of it even today, perhaps it’s time for the age-old institution to evolve yet again. Maybe the tenets of a successful marriage should not be whether the couple stays monogamous for decades, but rather whether the couple openly communicates about what their unique marriage will look like, what will be deemed acceptable and what will not, and then honoring that joint decision.
Back to the old man again. If he’d had his druthers, Pop’d druther not have married a woman he knocked up since she’d already had a daughter by her first, late husband so he’d always have that “number two” feeling in his head. And particularly if he knew that he would eventually have to leave his beloved Montana and have a youngest son who would turn out to be not all that fond of him.
But my old man, well, manned up. He understood that taking responsibility for your actions involves, well, taking responsibility for your actions, no matter the cost. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
One thing I hate about leftists is that they are quite expert at changing the meaning of words and phrases to suit their political goals. Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently for the Church that I have named him Defender of the Faith, at Midwest Conservative Journal gives us a prime example of this and also provides us a stirring tribute by a son to his father:
Susan Russell on Robbie’s split:
[Our marriages] are equally blessed and equally challenging. They are equally full of joy and equally full of disappointment. We equally love and cherish each other and we equally hurt and misunderstand each other. And, when a marriage fails, we are equally sad, scared and heartbroken. Just as the values that make up a marriage transcend the gender of the couple in the marriage, so do the challenges. And because all of our marriages are — for better or for worse — equal, they deserve equal protection under the law.
Do go on.
What I believe is that the vow “until death do us part” is absolutely binding on absolutely every marriage. And what I know is that sometimes the death that ends a marriage isn’t the death of one of the partners but the death of the marriage itself. And when that happens, the faithful thing — the honest thing, the healthy thing — is to grieve the death of the marriage. And then, from a Christian perspective, to trust the Easter promise that love is stronger than death — even the death of a marriage.
“The death of the marriage.” The. Death. Of. The. Marriage. Seriously, Susie?!! Do you REALLY want to play that card? Because if you do, you’ve just granted “spiritual” permission for every single bimbo in the entire world to sleep around on her husband and every single a-hole in the entire world to sleep around on his wife.
Good Lord. So all that incessant Episcopalian yammering about blessing “life-long, committed relationships” actually was complete crap?
[Robbie's divorce] teaches us that even good people of deep faith with the best intentions can fail at making the marriage they hoped would be forever last forever. It teaches us that telling the truth about our lives and our challenges is not only healthy for us but can be in inspiration for others. And, most of all, it teaches us, in Gene Robinson’s own words: “Love can endure, even if a marriage cannot.”
Particularly when they can just declare the marriage “dead” and move on. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Episcopalians have retired the rationalization trophy. Nobody else was ever in the ballgame.
Are you all interested in a little Johnson family history? While doing genealogical research into my father’s side of the family, I sent to Ness County, Kansas for a copy of the marriage record of my paternal grandparents and discovered something that nobody in the family previously knew.
Let’s just say that the time between when my grandparents got married and when my father’s older brother was born was a good deal less than nine months. Dad thought it had to have been a mistake but my aunt heard stories of Kansas girls who suddenly ran off to Kansas City because of wink, wink.
If anybody out in Ness City, Kansas knew, they didn’t say anything because my dad told me once that when he was a kid, his family used to go out there all the time and he actually seemed to have an affection for the place, insisting that we go out there on the car trip he and I took a year or so before his final illness.
And I was delighted to go.
Anyway, my grandparents married in 1917 and they made a life together in Kansas City. Grandma had two other children, my dad and my uncle. But my grandfather abruptly ended the marriage in 1957.
By dropping dead from an aortic aneurysm at the barber shop one day.
Then there was my old man. I think I’ve mentioned here before that he and I didn’t get along all that well when I was a kid. He was ex-military, I was a sensitive kid and he didn’t always much patience with kids who didn’t pick things up right away.
When I was a little kid, Pop had this tendency to snap at me whenever I tried to make what I thought was a contribution to the conversation (I’m pushing 60 and the words, “Don’t get smart!!” hurt as much now as they did then). While it didn’t happen much, he wasn’t above humiliating me in front of the entire family if he was angry enough.
But do you want to know the really funny part? →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Yesterday, in Town of Greece v. Galloway, the Supreme Court reached the stunningly obvious conclusion, under the text of the Constitution, the views of the Founding Fathers and the historic practice in this country, that prayers prior to town meetings are not unconstitutional under the First Amendment. Go here to read the text of the opinion. Of course the four liberals on the court, for whom the text of the Constitution is so much Play-Doh, dissented. I was going to write a post on the decision, but Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels for the Church so frequently that I have named him Defender of the Faith, has beat me to it:
I’m not a lawyer, I just pretend to be one on the Internet so I apologize if there’s too much technical jargon in this post. But yesterday, CNN’s Daniel Burke reported that the United States Supreme Court told people who claim that the mere sight of a Christian cross compels them to become Christians or who claim to break out in a cold sweat whenever they hear someone say “Jesus Christ” to grow a pair and man the hell up:
If you don’t like it, leave the room.
That’s the essence of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s advice for atheists and others who object to sectarian prayers before government meetings.
In a 5-4 decision written by Kennedy, the Supreme Court allowed Greece, New York, to continue hosting prayers before its monthly town board meetings – even though an atheist and a Jewish citizen complained that the benedictions are almost always explicitly Christian.
Many members of the country’s majority faith – that is, Christians – hailed the ruling.
Considering the intellectual vacuity of court rulings on the Establishment Clause over the years, any schadenfreude yesterday, Chris? Yeah, a little bit. I’d use “wailing and gnashing of teeth” here but that’s Biblical and I don’t want to offend anyone.
Many members of minority faiths, as well as atheists, responded with palpable anger, saying the Supreme Court has set them apart as second-class citizens.
Groups from the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism to the Hindu American Foundation decried Monday’s decision.
“The court’s decision to bless ‘majority-rules’ prayer is out of step with the changing face of America, which is more secular and less dogmatic,” said Rob Boston, a spokesman for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which litigated the case.
If you don’t like it, step out of the room for a few moments.
But what about people who like their local government meetings to be religion-free?
“Should nonbelievers choose to exit the room during a prayer they find distasteful, their absence will not stand out as disrespectful or even noteworthy,” Kennedy writes.
Elections matter, folks. Because they can result in stupid people getting lifetime jobs.
[Justice Elena] Kagan, writing for the dissenting minority, sharply disagreed.
She suggested that the five justices who formed the majority – all of whom are Catholic – don’t understand what it’s like to belong to a minority faith in America.
Did Burke happen to mention that the majority in this case was Roman Catholic?
The Supreme Court’s Catholic majority seems to think that, because many prayers before government meetings take on a ceremonial aspect, the actual content of the prayers doesn’t really matter, Kagan continues.
In essence, she said, the majority is arguing “What’s the big deal?” and making light of religious differences while conferring a special role on Christianity.
“Contrary to the majority’s apparent view, such sectarian prayers are not ‘part of our expressive idiom’ or ‘part of our heritage and tradition,’ assuming that ‘our’ refers to all Americans. They express beliefs that are fundamental to some, foreign to others – and because of that they carry the ever-present potential to divide and exclude.”
Ellie? Have you ever actually read the Establishment Clause? It says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” That’s it.
There’s nothing in there about division or exclusion or any of the rest of that hippie crap. Put it another way. What if that town board brought in a Muslim to offer a prayer one evening, he opened with “In the name of Allah, the compassionate, the merciful” and mentioned Mohammed a time or two, using that “peace and blessings be upon him” line?
Know what I would do if that happened, Ellie?
I wouldn’t make a scene or anything. But I wouldn’t pray. I’d sit there quietly and respectfully until the gentleman finished and then I guess we’d proceed with town business. The fact that a Muslim publicly prayed while I was in the room neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg, as Mr. Jefferson once put it.
And it certainly doesn’t constitute an establishment of the Muslim religion in that town, Ellie, your tortured reading of the First Amendment notwithstanding.
One more thing. Atheists? What is the deal with you people? Why do you always turn up in stories like this? You don’t believe this stuff or at least you claim that you don’t so why legally force people who disagree with you to keep quiet? What difference does it make to you if someone publicly expresses concepts that you find absurd?
Sounds REAL insecure to me. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently in defense of the Church that I have named him Defender of the Faith, over at his Midwest Conservative Journal takes a look at the cold call imbroglio:
A new Roman Catholic Doctrinal FirestormTM has recently erupted:
Did Pope Francis tell a divorced and remarried woman that it was okay to take Communion even though her parish priest denied her the host?
That’s the latest kerfuffle created by the “cold-call” pope who on Monday, the day after Easter, called an Argentine woman who had written to him about whether she should receive communion at Mass even though she was divorced and remarried.
“There are priests who are more papist than the pope,” the pope himself reportedly told Jacquelina Lisbona.
Kudos to CNN, which UPDATES the story with reporting from three continents (literally): CNN has a Vatican spokesman confirming that the call did indeed take place, but the Rev. Thomas Rosica provided no details.
“It’s between the Pope and the woman,” said Rosica, a consultant for the Vatican press office.
“To draw any conclusions about this particular situation, that the Pope may be setting an agenda, is incorrect,” Rosica told the network. “The Pope is first and foremost an esteemed pastor, and dealing with a human situation is always complex.”
That’s good to keep in mind, though if the contents of the pope’s conversation with Lisbona are true, then this is a big deal, at least in terms of the example Francis is setting rather than the doctrine that he is not changing.
Here’s the woman’s account of the phone call.
“The phone rang and my husband answered. It was Fr. Bergoglio calling. The father asked to speak to me and my husband asked: ‘Who’s calling?’, to which the voice replied ‘Fr. Bergoglio.’ I asked him if it was really him, the pope, and he said it was and that he was calling in response to my letter dated September.
“Then he told me there are some priests who are more papist that the pope. He was completely normal with me on the phone and I tried to speak to him with the utmost respect. Now I am overwhelmed by the enormous effect this story has had and I feel moved by the fact that I spoke to Francis. I told him I would write to him again when I take Communion again.”
Was this call actually made? It seems to have been.
Yes, the pope called Jacquelina Lisbona. The real question regards the content of the conversation. If indeed he said those things this would be a big deal because she is still in what the church would call an “irregular” marriage. Her husband is divorced, and they have not been married in the church.
In any case, Francis once again has set an example for the rest of the hierarchy even without changing church law, and it’s in keeping with the pope’s character — Francis has frequently shown little patience with priests who are “little monsters” (his words) who cite “small-minded” rules rather than ministering mercy to people.
Damian Thompson has posts on this story up here and here. This site’s Catholic readership can hash this out in the comments (in fact, I hope you guys do) but I am, for the most part, going to adhere to MCJ policy about controversial Roman Catholic news stories, hold off for a few days and wait to see how this thing plays out.
But somebody is going to have to remind Francis of the difference between a parish priest and the leader of a great Christian church as well as the reigning sovereign of the world’s oldest, continuous monarchy. Parish priests have a certain rhetorical latitude that popes do not, indeed cannot, have. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Candida Moss, Professor of Theology at Notre Dame, fresh off her laurels claiming that the Christian persecution by the Roman Emperors was much ado about nothing, read here and here for our examination of that deathless gift to scholarship, now comments about the latest claimant for the Holy Grail, basing her analysis on the same theory propounded by Indiana Jones in the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: that a cup made out of precious material would not have been used by a carpenter. This latest attempt to gain publicity for herself has brought her to the attention of Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently in defense of the Church that I have named him Defender of the Faith;
Some Spanish researchers recently claimed to have discovered the Holy Grail, the cup that Jesus employed at the Last Supper. I’m not convinced but since I’ve never been a relics kind of guy, that doesn’t much matter. Candida Moss, professor of the New Testament and early Christianity at the University of Notre Dame, is also skeptical:
Even if you strip off the precious metals the cup is still too fancy. Agate was widely used to carve high-value objects like signets and cylinder seals in the ancient Near East. The historian Pliny the Elder describes owning agate cups as a sign of wealth and luxury. The imperial biographer Suetonius tells us that, of all of the riches of Alexandria, the emperor Augustus kept only a single agate cup. The emperor Nero—known for his debauchery apparently collected the things. In 66 C.E., when one of Nero’s contemporaries, Petronius, realized that he was about to be executed by the emperor and planned to commit suicide, his final act was to smash an agate ladle worth 300,000 sesterces rather than allow Nero to get his hands on it. To put that in perspective: male laborers living in Republican Rome made about 3 sesterces a day. While agate could likely be acquired much more cheaply, aristocratic Romans were serious about their agate.
Yeah, uh, Candy? Cupcake? If I remember the Scriptures correctly, the Lord informed His disciples that the place where He was to eat His final Passover with his disciples had been prepared in advance so there would have been no need for Our Lord to have owned any particular item involved with it.
Inasmuch as, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head,” why would the Son of the Most High God have ever owned His own chalice? This is the intellectual and theological reason why, claims Candy, professor of the New Testament and early Christianity at the University of Notre Dame as well as an intellectual and theological badass.
Arguably the bigger issue is the cup’s appearance. As any fan of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade knows, Jesus would have used a simple carpenter’s cup. Like all dramatic reenactments, Indiana Jones has some minor historical flaws, but it certainly got that right. Archeological excavations have yielded many examples of ancient Israelite cups and they are made of cheap durable fabrics.
‘Kay. Except that the “carpenter’s cup” in IJ&TLC was lined with gold. Just sayin’, Candy. Roman Catholics? I know that most of you have gotten a huge kick out of how often you’ve rolled the Anglicans and quite justifiably so; if you’ve got a mark who doesn’t know he’s a mark then work that mark for as long as you can.
But Candy and ND are all yours. So you will hopefully forgive a few Anglican chuckles. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Christopher Johnson at Midwest Conservative Journal, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently for the Church that I have named him Defender of the Faith, takes a look at how NBC refers to Communism, an ideology that has a murder total of one hundred million and counting:
Last evening, NBC opened its Olympic coverage from Russia with the following montage:
The towering presence, the empire that ascended to affirm a colossal footprint. The revolution that birthed one of modern history’s pivotal experiments. But if politics has long shaped our sense of who they are, it’s passion that endures. As a more reliable right to their collective heart. What they build in aspirations lifted by imagination. What they craft, through the wonder of every last detail. How magical the fusion of sound and movement can be. How much a glass of distilled perfection and an overflowing table can matter. Discover the Russian people through these indelible signatures. Discover what we share with them through the games that open here tonight.
Watch the video. As the highlighted words above are spoken, take careful note of the image that appears on the screen. And then thank God that Germany isn’t scheduled to host an Olympics any time soon. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
GK Chesterton once opined that “When men choose not to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing, they then become capable of believing in anything.” Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently for the Church that I have named him Defender of the Faith, gives us a perfect example:
The other day, Bob Wright, Georgia’s Episcopal pointy hat, opened a speech before some “interfaith” complete waste of time or other in this fashion:
Good afternoon. Greetings to you in the name of Yahweh the Almighty, in the name of Allah the beneficent and merciful. Greetings to you in the name of the Eternal One who gave the Buddha his great enlightenment, and in the name of the Hindus’ Supreme Being that orders the cosmos.
I guess I could thoroughly document all the ways that that’s not only wrong but actually kind of insulting to many more people than Christians. But do you know how to tell when you’re just about finished with the Episcopalians? When you read something like that and the only reaction you can come up with is to say to yourself, “Whatever, Bob. And why do you hate Zoroastrians, bigot?”
Go here to read the comments. The mindset of Mr. Wright infests many who call themselves Christians today, even within the Church. It is hard for me to convey not only how mistaken this is, but how truly evil it is. Christ and the Jews who did not follow Him gave us an example of what I mean:
 The Jews therefore said to him: Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?  Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say to you, before Abraham was made, I am.  They took up stones therefore to cast at him. But Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple.
John 8: 57-59
Jesus in this passage stated that He is God, the great I AM that revealed Himself to Moses. The Jews who did not believe Him were ready to stone Him for this blasphemy. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Unless a major news story involving the Pope develops, PopeWatch plans in future that Saturday installments of PopeWatch will normally be lighthearted, however this installment is somewhat darkly humored indeed. Catholics can often rightly feel that there is much amiss in the Church. Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who often has taken up the cudgels to defend the Church, reminds us in a current post at Midwest Conservative Journal that the problems of Catholics might seem trivial to Christians in various sects:
This one’s all yours, partner. Just keep it clean:
The bookmakers were right. Today it was announced that the Church of Sweden’s new archbishop is Antje Jackelén. But who is the church’s new top leader, who has chosen part of the Muslim prayer call as her motto?
Many have been taken aback by the theological opinions Jackelén revealed during a questioning in Uppsala on October 1. The candidates for the highest position in the Swedish church were asked if they thought Jesus presented a truer picture of God than Muhammed. With her evasive answer Jackelén suddenly emerged as the bishop who couldn’t choose between Jesus and Muhammed. This provoked strong reactions on some editorial pages.
Kyrkans Tidning thought that the bishop’s answer might indicate that Christ is being relegated to the margins of the Church of Sweden and Dagens Nyheter encouraged the candidates to show some theological backbone. The editorial writer at the newspaper Dagen wrote that it is time to accept the idea of a split within the church – between Christians and those who think all religions are equally good.
The bishop of Lund’s preference for Allah has prompted one of the church’s most preeminent theologians, professor Eva Hamberg, to leave her post as a member of the church’s theological council in protest against bishop Antje Jackelén’s failure to stand behind the Church of Sweden’s profession of faith. As a reaction to what she calls ”the inner secularization of the Church of Sweden”, she has also renounced her position as priest and her membership of the church.
In a number of interviews Hamberg has expressed her disappointment that not even the top leader of the church will clearly profess a Christian faith but wavers between Jesus and Muhammed.
It is not only Jackelén’s motto and her unwillingness to put Jesus ahead of Muhammed that has evoked strong feelings among many committed Christians. During her questioning in Uppsala, the new archbishop also said that the Church of Sweden has more in common with other religions than with other Christian churches, that the Virgin Birth must be understood metaphorically, that hell doesn’t exist and that the Biblical texts should not be taken as truth. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels in defense of Catholicism so frequently that I have named him Defender of the Faith, explains why liberal Protestantism deserves a place on the endangered species list:
Liberal Protestantism is dying. Rod Dreher says so in a recent column in The American Conservative, and the statistics back him up: for decades, liberal and mainline Protestantism has been on the decline in the US, with some denominations (such as the United Church of Christ) losing adherents so quickly that their future is in peril. Meanwhile, more conservative and evangelical denominations have generally held their own, or even experienced growth (see graph below). But liberal Protestantism in many ways exemplifies the best of what religion could be: it’s tolerant of differences, non-judgmental, open to scientific knowledge. Good stuff, right? So why is it that the open-minded liberal churches are dying out?
Golly gee willickers, it has to be painful to be this clueless. “Liberal Protestantism in many ways exemplifies the best of what religion could be,” only to someone who has absolutely no idea what religion actually is.
I guess I’m going to have to try to dumb this down even further and for the sake of brevity, I’m going to stick with the monotheistic religions but these principles apply to all religions. So here goes not much of anything.
Once they accept that, they’re kind of forced to accept three more concepts. Even if they never figure out what it is, there’s a reason why they’re here; after all, if you’re talented enough to speak existence into existence, why would Christopher Johnsons ever just sort of randomly turn up?
So if you’re here for a reason, even if you never ever understand what that reason is until you die, if then, does that not imply that the God who deliberately made you exist feels that your existence is important? And if your existence is important, does that not rather obligate you to try to live the way the God who made you exist wants you to live?
You can’t do that as well as you want to, of course. God, in His mercy, understands that and has provided vehicles of escape, the most sensible and efficacious being, according to this Christian, that vehicle provided by the Christian religion. That fellow on the Cross.
Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently in defense of the Church that I have designated him Defender of the Faith, explains at Midwest Conservative Journal why the Left is so obsessed with race and finding racists, if not under every bed, certainly within every white skin:
Never let it be said that Naughton’s joint serves no useful purpose because I found this there. If you’re wondering why all the Episcopal Organization reactions to the George Zimmerman verdict read pretty much the same way, some chick named Mia McKenzie explains it all for you, illustrating why national “conversations” about race are worse than worthless because they’ll go somewhere only when white people admit that they’re wrong now, they’ve always been wrong and they always will be wrong:
Racism is, in reality, a huge, systemic, deeply-rooted plague that exists everywhere and affects everything, that degrades and starves and rapes and murders people without losing its breath. It is built on hundreds of years of oppression and genocide. It is in our government, in our entertainment, in our literature, in our corporations, in our language. This entire country was built on it. It is everywhere, and it is insidious and subtle just as often as it is open and obvious.
It is not that crazy dude over there.
I see the appeal to white folks in thinking about racism this way. The “whack job” approach allows people to separate racist thinking and behavior from themselves. It’s that crazy screaming dude over there who’s racist. It’s your drunk uncles. It’s your he-was-so-quiet-and-seemed-so-normal-before-he-walked-into-the-mall-and-started-shooting-people neighbors. All of whom you can shake your heads at with furrowed brows while proclaiming that you’re “not like that.”
But you are.
White people, you need to get this: you are racist. The first step is admitting that you are part of the problem.
I am not going to tell you why or how you are racist. I’m not here for your education.
A question and a comment. What is the difference between Miss McKenzie declaring and the Episcopal Organization tacitly agreeing the concept that every Caucasian becomes a “racist” the moment his or her umbilical cord is cut and some old National Socialist concentration camp guard somewhere claiming that we had to gas all those Jewish children because of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion? And before you mindlessly invoke Godwin’s Law, at least take a run at answering my question.
You and I both know certain facts about certain countries in the world and certain cities in the United States. But I’m not going to mention any of them right now for the same reason why, when I drove an orange Pinto several decades back, I refused, much to the consternation of a mentally-challenged friend of mine to put a Confederate flag on my car’s roof (my man was a huge Dukes of Hazard fan back in the day). I saw no reason to needlessly offend anyone over something that eventually wouldn’t matter anyway.
But keep up this “guilty until proven innocent” line and I’ll stop caring about your feelings and mention these facts that everyone knows. I own two Confederate flags, a Second and a Third National, that I bought from the Museum of the Confederacy. I obviously have no pole to raise either of them on but I do have several walls. If by some miracle, I ever let you in my place, you should happen to see one and wonder why it’s there, I’ll tell you it’s because of my pride in my Southron heritage.
If you happen to get mad at me, I’ll happen to not give a crap. Because the result of attitudes like Miss McKenzie’s and the Episocopal Organization’s can never be racial understanding and certainly won’t be increased racial hostility. It’ll be something far worse for the liberals than either of those two outcmes.
Put simply, the left needs “racism” and needs it desperately. Take that crutch away and large numbers of leftists are going to be forced to do pretty much the most difficult thing in the entire world. Look in the mirror. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently for the Church that I have designated him Defender of the Faith, has a barnburner of a column over at his blog Midwest Conservative Journal:
Gay conservative Kevin DuJan lets the cat out of the bag:
John Nolte at Breitbart.com just published a hard-hitting piece that’s worth your very valuable time…exposing Barack Obama’s commitment to the institutional Left’s Alinskyite objective of “dismantling, undermining, and toxifying the Catholic Church”; this article’s one of those that I’ll probably quote from for years to come, because I’ve never seen this articulated so succinctly before. Dismantle. Undermine. Toxify. That is precisely what Leftists have been attempting in their decades-long war against the Catholic Church. Kudos to Nolte for precisely encapsulating so much evil into three small words…which I hope you’ll join me in making everyday vocabulary from this point forward.
What John Nolte probably doesn’t know firsthand, though, is that the Left’s weapon of choice against Catholics is normally gays…who serve as a Gaystapo goon squad that is revved up into frenzies of hatred against Christians in general (but Catholics quite specifically). If you observe the institutional Left’s strategic moves long enough, you’ll see it’s almost always gays who are bused in to block the entrances to cathedrals or churches and scream expletives at parishioners heading into mass; this is, of course, the toxification aspect of the Leftists’ agenda…since they are attempting to make going to Catholic mass so unpleasant an experience for believers that they’ll potentially start staying home, just to avoid being screamed at by obnoxious gays out on the street (most of whom, in the video above at least, are actually members of the Chicago Teachers’ Union…more on that later).
The Left uses the Gaystapo against the Church (with gays screaming “Bigots!”) in much the same way that Democrats trot blacks (led, of course, by the likes of Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Henry Gates) in front of cameras to accuse conservative businesses, Republican politicians, or any of the Democrats’ other perceived “enemies” of being “Ray Ciss”. This is stage crafting coordinated by the DNC, with gays and blacks serving as useful idiots and foot solders for the institutional Left.
It’s a long article and there’s lots of video at the link.
Is this what Catholics have to look forward to? Sure, if this country’s gays are titanically stupid. For my part, nothing would get me into the Catholic parish directly across the street from where I live faster than hearing that I would be greeted by wild-eyed hordes of marauding gays as I walked in the door.
Of course, the Archdiocese here would probably discourage me from coming quite strongly, what with the fact that as I walked in, I would point and laugh at the assembled homosexuals, perhaps drop an F-bomb or two, physically react to any physical assaults on my person and break out an Anglican apology (I’m sorry if you were offended…) later if anyone called me on it.
You get the idea.
John Nolte, in the Breitbart.com post DuJan linked to above, overstates the case a bit. Would the left really like to “demystify, undermine and toxify” the Roman Catholic Church? Undoubtedly.
Why? Because at the present time, the Roman Catholic Church is the single largest and most influential worldwide organization standing in the way of the leftist agenda. I certainly don’t mean to suggest that strong opposition to the left does not also exist in Protestantism or Orthodoxy; it most certainly does. But Protestantism is too fragmented and Orthodoxy still too exotic and foreign to put up the kind of fight that only the Catholics can currently wage.
I’m not making a judgment, I’m simply stating a fact. Think of it like this; once you take Helm’s Deep, all you have left to do is to quietly wait for the rest of Middle Earth to fall into your hands. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Sally Quinn at the Washington Post has a column in which she calls for those darn Catholics to cease to be Catholic basically, and begins it all when she recalls the humiliation she felt during her salad days, presumably sometime after dinosaurs ruled the earth, when she was turned away from the Vatican because her skirt was too short. Unfortunately for her, her column attracted the attention of Christopher Johnson at Midwest Conservative Journal, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently in defense of the Church that I have designated him Defender of the Faith:
Yeah, here’s the thing. We Protestants obviously don’t have a dog in this hunt, as they say, but lots of us would really appreciate it if you mackeral snappers would pick the damned pace up and elect a new pope yesterday. Then we wouldn’t have to have read about how Sally Quinn visited the Vatican right around the time that William Howard Taft, AKA ”Fatso,” was US President:
The first time I visited the Vatican as an adult I was in my 20s. I was so excited. My boyfriend and I dressed up as if it were Easter Sunday. He wore a coat and tie. I wore a long sleeved black dress with pearls and little ballet flats. We were turned away. It seems my skirt was a half inch too short. I was crushed. I felt ashamed and humiliated. I certainly had not set out to offend anyone, much less God.
Two things, Sal. They’re called “travel guides” and just about everybody publishes them. So ignorance of the law and all that. And if I’m wearing a Motörhead T-shirt and I haven’t shaved or bathed in three days, give or take, I don’t have anything to complain about if Vatican border guards tell me, “Not so much, no.” Quinnsie, on the other hand, went back to the Vatican some time during the Coolidge Administration.
The last time I visited was five years ago, after the child sexual abuse scandal. Not long before, I had spent a weekend at Williamsburg, and I remember thinking that perhaps one day the Vatican would be like that same historic village. There would be actors dressed as priests and nuns and one actor playing the pope in flowing robes waving from the balcony, remembering an institution as it once existed.
And anybody with a brain would be Episcopalian by now. A few days later, Sally’s little “On Faith” thing ran some advice to the Roman Catholic Church from a Jewish atheist.
[A whole lot of stupid-ass liberal bumper stickers omitted.]
So, Rome? We’re going to need you to hurry things along, all right? Really. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Annie Selak, Jesuit trained lay ministress, wishes that the Church were more like that La Brea Tar Pits of a church, the Episcopalian Church. Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently in defense of the Faith that I have designated him Defender of the Faith, gives her a fisking to remember:
Any period between popes is always an exciting one for liberals, particularly liberal Catholics. Leftist manifestoes concerning what the new pope and the Church MUST DO NOW are more numerous than snowflakes in a thundersnow, all of which, as David Fischler correctly points out, can be summed up as advancing the project to turn the Roman Catholic Church into the Episcopal Organization. Annie Selak weighs in on behalf of Young Catholics. What kind of Roman Catholic Church do Catholic kids want anyway?
A church that takes our experience seriously: If you dig through church teaching, you can see that experience is a valid and necessary aspect of forming conscience. However, it does not feel like that is the case. Whether it is the sexual abuse crisis or new translation of the Roman Missal, the church seems distant from what is actually going on in the world. We want the church to ask the questions we are asking, rather than ones that seem trivial at best and irrelevant at worst. Catholicism can recover from mistakes, but one thing the church cannot recover from is being irrelevant.
Three things, Annie. Why should the Church ask the questions Young Catholics are asking? Seems kind of redundant. What makes the “experience” of Young Catholics so vital anyway insofar as Young Catholics haven’t had all that much of it?
What kinds of questions is the church asking that you believe are “trivial at best and irrelevant at worst?” That stuff about sin and redemption? And in case you think that whole “turning the Catholic Church Episcopalian” idea is hyperbole, Annie’s very next paragraph could have been written by Katharine Jefferts Schori.
A church that emphasizes the inclusive ministry of Jesus: Jesus was incredible, right? Why is it that we so rarely hear about that? Jesus consistently reached out to those marginalized from the community, yet the church does not follow suit. Who are the marginalized today? Most young Catholics are quick to point to two groups: women and people who do not identify as heterosexual. Regardless of political leanings, there is an overwhelming consensus that the church needs to do better in these areas. The Vatican has repeatedly shut down any dialogue surrounding the ordination of women and church teaching on homosexuality. At the very least, these issues need to be opened up to a thoughtful, informed dialogue that includes historical analysis, social sciences, tradition and Scripture (notably, all areas the church affirms in the formation of conscience). There is an urgency to these issues, as these are not nameless people on the margins, these are our friends, family members, mentors,and leaders. One of the things that draws young people to the Gospel is the inclusivity of Jesus; how is it that the exclusivity of the church turns people away?
Yes, by all means, the Roman Catholic Church should have a “thoughtful, informed dialogue” about these matters since it has never, ever considered these issues before. What Annie means, of course, is that the Church came to the wrong conclusions and needs to come to different ones. Therefore we need continuing, relentless, brain-dead “thoughtful, informed dialogue” until the Church gets its head out of its narthex.
A church that embraces that God is everywhere: The younger generation of the church resonates with the universal notion of Catholicism. We see diversity and unity as two concepts that go together, rather than being opposites. Moreover, we recognize the importance of other religions. Some of Pope Benedict XVI’s biggest missteps related to his interactions with other religions. But young Catholics have grown up alongside people from different religions who are some of the holiest people we know. Nostra Aetate , Vatican II’s “Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions” affirms that God is present in other religions, yet you would be hard-pressed to find anyone in the pews on a Sunday morning who knows this. We need to affirm and emphasize that God is present in other religions and sincerely work on improving our relationships with them.
Face? Keyboard? You know the drill. Mrs. Schori’s “small box” line? Front and center. I’ll let the Catholic readership determine exactly how badly Annie mangled Nostra Aetate. I’ll just say once again that given the choice between performing meaningless rituals in Annie’s ideal, high-church universalist Catholic Church and sleeping late on Sunday mornings, I expect to hit the snooze button a lot. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading