Saint Augustine and the Canaanite Woman

Sunday, August 20, AD 2017

At that time, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out,
“Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David!
My daughter is tormented by a demon.”
But Jesus did not say a word in answer to her.
Jesus’ disciples came and asked him,
“Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.”
He said in reply,
“I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
But the woman came and did Jesus homage, saying, “Lord, help me.”
He said in reply,
“It is not right to take the food of the children
and throw it to the dogs.”
She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps
that fall from the table of their masters.”
Then Jesus said to her in reply,
“O woman, great is your faith!
Let it be done for you as you wish.”
And the woman’s daughter was healed from that hour.

Matthew 15: 21-18





1. This woman of Canaan, who has just now been brought before us in the lesson of the Gospel, shows us an example of humility, and the way of godliness; shows us how to rise from humility unto exaltation. Now she was, as it appears, not of the people of Israel, of whom came the Patriarchs, and Prophets, and the parents of the Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh; of whom the Virgin Mary herself was, who was the Mother of Christ. This woman then was not of this people; but of the Gentiles. For, as we have heard, the Lord “departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, and behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts,” [2593] and with the greatest earnestness begged of Him the mercy to heal her daughter, “who was grievously vexed with a devil.” Tyre and Sidon were not cities of the people of Israel, but of the Gentiles; though they bordered on that people. So then, as being eager to obtain mercy she cried out, and boldly knocked; and He made as though He heard her not, [2594] not to the end that mercy might be refused her, but that her desire might be enkindled; and not only that her desire might be enkindled, but that, as I have said before, her humility might be set forth. Therefore did she cry, while the Lord was as though He heard her not, but was ordering in silence what He was about to do. The disciples besought the Lord for her, and said, “Send her away; for she crieth after us.” And He said, “I am not sent, but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” [2595]

2. Here arises a question out of these words; “If He was not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel, how came we from among the Gentiles into Christ’s fold? What is the meaning of the so deep economy [2596] of this mystery, that whereas the Lord knew the purpose of His coming — that He might have a Church in all nations, He said that He was not sent, but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel’?” We understand then by this that it behoved Him to manifest His Bodily presence, His Birth, the exhibition of His miracles, and the power of His Resurrection, among that people: that so it had been ordained, so set forth from the beginning, so predicted, and so fulfilled; that Christ Jesus was to come to the nation of the Jews, to be seen and slain, and to gain from among them those whom He foreknew. For that people was not wholly condemned, but sifted. There was among them a great quantity of chaff, but there was also the hidden worth [2597] of the grain; there was among them that which was to be burnt, there was among them also that wherewith the barn was to be filled. For whence came the Apostles? whence came Peter? whence the rest?

Continue reading...

Leave a Reply

Life in a Time of Tares

Sunday, July 23, AD 2017

Related image

Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:

But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.

But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.

So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?

He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?

But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.
Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

Matthew 13: 24-30



In any farming community, farmers being human, feuds will sometimes grow up between farmers and their families.  The Romans understood this, and so they had a law forbidding anyone from sowing tares, darnel, in a wheat field.  A ryegrass, darnel is indistinguishable from wheat in the early stages of development and only when they are both mature can wheat be readily distinguishable from tares.  It takes little imagination to see Jesus as a boy, working in the carpenter shop of Saint Joseph, and hearing one of the farming clients of Joseph ranting about how an unknown enemy of his had ruined his wheat field by planting darnel in it.

Christ has shaped out of this unpleasant example of rural life, a parable which says much about the human condition.  It would save time if we all wore signs saying “good”, “evil”, “both”, “making up my mind”, but we do not.  Until revealed by deeds, the side chosen by each of us each day remains a deep secret, often to the person making the daily choice, sense the capacity of man to deceive himself is bottomless.  But God knows, and ultimately we each reap the harvest of our deeds.  So with us individually, so our societies, our political institutions, our churches and all the other manifold ways in which we humans gather together.  Enough wrong choices and the tares are in charge, lording it over the wheat.  Saint Augustine noted this long ago:

Continue reading...

3 Responses to Life in a Time of Tares

  • AMEN! Often the parable is misread as “we are the wheat” and “our evil neighbors are the tares”. But it’s the wheat and tares within our own life choices that our Lord leaves us to work out until the end, when, both throughout our lives on earth and in purgatory, the “tares” are burned and the “perfect wheat” is gathered into His Barn!

  • St. Augustine’s Sermon 23 on the New Testament – thanks!

    The message at Mass today was also pretty good. My commentary is here, but as you all know I am not politically correct. Forewarned is forearmed.

  • “Let the good tolerate the bad; let the bad change themselves, and imitate the good.” St. Augustine. Amen to that.

    And a parallel quote: “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:5

    And another: “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:7

    And last: “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” James 1:19-20

2 Responses to Publicans and Other Sinners

  • Taxes are too high, indeed. Medieval serfs handed over less of their product than the typical (about 51% of us) American taxpayer.

    It’s not only federal income taxes. There are state and local income taxes, real estate taxes, sales taxes, excise taxes, etc. The cruelest excise taxes of all are on liquor.

    Due to a minor miscalculation in estimated taxes, fro 2016 we had a refund and filed in early February. Early onset Alzheimer?

    Regarding publicani, St. John the Baptist advised them to collect no more than authorized.

  • Medieval serfs handed over less of their product than the typical (about 51% of us) American taxpayer.
    Tax receipts in total amount to 30% of gross domestic product. A subset of that would be direct taxes (or ‘personal’ taxes), which amount to about 12% of personal income. IIRC, Jerome Blum had it that early modern serfs in the Hapsburg dominions were under quite a range of assessments (which varied locally), and could here and there be notionally liable for 70% of their crop.

One Solitary Life

Sunday, December 25, AD 2016

All the armies that have ever marched All the navies that have ever sailed All the parliaments that have ever sat All the kings that ever reigned put together Have not affected the life of mankind on earth As powerfully as that one solitary life

From One Solitary Life

I am an historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history.

H. G. Wells

O felix culpa quae talem et tantum meruit habere redemptorem

Exsultet, Easter Vigil

Continue reading...

One Response to One Solitary Life

  • For the many years that I was a sworn Police Officer, on the Evansville, Indiana Police Department, ( finally retired as a Sergeant ) I often witnessed things that either tested my Faith, or confirmed it.
    I belonged to a Gym called “The Pit”. And The Pit was owned and run by a devoutly Christian gentleman named Dick Connors. Connors was himself a sworn Police Officer and he did not allow any “swearing” or otherwise bawdy talk or activity in his Gym. He had signs on a couple of walls that displayed Biblical quotes in an effort to encourage a following of his wishes. But he continued to have occasional problems, UNTIL he put up a sign that quoted the anonymous “One Solitary Life”.
    After he put up that sign, things got a lot calmer, PEACEFUL !
    Timothy R

Christ and History

Friday, September 16, AD 2016


I’ll tell you what stands between us and the Greeks.  Two thousand years of human suffering stands between us! Christ on His Cross stands between us!

Michelangelo, Agony and the Ecstasy (1965)




Popular historian Tom Holland, whose work I have admired, writes how his study of history led him back to Christianity:


By the time I came to read Edward Gibbon and the other great writers of the Enlightenment, I was more than ready to accept their interpretation of history: that the triumph of Christianity had ushered in an “age of superstition and credulity”, and that modernity was founded on the dusting down of long-forgotten classical values. My childhood instinct to think of the biblical God as the po-faced enemy of liberty and fun was rationalised. The defeat of paganism had ushered in the reign of Nobodaddy, and of all the crusaders, inquisitors and black-hatted puritans who had served as his acolytes. Colour and excitement had been drained from the world. “Thou hast conquered, O pale Galilean,” Swinburne wrote, echoing the apocryphal lament of Julian the Apostate, the last pagan emperor of Rome. “The world has grown grey from thy breath.” Instinctively, I agreed.

So, perhaps it was no surprise that I should have continued to cherish classical antiquity as the period that most stirred and inspired me. When I came to write my first work of history, Rubicon, I chose a subject that had been particularly close to the hearts of the philosophes: the age of Cicero. The theme of my second, Persian Fire, was one that even in the 21st century was serving Hollywood, as it had served Montaigne and Byron, as an archetype of the triumph of liberty over despotism: the Persian invasions of Greece.

The years I spent writing these studies of the classical world – living intimately in the company of Leonidas and of Julius Caesar, of the hoplites who had died at Thermopylae and of the legionaries who had triumphed at Alesia – only confirmed me in my fascination: for Sparta and Rome, even when subjected to the minutest historical inquiry, did not cease to seem possessed of the qualities of an apex predator. They continued to stalk my imaginings as they had always done – like a tyrannosaur.

Yet giant carnivores, however wondrous, are by their nature terrifying. The longer I spent immersed in the study of classical antiquity, the more alien and unsettling I came to find it. The values of Leonidas, whose people had practised a peculiarly murderous form of eugenics, and trained their young to kill uppity Untermenschen by night, were nothing that I recognised as my own; nor were those of Caesar, who was reported to have killed a million Gauls and enslaved a million more. It was not just the extremes of callousness that I came to find shocking, but the lack of a sense that the poor or the weak might have any intrinsic value. As such, the founding conviction of the Enlightenment – that it owed nothing to the faith into which most of its greatest figures had been born – increasingly came to seem to me unsustainable.

“Every sensible man,” Voltaire wrote, “every honourable man, must hold the Christian sect in horror.” Rather than acknowledge that his ethical principles might owe anything to Christianity, he preferred to derive them from a range of other sources – not just classical literature, but Chinese philosophy and his own powers of reason. Yet Voltaire, in his concern for the weak and oppressed, was marked more enduringly by the stamp of biblical ethics than he cared to admit. His defiance of the Christian God, in a paradox that was certainly not unique to him, drew on motivations that were, in part at least, recognisably Christian.


“We preach Christ crucified,” St Paul declared, “unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness.” He was right. Nothing could have run more counter to the most profoundly held assumptions of Paul’s contemporaries – Jews, or Greeks, or Romans. The notion that a god might have suffered torture and death on a cross was so shocking as to appear repulsive. Familiarity with the biblical narrative of the Crucifixion has dulled our sense of just how completely novel a deity Christ was. In the ancient world, it was the role of gods who laid claim to ruling the universe to uphold its order by inflicting punishment – not to suffer it themselves.

Today, even as belief in God fades across the West, the countries that were once collectively known as Christendom continue to bear the stamp of the two-millennia-old revolution that Christianity represents. It is the principal reason why, by and large, most of us who live in post-Christian societies still take for granted that it is nobler to suffer than to inflict suffering. It is why we generally assume that every human life is of equal value. In my morals and ethics, I have learned to accept that I am not Greek or Roman at all, but thoroughly and proudly Christian.

Go here to read the rest.  As faithful readers of this blog know, I love history.  The story of Man absolutely fascinates and enthralls me.  Stephen Vincent Benet put it well in The Devil and Daniel Webster:


And he wasn’t pleading for any one person any more, though his voice rang like an organ. He was telling the story and the failures and the endless journey of mankind. They got tricked and trapped and bamboozled, but it was a great journey. And no demon that was ever foaled could know the inwardness of it—it took a man to do that.

In that grand story, amidst the great parade of human events, divinity enters in with Christ.  His impact on history is beyond description.  Atheist H.G. Wells summed it up:

“I am an historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history.”

Some recent historians attempt to replace BC and AD with the ludicrous Before the Common Era, BCE, and Common Era, CE, attempting to ignore that the only reason we have a “Common Era” is because of Christ.  Christ is the dividing point of history, and only fools deny it.




Continue reading...

12 Responses to Christ and History

  • “And only fools deny it”. Ours is an age of fools.
    Entertainment, academia, education, media, government, industry……we are up to are necks in fools.
    Did I forget to mention the Vatican? There, too.

  • Wonderful post. I appreciate how you put together the visual and the text in your posts Donald. Most striking.

  • Yet history is a moving thing isn’t it- it comes so fast upon us. What is, shortly was.
    Think of the hope shown in your recent post from the Lutheran pastor.
    What if the devil did have the 20th century- we are in a new millennium and there are sparks among the stubble.
    The fires of Christianity are not extinguished.

    Wisdom 3:7 In the time of their judgment they shall shine and dart about as sparks through stubble

  • “His defiance of the Christian God, in a paradox that was certainly not unique to him, drew on motivations that were, in part at least, recognisably Christian.”
    In their Manifesto of the New Right, Alain de Benoist and Charles Champetier explain the origins of Modernity in this way: “This movement has old roots. In most respects, it represents a secularization of ideas and perspectives borrowed from Christian metaphysics, which spread into secular life following a rejection of any transcendent dimension. Actually, one finds in Christianity the seeds of the great mutations that gave birth to the secular ideologies of the first post-revolutionary era.
    Individualism was already present in the notion of individual salvation and of an intimate and privileged relation between an individual and God that surpasses any relation on earth.
    Egalitarianism is rooted in the idea that redemption is equally available to all mankind, since all are endowed with an individual soul whose absolute value is shared by all humanity.
    Progressivism is born of the idea that history has an absolute beginning and a necessary end, and that it unfolds globally according to a divine plan.
    Finally, universalism is the natural expression of a religion that claims to manifest a revealed truth which, valid for all men, summons them to conversion.
    Modern political life itself is founded on secularized theological concepts.”
    There is more than a little truth in that assessment.

  • History is repeating itself as the world continues to fall back into paganism. Christianity perhaps reached it’s zenith sometime before Vatican II after which the Catholic Church embraced Modernism and Communism with devastating results of loss of faith and moral decline.

    Note good background information on this site:

  • All of the Saints have paved the way, narrow and steep, to a people yet to be born. These future people have not been randomly born into this era, rather predestined to be available to follow where Saints have trod. Available doesn’t mean inevitable. Free will, grace and acceptance will define the difference between the two.

    You are present.

    Be prepared to be chosen by Him who inspired the pathfinders. Be prepared to walk the walk.

  • “BCE” = Before Christ Era; “CE” = Christ Era. Re: Voltaire: check out Voltaire the Revert-came back to the one true Church big time before he died. Guy McClung, San Antonio, Texas

  • Anzlyne-kinda like glory shaking “out like shining from shook foil” – GM Hopkins

  • Certainly Christ is the only thing common to era.

  • 😉

    And for all this, nature is never spent;
    There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
    And though the last lights off the black West went
    Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
    Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
    World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

  • Pingback: SUNDAY EDITION | Big Pulpit
  • You know my brother is an atheist (well, American atheists are usually agnostics) and I am a Cahtolic Christian. He and I both agreed with the dating system of ad, and, bc and the reason for this is historical reasons.

Who Do We Say That He Is?

Thursday, September 8, AD 2016


My bride and I are teaching a CCD class of fifth and sixth graders.  The kids are a joy:  inquisitive and bright.  One of the topics last evening was the Trinity.  When we came to Jesus we described him as the Son of God.  One of our students later asked if Mary was the only human conceived without sin, what about Jesus.  I replied that Jesus was also conceived without sin, but that we could never encompass Jesus just among humans since he was both God and Man.  My bride then quoted Scripture:  “A Man like us in all things but sin.”  The great question for all of us remains that one posed by Jesus twenty centuries ago:  “Who do you say that I am?”  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, at his blog, Midwest Conservative Journal, attacks one of the most common mistaken answers to that question by contemporary leftists:


You know what would be awesome, asks New York Times über-douche columnist Nick Kristof.  If Christians didn’t have to believe a bunch of stupid rules and stuff:

One puzzle of the world is that religions often don’t resemble their founders.

I now officially have a bad feeling about this.

Jesus never mentioned gays or abortion but focused on the sick and the poor, yet some Christian leaders have prospered by demonizing gays.

Whoa, whoa, whoa.  Slow WAY down there, cowboy.  “Demonizing gays?”  Really?  You really want to go there, Nick?  News flash.  For 2,000 years, Christians taught that homosexual activity was a sin.  There, I said it.  And if you think that telling someone that his alcoholism is destroying himself and his family or suggesting that maybe he might want to think about not doing his best friend’s really hot and quite underage daughter on a regular basis is “demonizing,” then yeah, guilty as charged, Nick.

It’s what actual Christians are supposed to do.

By the way, Nick, if you’re interested, here’s a partial list of other stuff that Jesus “never mentioned.”  Genocide, overdue library books, racism, recycling, fracking, using fossil fuels, running with scissors, Mohammed, nuclear war,  jaywalking, preventing global warming, preventing global cooling, preventing global lukewarming, the “human right” of men who claim that they’re women to use women’s rest rooms, Donald Trump, “Islamophobia,” Whole Foods’ criminally-excessive mark-up, why anyone anywhere thought Seinfeld was funny, gender pay equity, Hillary Clinton, the inanity of Twitter, the fact that über-airhead Maureen Dowd still has a New York Times column, “homophobia,” the fact that St. Louis doesn’t have an AHL team while Chicago, Toronto and San Jose do, suicide bombings, political corruption, “transphobia,” the University of Oregon’s football uniforms, driving while intoxicated, blogging while intoxicated, putting free tampons in men’s bathrooms, the NFL, etc.

Do you see where I’m going with this, Nick?  Of all the weak arguments in the leftist Christian arsenal, the “Jesus never said anything about it” dodge is pretty much the single weakest arrow in their quiver.  But Nick’s not worried.  Because he’s got some serious Christian firepower backing him up.

“Our religions often stand for the very opposite of what their founders stood for,” notes Brian D. McLaren, a former pastor, in a provocative and powerful new book, “The Great Spiritual Migration.”

“No wonder more and more of us who are Christians by birth, by choice, or both find ourselves shaking our heads and asking, ‘What happened to Christianity?’” McLaren writes. “We feel as if our founder has been kidnapped and held hostage by extremists. His captors parade him in front of cameras to say, under duress, things he obviously doesn’t believe. As their blank-faced puppet, he often comes across as anti-poor, anti-environment, anti-gay, anti-intellectual, anti-immigrant and anti-science. That’s not the Jesus we met in the Gospels!”

McLaren is as much of a Christian as Oprah Winfrey.  Nick’s piece just gets dumber and dumber so I’m going to bail out now.  But I’ll leave you with the fact that while there are a lot of sins that Jesus never directly mentioned, there were quite a few sins that He did mention.  And none of that latter group of sins, Nick, will sit well with Millennials.

Take adultery.  According to Jesus, adultery is not just bumping uglies with that hot woman you’re not married to.  If you see a woman in the grocery store, say, and you think, “Boy, what I wouldn’t give to be able to hit that” then congratulations.  You’re officially an adulterer.

Murder is bad?  So is being angry with someone.

Just can’t keep your eyes off this really hot divorced chick one pew over?  Not such a hot idea.

And then there’s this.

But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man.  For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.

That’s the real Jesus, Nick.  Not the one that people like you and Bri-Bri invented to deaden your consciences.

Continue reading...

18 Responses to Who Do We Say That He Is?

  • Sad, but the old deceiver never seems to run out of minions to do his work for him.
    Worse yet, is that many a loon will buy into this haggis and sell it as prime rib.

    On this Nativity of Mary, let us smile and thank God that he has chosen a little Jewish girl to thwart the proud activities of Lucifer and his followers. In the end, the little Mary will crush and defeat the pompous devil and his colleagues. In the end, She is victorious!

  • Yeah, Philip? Going to have to call you on the haggis blast, buddy. I happen to like haggis. 🙂

  • CJ.

    Oops….. I should of said tripe.

  • Yes, I always love it when secularists try to lecture Christians on the ‘real’ Jesus, which is inevitably a confused blend of half-baked History channel specials, sappy greeting cards, and whatever prejudices and ideas they’ve been told they ought to hold this week.

  • God grant that I may never have to read a book that a NYT writer calls “provocative and powerful”.

  • Camille Paglia is a left-leaning intellectual who possesses a bracing honesty all
    too rare among her ilk. While I often disagree with a number of things she has
    to say, I feel she nailed it in her assessment of the New York Times: “Anyone
    who still thinks the Times is ‘America’s paper of record’ hasn’t been paying
    attention for the last twenty years”– and she said that over fifteen years ago.

    Mr. Johnson’s takedown of Kristof’s bilge is right on target. The Times should be
    embarrassed it printed such twaddle. It’s just sad.

  • …”Could Christians migrate from defining their faith as a system of beliefs to expressing it as a loving way of life?”

    That would be a migration away from religious bureaucracy and back to the moral vision of the founder…

    Says who? The Founder seemed to be interested in both. He was willing to lose followers over both doctrine and charity. He spent a lot of time with the crowd, but talked differently to the Twelve. Even among the Apostles there were three who were of obviously higher rank, and one of those was preeminent. The Founder would have lived to a ripe old age if He’d kept quiet about the doctrine of the Incarnation. He made it clear that love was the nature of God, which is a doctrinal position, and without that position, the charity within a religion inevitably falters.

  • My term for the times, the New York Slimes, is more apropro as time goes on. The Slimes and the Compost, the East Coast Left Wing Tag Team, are garbage journalism. The people who believe everything they read in them are comfortable in their cocoons of ideology, because they can’t face the truth.

  • Who do we say that He is, indeed. When your student asked about Mary being the only human conceived without sin, I believe your answer was too vague. Mary is the only human person conceived without sin. I tell my students (or anyone else who asks) that Jesus never was, is not now, and never will be a human person. Jesus is a Divine Person, and there is nothing at all human about Jesus’ personage. Your students are bright. Teach them the nuts and bolts of the dogma of the Hypostatic Union, which is the terror of Modernists. Once your students learn that Jesus the Person is Divine, and Divine only, not only will many other things fall into place for them, but they will also be more unlikely to be hoodwinked by some loonytune Jesuit telling them that Jesus was a naughty boy at the finding in the temple, or that the real miracle, was that everyone “shared” at the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. Jesus. True God and True Man, but the Person of Jesus is Divine, and Divine only.

  • James.

    Adam and Eve were human.
    Prior to their fall they too we’re conceived without original sin….. just saying. ?

  • Were Adam and Eve conceived?

  • What is conception?

    Did God conceive an idea, man from dust spirit from breath life from nothing? Woman from rib if man? Is that not a type of conception yet not in the context of man/woman conception? I ask humbled, because I don’t know. Adam and Eve were spotless humans conceived from God’s heart and breath. They knew not sin. Not, of course, until they bought the lie.

    Immaculately conceived, our first parents?

    Why not?

  • I tell my students (or anyone else who asks) that Jesus never was, is not now, and never will be a human person. Jesus is a Divine Person, and there is nothing at all human about Jesus’ personage.

    Hypostatic Union anyone?

  • Or maybe I’m not understanding James’ use of “personage,” since that “nothing at all human about Jesus'” reads Docetist and/or <a href=<Apollanarian to me. Also monophysite.

  • There is nothing Docetist in my statement. I have read the dogma of the Hypostatic Union, and I believe it. A simple question that I will ask Ernst, and that I request the readers of this blog to ask at their parish churches of pewsitting Catholics. Five words. “Is Jesus a human person?”

  • Having a human intellect, will and rational soul as well as a human body. Alike us in all things except sin.
    I wasn’t trying to pick a fight. It just happens that I’ve been rereading this book and, well, you triggered me, as all the smart kids are wont to say.
    Also, respectfully, I think that’s the wrong way to phrase the question. Answer yes, and you risk denying or diminishing his divinity. Answer no, and you risk doing the same to his humanity. So it seems the better way to put the question is: “Does Jesus’s divinity take anything away from his humanity?”
    And it wouldn’t surprise me if we need to more clearly define the terms of my rephrase if we want to avoid misunderstanding.

  • Ernst, in reading your earlier post, I got no vibe that you were trying to pick a fight, and I appreciate that, and neither am I. In your most recent post at 10:40 pm on the 11th, I completely disagree with your saying that is the wrong way to phrase the question. “Answer yes, and you risk denying or diminishing his divinity. Answer no, and you risk doing the same to his humanity.” I say that if you answer yes, yo are denying the dogma of the Hypostatic Union. Answer no, and you are answering correctly to the question. There is no diminishing of Jesus’ divinity or his humanity, in stating the truth, which is that Jesus is a divine person. The Hypostatic Union should be studied well and long by all Catholics, for in doing so, they can deepen their faith and understanding in in both Jesus’ divinity, and his humanity. I like to refer back to the article on the Incarnation at Catholic Encyclopedia on New Advent. It is a pretty fair refresher. I don’t much venture to the dark side, anymore, but when I used to associate with liberals, whether they were Catholic or not, they would vehemently deny to a man (or woman) any sort of divinity in connection with Jesus, be it his nature, or the very person of Jesus. That is to be expected. But what I find rather sad, is the frequency that I encounter among what I believe to be rather orthodox Catholics, who just cannot bring themselves to say that Jesus is a divine person. I know from experience (and yes, part of that is personal) that once a Catholic dives in and learns the person of Jesus and his natures and all that entails, then that Catholic has donned an armor shield with which to withstand the slings and arrows that are sure to come his way. A pleasure to converse with you

Christ and History

Monday, December 28, AD 2015


Walter Russell Mead at The American Interest, who normally writes on purely secular topics, has an interesting Christmas column up:


The Christian claim about the Virgin Birth is meant as a radical announcement that Christianity is different. Christianity is not another ‘how-to’ manual telling people how to act vis-à-vis the Creator. It’s not about what kinds of foods are holy and what kinds are impure. It’s not about how to wash your hands or which way you should face when you pray.



Christianity is much more than a group of people trying to fulfill the teaching of a revered founder; it is a community of people gathered around a world changing hero. Jesus came to save and not just to teach. He did not fulfill his mission by giving the Sermon on the Mount; he fulfilled it by dying on the cross and by rising from the dead.



More, Jesus could not have fulfilled this mission if he was simply a heroic man. The human race has many heroes and history is filled with the examples of people who gave their lives for others. You can to go the Normandy beaches and see row upon row of graves of people who gave their lives that others might live and be free. Jesus accomplished more through his death because he was more than just another human being; the gospel writers and the Christians who accept their testimony believe that Jesus was also the Son of God. It was God who died upon that cross, God who took the responsibility for human sin, God who drank the cup of human suffering to the bottom.



The story of the Virgin Birth isn’t there to set up the Sermon on the Mount as the Greatest Moral Lecture in the History of Mankind. It is there because it communicates the deepest, most important truth about Jesus: that he was a human being, but more than a human being as well. It is not an accidental detail or an embellishment; it is not an awkward defense against an embarrassing rumor. It is not the result of scientific ignorance about how babies are made; it is a statement about how this particular baby was different from all the rest.



That is the main theological point that Luke’s account makes. But he had another end in view, and this is also something to remember as we think Christmas through. The story of the Virgin Birth isn’t just a story about Jesus.  The gospels are also making a point about Mary and through her about women in general. Ancient Christian writers frequently referred to Mary as the Second Eve. The first Eve, as just about everyone knows even today, was Adam’s wife. According to the first book of the Bible (Genesis), she yielded to the temptation of the serpent in the Garden of Eden to disobey God and taste the forbidden fruit. Adam went on and tasted it for himself; ever since then men have been blaming women for all the trouble in the world. For millennia men have used the Biblical story and similar stories and folk tales to justify the second-class status to which women have been historically relegated in much of the world. (In some parts of the world, poorly behaved and uneducated young men call their vicious harassment of women “Eve-teasing.”)



The figure of the Virgin Mary marks a turning point. She is the Second Eve, the one who said ‘yes’ to God when he asked her to be the mother of his son. When God really needed help, the Bible teaches, he went to a woman, not to a man. And the woman said ‘yes,’ and out of her faith and obedience came the salvation of the world.

Continue reading...

One Response to Christ and History

  • Fr. Larry Richard rightly states that the Incarnation of Christ is the singular most important event in the universe since the Big Bang.

    Numerous societies before and after Christ has not been kind to women. Islam treats women as property. Hinduism had the nasty habit of burning the surviving widow on the pyre of her dead husband. I will omit any discussion of Judaism.

    Who else but Christianity exalts women? Certainly not modern feminism. Modern feminism seeks to demean the traditional role of women and demeans women who do not seek to act like men.

    It is a shame our “separated brethren” (dying Protestantism) often ignore the beginning of the Gospel of St. Luke, but the lamented Fr. Corapi once stated that you can’t expect Jesus to listen to you if you “diss his mother”.

    Mary is the Ark of the New Covenant. This is a concept that the Patristic writers developed. The Ark of the Covenant was considered to be so holy that death struck anyone who touched it who was not of the tribe of Levi. How much more important Mary is that the Ark?

    The Church Christ founded went on to convert the Roman Empire, East and West. Even though the Western Empire collapsed, the Church Christ founded tamed and converted the barbarians and rebuilt Western culture. It beat back the Muslim invaders. It converted the Slavs. It evangelized two thirds of the Western Hemisphere and put an end to human sacrifice.

Christ as the Greatest Black Swan: Explaining the Unexplainable

Sunday, December 20, AD 2015



The fourth and final part of our Advent look at Jesus as the greatest Black Swan event in human history.  Go here to read part one, here to read part two and here to read part three.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, in his 2007 book The Black Swan, took a look at the impact of events in history for which our prior experiences give us no inkling.  Taleb states three requirements for a Black Swan Event:

First, it is an outlier, as it lies outside the realm of regular expectations, because nothing in the past can convincingly point to its possibility. Second, it carries an extreme ‘impact’. Third, in spite of its outlier status, human nature makes us concoct explanations for its occurrence after the fact, making it explainable and predictable.

The all important question about Christ is the one He asked.  Who do you say that I am?  In trying to make sense of Christ and his ever present impact upon this world, that is the question that is ever addressed.

A popular answer among some atheists is that Christ never existed.  This has always been a minority position since the evidence for the historicity of Christ is so overwhelming, especially for a figure who lived in obscurity.  Written accounts by His followers were drafted within decades after His death.  Non-Christian accounts, notably Tacitus, mention Christ.  His followers in Rome are persecuted within thirty years after His death.  Attempts to get around all this involve large amounts of conspiracy theories, ignoring inconvenient facts and academic hand-waving.  Regarding Christ as a myth may satisfy a semi-educated atheist, but it simply is not an intellectually honest position.

Continue reading...

4 Responses to Christ as the Greatest Black Swan: Explaining the Unexplainable

  • The attempt to disentangle the “Jesus of history” from the “Christ of faith,” began almost exactly 200 years ago, with t he great revival of theology and, especially, of biblical criticism in the German universities of Tübingen and Halle after the Napoleonic Wars.

    Despite generations of minute and painstaking scholarship, the result has been an abject failure; it is simply not possible, with whatever ingenuity, to separate the Gospel narratives into strata, with an historical (presumably non-miraculous) core. The last and greatest attempt was that of Rudolf Bultmann, who frankly confessed that it was like peeling the layers of an onion; at the end of the process, nothing is left.

    What this research did establish is that we can be absolutely sure that text of the four canonical gospels, as we now have it in Nestle’s, Tischendorf’s and Westcott & Hort’s editions is free of corruptions and interpolations, apart from minor verbal changes or slips of the pen that do not affect the meaning of the narrative n the least. It is, for all practical purposes, Erasmus’s text of 1513.

    The related suggestion that Christianity is the invention of St Paul has fared no better. Patristic scholarship has confirmed a continuous tradition, from St Ignatius of Antioch (c 35 – c 110) and Polycarp (69-155), both of whom had “spoken with John and others who had seen the Lord,” to St Irenaeus (130-220), who well remembered Polycarp. Needless to say, there is no suggestion of two rival traditions, the Pauline and the Johannine in any of them (or anywhere else, for that matter). We can add Justin Martyr, born at Nablus in Palestine around 100 and who died at Rome in 165, who represents the traditions of the Churches of Palestine and Syria.

  • If Christ is the greatest Black Swan in history I wonder if we can say that Pope Francis is the greatest Black Sheep in history? Why so? Because Pope Francis represents Christ on earth while rejecting his teaching.

  • Two good comments above 🙂
    But, I don’t know if He can be categorized a “black swan” phenomenon. He doesn’t seem to fit.
    Christ was expected, the extremity of His impact only became more recognizable as time went on, and the efforts of people to explain Him away after about 1800 years are being seriously rolled back today

  • “Christ was expected”

    Not really. The Jews were expecting a different type of Messiah and the Romans certainly did not expect the Son of God to come as a Jew! Jesus defied expectations or analysis really, now just as much as then.

Christ as the Greatest Black Swan: At the Center of History

Sunday, December 13, AD 2015


“I am a historian, I am not a believer.  But I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history.  Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history.”

H.G. Wells




The third part of our Advent look at Jesus as the greatest Black Swan event in human history.  Go here to read part one and here to read part two.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, in his 2007 book The Black Swan, took a look at the impact of events in history for which our prior experiences give us no inkling.  Taleb states three requirements for a Black Swan Event:

First, it is an outlier, as it lies outside the realm of regular expectations, because nothing in the past can convincingly point to its possibility. Second, it carries an extreme ‘impact’. Third, in spite of its outlier status, human nature makes us concoct explanations for its occurrence after the fact, making it explainable and predictable.

“Extreme impact” is such an understatement if used in reference to the impact of the coming of Christ on the History of Man.  Such an outcome would have been considered impossible judging strictly from the facts of His life.  A brief three year preaching ministry in a backwater of the Roman Empire, born a member of a conquered and widely despised people.  Opposed from the start by the leaders of His people and ignored by the Roman occupiers, His movement was strangled at its inception by His death on the Cross.  All but one of His Apostles fled from Him in panic, desperate to deny any connection with a clearly doomed cause.  Few lives seemed more complete a failure than did that of Christ when His body was deposited in a borrowed tomb.  His destiny seemed clear:  to be forgotten by History, not even a footnote.  Then came the Resurrection, His appearances after the Crucifixion, and his movement experienced a glorious dawn.

However, the odds against this movement accomplishing anything of note remained quite daunting.  No powerful supporters; no homeland embracing their faith;  cultures, both Jewish and Gentile, which were hostile to the preaching of the Gospel;  countless other religions which were well-established and intolerant of a new rival;  disputes quickly arising to split the movement, and the list of handicaps for these Christians as they were soon called was a lengthy one.

Continue reading...

6 Responses to Christ as the Greatest Black Swan: At the Center of History

  • Of course, Macaulay couldn’t write that about today’s Catholic Church, though–God willing–a future Macaulay might. A papacy “full of life and youthful vigor”? Hardly–we are the captive audience to a bunch of gerontological relics attempting to revive the heady days of the 1970s. Zealous missionaries? Hey, we’re to convert merely by passive attraction these days, don’cha know? You aren’t dune kind of proselytizer, are you? Confronting hostile kings? If by “confronting”, you mean “endorsing all their daffiest schemes for immanentizing the Eschaton”, then sure.
    But seriously: great series, Don.

  • Murray, I think today’s aberrations are no different than the corruptions which existed in the 11th century and the 15th century. The Church outlived her wicked Popes, and will still do so with the current occupier of the Seat of Peter. Liberalism and progressivism will follow the way of Robespierre’s Revolution and Stalin’s Soviet Union. Eco-wackism will die as its Gaia-worshiping pagan predecessor did. But the gates of hell shall not prevail.

  • I believe the Catholic Church has a built-in immune system that releases it own version of killer T-cells to fight intrusions by the devil in all his forms. One of these killer T-cells is the American Catholic fighting the undermining of the faith which is so prevalent today. It would appear it is up to the laity to lead the way. Keep up the good work Don.

  • You are welcome Don. I would like to expand a little on the Killer T-cell idea as it regards the defending the Catholic faith. Just as the body’s immune system creates Killer T-cells to fight cancer so our Catholic faith produces individuals who wish to seek out and destroy those ideas that oppose orthodox belief. In terms of symbolic imagery we can think of the Killer T-cell as representing Truth and the Cross. It is thru the Truth and the Cross that we all come to salvation as proclaiming the Truth often involves suffering, just as Christ preached. Indeed, for you and others like you, orthodox blogging is a true and essential vocation in our times for the preservation of the faith.

    Maybe there should be a ‘Killer T-cell’ Seal of Approval to designate truly Orthodox blogs.
    And with this thought I nominate ‘The American Catholic’ and ‘St. Corbinian’s Bear’ for the Killer T-cell seal of approval. Anybody have other suggestions?

  • Pingback: You Won’t Believe These Nativity Sets, Christmas Alone, Contemplate the Unborn Jesus and More! | The Guadalupe Radio Network

Christ the Greatest Black Swan: The Unexpected Expected Messiah

Sunday, December 6, AD 2015




The second part of our Advent look at Jesus as the greatest Black Swan event in human history.  Go here to read part one.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, in his 2007 book The Black Swan, took a look at the impact of events in history for which our prior experiences give us no inkling.  Taleb states three requirements for a Black Swan Event:

First, it is an outlier, as it lies outside the realm of regular expectations, because nothing in the past can convincingly point to its possibility. Second, it carries an extreme ‘impact’. Third, in spite of its outlier status, human nature makes us concoct explanations for its occurrence after the fact, making it explainable and predictable.

In regard to the first test of a Black Swan event, was the coming of Jesus unexpected?  The Old Testament is studded with texts that predict the coming of the Messiah.  Go here, here, here ,here, here, here, here, here , here here, here, here, here , here, here, here , here,   here, and here to read a handful of them.  These messianic interpretations were not merely Christians reading back into Scripture references to Christ.  For centuries before Christ Jews had debated and argued about whether a Messiah sent by God was coming and what he would be like if he came.  Greatly simplifying a very complex historical debate, most Jews who believed in a Messiah expected a scion of the House of David who would re-establish, with the help of God, the Jews as a great people ruling themselves.  A minority of Jews thought the Messiah might be humble and meek, the “suffering servant” of Messiah, while most Jews regarded such passages as a prophetic reference to the weak state of the Jewish nation.  A handful of Jews, some of the Essenes, believed that the Messiah had come about a century to a century and a half before the Christian Era and would come again.

Intriguingly some Romans believed about the time of Christ that some great change was about to enter the world.  One of the odder stories in the history of Rome is the purported purchase by the last Roman King Tarquinus Superbus.  Sybil means prophetess in Greek.  Lines of women prophets established themselves at various locations throughout the Greek world and were frequently consulted during times of crisis.  As the story goes, the Cumaean Sybil, located near Naples, offered to Superbus nine books of prophecies of the history of Rome written in Greek hexameters at an exorbitant price.  When he declined the offer she burned three of the books and repeated her offer.  The King declining again she burned three more books at which the King met her price for the final three books.  God alone knows what grains of truth are in this story.  What is quite historical is that the Roman Senate did have Sybilline Books, or rather scrolls, of prophecies, closely guarded by the Roman state and consulted in times of peril as to the religious observances that must be undertaken to avert the peril.  Kept in the temple of Jupiter on the Capitol the original books were lost when the temple burned in 83 BC.  The Senate rounded up prophecies from other Sybils to replace them, and the new Sybilline books were placed in the restored temple to Jupiter.  Consul Flavius Stilicho ordered these books burned in 408 AD as they were being used by adversaries of the government.

Continue reading...

9 Responses to Christ the Greatest Black Swan: The Unexpected Expected Messiah

  • I did not know about Virgil’s Eclogues. Thank you. The translation is missing the 1st several lines (and my translation would be somewhat different, but I do not have time right now and I am not the linguist which MPS is).
    Sicilian Muses, sing we a somewhat ampler strain:
    Not all men’s delight is in coppices and lowly tamarisks:
    if we sing of the woods, let the woods be worthy in consul.
    I looked up the original:
    Sicelides Musae, paulo maiora canamus.
    non omnis arbusta iuvant humilesque myricae;
    si canimus silvas, silvae sint consule dignae.
    Ultima Cumaei venit iam carminis aetas;
    magnus ab integro saeclorum nascitur ordo. 5
    iam redit et Virgo, redeunt Saturnia regna,
    iam nova progenies caelo demittitur alto.
    tu modo nascenti puero, quo ferrea primum
    desinet ac toto surget gens aurea mundo,
    casta fave Lucina; tuus iam regnat Apollo. 10
    Teque adeo decus hoc aevi, te consule, inibit,
    Pollio, et incipient magni procedere menses;
    te duce, si qua manent sceleris vestigia nostri,
    inrita perpetua solvent formidine terras.
    ille deum vitam accipiet divisque videbit 15
    permixtos heroas et ipse videbitur illis
    pacatumque reget patriis virtutibus orbem.
    At tibi prima, puer, nullo munuscula cultu
    errantis hederas passim cum baccare tellus
    mixtaque ridenti colocasia fundet acantho. 20
    ipsae lacte domum referent distenta capellae
    ubera nec magnos metuent armenta leones;
    ipsa tibi blandos fundent cunabula flores.
    occidet et serpens et fallax herba veneni
    occidet; Assyrium vulgo nascetur amomum. 25
    At simul heroum laudes et facta parentis
    iam legere et quae sit poteris cognoscere virtus,
    molli paulatim flavescet campus arista
    incultisque rubens pendebit sentibus uva
    et durae quercus sudabunt roscida mella. 30

    Pauca tamen suberunt priscae vestigia fraudis,
    quae temptare Thetin ratibus, quae cingere muris
    oppida, quae iubeant telluri infindere sulcos.
    alter erit tum Tiphys et altera quae vehat Argo
    delectos heroas; erunt etiam altera bella 35
    atque iterum ad Troiam magnus mittetur Achilles.
    Hinc, ubi iam firmata virum te fecerit aetas,
    cedet et ipse mari vector nec nautica pinus
    mutabit merces; omnis feret omnia tellus.
    non rastros patietur humus, non vinea falcem, 40
    robustus quoque iam tauris iuga solvet arator;
    nec varios discet mentiri lana colores,
    ipse sed in pratis aries iam suave rubenti
    murice, iam croceo mutabit vellera luto,
    sponte sua sandyx pascentis vestiet agnos. 45
    ‘Talia saecla’ suis dixerunt ‘currite’ fusis
    concordes stabili fatorum numine Parcae.
    Adgredere o magnos—aderit iam tempus—honores,
    cara deum suboles, magnum Iovis incrementum.
    aspice convexo nutantem pondere mundum, 50
    terrasque tractusque maris caelumque profundum;
    aspice, venturo laetantur ut omnia saeclo.
    O mihi tum longae maneat pars ultima vitae,
    spiritus et quantum sat erit tua dicere facta:
    non me carminibus vincat nec Thracius Orpheus 55
    nec Linus, huic mater quamvis atque huic pater adsit,
    Orphei Calliopea, Lino formosus Apollo.
    Pan etiam, Arcadia mecum si iudice certet,
    Pan etiam Arcadia dicat se iudice victum.
    Incipe, parve puer, risu cognoscere matrem; 60
    matri longa decem tulerunt fastidia menses.
    incipe, parve puer. qui non risere parenti,
    nec deus hunc mensa dea nec dignata cubili est.

  • The Fourth Eclogue is about Augustus.

  • For more commentary on the 4th Fourth Eclogue see Wikipedia:

  • “The Fourth Eclogue is about Augustus.”

    Probably not. Wikipedia for once gives a good overview about the debates as to the meaning of the Fourth Eclogue:

    This article from 1916 gives a good overview of the interpretation of the Fourth Eclogue as a Messianic prophecy:

  • Pingback: TUESDAY EDITION – Big Pulpit
  • Pingback: Christ as the Greatest Black Swan: At the Center of History – The American Catholic
  • Pingback: Christ as the Greatest Black Swan: At the Center of History | Almost Chosen People
  • Pingback: Fr. Z Fisks Next Synod on Married Priests; St. Maria Gorretti: A Pro-Life Patron for Mercy and More! | The Guadalupe Radio Network
  • Pingback: Christ as the Greatest Black Swan: Explaining the Unexplainable | Almost Chosen People

Jesus as the Greatest of Black Swan Events

Sunday, November 29, AD 2015

rara avis in terris nigroque simillima cygno


The completely unexpected in history has always fascinated me.  Nassim Nicholas Taleb, in his 2007 book The Black Swan, took a look at the impact of events in history for which our prior experiences give us no inkling.  Taleb states three requirements for a Black Swan Event:

First, it is an outlier, as it lies outside the realm of regular expectations, because nothing in the past can convincingly point to its possibility. Second, it carries an extreme ‘impact’. Third, in spite of its outlier status, human nature makes us concoct explanations for its occurrence after the fact, making it explainable and predictable.

Unlike Mr. Taleb I think true Black Swan events, based upon the criteria he sets forth, are rather rare in the history of mankind.  Normally they fall down on the first element.  Taleb, for example, views the fall of the Soviet empire as a Black Swan occurrence.  I disagree in that the dissolution of the great colonial empires of the West had been a salient feature of the post World War II world.  Totalitarian controls allowed the Soviet Union to delay the process, but once the reins were loosened, and the threat of mass violence was no longer on the table, the dissolution came rapidly.

The Coming of Christ into this world is the greatest example of a Black Swan Event that I can think of, and over the remainder of this Advent we will see how looking at the Incarnation through this mental prism can give us a new appreciation of how unlikely, and startling, the impact of Christ on History has been.

Before we do this, let us take a moment to recall to mind the world into which Christ was born.

Continue reading...

7 Responses to Jesus as the Greatest of Black Swan Events

Cause the Media Tells Me So

Saturday, January 17, AD 2015


Strong advisory in regard to the above video which shows the Jihadi murderers of ISIS publically executing an accused adulteress as she begs to see her children one last time.  Why does not the West treat the Jihadists around the globe with the only argument that seems to make any impression upon them:  superior fire power?  A commenter at Father Z’s blog gives us an answer:

Because I stay informed through the modern media and keep up on political commentary, I recognize that Muslims killing people for religious reasons is an extreme rarity, committed by isolated individuals or small extremist cells. I refuse to let this single incident cloud my impression of Islam.

The man in the picture no doubt fired the shot and then fled, as those around him must have been planning to apprehend him. Since Islam is the religion of peace, I know they were not supporters of his. Or perhaps he was merely defending himself from western oil profiteering, and he’s being unfairly portrayed as a terrorist.

In contrast, Catholics are constantly bombing abortion clinics, assassinating doctor’s, and forcing themselves into private citizens’ bedrooms to sabotage their contraception. Then again, is this any surprise in an organization who’s charitable contributions are less than $200 billion in most years?

In fact, over the last 30 years alone, more Catholic priests have been credibly accused of child sexual abuse in a country of merely 300 million people than the number of Muslims who have killed people northern Iraq and southern Syria combined going all the way back to last Thursday.

Similar statistics help re-assure us not to apply the self-righteous generalizations we direct at Catholics at Boko Haram in Nigeria; Hezbollah in Lebanon; Hamas in Palestine; Al Shabaab in Somalia, Etheopia, and Kenya; Abu Sayyaf, MILF, and others in the Philippines; the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan; Jaish-e-Mohammed, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, and others in India, the Arab Mujahideen in Chechnya, and all the other peaceful groups I’m forgetting at the moment.

I apologize that my digression does not respect the gravity of the picture. It’s just that when I see the contrast between how the media treats Islam in the face of Islamist terrorism on one hand, and acts like excerpting casual remarks by the Pope about how it’s unwise to provoke crazy people in a way that makes it sound like he made an official declaration that the recent attacks in France were justified on the other hand, I get a bit touchy.

May this woman rest in peace, and God provide for her family.

Continue reading...

14 Responses to Cause the Media Tells Me So

  • The commentator on Fr. Z’s blog and the practicing Islamist in the clip share a commonality. Barbarity.

    Each one professes truth however each one couldn’t be further from the truth.
    They, the commenter and the assassin, turn my stomach.

  • The commenter was being ironic Philip.

  • I needed a list of recognizable Islamists. God is love and mercy.

  • Different lighting….thanks Mr. McClarey.

  • For this woman accused of adultery, where is the man who laid with her and why is he too not executed?

  • Possibly because she was innocent, and there was no man who laid with her. That would be my first guess.

  • Paul W Primavera asked, “For this woman accused of adultery, where is the man who laid with her and why is he too not executed?”
    I do not find it puzzling in the least.
    In a leading textbook, Lord Fraser’s Husband and Wife (vol. ii., pp. 1173-4), the learned author explains that “The confessions of the wife, defender, may warrant the Court in finding that adultery is proved against her, while, not being evidence against the co-defender, he escapes; and thus divorce may be granted against the wife for adultery committed by her with him, while he himself is assoilzied from the action.” After all, as against the co-defender, her confessions are mere hearsay.
    In Rutherford v Richardson [1923] AC 1, 5, Viscount Birkenhead defended the logical consistency of such findings: “Applying these considerations to the kind of difficulty which has often presented itself in the Divorce Court, we find that a case which has sometimes been ignorantly derided is in fact both logical and defensible: for instance A, a husband, brings against his wife, B, a petition for divorce on the ground of her adultery with a named co-respondent, C. There is some independent evidence against both B and C, but not sufficient to justify a positive adverse conclusion. B, however, makes a full confession. Here the court may very reasonably pronounce a decree against B, while concluding that the matter is not established as against C. Indeed, to hold otherwise would be to lay it down that the admission or confession of B – which may be quite untrue and which may be induced by hidden and private motives – is to be treated as good evidence against C. And so it happens that the court may quite reasonably conclude that it is proved that B has committed adultery with C, but not that C has committed adultery with B.”

  • Thank you so much for the second clip. The alternative solution. Love.
    Jesus is all the difference

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour: “B, however, makes a full confession. Here the court may very reasonably pronounce a decree against B,”
    Anyone turning states’ evidence is spared the death penalty in the civilized world.

  • Mary de Voe wrote, “Anyone turning states’ evidence is spared the death penalty in the civilized world.”

    That is a totally different question. In Creasy v Creasy (1931 S.C. 9.) the wife’s admissions consisted of diary entries. In that case, the wife defender did not give evidence at all, but, of course, the diary entries were not evidence against the co-defender, who was duly assoilzied from the action, the only evidence against him being that of clandestine association, spoken to by a single witness and so uncorroborated.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour: “Mary de Voe wrote, “Anyone turning states’ evidence is spared the death penalty in the civilized world.”
    That is a totally different question. In Creasy v Creasy (1931 S.C. 9.) the wife’s admissions consisted of diary entries. In that case, the wife defender did not give evidence at all, but, of course, the diary entries were not evidence against the co-defender, who was duly assoilzied from the action, the only evidence against him being that of clandestine association, spoken to by a single witness and so uncorroborated.”
    I thought that the Fifth Amendment, invoked, prevented the accused from testifying against himself. Evidently, this defendant was not properly represented. What I read is that you are saying that the diary was not considered evidence that was to have been given freely by the defendant, causing her to be turning state’s evidence and freeing her from penalty, or without her consent, not to be used in court at all.
    Of course, the Fifth Amendment can only be invoked for criminal cases and not in civil court for purposes of divorce.but…but…
    This ought not happen in a society where the individual sovereign person is respected. Here, the woman’s right to privacy is compromised and without her assent, her own privacy is used as evidence against her. If the defendant brought the diary to court, willingly, she is turning state’s evidence. Common sense tells us that it takes two to tango. Now, alienation of affection may be charged against the other fellow, but without “corroboration”, what is there to charge the woman? The woman might have been having flights of fancy or writing a book. The woman would be well done to shake the dust off her feet against that nation.
    Secular judges are the personification of divine Justice, notwithstanding unconstitutional atheism. Is there a human being on the face of the earth who wishes to have imperfect Justice imposed on him? (we got imperfect Justice with atheism. Let us be done with atheism)

  • Then there’s Bill Clinton telling Gennifer Flowers, “If they don’t have pictures, it won’t stick.” I am paraphrasing here.

  • Anzlyne, Thank you for your comment. The executed woman did not have the love and mercy of Jesus, at least in this world.

  • Mary de Voe wrote, “Common sense tells us that it takes two to tango. Now, alienation of affection may be charged against the other fellow, but without “corroboration”, what is there to charge the woman? The woman might have been having flights of fancy or writing a book.”
    She might have been “having flights of fancy or writing a book,” but there was also the evidence of clandestine association, hence two independent sources of evidence against her, which is what we mean by corroboration.
    In the case of the co-defender, the defender’s diary entries were not evidence against him, for he had neither authorised nor adopted them. That left the evidence of clandestine association, which was (1) insufficient evidence, of itself, to infer adultery and (2) in any event, uncorroborated, for it was spoken to by a single witness.
    “Common sense tells us that it takes two to tango.” Indeed, but as often happens, there may be proof beyond reasonable doubt and on corroborated evidence sufficient to convict D of adultery with C, but insufficient evidence to convict C of adultery with D, for evidence admissible against one may be inadmissible against the other. That is precisely what happened in Creasy v Creasy.

Pal Jesus Won’t Save You

Friday, January 16, AD 2015

Buddy Christ

“A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.”

H. Richard Nieburh


One of the more distressing aspects of the times in which we live is a widespread and fundamentally incorrect response to the eternal question first asked by Christ to His Apostles, “Who do you say that I am?”  The question of course contained the answer:  Christ is forever “I AM”, the creator of all that was, is and will ever be, our eternal Master and the source of all love and hope.

This Christ has been transformed into Pal Jesus, an instant forgiveness buddy, who wouldn’t dream of imposing commands on anyone, and who loves us just the way we are.  Pal Jesus always forgives us, whether we ask for it or not, whether we seek to amend our lives or not.  He never tells us to go and sin no more.  This Christ, who, to paraphrase Chesterton, wears a new face of goofiness, is in stark contrast to the Christ presented to us in the Gospels who bids us all each to take up our Cross and follow Him.  Father Richard Heilman at One Peter Five gets at the heart of  this modern variant of a very old heresy:

And yet isn’t that exactly what has become of us? Consider this sobering analysis of our present condition from columnist Jeffrey Kuhner at the Washington Times:

For the past 50 years, every major institution has been captured by the radical secular left. The media, Hollywood, TV, universities, public schools, theater, the arts, literature — they relentlessly promote the false gods of sexual hedonism and radical individualism. Conservatives have ceded the culture to the enemy. Tens of millions of unborn babies have been slaughtered; illegitimacy rates have soared; divorce has skyrocketed; pornography is rampant; drug use has exploded; sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDS have killed millions; birth control is a way of life; sex outside of wedlock has become the norm; countless children have been permanently damaged — their innocence lost forever — because of the proliferation of broken homes; and sodomy and homosexuality are celebrated openly. America has become the new Babylon.

This cultural assessment is bleak. And I believe that underlying it all is a deeper evil, a more ancient and intractable error which gives rise to all the rest. Many have pointed to “Modernism” as the heresy of our times. Modernism, while it takes many forms, is basically a break or rejection of our past in favor of all things new. And, while it seems evident that our Church is fully infected with the heresy of Modernism, I believe that it, too, is a symptom of this more fundamental threat.

What am I referring to? Something that impacts the very nature of human existence and the opportunity for our salvation. Lacking an official name, I call this monster, “Stealth Arianism.” Students of history know that the Arian heresy – the worst crisis in the Church before our present age – was rooted in the belief that Jesus Christ was merely a created being, not equal to God the Father.  Stealth Arianism follows the same fatal error, but with a twist: while the Arians of the fourth century openly denied Christ’s divinity, today‘s Arians will profess Jesus as God, and yet through their actions deny it. In other words, they don’t even know they are heretics. Many even believe that they are doing God’s work in their attempts to elevate Christ’s humanity at the cost of His divinity.

You see, once we diminish the identity of Christ as the Son of God, we are left to view Him as simply a historical figure that was a nice guy, a respectable teacher and a good example for how we are to live. Religion is then reduced to a nice organization that does nice things for people as we seek a kind of psychotherapy for self-actualization. And this is not only not what He came to give us, but it’s something He made sure to leave no room for.

In his Christological examination, Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis makes the case plain:

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.

Over the past 50 years, the Stealth Arians have done everything within their power to remove from our lived experience of Catholicism anything that would point to the divinity of Christ, and the supernatural quality of our faith. Everything has been stripped from our churches – sacred art, sacred architecture, sacred music, and the sacred elements of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass – and we are left in the barren desert of the banal. It is no wonder many Catholics think nothing of approaching the Most Holy Eucharist dressed in a t-shirt, shorts, and flip-flops, and grabbing the host like they’re reaching into a bag of chips. As Flannery O’Connor said, “If it’s a symbol, to hell with it.” It’s more surprising that these individuals even bother to attend Mass at all.

Continue reading...

10 Responses to Pal Jesus Won’t Save You

  • Great quote from C.S.Lewis – crystal clear. Can we get PF to read him – bet that has never happened.

  • Jesus Christ is the love of God for mankind. God is love. The Holy Spirit is the love of the Father for His Son. The Blessed Virgin Mary is love, pure love. Only pure love might bring perfect love to mankind. There is no room for impure love in mankind.

  • Just be careful how you answer that. Your answer could be construed as blasphemous and an incitement to hatred and violence.

  • “Just be careful how you answer that. Your answer could be construed as blasphemous and an incitement to hatred and violence.”
    “And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city. And behold, they brought to him a paralytic, lying on his bed; and when Jesus saw their faith he said to the paralytic, ‘Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.’ And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, ‘This man is blaspheming.'” Matthew 9:1-3
    “But Jesus was silent. And the high priest said to him, ‘I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.’ Jesus said to him, ‘You have said so. But I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.’ Then the high priest tore his robes, and said, ‘He has uttered blasphemy. Why do we still need witnesses? You have now heard his blasphemy. What is your judgment?’ They answered, ‘He deserves death.’ Then they spat in his face, and struck him; and some slapped him, saying, ‘Prophesy to us, you Christ! Who is it that struck you?'” Matthew 26:63-38
    The charge of blasphemy and the response of the people to that charge has changed little in two thousand years.

  • Paul Primavera. Wow. Spot on. How time seems to stand still, and history is repeated. Great pick Paul.

  • Don: I follow sources on both the left and right. One from the evangelical left is a guy named fred clark, with a blog called the slactivist that started out as ripping apart the left behind series. But he also has a fascinating series of posts on his view of hell, arguing against its existence. Now I am Catholic, so no I don’t “believe it”. But the thought occurred to me that a back and forth between you guys would be fascinating. Granted he is evangelical, so there is the whole different branches business, but I still think a discussion between you too would be very interesting to see.

    As for me….while there is something tempting in his arguments, I can’t accept them not only because of being Catholic (I hope it’s lightly populated, but I’m not prepared to say I believe there is no hell) but I feel his argumentson could also be used to argue “why do good things happen to bad people?”

  • Scratch that last part….I meant bad things to good people. I know thone sentences end up being used together, but the latter sentence communicated the point more.

  • Among God’s many errors in inspiring the Holy Scriptures (e.g. male-only priesthood, if you do not work you do not eat, and His Son’s sacrifice was for many not all) did He also get it wrong re: the existence of Hell and the stories of His Son saying people will go there? Where would we all be without liberals, heretics, schismatics and dissenters to tell us what God should have written? Guy McClung, San Antonio

  • I would just add that Pal Jesus is only the first step in denying Christ. To those who see themselves as believers he becomes a buddy. To those who see him as a buddy, he becomes partially irrelevant or wrong about the morality they disagree with (e.g. sexuality) and finally he becomes the fool. Satan doesn’t mind getting to his destination by small steps.

  • Pingback: History: Manlia Crowd for Pope Francis is 7 Million - Big Pulpit

One Solitary Life

Wednesday, December 25, AD 2013

All the armies that have ever marched

All the navies that have ever sailed

All the parliaments that have ever sat

All the kings that ever reigned put together

  Have not affected the life of mankind on earth

As powerfully as that one solitary life

From One Solitary Life

I am an historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history.

H. G. Wells

Continue reading...

4 Responses to One Solitary Life

If the Modern Media Had Covered Christ

Wednesday, September 25, AD 2013

25 Responses to If the Modern Media Had Covered Christ

  • In the interests of consistency Donald, you would have to say something like this:

    “t would help if the [Lord] would first stop engaging in self-inflicted wounds.It is tough being the [Son of God] currently, I understand that. He accepted the job, and he needs to remember that every single word he says is going to echo around the globe. It helps the [Lord] not at all to attempt to put a smiley face on this and not to understand that he is causing confusion to his friends and celebration to his foes.
    The [Lord’s] heart is in the right place. Now he needs to get his lips to the same place.”

  • I normally do not confuse Christ with the Pope Greg. I found this to be an amusing post, hence I ran it, but the parallel it seeks to draw with Pope Francis’ woes are fairly strained. What truly scandalized the Jews was the claim of Christ to be God, the ultimate blasphemy, except that He was God. In matters of morality, as opposed to ritual purity, there was almost no division between Christ and the Pharisees, and where there was a division, divorce, Christ tended to be more severe. As far as the Romans were concerned the divisions between the Jews and Christians were quite incomprehensible as demonstrated by the reaction of Pilate.

  • I don’t confuse the two either. But if the Pope’s comments “confuse his friends” , his friends are just as if not more ignorant than his foes. I think every time a pope says things like this (remember B16’s comments at Regensburg that stoked a violent backlash that caused at least one death as well as how they twisted his condom remark that he was saying having sex with a condom was morally licit as a means of disease prevention when the context of his remarks make clear that he is speaking positively about the intention not the use of the condom itself) our side responds in a predictably Pavlovian way. We give the MSM the reaction they want. We come off as defensive and are too damned arrogant to realize it. We need to step bak and not take the bait when they do this.

    Now, I am not saying the pope’s comments are above criticism. We are not bound to agree with the way he says things like this. In fact, I think soon-to-St. John Paul II’s anti-death penalty stance caused far more confusion than anything Francis has said to date.

  • P.S/ In stead of wringing our hands over what Pope Francis said in that interview, we should seize upon the opportunity and not let the MSM drive the conversation.

  • “But if the Pope’s comments “confuse his friends” , his friends are just as if not more ignorant than his foes.”

    Total rubbish Greg. Most Catholics are like most people: they do not follow events with the magnifying glass that blog denizens do. A Pope who speaks carelessly and gives ammo for the media to twist his words is just asking for confusion among normal Catholics who get most of their information still from the mainstream media. The Catholic Church is not a Church for the elect few but rather a means of salvation for the great mass of believers. All popes speak carelessly at times, but Pope Francis seems to make a habit of it, and I hope he stops it very soon, or this will be a very long papacy indeed.

  • “P.S/ In stead of wringing our hands over what Pope Francis said in that interview, we should seize upon the opportunity and not let the MSM drive the conversation.”

    That might be a sound strategy if anyone, including the Pope, had the foggiest idea of what he was driving at often times. I confess that his meaning often seems obscure to me and subject to widely varying interpretations.

  • “Total rubbish Greg. Most Catholics are like most people: they do not follow events with the magnifying glass that blog denizens do.”

    Horse hockey Donald. Even the most ignorant who don’t follow event know no pope would say what the media portrays him as saying. That much should be obvious. The response of many on our side is what gives the media ammo. They bait and we swallow it. As dumb as they are they make us look even dumber.

    When Pope Francis starts slandering the damned few elected officials who make legitimate attempts to protect citizens entrusted to their jurisdiction, you might have something to wring your hands about. But until then….

  • “Even the most ignorant who don’t follow event know no pope would say what the media portrays him as saying.”

    Indeed? I doubt it, if all they read are stories like this:

    “But his vision of what the church should be stands out, primarily because it contrasts so sharply with many of the priorities of his immediate predecessors, John Paul II and Benedict XVI. They were both intellectuals for whom doctrine was paramount, an orientation that guided the selection of a generation of bishops and cardinals around the globe.

    Francis said the dogmatic and the moral teachings of the church were not all equivalent.

    “The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently,” Francis said. “We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel.”

    Rather, he said, the Catholic Church must be like a “field hospital after battle,” healing the wounds of its faithful and going out to find those who have been hurt, excluded or have fallen away.

    “It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars!” Francis said. “You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else.”

    “The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules,” he lamented. “The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you. And the ministers of the church must be ministers of mercy above all.”

    After the results of last year’s election I would not underestimate the ability of the mainstream media to sway public opinion, especially since there is a not insignificant segment of Catholic clergy and laity in this country who would very much like the Church to go the Episcopalian route, and who have joined eagerly in touting Pope Francis as their liberal Pope.

  • Yes and you can finds quotes from his two immediate predecessors who say exactly the same thing. And many of that “generation of bishops and cardinals around the globe.” are the ones who are actually doing a great deal to distort Church teaching when it serves their ideological agenda. And I cannot see how they are not doing it knowingly, but I don’t hear much about that from the orthodox Catholic commentariat when it is their heroes in the episcopate who are doing it.

  • No one Greg ever accused Pope John Paul II or Pope Benedict XVI of soft pedaling Church doctrine on abortion or homosexuality. The criticism in the mainstream media was all the other way. Pope Francis is being touted as a liberal Pope because there is enough ambiguity in what he says that the mainstream media is able to make a plausible argument. Additionally some of what he says is simply bizarre:

    “We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.”

    Most clergy I have encountered almost never talk about these issues and seem to wish they would go away. It has been a few of the Catholic laity, God love them, who chiefly have been carrying on this fight. Pope Francis is misinterpreted because it is so easy to do based on what he has said.

  • If I may interject…(I, myself, have been both confused by some of Pope Francis’ messaging and comforted by more in-depth analysis of his Holiness’ comments here and elsewhere)…I submit that DarwinCatholic’s post may put some more clarity to what he means ( While this situation calls for prayer and not celebration, I think rumors of a “pro-gay” Pope were greatly exaggerated (as seen on Fox News, no less), insofar as any change in doctrine is concerned.

    I also found this helpful…

    The Church’s teaching could not be more clear: but if every one of Pope Francis’s public speeches were like this, the Church’s teaching might well lose all of its force. As Frank Weathers notes, Pope Benedict, in an address to the bishops of Switzerland on November 9, 2006, explained why:

    I remember, when I used go to Germany in the 1980s and ’90s, that I was asked to give interviews and I always knew the questions in advance. They concerned the ordination of women, contraception, abortion and other such constantly recurring problems.

    If we let ourselves be drawn into these discussions, the Church is then identified with certain commandments or prohibitions; we give the impression that we are moralists with a few somewhat antiquated convictions, and not even a hint of the true greatness of the faith appears. I therefore consider it essential always to highlight the greatness of our faith—a commitment from which we must not allow such situations to divert us.

    To be sure, the article doesn’t whitewash the “There That Is Not There”:

    Pope Francis, it is said (with more than a little justification), does not speak with the precision and clarity of his predecessor. And in the face of distortions by the New York Times and confusion among the faithful, precision and clarity are greatly to be desired.

  • “No one Greg ever accused Pope John Paul II or Pope Benedict XVI of soft pedaling Church doctrine on abortion or homosexuality. The criticism in the mainstream media was all the other way. Pope Francis is being touted as a liberal Pope because there is enough ambiguity in what he says that the mainstream media is able to make a plausible argument. ”

    No, they just said Benedict XVI changed a major plank of Church teaching with his condom comment which not only wasn’t anything close to what they say he said, the comment was made in an interview that was not an official statement anyway. And it was Francis, not JPII or B16, that just excommed and laicized an Aussie priesr who advocating women;s ordination. And this very same priest was also a staunch advocate of same sex marriage.

    As far as the statement you quote above, as a lawyer Donald you ought to instinctively given to reading things which much greater care than you seem to be reading this quote. For one, the pope is saying these issues are not the only issues we should insist upon. And yes, we should speak of them in context. And those who speak of these issue in the right way do in fact speak of them in context. Is not the constant refrain from the very same MSM that the Church is only about opposing abortion, contraception, and homosexuality? Secondly, he says the teaching of the Church is “clear” on these points? Who doesn’t know where the Church stands on these things? He is not saying that we should talk these at all, but not place exclusive focus on them.

    What is “bizarre” about the statement you quote is more your interpretation of it as bizarre than what he actually said. Could he have said things in a better way? Sure. Bear in mind, not only was this interview not conducted in English and there are not always exact parallels between any two languages, but Francis himself does not speak English and that also has an effect on what words he might choose when speaking a different language. The fact that the conclave elected Bergoglio despite the fact he doesn’t speak English was a bit of a surprise. I think he is gonna have to overcome his tone deafness learn to speak English.

    I think it is dangerous for the Church when we excessively allow worrying about how the MSM is going to spin what we say to control what we and how we say things.

    But as far as public statements and high profile Catholics, there is a far more serious problem. And I think you know what I am referring to. And until we address that problem, we have absolutely no moral right whatsoever to criticize anything, much less what the pope said in that interview.

  • Thanks for the heads-up about checking the comments at the original post
    Mr. McClarey. They did not disappoint. The actual comments to the
    post were also amusing– especially the faux spam from “sheephearder55″…

  • The Lord Jesus Himself and Paul his dynamic if often acerbic apostle caused uproars, confusion etc to those not taking the time to really “hear” them. It is not for nothing that the Lord “had to say” “do not think that I have come to destroy the Law and the Prophets, I have come not to destroy but to fulfill”. (Matthew 5.17). Pau’s emphasis on Christ, His Cross and grace and the obedience of faith over observance of the Law was at one point in Church history the cause of such.confusion that a large portion of the Catholic Church followed an Augustinian monk away from communion with the Church and took a major Council of the Church to contextualize Paul’s teaching within Tradition-yet we still hear Paul almost every Lord’s Day in Holy Mass.

    Taking the time to really listen to Pope Francis yields not confusion but great peace ( see Ignatius’ discernment of spirits)

    Having said this Pope Francis’ contextualizing such issues as abortion, gay marriage and contraception within the Gospel is timely and necessary-just as necessary as emphasizing the truth of the teachings concerning these issues. After all, the Church recognizes and teaches that Her teaching on abortion, gay marriage and contraception are based on Natural Law, not Divine Revelation. The truth concerning all three issues is available to reason, faith is not ‘needed’.

    The Pope is rightly concerned that without the proper (read ‘ortodox’) contextual reading of such issues and emphases within the Church we could inadvertently reduce the whole of the Catholic Faith to ‘morality’. It is in this light that Francis’ comments on “rules” needs the read. By way of an objective witness to the same concern read George Weigel’s excellent Evangelical Catholicism in which he clearly states that a characteristic of the “dying” post Tridentine Catholicism is a focus on rules. He notes that both ” progressive” and “traditionalist” Catholics are still stuck in this dying era of Church history-one focusing on them to rid us of them while the other believing we need them at all costs

  • The words of a Pope and the Word of God are different. To equate the two is to make an idol of the Papacy. Something that flies in the face of that relationship with Christ.

    Here again I believe is how the Pope poorly words things. From the homily of his Mass today:

    “You cannot know Jesus without having problems. And I dare say, ‘But if you want to have a problem, go to the street to know Jesus – you’ll end up having not one, but many!’ But that is the way to get to know Jesus! You cannot know Jesus in first class! One gets to know Jesus in going out [into] every day [life]. You cannot get to know Jesus in peace and quiet, nor even in the library: Know Jesus.”

    Really. One cannot know Christ in first class. Its unclear his exact meaning but is he saying the rich don’t have problems. Is he saying they don’t know Christ in their lives.

    From the Navarre Bible Commentary on the Beatitudes in Luke about understanding what poverty truly is:

    “24. In the same kind of way as in verse 20, which refers to the poor in the sense of those who love poverty, seeking to please God better, so in this verse the “rich” are to be understood as those who strive to accumulate possessions heedless of whether or not they are doing so lawfully, and who seek their happiness in those possessions, as if they were their ultimate goal. But people who inherit wealth or acquire it through honest work can be really poor provided they are detached from these things and are led by that detachment to use them to help others, as God inspires them. We can find in Sacred Scriptures a number of people to whom the beatitude of the poor can be applied although they possessed considerable wealth–Abraham, Isaac, Moses, David, Job, for example.

    As early as St. Augustine’s time there were people who failed to understand poverty and riches properly: they reasoned as follows: The Kingdom of Heaven belongs to the poor, the Lazaruses of this world, the hungry; all the rich are bad, like this rich man here. This sort of thinking led St. Augustine to explain the deep meaning of wealth and poverty according to the spirit of the Gospel: “Listen, poor man, to my comments on your words. When you refer to yourself as Lazarus, that holy man covered with wounds, I am afraid your pride makes you describe yourself incorrectly. Do not despise rich men who are merciful, who are humble: or, to put it briefly, do not despise poor rich men. Oh, poor man, be poor yourself; poor, that is, humble […].

    Listen to me, then. Be truly poor, be devout, be humble; if you glory in your rag- ged and ulcerous poverty, if you glory in likening yourself to that beggar lying outside the rich man’s house, then you are only noticing his poverty, and nothing else. What should I notice you ask? Read the Scriptures and you will understand what I mean. Lazarus was poor, but he to whose bosom he was brought was rich. ‘It came to pass, it is written, that the poor man died and he was brought by the angels to Abraham’s bosom.’ To where? To Abraham’s bosom, or let us say, to that mysterious place where Abraham was resting. Read […] and remember that Abraham was a very wealthy man when he was on earth: he had abundance of money, a large family, flocks, land; yet that rich man was poor, because he was humble. ‘Abraham believed God and he was reckoned righteous.’ […] He was faithful, he did good, received the commandment to offer his son in sacrifice, and he did not refuse to offer what he had received to Him from whom he had received it. He was approved in God’s sight and set before us as an example of faith” (Sermon, 14).

    To sum up: poverty does not consist in something purely external, in having or not having material goods, but in something that goes far deeper, affecting a person’s heart and soul; it consists in having a humble attitude to God, in being devout, in having total faith. If a Christian has these virtues and also has an abundance of material possessions, he should be detached from his wealth and act charitably towards others and thus be pleasing to God. On the other hand, if someone is not well-off he is not justified in God’s sight on that account, if he fails to strive to acquire those virtues in which true poverty consists.”

    In this case a small failure on the part of the words of the Pope to communicate the real truth of the Word of God. But a failure nonetheless.

  • Phillip, I sense that almost nothing this Pope could say would ‘please’ you. Perhaps the last pope who did was Pius V?

  • Keeping in your tenor, your idolatry of the Papacy would move one to be a Protestant.

    Now continuing in a truly Christian fashion. What I have been saying all along is that Francis communicates in a poor (I would even say clumsy) fashion.

    My faith is not based on the Pope or anything he says. It is not based on any of his words. It is based on the Word of God – Christ. That in fact is what the Pope is (poorly) saying in his homily and in that (as Hadely Arkes said “bizarre”) interview.

    As my faith is in the Word of God and not in the faulty words of man, I do believe when this Word of God grants infallibility to the Pope in Faith and Morals (not style or specific words). That is a truly Catholic understanding.

  • Hmmm your dialectic forcing a split between the Word of God and the words of man (here I am not speaking of Pope Francis) is a very familiar one-an Augustinian friar 496 years ago claimed pretty much the same position

  • Nope. They are the words of Francis himself. And JP II and Benedict. It is a relationship with Jesus the Christ that is the source and summit of the Christian life. From this, all else flows including the truths about faith and morals that the Pope speaks.

    You are confused (and without great peace) if you think Francis is saying otherwise.

  • Enough back and forth on who is a real Catholic, gentlemen. I do not allow that on my comment threads.

  • Donald,

    I do not doubt Botolph’s Catholicism. I am merely defending mine.

  • Horse hockey Donald. Even the most ignorant who don’t follow event know no pope would say what the media portrays him as saying

    Then why has NOT A SINGLE CATHOLIC I KNOW WHO IS NOT A BLOGGER “know” this? Bloggers generally know the MSN is rubbish on religion; other orthodox religious groups even know this, and I’ve seen them (Molly Hemmingway!) leap to defend Catholics from the mangled portrayals… but most folks are blinking, and going “what on earth is up with the Pope?”

    Perhaps they’re just more aware that being Pope doesn’t automatically mean you’re all that good, although stuff is much better defended now….

  • Then why has NOT A SINGLE CATHOLIC I KNOW WHO IS NOT A BLOGGER “know” this? Bloggers generally know the MSN is rubbish on religion; other orthodox religious groups even know this, and I’ve seen them (Molly Hemmingway!) leap to defend Catholics from the mangled portrayals… but most folks are blinking, and going “what on earth is up with the Pope?”

    I’ll bet these same Catholics thought Benedict XVI changed Church teaching with his condom comment:

    And even if you read what Benedict actually said in context (which doesn’t approve of condom use in any way) it is far far more vulnerable to being twisted in damaging way than anything Francis said in that interview. People need to get a grip. Those who are wringing their hands about this are waving the white flag of surrender to the media. Any Catholic who thinks Pope Francis said what the media said he did is an ignoramus who have problems that are beyond any the reach of rational explanation.

  • As Donald said, all popes use less than optimal words when expressing a thought. Their words will be taken out of context by the MSM. But with Pope Francis, it’s a habit, a recurring event.

    When even the most ardent papal defenders are perplexed when Pope Francis speaks, something is amiss. It seems almost weekly we see links to articles which seek to explain what Pope Francis really means, and it’s not because his thoughts highly academic or theological. Not a good sign.

    I understand and mostly agree with Pope Francis says, but I don’t agree with the way he says it. I hope no one construes from this that I am a member of SSPX. 😉

  • I’ll bet these same Catholics thought Benedict XVI changed Church teaching with his condom comment:


    You made a claim about “all Catholics” who aren’t bloggers. Pointing to another example of media malpractice does nothing to support the claim, anymore than finding a non-blogging Catholic who agreed with you would do so.

Easter and History

Sunday, March 31, AD 2013

I am an historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history.

H.G. Wells

How many movements throughout the history of Man have flourished briefly and then vanished into everlasting oblivion, forgotten entirely by History or relegated to the briefest of footnotes?  From a human standpoint that was clearly the fate of the movement started by the carpenter/rabbi from Galilee following His death on a cross.  His followers had scattered and went into hiding at His arrest.  He was denied by the mob, their choosing a bandit and murderer over Him.  Condemned by the foreigners occupying His country, His people observed His death by mocking Him.  The idea that He had founded a “Church” that would spread around the globe, altering all of human history, and causing Him to be worshiped as God by billions of people would have struck any neutral observer as mad ravings.  Yet that is precisely what happened. 

Continue reading...

8 Responses to Easter and History

  • I should probably make some sort of a joke about this being a once-in-a-double-lifetime event, but too busy smiling.
    Odd, that thinking about how bad things have been can work so well with being hopeful!

    Jesus overcame death– what can stop us?

  • “Jesus overcame death– what can stop us?”

    Nothing, absolutely nothing, which is why the enemies of Christ are usually so out of temper.

  • From a Prayer after the Rosary:

    “O God, whose only begotten Son,
    By His
    Death, and
    Has purchased for us
    The rewards of eternal life . . . “

  • Pingback: EASTER SUNDAY EDITION - Big Pulpit
  • And to think, we have no record of the resurrection event. We have a record of an empty tomb with witnesses who also saw the Risen Lord. Enough eyewitnesses to give account for these things as the church was launched.

  • one of the things iI appreciate about this post is your choice of words here:
    “What changed this defeated cause into an everlasting crusade is the Resurrection.”

    so many words have been messed with, diluted, stolen or emptied of meaning… there is a whole world of import carried in your use of the word “crusade” here.

  • “And to think, we have no record of the resurrection event”

    IMHO, I think that in a way, we do – the Shroud of Turin. There is now way to explain how that image got on that cloth – other than The Resurrection.

Does Jesus Hate Our Religion?

Thursday, January 12, AD 2012

I encourage my students (past and present) to ask questions and seek the truth, and sometimes some will take up the challenge. Last week we saw the challenge of prior Myths to our belief in the historical Jesus Christ.  This week we have a Christian challenge to Christian religion. I would like to again tap into the collective genius that is American Catholic blogosphere to see what shakes out. I don’t think Christianity could have survived as a loose-knit band of solo believers/wanna-be disciples.  Surely the Bible would never have been standardized. I see Jesus as one who puts all religious persons on notice- to not be hypocritical or without compassion. But in my read He doesn’t throw out the baby of religion with the bathwater of failing pharisees.  I am pointing my students to this blog to consider your arguments and thoughts- so be polite and thoughtful regarding those who may be reading who are young questing souls- not sure of the spiritual landscape just yet.

Continue reading...

21 Responses to Does Jesus Hate Our Religion?

  • Okay, I understand the desire to put out thought-provoking pieces that challenge our beliefs, but I made it through about 48 seconds of this video before clicking off. The very first sentence “What if I told you that Jesus came to abolish religions” is an out and out lie. If that were true, then Jesus would not have lived his life as an essentially Orthodox Jew. He would not have said that he came not to abolish the law but to fulfill it. The stuff about building Churches but not feeding the poor is clearly wrong, as Churches are at the forefront of charity. No one suggests (seriously) that God doesn’t “love” divorced people. Jesus himself – whom the narrator purports to love – explained the purpose of the Old Testament allowance for divorce (Read Matthew 19) before himself saying that it is forbidden.

  • How would the Bible come as far as being put into a canon w/out organized religion?

  • This dangerous video has gone viral. I look forward to more replies before sending out a message to my parish youth group.

  • The heart’s in the right place, but it’s not well thought out. It’s a less mean-spirited version of Anne Rice’s Christ-without-Christianity stuff.

    I’m inclined to point out that it’s no coincidence this came from a 20-something 21st Century American. It’s incomprehensible outside of that localized worldview. It’s a product of pure individualism, and the idea that big churches = not feeding the poor merits the Billy Madison moderator response.

    Ultimately, the failure of the religionless Christianity is that it self-amputates the adherent from the Body of Christ, along with the hard-won wisdom of the past generations who passed the Faith on to us. That bad ol’ “religious” structure of Christianity serves a vital purpose–it reminds us that we and our experiences aren’t all there is.

    “To live entirely in the present, without any of the wisdom that a broad perspective on the past provides, is to live a life of idiocy, vapid distraction, and ingratitude.”

    –David Bentley Hart.

  • Well, first off, like Paul, I frankly kind of found this hard to watch. Maybe this is a function of being in my mid thirties rather than my mid teens, but trying to parse through a bunch of statements that were at times vague or in sentence fragments and “respond” is kind of hard.

    Still, trying to hit the most basic elements:

    There’s a bit of a word game being played here. The makers distinguish “religion” from following Jesus the way they do basically as “them bad, we good”. Those guys fight war because of their beliefs? Oh, that’s religion. Those guys seem (to the speaker) to be building big churches while ignoring the poor? Oh, that’s religion. Those guys act like they’re all holy because the go to church on Sunday but the rest of the time they’re addicted to porn? Oh, that’s religion. Well, what is it that the makers are engaged in if it’s not religion? They’re “following Christ”? Well, go ask an atheist: that’s religion. Instead of talking about one thing as “religion” and the other as “Jesus” — not about not playing word games and admit that “following Jesus” is religion, but like anything else some people do it badly. Some people play basketball and it makes them team players. Some people play basketball and it makes them total jerks. We don’t need two words for basketball as a result, we need to tell people to be good players. Don’t tell people that Jesus came to get rid of religion, tell people that Jesus told people to start faking religion and start practicing it. After all, Jesus says in Matthew 23:3 that people should do as the Pharisees say, they just shouldn’t be hypocrites like the Pharisees were.

    The makers also have a radically individualist view of faith. The speaker claims that religion is man looking for God, but that Jesus is God looking for man. Do we really think that Jesus (who was God) was totally incompetent and didn’t know what he was doing, though? Jesus didn’t just give people some encouraging words and leave them where they were, he said, “Come follow me.” He built an organization while on earth, and his followers lived as an organization after died, rose again and ascended into heaven. If Jesus didn’t intend for there to be “organized religion”, he did a terrible job of explaining that to his followers, because they formed a “religion” in the sense of an organized community of believers right away. And Paul writes in 1 Timothy 3:15 that the pillar and foundation of truth is the Church. Jesus comes to us through religion because we’re not meant to all be loners (or to use his phrase “lost sheep”), we’re together in this.

    Finally, the video several times tries to contrast the “rules” of religion with Jesus. But clearly, the makers of the video themselves think there are rules. If there were not rules (what we who are part of a religion call “morality”) then why the criticism of people who don’t feed the poor, who treat single mothers badly, who act of hypocrites, etc.? Moreover, Jesus himself didn’t say “it is finished” to the idea of rules. This is the guy who said (Matthew 5:48) “Be perfect as your father in heaven is perfect” and (John 8:11) “Go and sin no more.” Jesus was big time into rules. What he criticized the Pharisees for was making a big deal about rules that didn’t matter and ignoring the most important ones.

    Hope that helps!

  • “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.”H. Richard Niebuhr

    The person behind the video desperately needs to read Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood:

  • See, just because we’re called to be more than religious doesn’t mean that we’re not called to be religious. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. The ritual and the rules are where we begin. They’re our soil. We don’t cease to need the soil even as we grow upward.

    No one wants to be religious. We all know intuitiviely that religion is limited. And anyway, religion isn’t as much fun as faith. Faith is self-confident; religion is fear and trembling. But Jesus calls us to both, the hard work and the joy.

    Jesus condemned the Pharisees. He also said that they were doing everything right. That’s the trick. We’re called to be worthless servants. The servant has to do his work every day, then recognize that the work isn’t enough. Being a worthless servant takes a lot of work. What must I do to attain salvation? It starts with obeying the commandments – that’s religion – then we’re supposed to build on it.

  • God’s Only Begotten Son by His life, death and resurrection purchased for us the rewards of eternal life.

    He named Peter the rock on which to build His Church. The Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles and Mary and gave them insight. The Church is faithful, unbroken successor to the Apostles.

    Jesus prayed all the time and observed all the rituals. He came to fulfil the Commandments not to abolish them.

    Jesus is True God and True man. He is like us in all ways except sin. He does not sin. Hate is sin.

    Did Jesus hate those that tortured and crucified him? No, he did not.

    Seems the hit TV series, “The Big Bang Theory” is on air all the time. One re-run depicted a budding relationship/marriage which ended because one was “bundle” matter theory adherent and the other was “string” theory (whatever any of that means). The issue was over how the raise the children (heh): bundle or string. One said, “Let them decide.” The other said, “You can’t. They’re children.” That was the end of that. I thought it was profound for farce and likely why young people have little religious inclination.

    How does one receive Objective Trurth if it is not specifically safeguarded and passed on?

    Of course, yer video-boy-genius likely disbelieves there is such a thing as objective truth. Not to mention divine revelation (not the Book of) . . .

  • The video is an insult. The young man, however sincere he thinks he is, is seriously misled. Conversion and repentance, righteousness and holiness come first, and nothing the young man pontificates on reflects that.

  • Maybe there is some truth in what he’s saying that needs to be gleaned. Just as Bahurim cursed David and threw stones David’s men wanted to cut his head odd. David did not allow it and considered that he may have been sent of from the Lord.
    Christ’s seven woes in Matthew 23 against the Scribes and Pharisees I think summs up his problem with “religion.” But he does say in verse two and three of that chapter, “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. ” So right before his indictment of them he says to listen to them.
    Sometimes the pedulum swings too far either way. And I think this is the case with this young man.

  • Difficult to really glean what he means by religion. Seems he does not see following the “rules” or things such as structure as important as actually doing something. Understandable. But ignoring the “rules”, or tossing away the structure in favor of activity is much like trying to run a marathon without training for it, or playing an instrument without any instruction or learning the notes, etc. You may do ok for a mile or two, but then fatigue kicks in. Much like your physical conditioning, your spiritual life needs spiritual conditioning to make it over the long haul. Religion (rules, heirarchy, structure) provide this training and direction, like good coach or music instructor to correct your form when you are off a bit.

  • What is really disconcerting about the video is the immense ignorance on display and the self-righteous vehemence with which it is preached. This so prevalent in our culture now and it is getting worse. This is the precursor of persecution. The ignorance displayed is almost impenetrable.

  • “But if Jesus came to you church would they actually let him in?”

    For the Catholic Church it isn’t a matter of letting Jesus in, we bring Him in….and then eat Him.

  • Here’s another good Catholic response from the “Bible Geek” Mark Hart of Life Teen-

  • Tim,
    A few questions. How old are the students? Is this a college class? What is the purpose or theme of the class? How many students? What do you want your students to learn?

  • We’re talking high schoolers and this isn’t part of the structured class- this was something a student emailed me to find out more about what the orthodox Catholic perspective might be- I want to give them more than just my own take and coax them out into some safe blogging zones where the Church is not going to be trashed and is given a sympathetic hearing by more or less faithful thinking Catholics who aren’t going to be talking way over their heads for the most part.

  • Here is a Catholic priests rap response on you tube title Spoken Word made Flesh.

    It has some excellent talking points such as the 50 year spiritual dryness experienced by Mother Teresa. The line that stood out for me was- Jesus said, don’t be a Church hater, the weeds and the wheat, the get separated later.
    Also check out a blog on this video at Bad Catholic