Showing posts from October, 2013

Finding the Right Voices

To me, the coolest part of Catholicism is the saints.  Note that I didn't say the best part--by definition, the best part is the whole business of God becoming man, dying, and rising from the dead.  That's the best part.  But the saints are the coolest and most interesting part of Catholicism, because they express the diversity of the "catholic" or universal church.  There are people from every part of the world, from every time, and from every situation.

But it is not simply about diversity for diversity's sake.  The diversity means that the saints provide a variety of ways to be a Catholic and to be holy.  While ultimately each of them is talking about the same God, they talk about it in different ways.  These different ways of talking about God mean that different people will find different saints speak to them more than other saints.  That's a feature and not a bug--you don't have to "click" with every saint.

In hindsight, I think one of the…

Let Us Lawyer This Problem Together

A statement came out today from the top guy in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, basically saying that the Church was not going to change anything regarding divorced and remarried people.  Or, at the very least, it is not going to change anything doctrinally. Some took this as an opportunity to rend their garments and declare that Francis is all talk and that this new openness is an illusion.  In turn, the usual suspects took it as an opportunity to throw rotten tomatoes at those who are rending their garments.  And so, the circle of life continues.

I don't think it means much of anything.  First, there was a bit of the infamous "vote of confidence" about the article.  Every time you hear that a sports coach has the "full confidence" of the owner or athletic director, or a CEO has the "full confidence" of the Board of Directors, you can count down the days until that coach or CEO is canned.  There is no policy change until there is a pol…

More On the Moral Theology of the Devil

First off, I have it on good authority that my post "The Moral Theology of the Devil" was discussed during the course of a first date.  It is flattering that someone is reading my writing, but I suspect such a relationship is doomed from the start if that is a relevant topic.  Still, good on you, I guess.

Anyway, two additional thoughts along these lines.  The first one is that the Moral Theology of the Devil plays on human resistance to what I believe is the most difficult teaching of Christianity (and, probably, all of Abrahamic monotheism)--God loves everyone equally.  I remember a lecture from Tom O'Meara, a Dominican theologian, who explained that people want to be convinced that they "have more God" then others.  But no one has more God than anyone else.  God is the creator of everyone, and so everyone is equally loved.

If you look at traditional religions, with their panoply of gods and spirits, the entire purpose of religion is to generate the favor of …

Friday Fun--"Bop 'Til You Drop"

Would you be interested in a mid-80s Rick Springfield video directed by David Fincher?  Of course you would.

It needs to be said up front--this song is beyond terrible.  The video, however, is predictably fascinating.  Here's what I really want to know--did Fincher have this concept primed and ready to go before he was approached about doing a Rick Springfield video?  In other words, did he come up with the idea of a musician leading a revolt of human slaves against their lizard masters on some distant planet, and then waited around until someone approached him with enough money to actually make the video?

It kind of has to be that, because I cannot fathom how Fincher listened to this song and came up with this concept.  I suppose the line "gotta keep working day and night" could lead to the idea of slaves, but where did the lizard aliens come from?  It had to be something Fincher had in the can.

It's worth pointing out how ridiculous the special effects look here.  …

Words Have Consequences

One of the experiences of studying to be a priest is that you get to see priests in their private lives, without the public face on and without the filter on what they say.  Sometimes, this is not a pretty experience.  I remember one such incident on Thanksgiving in Denver, during my novitiate.  As, perhaps unfortunately, tends to happen at such events, the brothers had had a few drinks, and people felt free to speak candidly.  One priest, who was quite elderly (and now deceased, so I will not name him), was beginning to get riled up about how great everything was in Catholicism in the 70s, and how everything had gone to pot since them.  He finished it off, however, with a single comment: "I wish that Turkish guy had finished him (Pope John Paul II) off."  I was horrified, and too stunned to say anything.  But, I should have.  No matter what disagreements one has with someone, it is never, never OK to wish death upon anyone, especially if you are a Christian/Catholic, and es…

Quick Hits

Three quick hits this morning:

1.  A Washington Post article on the discomfort of more conservative Catholics with Pope Francis.

2.  A brilliant and thoughtful piece by Michael Sean Winters in response.

3.  The article in America mentioned by Winters from Bishop McElvoy.  One wonders if Bishop McElvoy would have felt as comfortable writing such a piece eight months ago.

Friday Fun Video--November Rain


This video probably represents the high water mark of the music video as a thing of cultural importance.  Guns and Roses was the biggest band in the world, and they release this nine minute opus, complete with strings, choir, and unnecessary waste of wedding cake.  It's absurdly over-the-top in every conceivable way.

And yet, I love this video.  OK, so the allegory of rain as representing sadness/loss is not exactly subtle, but it kind of works, and it fits into the words of the song (something that many videos fail to do).  The video tells a (mostly) coherent story.  There is not one but two awesome Slash guitar solos.  Axl gets to scream and do Axl things, plus he plays piano (?!?).

Bottom line--embrace the grandiosity, and enjoy an awesome video.

Sister Farley and Rehabilitation

Beginning with the papacy of St. Pius X, Catholic thought was dominated by two core ideas.  The first idea was a rejection of "Modernism," a catch-all term that referred to the "modern" ideas that had come into prominence in the 19th and early 20th Century--democracy, Communism, industrial capitalism, the nation-state, modern scientific developments, etc.  All of this, in Pope Pius X's view, was bad and must be rejected by Catholics in toto.  The other big idea was that of the Scholastic manual--essentially a compendium of Catholic theology and thought that purported to provide comprehensive answers to all of the questions you might want to ask.  Not surprisingly, this era in Catholicism presented a vision of Church that was almost entirely static and unchanging.

After World War II, a group of French and German Catholic thinkers came on the scene and were grouped under the heading of "Nouvelle Theologie" or New Theology.  These thinkers believed that …