Monday, February 28, 2011

God Lives Here

Jim Tonkowich, of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, has authored a piece I found at a website called Boundless (which styles itself as a “webzine” that is focused on the family). In his post Tonkowich tells of a man who moves with his family to a new town and decides to go “church shopping” by visiting different denominational services on different Sundays.

“…One week his family went to a contemporary church, and his 12-year-old son left breathless with excitement. The rock band, the audiovisuals, the theater-style seating, a coffee shop with jelly donuts — how could church be any better? ‘Dad,’ he said, ‘that’s the greatest church in the world. We have to go back!’

“The next Sunday, worship was the polar opposite. They visited a traditional Anglican church. When they arrived, the church was quietly filling up. Worshippers slipped into pews silently to kneel in prayer. If words needed to be exchanged, they were in hushed tones. Before the service had even begun, the boy tugged on his dad’s sleeve and whispered with wide-eyed wonder, ‘Dad, I think God lives here.’ There was a palpable sense of the sacred in a counter-cultural setting…

“…When we step into worship regardless of the architecture of our church, we enter the sanctuary. Sanctuary comes from the Latin word sanctus: holy. Holy means set apart, set apart for God. We enter sacred space. God lives here.

“Do we know that? Are we prepared for that? Do we ever treat any space as sacred space? And if not, why not? If all space is ‘sacred,’ then it turns out that no space is sacred since it’s all the same, all ordinary.”

Now I do not recommend “church shopping” as described above. I happen to believe that selecting one’s church should be undertaken in a more serious and thoughtful manner. (What about doctrine? What about creedal statements? What about correct teaching?) Simply dropping in one Sunday to see if the shoe fits is not the best way to judge the soundness of a church’s teaching. My advice to anyone who is “church shopping” has always been to ask questions, read, study and be informed about a denomination. Don’t just show up one Sunday and see if you like the atmosphere. There is more to faith than a good vibe and an emotional high.

However, there is certainly one thing we can learn about a church community by witnessing their Sunday service – we can learn something about their attitude toward the sacred. And we can compare what we see to what we know of historic Christianity. The early Christians sought out the burial sites of the martyrs. They worshiped at the tombs of saints, gathering in the catacombs for the Eucharistic celebration. They marked these spaces with holy images. They set them apart for this special purpose. The ancient Church had respect for sacred space.

Compare this to many Evangelical/Protestant churches today, where you might find coffee and refreshments sold during the service. Or when the space is not used for worship, perhaps a jazzercise class can sweat it out next to the communion table. Or maybe you can have a pick-up game of basketball after we lower the goals out of the rafters and fold up the metal chairs.

Would an ancient Christian recognize this as sacred space? Would he see this as the same Church to which he belonged?

When we attend our church on Sunday morning, do we want our kids to say, “That music rocked, and the donuts were awesome!” Or would we rather they whisper to us quietly, “I think God lives here.”

Friday, February 25, 2011

This Week's Headlines

As another week comes to an end, this is your chance to top off your glass with a final helping of news, current events, and just plain interesting stuff that may not have made into the mainstream media. A chance to linger for a few more moments before we close the door on the week. Below are some links to articles, blogs, and miscellaneous happenings that caught my eye over the past few days. Sample what you like - I'll serve up more next Friday...
Message of His Holiness Benedict XVI for Lent 2011 - "As she awaits the definitive encounter with her Spouse in the eternal Easter, the Church community, assiduous in prayer and charitable works, intensifies her journey in purifying the spirit, so as to draw more abundantly from the Mystery of Redemption the new life in Christ the Lord"
Recovering a Catholic Subculture - "One of the worst mistakes American Catholicism ever made was the scrapping in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s of the subculture that had served it well up to that time. That was the era of the great flight from what Catholic intellectuals snobbishly called the 'Catholic ghetto.'"
Understanding the Stages of Spiritual Starvation in the West - "I’d like to take a look at some of the stages of physical starvation and speak of their spiritual equivalent...I will list the physical stage and them describe what I think is a spiritual component."

Exposing Relativism: Three Stories - "The three stories here effectively blow the whistle on relativism, exposing the self-deception and inconsistency which accompany that widely held position."

The Myth of Religious Tolerance - "The closer one examines tolerance and tries to apply it across the board, the more obvious it becomes that it's simply insufficient as a principle to govern society. Even if it were possible to achieve total tolerance, it would be exceedingly undesirable and counterproductive to do so."

Edith Stein: the Apostate Saint - "Why is it that when Edith endorsed atheism, she was still considered a member of the Jewish community?"

Private Totalitarianism, Writ Large - "It is curious how abortion has wound up devouring groups of people – blacks in the United States, females in the East – the very groups its advocates claim to champion. In that, it also eerily mimics the victimization patters of virulent forms of socialism."

The Demands of the Irresponsible - "Corruption is an inherent feature of collectivism.  There are no large, honest governments, and there never will be.  When political power becomes one of the most valuable commodities in an economy, it will be bought, sold, and traded."

Does God Love the Souls in Hell? - "Is it really a sign of hate or vengeance, rather than love, that God sustains the souls in Hell?"

The Lutherans Are Coming! - "Many Protestants in the original denominations, after 500 years of experimentation, and beginning to realize the futility of it all. It has been half a millennium of one epic failure after another, culminating in the virtual apostasy of modern denominations..." See also: 'Anglo-Lutheran Catholics' to Enter Catholic Church through Anglican Ordinariate

Scientism Is Not Science - "A truly Catholic perspective is to rejoice in science. Our tradition enshrines the understanding that creation is revelation and the more we can know of this creation, the more we can know of God, the more we can know of his Logos, Jesus Christ our Lord."

The Challenges and Graces of Conversion - "As a Protestant, you generally see the Church, particularly the Catholic Church as an 'institution.'  For many people, that term has become negatively associated with power, oppression, domination, and restrictions.  As a convert, you may discover that this was and is a false idea of the Church.  Instead you may find a growing understanding of what it means that the Church is the 'Bride of Christ.'"

Do Those Who Defend Marriage Understand it? - "While it is true that every state that has asked its citizens to decide who can marry has clung to the traditional arrangement, it is also true that few can explain the actual nature of marriage—nor can they adequately define its ends."

Number of Baptized Catholics Grows by 15 Million - "...the number of bishops and priests grew in direct proportion to the number of Catholics worldwide. For the 1.3 percent more Catholics in the world, there were 1.3 percent more of both bishops and priests in the period from 2008 - 2009."

Primacy in Love - "[T]he Church can remain one only from communion with the crucified Christ... Only the eucharistic faith, only the assembly around the present Lord can she keep for the long term. And from here she receives her order. The Church is not ruled by majority decisions but rather through the faith that matures in the encounter with Christ the liturgy."
Would George Washington Recognize God-deprived America? - "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports....reason and experience both forbid us to expect that National Morality can prevail in Exclusion of Religious Principle." [George Washington's Farewell Address]

 What's So Great About Democracy?  - "Democracy in the hands of the Klingons probably still portends bad news for Starfleet, not to mention your average Klingon." See also: Is Democracy Better? - "Catholics should not believe in the strict separation of Church and State...Instead we believe that the teachings of Christ must consciously influence the governments of the state for the good of the people."

We need constantly to rediscover why the Church is against abortion - "Catholics believe – more fundamentally than in anything else – in God’s Creation of this world and in the fact that, in Chesterton’s words, life in it 'is an experience of a unique and miraculous character, the idea of missing which would be intolerable if it were for one moment conceivable.'"

What You See is Only Part of What You Get – A Meditation On the Magnificence of Mystery - "In the worldly notion of mystery it is something to approach with  perseverance and the smarts to conquer. But the mysteries of faith are something to be considered with humility and reverence realizing we can never exhaust their meaning or capture and conquer their full essence."

Communion on the Hand or on the Tongue? - "I guess that my question is a polarising one: on the one side are almost all the faithful who attend the Novus Ordo Mass; and on the other is the eloquent, passionate and often learned minority who attend Mass in the Extraordinary Form."
House Overwhelmingly Votes to Scrap Planned Parenthood Funding - "Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana was the main sponsor of the amendment, which prevents federal funding of Planned Parenthood’s national organization and 102 named affiliates."
The debate continues over the truth about lying... - "Do the activities of Live Action constitute lying?"

Obama decision on marriage law raises questions of religious liberty, future of marriage - "It raises the concern that the Justice Department will treat believing Christians, Jews, Muslims and others as though they are the equivalent of racists."

Thursday, February 24, 2011

What's So Great About Democrcay? (Part 2)

Continuing with the same theme as my post from yesterday, I stumbled across a piece by Fr. Dwight Longenecker at his blog, Standing on my Head. Again the emphasis is on sound moral virtue as the foundation of a just society. A democracy is only as "good" as the people who live in it...
...[A]ny form of government that is dominated by ruthless, self seeking, ambitious and power hungry people will be corrupt and will eventually end in tyranny and revolution. This is why personal virtue is vital for any political system to bring about a truly good and free society. The ruler must himself be virtuous, but so must the whole society, for a corrupt society will despise a good and noble ruler just as a corrupt ruler will despise a good and noble populace.

This is where the Catholic worldview becomes so important. Catholics should not believe in the strict separation of Church and State. That is not to say we support a 'State church' or that explicit religion must be integrated into every aspect of national life. Instead we believe that the teachings of Christ must consciously influence the governments of the state for the good of the people. We are to be salt in the dish and yeast in the dough. Through Catholic education and the Catholic religion we should be reminding our leaders and teaching future leaders the principles of servant leadership. We should be grooming rulers who are virtuous  at the same time that we teach the people to follow those same principles of virtue and self sacrifice.

People may hold these principles without holding to the Christian religion, but without the Christian religion they will not hold them for long because there is no ultimate motivation to do so. What human being, given great power and wealth, will have the nobility of spirit and self sacrificial ideals to truly serve the people and lay down his life for them every day? Apart from the grace of God, no one, and if there were a person like that he or she would probably not be seeking power in the first place.

This is why, in the end, political solutions to the world's problems are not the ultimate answer. G.K.Chesterton said, "Every argument is a theological argument." Same here. Every form of government will be eventually become corrupt unless it is founded on a supernatural faith which calls all men to lay down their lives in service of others--just as the Master did
 Read the whole article here.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What's So Great About Democracy?

Excellent post at the National Catholic Register website by Pat Archibald:
With dictator after dictator facing early retirement over the last month, we have heard a lot of talk about democracy.
We are told that protesters are seeking democracy.  We should support democracy.  The people deserve democracy.  I say, so what?
What’s so great about democracy?
I think people sometimes mistake the means for the ends.  Democracy can be a means toward a larger goal, the securing of individual liberty.  But it is no guarantee of the same.  Without a culture supporting it, democracy can be just as bad as whatever it replaces.
Democracy in the hands of the Klingons probably still portends bad news for Starfleet, not to mention your average Klingon.
People often misunderstand the greatness of the American experiment.  The greatness came not from “one man, one vote.”  The greatness of the experiment lay in the concept that democracy is to be used to secure unalienable God-given rights. What good is democracy in a culture in which those concepts are alien?
Democracy is a tool, nothing more.  I conceive of it as a loaded gun, used for good or ill.  A loaded gun can put food on the table and protect your life and liberty.  A loaded gun can also oppress, coerce, and kill.  Democracy, like a loaded gun, is a tool that inherits the morality of those who wield it.
 Read the whole article here.

Our Republic stands or falls on our ability as a nation to uphold sound moral values. The "dictatorship of relativism," as Pope Benedict phrased it, attempts to dismantle moral Truth and eats away at the very foundation of our country. As Catholics (as Christians) we have an obligation to defend objective moral Truth in the public square. Democracy will only be as good or as just as those who participate in its function.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter

Today, February 22, is the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter. For Catholics this day commemorates Jesus’ handing of the “keys” to Peter as Vicar of Christ and head of the Church on earth. In other words, we celebrate the establishment of the papacy. For obvious reasons Protestants do not share this Feast Day as part of their liturgical calendar. The Reformation rejected the primacy of the Church of Rome and the authority of the pope.

I am currently reading a book (as a part of the book review program for the Catholic Company) which points out an interesting fact regarding the historical argument in favor of Roman primacy. The book Clement and the Early Church of Rome (which I will review fully at a later date) concerns itself with the precise dating of a certain letter from Clement, a bishop of Rome, to the Church in Corinth in the First Century. The letter of Clement was intended to settle a dispute over some ousted presbyters in Corinth. Clement and the Church of Rome instructed the Corinthian Church to re-instate the presbyters, and the letter implies that Rome had the authority to make such a request and expected its wishes to be fulfilled. Of course this argues in favor of Roman primacy at a very early date, and if the thesis of the book is correct, the dating of Clement’s letter may indeed be even earlier than previously believed by scholars.

The letter itself by no means seals the deal on Roman primacy or the papacy. But it certainly drives home the point quite nicely, and is often used by Catholic apologists as one reason to favor the Catholic view. So how did the Reformers such as Luther and Calvin argue against the Letter of Clement? The answer is they didn’t have to. The letter was not known to theologians of that time and so it was never presented as a counter to Protestant charges. Father Thomas Heron, author of Clement and the Early Church of Rome, explains that the letter of Clement was discovered in relatively recent times:

“The actual text, after being lost in the Middle Ages, was rediscovered with the Codex of Alexandrinus, sent as a New Year’s present by the Greek Patriarch of Constantinople, Cyril Lucar, to the English King, Charles I, in 1627. The Royal Librarian, Patrick Young, edited and published the two Clemintine epistles contained in the codex, with modern chapter notation, in 1633…

“The Alexandrinus, however, lacks several folios and 1 Clement is missing about one tenth of its sixty-five chapters, a lacuna which extends from 57:6 to 64:1. It was not until 1875 that the remainder of the epistle was found and published. This was the accomplishment of Bryennios who found the Codex of Constantinopolitanus in the library of the Patriarch of Jerusalem… The authenticity of this manuscript was in turn substantiated by the discovery of a Syriac version only a few months later in Paris in 1876…”

Thus it was not until the Nineteenth Century that Catholics could use 1 Clement as an historic proof text for Roman primacy. Good news for Catholics today, but what about the Church during the Reformation, as Herron points out:

“As fortunate as their rediscovery was in the nineteenth century, the practical disappearance of manuscripts of 1 Clement from circulation after the eleventh century accounts for its lack of use among theologians in the Middle Ages and in the all-important Reformation period.”

So the appearance of 1 Clement was too little too late to stop the errors of Protestantism, but we can certainly celebrated its existence today of all days, and hopefully raise the awareness of our separated brethren to its importance in understanding the ancient Church.

Monday, February 21, 2011

To Defend Marriage We Must Properly Define Marriage

Many who support the traditional male-female definition of marriage see homosexual marriage as an assault on a sacred institution. But in truth, that assault began long before the current gay marriage debate came to the fore. I have many times argued in favor of heterosexual marriage on the basis of marriage's dual purposes: (1) procreation and (2) the mutual love and support of the spouses. These two elements must be present for any marriage to be valid. At one time this truth was universally accepted throughout Western Civilization. But early in the Twentieth Century mainline Christian groups began chipping away at the foundations of traditional marriage.

As Genevieve S. Kineke explains in a recent post at Catholic Exchange:

"The Catholic Catechism says: “The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring” (CCC, 1601). Or to put it more succinctly: marriage is a gift of God, given for the sake of babies and bonding.

"The reason that such a foundational understanding of marriage has been called into question at this point in time is because our culture has cut marriage adrift from those two guiding principles. Decades back, the western world embraced the contraceptive mentality that separated the marital embrace from its natural fertility. The Protestant churches officially signed off on this fact as early as 1930 at the Lambeth Conference, eventually leaving the Catholic Church as the only religious body to stand firmly against contraception within marriage...

"The other part of marriage—the lifelong bond—has also lost society’s censure, as the next generation incorporated the newer attitudes towards intimacy. Premarital sex and declining sexual fidelity led to more divorces, which gradually became easier to obtain. Whereas previously those who chose to end their unions faced a subtle form of shunning by the larger community, such attitudes are entirely foreign to us today. Long gone is widespread denigration of promiscuity, cohabitation, out-of-wedlock births, divorce or serial monogamy, and each has subsequently risen to shocking heights."
Certainly we should defend traditional marriage against every attempt to destroy it. But there are many on our side of the debate who fail to understand the damage that has already been done from within. Many of those who actively support traditional male-female marriage do not themselves practice a marriage that is open to life, and all too often sex and intimacy are robbed of their sacredness.

We should certainly keep a united front against the homosexual assault on marriage, but we as Catholics bear a special responsibility to remind others what it is for which we fight.

Friday, February 18, 2011

This Week's Headlines

As another week comes to an end, this is your chance to top off your glass with a final helping of news, current events, and just plain interesting stuff that may not have made into the mainstream media. A chance to linger for a few more moments before we close the door on the week. Below are some links to articles, blogs, and miscellaneous happenings that caught my eye over the past few days. Sample what you like - I'll serve up more next Friday...
What's Wrong with the West? - "...secularists seek what the great American Christian leader, Fr Richard John Neuhaus, called the “naked public square”. That is, they seek to “cleanse” (from their perspective) the public square of all references to Christianity, Judaism, or revealed religion of any type.
Don't Impose Your Morality on Me! - "People today are generally at ease with the first part of morality, the fair play in our social relationships. But many are not at all comfortable discussing the second aspect of morality, which focuses on the individual's life choices and moral character. Many think they should be free to do whatever they want with their lives, as long as they do not hurt other people."

Morality Without Religion? - " can be 'moral' without religion if one defines 'moral' however you wish."

Marriage: A Way to Heaven - " of self is easy, but loving another, not for what the other does for me but for the other's own sake, is difficult. But marriage is about learning just that. And that's why marriage has been on the decline in North America since the late 60s. Individualism and hedonism took root in this culture at that time."

Charlie Sheen's Search for God - "'Every man who knocks on the door of a brothel is looking for God.' Even those who have never read G.K. Chesterton have likely heard a variation of his famous line. Messy are the ways that sinful men seek what is good."
Obamacare Repeal - "...there are whole swaths of methods to expand access to care and coverage without government mandates."
'Social Justice' is a complex concept - "A system that pits the haves against the have-nots, with politicians and bureaucrats acting as referees, should be rejected by anyone sincerely interested in building a just social order."
The attacks on the new English Missal are the last expiring gasp of the ‘Spirit of Vatican II’ - "The point is that there has already been a huge battle over this (which the good guys won), a battle which began when Pope John Paul published Liturgiam Authenticam, a document which made it clear that Mass translations in future should be faithful to the Latin text..."
Silence - "...I think Priests and music ministers could be ever mindful to create an atmosphere that encourages silence."
More Christianity - A book by Fr. Dwight Longenecker which takes up where C. S. Lewis' Mere Christianity leaves off. [This link takes you to an interview with the author at IgnatiusInsight blog.]

Liberal Religions in Free Fall - "...those religions which have experienced the greatest proportionate decline in membership are generally the most progressive or liberal in their teachings; conversely, conservative-oriented religions have fared comparatively well."
Homosexual Church Weddings - "England's Daily Telegraph reports here that parliament is preparing legislation to remove the ban on same sex civil unions being religious."
Academia and Lifestyle Bias - "...selection factors and biases have resulted in the academy becoming populated mainly by strongly progressive people who plan to marry late and have few if any kids..."

When Does the Pope Speak Infallibly? - "The Catholic teaching about papal infallibility is so thoroughly misunderstood—especially by non-Catholics with a hearty dislike for our Church—that some of the erroneous ideas that one encounters might almost be entertaining, if their absurdity didn’t at the same time reveal such sad misconceptions about the authority which the Pope really has."

Literature and Literalism - "Myth connects with the deeper parts of our shared consciousness within our humanity...The stories of the beginning of  Genesis do as well, with the exception that these are not fanciful stories as the pagan myths are, but stories based in real events."

Donald Trump vows to oppose gay marriage - [I posted two other articles about Trump last week. I don't know why this has interested me so much, but Donald Trump has shown up in Catholic news feeds lately because of his supposed run for the White House.] Donald Trump, pro-life convert?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sirico on Social Justice

Fr. Robert Sirico, co-founder and head of the Acton Institute, made some timely comments concerning Social Justice in the Detroit News this week. Here's a sample:
The incredible growth of economies in places like China and India isn't happening because wealth was being shifted around, but because wealth is being created.

What happens when wealth is "redistributed" is obvious now.

We're seeing the train wreck of the "social assistance state" in Europe.

In his 1991 social encyclical "Centesimus Annus," Pope John Paul II warned that a bloated state "leads to a loss of human energies and an inordinate increase in public agencies, which are dominated more by bureaucratic ways of thinking than by concerns for serving their clients, and which are accompanied by an enormous increase in spending." I call that prophetic.

Let's also be clear that the Church's teaching condemns the idolatry of money and material goods.

The Church finds another way, neither condemning market activities nor exalting them beyond their rightful place in the grand scheme of things. It asks us to work for the highest good and to contribute as we can our time, talents and wealth that we have earned for the betterment of the world. The Church also demands that we build just systems of trade that enable the poor to be the agents of their own betterment.

So let's drop these false notions about what constitutes the Church's understanding of social justice.

A system that pits the haves against the have-nots, with politicians and bureaucrats acting as referees, should be rejected by anyone sincerely interested in building a just social order.
Read the whole article here.

Friday, February 11, 2011

This Week's Headlines

As another week comes to an end, this is your chance to top off your glass with a final helping of news, current events, and just plain interesting stuff that may not have made into the mainstream media. A chance to linger for a few more moments before we close the door on the week. Below are some links to articles, blogs, and miscellaneous happenings that caught my eye over the past few days. Sample what you like - I'll serve up more next Friday...

What Is the New Statism? - "Usually the debate over Catholic thinking on economics takes place at a ridiculous level of abstraction, and, for this reason, these debates rarely make any difference in the real world. The truth is that hardly anyone with technical knowledge of economics and economic policy pays attention to them. "
Motu Proprio on a New Liturgical Movement? - "'What I see as absolutely necessary and urgent, according to what the the Pope wishes, is giving life to a new, clear and vigorous liturgical movement throughout the entire Church'", to put an end to 'arbitrary deformations' and the process of 'secularisation, which unfortunately is at work even inside the Church.'"

Pope's prayers: Could Internet increase spread of intentions? - "For 167 years, members of the Apostleship of Prayer have begun each day offering their lives to God and praying for the needs of the universal church and the intentions of the pope." See also: Apostleship of Prayer, official website.
Caught on Video: The Pope Celebrates the Mass Bass-Ackwards Again - "The truly backwards way to say Mass is 'facing the people,' or 'versus populum.'"

I am the Immaculate Conception - "We must be struck by the directness and immediacy with which Our Lady spoke to the young Bernadette at Lourdes: 'I am the Immaculate Conception.' She does not say 'I have been immaculately conceived'"

The Relevance of Holiness - "It was highly improbable that the Immaculate Conception herself would choose this fourteen-year-old girl whose own living conditions were so very far from immaculate. Bernadette understood that the Blessed Mother had demonstrated great humility in appearing to her, conversing with her and asking for her aid, and asking so kindly and respectfully."
What Would Ronald Reagan Do? - "Despite the formidable obstacles before us, we must not lose heart. This is not the first time our country has been divided by a Supreme Court decision that denied the value of certain human lives. The Dred Scott decision of 1857 was not overturned in a day, or a year, or even a decade."

Compare and Contrast: Super Bowl and the Mass, Football and Faith - "So many Catholics are dedicated to the game. They even come to Church wearing the jersey of their team and someone else’s name on their back! Let’s compare and contrast some of the aspects of football and see if the same kind of thrill and dedication are exhibited to the Lord, the Mass and the Church."

Is it a sin not to pray every day? - "Yes.  It is a sin not to pray every day... Not praying daily indicates a lukewarm view of God in your life... Not praying puts your soul in danger, which is a sin."

Donald Trump = Pro-life? and calls for repeal of Obama-care

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What is the New Statism?

This is a great article I discovered at

The author, Jeffery Tucker, reports on a piece published in the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, written by Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, head of the Vatican's bank. In his article Tedeschi (a former professor of financial ethics at the Catholic University of Milan) critiques the new "Statism" of our time and tells why Catholic Social Justice is opposed to unnecessary state interference in private economic affairs. The importance of this article is explained by Mr. Tucker:

"Usually the debate over Catholic thinking on economics takes place at a ridiculous level of abstraction, and, for this reason, these debates rarely make any difference in the real world. The truth is that hardly anyone with technical knowledge of economics and economic policy pays attention to them. Theorists go on about social justice, workers' rights, the morality of profit, the pluses and minuses of economic growth, the limits of market efficiency, and the like, but never get around to speaking about what's actually going on in the great struggle between market forces and the interventionist state."
Ettore Tedeschi cuts through the abstract and instead gives straight answers to refute the common left-wing misconceptions about Social Justice and the workings of modern economics. Here's a sample of Tucker's analysis:
 "Tedeschi's article was different. He pointedly names the source of the ideas that are wrecking government budgets, saddling the world with debt, leading to nationalizations and centralized control, and discouraging thrift. The source here is the body of writing by John Maynard Keynes, the British economist who came to rule the world with his ideas in the 1930s and 1940s, who has made a stunning resurgence in the last five years or so

"Keynes is like Marx in that he has been refuted again and again, and every generation of thinkers declares the body of ideas dead from the neck up. It was this way with Marx in the 1890s, when German thinkers were already dismissing his ideas as defunct. But it was all premature. So with Keynes: Economists in the late 1930s wrote him off, and again in the 1940s. By the late 1950s, economists were already apologizing in advance for refuting him yet again. And yet here we are, 75 years after the General Theory appeared, and Keynes is still the man.
"It's about time that someone with a voice in the Catholic world actually spoke about Keynesian theory, for this is indeed the source for just about every crazy scheme of governments to wreck the functioning of markets throughout the world. The naming of Keynesianism here falls in a great tradition, too. Popes from Leo XIII to Benedict XVI have condemned Marxism time and again, but it is not Marx who is the muse behind the current fiasco among developed economies on both sides of the Atlantic."
You can read the whole article here: What Is the New Statism?

The original piece by Ettore Gotti Tedeschi is here (unfortunately it is in Italian).

Friday, February 4, 2011

This Week's Headlines

As another week comes to an end, this is your chance to top off your glass with a final helping of news, current events, and just plain interesting stuff that may not have made into the mainstream media. A chance to linger for a few more moments before we close the door on the week. Below are some links to articles, blogs, and miscellaneous happenings that caught my eye over the past few days. Sample what you like - I'll serve up more next Friday...

Legacy of Life - "Christianity contradicted pagan mores on almost every point. What were virtuous acts to the Romans and Greeks — contraception, abortion, infanticide, suicide, euthanasia — were abominations to the Christians...Our last generations have perverted our world from one Way to another, and we too will be judged. But we can still do something, as our earliest Christian ancestors did, and we must."

A Culture Exposed - "Christianity’s critics say they want to promote a tolerant, welcoming, inclusive society. What they usually mean is a society that gives free rein to every vice, every cruel lust, and every sin."

Ecumenical manners can't blunt pro-life message, pope says - "Benedict acknowledged the difficulties in ecumenical dialogue, saying that sometimes'“the conversation partners bring completely difference conceptions of church unity' into the conversation, which further delays the aim of full visible communion and a common celebration of the Eucharist."

California Medicaid Sink Hole More Proof of Single Payer Fatal Rationing Flaw - "Centralized control is the wrong approach to health care.  Like good investment strategies, we need a diverse coverage strategy.  And free market competition is a crucial part of the mix."

Appreciating the Gift of Suffering - "...let’s explore the Catholic teaching on redemptive suffering and its importance in our daily lives.  After we’re finished, I think you’ll agree that it not only makes sense, but that it really is possible to 'rejoice in our sufferings'."

Habeas corpus: The Curious Cause of Bp. Fulton Sheen - "Bishop Daniel R. Jenky of Peoria has announced that the Archbishop Fulton John Sheen Foundation has resumed its efforts to advance Sheen’s cause."

Pope Benedict: authenticity and faithfulness in social networking - "To proclaim the Gospel through the new media means not only to insert expressly religious content into different media platforms, but also to witness consistently, in one’s own digital profile and in the way one communicates choices, preferences and judgements that are fully consistent with the Gospel, even when it is not spoken of specifically."

The Church of England's mean-spirited attitude to the Ordinariate: whatever happened to the 'Broad Church'? - "The Ordinariate is showing the Roman Catholic Church offering compromises, fudges and political fixes to Anglican traditionalists. Whereas the Church which has always taken pride in the image of itself as a via media and a place where everyone could fit in had nothing to offer the same traditionalists."

Saint Thomas Aquinas: Priest and Doctor of the Church - "It was the outstanding fact about St. Thomas that he loved books and lived on books; that he lived the very life of the clerk or scholar in The Canterbury Tales, who would rather have a hundred books of Aristotle and his philosophy than any wealth the world could give him."

Exorcist praises new movie 'The Rite' for showing power of faith - "Fr. Thomas also said that the intensely eery trailers for the film are 'deceptive' in the sense that they make it look like a “horror movie,” which he says is inaccurate."

Be Not Afraid of the Devil - “The devil is something people need to be aware of, but his usual activity is temptation.  The remedy that the Church offers from her treasures is the sacraments, devotions, blessings, prayers, and holy water; that is the normal work of the priest.”

Doorways for the Devil (and interview with an exorsist) - "...there are more and more Catholics involved in idolatrous and pagan practices. That’s really why there’s more demonic activity. There’s the absence of God in the lives of a lot of people."

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Book Review: God Sent His Son: A Contemporary Christology

A Theology of God's Word

At the core of our Christian faith stands the question: Who is the man Jesus Christ and what does His life mean for mankind? The branch of theology that pursues the answer to this question is called Christology. Who better to present an authentically Catholic Christology than Christoph Cardinal Schönborn the Archbishop of Vienna, and the chief editor of the most recent Catechism of the Catholic Church?

A former student of Pope Benedict XVI, Schönborn became a scholar in his own right and a preeminent theologian and professor of dogmatic theology at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. Among many other accomplishments in 1980 he became a member of the Holy See’s International Theological Commission; he served as a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; and in January of 2011 he was appointed by Pope Benedict as one of the first members of the newly created Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization. It is difficult to find a more qualified theologian from whom to learn the mysteries of our faith.

Cardinal Schönborn’s latest book entitled God Sent His Son: A Contemporary Christology is the product of decades of study and professorial work from this theological giant of our time. With information compiled from lectures and courses taught by the author, we are presented with a Christology that is both scholarly and deeply heartfelt. The Cardinal derives the title for this book from the words of Paul to the Galatians, “But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” (Gal 4:4-5) Paul had a profoundly personal encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus, and so Paul’s Christology is rooted in his personal experience of the man Jesus. Cardinal Schönborn insists that any valid Christology for today must return to this biblical foundation centered on the Christ of the Gospels. Christology must have its origins in Scripture and grow out of an abiding faith in the resurrected Jesus.

This does not mean that Cardinal Schönborn’s Christology is simplistic or unrefined – far from it. In true Catholic fashion, the author demonstrates that doctrine develops over time. The insights afforded to us by Scripture (guided by our personal faith in God’s Word) are deepened with centuries of Christian thought. With this in mind, the Cardinal leads us on a journey through the first Ecumenical Councils which tackled such Christological controversies as Arianism and Nestorianism. Careful attention is paid to the contributions of the early Church Fathers, including Maximus the Confessor, Cyril of Alexandria, Athenasius, John Damascene, Irenaeus of Lyons, and John Chrysostom, but also later theologians such as Anselm of Canterbury and the great Thomas Aquinas.

Travelling forward, the author brings us through centuries of Christological debate within the Catholic Church to our own time with the works of Hans Urs von Balthasar, Joseph Ratzinger (now Benedict XVI), and other contemporary theologians. But along the way he also explores the contributions of Protestant theologians, beginning with Martin Luther and his contemporaries and including modern Protestant thinkers such as Karl Barth and Rudolf Bultmann. As each avenue is explored, God Sent His Son truly presents a thorough examination of Christology from every imaginable angle, but always returning to the core principle that all theological endeavors, no matter how speculative, must be grounded in God’s Word and approached with an abiding faith. Authentic Christology begins and ends with a faith rooted in Holy Scripture and Sacred Tradition. To the extent these various theologians and schools of theology remain true to that principle, their contributions are welcomed and evaluated accordingly. Where they do not, they are rightfully criticized. And Cardinal Schönborn masterfully ties together all of the loose ends with his own brilliant observations.

This broad sweep of theological history is laid out by Cardinal Schönborn within a framework loosely based on the Creed (or rather the portion of the Creed dealing specifically with the Son of God). We begin with the Son’s relationship to the Father (God from God, Light from Light) and the significance of the Incarnation. The author then traces the life of Jesus from His birth through His ministry and death followed by His resurrection and glorification at God’s right hand. The main text then concludes with Jesus’ return and our Final Judgment. Just as the Catechism uses the Creed as an outline, Cardinal Schönborn borrows this middle portion of the Creed to organize his Christology.

The author’s choice of the Creed as an organizing framework speaks to his deep Christian faith. Historically the Creeds were formulated as a baptismal profession meant to highlight key elements of the Christian faith. The Creeds are used today as a form of public committal to Christian doctrine. They contain the essence of what it means to be Christian. Many of the statements found in the Creed with regard to Jesus were placed there after careful deliberation by Church Councils when faced with Christological controversies. The Creed contains the essence of a Scriptural Christology. Cardinal Schönborn’s book expands on this profession of faith with the heart of a true believer and the mind of preeminent scholar.

God Sent His Son: A Contemporary Christology is not light reading. Christoph Cardinal Schönborn writes just as one would expect a world-renowned doctor of theology, and high-ranking Vatican official would write (i.e. he uses big words, and conveys big ideas). Anyone reading this book should have some grounding in basic theology and Church history before attempting this task. The Cardinal presents in these pages the fruit of many years as a professor and scholar, and it certainly bears witness to a faith and a love for Christ that has been nourished by his intellect. I am sure the good Cardinal hopes the same for all those who read his work.

[This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on God Sent His Son, A Contemporary Christology . They are also a great source for serenity prayer and baptism gifts.]