Month: October 2005

Submitting to the Meme . . .

In response to recent requests by Chris Burgwald (“Veritas”) and David (“Cosmos, Liturgy, Sex”), the 4th sentence from the 23rd post of Against the Grain:

“. . . Please pray for our president and military commanders and all those calling the shots in this conflict, that God will grant them wisdom in their decisions, a genuine desire to wage a ‘just war’ — and bring us to a swift and sure victory with minimal casualties on all sides. . . .” [Source: Post 3/21/03].

Spreading the virus, I hereby tag I. Shawn McElhinney (“Rerum Novarum”), Stephen Riddle (“Flos Carmeli”), Old Oligarch, Dr. Philip Blosser (“The Pertinacious Papist”), and Amy Welborn (“Open Book”). (But hey, no pressure). 😉

On your blog…

  1. Go into your archives.
  2. Find your 23rd post (or closest to it).
  3. Post the fifth sentence (or closest to it).
  4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.
  5. Tag five other people to do the same thing.

Pope Benedict XVI Roundup!

  • On October 6, 2005, Pope Benedict honored the centenary of the birth of Hans urs Von Balthasar, the Swiss ‘ressourcement’ theologian and good friend of the Holy Father, with whom he co-founded the Communio International Catholic Review in the wake of Vatican II:

    . . . [Balthasar] had made the mystery of the Incarnation the preferential object of his studies, and he saw in the Mysterium Paschale–as one of his works in significantly entitled–the most expressive form of this descent of God into human history. Indeed, in the death and resurrection of Jesus, the mystery of God’s Trinitarian love is revealed in its fullness. The reality of the faith finds here its unsurpassable beauty. In the drama of the Paschal Mystery, God fully lives out his act of becoming man, but at the same time he makes man’s action meaningful and gives concrete form to the engagement of the Christian in the world. Von Balthasar saw in this the logic of revelation. God becomes man so that man might experience communion of life with God. In Christ is offered the ultimate truth, the definitive answer to the question that everyone asks himself about the meaning of life. Theological aesthetics, dramatics and logic make up the trilogy in which these concepts find ample room [for development] and principled application. I can testify that his life was a genuine search for truth, which he understood as a search for the true Life. He looked everywhere for signs of the presence of God and of his truth: in philosophy, in literature, in religions, always managing to break through the circuitous reasoning that often holds the mind a prisoner of itself, and opening it up to the horizons of the infinite. . . .

    For further information on this great theologian, see:

    Hans Urs von Balthasar: Author Page from Ignatius Press, the chief english publisher of von Balthasar’s works.
    Hans Urs von Balthasar: An Online Archive Collected online articles and resources on Balthasar.
    Ressourcement: Restoration in Catholic Theology, a blog by Justin Nickelsen featuring in-depth coverage and discussion of the ressourcement theologians. (See also David Jones’ Nouvelle Theologie for similar links).
    Love Alone is Believable: Hans Urs von Balthasar’s Apologetics, by Fr. John R. Cihak @ Ignatius Insight.

  • On October 16, 2005, Pope Benedict granted an interview with Polish State Television, conducted by Fr. Andrzej Majewski, head of Catholic programming at TVP. EWTN News has the English translation. Pope Benedict discussed his friendship with John Paul II (“I liked him from the beginning . . . Above all, when I watched him pray, I saw and understood, that he was a man of God”), his appointment to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (“with great frankness and he was very paternal towards me. He gave me time to reflect and said he also wanted to reflect. Finally he convinced me that this was the will of God”) and the most significant moments in the pontificate of his predecessor.

  • Pope Benedict canonized the first 5 saintsof his pontificate at the close of the Synod on the Eucharist on October 23. Here is the closing homily of the Holy Father.

  • Ratzinger’s Revolution Passes with Flying Colors, says Sandro Magister (www.chiesa Oct. 20, 2005), on the compelling witness of Pope Benedict’s devotion to the Eucharist:

    Few had believed it when, during his first trip outside Rome, to Bari at the end of May, pope Joseph Ratzinger re-proposed the motto of the martyrs of ancient Rome: “Sine dominico non possumus”; we cannot live without the Mass on the Lord’s day.

    And yet it was the Eucharist that distinguished the first Christians right from the beginning in the pagans’ eyes. The Eucharist was the reason they faced martyrdom. For saint Benedict and pope Gregory the Great, celebrating the liturgy and building up civilization were all of a piece. The greatest event for the Church in the last century, Vatican Council II, left its most visible and lasting (and controversial) mark in the liturgy. As it was in the past, so also now the Mass is the measure of Catholic identity, as it has been since Jesus said the words “ Do this in memory of me” at the last supper. In the worldwide panorama of the Church which has been explored over the three weeks of the synod, from October 2-23, the most flourishing areas of Christianity have been shown to be those where faith in and celebration of the Eucharist are strongest, sometimes flourishing in the face of death.

    Benedict XVI is doing nothing other than taking seriously – very, very seriously – this foundational reality of Christian life.

    Magister goes on to applaud the “doubling of numbers” of those attending B16’s Wednesday audience and the Sunday Angelus in St. Peter’s Square (also reported by Catholic News Service); the humble nature of his presence (“Benedict XVI doesn’t practice any showmanship, he doesn’t stress any flashy phrases, doesn’t encourage applause or acclamation . . . he arrives only to celebrate the liturgy and preach”) and speculations on papal appointments to the Vatican curia.

  • Pope Benedict’s speeches at Cologne/World Youth Day have been collected and published in a book titled God’s Revolution, with an introduction by Cardinal Ruini. “The Italian edition hit bookstores in Italy Oct. 11, while the English edition published by Ignatius Press was expected to be ready for release in the United States and Canada by the end of October.” (Catholic News Service).
  • Pope Shares Memories of His First Communion Zenit. October 10, 2005. Responding to an invitation of Pope Benedict XVI’s predecessor, thousands of children receiving their first communion met with the Holy Father in Rome for a meeting entitled “Bread of Heaven”:

    The highlight of the day was their conversation with Benedict XVI who responded to seven of the children, seated close to him, who asked him questions about the Eucharist.

    One of the girls, Andrea, asked the Holy Father about his first Communion.

    It was “a beautiful Sunday in March 1935,” he said, “69 years ago.”

    “It was a sunny day, the church was very beautiful, there was music,” said the Pontiff with a broad smile. “I promised the Lord, in the measure possible: ‘I want to be always with you’ and I said to him: ‘But you must always be with me.'”

    Another of the first communicants, Livia, asked him why she should go to confession before going to Communion when she always commits the same sins. The Pope laughed when he heard the question.

    “It’s true, in general our sins are always the same, but we clean our house, our room, at least every week, although the dirt is always the same,” he said.

    Confession is necessary “only in the case of grave sin,” he explained. “But it is very useful to go to confession regularly to cultivate cleanliness and beauty of soul, and to mature little by little in life.”

    To Giulia, who asked what she should do if her parents do not go to Mass on Sunday, he responded that she should speak to them “with great love, with great respect.”

    “Tell them,” he said, “‘Dear mommy, dear daddy, do you know that there is something very important for all of us, and even for you? We will meet with Jesus.'”

    The full text of Pope Benedict’s catechesis to children can be found here.

  • Dialogue Not Monologue: Benedict XVI & Religious Pluralism, by Francis X. Clooney. Commonweal Volume CXXXII, Number 18. Fr. Clooney takes along as reading material on his trip to India several of B16’s books and encounters an opportunity for reflection:

    Near the end of my visit to India, I was perhaps providentially visited by some concerned Hindus who accused me-Catholic priest, Jesuit, aficionado of interreligious dialogue, and provocatively named “Francis Xavier”-of being the “pope’s man,” come to fulfill his plan to subvert and convert the subcontinent. Pondering my reading, their questions, and my Jesuit credentials, I had to ask myself, what would it mean to be sent as a missionary to India by the pope responsible for these writings? What follows is not so much a summation of Benedict’s writings as a practical reflection written with Hindu concerns in mind too. . . .

  • Christendom College of Front Royal, VA commissioned a portraint of Pope Benedict XVI, painted by Tim Langenderfer, a Dayton-based portrait artist. The oil painting was unveiled by Christendom College on Sept. 4th:

    . . . the College was pleased to welcome Mary Popp, from the Society for the Preservation of Roman Catholic Heritage (SPORCH), who, along with College President Dr. Timothy O’Donnell, unveiled the portrait for those present.

    The students responded with great enthusiasm by immediately chanting “Benedetto…Benedetto,” led by the group of seniors who spent last semester studying in Rome during the election of Benedict XVI.

    Popp gave a short talk explaining the artist and her organization. Langenderfer, the artist, received his BFA from Ohio University in 1984, said Popp, and has been a Professor of Art at the University of Dayton for 13 years. . . .

    According to Popp, SPORCH, founded in 1993, has the distinct purpose of rescuing endangered Catholic sacred art and artifacts, and providing needed ecclesiastical items to poor parishes and priests. SPORCH also seeks to educate Catholics about the historical and spiritual significance of these items in an effort to preserve Catholic tradition.

    A reproduction of the portrait was delivered to the Vatican by Dr. Tim O’Donnell. The original remains on display at the school, while prints and reproductions may be purchased in various sizes through the website of The Society for the Preservation of Roman Catholic Heritage.

Previous Ratzinger / Pope Benedict XVI Roundups:
4/23/05; 5/01/05;

Dr. Samuel Gregg: "Pope Benedict on Morality, Economics and the Market"

Dr. Samuel Gregg, Director, Center for Economic Personalism, addresses Benedict XVI’s thought on the issue of the market economy in a recent article “Morality, Economics and the Market in the Thought of Benedict XVI”, Economic Affairs, (2005-09-01) [.pdf format]:

. . . But does any of this suggest that Pope Benedict XVI has ever been or is likely to be an outspoken supporter of the market economy? The answer to this question is ‘no’. As a theologian and Vatican official, Ratzinger has always recognised that, within the limits established by the principles of Catholic social teaching (e.g. the dignity of the person, the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity etc.), the precise configuration of the economy or the degree of government intervention in the economy are matters for prudential judgement by Catholics. One cannot repeat enough that Catholics are free to disagree among themselves about those matters that the Church identifies as being within prudential judgement territory. This embraces the vast majority of economic questions. Thus, because he is content to let Catholics discuss prudential matters among themselves, it is not surprising that very few direct discussions of economic matters are found in Ratzinger’s writings.

A rare exception to Ratzinger’s reticence to examine economic questions in any detail is a 1986 article entitled ‘Church and Economy’ [Communio 13, no. 3 (1986): 199-204]. Keeping in mind the context and time of the article, it provides a number of interesting insights into Ratzinger’s thoughts about economic issues.

The first point to note is that Ratzinger underlines the failure and counterproductive effects of development programmes promoted by Western aid agencies and governments throughout the developing world (Ratzinger, 1986, p. 200). He goes on to suggest that new economic ideas will need to be considered if the developing world is to escape material poverty. If one recalls that much of the world in the 1980s still believed in the efficacy of such programmes (which even many on the political left now disown), it is possible to view Ratzinger as one of that relatively small number of intellectuals (secular or religious) who were willing to question the redistributionist orthodoxy that reigned in many political, government and church circles.

The most significant part, however, of Ratzinger’s 1986 article was its analysis of some of the philosophical questions raised by free-market economies. Importantly, at no stage does Ratzinger question the market’s superior wealth-creating capacities. Indeed, he stresses that market economies have facilitated much prosperity throughout the world (Ratzinger, 1986, p. 201). Rather, Ratzinger devotes his attention to the moral, cultural and philosophical assumptions that may or may not underpin such economies. Ratzinger is, for instance, quite critical of what he describes as the deterministic tendencies that underlie the thought of some free-market advocates (Ratzinger, 1986, pp. 200-201). He argues that it is a mistake to assume that market exchanges in themselves provide sufficient moral validity for the nature or outcome of the exchange. The fact that an action is efficient or maximises utility is not, to Ratzinger’s mind, sufficient to qualify it as morally good. Morality, to his mind, is not defined by utility. The market, in other words, does not somehow ‘create’ morality. Nor does the market render the demands of the moral life superfluous, and Ratzinger criticises those business figures who think and act as if it does. Significantly, Ratzinger notes that the tendency to substitute morality with economics is equally characteristic of Marxist thought in so far as figures such as Lenin accepted that ‘there is in Marxism no grain of ethics, but only economic laws’ (Ratzinger, 1986, p. 202). The expression of anti-determinist and anti-utilitarian views is hardly novel for an orthodox Catholic theologian. Indeed, many free-market promoters would join Ratzinger in insisting that the moral life cannot be reduced to economic analysis or market transactions. Many free-market supporters would also support Ratzinger’s opposition to those who regard economics as the lens for understanding everything. Like all ideologies, ‘economism’ is deeply reductionist and thus anti-human in its implications.

Ratzinger further notes, as a historical irony, that many people dissatisfied with ‘economistic’ approaches have tended to embrace centrally planned economies as a way of attempting to bring moral guidance to economic life. This is despite the fact, as Ratzinger notes, that ‘it is a fundamental error to suppose that a centralised economic system is a moral system in contrast to the mechanistic system of the market

None of this, however, is to suggest that Ratzinger believes that economics can be safely ignored. On the contrary, Ratzinger concludes his article by stressing that economics, as an intellectual discipline, enjoys a legitimate autonomy of its own. He even states that ‘a morality that believes itself able to dispense with the technical knowledge of economic laws is not morality but moralism. As such it is the antithesis of morality’ (Ratzinger, 1986, p. 204). He immediately adds that ‘a scientific approach that believes itself capable of managing without an ethos [i.e. the demands of morality] misunderstands the reality of man. Therefore it is not scientific’ (Ratzinger, 1986, p. 204). Synthesising these points, Ratzinger states that ‘today we need a maximum of specialised economic understanding, but also a maximum of ethos so that specialised economic knowledge may enter the service of the right goals’ (Ratzinger, 1986, p. 204). One suspects that those familiar with the commentaries of many Catholic intellectuals on economic matters will recognise that, on the basis of his 1986 article, few have come as close as Ratzinger to integrating an authentic Catholic approach to the moral life with an appreciation for the real technical knowledge yielded by modern economics into particular problems. It is a grave error, Ratzinger believes, for those thinking about how to address poverty to ignore what economics tells us about poverty. He is, however, insistent that economics in itself is not capable of determining the correct moral response to problems. Though a powerful instrument of analysis that can tell us how to do certain things, economics qua economics is incapable of telling us whether we ought to do certain things.

Our Holy Father was interviewed recently by Zenit News Service on the person and legacy of Pope John Paul II, in which he remarked:

. . . Initially, in speaking of the Pope’s legacy, I forgot to mention the many documents that he left us — 14 encyclicals, many pastoral letters, and others. All this is a rich patrimony that has not yet been assimilated by the Church.

My personal mission is not to issue many new documents, but to ensure that his documents are assimilated, because they are a rich treasure, they are the authentic interpretation of Vatican II. We know that the Pope was a man of the Council, that he internalized the spirit and the word of the Council. Through these writings he helps us understand what the Council wanted and what it didn’t. This helps us to be the Church of our times and of the future.

Given his specific interest in realizing the thought of his predecessor, it seems to me that the Holy Father will likely draw from the riches of John Paul II’s encyclical Centesimus Annus, with its commentary on economic affairs and liberal and socialist philosophy, especially in issuing a necessary corrective to neoliberalism along with a qualified approval of the “market economy” or “free market.” It seems to me that Pope Benedict XVI is very much of the same mind as his predecessor on these matters.

Dr. Samuel Gregg concludes:

. . . In a 2002 speech, for instance [“Eucharist, Communion and Solidarity” L’Osservatore Romano, 13 November, 2002], he reminded his audience of the evils committed in the name of the atheistic ‘Marxist socialist system’ (Ratzinger, 2002, p. 8). Ratzinger then added: ‘It is undeniable that the liberal model of the market economy, especially as moderated and corrected under the influence of Christian social ideas, has in some parts of the world led to great success’ (Ratzinger, 2002, p. 8). The then future pope went on to suggest that the absence of such moral-cultural forces in market systems could have profoundly damaging effects, especially in developing nations. Hence, he insisted that the ‘globalisation in technology and economy’ needed to be accompanied by ‘a new opening of conscience’, so that individuals become more conscious of the global demands of Christian morality (Ratzinger, 2002, p. 9).

Here again we see that Ratzinger did not dispute or disparage the market’s superiority in wealth-creation. Nor does he engage in knee-jerk anti-globalisation rhetoric. Rather, his concern remains with the moral-cultural context in which free enterprise and free exchange live, move and have
their being. On this basis, we can safely assume that any combination of a market economy with cultures predominantly shaped by variants of libertinism, materialism and utilitarianism is going to worry Benedict XVI as much as it concerned John Paul II.

Given, however, that these are cultural rather than economic problems per se, it seems reasonable to suggest that Pope Benedict is unlikely to be insisting that the state ought to be the institution to address such matters. Certainly the Catholic Church does not teach that moral problems, be they ‘personal’ or ‘social’, somehow enjoy an automatic immunity from the law or state authority. Nevertheless, Ratzinger has insisted throughout his writings that any society’s moral-culture is primarily shaped by individuals, families and civil associations, especially the Church. Nor should we underestimate the effects of Ratzinger’s experience of the state-worship promoted by Nazi totalitarianism, not to mention his very Bavarian Catholic consciousness of the Kulturkampf (literally ‘culture-struggle’) waged against the Catholic Church in Germany by the Bismarckian state in the wake of German unification in 1871.

As many know, the founder of Western monasticism, St Benedict, is credited even by many non-believers as saving Western civilisation from the chaos that followed the Roman Empire’s collapse. In
a similar fashion, attention to renewing the sources of Western culture is likely to be a priority in Benedict XVI’s pontificate. To this extent, the papacy’s attention to economic questions under Pope Benedict is likely to be focused upon the relationship between the market and culture, an area that, until John Paul II, remained relatively unexamined by Catholic social teaching. If in doing so, Benedict XVI continues to make the same careful distinctions that he did as the theologian and Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, there is every reason to hope for thoughtful contributions to
thinking about economic subjects from the new pope. Above all, we can expect the character of any such contributions to be neither ‘right’ nor ‘left’, but rather distinctly Catholic.

* * *

Dr. Gregg is Director of Research at the Acton Institute and an Adjunct Professor at the John Paul II Pontifical Institute for Marriage and the Family within the Pontifical Lateran University. He is author of several books on Catholic social doctrine including Economic Thinking for the Theologically Minded (2001), Challenging the Modern World: Karol Wojtyla/John Paul II and the Development of Catholic Social Teaching (2003) and On Ordered Liberty (2003).

Related Links:

  • Market Economy and Ethics translated by Stephen Wentworth Arndt, and republished by The Acton Institute — courtesy of Dr. Johannes Stemmler, secretary emeritus of the BKU (Federation of Catholic Entrepreneurs) and secretary of Ordo socialis in Köln, Germany. This article appeared previously in English under the title “Church and economy: Responsibility for the future of the world economy,” Communio 13 (Fall 1986): 199-204.
  • Pope John Paul II Memorial Page, Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty.

  • Review Essay: Challenging the Modern World: John Paul II/Karol Wojtyla and the Development of Catholic Social Teaching, by Gregory R. Beabout (Markets & Morality Vol. 4, No. 2, Fall 2001): “[Samuel] Gregg’s work, which flows out of his doctoral research at Oxford under the direction of John Finnis, is perhaps the most careful scholarly effort in English to date that aims to show the influence of Wojtyla’s prepontifical writing on the social encyclicals produced by John Paul II.”

Here and There . . .

An irregular roundup of blogs, articles and commentary.

From the Journals / Periodicals

  • Noam Chomsky: Capitalist – Peter Schweitzer at Tech Central Station profiles “the world’s leading intellectual”:

    Indeed, Chomsky is rich precisely because he has been such an enormously successful capitalist. Despite the anti-profit rhetoric, like any other corporate capitalist he has turned himself into a brand name. As John Lloyd puts it, writing critically in the lefty New Statesman, Chomsky is among those “open to being ‘commodified’ — that is, to being simply one of the many wares of a capitalist media market place, in a way that the badly paid and overworked writers and journalists for the revolutionary parties could rarely be.”

    Scary enough, I used to be a heavy imbiber of Noam Chomsky back in the day. The article is excerpted from his forthcoming book Do As I Say (Not As I Do) : Profiles in Liberal Hypocrisy (Doubleday, 2005).

  • Michael Fumento raises a glass to adult stem cells, hailing an “Imperial College report in The New Scientist that they have repaired patients’ own damaged livers by using bone marrow adult stem cells collected from their own blood.” (Michael Fumento was previously mentioned in our blog on “the stem cell cover-up” Against the Grain August 18, 2004).
  • The Overpraised American, by Christine Rosen. Policy Review No. 133 Oct/Nov. 2005 — revisiting the curmudgeonly critique of Christopher Lasch’s The Culture of Narcissism.
  • Technology and the Spirit of Ownership, by Paul J. Cella The New Atlantis Number 9, Summer 2005, pp. 55-64:

    or the past few years, President George W. Bush has promoted the ideal of an “ownership society,” and advanced a number of specific policy proposals that aim to broaden and deepen personal wealth. While the catch-phrase is new, the ideal is not, and it has much deeper roots and purposes than simply “saving Social Security.” Property was central to the American founding, and it remains central to America’s economic, social, and moral way of life. An ownership society naturally resists the encroachment of despotism, clings to its liberty jealously, and guards against the particular distempers of the technological age. It is this last purpose of property that most interests me here: private property as a moral and social corrective to the potential excesses of modern technology. . . .

  • Europe, America and Politics Without God Interview with Paul Belien. The Brussels Journal Oct. 16, 2005.
  • What does the Church teach on the death penalty? Archbishop Chaput, Oct. 9, 2005:

    Catholic teaching on euthanasia, the death penalty, war, genocide and abortion are rooted in the same concern for the sanctity of the human person. But these different issues do not all have the same gravity or moral content. They are not equivalent.

    War can sometimes be legitimate as a form of self-defense. The same can apply, in extraordinary circumstances, to the death penalty. But euthanasia is always an inexcusable attack on the weak. Genocide is always the premeditated murder of entire groups of people. And abortion is always a deliberate assault on a defenseless and innocent unborn child. It can never be justified. It is always — and intrinsically — gravely wrong.

    What Catholic teaching on the death penalty does involve is this: a call to set aside unnecessary violence, including violence by the state, in the name of human dignity and building a culture of life.

    (Via Terry Mattingly @ GetReligion.

  • Andrew Bostom: The Legacy of Jihad. New York doctor “mugged by reality”: “September 11, 2001 shocked me out of the complete absorption in my career in medicine and an accompanying uninformed complacency about world affairs. . . . The cataclysmic events of 9/11 had very little context for me, so I set out to learn about Islam, reading voraciously. Starting with the writings of Karen Armstrong and John Esposito (how naïve and ironic it seems in retrospect!), I became thoroughly dissatisfied, in short order, with the entire genre of thinly veiled, treacly apologetics, sadly characteristic of modern popular and “academic” works on Islam. So I began what has become a ceaseless endeavor to educate myself . . .” The book purports to be “a comprehensive history of jihad in theory and practice.”
  • The Inequalities of Equality, or All Things Being Equal, Not Everything Can Be Equal, by Fr. James Schall. Ignatius Insight Oct. 12, 2005:

    . . . a whole intellectual industry is devoted to what I call “gapism.” Any “gap” in income or talent or material goods between rich and poor, this nation or that, or this person and that, is said to be a sign of injustice, imbalance, or evil. While this view practically ignores the whole history of how wealth came to be produced and distributed in the first place, the thesis is constantly repeated as if it were obvious, which it isn’t. As a result, we inaugurate agonizing crusades to right the imbalances. Massive efforts in unequal taxation and discriminatory policy initiatives are set in motion whereby these “gaps” are to be leveled down so that those who are said to suffer under them can feel more “equal.”

    Interestingly enough, studies in the history of envy show that often envy, the spiritual vice associated with equality and inequality, is more prevalent when people are more nearly equal than when they are not. This fact suggests that this “gap” analysis is missing something fundamental about human nature. Indeed, chances are that if we took a given population and somehow made them, on a given day, absolutely equal in terms of income and property, after a few years we would return to see that, in the meantime, by normal workings of exchange, talent, energy, and effort, some would have more, others less. The same inequality would return. Some people will be horrified by this result. Others will understand that inequalities are themselves a normal part of the human condition, something that explains why elements of aristocracy, the distinction between virtue and lack of it, have always existed in every society. . . .

On a Lighter Note . . .

  • The saddest thing about the Bush Presidency is that it has ruined — yes, ruined — ‘liberalCatholic’s enjoyment of Handel’s Messiah.
  • Reverse Triumphalism – Elliot Bougis has some delightful stories to tell:

    . . . part of my joy as a Catholic is knowing, in remarkably vivid anecdotes like these, that I have found a home as rumpled and as erratic as I am, a home as vastly idiosyncratic and unpredictable as the species it was established to seek and save.

  • Bono and Pope John Paul II, or more specifically, the Holy Father wearing The Fly’s shades. A priceless photo, via Domenico Bettinelli, Jr..
  • I’ve mentioned it before and I’ll say it again. regardless of our differences of opinion, I can nought but admire Chris Sullivan’s skill for turning any conversation, no matter how obscure the topic, towards the question of the war in Iraq and the Bush administration. Tom (Disputations) critiques some theological elements of C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, to which Sullivan comments:

    “In my view, [Lewis] was far too fond of violence, wars and killing. Only a man with a mistaken idea of Christ could give a lecture entitled “Why I Am Not a Pacifist”. . . .

    I do find it interesting that movies are being made in a “Christian” empire in a time of war about “Christian” novels which are full of war. Coincidence or part of the war propaganda?”

    Incredible. (Via Mark Shea.

  • Attention class! — IowaHawk, one of the funniest bloggers on the web, is giving lessons on How to Blog Good. (See also Part II).
  • Quotes.Watchtower.Ca – “devoted to collecting and preserving interesting and/or significant quotes from the publications of the Watch Tower Society, without additional commentary or editorial, for the purpose of scholarship and research.” That said, it offers hours of entertainment for those into — in the words of Fr. Tucker — “Good, clean, apocolyptic fun!”
  • Cat Haikus from Alicia (Fructus Ventris). “If you can’t relate to this, your cat might be dead”.
  • First Miracle of John Paul II?
  • Simon @ 75° South blogs a five-parter on Antartic Camping. Simon resides at the Haley Research Station, British Antartic Survey. He blogs on his work and life in general in one of the most desolate and coldest places on earth.
  • Finally, I knew this day would come. Against the Grain would like to join the rest of our readers in welcoming Fr. Richard J. Neuhaus and company to the world of blogging, with the publication of On The Square: “Observations and Contentions” from the editors of First Things. I found it amusing that even in his opening post, the good father seeks to distance himself from the stigma of blogging:

    Andrew Sullivan – who could be a much nicer and more sensible person if he really tried – once remarked that, as the writer of “The Public Square”, I was the world’s first blogger. That is not true.

    Items in a monthly magazine have, if not the quality of timelessness, a longer shelf life. Plus, people don’t get to talk back, which is fine with me. Except, of course, when they write to-the-point letters to the editor. In short, with this new feature I am not delivering myself to the torrent of endless chatter that is the imperious kingdom of the blog. . . .

    Yet, for all intents and purposes, what else is “On the Square” but a blog?

    Let’s hope that, in time, Fr. Neuhaus will test the waters of online discourse, and find himself comfortable enough to engage the Catholic and/or ecumenical blogging community in conversation . . . I’m personally anticipating his first encounter with the delightful Fr. Jape and staff of The New Pantagreuel. =)

Read your Bible, lately?

. . . I am very concerned about the cultural future of the United States in this kind of environment. Most people who are secular humanists having the idea that they are doing fine. We are doing fine and our only enemy is the Bible-based far right. The reason why the real threat is the far right is that they have the Bible. And the Bible is a masterpiece. The Bible is one of the greatest works produced in the world. The people who all they have is the Bible actually are set up for life. Not only do they have a spiritual vision given to them but artistic fulfillment. They don’t even recognize just the pleasure of dealing with this epic poetry and drama. Everything is in the Bible. What does the left have? The left has a lot of attitude.

Camille Paglia, as quoted in “Birnbaum v. Camille Paglia” The Morning News August 3, 2005.

* * *

“Assiduous reading of sacred Scripture accompanied by prayer makes that intimate dialogue possible in which, through reading, one hears God speaking, and through prayer, one responds with a confident opening of the heart,” the Pope said. “One must never forget that the Word of God is a lamp for our steps and a light on our path.”

Pope Benedict XVI, Sept. 16, 2005 (promoting the practice of lectio divina a congress in Rome on “Sacred Scripture in the Life of the Church”).

Read your Bible, Lately?

. . . I am very concerned about the cultural future of the United States in this kind of environment. Most people who are secular humanists having the idea that they are doing fine. We are doing fine and our only enemy is the Bible-based far right. The reason why the real threat is the far right is that they have the Bible. And the Bible is a masterpiece. The Bible is one of the greatest works produced in the world. The people who all they have is the Bible actually are set up for life. Not only do they have a spiritual vision given to them but artistic fulfillment. They don’t even recognize just the pleasure of dealing with this epic poetry and drama. Everything is in the Bible. What does the left have? The left has a lot of attitude.

Camille Paglia, as quoted in “Birnbaum v. Camille Paglia” The Morning News August 3, 2005.

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“Assiduous reading of sacred Scripture accompanied by prayer makes that intimate dialogue possible in which, through reading, one hears God speaking, and through prayer, one responds with a confident opening of the heart,” the Pope said. “One must never forget that the Word of God is a lamp for our steps and a light on our path.”

Pope Benedict XVI, Sept. 16, 2005 (promoting the practice of lectio divina a congress in Rome on “Sacred Scripture in the Life of the Church”).