An irregular roundup of blogs, articles and commentary.
- Who Is Catholic? The Awareness of Catholic Identity and the Universal Call to Holiness, by Cynthia Toolin. Ignatius Insight February 2007:
The highest salience of the status “Catholic” is found in a man who can be classified in the category of definitive statement. Like a man for whom the status is a distinctive affirmation, his self-identity is strongly tied to being Catholic and his external behavior shows this. But unlike a man in the distinctive affirmation category, it is because being Catholic permeates his inner life. He is engaged in a relationship with Christ and is growing spiritually towards holiness. He loves Christ, and Christ’s spouse, the Church–he believes Church teachings on faith and morals, and daily grows in a life of virtue and in obedience to God.
The estimate of between 54% and 77% of Catholics not attending Church every week can be interpreted as indicating that for these percentages (i.e., for the majority of Catholics), “Catholic” is a descriptive label. That is, these people say they are Catholic, but the status does not affect their behavior even to the point of attending Mass. The remaining 46% to 23% of Catholics, or those who do attend weekly, can be located in the categories of social declaration, distinctive affirmation, or defining statement. It is impossible to know the exact percentage breakdown for these three categories because external behavior does not necessarily indicate the state of the inner spiritual life.
High salience of the status “Catholic,” then, is not the same as, nor does it necessarily lead to, spiritual growth or holiness. It is ironic that a person can identify himself as Catholic, and/or perform all the appropriate external acts of Catholics, and yet seldom if ever have a thought about God. A man may go to church for social status or companionship, from force of habit, or for a myriad of other reasons having nothing to do with God. Thus, answering the universal call to holiness means more than identifying yourself as, and acting in a manner appropriate for, a Catholic; it means a personal encounter and relationship with our Lord.
- When Kung and von Hildebrand Came to Loyola, by Michael Healy. (Courtesy of the Dietrich von Hildebrand Legacy Project):
In the middle of my junior year (1970-71) at Loyola University of Los Angeles (now Loyola Marymount University), we had two distinguished guest lecturers: Fr. Hans Kung and Professor Dietrich von Hildebrand. The contrasting manner of their reception at Loyola, as well as their personal effect on me, makes for an interesting tale.
The whole atmosphere of Loyola at the time was one of progressive optimism, the throwing off of the shackles of out-dated authority, and freedom-combined-with-sincerity—this was all man needed. Drifting along with the general atmosphere, with the prevailing view of the Church, and with the vicissitudes of my major [psychology], I was predisposed to view Hans Kung favorably and Dietrich von Hildebrand unfavorably. . . .
- Are You Prepared?” – Amy Welborn provides a helpful roundup (and thoughts of her own) on an ecumenical debate concerning evangelism and Catholicism, which seems to have its beginnings when Fr. Dwight Longenecker was invited to a Evangelical Catholicism conference in Wisconsin. Read all about it and get the relevant links here.
- Sloppy mistakes – Neil Mezzo takes on Roger Haight & Commonweal:
Theology is only a science if we retain a shared set of principles that are beyond questioning. Traditionally this has been understood to be, formally, the authority of God revealing, and materially, the Creed. It is indeed one thing to accept these pricniples as defined, and then disagree over secondary conlusions derived therefrom.
But it seems that it is the principles themselves that are called into question today. There is no part of the Creed, or the very fact of Divine Revelation, that is not seriously called into question by so many theologians, in most Catholic schools.
In the current issue of Commonweal, there is an article that attempts to defend Roger Haight, S.J., as a Catholic theologian. Prescinding from any personal judgment upon his beliefs, it is not too hard to look at Jesus: Symbol of God and see the obvious: when Jesus Christ is only seen as a mediated human experience of the divine, not all that different from other like phenomena in other parts of the world (it seems especially from the East which just HAS to have a lot to teach us), and in fact could do with a bit more syncretistic updating, then, you are beyond the pale.
You are no longer doing “theology” in any real sense, but merely philosophy, and a bad one at that.
- The senseless use of language threatens us all, by Eric Johnson (Catholic Light):
Some words pour forth automatically whenever a loss of life occurs, especially when it is unexpected. “I’m so sorry,” you tell a colleague whose loved one has just died. “Let me know if there is anything I can do to help.” During those times, you simply reach for the words closest to your mind; anything more complicated would seem insincere or calculated. Heartfelt, lengthy expressions of condolence are for later occasions, when the grieving person can absorb them.
But because these words spring readily to mind, they reveal some disturbing truths about how we view plainly evil deeds — that is, willfully malicious acts committed against innocent people. . . .
- Learning to Cry for the Culture Christianity Today March 19, 2007. John Fischer pens an introduction to the Swiss theologian Francis Schaeffer:
Francis Schaeffer was hard to listen to. His voice grated. It was a high-pitched scream that, when mixed with his eastern Pennsylvania accent, sounded something like Elmer Fudd on speed. As freshmen, unfamiliar with the thought and works of modern man, we thought it was funny. As seniors, it wasn’t funny any more. After we had studied Kant, Hegel, Sartre, and Camus, the voice sounded more like an existential shriek. If Edvard Munch’s The Scream had a voice, it would have sounded like Francis Schaeffer. Schaeffer, who died in 1984, understood the existential cry of humanity trapped in a prison of its own making. He was the closest thing to a “man of sorrows” I have seen.
- Harper’s Index – St. Blog’s Style @ Video meliora, proboque; Deteriora sequor:
3….average number of times I have to re-read a given Disputations post in order to comprehend it
542 ….hits on motu proprio from Catholic blog search
2…..hits on motu proprio from americancatholic.org
.003%…..percentage of people outside St. Blog’s worried about motu proprio
12,672….average number of words the tireless Amy Welborn writes each week in columns, books, articles & blog
2…average number of times per year Jeff Culbreath will decide to stop blogging.
- Speaking of which, Jeff Cullbreath is blogging again! =)
- Fine Art Friday – A Texas Artist, A New Catholic Edition! – SummaMommas introduces us to the art of Jim Janknegt:
Jim Jankgnet is an artist, a Christian (former Episcopalian becoming Catholic), who paints oil paintings some large, some small. He paints parables of Jesus, angels, demons (demonic paintings?) , biblical stories and stories from the bible. He is a modern artist or maybe a post-modern artist I doubt you would call him a traditional artist.
- Holding hands really adds nothing to the Mass, by Fr. Stephanos (Me Monk, Me Meander).
- Pray for these new Catholics! – Matthew, a seminarian blogger, introduces us to some blogs by those newly-received into the Church.
- Links for Searching Anglicans — that is, Anglicans “who may be surfing the internet for information about Catholic options”; helpfully compiled by Teresa Polk (Blog by the Sea).
- Recommended reading in “Catholic systematic theology” – a request from the Pertinacious Papist (March 19, 2007).
- Moral Majority Founder Falwell, 73, Outraged Liberals and Fought for Israel, by Zev Chavets. The Forward May 18, 2007. (A rather different, and appreciative, take on the recently departed evangelical icon — via Touchstone):
Falwell gloried in his common-man persona, and he viewed himself as a roughneck compared with his lifelong rival, the Rev. Pat Robertson. Known to his friends as “Doc,” Falwell was a man who didn’t mind laughing at himself — or at his fellow evangelicals. (One of the country’s leading Pentecostal figures broke off relations after Falwell publicly sneered at her effort to heal a chicken through faith. “We Baptists don’t save chickens, we eat them,” he told her.)
No chicken was safe within Falwell’s grasp, and he liked them deep-fried. I’ve dined with him several times, and he ate with the aplomb of a fellow whose cardiologist was Jesus. . . .
See also The Moral Majority of the Story: Jerry Falwell remembered, a National Review Symposium. May 16, 2007 and A Death in the Family, by Rocco Palmo (Whispers in the Loggia).
- Christopher Hitchens Is a Treasure Michael Novak reviews God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. National Review May 17, 2007:
. . . something peculiar happens to Hitchens when he wrestles against God with murderous intent. Hitchens always loses (and may secretly suspect that). Preposterous as this seems, one senses he may fear that one day he will wake up and see it all plainly, right before his eyes. Otherwise, why year after year keep striking another stake in the heart of God?
See also the ongoing debate between Theologian Douglas Wilson and atheist Christopher Hitchens – a multi-part series courtesy of Christianity Today.
And: Hitchens vs Hitchens: “Am I my brother’s reviewer” – Peter Hitchens reviews his brother’s book.
- Cartoon Defense of the Free Market Capitalism, via David Michael Phelps of The Acton Blog. “This Cold War-era cartoon uses humor to tout the dangers of Communism and the benefits of capitalism.” 1948.
On that note, see the trailer for Call of the Entrepreneur, a new film by the Acton Institute, which
tells the stories of three entrepreneurs: A failing dairy farmer in rural Evart, Michigan; A merchant banker in New York City, and a refugee from Communist China. Reverend Robert Sirico, author of The Entrepreneurial Vocation, joins Michael Novak, George Gilder and other experts in exploring how entrepreneurs shape our world.
- Some Thoughts on Three Representations of the Antichrist, by Henry Karlson. The Well at the World’s End May 31, 2007 – an exploration into the views of Vladimir Solovyov, Charles Williams and C.S. Lewis.