Month: August 2009

Eschaton Si, Imminent No!

[Cross-posted to The American Catholic]

Over at Vox Nova, Henry Karlson offers some thoughtful reflections on eschatology (Part I | Part II | Part III), or rather — those who employ the catch phrase “Don’t immanentize the eschaton!” as a cudgel against those “doing the work of Christ”:

How many times do we find these words repeated, time and again, since Voegelin has suggested to do so is Gnostic? How ironic is this claim, when authentic Christian theology believes that the eschaton has been immanetized in Christ. Voegelin, and many of his followers like Buckley, became critical of anyone who would try to connect the supernatural with the natural in a way which understood the eschatological ramifications of Christ have any this-worldly implications. But this is exactly what Christian theology proposes. God became man; the eschaton has been revealed; the world and all that is in it has been affected by the immanentizing of the eschaton that history can never be the same. Christians are called to live out their lives in and through Christ, bringing the eschatological implications of Pascha to the world itself. The world is meant to be transformed and brought to its perfection, and we are to be Christ’s workers in helping to bring this about; of course, our work is not on the same level of Christ’s, but, if we truly become one with Christ in his body, we must understand this is exactly what we are called to do. Anything else is a rejection of the incarnation, anything else which tries to establish an absolute duality between the immanent and transcendent is what really qualifies as gnostic!

In response, I’d like to say a little bit about why I find myself sympathetic to Buckley and company. (more…)

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Two Letters.

I know that I have been an imperfect human being, but with the help of my faith I have tried to right my path. I want you to know Your Holiness that in my nearly 50 years of elective office, I have done my best to champion the rights of the poor and open doors of economic opportunity. I have worked to welcome the immigrant, to fight discrimination, and expand access to health care and education. I have opposed the death penalty, and fought to end war. Those are the issues that have motivated me and been the focus of my work as a United States Senator.

I also want you to know that even though I am ill, I am committed to do everything I can to achieve access to health care for everyone in my country. This has been the political cause of my life. I believe in a conscience protection for Catholics in the health field, and I’ll continue to advocate for it as my colleagues in the Senate and I work to develop an overall national health policy that guarantees health care for everyone.

Excerpt, Letter of Senator Edward Kennedy to Pope Benedict XVI, which President Obama delivered to the Pontiff in July, 2009.

* * *

While the deep concern of a woman bearing an unwanted child merits consideration and sympathy, it is my personal feeling that the legalization of abortion on demand is not in accordance with the value which our civilization places on human life. Wanted or unwanted, I believe that human life, even at its earliest stages, has certain rights which must be recognized — the right to be born, the right to love, the right to grow old. […]

I share in the confidence of those who feel that America is willing to care for its unwanted as well as wanted children, protecting particularly those who cannot protect themselves. I also share the opinions of those who do not accept abortion as a response to our society’s problems — an inadequate welfare system, unsatisfactory job training programs, and insufficient financial support for all its citizens.

When history looks back to this era it should recognize this generation as one which cared about human beings enough to halt the practice of war, to provide a decent living for every family, and to fulfill its responsibility to its children from the very moment of conception.

Excerpt, Letter of Senator Edward Kennedy to Thomas E. Denelly, August 1971.

"Objectivism"

Over at CrankyCon, Paul Zummo offers a brief review of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged:

The atheism is only a small part of the issue with objectivism. Galt (and thus Rand’s) objection to the concept of original sin is naive, but even absent this aspect of objectivism, it remains a dehumanizing and abhorrent moral philosophy. Rand detests totalitarianism, it is true, but other writers have written better and less repugnant works in defense of capitalism and against totalitarianism. If libertarians and conservatives wish to seek out inspirational works on the topic, they are better off with the likes of George Orwell, C.S. Lewis, Thomas Sowell, Wilhelm Roepke, F.A. Hayek and countless others.

The fundamental problem is that Rand is as naive about human nature as the socialist utopians. After all, a utopian is a utopian, whether they are Marxian or Randian utopians. Therefore the rejection of the concept of original sin is something of a problem because it blinds Rand to the idea that human beings cannot simply shut off their passionate desires. If totalitarians are blind to the reality that human nature cannot be perfected, Rand is blind to the fact that the altruistic tendencies of humans cannot similarly be wiped out. Believe it or not, we are social beings (Aristotle and Aquinas being right), and it is simply unrealistic – and Rand is supposed to be about reason and realism – to expect humans to simply ignore these aspects of their personality.

See also Maclin Horton (Light on Dark Water) on “Ayn Rand, Crank” and what Ayn Rand got right.

And of course, Objectivism illustrated:

Divine symmetry.

What is a fractal?

A fractal is generally “a rough or fragmented geometric shape that can be split into parts, each of which is (at least approximately) a reduced-size copy of the whole,”[1] a property called self-similarity. Roots of mathematical interest on fractals can be traced back to the late 19th Century, the term however was coined by Benoît Mandelbrot in 1975 and was derived from the Latin fractus meaning “broken” or “fractured.” A mathematical fractal is based on an equation that undergoes iteration, a form of feedback based on recursion. […]

Because they appear similar at all levels of magnification, fractals are often considered to be infinitely complex (in informal terms). Natural objects that approximate fractals to a degree include clouds, mountain ranges, lightning bolts, coastlines, snow flakes, various vegetables (cauliflower and broccoli), and animal coloration patterns. [Wikipedia]

If you have an spare hour on your hands, I heartily recommend this episode of PBS’ Nova on Fractals: Hunting the Hidden Dimension on the discovery of fractals and their manifestation in ; further info can be found on their accompanying website.

For a mind-blowing demonstration of a fractal’s scale, explore the infinite detail of a Mandelbrot set as you zoom to a magnification of 250,000,000x.

Thus begins the "Reform of the Reform" …

The USCCB has launched a new website introducing the Third Edition of the Roman Missal, which includes an updated translation of the English text of the mass:

The Missale Romanum (the Roman Missal), the ritual text for the celebration of the Mass, was first promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1970 as the definitive text of the reformed liturgy of the Second Vatican Council. A second edition followed in 1975.

Pope John Paul II issued a revised version of the Missale Romanum during the Jubilee Year 2000. The English translation of the revised Roman Missal is nearing completion, and the Bishops of the United States will vote on the final sections of the text this November. Among other things, the revised edition of the Missale Romanum contains prayers for the observances of recently canonized saints, additional prefaces for the Eucharistic Prayers, additional Votive Masses and Masses and Prayers for Various Needs and Intentions, and some updated and revised rubrics (instructions) for the celebration of the Mass. The English translation of the Roman Missal will also include updated translations of existing prayers, including some of the well–known responses and acclamations of the people.

This website has been prepared to help you prepare for the transition. As this site continues to be expanded, you will find helpful resources for the faithful, for the clergy, and for parish and diocesan leaders.

May this process of the implementation of the revised Roman Missal be a time of deepening, nurturing, and celebrating our faith through our worship and the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy.

(Here are some examples of the changes afoot).

See also:

Dorothy Day, on Anarchism

“The word anarchist is deliberately and repeatedly used in order to awaken our readers to the necessity of combating the ‘all-encroaching state,’ as our Bishops have termed it, and to shock serious students into looking into the possibility of another society, an order made up of associations, guilds, unions, communes, parishes, voluntary associations of men [sic], on regional vs. national lines, where there is a possibility of liberty and responsibility for all men.”

Dorothy Day, Catholic Worker, December 1949, cited in Mark and Louise Zwick, The Catholic Worker Movement: Intellectual And Spiritual Origins (New York: Paulist, 2005).

“… we are distressed to say that the type of people we have attracted to this idea has often been the anarchistic type in the wrong sense, those who submit to no authority, talk of property as community property when it concerns someone else and as private property when it concerns them and their families; who want to live as members of a religious order and yet as a family; to be priest and judge, and not a worker; to indoctrinate rather than to toil by the sweat of their brows; to live off the earnings of others, in a system which they excoriate. We do not deny that the family needs subsidy in this present social order. And there are many single ones in the Catholic Worker movement who are working at honorable jobs, who could be helping more the family men who are finding it almost impossible to make ends meet.

Dorothy Day, The Catholic Worker February 1948.

Karen Novak, 1938-2009

Via Joseph Bottum @ First Things

Karen Novak slipped away this morning—a great artist, a good friend, the beloved wife of Michael Novak, and convivial presence at so many of our events.

You can find some of her artwork described on her website. But even they don’t capture her fun, her spirit, or how much we will miss her.