Monday, June 29, 2015

Anniversarium Octum

Today, June 29th, 2015, Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, is the eighth anniversary of this humble little blog - which has grown to be quite a sprawling endeavor. The sister site, Facebook page, Cruachan Hill Press...there are all sorts of little spin-offs that begun with this site! I want to thank my co-founder and absentee blogger Anselm, our contributors Noah Moerbeek and Maximus, as well as new contributor Wes Hunt; also John Goodall (who edits all my rambling website articles for typos), Blake from Popin' Ain't Easy who does movie reviews, and AR Danziger Art & Design who have done most of the art for this site and its endeavors over the years. I also want to mention Alleluia Audio Books and Athanasius Contra Mundum, two sites with whom USC has a particularly close relationship - as well as all those blogs, Facebook pages, and folks who have helped promote USC over the years.

I find it ironic that my first post on June 29th, 2007 was on the question of morality and legislation and how issues of morality are intimately bound up with human law. This has been the view throughout all of Christendom; a far cry from the philosophy of Chief Justice John Roberts, who  -though he ultimately dissented on the same-sex "marriage" judgment - stated in his dissent that "Whether same-sex marriage is a good idea should be of no concern to us." This is why this experiment in secular republicanism that we call the United States is failing. The sooner Catholics divest themselves from putting any hopes in this governmental system, the better. "Back to the Constitution" will not save you.

But we are supposed to be celebrating USC's completion of its eighth year, not getting bogged down in the miseries of the day!

I am sorry I have not posted as frequently as I would like; my wife and I are in the process of selling our house and I have a lot less free time at the moment. I am also still in the process of reading Laudato Si, which I will post on sometime in the next month, hopefully. I know I will be way behind the ball on that, but I am not one of those bloggers who feels that they have to be the first to offer commentary on every current event as soon as it happens. Blogging is not journalism, and while I sometimes offer commentary on current events, I don't feel bound to that format. I like to take my time with something...mull it over carefully, and publish whenever I feel like I have a cogent thought - or at least that's the ideal! Can't always say my thought is cogent...

But in the meantime, there is a ton of stuff we have published on the sister site over the past six months. If you really have a lot of time on your hands, check out some of our other material:

Mandatum: Liturgical History
Poltergeist (2015)
American Sniper (2014)

Other items of interest...

Make sure you check out my podcast with Ryan Grant of Athanasius Contra Mundum.

Also, speaking of podcasts, in case you didn't know, the USC website features a podcast section. It is updated only infrequently and restricts itself to matters of history. The only thing up currently is a series on Christianity in ancient North Africa, but I am planning one expanding this in the future.

Thank you all for patronizing this blog, which as of today has been viewed over 1.1 million times - something I never would have imagined when I posted my first rant on legislation and morality eight years ago. Pax.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

My One Post on the Supreme Court Decision

A message to my friends in social media.

Up to now I have remained silent on the recent Supreme Court ruling because, well, let’s face it - if you know me then you know my thoughts on the matter. I’m not surprised at the ruling by any means; rather, it simply demonstrates that it is no longer truth, but rather, sentimentality detached from reason that has become the basis of determination in implementing our nation’s founding documents. The Court has demonstrated a great amount hubris to change the fundamental nature of an institution which predates all of the foundations of Western society, and which we have received from those who came before us. Since a law that is against the natural law is no law at all, I refuse to acknowledge the validity of such a determination and wish to express that the Court has lost my respect as a result of the manner in which they so negligently discharged the functions of their office.

Regarding our discourse in the public forum of the Internet, I have observed on the social media too many posts with the hashtag “#lovewins” - but what does this even mean in the light of the Court decision? The effect of the decision by the Courts is that there is no longer any real foundation for what married love “means” in the public sphere. The only thing that has been demonstrated is that “love,” meaning “married love,” can just as easily change definitions in another few years’ time, and so it would seem that no-one has won: we have all lost something good in our society.

Perhaps what is most shocking to me is the number of my Catholic friends who, in defiance of Church teaching, have formally supported the efforts to get to where we are today. They are not merely people in the pews, but include priests, youth group leaders and religious education coordinators, young people actively engaged in social outreach on behalf of the Church. This is scandalous. Those Catholics, insofar as they believe and show support for such a fundamental issue that is contrary to Church teaching, should discern whether or not they, in fact, are Catholic any longer. If you are one of those Catholics, I follow the guidelines of our Bishops in urging you to refrain from receiving Holy Communion until you have been reconciled to the Church for such gravely sinful matter. I will pray for you, that you might come to accept the truth, goodness, and beauty of the words of Christ and the authentic teaching of his Church on this matter.

For you who are faithful children of the Church, I call upon us all to pray and do penance in reparation for our brethren, for the conversion of sinners, and for the liberty and exaltation of our Holy Mother, the Church.

May God have mercy on our nation, and upon all of those people who have participated in this gravely sinful act, or who will be encouraged to participate in other sinful acts as a result of the events of this week.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Medjugorje: The End is the Beginning

The day has come. It has been announced that the CDF's long-awaited judgment on Medjugorje is negative (source). Of course, Pope Francis has yet to sign off on the judgment, but it is presumed he will.

The judgment on Medjugorje has now come down from the highest authority; no more waffling by Medjugorje adherents; no more ignoring the repeated condemnations of the local ordinaries while maintaining glibly that "the Vatican has not made any ruling." The Vatican has now made a ruling. And it does not bode well for Medjugorje. Medjugorje has been weighed in the balance and found wanting. "The Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes" (Ps. 118:23).

It will be extraordinarily interesting to see how this plays out. We can only hope for the following:

1) That the Holy Father Pope Francis will sign off on the judgment of the CDF.

2) That Medjugorje devotees will accept the decision with docility and invest their time and efforts into other Marian Messages such as Fatima and Lourdes.

3) That anti-Medjugorje Catholics (such as ourselves) will not gloat...well, maybe a little gloating.

That is the best case scenario. May the Holy Spirit make it so! Yet, there has always been worry that, were Medjogorje ever condemned, the Medjugorje supporters would not adhere to the Church's judgment but rather would continue promoting the alleged apparitions in a state of blatant disobedience or possible schism. The apparition has already been characterized by disobedience to the local ordinary. Anyone who has really studied the history behind Medjugorje cannot fail to see that disobedience and division are the only real "fruits" of this apparition (cf."Understanding the Herzegovina Question", USC).

How likely is an outright schism? I do not see this as extremely likely. Yes, Medjugorje people can be a little eccentric, but the vast majority of them are decent Catholics who would never break with Rome over something like this.

I do not see an out and out schism as likely. But I do not see the confusion abating. In fact, the likelihood of the confusion continuing is exacerbated by a very troubling statement allegedly found in the CDF statement. Catholic Culture reports that the CDF document will:
"...urge recognition of Medjugorje as a special “place of prayer,” in light of the numerous reports of intense spiritual experiences enjoyed by visitors there. Pilgrimages to Medjugorje will not be forbidden, provided that they do not center on the alleged apparitions."
If the CDF has authoritatively decided that there is nothing supernatural going on a Medjugorje, by what rationale ought it to be designated a special "place of prayer", or why anyone would want to make a pilgrimage there if it did not center on the alleged apparitions? The CDF reportedly says the rationale is that it recognizes Medjugorje as a "special place of prayer" not based on on the credibility of any apparitions, but "in light of the numerous reports of intense spiritual experiences enjoyed by visitors there."

We do not know if this is the language the document will use, but if so, it is gravely troubling. To suggest any location can be designated as a "special place of prayer" and even pilgrimage based not on any objective reality but only on the "intense spiritual experiences" of people is nothing other than to pivot the whole issue towards the subjective. If a place can be designated as a special place of prayer just by virtue of what someone thinks they experience there, what is the point of attempting to objectively validate the experience at all?

My suspicion is this is a compromise arrangement. The Vatican realizes that the apparitions and messages of Medjugorje are prima facie absurd and indefensible. There's no way they can be approved without the Church looking completely idiotic. And yet, because so many millions of people go to Medjugorje - and because of the ostensible pious experiences of those people who go - the Vatican is hesitant to crush the smoldering wick or break the bruised reed. It fears the reaction of the Medjugorje lobby.

Therefore, lest these millions of Medjugorje fanatics adherents go into schism, fall away from the Church, or become even more distanced from the faith, the Vatican wanted to find a way to formally express its disapproval of the apparitions while allowing the pilgrimages and activity at Medjugorje to go on unabated. The ground has merely been shifted. "Look, go to Medjugorje all you want. Pilgrimage there. Stare at the sun there. Talk about the mystical experiences you have with our Lady. Just don't mention the apparitions; go there because of the way it makes you feel."

Of course, it could be argued that the Vatican cannot exactly prohibit Catholics from praying anywhere they want, so long as they are not promoting the apparitions. In fact, Scripture commands Catholics to pray not only always but everywhere (1 Tim. 2:8). The Vatican cannot say, "And henceforth nobody is to ever go to Medjugorje and pray."

Granted. But the Vatican could just say nothing. They could just say, "There is nothing supernatural going on at Medjugorje and it is prohibited to promote the apparitions." Period. There is no reason why the negative judgment needs to include a clause which urges recognition as a special place of prayer, let alone based on people's intense personal experiences. The only reason people had intense experiences is because they thought they were visiting an apparition site. Thus, the potential CDF wording does not distance the pilgrims from the apparitions; it merely distances the Church's judgment from the objective to the subjective, from the verifiable to the experiential.

The safety of defaulting to experience is that nobody can ever argue with an experience. We may be able to now authoritatively state that the apparitions are not supernatural in the objective sense, but who can argue against somebody's experience? Thus, while having the appearance of a condemnation, the Church may have in fact just abdicated its role here entirely by shuffling the whole ordeal off on to the shoulders of individual Catholics who now can decide in their own conscience whether it is worth it to go to Medjugorje based on an evaluation of their own "intense spiritual experiences."

But meanwhile, it remains "officially" condemned. Just like the Extraordinary Form is "officially" allowed everywhere and equal to the Ordinary Form. Just like the Church's teaching on marriage will "officially" remain intact under the Kasper proposal. Just like "officially" the normative manner for reception of Holy Communion is on the tongue.

Yes, it's official!

Now, I pray it does not go down that way. I pray the Medjugorje adherents are docile and that somewhere down in their sensus catholicus they say to themselves, "Why the hell would I spend thousands of dollars to fly over to Medjugorje to celebrate my own experiences?" Hopefully the whole thing withers and dies.

But the pessimist in me doubts it. The pessimist realist in me worries that the CDF will leave an out for those who want to continue patronizing Medjugorje. That part of me worries that while Medjugorje remains officially condemned, in practice it will go on unabated, now no longer in disobedience but in an official space created for it by the wording of the CDF judgment. It will allow the Church to affirm one thing while doing another.

The pessimist in me sees it as nothing other than the Kasper doctrine under another guise.


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Just Some Thoughts on Charter Schools anyone out there in the Catholic world still under the illusion that public schools are a suitable choice for their children's education?

Anyone who has been paying attention knows that the State schools are increasingly centers for indoctrination with very substandard academics as well - yes, I know there are good teachers, yes, I know there are exceptions, but overall we should all be in agreement that things are bad.

This is not news.

What is surprising to me, as someone who has been in education for over a decade now, is the way in which conservative opponents of the public schools put blind confidence in charter schools, independent schools or private schools as a solution to the public schools, as if "more charter schools" will make things better.

For those who do not know, a charter school is a tax-payer funded entity (thus still technically a "public school") that operates under its own individualized charter and is typically administrated by a third party private company. This allows it to deviate from the norm on teacher wages, curriculum, and administration. This allows charter schools to follow a much more independent course; more variety.

I understand that charter schools give us an opportunity to do something better, and variety can be good. But variety for the sake of variety is not guaranteed to improve anything. Realistically it depends on the nature of the school. There are many charter schools where I live; some of them are essentially Christian schools with classical curricula; but some of them are basically Islamic schools with student bodies and faculty 95% Muslim.

The point is its really hit or miss. Just absent-mindedly advocating for more rights for charter schools is not, on its own, any sort of solution. Yes, it allows the formation of charter schools that are able to move in the right direction, but it's really a crap shoot. It's almost as if people have become so sick of the public schools that they have begun to assume that anything is preferable to the public schools and have begun to think that more alternatives, regardless of what they are, will better things.

Private, independent, or charter schools can be worse than public schools. For example, check out this little gem in Minneapolis. Make sure to browse around a bit, especially at the teacher biography pages. This is same school that recently came under heat for taking their students to a sex shop as part of their sexual education curriculum - without the permission of parents - something the Headmaster of the school is still unapologetic for.

We should know that the value of a charter school or private school is only as good as its particular charter or mission - and administration. The only Catholic private school I ever taught at had piss poor academics and terrible discipline.

Am I a charter school advocate? In one sense, no, because I don't just support "charter schools." I support particular charter schools, but it depends upon their particular charter. I suppose you could say I support charter schools insofar as more liberal allowances for the establishment of charter schools allows particular charters with classical curricula to flourish; but those same laws also allow Muslim charter schools and anything else under the sun.

I personally do not believe the future of education is with charter schools and certainly not with private. It is with homeschooling and family-managed educational cooperatives. I have no optimism that "school choice", more charter schools, or anything within the framework of the system will make anything better in the long run.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Curiosity of the Modern Encyclical

No, I have no immediate commentary on Laudato Si. Why? Well, the darn thing is 187 pages long and I want to digest it patiently, so maybe come Fall I will have some commentary on it - if I'm lucky!

I have to be honest - I had a very hard time getting through Lumen Fidei and couldn't finish Evangelii Gaudium. But then again, I struggled through Caritas in Veritate and Deus Caritas Est as well, so its certainly not a Francis thing.

Modern encyclicals are a curious thing. The encyclical developed from the papal bull. The bull was a primarily juridical instrument used as a means of promulgating an authoritative judgment of the Holy See, either in matters of doctrine or governance. These could often be very short; we marvel today at reading something like Boniface VIII's Unam Sanctam (1302) - which famously declared that submission to the Roman pontiff was necessary for salvation - and is only a page long! Papal bulls in the old days knew what they wanted to say and they said it. 

The modern encyclical developed out of the Enlightenment period as the popes realized that broader literacy and intellectual challenges to Christian revelation necessitated using the papal bull as a means of educating the flock on Catholic teaching, and hence by the time of the French Revolution the bull had begun to transform into the encyclical, the teaching letters of the modern pontiffs.

The encyclicals of the 19th and early 20th century are lucid and clear. Their purpose is to expound Catholic doctrine and defend it against modern errors, which they do very admirably. A friend recently commented to me that in thinking back on great documents like Pascendi, Quas Primas, Casti Conubii and so forth, one can immediately recall the substance of of them and the force of their arguments. Pius XII taught that the encyclical was the normative means by which the Roman pontiff exercised his teaching office. The same cannot be said about modern encyclicals - who can easily summarize what Redemptor Hominis or Populorum Progressio are about except in the vaguest terms?

That's not to say pre-Vatican II encyclicals were always to the point; the pre-Conciliar popes certainly had their moments of rambling - but at least their rambling was clear and fun to read!

When we get to Vatican II, a noticeable change comes about. I personally attribute this to John XXIII's famous principle from the opening of the Second Vatican Council:

"Nowadays however, the Spouse of Christ prefers to make use of the medicine of mercy rather than that of severity. She consider that she meets the needs of the present day by demonstrating the validity of her teaching rather than by condemnations."

This principle has effected the manner in which the post-1965 ecclesia docens functions. Essentially, the post-Conciliar encyclical doesn't know what it wants to be when it grows up. The popes have still utilized them as a means of teaching, but rather than teaching what Catholic doctrine consists of, they have increasingly become occasions for popes to explain why Catholic doctrine is what it is. 

That's not entirely a bad thing; fides quaerens intellectum, right? 
But somewhere along the way the popes seemed to have dropped the declarative aspect of the encyclical in the overly optimistic hope that if we could just explain our teaching to the world - just walk them through our thinking step by step - then maybe the world would accept the Church's message. Maybe if we simply "proposed" our rationale for belief humbly instead of declaring that we "had" the truth, the world would reciprocate and enter into a "fruitful dialogue" with Christianity that would mutually enrich everybody?

Fruitful dialogue. Reciprocate. Mutually Enrich. Sorry, my post-Conciliar vocabulary started taking over for a moment.

Seriously though, the problem with this approach is fourfold:

(a) The world does not reject the Gospel because it has not been adequately explained. They reject it "because the light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the light: for their works were evil" (John 3:19).

(b) Even when its has opted for explaining rather than declaring the Church's teaching, the Church has done a poor job of it because it has chosen to explain its teachings in terms of humanist phenomenology rather than having recourse to the Church's traditional pedagogy.

(c) By focusing so much on the explanation and presentation over the declaration, the Church has unwittingly given the false impression that the validity of its teachings are bound up with the force of her argumentation, a kind of false intellectualism. She feels shaky and inadequate simply saying, "Such is the voice of the Church; such is the teaching of our Faith"; she feels she must offer a humanistic centered explanation for everything - an explanation that will "suit" the needs of "contemporary man" - with the effect that her message has become completely man-centered. "He taught as one who had authority" (Matt. 7:29) said the people of old about Christ; but when the Church forgets the supernatural force that stands behind her teaching and opts instead for an anthropomorphized message, she no longer "speaks with authority", in the sense that her words lose their force. Hence people shrug at the latest papal document and move on.

(d) Finally, because the popes have sought for novel means to propose their teachings, encyclicals lose their strenght as teaching documents and become instead opportunities for the popes to foist their own theological or literary tastes on the Catholic people. The phenomenology of John Paul II, the Balthasarian-Hegelian-Teilhardism of Benedict XVI, and now the sort of "literary theology" of Francis. Each pontiff has opted not use traditional pedagogy, which means every pope has to "try something new" in how they choose to teach.

Thus, while retaining its authority in the juridical sense, from a strictly pedagogical viewpoint, the modern encyclical tends to become a rambling, sprawling mess that lacks the force to move minds and hearts. There have been exceptions; Humanae Vitae certainly did its job, as did Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. Fides et Ratio was profound. But by and large they have failed to really educate the Catholic flock on the substance of the Church's teaching and are too cumbersome to be accessible to the average pewsitter. There is reason why going on and on is called "pontificating."

At any rate, I look forward to digging into Laudato Si. Pray for our Holy Father Pope Francis. Pray for the Church of Christ. Pray that she stands firm in her identity as the Bride of Christ, teaching with the authority of Christ, and confident that the Light which cometh from her Lord is still sufficient of itself to change the hearts of men without having to pander to modern psychology, science, or theological novelties.

Mutans tenebras ad lucem

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Should we "support" or "oppose" law enforcement?

If you live in the United States, you have no doubt as of late been inundated with stories of police brutality from around the country. Whether there is a real increase in police brutality or whether these sorts of incidents are just getting more attention I could not say. But this discussion has spawned some really stupid knee-jerk reactions from both the Left and the Right. By way of reminding the mainly Catholic readership of this blog that Traditional Catholicism does not exist on the Left-Right spectrum - and that points of agreement with one side or the other tend to be merely incidental - I want to try to inject some sanity into a discussion that is rapidly degenerating into pure stupidity.

It has now been over a generation since the end of the Civil Rights movement, and the cadre of dying septuagenarian progressives on the Left are trying to stretch the momentum of the 60's to every possible corner of American society. This is what is behind trying to hand the mantle of the Civil Rights movement on to the perverts in the LGBT community (despite the protest of many African Americans).

This is also what is behind the liberal "opposition" to "police" as they attempt to make every engagement between a white office and a black person an issue of racism - which of course gets a bit muddled when the officers are black, as in the Freddie Gray case. It is a classic case of playing the race card, which consists essentially in viewing every social interaction solely through the lens of race and nothing else.

There is also a tendency on the Left to fail to sympathize with the difficult situations police officers are in. In the now infamous pool party arrest, the officer was surrounded by a hostile crowd. It is understandable why he drew his gun. Officers are asked to do a very tough job, and that job will inevitably at times involve them "getting tough." There are certainly some bad apples; but the Left's crusade against police brutality too often becomes a broadly ignorant "opposition" to any police action whatsoever and results in police who are afraid to do their jobs because they don't know if they will get in trouble for using force, drawing a weapon, etc.

As we will see with the Right, the Left can be schizophrenic on this issue. The same people who hate America, hate the police, etc. have no qualms about calling 911 or running to an Embassy when they get in trouble in a foreign country. Of course, not everybody who protests against police brutality "hates cops"; but if the Left would have us grant this, let the Left grant that not every police officer is a secret racist. This is way more complex than "Who are you with? Police or black people?"

Okay, so the Left is stupid. No big surprise there. But the Right has some equally stupid positions on this question; in fact, I think the Right's approach is equally schizophrenic.

One thing I have never been able to comprehend is how the conservative Right promotes a cult of law enforcement by its excessive honor of police officers and military personnel whilst simultaneously nurturing fears of a police state. One would think a constituency that demonstrates such anxiety over the establishment of a police state would be a little more reserved in the lauds they heap upon law enforcement? After all, you cannot have a police state without the police. Yet, the opposite is the case; they worry about the establishment of the dreaded American police state whilst simultaneously claiming that no honor is too high for our law enforcement and military.

The Right professes to abhor and fear the establishment of a police state but never misses and opportunity to engage in a public love fest with law enforcement. This is inconsistent and weird - just like conservative fear of "big government" goes hand in hand with reflexive support for a bigger and greater military, the very thing which ultimately makes "big government" possible. I know conservative fear of a police state is directed more towards liberal politicians and  not law enforcement as such, but any police state, liberal or otherwise, would require the cooperation of the police. I don't see how one can profess to fear a police state while simultaneously empowering the police consistently.

This is the major case of double-think regarding law enforcement in the conservative right, and the reflexive cult of law enforcement it engenders leads to another canard, which is the "I support police" campaign going around social media.

You know what I'm talking about. All sorts of images of police officers with their families or officers helping people with tags like "support our police" or "I stand with the police" and so forth.

It is the goofiest thing in the world to take a position as broad as "I support police." Not because I have anything against police qua police, but because its not rational to simply "support" an entire profession as if it were a political position.

For example, what if I were to sport a bumper sticker that said, "I support realtors." What? That would not make any sense. Or, "Stand with our accountants." "Support plumbers." Who talks like that about any other profession? I don't have anything against plumbers, but I certainly don't support plumbers qua plumbers, I support an individual plumber when he does a good job, and I do not support an individual plumber when he shows up late or screws me over.

I support an accountant who is competent. I oppose an accountant who is incompetent. Ditto with every other profession. People who do certain professions are judged according to their skill in that profession, so we are ultimately talking about the competence of individuals. I cannot simply "support realtors"; I support intelligent, hard working realtors and I oppose dumb, lazy realtors.

But with police - and I would argue military and teachers as well - we are supposed to either "support" them or be "against" them. I do not "support the police." Like anything else in this world, I support a police officer when he does good and oppose him when he does evil. To the degree that that evil is systemic, I oppose that institutional evil. To the degree that quality public service and self-service are systemic, I support that. And I understand that the two contrary qualities may be present in one department or even in a single officer, because even the best of us still do evil. So insofar as a particular officer does good, I support him, and insofar as he does wickedly, I oppose him.

Now, some will respond, "But the reason people speak of 'supporting' police, teachers, etc. is because these very professions have in fact become politicized and taken on the character of a political position which can be supported or opposed," to which I respond, if one or both sides in the stupid Left-Right dichotomy have politicized a profession, that is no argument that I need to. If one side has made a political platform out of "supporting" teachers, I will not allow myself to up the ante by adopting the knee-jerk political position of "opposing" teachers just because Party X supports them and I belong to Party Y. I support effective teachers and oppose ineffective teachers.

Similarly, if the Left is mobilizing against law enforcement (while simultaneously trying to establish a Leftist police state somehow?) in a move of crass politicization, I do not see how it helps anything by closing ranks "for" law enforcement in an act that is equally politicized. Those who are unable to get off the Left-Right paradigm will have a difficult time with this.

So no, conservatives, I do not "support" police. Nor do I "oppose" them, Mr. Liberal. I look for individuals to act in accord with their duty and the common good according to their office. If they can do that, I support them; if and when they fail (which clearly happens) I oppose them. I have known a lot of good, wonderful cops in my life; I've even had to make decisions regarding management of police officers. But I've also been totally shafted by cops and seen some really terrible things done by police officers, things that were so unjust that I couldn't think of them without trembling in rage. And I think if the Left suffers from an inability to recognize the difficult situation police can find themselves in, the Right suffers from a knee-jerk defense of law enforcement and often fails to recognize real abuses when they crop up.

Let us judge each instance - and each person - on their own merits and not get caught up in the stupidity of the Left-Right paradigm.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Safe Place for a Dove

Before we begin, let me just say that the following should be filed under "things that probably mean nothing", because I certainly don't take my spirituality or theology from such signs - but then again, I keep them in mind, as well.

Recently we posted an article here in which, among other things, we noted that doves being released by the pope from St. Peter's were frequently killed by crows or other birds almost as soon as they were released.

In 2012, Pope Benedict XVI attempted to release a dove as a prayer for world peace. The dove refused to fly away and instead returned to Benedict's window. The same thing occurred in 2011, as well as 2010.

On January 29, 2013, Pope Benedict XVI released two doves from St. Peter's as part of the "Caravan of Peace" celebration on Holocaust Remembrance Day. The doves were supposed to represent peace. Both were viciously attacked by seagulls and barely managed to escape.

Enter Pope Francis. Following the turmoil in the Ukraine, Pope Francis and two Ukrainian children released two doves symbolizing peace in January of 2014. The doves were immediately attacked by a seagull, but managed to escape. However, after escaping from the gull they were set upon by a crow! Again, both managed to escape, though severely disoriented and somewhat mauled.

Anyone who has been to Europe knows that in places like St. Peter's where there are lots of tourists there are an insane amount of pigeons and seagulls. There is a perfectly natural explanation for these events; there's just a lot of mean birds around.

However, one cannot but be struck by the irony of it all. A Church, increasingly caught up in the affairs of the world, sets loose doves as prayers for world peace - and those doves are brutally attacked by predatory birds - birds which in the parables of Jesus represent the devil and his demons. A Church that increasingly compromises with the world and in many places refuses to make a clear stand on her moral teaching, especially in the wake of homosexual militancy.

But meanwhile, we have an embattled archbishop in San Francisco who, whatever his previous faults, is courageously standing up for the Church's moral teaching and taking tremendous flak for it. He has been offered zero public support from the Vatican. And, yet, at a picnic of support for Archbishop Cordileone held on May 16th, 2015, we see the following:

This probably means nothing. It's just an amusing coincidence. Right?


Well, at any rate, it has been said that the real Gospel is being found lived "at the peripheries". This may prove to be true, although not in the way many expected.

H/T to James Larson for making me aware of this story.

Friday, June 05, 2015

Summer Class: "Christian Architecture Through the Ages"

Are you looking for some historical enrichment for your high schoolers over the summer?

I am teaching a four day online course via Homeschool Connections called "Christian Architecture Through the Ages." This course will acquaint students with the basic components of Christian ecclesiastical architecture, beginning with the basilicas of the late patristic era and moving through the Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Neo-Classical and Neo-Gothic. While we will touch on some essential Byzantine motifs early on, most of the course will be focused on Western architecture.

Course Outline:

Day 1: Late patristic basilicas
Day 2: Romanesque and Gothic
Day 3: Renaissance and Baroque elements
Day 4: Revivalism and the Modern Descent

Dates: Monday, July 13-Thursday, July 16th

Time: 4:00-4:55 PM, EST

Cost: $65

Suggested Grade Level: 7th-12th

To Register: Please click this link to go right to the Homeschool Connections registration page for the course.

To learn more about Homeschool Connections, visit their website here. I have taught history for Homeschool Connections for six years and they are by far the best online Catholic homeschooling option out there. I have over 15 different history courses for Middle School and High School available and strongly encourage you to consider HSC for your homeschooling needs.