Sunday, April 22, 2012

Staying on message

Schadenfreude f (genitive Schadenfreude, no plural)
1.   Malicious enjoyment derived from observing someone else’s misfortune.
2.   Satisfaction derived when an individual has misfortune for disregarding rules or conventions.

Donald R. McClarey admits to having enjoyed the dismay and melodramatic anger with which various people, writing in the National Catholic Fishwrap, have reacted to the announcement that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has called for a reform of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.  Certainly, Father Z has a talent for fisking, although the self-righteous blather of Sr. Joan Chittister and Jamie Manson is almost self-parody, so I can’t grudge McClarey for enjoying it.

For me, though, if there’s any satisfaction in the news, it’s sour.  Again with the fake-pious, self-serving portrayal of the LCWR nuns as tireless, holy workers for the poor and oppressed; again with the villainous, even libellous portrayal of the bishops as an evil patriarchy bent on keeping them down, keeping them intellectually enslaved. 

  • “The Absolute Monarchy of the Roman Republican Church is ALIVE and not so well.”
  • “By all means, let us stifle all independent thinking in the Holy Roman Catholic Church.  How dare ‘these women’ help the poor, comfort the marginalized, and worst of all, use their brains. They should absolutely let the holy men of the church do all their thinking and talking for them.”
  • “The rich and powerful bishops are riding high on the backs of the poor, with no one to stop them.”
  • “Have [the hierarchical types] checked their calendars?  Do they know this is the 21st century, when all the issues of NETWORK are crying out for action?”

Sigh.  Any more tropes you care to regurgitate? 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A simple loaded question

Stacy Trasancos wrote an excellent post, “Quiddity for Atheists”, on the difference between being and essence and how it relates to demonstrations of God’s existence.  As happens frequently on comboxes everywhere, the discussion went into several different rabbit holes.  Near the end, alanl64 dug this one out:

How was it decided what in the bible was to be followed to the letter and what is to be interpreted. i.e not eating shrimp, wearing mixed fabric or working on the sabbath are not followed literally (amongst many others) but acting on ones gay desires is? [N.B.: I’ve left alanl64’s spelling and punctuation intact.]

A little later, he rephrases the question:

Who is the authority that tells you what in the bible is to be read as literal and what is to be read as figurative? Simple question really.

A simple question … but a loaded question nevertheless, because it’s obvious the answer alanl64 is looking for is, “Flawed, error-prone, changeable humans make those decisions.”  Thus does he sign off:

… I don’t have any interest in if the catholic church changes the way they read the bible.  Not my place to expect the church to change.  I am just comforted to know that it is possible of change, it has changed, and it is decided not by god, but by humans.  Makes a lot more sense now.

Slam dunk, right?  Except that you have to make several assumptions to get to his conclusion.  Such as the assumption that once you introduce humans into the equation God is shut completely out of it, His Will eternally frustrated by idiots with their own agendas.  There’s also the small problem of proving from a rather ho-hum general truth that any specific example bears that truth out; for example, it doesn’t follow from the observation, “People make mistakes,” that the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is just such an error.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Church of Feliks Dzerzhinsky

The Cheshire Patriarch disappeared, leaving only the watch visible.
As part of the MSM’s usual Holy Week anti-Christian push, Hell’s Bible (aka the New York Times) ran a piece on Holy Thursday about the case of the Patriarch and the Disappearing Watch.

For years, according to writer Michael Schwirtz, critics of Patriarch Kirill I of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) have known about a Breguet wristwatch he occasionally wears that’s worth a cool $30,000.  It’s the only substantive evidence shown to prove that Kirill is wealthier than a churchman presumably dedicated to poverty ought to be:

Russian bloggers have published rumors that the patriarch has a large country house, a private yacht and a penchant for ski vacations in Switzerland, though none of this has been proved.
The watch, on the other hand, has been an object of fascination for years, and there is little question of its existence.  It was first sighted on the patriarch’s wrist in 2009 during a visit to Ukraine, where he gave a televised interview on the importance of asceticism [That, ladies and gentlemen, is irony].

The watch is merely a hook on which Schwirtz hangs a Church in Decline story.  The watch had been airbrushed out of a photo on the ROC website.  Schwirtz writes, “The controversy, which erupted Wednesday when attentive Russian bloggers discovered the airbrushing, further stoked anger over the church’s often lavish displays of wealth and power.  It also struck yet another blow to the moral authority of Russian officialdom, which has been dwindling rapidly in light of recent scandals involving police abuse, electoral fraud and corruption.”

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Repetition and reaching for the Infinite

I don’t know why I even try to write.  Some smart-aleck kid like Marc Barnes shows up, slams out a witty, whimsical and insightful piece like “Christopher Hitchens and Groaning During Sex”, and blows everyone else out of the bathtub.  It’s like trying to run old Dobbin the plowhorse against Seabiscuit.

Oh well, God is good.

You really have to read the whole thing to get Marc’s flavor.  But here’s a sample bite:

Think about it: If you gaze on the face of your lover again and again, you dive into her infinite worth.  No one would say, “Alright, I’ve got it!  You’re a 9!  No more and no less!”  No, the cliché “words cannot express how beautiful you are” is simply a statement of fact: Who can express the infinite?  So your gaze becomes a ritual, you gaze again and again.
Or returning again and again to a truly beautiful piece of music — again you dive.  For who among you can imagine saying, “I’ve discovered all Mozart’s Requiem has to offer!”?  No, it’s precisely in feeling we could never discover everything a piece has to offer that we feel fulfilled.  Ritual — the again and again — unveils the infinite.

Of course, since the point of the post is to demonstrate how Hitchens didn’t quite “get” so many Christian concepts, it was inevitable that one of Hitch’s disciples would write in to claim that Marc didn’t “get” Hitch — and unintentionally prove Marc right.