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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Thursday, July 17, 2014

New Blog News!

I have been invited by the founder of OnePeterFive to contribute some content to this interesting new venture. As the placeholder page states:

We thought it was time to bring something new to the discussion. Catholic content aimed at weathering the storm facing the Church, restoring our understanding and sense of tradition, and rebuilding Catholic culture.
Catholics these days are facing tough challenges. From religious liberty to contraception to liturgy, we're faced with a lot of competing voices telling us what we should and shouldn't believe; what we should and shouldn't do. It's harder and harder to know what someone means when they say, "I'm Catholic."
Bishop Athanasius Schneider recently said that we've entered the "fourth great crisis in the Church." We're not going to get through it alone. We need to work together.
That's why we're here. We're looking forward to bringing you the best Catholic content on the web from some of the best and brightest Catholics commentators in the world today.

I've decided to focus on book reviews--but there's going to be content that runs the gamut, including about pop culture.

For those unfamiliar with the scriptural reference, here is 1 Pet. 5:1-11:

So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ as well as a partaker in the glory that is to be revealed.  Tend the flock of God that is your charge, not by constraint but willingly, not for shameful gain but eagerly,  not as domineering over those in your charge but being examples to the flock.  And when the chief Shepherd is manifested you will obtain the unfading crown of glory.  Likewise you that are younger be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that in due time he may exalt you.  Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you.  Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour.  Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experience of suffering is required of your brotherhood throughout the world.  And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, establish, and strengthen you.  To him be the dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

See you there!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Let's see if I have this straight...

"Eugenio Scalfari is such an unreliable interviewer with bad practices that we are issuing yet another statement affirming his essential accuracy after yet another interview with the Pope. Any questions?"

"Oh, and we're putting his first inept-but-accurate interview back on the official website. So there!"

If you're not at least chuckling at Fr. Lombardi's endless games of rhetorical Twister--check your pulse.

Corporate transitions are always tricky to navigate.

[Bumped for extra joy.]

Still and all, it always takes the wind out of your sails when the boss says "You overdid!"

At lunch I asked Pope Francis what his heart was for evangelism. He smiled, knowing what was behind my question. His comment was, “I’m not interested in converting Evangelicals to Catholicism. I want people to find Jesus in their own community.  There are so many doctrines we will never agree on. Let’s not spend our time on those. Rather, let’s be about showing the love of Jesus."

Ah, well. It's a one-off, right? Not like it's a pattern or anything?


"When he speaks about evangelization, the idea is to evangelize Christians or Catholics," to reach "higher dimensions of faith" and a deepened commitment to social justice, Skorka said. "This is the idea of evangelization that Bergoglio is stressing — not to evangelize Jews. This he told me, on several opportunities."

"Ok, but that involves Jews, and that's a sore point, I think you'd have to--"

 Bp Venables added that in a conversation with Cardinal Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, the latter made it clear that he values the place of Anglicans in the Church universal.

"He called me to have breakfast with him one morning and told me very clearly that the Ordinariate was quite unnecessary and that the Church needs us as Anglicans."

I suppose one could resort to the old standbys--he's playing Jedi mind tricks/reverse psychology games to get them to convert. Or the ever-green translation error argument, or the equally-popular "perhaps Rabbi Skorka and the Rev. Venables are deficient in Spanish or missed a colloquial nuance!" If you're feeling particularly feisty, the allegation that those who heard the Pope are filthy liars or otherwise besmirching the Pope's orthodoxy is another legitimate talking point.

Or I suppose you could just attack me for bringing it to your attention--also a popular approach

Pour encourager les autres!

To say this one didn't sting would be a lie. The unspoken corollary is that converts to Catholicism themselves are unnecessary: "Sure, if you wanna, for some reason, I guess. But really, dude--you're overdoing it. Just praise Jesus with that group you were born into. Sheesh!"

I dunno about you, but I don't think I need any more pep talks from HQ.


A stop-motion look at too much of Detroit.

The Detroit News chronicles the death of Garland Street over the past decade.

The heart breaks:

Click to enlarge.

An out-of-state friend of mine saw Google Earth pictures of Detroit and couldn't believe how much of it had been reclaimed by nature.

"Is Detroit really that bad?" he asked.

Not all of it, of course. Unfortunately, too many parts of it truly are, most of it located in a wide belt astride the city's midsection. There are numerous Garland Streets across Motown's 142 square miles--and no prospect that they will be repopulated any time soon.

If you're in the area, take the Chalmers Street exit (No. 222) off of I-94. Then take Hayes Street directly north. There are blocks upon blocks like Garland, former residential neighborhoods now reverting to forest. With the exception of Outer Drive, there aren't any stable zones until you get to around five blocks south of Eight Mile Road. 

What Detroit needs more than anything is people. And that's what she is losing by the literal truckload.


Friday, July 11, 2014

Too early for optimism.

I respect Jeff Culbreath and his analytical abilities, but I don't see where he's right that communion for the civilly-divorced and remarried is off the table.

The Instrumentum itself merely describes a multitude of responses without passing judgment on any of them:

Concerning the Reception of the Sacraments

93. In the matter of access to the sacraments, the responses describe various reactions among the faithful who are divorced and remarried. In Europe (and also in some countries in Latin America and Asia) the prevailing tendency among some of the clergy is to resolve the issue by simply complying with the request for access to the sacraments. Other members of the clergy, particularly in Europe and Latin America, respond to the matter in a variety of ways. At times, the faithful distance themselves from the Church or go to other Christian denominations. In some countries of Europe and some countries on the other continents, this solution is not sufficient for many people; they wish to be publically readmitted to the Church. The problem is not so much not being able to receive Communion but that the Church publically does not permit them to receive Communion. As a result, these believers then simply refuse to consider themselves in an irregular situation.

94. Some Church members in canonically irregular situations express a desire to be received and guided by the Church, especially when they attempt to understand the rationale of the Church’s teaching. These people recognize the possibility of living in their situation, while relying on God’s mercy through the Church. Still others, as indicated in the responses from some Euro-Atlantic episcopal conferences, accept the duty to live in continence (cf. FC, 84).

95. A good number of responses speak of the very many cases, especially in Europe, America and some countries in Africa, where persons clearly ask to receive the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist. This happens primarily when their children receive the sacraments. At times, they express a desire to receive Communion to feel “legitimized” by the Church and to eliminate the sense of exclusion or marginalization. In this regard, some recommend considering the practice of some Orthodox Churches, which, in their opinion, opens the way for a second or third marriage of a penitential character. In light of this suggestion, countries having a major number of Orthodox Christians noted that, from their experience, this practice does not reduce the number of divorces. Others request clarification as to whether this solution is based on doctrine or is merely a matter of discipline. 

The Instrumentum notes at the beginning that it is merely a summary of the survey responses, and will guide the discussions. Of itself, it settles nothing--note that it does not condemn the practice of European clergy who give communion upon request. It also explicitly notes that some are seeking to clarify whether the bar against second marriages is merely a matter of discipline. A document addressing marriage that does not so much as mention the term "adultery" would seem to be incomplete by its own terms. 

So, the triumphalist interpretation is contradicted by the document itself. Notably absent are howls of protest from the usual suspects--e.g., the German episcopate--which would have resulted if the working instrument was some kind of game changer. The dog that didn't bark, and all that.

Bottom line: we will still have to wait and see.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

You may now resume normal commenting procedures.

I doubt the hint has been fully "got," so to speak, but no sense in imposing on constructive commenters.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Make that DefCon2.

I've gone to full moderation mode for commenting. It applies to everyone now, for the time being.

It's not you--well, unless it is you.

Bear with me.

A preview of coming attractions.

In our post-Christian world, we have forgotten certain things. Such as the fact that, throughout much of its bloody history, mankind has worshiped some horrific beings, gods of death and destruction with ghastly, grisly rites. Suppressed, thankfully, by the triumph of Christendom. Though the pagan Romans deserve a little credit for ending the rites of Carthage. Alas, that they duplicated those rites in their own way...

The post-Christian world thinks it has said goodbye to both Christianity and its predecessors. Don't be so sure. Supernature abhors a vacuum, too.

It's also worthwhile to ponder the reaction of the website to this horrid crime. Note the annoyance of one of the website's contributors, who seems peeved to even have to address the thing. There's a contractual obligation note of condolence, at the end, but it's otherwise a cold defense of the site. Not a hint of soul searching, suggesting the writer's might be shriveled a bit.

I guess I need to address this because it is now relevant. If you haven't heard already, two 12-year-old Wisconsin girls attempted to murder one of their classmates because they were inspired by the Slenderman mythology. I won't go much into details, so here is the article of the story

According to the story, the girls read about Slenderman here on this wiki, and of course the usual response lead to hostility and blaming towards the wiki by some "very concerned parents". Some calling for the censorship and shutdown of the wiki.

Will these people succeed on their quest? Most likely not. These are the same people who think violent video games help create mass murderers, because it is convenient to blame and point fingers.

Besides the backlash, this incident shows what happens when the line of fiction and reality ceases to exist. When a person truly believes that Internet short stories are cold hard facts. When a person attempts to replicate works of fiction to the point others are harmed. And for this, I'm going to make myself loud and clear: 

Of course, only a small minority of people (mostly newcomers) on the wiki (and the Internet) truly believe what they read here. And for most people, they will not attempt replicate atrocities presented in some of the literature on the wiki. Something like this was bound to happen, considering the size of the Creepypasta community. All it takes is one person to do something insane and radical in the name of someone or something. 

This is an isolated incident, and does not represent or attribute the Creepypasta community as a whole. This wiki does not endorse or advocate for the killing, worship, and otherwise replication of rituals of fictional works. There is a line of between fiction and reality, and it is up to you to realize where the line is. We are a literature site, not a crazy satanic cult.

For most of you reading this, you're probably thinking this is a no-brainier that stories here are mere fiction and know that they are just mere fiction. This blog addresses to newcomers and "die-hard believers", who will otherwise, likely to believe in these stories.
Hopefully, the gruesome crime that happened in Wisconsin will not repeat itself again, and our hearts go out to the families affected by this crime.

Translation? "Somebody else's problem." Feel the solidarity. 

Hey, at least individual creativity is upheld, dude. Ah, nihilism (language warning):