Thursday, June 28, 2012

Chief Justice tips over conservative tables!

Did Chief Justice, John Roberts, suddenly find Jesus?  Or at long last discover his balls?  No matter, this is a day for rejoicing!

For sure he is now headed for a confrontation with the virtue (and the suffering) of the Eighth Beatitude.  And as someone wrote, his "apostasy" will plunge the conservative movement into deep gloom.

I had no idea this news would move me to tears...

Praise for God’s Surpassing Greatness

        Praise the Lord!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
   praise him in his mighty firmament!
Praise him for his mighty deeds;
   praise him according to his surpassing greatness!

Praise him with trumpet sound;
   praise him with lute and harp!
Praise him with tambourine and dance;
   praise him with strings and pipe!
Praise him with clanging cymbals;
   praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

God has a Sense of Humor (Psalm 2)

Psalm 2 underscores this blog's basic premise (see sidebar).  Well, actually Psalms 1 and 2 together.  I dealt with them previously as "gate posts" to the Psalm Garden here.

But I'd like to point out now that Psalm 2 specifically tells us that God has a sense of humor.  Which I always suspected.  But one never tires of finding little scriptural signposts indicating that one's suspicions are actually supported and even extended.  It's that second aspect that prompts this post.

Psalm 1 opens with a blessing on the One who (courageously) ignores:  the path of the wicked; the siren call of the wicked; or the (unceasing) attempts of the wicked to mock them.  And Psalm 2 picks up this theme of mockery as it pertains to worldly rulers contending for control of what, this psalm makes clear, is not theirs to control or contend over.  For:
 4 He who sits in the heavens laughs;
 the LORD derides and mocks them.
Humor is very powerful.  Psalm 1 sees the wicked as using it against the just one.  There a single self is depicted, contending against the wicked many, but nevertheless planted beside the waters of Life, flourishing (in spite of evil efforts to lure or mock).  Psalm 2 turns the tables.  Telling us that God himself mocks evil.  That God laughs at the wealthy and the powerful.  Just before venting fury upon those who would devour and plunder the good earth and the people created in his image.

Yes, we should not judge.  Ultimate judgment belongs only to God.  But we are nevertheless required to discern.  And point out.  And sometimes...  God help me, I do that with humor.

Before signing off, I'd like to make a plug for the first two psalms.  And their overall importance in a very serious sense (which relates to discernment).  So I'll quote just a paragraph from that post I linked at the beginning:
Just as Genesis begins with separating light from darkness, Psalms 1 and 2 also remind us of “separation” – in terms of good from evil. As in Genesis morality enters along with the awareness of being a single self – in the company of other selves. We emerge into a world where choices have been made long before us. Choices we must contend with, whether we like it or not. Choices we ourselves must make. Consequences we must face. We are given advice. We can choose which advice to follow, which company to keep. Psalms 1 and 2 deal with the separation of good and evil – the discernment that morality requires: individually; socially; the anguish of one’s need to choose; the question of one’s relationship with Ultimate Mystery, with one’s inner self, with the mysteries of evil and suffering.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Vatican Concession

Now the word "concession" above has two connotations.  It means the Vatican has "conceded" - that it lacks the mojo of "authoritative communication" it has previously asserted.  A line going directly back to Christ.  Or so they claim.  Concession also means a form of purveyance, to coin a term.  Like a little kiosk - hawking wares.  It's an Opus Dei kiosk.  As it turns out.  So the "keys" to the Kingdom have been turned over to a secretive group with fingers in so many pies it gives me heartburn.

Am I making sense?  Well, after all the Vatican has now conceded that it cannot make sense!  By appointing a spokesman.  Someone to shape and mold the message.  (Yes, those exact words were used!)  Which, if you consider what Jesus said about this very topic, is a little like shaping and molding fruit.  (As in: "You will recognize them by their fruits...")  Which is a rather like finding moldy fruit (at the  PR kiosk) actually.  (I hope you're finding this humorous...)

So the long and the short of it is this:  Vatican hires U.S. journalist to help media relations. 

The journalist, to my mind, is doubly experienced in the purveying of propaganda.  Being Opus, for one thing.  And former Fox for another.  A perfect choice for a tiny piece of real estate that claims to be a State and a Religion - a type of religious Dicktatorship, which means it's male and authoritarian and merges spiritual with temporal, especially temporal power and money.  Part of an effort to "restore a climate of serenity and trust" ...

So you have a Vatican concession.  A little kiosk of PR.  Totally different from a voice crying in the wilderness who came as a witness to the WORD.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

What does "shocks the conscience" mean?

Yesterday I read that the pope is mystified by the fact that priests (and on up) have sexually abused little children (and on up).  Actually he said it is a "mystery" how someone could participate in the sacraments (he mentioned specifically Eucharist and Confession) at the same time as they were engaging in such horrific crimes.  Well, he did not use the words "horrific" or "crimes" - instead he used euphemisms, a bland manner of speech, which led some people to humorously describe his words as enunciating a "new Mystery" for the faith.

Now today I happened to reread an old blog of mine, related to torture, which addressed the question:  What does "shocks the conscience" mean? (A question related to the constitution's protections against cruel and unusual punishment.)   My words at the time were an attempt to try and get folks to SEE something many prefer to rationalize away.  But if you read them now, in light of things going on in the RCC, it illuminates, I think, a tone deafness at the top of the Vatican, in its recent vendettas, that drives many of us crazy.  Not just an inability, perhaps, to really get the degree of egregiousness and the horror evoked in us at the thought of a priest damaging the soul of child through rape.  But equating that to the ordination of a woman to the priesthood?

What does shocks the conscience mean?  Certainly rape of a child!

But ordination of a woman?  That is cause for REJOICING!

And that, I hasten to add, is one more reason for these thoughts from a post below:
Somewhere along the line [the pope] has entered an alternate universe...
[or is] yearning for an alternate universe.  Of abstractions.  I can imagine Euclidian Geometry would really please him.  Those neat proofs.  No sex.  Triangles and Squares being their different "genders" so to speak, each with their different "roles" so neatly laid out, nothing amiss.
Apparently, something is deeply amiss.

And it all seems to turn, I now see, on what shocks the conscience.  Or not....  What undermines the faith.  Or not.
Could the nation bear to watch?  That question is very important.
In our case:  Could a church congregation bear to watch?  (Rape of a Child vs Ordination of a Woman - to name just one example)
I hope that settles the question!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Numbers Game

In the Middle Ages it was:  How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

Today, it's a numbers contest - as if a religious order's average age or total number of members or number of habits worn is a PROOF of something. 

Jesus never did speak much about angels.  Though we hear that angels were instrumental at certain points in his life, death, resurrection and ascension.

But Jesus did in fact speak about PROOFAnd his words said nothing about numbers proving anything.  He taught us instead:
You will know them by their fruits.
So let's have a little humility and assume God knows whom he's calling and for what purpose.

Could it be that right now God is calling so many conservatives to contemplative life so that their prayers may assist the sisters under scrutiny?  Or maybe such prayers are needed for those women whom God has called as priests.  Or perhaps for those who have suffered for righteousness sake due to loving someone of their own sex.  Or any number of reasons that:  Only God knows.  

Friday, June 8, 2012

Pope's Pet Peeves Proclaimed ~ in Abstract Drivel

This post is a rejoinder to a speech given by the current pope in 1989, posted at Enlightened Catholicism.  (Read it, please, if you can.)

With all due respect to an elderly bishop and theologian, to me his musings on the dynamics of the psyche, his diagnosis of modern man's psychopathology, and his proposal of a cure via philosophical evangelization - all presented in abstract language void of any concrete basis in Scripture or the Fathers - leave the reader awash in a sea of airy abstractions, punctuated by fanciful conceptual leaps.

Driven by the same pet peeves we see today - an agenda with no discernible resemblance to the Gospel - the pope is clearly on a mission laid out 23 long years ago.   And to this clinical psychologist, the speech reads as little more than abstract drivel - missing a human touch - but tinged, I hate to say this, with something akin to nuttiness.  As Shakespeare might have opined:  "Sound and Fury.  Signifying nothing."

Sorry to assign reading, but I beg you, if you haven't already done so, to go and read the speech.  As I want to be fair and allow you to form your own opinion, despite my opening remarks.  But folks...  I am aghast!

Here are some initial parts of the speech (all I could bear to closely analyze), which set the scene for my remarks below (but feel free to skip over 1-19, a tedious necessity, to ensure a careful analysis):
  1. General Pet PeevePeople in the pews are questioning papal authority.  He calls the laity's concerns "difficulties with the faith" = "a litany of objections to the practice and teaching of the Church"  (However, you will notice below that the difficulties have nothing to do with basics defined in the creed!)
  2. Specific Burrs under pope's saddle:   "principal elements of this litany" = pelvic/gender issues (birth control, same-sex attraction) and "sacramental order" (divorce/remarriage & admission to Eucharist, women's ordination) - in other words, our "faith" somehow stands (or falls) on these crucial (Gospel?) gender/sex/marital issues! 
  3. Bottom Line Pet PeevePeople should not think for themselves, since "individual conscience"or "freedom" (of "conscience") = bad, bad, bad ... (This in spite of Vatican II pronouncements to the contrary, not to speak of our God-given free will.)
  4. Concluding Diagnosis:  "They [laity's concerns - #2 above] spring from one and the same vision of humanity within which there operates a particular notion of human freedom."[#3 above]  (How right he is, except most people do not view this as a pathology.  Here we enter different worlds.)
  5. Stop and NoticeNothing about the Gospel.  No scripture.  No Patristics.  (Pet Peeves of a pope.)
  6. Broad generalization:  "modern man would find it difficult to relate to the Church’s traditional sexual morality" = lumping everything together as if people are endorsing prostitution, child abuse, bestiality, polygamy, adultery, promiscuity, etc.  (Sexuality and Authority = the Gospel?)
  7. Broad assumption: "the Church’s traditional sexual morality" is being critiqued "no matter how meaningful [it] may have been under past historical conditions." (No history cited and history might offer a very different view here...  Plus, how dare we question?)
  8. Reformulated Diagnosis: "we are no longer prepared to subordinate [our conscience] to some external authority" = let your fingers do the walking and we'll do the talking.  (There's that dreaded God-given freedom.)
  9. Prescribed Treatment = We will think for you!  (Conscience as a sort of robotic method issued from on high = Rome.)
  10. Stop and NoticeThe proposed robotic method has nothing to do with the Gospel. 
  11. Reformulated Diagnosis:  "aura of morality" [our choices] = "surrender of moral integrity, the simplifications of a lax conscience."  (Laity's failure to bow to Rome's sexual fixations has led us to a point of total depravity across the board.)
  12. Prescribed Treatment = "conscience understood as that knowledge which derives from a higher form of knowing."  (Conscience trickles down from on highWe will think for you!)
  13. Broad strange assumption:  One's relationship to one's body "changes" if we think for ourselves, if we don't follow these norms from on high "as the ultimate arbiter of one’s obligation." (Termed an "assumption" as this appears to be an important part of his "argument" - but no evidence or reasoning is mustered to support the claim.)
  14. Strange logic:  Body now being discussed as if it were an appendage - instead of us!  (Is he delicately referring to the male sexual organ??  Or perhaps due to "robotic" view of how people should or do make choices?)
  15. Strange logic:  "No longer does man expect to receive a message from his bodiliness as to who he is and what he should do..." (You got me, folks!  Where this comes from ...  I cannot fathom.)
  16. Stop and NoticeNothing about the Gospel!  No scripture at all.  No Patristics.  (In this supposed anthropology or psychology which bears no resemblance to Jesus!)
  17. Reformulated Diagnosis (phrased in strange logic):  So perverse [my word] have we become, apparently, that "the body no longer expresses being at all, on the contrary, it has become a piece of property." (Dualism.  At best!)
  18. Strange logic and assumptive leap:  "this way of thinking first became an actual possibility through the fundamental separation—not a theoretical but a practical and constantly practiced separation—of sexuality and procreation."  (Translation:  Birth control has deranged humanity.)
  19. Strange logic leading to Weird Bottom-line Diagnosis and Plan to Assess for Treatment:  
It would be interesting to follow in detail this revolutionary vision about man which has appeared behind our rather haphazardly concocted litany of objections to the Church’s teaching. Without a doubt this will be one of the principal challenges for anthropological reflection in coming years. This reflection will have to sort out meticulously where quite meaningful corrections to traditional notions appear and where there begins a truly fundamental opposition to faith’s vision of man, an opposition that admits no possibility of compromise but places squarely before us the alternative of believing or not.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Holy Spirit has Hierarchy on the Ropes!

Things keep backfiring for the Vatican.  Bishops sue the govt and the faithful see politics at work.  Papal commissions go after nuns and the faithful rise up - in favor of the nuns.  Vatican bans a book; it soars on Amazon!  Vatican tries to herd cats... er catholics; and the sensus fidelium takes over instead.

The Baptized are seizing their Spiritual Priesthood as never before and the prelates simply can't figure out what to do... what to do.

It's comical really.  It's like the hierarchy has entered a ring for a prize fight.  A fight chosen by them alone.  With all the swagger of one of those comic wrestlers, they throw a powerful punch!  Into thin air!  Without anyone else really punching back, without anyone else even in the ring, the crowd begins to jeer, and another hierarch topples over - onto the ropes!  Then they all get busy telling the referee press how unfair it all is....

So picture them... They choose the fight.  They throw a punch into the air... The crowd jeers.  And they are so stunned by this, that they flop over onto the ropes!

Or maybe they're just getting into the Spirit.

Because apparently this is just a warm-up.  For this Fall's Evangelization Extravaganza!

Who am I? Who are you? Who is God?

Catholic identity.  This whole idea gives me problems.  As the Vatican appears to be promoting a kind of uniformity.  A type of robotic thought and behavior.  Controlled from Rome!  (Even the unearthed Chinese army of clay soldiers has each one manifesting uniqueness!)

I think we have to start with the assumption, amply validated in scripture, that our identities are hidden with Christ in God.  That the Holy Spirit dwells within each of us, immersed in constant prayer (whether we know it or not).  That our task is to gradually live out the Image of God, allowing the Spirit to form us in God's VERY Likeness.

Uniformity has no part in this!  And the Gospel is a call within the heart of each person.  It calls us to a unique "identity" - yes, formed in God's likeness - but God reaches out to each of us in a unique relationship.

Catholic identity?  Honestly, I'm not sure what that means.  Unless it means a humility which few, if any of us, ever achieves.

To manifest the Presence of God, this is our calling.  And God's presence, I submit, is so personally overwhelming, it could NEVER be uniform.

To me the question should never be:  Who are you as a Catholic?  (Recall that many Christians recite the Creed!  Not just Roman catholics.)

The question, it seems to me, is:  Who are you in your deepest heart?  Who are you in the eyes of God?  Who is any of us when most present to the Holy Trinity flowing/dwelling within?  Or to the Trinity met in every person?  In every aspect of nature?

See this wonderful interview posted at Blue Eyed Ennis during her blogging break - which leads exactly in the direction I'm discussing:

Catholic identity?  This Abbot has got it!!!