Archive for the ‘Roman Catholicism’ Category

Amateur Wikipedia vandalism

March 3, 2008

Fulton Sheen would probably have laughed. This almost prompted me to sign up and do my first Wikipedia edit, but I resisted. I have faith that the “online community” will take care of itself, without my butting in.

fulton sheen


The Bible as graphic novel

February 11, 2008

A quote:

Abraham rides a horse out of an explosion to save Lot. Og, king of Bashan, looms like an early Darth Vader. The Sermon on the Mount did not make the book, though, because there was not enough action to it.

People will misuse any edition of the Bible, but I wonder if this book has an introduction explaining that it’s “just the action scenes”? [Update: Just saw that the Manga Bible comes in a full-text edition as well as an “action highlights” version.] I am not a big fan of the idea of the Bible as a graphic novel, but I do think that it argues for the continued power of the Bible as a living book to inspire people.

When I went to the and clicked on “Downloads” I was surprised to see that the section at the top of the “page spreads” section was the Gospel reading for yesterday, the first Sunday in Lent (Jesus is tempted by Satan in the wilderness). Coincidence, or does the webmaster update the sample based on the liturgical calendar?

ECT on the Blessed Virgin Mary

November 27, 2007

First Things is publishing a series of “preliminary papers” by members of the ecumenical project Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT). They are “currently engaged in studying what can be said together about the Blessed Virgin Mary.” The participants include some well known theologians from both sides: Edward T. Oakes, J.I. Packer, T.M. Moore, Matthew Levering, and Cornelius Plantinga. (The link above is to Oakes’s paper; here is Packer’s.)

The series should be worth the reading time. I found the paper by Oakes (on the Immaculate Conception) very interesting, with a lot of fascinating stuff from Pope Pius IX, Cardinal Ratzinger (now Benedict XVI) and Hans Urs von Balthasar. Essentially, he claims that if Mary was not immaculately conceived, her free consent at the Annunciation came (in however small part) from her own sinful nature, and not entirely from grace, thus making salvation history dependent upon a human action—“the very apogee of Pelagianism.”

Packer’s paper, however, was a real let-down. He sets Mary forth as a model of obedience, but spends nearly half the paper clearing his throat, listing his assumptions and letting us know he will not bother to defend them. The rest is, as he describes it, a “plain Bible study” of Luke (and John). More about Luke and his authorial methods than about Mary, I thought. And it doesn’t consider any of the soteriological questions that Oakes was concerned with. Boo. It is like he and Oakes are talking next to each other, but not to each other. Authorial freedom is great, but so is dialogue and discursive continuity.

Not surprisingly, Packer does not believe in any of the Catholic teachings on Mary. He almost seems to disagree on some level even with the Anglican Church’s handling of Mary: he says he has “been drilled” on the Magnificat, and that “England’s 1662 Book of Common Prayer teaches” him to celebrate Mary’s feast days—i.e., were it not for the BCP, it would not have occurred to Packer to give her that much liturgical attention.

Contraception no longer a “non-negotiable” for Catholic bishops

October 31, 2007

This is what one Jerome Donnelly claims in a letter written to the NY Times. He is commenting on an article by Peter Steinfels that talks about the upcoming voter guide being prepared by the US Catholic Bishops.

Donnelly writes that contraception used to be denounced from pulpits as a non-negotiable, but now the bishops seem fixated on abortion:

Catholic practices have apparently led the bishops to become more reticent in denouncing artificial birth control; perhaps a comparable prudence should now be exercised in the case of abortion.

Two problems here: (more…)

Bobby Jindal: “born-again Roman Catholic”

October 21, 2007

Thus is he dubbed by Adam Nossiter of the NY Times.

I am wondering what exactly a “born-again Roman Catholic” is, since I’ve not heard that term applied to Catholics. In my experience, it’s most strongly associated with Baptists. Does he mean he’s a Baptist-like Catholic? And if so, what does that mean? That he disobeys his bishop, and calls his own shots? (A Baptist friend tells me that this is an accurate description of Baptist thinking: the individual is best suited to determine and work toward his/her own spiritual good, and is thus not likely to listen to the ecclesiastical hierarchy. Baptist readers can correct her if this is wrong.)

For those who don’t click the link (i.e., everybody reading this), Jindal is the new governor of Louisiana. He’s a Republican and a Catholic convert, so hey, he’s okay in my book.

Traditional Anglicans to join Rome?

October 16, 2007

I don’t know how these things work, and don’t know anything about the Traditional Anglican Communion. Does it mean that the Roman Catholic Church may gain 400,000 new converts overnight? (Overnight being, of course, a relative term, not a literal one.)

16th October 2007
Statement authorised by the TAC Primate

” The College of Bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) met in Plenary Session in Portsmouth, England, in the first week of October 2007. The Bishops and Vicars-General unanimously agreed to the text of a letter to the See of Rome seeking full, corporate, sacramental union. The letter was signed solemnly by all the College and entrusted to the Primate and two bishops chosen by the College to be presented to the Holy See.
The letter was cordially received at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The Primate of the TAC has agreed that no member of the College will give interviews until the Holy See has considered the letter and responded.”
+ John

From around the net . . .

September 28, 2007’s picture gallery of “Miniature monuments engineering masterpieces” (is there a word missing here?) gives us a replica of St. Peter’s Square and Basilica in Rome, and adds:

If Pope Benedict XVI would let MTV into the private papal residence, it’d make a pretty great episode of Cribs.

All I’ve ever seen of Cribs is of rappers and rockers, and their pads usually have a pretty significant “fun factor”—home video game arcades, basketball courts, hot cars, lots of plasma slabs. Would the Vatican fit into this mold, and please the MTV demographic?

Here’s a crazy sentence in need of rewriting, from the NY Times (“25th Anniversary Mark Elusive for Many Couples“):

For the first time at least since World War II, women and men who married in the late 1970s had a less than even chance of still being married 25 years later.

It seems to imply that we have data on 1970s marriages that dates back to the 1940s. Whaaa??

Finally, an interesting piece on the new trend of men hiring photographers to secretly capture the moment of their wedding proposal.

“Initially wedding photojournalism was an aesthetic choice by photographers like me because it emphasized the story of the wedding,” said Terry deRoy Gruber, a New York photographer who shot the wedding of Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, among others. “But as time has gone on, with the proliferation of the paparazzi, reality television and online autobiography all kind of cooked together, people almost feel it’s really the only way to document something. Proposal photographs represent the absolute beginning of the marriage story, and for some groom who is influenced by these other forces, this is sort of an obligatory scene to record.”

Woman explains choice to become Catholic priest

September 13, 2007

Haw! Read the article.

If we all just look into our hearts, we can choose to be whatever we want. New York was talking some months ago about letting folks legally change their sex—no special anatomy or surgery required! It’s all about choice. If you are against stuff like this, you’re “anti-choice” and a big authoritarian meany.

This short but good commentary alerts us to look for “the article about me: “Man Explains Choice to Be Archduke.” “

Two op-eds on Mother Teresa

September 5, 2007

In honor of the 10th anniversary of the death of Mother Teresa (d. 5 Sep. 1997) the NY Times treats us to two editorials. In the first, a native Calcuttan laments the “the relentless hagiography of the Catholic Church and the peculiar tunnel vision of the news media” (an interesting combination) that have “disproportionately magnified” Mother Teresa’s work amongst the poor of Calcutta. So we never think about “Calcutta’s beautiful buildings and educated middle class, or its history of religious tolerance and its vibrant literary and cultural life.” She also laments that

Mother Teresa’s charity also evoked the colonial past — she felt she knew what was best for the third world masses, whether it was condemning abortion or offering to convert those who were on the verge of death.

Listen, forget what’s best for “third world masses”—these things are what’s best for humanity, period. The author also dislikes that Teresa “never allowed her compassion to be de-linked from Catholic dogma.” And the big ending you always know is coming in an op-ed:

Mother Teresa might have meant well, but she furthered her mission by robbing Calcutta of its richly nuanced identity while pretending to love it.

Yep, it was a ruse. She hated Calcutta and proved it by spending half her long life serving its poor. What a richly nuanced editorial!

The second editorial is not as stupid as the first, but it too vexes me. It’s one line, in particular: her letters reveal “a cannily willful nun, who tested the limits of her vow of strict obedience”. I.e., the Church is repressive, and rebellion is laudable and always more attractive than obedience.

More “diversity”, less Catholic dogmatism, would have prevented the Holocaust (or something like that)

September 1, 2007

Fighting Modernists, a Decree Shaped Catholicism. By Peter Steinfels. I’ll give the opening paragraph, the final paragraph, and then sum it up.

One hundred years ago next Saturday Pope Pius X issued a papal encyclical, “Pascendi Dominici Gregis,” that would have a huge impact on the Roman Catholic Church and consequently on its role in the blood-drenched history of the first half of the 20th century.
[. . .]
In the short run, in other words, “Pascendi” was a success: it stopped risky new ideas dead in their tracks. In the long run, however, it failed abysmally — and at a very high cost.

The argument of this editorial is that the encyclical “Pascendi” of 1907 engendered an authoritarianism in the Church, which resulted in a purge of a number of progressive theologians. The result of this purge was an authoritarian group-think that made the Church favorably disposed to the secular authoritarian regimes that rose after World War I, which meant that when the mass murders began, the authoritarian spirit that the Church shared with these regimes made it reluctant to speak out against them.

The moral of the story is twofold: (more…)