Monday, January 31, 2011

Answer me this ...

Why do some people have a problem with women who have more than two kids?

Although Catholic American couples generally don't have more kids than Protestants do any more, I'm starting to see and hear more from those who have three to eight children. In fact, Dr. Ray Guerendi, a popular EWTN talk-show host, and his wife have adopted twenty children over the years.

We're not talking "welfare mothers". We're talking about families; either the father is the sole wage-earner or the mother works from home, but the milk and rent are not state-provided unless one of them actually works for the state government. They pay for Catholic schools and they pay school taxes. Some of them even tithe; try getting 10% out of your average DINK (dual-income, no kids) couple!

But if they don't get the broad "joke" that implicitly suggests they can stop breeding now—"You know, they know what causes that!"—they get hostile glares, and not because the kids are whiny, raucous brats. Some are even verbally attacked for their "selfishness". Hanh? How's that work?

I want to know, people. I can understand why some people feel they can only afford one or two, or that two is all they can manage. But how does one couple's choice become another couple's obligation?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sola scriptura in a nutshell

Let's see if I can summarize the cardinal difficulty of sola scriptura:

Conservative/Evangelical Protestant: "Human beings aren't infallible. The Bible is infallible ... well, except for these seven deuterocanonical books (rip) ... oh, and these couple chapters of Daniel (rip) .... oh, and Matthew Chapter 16 (scribble scribble scribble) ... there, now it's infallible! You can't put absolute trust into any person, only into this book, and in my interpretation of — er, well ... uh-oh." [James R. White's version is even worse: "Hey, you take your chances and take your lumps. If I'm wrong, and you believe me ... sucks to be you."]

Liberal Protestant: "Human beings aren't infallible. But, you see, the Bible isn't infallible, either. You see, everything was written too long after the fact. We know this because the disciples were all fishermen and were illiterate, and Jesus probably was too ... in fact, who knows if he said anything the Gospels attribute to him? And all these parlor tricks, these miracles ... probably later accretions. In fact, Jesus is more of a legend than anything else. But here's what I think he taught — and if he didn't, well, he should have."

Catholic/Orthodox (St. Vincent of L√©rins, Commonitory, AD 434): "Here, perhaps, someone may ask: ‘If the canon of the scriptures be perfect and in itself more than suffices for everything, why is it necessary that the authority of ecclesiastical interpretation be joined to it?’ Because, quite plainly, sacred Scripture, by reason of its own depth, is not accepted by everyone as having one and the same meaning. ... Thus, because of so many distortions of such various errors, it is highly necessary that the line of prophetic and apostolic interpretation be directed in accord with the norm of the ecclesiastical and Catholic meaning."

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Gates of Hell

Now I've heard everything. I think.

At one time, I wanted to compose a "Rock Mass": a performance piece much like the classical Masses, such as Mozart's Requiem, except structured around a five-piece rock combo. Twenty-five years later and I still haven't gotten around to it; perhaps it's all for the best.

But over the years, I've seen Christian rock come in, then praise and worship as a subset of modern country. However, I never thought I'd see such a thing come to life as "Catholic hip-hop".

And here it is ... Akalyte, ripping the mike with his song "The Gates of Hell":

[H/T to Msgr. Charles Pope @ The Archdiocese of Washington!]

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Requiescat in pacem, Judy Aden

Not too long after we moved to Omaha in 1970, my parents both joined choruses that sing in "barbershop style" (four-part a cappella emphasizing major and dominant-seventh chords) ... my father the Omaha Central Statesmen, a chapter of the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Singing in America—yeah, quite a mouthful—and Mom the local chapter of Sweet Adelines, just known as the Omaha Chapter. Through the Omaha Chapter, Mom met many women who would become dear, close friends, and would therefore become friends of the family.

One of them was Judy Aden.

Judy was a lively, vibrant woman with a wicked sense of humor and almost unfailing optimism. Together with Mom, Judy wrote many of the Chapter's annual shows; she later became the assistant director and then the director. Judy and Mom and some other women from the chapter regularly shared rooms as the chapter traveled throughout the region and the US. Such was the bond that each of them regularly showed up at family events, like children's birthday parties, graduations, weddings and holiday barbecues; it was inevitable that, after The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood came out and rode to the top of the NYT best-seller lists, they would call themselves "the Ya-Yas".

She did a lot more, of course. If you read the obituary from the Omaha World-Heraldyou'll see she worked with a lot of organizations, including the Jewish Community Center, an American Legion post, the Executive Women's Golf Association's Rally for a Cure, University of Nebraska Medical Center's Gala for Hope and the Omaha Chamber of Commerce.Whatever she did, she did thoroughly, with passion and professionalism and unbounded confidence in success. 

One of my most treasured memories of Judy was when my maternal grandmother passed away: Judy brought a plant. Not flowers ... a plant. Why? Because cut flowers are essentially dead flowers that are thrown away after a few days; Judy wanted to bring something that would be alive, because memories of those whom we love should be tied to living things.

Judy had had cancer at least once before, and had survived it. This time around, though, it was a particularly aggressive form of leukemia. Through the magic of Facebook, I followed her as she took every possible step to beat it; not at any time, which must have seen plenty of suffering, did she show anything less than her customary hope and faith. Alas, this time the Reaper would not be denied. On Monday, January 24, she died of multiple organ failure. She was a bright star in so many people's lives, and she will be missed.

Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Remembering Ronald Reagan

The first vote I cast for President was for Ronald Reagan's second term. Although it's still debatable whether he was a good Chief Executive, without doubt he was the greatest Head of State since FDR. Here's Uncle Ron delivering a speech requesting a Right to Life amendment:

[HT to John Jalsevac of LifeSiteNews!]

Monday, January 24, 2011


Monsignor Charles Pope over at the Archdiocese of Washington website—and a man who definitely belongs on the terna for the next episcopal vacancy—has posted this shortened version of Ramos David's classic film Genesis. Worth watching and considering as the annual pro-life rally and march in Washington takes place today.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The most chilling thing I have read in two days

Think the attitude of Dr. Kermit Gosnell is an extreme case? Think again.

Do you remember P. Z. Myers, the professional atheist who stuck a nail through Communion hosts? Well, here's this sick puppy ranting about pictures of aborted children and Bl. Teresa of Calcutta:

First, never quote Mother Teresa at me—she was an evil hag who worshipped poverty, who did not help people except to encourage them to suffer more for her faith, while she lived in comfort and traveled far and wide to receive the accolades of the gullible. I would never find the words of that wicked woman persuasive.

Secondly, the standard bullying tactics of waving bloody fetuses might cow the squeamish, but I'm a biologist. I've guillotined rats. I've held eyeballs in my hand and peeled them apart with a pair of scissors. I've used a wet-vac to clean up a lake of half-clotted blood from an exsanguinated dog. I've opened bodies and watched the intestines do their slow writhing dance, I've been elbow deep in blood, I've split open cats and stabbed them in the heart with a perfusion needle. I've extracted the brains of mice…with a pair of pliers. I've scooped brains out of buckets, I've counted dendrites in slices cut from the brains of dead babies.

You want to make me back down by trying to inspire revulsion with dead baby pictures? I look at them unflinchingly and see meat. And meat does not frighten me.
There but for the grace of believing in God go I.

Ask a monk what it means to be a monk!

The story goes that the monks of a Benedictine monastery in England wanted to raise some additional income, so they put up a fish and chips shack on the road nearby. One day, a wag stopped his car outside the shack, and hailed the brother manning the counter that day, "Excuse me, are you the fish friar?"

"No," replied the brother, straight-faced, "I'm the chip monk." (There is a difference between the two.)

Here's a promotional video from St. Vincent Archabbey in Latrobe, PA ... HT to the Crescat:

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Mr. Humbert, have we got a show for you!

© 2011 MTV.

The New York Times reports that MTV executives are concerned their latest attempt to push the boundaries, Skins, may have pushed into child-pornography territory.

“Skins” is an import from Britain, a country that has historically displayed a higher tolerance for TV eroticism than the United States. The episodes for MTV, including the third one, which was shared with TV critics, are virtually identical to the source material.

The remade episodes, like the ones in Britain, included simulated masturbation, implied sexual assault, and teenagers disrobing and getting into bed together.
The network's spokesperson, Jeannie Kedas, claims that the shows are all subjected to reviews to insure compliance with laws and community standards, and that future episodes of Skins (the show has already premiered) are still "works in progress". The press release for the show also claims that it is "specifically designed to be viewed by adults."

Great, wonderful. We now have a television series full of drug-abusing teen-agers hopping into bed with one another, geared (by the admission of the producers) to ephebophiles, yet which still manages to draw 39.4% of its audience from the under-18 set.

I wish they'd go back to playing music videos.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

An American Symphony (from Mr. Holland's Opus)

Nothing specifically Catholic about this movie, unless you think in terms of a man who takes a job and finds his vocation in it. I just love the movie, especially the last scene.