Saturday, April 18, 2015

Requiescat in pace, Cardinal George

Cardinal Francis Eugene George, OMI once said, "I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison, and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the Church has done so often in human history."

I don't know how true that will turn out to be; I'm sure Abp. Blase Cupich isn't in any danger of residing in the hoosegow just yet. Nevertheless, for a man who braved many dangers in his seventy-eight years of life, that Cdl. George passed away in his own bed must seem as strange as John "Doc" Holliday dying with his boots off in a Colorado Springs sanatorium.

I’ve always said that the only thing I’d like people to remember about me is that 'he tried to be a good bishop.' I think I have been a good bishop, in many ways, and I take some pride in at least having tried my best. That’s enough. (from a 2014 interview)

I think it's fair to say that, in the seventeen years he reigned as the archbishop of Chicago, the first such archbishop to have been Chicago-born and -raised, he was a good bishop. Certainly he was a culture warrior; however, fighting the culture wars wasn't at the top of his priority list — it was just something that came with the seat and the miter. More important to him was the revival of the spirit of faith that lies at the heart of the Marian Oblates' mission. If more of our bishops were like Cdl. George, the conversion of the nation would follow quickly.

Euge, serve bone et fidelis. Intra in gaudium Domini tui!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Your chance to help a struggling mother!

... [C]harity to the deserving is not charity at all, but justice.  It is the undeserving who require it, and the ideal either does not exist at all, or exists wholly for them.
G. K. Chesteron, Heretics

My friend and fellow Catholic Stand writer, Susan Anne, is an amazing person. She’s the mother of ten (yes, ten) beautiful kids, works, participates in state politics, and usually finds some time to write heartfelt reflections. She's also a person of great inner strength; she's raising the children alone after pulling herself and them away from an abusive husband.

But even strong people need help. The work is sporadic; the roof she's trying to keep over her kids' heads need repair; and there's a potentially-threatening health issue for which she's being tested. If it ain't the troubles of Job, it's pretty darn close.

This is why some friends of hers from Franciscan University of Steubenville put up a GoFundMe page, with a goal of $20,000 for the repairs. She also needs prayers, so please add her to your prayer intentions; if you believe in the intercession of saints, I suggest Ss. Peregrine and Jude.

Thanks in advance for your generosity!

[Shout-out to Mark Shea, who also posted the link on his blog Catholic and Enjoying It!]

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Teacher trouble back in my home town

Omaha’s V. J. and Angela Skutt Catholic High School was established in 1993, eleven years after I graduated from Northwest, so I never had the opportunity to attend. (In fact, I only spent my freshman year at a Catholic high school; I graduated from a public school.) It’s a college-prep school, with a small teacher-to-student ratio (1:16); in 2012, it was one of 50 private schools to win the prestigious “Blue Ribbon School” title.

Unfortunately, Skutt is in the news for a different reason. An English teacher and the school’s speech coach, Matthew Eledge, advised the Archdiocese that he is engaged to marry his boyfriend, Elliot Dougherty. The Archiocese advised him in return that, pursuant to his contract, he would not be invited to return to Skutt.

Cue the wailing and gnashing of teeth ... not to mention the petitions and the endless bloviating about the Church “targeting” gay teachers.

People who complain about the Archdiocese poking its nose into its teachers’ private lives either miss or completely ignore a salient fact that shows up in most “morals clause” disputes: they arise when the teacher him/herself tells the (arch)diocese. It’s a fairly obvious rule: if you don’t want the Church to know your private business, then keep it to yourself. The Church no longer has an Inquisition; even when she did, it operated ad hoc, not on an ongoing basis (except in Spain, for reasons peculiar to that country). Teachers in adulterous relationships don’t notify the chancery of their infidelity. Contracepting teachers don’t put their estrogen prescriptions or receipts for Trojans purchases on the bishop’s desk. The Church isn’t “targeting” gay teachers; by confessing (so to speak) their violations of the morals clauses of their contracts, they consciously and willingly put bullseyes on themselves.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Dawkins screws up Ishtar

The picture to your left is of Ishtar, or Istar, the ancient Akkadian and Babylonian goddess of fertility, love, sex, and (oddly enough) war. Her name is pronounced as it's spelled — Ish-tar — not "Easter".

There may have been a Germanic deity named Eoster, or Osterne, who may have been a fertility goddess like Ishtar; there's still some debate about her. However, only a handful of Germanic languages, including English, have a name for Resurrection Sunday derivative of that name; Eoster may be related to Ishtar, but little is known about her mythology. Connections with dyed eggs and rabbits have been suggested, but can't be confirmed by the scant evidence available.

Most European languages call the day by a derivative of the Greek Pascha, which itself is a derivative of the Hebrew Pesach — Passover. Passover is not an ancient fertility rite. Neither is the Christian Easter.

In case you're wondering what I'm talking about: there's a meme floating around, with Richard Dawkins' name attached to it, which asserts that the Christian Easter is really a celebration of ancient fertility rites, Easter eggs and all. I honestly don't know how many atheists believe it; unfortunately, I have this bad feeling that many will accept it without checking the facts, simply because "Dawkins is a scientist, and scientists are really smart people inherently incapable of f**king up the facts."

There's a variant of Gresham's Law which states, "Bad data drives out good data." Nowhere is this more true than on the Internet, where people who pride themselves on their skepticism and cleverness regularly parrot lies, half-truths, and tropes back and forth in the form of memes. Believers are just as bad about it as are unbelievers; conservatives as bad as liberals; doctorate holders as bad as high-school dropouts. And because confirmation bias is a human fault that neither has nor respects cultural boundaries, people are more likely to accept BS that bolsters their convictions rather than accept hard fact from an opposing source.

Then again, it's sometimes a case of duelling bulls**t.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Catholic Stand: Are Catholics the “Resurrection People”?

“We are an Easter people, and ‘Alleluia’ is our song!”

These words are attributed to St. John Paul II. And, indeed, he did deliver them; once, during an address at a black parish in Harlem in 1979, and again before leading the congregation in the Angelus at a Mass in Adelaide, Australia, in 1986. However, the Pope was paraphrasing a quote from St. Augustine of Hippo, some 1,500 years before: “We are a resurrection people, and our song is ‘Alleluia’.”

If you don’t hear or read these words again this Easter, you probably will next year. If nothing else separates the post-Vatican II Catholic from the traditionalist, it’s the trope of “the resurrection people”. I’m not trying to import what’s been called the “hermeneutic of rupture”, the belief that the Second Vatican Council changed the DNA of the Catholic Church or the substance of Catholic dogma. However, it’s not an exaggeration to say that the Council created, or at least promoted, a different style — a different perspective from which to view our doctrine and expound it. And the “resurrection people” trope is a key to that difference.

Error usually begins with the emphasis of one doctrine, or a collection of related doctrines, over the rest. For instance, had Martin Luther truly understood what St. Paul meant by works, he might have ended his days still an Augustinian priest in communion with the Church. Far be it from me to suggest that either Ss. John Paul or Augustine were in error by saying “we are a resurrection people”; for both men were well-versed in the evangelium. However, the saying can be easily misunderstood.

For it would be just as true, if not more, to say we are the “people of the crucifixion”.

Read the rest at Catholic Stand!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Thank you, Thomas L. McDonald

So Thomas L. McDonald, the tech-and-history guru of God and the Machine, decided to post a couple of series based on Lifehacker's "How I Work", the other one being "How I Pray", featuring other bloggers. After posting one featuring The Curt Jester's Jeff Miller, Tom extended an invitiation to his Facebook blogger friends to write "How I Work" posts.

I joke about "shameless self-promotion"; but really, I appreciate any chance I have to get either/both of my blogs promoted. It's all about extending the reach — the further the reach, the better possibility I can get to the one person in whose life I can make a positive difference. And the "How I Work" format got me to take a good look at my working patterns, to think through why I work the way I do, with the apps I use.

The actual “How I Work“ page is posted over on Outside the Asylum. And Tom, true to his word, has linked me up from his page. But what he says of me, I repeat of him: Add God and the Machine to your regular reading rotation. He's a clever guy and a good writer, and he bounces among topics with the freedom of a young soul.