Saturday, February 28, 2015

Catholic Blogisterium overreacts to German bishops’ statements

Cdl. Reinhard Marx at 2010 consistory: “That's the one that got away!”
(Allessia Giuliani/CPP/Ciric)
In a completely unsurprising move, traditionalist members of the Catholic Blogisterium, such as Catholic Connection and Rorate Caeli, have flown into a panic over reports that the bishops of Germany have declared independence from Rome.

On Tuesday, the German bishops, already met in plenary assembly, introduced the members who would attend the next Synod of the Family meeting as representatives of the Church in Germany: Cdl. Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, Bp. Heiner Koch of Dresden-Meissen, and Bp. Franz-Josef Bode of Osnabrück; with deputies Bp. Karl-Heinz Wiesemann of Speyer, and the auxiliary of Münster, Bp. Wilfried Theising. Regina Einig of Die Tagespost, present for the announcement, then wrote up a summation of the bishops’ hopes for the conference

In fairness — and I’m not ordinarily predisposed to fairness where reactionaries are concerned — Rorate Caeli did refer back to Die Tagespost, through an English translation provided by “Reader ‘K’”. At the same time, only the paragraphs which were sufficient for RC’s conclusion (that the Germans were trying to “blackmail” the Synod or go it alone) got printed, not the whole article. 

Far better, however, than Catholic Connection, which referenced Matteo Matzuzzi’s blog in Il Foglio: Matzuzzi, as journalists are wont to do, played fast and loose with the translation from German into Italian, making the hierarchs out to be more defiant than they really were. Catholic Connection also provided a link to an (imperfect) English translation of the Tagespost article in Catholic Conclave, but either didn’t read it or chose to live with cognitive dissonance ringing in their ears.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Chances, choice and the Pit of Despair

© 1987 20th Century Fox.
So ... anything happen while I was out of my mind?

About two or three weeks ago, I fell into an emotional pit. Without going into too many details: I've been at the job pond for awhile, and my résumé has gotten several nibbles; however, I’ve had some difficulty getting the hook to catch so I can land the fish. Moreover, developments in the family situation have arisen (I’m sorry, I can’t be more specific than that; some details aren’t mine to divulge), the long-term consequences of which aren’t all clear ... but of which one is that I’ll probably have to move to a different place in the next year or so. To go back to the fishing metaphor: I don’t have all day to catch my dinner.

Some people live all their lives under the illusion that they have complete charge. If anything bad happens to them, it’s because they zigged when they should have zagged, either ten minutes ago or thirty-five years ago. Certainly, I hold that a lot of what happens to us are consequences of decisions we make ... or don’t make; like Geddy Lee sings, “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”

Having majored in sociology, as well as completing some hours in psychology, political science, and economics, I’m more skeptical than I was before about the degree to which determinism is supposed to explain human behavior. It’s a presumption not fully validated by the available evidence. Moreover, some degree of free will is a necessary precondition to the validity of reason. So yes, we make choices, and our choices have consequences; we have no business laying off on God, Satan, society, or bad luck every rotten thing that happens to us.

Having said that ....