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The fun has only started

To touch on current events, it’ll be interesting to see how this plays out: Vatican drafts new guidelines for accepting priestly candidates that (apparently) will bar homosexuals. A common response in American church circles to settled doctrine on homosexuality has been in effect to say “yes, official doctrine is that it’s sinful, but it’s not a doctrine that should ever have any practical consequences.” Discrimination, after all, is recognized by properly socialized moderns as the ultimate sin, and as the article demonstrates (read the fourth paragraph) people will go to all lengths to obfuscate any problems.

The new guidelines will make such views somewhat harder to maintain comfortably, although I expect most of those in official positions to rise to the occasion. So the guidelines may have no more immediate practical effect than various recent attempts in California and elsewhere to get rid of affirmative action. Still, the midterm and distant future may be a different story. It seems clear that in the extreme form which it eventually takes liberalism does not work, inside or outside the Church, and that overall a foundation is being laid for a return to greater orthodoxy. And if that return is based more on direct attachment by the people to Catholic truth and tradition and less on what the higher-ups say, it will no doubt be all to the good.

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All Saints’ Day in Brooklyn

I went around the corner to the closest Catholic church to do the day-of-obligation thing. It was the first English mass I had been to for a while, and I found it hard to adjust completely.

I do prefer the old Latin mass. Still, everything should be the best of what it is. For example, I wish people would sing the hymns when the modern service makes such a point of them. It’s awkward—you claim it’s a big celebration and then it turns out that no one’s interested in joining in. Maybe that’s a problem when renewal is planned by committees and experts.

Congregational hymn-singing is a kind of lay participation I like. I don’t understand why people think they have to have some function up around the altar. The whole point of showing up at church is that you think there’s something special going on, so why make it look like something you could just as well do yourself? One reason the People of God have a unity that is greater than the unity any pile of things has is that they have different roles. Singing is fun, and it’s a way for the laity to join in that adds to the specialness of the occasion and to the unity-in-ordered-diversity that gives it a particular character. It gives the ceremony a bit of what a concerto has, with the orchestral parts and the soloist parts.

The celebrant was a young priest who took it all quite seriously. He made a little joke at the beginning about being the only one singing but that was the end of the humor. His homily compared saints to space aliens but I liked it for all that. There’s lots of room for weird analogies in explaining things and this one did work in some ways. The saints in icons do resemble some versions of what aliens look like—big heads, big eyes, enlongated bodies and so on.

He did the Roman Canon with all the saints’ names, which I think is unusual at an 9 a.m. weekday service, but maybe it was special for All Saints’ Day. I won’t add to the complaints about the translations, since everyone who cares has no doubt heard them, but I agree with all of them. Still, the Church is a big family, which means that you don’t have to be pleased with everything everybody does. And there’s certainly some value in participating in the version of the mass that most people do even if I think some other version is really better.

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Happy day after Halloween!

All Saints’ Day, a day of obligation I’m told, so in an hour I’ll go off and discharge my duties. I’m starting to feel like a papist already.

This sort of discipline is a good thing, I think. It marks off particular days for common recollection and worship, and if you don’t happen to feel like it that particular day it’s good to be reminded that the point of the exercise is to get your life turned around so that it’s not what you feel at the moment that matters but more enduring realities. It does seem though that the Orthodox with all their fast days go too far, at least for someone who’s not particularly heroic.

I like the saints in Catholicism. You know God by the company he keeps, and the point after all is to join that company. Also, stripped-down religions may make sense for spiritual athletes but not for most of us. If the idea is to put God in relation to everything it’s good to be shown some particular examples.

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A reminder

There’s been too much gloom about grand public affairs in my comments. Confucius never heard of the mote and the beam, but he knew that we should start on things by turning ourselves around. Besides, we’re told that God is present if we pray, so not everything is bad.

With that in mind, but in a different direction, here’s a poem I’ve always loved, the epilogue to The Tempest, spoken by Prospero:

Now my charms are all o’erthrown, And what strength I have’s mine own, Which is most faint: now, ‘tis true, I must be here confined by you, Or sent to Naples. Let me not, Since I have my dukedom got And pardon’d the deceiver, dwell In this bare island by your spell; But release me from my bands With the help of your good hands: Gentle breath of yours my sails Must fill, or else my project fails, Which was to please. Now I want Spirits to enforce, art to enchant, And my ending is despair, Unless I be relieved by prayer, Which pierces so that it assaults Mercy itself and frees all faults. As you from crimes would pardon’d be, Let your indulgence set me free.

It’s a wonderful combination of things:

  • Prospero returning to human society and Milan, and appealing for the charity and mutual indulgence without which hell is other people even if you’re the Duke.
  • The fantasy-world of the play resolving into common everyday life, where the truths of the play are somehow present but we must rely on wonders other than magic.
  • The author at the end of his writing career, and reflecting on his career and life, and on human life in general.
  • The actor speaking on behalf of the company and asking for the favor and applause of the audience.

I find it comical, profound, and very touching.

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“In but not of the world”–what does that mean today?

To be Catholic anno Domini 2002 is to place oneself radically at odds with with the public order as understood by its most authoritative interpreters. After all, Roe v. Wade is no fluke. It’s been law for almost 30 years, and mainstream authorities are united in viewing it as fundamental to right public order. Attempts are afoot at the highest and most respectable levels to make its principles compulsory for the whole world through international human rights treaties. And it’s given rise to additional “personal autonomy” rights—most recently, same-sex “marriage”—that likewise override all previous understandings of personal and public morality.

Other symptoms of the current situation are familiar. It’s accepted that only yahoos and crackpots want to put prayer back in the schools. Those who think that truth has any bearing on the validity of “religious expression,” or that a distinction should be made between marriage and any sort of sexual partnership, or who even wish people “Merry Christmas” in a public setting are chastised for exclusivity and intolerance. And with the entry of women into the workforce, the effective socialization of childrearing, and the omnipresence of electronic communications there is less and less of life that does not take place in a “public setting” in which the authorities feel entitled to demand at least outward support for the official standards.

Under such circumstances, what does one do? Catholicism is nothing if not a publicly authoritative statement of how things are. To those who accept it, it defines what the world really is. As such, it directly conflicts with the order currently established, which has its own authoritative view of things upon which it increasingly insists in all aspects of life. In the long run, the ostensible neutrality of liberalism is not at all neutral. Despite all the heroic efforts by the Church over the past 40 years to find common ground with those who disagree with her, it seems to me that common action, which after all eventually requires common purposes and understandings, is going to become increasingly difficult.

I don’t have a snappy solution to the problem. It seems to me though that we should all be thinking about it. With that in mind, here’s a (slightly edited) note I just sent to a friend who asked about my current attitude toward America and whether I still felt that I love it:

To be pessimistic is not the same as not to care for something. You once proposed that America has died. I take the notion more to heart than you do. It seems to me that the flaws that have led to the death of America—understood as a overarching concept that is also a concrete political order tied to a particular people, place, and culture—were intrinsic. That doesn’t mean there was never anything good about America or that I feel no attachment to her. It’s just that she is not the highest standard. In particular, the public aspects of America—the Constitution and Federal Government—are not earthly absolutes. All men and institutions are flawed after all, and none of them last forever. Also, the formal political order doesn’t outrank utterly the society it governs.

I admire the Founding Fathers greatly. I do find them—and the Constitution—more admirable than lovable. Even so, there is a great deal of genuine good in ideals like liberty and equality when taken as they took them in a limited sense and with a background understanding of objective Christian and classical moral order. Those ideals call each of us to think about what he should do and pursue it actively, and to respect others and cooperate with them in pursuit of what all recognize as good. They inspired many good men including my ancestors to do many good things. They are what we have had. Still there was something missing, an explicit recognition of some concrete authoritative standard of truth and goodness. With that thing the system would not have been at all what it was but without it we’ve gotten—quite naturally I think—what we have now.

So what now? Your proposal that America has died could of course be wrong, as could my notion that America as a formally particularist—confessional or ethnic—state would not be America (in addition to being utterly unrealistic). Also, there’s nothing at hand to replace “America” as a political ideal, standard and object of loyalty. So to me it makes sense politically to assume things can be turned around, that maybe the Republic or the real America or whatever can be restored with some reforms that supply or make up for what has been missing. I think though that one should also take seriously the possibility that’s not so and think about where to go in that event.

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Sex, creation and revelation

The modern view of sex and “gender” is decisively anti-Christian. That’s not simply because the modern view is opposed to tradition, Christian tradition like all other tradition, but because it reflects a habit of thought that trivializes Creation and makes the Incarnation impossible and senseless. The problem is that modern sexual views deny intrinsic meaning to the physical world. In particular, they deny intrinsic meaning to the part of the physical world closest to us, our bodies, and especially to an aspect of our bodily life that, as they say, “makes the world go round.” Sex and the difference between the sexes have only the significance and function one chooses individually to give to them. And if that’s true of

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A note on JK and V II

Since the Pope thinks so highly of Vatican II I suppose I should reread at least the main documents he mentions in the speech I just linked. Isn’t it nice that everything’s instantly available online these days?

I should say though that none of this bothers me much. I’m accustomed to the idea that the rulers of the Church, like other men, make mistakes in practical judgment, and so far as I can tell all my doubts about Vatican II have to do with that sort of thing. There have been serious enduring problems ever since the Council, so it seems likely important people made mistakes somewhere, and it helps orient and settle one’s thoughts to have some notion of what the mistakes were and where they were made.

I don’t think orthodoxy requires the belief that Vatican II was a great gift of the Holy Spirit. It seems evident that there are aspects of the developments to which it gave rise that are not at all a gift of the Spirit. I think one can just as well think that while the Council was without error in matters of faith and morals, and there were many good things in the documents, subsequent events suggest that as a pastoral council it made practical mistakes. That latter view might be wrong, but there are lots of opinions one can legitimately hold that might turn out to be wrong.

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JP II on V II

A reader sent me a link to this speech by John Paul II explaining his attitude toward Vatican II. The Pope certainly takes a high view of the Council. Perhaps because I’m a lawyer, and much farther from sanctity than His Holiness, the speech leaves me with concerns:

  • He speaks of the Council as “a prophetic message.” That seems odd. A prophetic utterance is marked by uniqueness and integrity. Perhaps for that reason prophets have normally been individuals with no official position and very often an irregular way of life. I suppose such people are freer to listen and respond to promptings from the Spirit. A group of thousands of high Church officials from all over the world meeting to debate and vote on documents drafted by committees and subject to various compromises and maneuverings seems an unusual source of prophecy.
  • The law and the prophets are both necessary and good, but they’re not the same. My understanding is that a General Council, in unity with the Pope, is the highest legislative authority of the Church. That seems fitting. Lawmaking requires wariness and particularity, and it should end with clear statements that settle points definitively. A large high-level assembly is suitable for that because it is suited to saying yes or no to particular issues that have been forced on the community and clarified by experience (Should the Pope be declared infallible? Should the homoiousion go into the Creed?), and the multiplicity of perspective helps flush out ambiguities and hidden problems. An assembly is much less suited for dealing with open-ended deep meanings.
  • It’s not only its composition and way of acting that makes a General Council more suited for lawmaking than prophecy. The pronouncements of a General Council become practically authoritative for a vast worldwide body that has routines and chains of command and includes all sorts of people—smart, stupid, holy, sinful, whatever. Pronouncements that come out of an “act of abandonment to God” that is “without reserve” and that must be understood “from a faith perspective” aren’t normally used for such a purpose.
  • With these things in mind, it becomes clearer why Vatican II seems in fact to have failed to communicate to the Church as a whole what the Pope says is its true meaning. Assuming he’s absolutely right about the meaning, a General Council is an odd and seemingly inappropriate instrument to convey it.
  • All of which is consistent with viewing Vatican II either as inspired or as imprudent but preserved from error. I must say though that there’s something that makes me uneasy in the notion of prophecy and renewal as a function of high church officials acting in their official capacities. It seems to me the usual role of such people is more to test prophecy and cooperate with renewal than do the deed themselves. If the prophet and the ruler are the same, where does the reality check come in?
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Was Vatican II a good idea?

What sense did it make to call Vatican II? The Pope called together thousands of men most of whom didn’t know each other and weren’t used to working together on anywhere near such a grand scale. In a gathering like that intelligent joint deliberation doesn’t seem likely unless the point is to deal with specific problems that have been kicking around for a while so most of the participants have dealt with them personally and have come to think they’re pressing and need resolution. Otherwise the issues won’t be ripe for decision, most participants will lack a solid basis for participation, the situation will lend itself to undue influence from well-organized groups with agendas, and the “decisions” are likely to point in every possible direction.

So far as I can tell, Vatican II became a somewhat open-ended consideration of the nature and future course of the Church in general. I can see that something of the sort might be necessary in times of acute crisis, but in prosperous times like the beginning of the 1960s? If it had become advisable for the Church to change its pastoral approach why couldn’t that have been done better piecemeal without a council? If you want to adjust to new realities does it make sense to start by committing the Church to some new grand strategy at the highest level conceivable? And do the results suggest the Council dealt with the issues well?

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How autonomous is the “magisterium”?

This is the sort of thing that makes me nervous about Catholicism: the Touchstone magazine blog includes a comment today on the Reflections on Covenant and Mission put out by the bishops’ committee not long ago. The comment points out that in a recent piece in America members of the committee that wrote the report dealt with inconsistencies between that document and statements in Paul and Hebrews by claiming “The magisterium can explicitly contradict an idea of an individual New Testament author because the Catholic tradition is one of commentary, not of sola scriptura (Scripture alone).”

To my mind the justification for accepting the authority of the Church is that it is the guardian of what it has received. It seems to me that view makes the Church a liberating force that proclaims truths that don’t depend on any of us and not a tyranny that binds us to accept whatever the dominant faction in the hierarchy, or those who claim expert knowledge, see fit to tell us. I thought that the traditional view was that public revelation ceased with the death of the last of the apostles, and that legitimate “development” of doctrine is not a matter of legislating new truths but making explicit what was already and has always in substance been believed. If that is so it ought to be visibly so. To the extent such a view of the mission of the Church is obscured it becomes harder to recognize in the Roman Catholic Church its legitimate authority.

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Doctrine and the solidity of Catholicism

One thing that draws me to Catholicism is that it works and is built to last. I’ve mentioned the Tridentine mass as an example of something characteristically Catholic—whatever the state of affairs or your frame of mind, it works when you approach it. That’s a sign that it presents a sort of universal form of our relationship to God, and it’s the reason it’s lasted as long as it has and still hasn’t been effectively replaced by the New Mass. (It seems to me that as long as the Church retains the New Mass it will remain in crisis, but that’s a side comment.) Here are other examples:

  • Contraception. Sex is unruly, and to keep it sane and social it must be integrated with normal and productive human functioning. Let it go its own way and it goes mad. Sex is physical, we are physical, so the integration must be physical as well. It can’t just be a matter of having the right attitude since we can’t define the significance of our actions at will. Still, sex is not only physical and not only functional in a biological sense. So where do you draw the line?

    It seems to me the distinction the Church draws, between sexual acts that fail to produce new life because of some feature of the situation (the parties are too old, or sterile, or it’s the wrong time of the month) and those that fail to do so because of an intentional change by the parties in the act itself (contraception, coitus interruptus, whatever) is the right one. Even if modern thought finds something odd about the distinction between essential and accidental features of an act it’s the way people think about things and that makes it relevant to ethics. Abandoning the distinction separates sex decisively from its natural physical function and it loses all definition. In the last half-century or so we’ve seen the consequences—the act becomes whatever people make of it, and the only standard becomes consent. That’s not the way to happiness. Especially in basic matters like sex, cosmos is better than chaos.

  • Transubstantiation. Especially today, people want to claim that nothing is settled and everything can become something else depending on how we look at it. If the claim holds then reality can’t lay a glove on us, because we can always redefine things at will. That’s not the way to happiness either. We need a connection to reality, and to make contact with reality we need a religion that makes the connection between man and fundamental reality—God—in a decisive way that can’t be fudged. Transubstantiation does that—the wine and wafer become the body and blood of Christ and nothing but the body and blood of Christ. And they aren’t just something we talk about but something physical that we actually take and eat. To be a Catholic you must accept all that, which means that you must decisively reject, with your body as well as your mind, the view that we define our own reality by what we make of what we see. Transubstantiation is thus a permanently open window from the self-contained world that we would otherwise create for ourselves. It is a liberating doctrine.
  • The role of the Pope. I’m no fan of ecclesiastical centralization. I’ve always preferred the classical Chinese notion of a setup in which the top guy does nothing but sit on the throne with his face to the South, because if he were forced actually to do something it would be a sign that something has gone radically wrong, probably too far wrong to be put to rights. Still, as a practical matter in the course of 2,000 years a universal institution that deals with the most important issues has to have someone to have the final say now and then. Papal infallibility is a lot to swallow, but it seems clear that every other possibility is worse.

All these things I’ve mentioned as examples of how Catholicism is workable and lasting are things that it nails down and insists on as doctrine. So it seems to me that the tendency in recent years to accommodate to other ways of looking at things by becoming less insistent about things has made Catholicism less functional, less able to make its contribution to life, rather than more so. It’s been the very opposite of liberating. What’s liberating is to have a world that we can rely on.

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RCIA with Cardinal Ratzinger

Went to “RCIA” again today, my third session. I use the scare quotes because the parish doesn’t have a formal program, they just match you up with a priest and you come in once a week to talk. We’re using Ratzinger’s The Spirit of the Liturgy as the basis for discussion—a step up from the usual run of RCIA programs, as I understand the situation.

Using the Exodus and the role of Sinai in constituting the Jewish nation, as Ratzinger does, strikes me as a good way way to present the liturgy. It’s something that constitutes a community by bringing it into relation with the absolute in a way the community does not generate itself. The golden calf was the liturgy the Children of Israel created for themselves.

Certainly that’s one thing I like about the Tridentine mass—it’s visibly something those gathered did not create for themselves and that is not centered on them. As someone coming from an Episcopal parish in an utterly corrupt diocese whose most recent two rectors suffered from radical psychological and spiritual disorders, I can see that there’s something to be said for a liturgy that is not a celebration of those who happen to be present. The worse the problems you’ve seen in church the better the Tridentine mass stands up. It’s built for all seasons.

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What is metanoia, anyway?

It seems that “metanoia” really means a change of mind with respect to action. So the mental aspects of getting your life turned around would be metanoia on a grand scale. Sounds pretty close to “conversion,” but I like the Greek word anyway.

But what’s the need of conversion? Why want to be transformed into something different from what you are already? Doesn’t the aspiration to do so show a sort of sickness, or at least an antisocial rejection of life and humanity as they are? Why not be tolerant, open yourself to the world, and go with the flow, appreciating what there is without being so critical?

The answer, I think, is that life and the world are themselves incomplete and in conflict. They point beyond themselves, and can’t be understood simply on their own terms, as a self-enclosed system of things. Accepting life simply as we experience it is a modern fantasy. Otherwise, why would men have always recognized the gods? Why was Nietzsche, who rejected the transcendent, always on the attack? Why did the Buddhists and Taoists drop out of society as well as out of established rituals and conceptions of deity?

We attain stability and the self-realization that suits us only through orientation toward something unseen that lies beyond us, and the most basic question for all of us is what that unseen thing is and how we relate to it. The need for conversion—for reorientation toward something beyond us—is not a sign of particular weakness, but a recognition of our essential position. Religion is not an add-on, it’s essential to our humanity.

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Metanoia strikes deep

Why “metanoia”? Usually I don’t like the Christian use of Greek words, agape, kairos, koinonia or whatever. The effect is to suggest special authoritative knowledge that the rest of us just have to accept, and the substance is more often tendentious overemphasis on a one-sided interpretation of a key term. Still, I like some of them. For some reason I like “Anastasia” (resurrection) as a girl’s name. And I like “metanoia” more than “repentence” or “conversion” because people say it means “turning around” (even though that looks like a mistranslation, since “noia” looks like it means “mind” and “meta” probably means what it does in English, whatever that is).

So when you become a Catholic you stand up, turn around, and head off in a better direction, like the prisoners in Plato’s cave. A good image. It’s not the only one, of course. You dump the junk and get serious. You drop your burden and discover lightness and joy. You see all things better lit and in a truer perspective. You open a window. You escape the prison of self. You get in touch with your inner whatever. You cut your ties to sin. You discover that your center is not within yourself. You find the way of grace. It’s amazing what you can extract from a perfectly ordinary Greek word when you don’t know Greek!

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Notes on becoming a Catholic

I put the following notes together shortly before beginning the process leading to conversion:

I want to become a Catholic because:

1. Grand philosophical reasons:

  • I believe in a God with purposes. That’s the only way I can make sense of a world in which there is real good and evil, or for that matter understand how the world can make sense at all. If good—right purpose—is objective, then it seems that the purpose of things is part of the way things are. It is hard to conceive of that without reference to a person whose purposes the nature of things reflects, simply because it is hard to conceive of purpose without an agent. Beyond that, we can’t even think without trusting that our thoughts are part of some greater scheme of things upon which we are entitled to rely. So faith in the fundamental goodness of things seems necessary for knowledge.
  • I believe that God does particular things. What sense does it make to say God has purposes unless that is so? The creation of the universe with just the qualities it needs to make life possible, and the creation of man, would be examples.
  • Since God does particular things it’s important to know what they are. Their particularity means that we can’t just reason out what they are. It follows that some sort of revelation is necessary. The idea of revelation—the Word of God given to men—is a difficult one. The Christian and Catholic account seems best: the message is a person with authority rather than a book, and that person is always with us in some continuing and concrete way. The message is a person because the point is to know God, and God is a person. Further, a person is known through his continuing concrete presence and dealings.

2. Personal reasons

Basically they flow out of the philosophical reasons. Religion is basic after all. The scheme of things by which I am connected to the world must be understood as the work of God, otherwise I couldn’t be justified in relying on it. So without God what connection can I have with the world? And without the church what definite connection can I have to God?

The particulars include:

  • Dissatisfaction with how I’ve led my life—inertia, dissipation, family issues—and dissatisfaction with the state of the world. In which direction lies hope?
  • My relation to American life and the civilization of which America is part. What is the source of the things that are good in that and what is the answer to what is bad?
  • Specific situations in which the Church is right contra mundum, e.g., contraception.
  • The Latin mass. A perfect presentation of the coming of God into our midst and his relation to our lives and the life of the church as those things actually are.

3. Problems with the Church:

  • General skepticism. Is it really all true? Maybe we don’t really know anything but just bumble on.
  • It’s a big step. How can anyone decide something as big as a whole way of life and outlook on things? The answer, I suppose, is that it has to creep up on you so by the time the decision comes it has already been made and there’s no choice because there’s no place else to go.
  • Pervasive disarray in matters of faith and morals reaching to very high levels makes the visible church much less clearly visible. That undermines the whole theory somewhat:
    • I recognize that the pope’s the one to decide how he does his job, but it seems to me he does outreach to excess. Everything is his friend. Human rights are his friend. The EU is his friend. His views on capital punishment also worry me, not so much because I’m convinced I know the right answer as for the spectre they conjure up of a pope deciding on his own to create new doctrine based on current views or his own theories. After all, our basic concern is with what’s right and true, and it’s easier to square that concern with the authority of the pope if the pope looks like he’s just standing up for what the church has always and everywhere believed. New departures are troubling for that reason, and the explanations given didn’t seem adequate.
    • Various wobblings as to social doctrine are bothersome too. If John XXIII in Mater et Magistra says “the time has come to promote in agricultural regions the establishment of those industries and services which are concerned with the preservation, processing and transportation of farm products,” and you think for some reason it would be a lot better to let people keep on putting canneries in urban areas, are you a cafeteria Catholic? Various popes have said there is no Christian socialism. Is there a Christian libertarianism? What are the limits?
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Remembrance of blogs past

Naturally, I’ve been thinking about this for quite a while. For anyone who’s interested, here are some thoughts on Catholicism from my other blog:

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Play ball!

My first entry! I have another blog, a political one that I share with another editor, which hardly seems the place for random thoughts and ramblings about what after all is my personal situation. I’m a 55-year-old man, married with three children, a lawyer and writer, who is going through the process of entering the Catholic Church. There’s lots to think about, to ask and to learn before The Day (next Easter), and I’ll be working through some of the issues here.

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Islam and Reformation

A common slogan among deep thinkers is that the problem with Islam is that unlike Christianity it’s never had a Reformation. On the face of it the claim is an odd one. The Protestant Reformation was an attempt to purify Christianity and return it to its pure and original form, cleansed of all syncretic cultural and philosophical overlays and corruptions. Presumably the corresponding event in Islam would be its return to its original form as a strict religion of the book, without modernizing accommodations or philosophical and mystical additions. Sounds very much like Wahhabism. So the problem with Islam in fact may be that it’s had a Reformation, and what we’re dealing with in the form of Al Qaeda is its protestant form. In short, we’re in the midst of a sort of Islamic equivalent to our Wars of Religion.

Topics: 
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God and man at PBS

I hadn’t been tempted to watch the PBS special last night on the religious implications of 9/11.

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Is freedom from religion neutral?

The ACLU wins some and loses some. They sometimes have trouble getting monuments to the Ten Commandments out of public parks, but have managed to suppress “With God, all things are possible” as the Ohio state motto.

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