Catholic commentary on culture, media, and politics.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Losing the culture war, one "victory" at a time

At stake in the culture war is not so much political victories and freedom from PC thought police as it is the salvation of souls and, in John Paul the Great's memorable phrase, the promotion of the civilization of love. Referring to debate opponents and cultural enemies, Bishop Sheen sagely said that it's possible to win the argument and lose the soul. In other words, charity must be front and center, lest we become like the enemies we're trying to influence.

Canadian journalist Timothy Bloedow argues we should ditch St. Augustine's advice to love the sinner but hate the sin. But he doesn't offer much of an alternative except fighting "to win" the way gay activists do.

I'm sure his new book, State vs Church: What Christians Can Do to Save Canada from Liberal Tyranny, well worth buying, but I think he's dead wrong here.

Who cares if angry homosexuals disbelieve us when we insist on the (very sensible) Augustinian distinction? The same distinction applies to all sinners and all sins. Are we more honest if we say we hate them? Do we really want to adopt their brownshirt tactics? Is there a worse anthropomorphism than to posit God looking down on sinners and hating them with his Divine Hatred? Sing with me -- "Yes, they'll knowww we are Christians by our haaate!"

I was under the impression that Jesus came into the world to save us from our sins, to take them away, not us.

God forgive me for what I'm about to do

I'm going to post the YouTube clip of Miss South Carolina (whose blonde tresses, I tell you, are IRRELEVANT to the story) answering a question about why so few people can find America on a map. Normally, I wouldn't post human mistakes like this because who among us is immune from embarrassing "blank" moments when under pressure? No one's perfect, right?

But this clip is something amazing to behold. The poor girl digs herself deeper and deeper into a pit of -- what? -- you have to watch to see. An SNL comedy writer couldn't top it.

NB: NBC owns the pageant; so, naturally, our flaxen-haired rocket surgeon was invited by embarrassed execs to appear on The Today Show this morning for damage control.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The dark night of Mother Teresa

This week's Time Magazine has a riveting essay on a new book about Blessed Mother Teresa's 50-year-long inner struggle against constant doubt, fear, and the harrowing trial of being deprived of (almost) any spiritual consolations from Jesus. Despite a few typical MSM "religion reporter" missteps, it makes for a very compelling read.

The true story of her personal, and excessively long-lasting, dark night of the soul will raise a lot of eyebrows. It's fascinating, sobering, and fully in line with the teaching of St. John of the Cross, St. Catherine of Sienna and St. Therese of Lisieux (from whom she took her religious name).

Quite the opposite of the clap-happy Christianity of the nearest bumper sticker.


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

This just in -- men are dumber than women!

I know, I know, you already knew that. But here is more proof for skeptics.

Show of hands -- does anyone think a woman would do this?

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Pray for the Peruvians

My Peruvian-born wife was talking to her dad last night on the phone when he told her that his house had started to shake from yet another aftershock -- and he lives in Lima, 100 miles from the ongoing epicentre of the earthquake in Pisco in the Ika region to the south.

Entire towns have been wiped out, with lifeless bodies stacked on the streets in Ica because destroyed hospitals could not take in victims. Looting and disease have already started to follow.

Most of the dead were worshippers who had packed 17th century adobe-built churches to celebrate the Assumption of Mary.

I'm sure the Church's enemies, and unbelievers generally, will point at this as proof that God is either non-existent or a sadistic fool.

One thing an event like is, is inscrutable.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

False cliches

Cliches are usually truths that occur just frequently enough that we tire of hearing them, right? Same with stereotypes, which, as unPC as it is to say, are also rooted in reality.

Here are some popular cliches that vex my spirit. Some appear on bumperstickers, others just sort of float around the cultural ether:

"And eye for an eye makes the whole world blind."
Mahatma Gandhi.

Sorry, Bapu, but this ain't so. The lex talionis, while having been re-framed and superseded by Jesus, is scriptural and did the wooly world of ancient Israel a lot of good in the order-keeping and self-defense departments. By this reasoning, no one should have taken up arms against Hitler or any other unjust aggressor. To his credit, Gandhi was at least consistent in calling for Jews to use passive non-violent resistance with the Nazis. (I personally think the Nazis would have found that hilarious.)

"God has not called me to be successful; he has called me to be faithful."
- Bl. Mother Teresa

I know, I know this is taboo territory. First, I completely agree with the original context of this saying of Mother Teresa's. She meant that we should leave the final results of our efforts to God and not be too concerned with ego-driven "success" -- the whole "be a pencil in God's hand" thing, which is true and profound. But...this slogan has been taken to mean excusing poor performance and being satisfied with mediocrity ("Oh well, God calls me to be faithful, not successful!" Sorry, but in a legitimate sense God does call us to be successful, at least insofar as we're called to strive for excellence, precision, good project planning, etc. I don't think success, per se, is some worldly thing to be feared, as long as we know Who is in charge. How can a blase attitude toward low standards be pleasing to our Lord, or do us any good?

"I'm spiritual, not religious."
- Every lapsed Christian in history

I'm sure you've heard this one a zillion times. Not only is it a completely false dichotomy, it gives the flattering impression that the speaker is somehow superior. Ironic, that. Religion, so says this cliche, is rigid, spirituality (never defined) is flexible; religion is narrow, spirituality is broad-minded; religion judges, spirituality accepts; religion is machismo, spirituality is the true feminine; religion is backward represents limit, spirituality is progressive and represents openness. I can't take it! I always imagine that the deity worshiped by the Spiritual People is a non-threatening, all-nice Nerf Force in the sky who looks like this man:

Which cliches do you love to loathe, and why?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The MSM: a wholly owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party

Does anyone doubt it?

Can any honest person imagine a mainstream media piece this puffy about, say, Mitt Romney's wife?

Monday, August 06, 2007

Another post, for Justine

When Barry Manilow opines that the Copa Cabana is "the hottest spot north of Havana," he fails to specify whether he's a) referring to the nightclub's indoor ambient temperature or its hipness, nor whether b) he means only due north of Havana or all clubs above Havana's latitude worldwide.

And don't get me started on the ambiguous view expressed by Whitney Houston that the children are somehow our future, or her cryptic claim to have decided long ago never to walk in anyone's shadow.