Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com Rum , Rome and Royalism: February 2005

Rum , Rome and Royalism

I would much rather belong to a church five centuries behind the times and majestically indifferent to the fact than to a church five minutes behind the times, frantically running to catch up.

Monday, February 28, 2005

From Dr. James White

Dr. James White, Director of Alpha and Omega Ministries has put two pieces on his blog recently that I thought worth linking to. Needless, to say, I don't agree with this but it's too funny not point out. The lightbulb joke is one of my favourite genres of humour, but most attempts at an aplication to catholicism that I've seen strike me as terribly strained.

On a far more serious note is this post on the death of Mormon apologist Hugh Nibley. As a catholic who accepts the Church's teaching on invincible ignorance, I'm slightly more optimistic than Dr. White about the possibility of one who dies a believing Mormon entering heaven, but I am fully behind Dr. White in his insistence that there is an objective truth about God and that humans ignore or reject this truth at our peril.

The existence of a single God who made all things is not a matter of faith, reason clearly proclaims it, and the Mormons deny this basic truth. Well, as Dr. White says, Hugh Nibley now knows that there is one God, having stood before that One God's judgement seat, I pray he received a favourable outcome.

Friday, February 25, 2005

I Just Can't Believe This

My opinion of the modern episcopacy is not high, but this is just a bit much to take. On reading this I felt a profound desire to throw something at the Bishop of New Ulm. I mean, the Tredentine Mass is a private devotion? What next?

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Jews and Same Sex Marriage

This article is quite interesting, especially the bit about natural law. I had to laugh just a little at the rabbi who is pro same sex marriage but anit any marriage between a jew and a gentile.


I'm sorry I havn't been posting much of late. I was in Melbourne having a whale of a time, enjoying myself too much to think about blogging.

In my abscence, a Swedish Court of appeals has overturned the conviction of Swedish Pastor Ake Green who was convicted of vilifying homosexuals. This has not, however, detered Kansas' Westboro Baptist Church from teaching that God Hates Sweden. I certainly wish that I could claim to have WBC's insight into the Divine Mind.

In fairness, I have to thank WBC and their Pastor, Fred Phelps, for giving me a great laught when I read this. I can only imagine the exression on Howard Deans face when he read this.

Now the question: Who out of Phelps and Dean do I dislike most?

Reformed Catholic Post-Modernism?

Mr. David Fahrenthold posted this on the Reformed Catholicism Blog or, as I like to call it, the oxymoron blog. According to the good Mr. Fahrenthold, we shouldn't say that any text has a clear meaning because the idea that a text can have a clear meaning is a modernist notion that post modernism has thouroughly deconstructed.

My immediate thought, if the idea that a text can have a clear meaning is modernist, does that mean that pre-modern types like Aristotle, the fathers and the schoolastics never believed a text has a clear meaning.

Reformed Baptist apologist Eric Svendsen has a much beter reply to Mr. Fahrenthold's nonsense, here.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Interview With Robert Schuller

Beliefenet has an interview with the Rev. Robert Schuller, Pastor of the "Chrystal Cathedral" and one of the founders of the so-called "Mega-Church Movement". One thing Schuller said deeply disturbed me.

First, he says that the church needs to be like a supermarket, I'm sure I'm not the only one for whom this brings up images of the money-changers in the temple. But what disturbs me more is Schuller's description of how it should be like a supermarket:

"Whatever people want to buy, they can get it in the shopping center. It’s one-stop shopping. Churches should be that way. They can get a Sunday morning church service, but they can also have a ministry to singles, a ministry to young people, a ministry to music people, a ministry to people who have specialized hurts. "

Now I have nothing at all against youth ministries or young adult ministries, and I hope a church would have ministries to people with specialised hurts (otherwise known as pastoral care) but Schuller seems to regard such things as on a level with the Sunday mourning service. It isn't. The joining together of the church, on the sabath, for worship and to listen to preaching is not presented in the New Testament as a optional extra for Christians but as a basic thing commanded of us all.

This is a good example of the kind of thinking that has become very prominent in Evangelical circles, the church as a company with a product to sell, if the consumers don't like that product, we can chage it to fit their needs. On this basis, Christ would have to have been a fairly unsuccessful evangelist, when His message was rejected He didn't sit around looking for ways to make it easier to accept.

Another Royal Wedding

I've just read the news the Prince Charles is to marry Ms. Carmilla Parker-Bowles in spite of the fact that her first husband is still alive. Loose Cannon makes a number of good points: Charles will, when his mother dies, be head of the Church of England, a body whose traditional doctorine forbids divorce, Charles will also be Defender of the Faith; all this Loose Cannon deplores.

Also, it seems that the marriage will not be a church wedding but a civil ceremony followed by prayers and blessings in a church. What does this mean? The church isn't going to perform an invalid marriage, but it will bless their adultery and pray for it's success? Also the Queen (the current head of the church and defender of the faith) and the Archbishop of Canterburry have declared themselves happy about the engagement.

Loose Cannon, is upset by all this, and points out that it wasn't always so, Edward VIII was forced to abdicate when he chose to marry the divorcee Wallis Simpson. Unfortunatly, I can't share LC's hurt. The very reason their is such a thing as the Church of England in the first place is because Henry VIII wanted to flout Catholic moral and sacramental teaching by granting himself an annulment he had no grounds for and marry Anne Bolyn while Queen Catherine was still alive, you can hardly expect such an institution to maintain high standards, especially in opposition to the monarchy.

Rev. Fr. J.P. Parsons, one of the men most responsible for my becoming Catholic, was an ex Anglican. He told me on more than one occassion, that the key to understanding the CofE is that it is not a teaching church but a reflecting church, it reflects what most people in England think. So, when most of the English people opposed divorce, the CofE did too, now the moral climate of England has changed, the CofE has changed with it.

Needless to say, this is the exact opposite of what Christ intended for His Church. He gave the church prophets and apostles to lead the people, not to be lead by them.

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Memento, Homo

Two days ago was Ash Wednessday, the beggining of the Western Lent. Attending the Ash Wednessday liturgy is not exactly a fun experience, but it is a beautiful one, and our parish choir, as always, was superb. The liturgy calls upon us to reflect up two important, and interconected, aspects of our humanity: our sinfullness and our mortality. "Memento, homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris." says the priest as he imposes ashes on our forhead- "Remember man that you are dust and unto dust you shall return."

The prayers of the liturgy are a touching, plaintive and repeated cry of a sinful people who know that we stand before the majesty of a perfectly Holy God whom we have offended and yet is whose mercy we complelty trust.

Inter vestibulum et altare plorabunt sacerdotes ministri Domini, et dicent: Parce, Domine, parce populo tuo: et ne claudas ora canentium te, Domine

Between the porch and the altar, the priests, the Lord's ministers, shall weep and say: Spare, O lord, spare your people, and close not the mouths of them that sing to you, O Lord.

Bishop's Hijinx

I found this and this on The Seattle Catholic. We really need to pray for the Bishops of the world.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

All Mans Are Equal?*

The incomparable C. S. Lewis is well known (among other things) for his excellent "Screwtape Letters". The fame of these letter is entirely deserved. Much less well known, however, is "Screwtape Proposes a Toast". This is, in my view, a great pity. Much good would be done if the message of this piece were more widely understood.

Basically, Lewis has Screwtape lecture a group of demons on the great value to Hell of the perversion of the concepts of "Democracy" and "Equality". The point, according to Screwtape, is to keep these two concepts fuzzy in peoples minds and to try and take the claim "all men are equal" out of it's original, political context and try to turn in into the idea that all men are, or ought to be, equal in talents, abilities, virtues and other ways in which it is quite obvious that we are not and can not be equal. In Screwtape's view, much could be done by this to undermine humanity.

I say all this in reflection on a incident in last night's episode of Ten's new "Reality Show" "The X Factor" (I realize it does nothing for my credibility that I profess to hate "Reality TV" but blog on two such shows in as many days). Anyway, a woman came (voluntarily) before three expert judges and sang. They, politely but firmly, told her that she had no talent.

What intrigued me was her comments afterwards, she insisted that she had talent, she said that the judges thought they had power just because they had influential positions in the music industry and they thought they new who did and didn't have musical talent, but they were wrong. And then came the point, the reason these industry bigwigs don't have power and can't judge who does and doesn't have talent "All men are equal, the Queen, industry types, we are all equal."

This, I submit, is a perfect example of the attitude Screwtape was encouraging is fellow demons to promote. Note the confusion. I will, of course, happily concede that there are important, nay vital, political, moral and theological senses in which all men are equal, but so what? How does the fact that we are all equally important as immortal souls affect the question of whether or not the "X Factor" judges can adequately judge a persons talent? Or did she mean it in some other sense? Did she mean that all humanity is equal in ability to judge musical talent? Does this include the tone deaf? Does it include the deaf?

Ultimately, I don't think the woman had the faintest clue what she meant. She had volutaraly submitted her talents before a panel of experts and those experts has been unanimous in giving her the thumbs down, she wanted to come back at them and needed to say something plausible. Perhaps I am judging her too harshly, but she is an example of a genuinely troubling phenomenon. People mouth slogans like "we are all equal" without giving any thought to gaining a clear idea of what they actually mean, this is not a healthy thing for political and philosophical discourse.

* This is not a typo but an reference to Orwell's "Newspeak"

Monday, February 07, 2005

The Inclusive Bible

I should comment on this but words just fail me. A friend of mine suggested (in jest, I hasten to add) that inclusivness dosn't go far enough. In his view, we need a "Nice Bible" where, for example, God confuses the tounges at Babel not as a punishment but in order to promote multi-culturalism.

Fuzzy Thinking In Clevland

Patrick Madrid has this post on a statement released by the Clevland Diocese Social Action Committee. I won't comment, I think Madrid says all that needs to be said.

Whose Resteraunt Will Rule This Time?

I generally avoid "Reality TV" like the plague, but last year I couldn't help getting into "My Resteraunt Rules", the second season of which began last week. The basic concept; five teams of two from five different cities were given funding to open and run their own reasteraunts.

There being no team from my home city of Canberra, last time I barracked for the team from Perth, I used to live in Perth and the young couple seemed really nice and had a good idea for a Resteraunt (I must eat there one day). This time however, I don't think I like team Perth. At the bank (where each team tries to convice a panel of judges to give them more money) they came across as winney and having no clear idea of what kind of resteraunt they were going to open.

I'm tentavily backing team Brisbane at this point. I'm shallow enough to admit that part of the reason is that the woman in said team is really beautiful, but I also think they've made a smart move going for a resteraunt with live music. The aforementioned woman has a great voice. If, as she says she plans to, some of the live music is provided by her, it will be great.

George Barna and Human Irrationality

I've heard quite a bit about George Barna recently. I've heard his reseach quoted in various forums and he seems to be reasonably highly thought of. I looked up his web-site and found a study which, if at all accurate, would give strong credence to the beliefe that humans are basically irrational.

Take this, Barna defines a "Born-Again Christian" (BAC) as someone who says that they have made a personal committment to Jesus Christ which is still important to them and who says that they expect to go to heaven when they die because they repented their sins and trusted in Jesus as their Saviour. He claims that there are between 80 and 85 million such folks in the USA. Now my first comment has to be that, from a biblical and patristic viewpoint, this is a totally unacceptable definition, however, we'll let that slide for the time being. The study further says that the number of BACs in the USA is between 80 and 85 million.

Now according to Mr. Barna:

* 98% of BACs say that their faith is very important to them (this might sound high, but have a read of the definition of BAC and ask how could the remaining 2%- 1.6 million Americans- possibly fit that definition and then say their faith is not very important to them)

* 38% of BACs say that a person can earn heaven by their own moral efforts (so they think they are going to heaven because they repented and recieved Christ as Lord but other people can get there some other way.)

* My personal favourite; 32% say they believe in moral absolutes. So the remaining 68% of BACs- rougly 55 million Americans- say that they are going to heaven because they've repented of their sins and accept Christ as Saviour but also deny the existence of moral absolutes. Can someone please explain to me what these people are thinking?

All in all, the reading of Barna's reasearch left me scratching my head at how people can believe such obviously contradictory things, and this from Christians. It left me feeling profoundly depressed about humanity's capacity for reason.