Friday, June 13, 2014

Sad and ironic

Talk about unintended consequences. From a good article about the anti-GMO fear-mongering:

Moms aren’t hearing the whole story and should be aware of the enormous costs associated with these regulations. For example, a dozen states are considering bills to label GM food. That may sound harmless, but labeling mandates will lead to fewer food choices for consumers and will harm the very businesses many of the anti-GMO activists claim to defend: the small farmer and upstart food producer. GMO labeling might be doable for large food manufacturers, but for businesses just starting out, medium-sized food companies, and small-scale farmers, the costs of these new regulations could be crushing. That’s right: Anti-GMO labeling laws will help Big Food by quashing the competition.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Loss of the sense of sin

Father Cummings writes with the most clarity I've seen on the remarried communion issue. The article is worth reading in its entirety, and here are the concluding two paragraphs:

We can so hope because, as Pope Francis reminded us citing the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “imputability and responsibility for an action can be diminished or even nullified by ignorance, inadvertence, duress, fear, habit, inordinate attachments, and other psychological or social factors” (CCC 1735 , cf. Evangelii Gaudium 44). Indeed, the drastic failure to communicate the faith to the last generation lends some plausibility to the idea that some divorced and remarried persons have no inkling of the gravity of their situation. Still, the same Catechism soon adds: “This ignorance can often be imputed to personal responsibility” (CCC 1791). This is, after all, a question of natural law. Could various “psychological and social factors” still take away responsibility for staying in an adulterous situation even when awareness dawns? In a recent interview given to Commonweal magazine, Cardinal Kasper seems to say “yes,” claiming that “heroism is not for the average Christian.” Judgment on the compatibility of this view with the Gospel is left to the reader.

In any case, imputability is clearly the elephant in the living room: a widespread reluctance to presume responsibility, and therefore guilt. Is this a merciful attitude or rather a symptom of the “loss of the sense of sin,” which Pius XII called the “sin of the century”? Pope John Paul II took up this theme thirty years ago, decrying “an ethical turning upside down” characterized by “such an attenuation of the notion of sin as almost to reach the point of saying that sin does exist, but no one knows who commits it” (Reconciliatio et paenitentia, 18). And this is still the topic of the hour. So when the bishops gather at the Synod to debate the question of communion for the divorced and remarried, it would be well if they did not talk at cross purposes, as have Cardinals Kasper and Caffarra. The real issue to discuss is why the pastoral approach to adulterers of Jesus Christ—“Go, and sin no more”—sounds judgmental to the pastors of our day.

The bold emphasis in the first paragraph is mine, and it goes without saying because we've been saying it for ages.

But that last line is the real gut punch in my opinion to the overly alleviative approach to the conscience promoted by many church leaders, and it is well deserved. If someone wants to receive Our Lord in Holy Communion for the reasons that he should wish to receive him, that should imply seriousness about his faith. If someone is serious about their faith then they don't want to offend Our Lord. So they form their conscience. They seek to know God's laws through the Church's moral teachings. Then they do whatever they need to do to get rid of grave sin in their life. And they will wait until they have accomplished this before they approach the altar. I don't see why this is hard to accept or promote.

Related to this obvious facet of obedience, I disagree with the Cardinal's statement that “heroism is not for the average Christian.” Christ said “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Mt. 5:48)” That is tough and requires a pretty good measure of heroism in this day and age and, I would argue, in any day and age. St. Paul's admonition about receiving communion is "Let a man first examine himself, (I Cor. 11:28)"; so I would argue that if heroism is not for the average Christian then neither is Holy Communion. After all if you don't think you are all that bad, and you refuse to examine yourself, why bother with the any of the sacraments at all?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Exactitude of Nuance

...or something...

Finished product—complete with irritating subtitles.

Oengus Moonbones: Storyteller Extraordinaire

Every time I visit Oengus's fine blog I feel like I've stepped into a different world. It's a lunar landscape of sorts. Plus I almost always learn at least one new word.

When I started to read his Story of St. Alison Kaylee that he recently relinked here, I immediately realized that I had read it once before when he wrote it almost 2 years ago. But I had forgotten it. Oengus has a simple style that really puts things right inside you, so often you don't remember the reading. The beauty somehow got directly infused into my soul. Or maybe I just forgot reading it? Either way it's lovely; here's an excerpt:

As the story goes, some time after her sister's passing, while walking on the beach with her friends — this was the Oregon coast near Tolovana — Alison looked out at the ocean waves and the sun light glistening on the foamy water. She saw a most marvelous vision that caused her to be frozen and transfixed. Her friends didn't know what was happening to her, as she seemed to just stand there on the sand staring out at the sea.

She saw two angels, dressed in sparkling white, their beards were long and golden, and they hovered with their feet just above the waves and the sun drenched water. Between them, they were holding a dark wooden cross, and on that cross Alison could see a vision of the Lord crucified and hanging there. He looked up at her, wearing the thorny crown, and said "love me, Alison, for I greatly loved you." Alison distinctly heard this and fell on her knees in the sand astonished. Her friends saw her doing this but only heard the rushing of the waves. Alison was never the same after this. She decided she would love Him who greatly loved her and bore such suffering for her sake to free her from her sins.

Read the whole thing; it's not long and well worth the time it takes to read.

On the quirkier side, check out his "ghost story" titled Caspar and Lonnie about two ghosts who become friends. Here's a teaser:

"Oh, look at that! A worm." said Caspar.

"Hey, I know him," said Lonnie, who had floated over to get a closer look. "That's my friend, Herman the worm."

"That is wonderful. He is your friend?" asked Caspar.

"Oh yeah," Lonnie explained, "I know him well. He helped to turn my mortal remains into compost, in a very environment-friendly, natural kind of way."

"Herman looks like he is in trouble. Maybe we should try to help him," said Caspar as he bent down besides Lonnie to get a closer look at the poor worm, who was in danger of desiccating if he didn't return soon to the moist earth.

It's not a finished story, but maybe if Mr. Moonbones gets enough readers he'll be inspired to finish the story.

How about a cute animal picture?

Yes, I think that's what we all actually need right now. H/T email from Catholic Fiction.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Around the internets, Vol. 2

A friend sent me this email last week. Here it is slightly edited:

I'm really not trying to get you to snap your molars off at the gum line, but I can't help but point out this followup, once again illustrating what a master manipulator Dreher is. As we saw, having baited the anti-Catholics with the Home babies story, he then quickly picked a fight with Andrew Sullivan both to provide himself with a "cutout" and to get himself linked up the food chain by provoking a response from Sullivan, which Sullivan duly supplied.

But the guy who TMFKS reminds us ostentatiously made up publicly with Sullivan only a year ago now decides to use him as his condom in two ways: first as cutout, and now as representative of Catholicism. The screaming subtext from the man who's still not going back to the Catholic Church is hardly subtle: if you really want a safely non-libertine, sodomy-free religion, better become Orthodox like him. Otherwise you might have to settle for Catholicism 3.5.

BTW, for any who might want to discuss Dante with Rod up close and personal in a hot, steamy environment, he helpfully discloses the specific YMCA where he now regularly works out and can be found:

It’s amazing that I can stand in the Y in Zachary, Louisiana....

Later my friend followed up with an earnest bleg for a Catholic to respond to this story and I said I toss something up. Which I didn't; I didn't find the time. However yesterday he got a major answer to his wish in the form of this fine article by fellow Clevelander, Tom Piatak titled "More Anti-Catholic Hysteria". Here's the meat of it:

It now turns out that the story has been grossly exaggerated. On Saturday, The Irish Times—a paper that is about as friendly to the Catholic Church as its New York namesake—reported that Catherine Corless told the paper that “I never said to anyone that 800 bodies were dumped in a septic tank. That did not come from me at any point. They are not my words.” One of the boys who found the bones in the 1970s, Barry Sweeney, told the Times that "there was no way there were 800 skeletons down that hole. Nothing like that number. I don’t know where the papers got that.” When asked by the Times how many bodies were in the pit, he replied, “About 20.” Nor is it clear that the underground pit found by the boys ever was a septic tank, though it may have been; or that the bodies they saw there were from the home, though they may have been; or that the nuns were the ones who decided to put them there, though they may have been. The Times story also notes that the number of dead children from the institution is "a stark reflection of a period in Ireland when infant mortality in general was very much higher than today, particularly in institutions, where infection spread rapidly. At times during those 36 years the Tuam home housed more than 200 children and 100 mothers." Indeed, the Irish Catholic blog Lux Occulta calculated that the mortality figures at the home are in line with general infant mortality in Ireland at the time.

Four years ago, when the same papers and bloggers trumpeting this story were attempting to blame Benedict XVI for clerical sexual abuse in Milwaukee decades earlier, British atheist Brendan O'Neill made this telling point: “it might be unfashionable to say the following but it is true nonetheless: very, very small numbers of children in the care or teaching of the Catholic Church in Europe in recent decades were sexually abused, but very, very many of them actually received a decent standard of education.” Whatever may have happened at one home for unwed mothers and their children in Tuam, O'Neill's basic point also applies to the vast number of Irish nuns who served in countless schools and hospitals in Ireland and throughout the world in the first half of the twentieth century. Rod Dreher's desire to pass judgment on Irish Catholicism on the basis of one poorly sourced story, and Andrew Sullivan's desire to jettison sexual morality on the basis of that same story, tell us that they cannot be trusted when it comes to the Catholic Church. Nor, indeed, can the myriad of newspapers that gleefully ran with this story.

I'm glad Tom was the one who responded to this. It's a common sense correction using facts and the title is so accurate. It is hysteria—note how old the subject matter is. Bill Donohue is always pointing out that the abuseniks must consistently go further and further back in time to find the evidence demanded by their narrative. It is anti-Catholic; Rod Dreher is anti-Catholic, Andrew Sullivan is a Catholic who is always bashing the Catholic church for its core teachings so he is basically an enabler of anti-Catholicism. And the initial word more just reminds us that this is just the latest round of hysteria from the scandal machine which will emanate from the tares among the wheat until the end of time.

Another reason I'm glad that a serious writer like Mr. Piatak responded was because it elicited this even more hysterical response from one of the aforementioned anti-Catholics in a lame partial-retraction:

It’s wrong to call all this “good news,” but to me, it is a relief to learn that the Church may be less culpable than the initial reports indicated. I posted the shocking first story, and have posted the debunking follow-ups as they’ve become available. That hasn’t stopped pious Tom Piatak, a stringer for a turgid Midwestern monthly, from losing his grip over my blogging. A “bitter apostate” he calls me, which is theologically ignorant; according to the Catechism, an “apostate” is one who totally repudiates Christianity, while a “schismatic” is one who affirms Christianity but who does not submit to the Roman pontiff. But this isn’t really about theology with him, but rather tribal breast-beating....

Who is losing their grip here? Sorry, but this verbal ad hominem assault on Tom Piatak is not going to go well for Rod Dreher. Tom Piatak is not some breast-beating neanderthal drone sent by the Catholic hierarchy. He is a nice guy and a smart, traditional conservative who writes for Vdare, Takimag, and ...oh, wait... lookie here! Seems like Mr. Piatak wrote for TAC once upon a time six years ago.

As Mark Levin once remarked in a similar situation, "Oh, the pain of it all."