Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Three Links Wednesday (vol. VIII)

"Now a child is the very sign and sacrament of personal freedom. He is a fresh free will added to the wills of the world; he is something that his parents have freely chosen to produce and which they freely agree to protect. They can feel that any amusement he gives (which is often considerable) really comes from him and from them and from nobody else. He has been born without the intervention of any master or lord. He is a creation and a contribution; he is their own creative contribution to creation. He is also a much more beautiful, wonderful, amusing and astonishing thing than any of the stale stories or jingling jazz tunes turned out by the machines. When men no longer feel that he is so, they have lost the appreciation of primary things, and therefore all sense of proportion about the world. People who prefer the mechanical pleasures, to such a miracle, are jaded and enslaved. They are preferring the very dregs of life to the first fountains of life."
-G.K. Chesterton

First, on catechesis (and Catechisms): Mr Mark Stricherz has a short post on the value of the Baltimore Catechism for the blue collar Catholic.
the Baltimore Catechism was not elaborate, overly complex, or opaque. It didn’t require an advanced degree to read and understand. As a result, Catholicism was accessible to ordinary church-goers, including the working classes. It was the way of our people....By accident or design, the American Church has gravitated toward the college educated. It is pulling in great intellectuals and theologians, but losing the non-intellectuals among us. Revising the Baltimore Catechism would help win them back.

There is, of course, nothing wrong (and a lot right) with the Church's appealing to the more intellectual crowd. However, this shouldn't be done at the exclusion of the "blue-collar" Catholics. On a related note, one of my own frustrations as a sometime catechist is that it seems like whenever I give a presentation, I'm told that it goes too deep in the theological context--and I have been told, in so many words, to specifically removed parts of my presentations which are based on the Baltimore Catechism. Suffice it to say that I agree with the thrust of Mr Stricherz's argument that the Baltimore Catechism is well-suited for "blue-collar" Catholics, but also really for all Catholics.

Next up, a post by Dr Stacy Trasancos concerning Catholicism, modernity, science, and scientism:
Faith is based on Divine Revelation, and science is based on Creation, both originate in God – The Objective Truth. [25] All methodical research performed in a “truly scientific manner” will follow moral laws and will not conflict with faith. [26] To admit less freedom in the pursuit of knowledge is to actually admit more knowledge because the authority to which assent is given is to the highest eternal Truth and infinite Wisdom. [27] The Catholic scientist is grateful to his Creator for revealed truths.
With disciplined but child-like humility and perseverance “being led, as it were, by the hand of God in spite of himself” he knows more of the important truths than vagabond free-thinkers. [28] Man is given dominion over Creation, and science and technology are resources that serve man and the good of society; but alone they cannot disclose anything about the meaning of existence. [29] There must be guiding principles in the pursuit of knowledge and research must conform to the plan and will of God. [30] The Catholic scientist is guided by the metaphysical principle that God is the Author of all truth, Creator of all things. Every experiment is designed under this principle, every set of data is interpreted under this principle, and every new hypothesis is formulated under this principle.
 Indeed, even the non-Catholic (heck, non-theistic) scientist is not free to be a totally free-thinker. Theory divorced from data is bad theory; on the other hand, data without any principles to interpret it is like so many bricks thrown hapazardly into a pile: not so much as house as just rubble. And both must ultimately fit into a broader metaphysical picture. Unfortunately, this idea "metaphysics" is practically a bad word amongst these "vagabond" scientists, so we are left with knowledge that only occasionally leads to better understanding, and rarely to wisdom, let alone which as allowed to point to Truth.

The Saint Peter's List blog has a nice primer on the 4 Laws (Eternal, Divine, Natural, and Human):
Too often Catholics – both sides of the American political aisle – try to be Catholic according to the precepts and philosophies of modernity and its intellectual trends. We push our Catholicism into the contraints of something alien to it and then wonder why our faith seems tenuous and conflated. The Catholic tradition has long rested on Aquinas’ treatment of the divinely ordered cosmos to answer questions of providence, Scripture, nature and politics. Catholics cannot thrive within philosophies and theologies marked by isolated stomping grounds and modern blinders. Catholics believe in one divinely ordered Creation. Catholics should not judge nor live their Catholic lives according to modernity, but should judge and live within modernity according to Catholicism. To accomplish this feat, one must understand the how existence is ordered and how harmony of these laws promotes the common good.
It's is worth noting (as the writer of the post does note) that human law is not an extension of the ruler's will, but is rather there to enforce (and clarify) the Natural Law (and to some extent also the Divine and Eternal Laws). "Human Law seeks through nature and reason to clarify and determine the gray areas of Natural Law." A bad (human) law is thus one which is contrary to the Natural Law (and thus ultimately to the Divine and Eternal Laws*). Thus, for example, the HHS Mandate as Human Law is a bad law because it does go contrary to the Natural Law, rather than complimenting or enforcing it (or even simply letting it alone); said mandate is thus unjust. Since it also violates conscience rights, it is not only unjust but also downright tyrannical, and should be resisted by all men of good will.

*This is not to say that the whole of the Divine and Eternal Laws must be enforced through Human Laws, but rather that neither should be opposed by Human Law.


It's not rare to find something which is offensive to Catholics (and meant to be) promulgated by one or another media outlet, be it the mainstream media or other sources. However, it seems that there is a recent spate of open bigotry on display in some of the latest offerings, from such sources as the Huffington Post and the New York Daily News (which I think probably qualify as at least quasi-mainstream outlets). This is to say nothing of the Church hating catholics--or Catholycs, or Catholites, or whatever--such as the New York Times' Mr Nicholas Kristof and Mrs Maureen Dowd (who we've had recent reason to consider), or for that matter the "toned-down" anti-Catholicism which makes it into the Washington Post disguised as a political commentary. But this latest round of offerings is nothing short of libel against the Church and her members, and smacks of the same willful ignorance and unbridled malice of the KKK and the know-nothing party (to pick two anti-Catholic groups from American history). This is not about just hating the Magisterium of the Church and those faithful to it, but of hating Catholicism qua Catholicism, hatred of all things Catholic. In the HuffPo (hit)piece in particular, the acrid smell of sulfur pours forth form my computer screen upon reading it. This is not merely dislike of or disagreement with the Church's doctrines but rather hatred of the Church as the visible and unified communal body of Christ. There is indeed a war on the Church, and not only in America; there always will be until the Parousia and the Last Judgment. This war is certainly waged by some people actively and others passively, some intentionally and some not; but it is more important still to recognize who the real enemy is in this war, who is the "general" of the army opposing the Church Militant, who ultimately directs the war against the Church. It may be politically incorrect to say it, but Truth is rarely politically correct, and neither ultimately is acknowledging that there be an enemy of Truth. That enemy is Satan, the devil.

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