Thursday, February 28, 2008

Not sure I like the subtext here...

One danger of checking out Julie D's blog is that she always has the latest quiz. ANd of course, I'm always suckered into them.

Looks like I get what I ask for.

You Are a Colon

You are very orderly and fact driven.

You aren't concerned much with theories or dreams... only what's true or untrue.

You are brilliant and incredibly learned. Anything you know is well researched.

You like to make lists and sort through things step by step. You aren't subject to whim or emotions.

Your friends see you as a constant source of knowledge and advice.

(But they are a little sick of you being right all of the time!)

You excel in: Leadership positions

You get along best with: The Semi-Colon

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Esolen on Piety

Mark Shea posted a link to an excellent article by Anthony Esolen, an author fast becoming a favorite of mine. I think Esolen nailed it right here:

For the fathers of the council did not see that they could not have undertaken their task in a less promising time. They mistook the signs of that time. They thought that they had to scale again the promontory of wisdom, to renew for the people of their day the insights into a truth that is from everlasting. But they could not see that those same people were rapidly forgetting what it means to remember; the age was not replacing one culture with another, but culture itself with nothing, with the anarchy of individual choice, which becomes little more than the managed chaos of mass entertainment and humanly pointless work. For we were finally rich enough to afford the ceaseless idleness of a hamster on his wheel.

UPDATE: I read this passage from Matthew 5 this morning but read it again at choral Vespers this evening. Seems apropos:

Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Prayer Request

My wife's uncle, Daryll Stover, has been diagnosed with colon cancer. He's in his mid-60s and raising his two grandchildren along with my wife's aunt. Please pray for healing for him.

No More Terror Apologetics

Scott at Cordelia's Shoes has links to an excellent article written by Master SERE trainer Malcom Nance, someone intimately familiar with waterboarding.

I have nothing more to add except my complete agreement with the master trainer.

Catholics Come Home

Dom Bettinelli posted links to these videos (1 2 3) on the Catholics Come Home web site.

This looks like a fantastic ministry.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Somehow this dropped off the radar.

We had a 6.3 magnitude quake south of the Idaho border in northeastern Nevada today. It's all over the local news. Do you know what's not on the news locally or nationally?

The 7.6 magnitude quake that occurred in Indonesia yesterday.

You;d think a major earthquake might make the news.

Well, that is unless there's a story about Britney or Paris.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

More Free Fiction!

Julie D. has posted a review about Jane Lebak's novel Seven Archangels: Annihilation for te last couple of weeks. Wouldn't you know it, Jane has posted the first seven chapters online. I love it when I can test drive my fiction!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Starting an International Fundraising Organization

I mentioned a host during my trip, a Salesian priest working in Bethlehem, on my posts here and here. Fr. Jacques teaches at the Salesian Technical School and has been a Salesian for somewhere close to 50 years (starting in minor seminary), spending the majority of his time in the Middle East.

Anyway, one of the points he impressed upon me was the importance of education in the peace process. Even though the Salesian schools are Catholic, the majority of the students are Muslim, and of the Muslim students, most of them are women. In order to raise Muslim men with a heart toward peace, he noted, we have to start by changing the hearts of the mothers. By educating the mothers, we increase the likelihood that the children will not be raised as "martyrs" for the Palestinian Muslim radicals.

Of course, the school also teaches the small population of Palestinian Christians. Bethlehem has probably the largest concentration of Christians (where around 50% are Christian and 50% Muslim). This Christian community gets it from both sides, being treated as a lower class by both Muslims and Israelis. Unemployment in the West Bank is at around 40% since the wall was completed and the checkpoints closed, so times are very difficult for the people of Bethlehem.

I mentioned my desire to do something to support the school. It has few if any resources locally, and no doubt under the current circumstances, they receive only a fraction of the tuition they should be receiving. Fr. Jacques asked if I knew of how one might go about setting up some kind of fundraising effort here in the US. Now I have run the parish foodbank for the past three and a half years. I do some fundraising, but mostly I do bookkeeping and inventory. I can imagine there would be considerable bureaucratic overhead in setting up a larger operation, not to mention one that supported ministries in the West Bank, of all places. Anyway, if any of my few readers have any suggestion in this area, I would greatly appreciate some information.

For more on Salesian schools and the Salesian Preventive System, go here.

Here's an article on the Salesian Technical School in Bethlehem and their mission.

Friday, February 15, 2008

What Church Father am I?

You’re St. Melito of Sardis!

You have a great love of history and liturgy. You’re attached to the traditions of the ancients, yet you recognize that the old world — great as it was — is passing away. You are loyal to the customs of your family, though you do not hesitate to call family members to account for their sins.

Find out which Church Father you are at The Way of the Fathers!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

The First Spanish Republic and Persecution of Catholics

I have alway identified the Spanish Republic with the regime of Franco and the Spanish Civil War. However, the Catholic Culture web site has this eye-opening interview concerning the persecution the the first Spanish Republic ushered in prior to the Spanish Civil War.

Just how extensive was the persecution? According to Vincente Carcel Orti:

Albeit incomplete, the figures are impressive: 18 bishops, 4,184 between priests and seminarians, 283 nuns and about 4,000 laymen were killed for helping or hiding priests or nuns. It must be emphasized that in the part of the country occupied by Franco's troops, no harm was done to the clergy nor were the churches destroyed.

Angelic Disputations

Paul Cat over at Alive and Young caught a couple of cherubim mourning their less than fearsome presence in Rennaissance (Barogque?) art. Apparently, winged babies just aren't fearsome enough.

I dunno, add a little projectile vomiting at 2:00 AM, and I think a winged baby might be quite fearsome.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

"Banned" from the Bible

Yes, those are scare quotes around "banned."

I know I shouldn't do this, but I watched the Heresy Channel again tonight. (I will have to include this in my next confession.) This evening's show discussed books that were excluded from the New Testament canon. You see, to exclude something is apparently the same thing as condemning it. Yes, indeed, it feature J. Dominic Crossan and a host of others who talk about books that the Catholic Church forbade.

Some examples...

- The Protevangelium of James - yes, the very document that confirms Catholic tradition concerning the matter of the virgin birth, the names of Mary's parents, the age and status of Joseph. Accepted by many local churches as inspired, but not by all. It's still considered a valuable text in supporting Catholic tradition for obvious reasons.

- The Shepherd of Hermas. Just tossed out as an example of one of many.

To the credit of the producers, one of the guests noted that these books weren't added to the canon because they were known only to some locales and not to the Church as a whole. I didn't hear any mention of the fact that some of these books were mentioned specifically by the early Church fathers—sometimes in appreciation, and other times (as with the Gospel of Thomas) in condemnation.

I know I shouldn't punish myself by watching these mockumentaries, but sometimes I just can't look away.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Pictures from Israel

Here are a few photos I took while on my trip. I'll warn you now that I am no photographer. These are provided merely to give you an idea what I saw.

You'll notice to the right of this structure is some Arabic script. This room used to be used as a mosque but was recently returned to the control of the Catholic Church. Why? Well, Mark 14:13-14 should give you an idea.

And he sent two of his disciples, and said to them, "Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him, 14 and wherever he enters, say to the householder, 'The Teacher says, Where is my guest room, where I am to eat the passover with my disciples?'

What's interesting is how they know this was the location, and that is a combination of a few historical and archeological facts. First, this location is close to the traditional tomb of David, a site that any observant Jew would visit on a trip to Jerusalem. You'd think a descendant of David would be even more likely to do so. Second, Jesus instructs his disciples to look for a man carrying water, a task typically performed by women. The only place men would be carrying water is a place where there were no women. In this case, the location was used by the Essenes, a sect that was largely celibate and male. So scripture gives us a hint as to the location, and Jewish tradition and history supply the rest of the information (no doubt aided by Christian tradition as well).

The site was turned into a mosque following the capture of the city by the Muslims. In 2000, when Pope John Paul II, the State of Israel returned it to the control of the Church.

This picture was taken in the Greek Orthodox chapel on the location of the crucifixion. The Catholic Church controls an altar just to the right on the location commonly considered the location where Jesus was nailed to the cross.

Here is a photo of the base of the altar. You can see the rock of Golgotha behind the glass and a pilgram kneeling to touch the rock through an opening.

This structure is the edicule of the tomb of Christ, built during the time of the crusades. This is the location that my tour guide indicated was purely symbolic. See my previous post concerning the reliability of his claim. However, just around the corner in the Armenian-controlled section was a room that had what definitely looked like a tomb.

While all of the basilica was interesting, the one place that truly moved me was the site of the crucifixion. I've heard an archaeologist on some Heresy Channel show claim that the rock is simply too small for three people to have been crucified there. However, her perspective seems to ignore several facts:

- 1980 years of natural wear can dramatically change the face of a hillside.
- A pagan temple was built on the same location, then removed.
- The site changed hands numerous times and was likely further effaced during the process.

The tradition, on the other hand, goes back earlier than the time of St. Helena (4th century). The distrust of tradition seems to be at the heart of the objections.

One last point that provides an interesting commentary on the differences between the Eastern and Western churches—while the crusaders and the Latin Church refer to the location as the CHurch of the Holy Sepulchre, the Eastern Church refers to it as the Church of the Anastasis (or Resurrection).