Monday, September 28, 2009

The Evils of Capitalism in Children's Stories

It looks like Darwin is stirring up trouble again. He has an exposé up on

the old Capitalist pig, Beatrix Potter.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Flowering of Baptismal Grace

I just had a much needed revelation as I was reading over my notes on the Sacrament of Baptism. This particular lecture started with the issue of infant baptism, why some reformers (Anabaptists) disputed its validity, how the Church justifies it now, and how clearly Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition both attest it (the former implicitly—e.g., Col. 2:11-12—and the latter explicitly).

One statement in my lecture really struck home: "Post-baptismal catechesis [is] necessary for the flowering of baptismal grace." Now, while the turth of the statement in itself is obvious, it's actually the image that struck home with me.

My daughter, on her own choice, came into the Church when she was in the 5th grade. I did what I could to prepare her, and she had some good instruction in the parish. However, it wasn't very long after she hit 7th grade that she started showing some dissatisfaction and even a bit of hostility. I finally had to confront her with this and discovered that the issues came back to the typical objections: didn't "feel" the presence anymore, didn't understand the prohibition against women's ordination, didn't think abortion should be illegal (although she was personally appalled by it), and didn't think it was fair that homosexuals couldn't marry.

Now, why a 7th grader would suddenly be so concerned about these things is another issue. However, my explanations weren't going to suffice since she was clearly hearing these arguments from someone she took to be somehow more authoritative. I don't know who that would be, and the suspects are people I wouldn't be able to keep her from anyway.

I think back to my own formation (which was weak). Hers has been spotty, I must admit (since it didn't start until mid-elementary age). My mom did a bit of work on her when she was younger, and I did as well, once I was back on the road to the Church. However, what she has been given has been more sophisticated than what I received, which might be part of the problem. Nonetheless, it wasn't the weak, childish view of God that I received, and it wasn't the touchy-feely God as best buddy pap that some children have received in the last 40 years. I don't know if that's good or bad.

Anyway, my own experience is that baptismal grace did not flower in me until I had a good healthy dose of fertilizer. I had to get down in the dirt and rot before I realized how much I needed God. I pray that her experience will not be the same. However, clearly she's getting some of that fertilizer tossed into her spiritual flower garden. So, I'll continue to pray for her conversion and flowering (and I ask you to pray for her, too). Consider it Miracle-Gro for the soul.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sacraments and the Liturgy

I've just wrapped up an ecclesiology/church history course for the deacon formation program, just after having started a course on the sacraments. I have another tripple header coming up—seminar, followed by paper, followed by RCIA presentation. After that, I should be able to focus solely on the theology class.

On of the course texts is Johanes H. Emminghaus' book, The Eucharist: Essence, Form and Celebration (originally, The Mass: Nature, Form, and Celebration). I tend to read the forewards and introductions, although they sometimes digress from the point a bit. However, I did run across some quotable material. While Emminghaus seems positive about the reform of the liturgy, he seemed to be rather skeptical about all of the innovation going on, and he said something I think the Holy Father and others have reiterated before and perhaps should be emblazoned above the door of every vestry:

Whims of the person presiding over the service, going beyond the variable norms of the liturgucal books, represent bad forms of clericalism: the result is that the community is subjected to the favorite ideas and private notions of the presider. (xx)

Clericalism has many forms. One is the insistence of the presider to do his own thing. What frequently happens is that the congregation gets lost and doesn't know when or how to respond to it. Are we truly supposed to listen and hang upon every minute signal to know what a priest's new formula means so that we can decipher what we are to say? How can their be active participation this way?

The book is excellent and starts by describing the structure of the Passover and its relationship to the Eucharistic celebration. It's a bit more on the technical side thn, say, The Lamb's Supper, but I don't think it's so much so to put off the average reader.

UPDATE: Just to make clear, I'm not talking about any particular clergy here and certainly not about our own rector and parochial vicar (and our bishop), who are exemplary in their adherence to the rubrics.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Merits of Taking the Criminally Insane to the State Fair

I couldn't tell you if there are any, but apparently the staff at Eastern State Hospital in Washington seem to think there are. Unfortunately, this insane killer decided to go AWOL.

I can't say I'm too surprised. I used to live right down the hill from Eastern State Hospital in Medical Lake, and security there has never been exactly what you'd call tight. Or even existent. Patients used to walk into town with some frequency, and the EHS staff wasn't particularly concerned about who came on campus either. You can drive right through the campus and past the old "hospital" for the criminally insane about a mile past the main campus. I remember one winter evening, when we were having dinner, a man came right up to our patio sliding-glass door and knocked. He was dressed in a short-sleeved Hawaiian shirt and khakis. My dad opened to see what he needed, and all he said was, "I'm cold." My dad let him in, and he came in and warmed up, and my dad later drove him back up to the hospital. He gave my dad three different names.

A look at Google Earth shows me that the area has been expanded quite a bit and doesn't have the same "charm" that it used to have. Maybe "creep factor" would be more accurate. As kids living in the vicinity, it was an excellent source for horror stories and such. Not to say that we avoided it at all. We were on the hill every chance we could get.

The hill itself is actually quite beautiful, rising between Medical Lake proper and West Medical Lake. My family's house was on the east end of Medical Lake, just up a hill and overlooking the lake.

There was an old concrete hut on the side of the lake. We imagined it was a pill box, but of course, there was no reason for anyone to build a pill box next to the lake. There were also little "caves" in the rock and various places where we could get into danger. On the eastern end of the hospital campus was a granite slide, and further east a thicker wood where our "military campaigns" took place.

Medical Lake has a reputation, not only for Eastern State Hospital, but also Lakeland Village (a home for people with developmental disabilities) and Interlake School. Nonetheless, it was a great place to live at the time. I really hated leaving there for Anchorage, AK.

UPDATE: Holy cow, like they couldn't have predicted something was up? The guy had a backback with a change of clothes and an electric guitar with him. For a trip to the freaking fair?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What the world needs now...

is more Truthers.


And just in case you haven't seen this reality series from a few years back.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Got kitsch?

This weekend marks an annual event here in Boise, when which I never fail to miss.

Kitsch in the Park!*

Looking for a new dream catcher?

Or maybe a wolf t-shirt?

Or maybe you want a dreamcatcher with howling wolves on it?

Or maybe you're just looking for a new velvet Elvis to put next to your old velvet Elvis.

Maybe you want a terra cotta image of your spirit guide, like this dazzling seal!

You can find this and more at Boise's annual Kitsch in the Park!

*Actually, Art in the Park, but if it's anything like it used to be, my title is more acurate.

UPDATE: I meant this post in jest mostly to poke fun at the quasi-spiritual nature of a lot of the crafts offered at the festival, but I have updated this post to remove a line that could (and did) give offense. My apologies to anyone else who was offended.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

First Presentation Tomorrow

I've been asked to give a presentation at our parish RCIA class on Divine Revelation. I've been a stand-up trainer for publishing technologies, and I've taught literature and composition at the college level. This will be my first ever Church gig.

It's about one semester's worth of theology stuffed into 90 minutes. We'll either see how much I overprepared or prepare to set a speed record.

Wish my luck and prayers!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Prayer Request

We're feeling some financial and personal stressors right now. I would appreciate any prayers you can offer us. Grace and peace to you.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Theology Bleg

If anyone out there knows anything about a translation of Augustine's Retractions, please drop me a line.