The Archbishop of Piraeus, Seraphim, has called for the excommunication of Greek MPs who vote for same-sex partnerships, which the European Court of Human Rights has required the country to implement. The news stories I found were uniformly critical to hostile, and none quoted him at any length, so what exactly he said and how good his arguments were can’t be decided.
Whatever one thinks of the archbishop’s declaration, however, there are some people who just shouldn’t speak in public because they’ve lost the respect necessary to be heard. The archbishop had previously (in December 2010) told a Greek television show “Adolf Hitler was an instrument of world Zionism and was financed from the renowned Rothschild family with the sole purpose of convincing the Jews to leave the shores of Europe and go to Israel to establish the new Empire.” The Greek Orthodox Church in America condemned his statement as “gravely offensive and totally unacceptable.”
His clarification did not help. After explaining that his views are his own and that “I respect, revere, and love the Jewish people,” he continued:
My public vehement opposition against International Zionism refers to the organ that is the successor of the “Sanhedrin” which altered the faith of the Patriarchs, the Prophets and the Righteous of the Jewish nation through the Talmud, the Rabbinical writings and the Kabbalah into Satanism, and always strives vigorously towards an economic empire set up throughout the world with headquarters in the great land beyond the Atlantic for the prevalence of world government and pan-religion.
One can’t say that sort of thing and expect to be listened to again. In this case, he’s made it particularly easy for homosexualist partisans to equate opposition to the political approval of homosexuality with lunatic bigotry.
Mega-church pastor Mark Driscoll just can’t seem to avoid controversy. He’s crass and brash, and he says outrageous things. He’s always making some Christian somewhere uncomfortable. This time, however, it’s not about the words that he’s said. It’s that he’s claimed the words that other people have said.
On November 21, Janet Mefferd, a radio host, accused Driscoll of plagiarism. She pointed out that passages from his new book, A Call to Resurgence: Will Christianity Have a Funeral or a Future?, reproduce ideas from a book by Peter Jones published in 1999, Gospel Truth/Pagan Lies: Can You Tell the Difference? Driscoll blew off her assertion. Mefferd has uploaded a comparison of the similar passages, along with some other suspect passages, here.
If I had come across the Call to Resurgence passage, I’d have been concerned about the lack of citation, but I might have just shrugged it off as ineptitude.
Some of the other evidence that Mefferd found is more damning. In a book on First and Second Peter published by Mars Hill Church, Driscoll lifts whole paragraphs almost word-for-word from the entry on First Peter in the New Bible Commentary, published by IVP in 1994. These passages are at the end of the previous link, and Mefferd provides additional passages here.
I’m a university professor. I have no tolerance for this kind of nonsense. I’ve failed students for less flagrant plagiarism. So, it’s my duty, as a member of my professing profession, to give Driscoll an “F.”
Mark Driscoll, you have failed.
I’ve dealt with a number of plagiarists, and it seems to me that plagiarism stems from two issues. I’ll let you decide which problem Driscoll suffers from, because there obviously is a problem.
1. Laziness. Writing is hard work, so some writers don’t want to do it right. Laziness also leads to procrastination. Getting behind schedule causes writers to cut corners and plagiarize.
2. Ignorance. I don’t mean ignorance of the conventions of proper citation. Everyone knows not to steal other people’s words. I mean ignorance of the topic. Sometimes people plagiarize because they are incompetent. They don’t know enough about their topic to ask interesting questions and provide interesting answers. Thus they must regurgitate what someone else has done. Becoming competent would take too much work (see reason one), and admitting incompetence would be embarrassing.
Unfortunately, this kind of thing is pretty common in Christian publishing. I remember when I was in seminary I came across a couple of paragraphs in a new commentary that had been lifted word-for-word from a very old commentary. I told my professor about it, and he shook his head sadly. He said, “I know that author. I can’t believe he did that.” We didn’t have blogs back then. It was much more difficult to “out” the plagiarists.
Of course, perhaps Driscoll isn’t a plagiarist. Maybe he employed a ghostwriter who is a plagiarist. It’d be convenient to have a scapegoat right now. But even if it was his ghostwriter, I’ll still fail him because we university professors don’t actually approve of ghostwriting. I know it’s typical in Christian publishing, but it’s still lying. Ghostwriting is lying, and plagiarism is stealing, and there seems to be a lot of it going around.
I’m sorry, Pastor Mark, but I don’t give extra credit. You’ll be stuck with the grade you’ve earned on this one.
(And because it’s always important to cite your sources, I give Jonathan Merritt the HT for this one.)
Presidents have it in their gift to honor civilians who have served the nation with distinction with prestigious medals that are conferred at White House ceremonies. Of course, there is bound to be controversy about whom presidents choose to honor. In particular, one can hardly expect universal acclaim when presidents honor people who are strongly associated with causes about which the American people are divided. People on the left will be offended when people on the right receive presidential medals, and vice versa.
Naturally, presidents’ ideas about who has served the nation with distinction will be shaped by their beliefs about which causes are good and which are bad. So I am not shocked or scandalized by President Obama’s decision to confer the Presidential Medal of Freedom—the highest of honors that can be conferred on civilians—on Gloria Steinem, for example. Her aggressive advocacy of abortion (among other liberal causes) strikes the President as a good thing, because he believes that making abortion legal, making it as widely available as possible, and financing it with taxpayer money are all good things. I disagree, but I’m not the President. Barack Obama is the President. As President, he has the right to award presidential medals based on his own best judgments of good and bad, right and wrong, justice and injustice.
So I’m not complaining—about that.
I am complaining, however, about the President’s decision to confer the Medal of Freedom on William Jefferson Clinton. This is indefensible. President Clinton disgraced the office that he held and Barack Obama now holds. The less important dimension of this disgracing of the presidency was Clinton’s carrying on a sordid affair with a White House intern. The more important dimensions were his lying to the American people, his perjury, and his obstruction of justice. For the latter two offenses, he was impeached by the House of Representatives. Although he survived a Senate trial that would have removed him from office, the state in which he was licensed to practice law (Arkansas) punished his offenses against the system of justice he was sworn to uphold with a suspension of his law license.
To me, it was scandalous for President Obama to honor such a man with the nation’s highest civilian award—or any award. This is not a case of honoring someone for service to a cause (for example, abortion) that some people, including the President, think is good and I and others think is bad. It is a case of honoring a man who shamefully dishonored the high office entrusted to him by the American people by a series of acts that are not defended—and cannot be defended—by anyone.
Some of my fellow pro-lifers will say that what Steinem advocates (the taking of innocent human life) is far worse than what Clinton did (the affair, the lying, the perjury, the obstruction of justice). I agree. So if I were president, there is zero chance that Gloria Steinem would get a medal of any kind. But again, I am not president. The American people (to my inestimable regret) elected Barack Obama to that office. Elections have consequences. As president, he has the right to confer medals on people who, in his judgment, have served the nation with distinction by championing causes that are, again in his judgment, good ones. So if there is a scandal, it is in Obama’s extreme pro-abortionism (see here, here, and here)—the extremism that causes him to believe that a person like Gloria Steinem deserves to be honored by the nation. Given his beliefs about abortion, however misguided, his giving the medal to Steinem makes perfect sense.
Consider how different the situation is with Clinton, however. President Obama doesn’t say (and, I must assume, doesn’t believe) that having affairs with White House interns, lying to the American people, testifying falsely under oath, suborning the perjury of others, hiding evidence from courts, and the like are good things. (By the way, I won’t even go into the corrupt pardons—Mark Rich and the rest—since there is no need to pile on.) He knows that they are bad things. And when done by a person sworn “faithfully to execute the laws,” and most especially when done by the chief executive of the United States, they are an outrage and an utter disgrace. (I realize that Obama himself has rather flagrantly lied to the American people about healthcare and Benghazi, but lay that aside for the moment.) That doesn’t mean we need to hound Bill Clinton. And his offenses are by no means unforgiveable (after all, we are all sinners and have fallen short). But for heaven’s sake, it does mean that his successors should not be conferring the nation’s highest civilian honors on him. Just as elections have consequences, criminal acts performed while serving as President of the United States have consequences—or should have.
I do not deny that a person can be great—and merit high honors—despite moral lapses. But even if Bill Clinton were truly repentant—which, as far as I am aware, we have no reason to suppose—and even if he were great—which, in my opinion, he most definitely is not—among the consequences of disgracing one’s office by committing criminal acts should be no national honors for one’s conduct in office. That is hardly a harsh principle or a cruel judgment. Other people have actually gone to jail for perjury and obstruction of justice. Indeed, some who went to jail for those crimes—including lying about sex—were successfully prosecuted by the Clinton administration’s Department of Justice. Please pause for a moment, gentle reader, to think about that.
Of course, what’s done is done. Barack Obama has conferred the Medal of Freedom on Bill Clinton. History cannot be reversed. As President Clinton’s die hard supporters insisted at the height of the Lewinsky scandal, it’s time to “move on.” So let’s do that. Memo to the next Republican President. The Medal of Freedom can be conferred posthumously. I have two words for you: Henry Hyde.
Happy Wednesday! Here’s what we have for you to read today:
Here at First Thoughts, Peter Blair thinks about Francis.
And that’s it—we’ll see you Monday.
What does it mean that the Atlantic and Matthew Yglesias’ Moneybox blog both ran appreciative posts today about Pope Francis’ recent apostolic exhortation, or that the Daily Caller published a story about conservatives’ reactions to the exhortation? As someone who has been occasionally annoyed by the way Francis’ symbolic gestures have had such a profound effect on people—there’s something frustrating about people flocking to mass because Pope Francis doesn’t wear red shoes—I was thrilled to see Evangelii Gaudium making waves with its serious, substantive, economic thought. As Peter Maurin once put it, the social teaching of the church is like dynamite whose power and force is rarely appreciated. To see that social teaching driving discussion and setting the terms of the debate is very exciting.
But it’s important to remember that the two sides, the symbolic and the substantive, are related. Michael Sean Winters noted at the time of Benedict XVI’s abdication that Benedict wrote more often and more insightfully on economic, environmental, and social questions than he was usually given credit for. There is a lot of continuity between the Benedict’s economic thought and Francis’ economic thought, but the latter’s writings have begun to set the agenda for mainstream political and economic conversation in a way the former’s never did.
The reason for the disparity here has largely to do with the pope’s style, although calling it “style” might be giving it a more glib word than it actually deserves. People are listening to Pope Francis because they believe, consciously or otherwise, that he has moral authority. No doubt part of this comes from his interviews and off-the-cuff remarks that have made people think he takes a softer stand on sexual morality than his predecessors. But it also has to do with his much-vaunted humility, his habit of calling up critics for some casual conversation, and, of course, his photo-ops with the poor and the disfigured.
We may be annoyed that people’s faith or their willingness to listen to the Catholic social teaching hangs so much on things like this, but human beings are moralizing, affective creatures. It’s always been the case that the perceived moral purity of the clergy has driven the fortunes of the Church—think of all the Frenchmen who became Cathars not because of theological disputation per se but because they were impressed by the asceticism of the Cathar perfecti. It’s been a long time since people have been willing to credit moral authority to church figures, and much of that has to do with the lingering anger over the way sexual abuse cases were covered up. It’s Pope Francis’ accomplishment that he has restored some moral authority to the papal office, such that people are more willing to listen to what he has to say.
Still, poverty and capitalism are perhaps the areas where he has had the least resistance to overcome among the Western literati, simply because many antecedently agree with Francis on economics. The real test will be whether the moral authority he’s claimed will allow him to challenge people on issues that are less congenial to their pre-existing biases.
If Francis can manage that, he will truly have shown that there exists a religious middle that can be reclaimed for institutional Christianity, provided we have the moral integrity and public relations savvy to claim it.
Peter Blair is a staff writer at the American Interest and the editor-in-chief of Fare Forward.
Atonement, Theosis & St. Paul
Patrick Henry Reardon, Preachers’ Institute
Are You Really Calling for a Schism, Tony Jones?
Billy Kangas, The Orant
Hal Parker, American Reader
Bones of the Book
Robert Moor, n+1
Catacombs on Google
Elise Harris, National Catholic Register
Happy Tuesday! Here’s what we have for you to read today.
Peter Leithart doesn’t enjoy first person shooters (“I’m . . . the guy everyone sneaks up to get an easy kill”), is reading Papal Economics, books on violence, and a book about Thomist ontology which sounds really interesting but is also only available in French.
Here at First Thoughts, Dale M. Coulter writes about Thanksgiving, America, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Hawthorne; Robert P. George gives us some of the highlights from Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation; Carl R. Trueman has a post how the political scene has shifted; and David Mills has his doubts about the Francis effect.
In the blogging world, what follows is known as a “bleg”:
As some First Things readers know, in my day job, I’m the Director of the Center for Law and Religion at St. John’s University in New York. The Center has its own blog, the Center for Law and Religion Forum, which contains regular updates on law and religion cases, news, and scholarship from across the globe, as well as commentary by me, my St. John’s colleague, Marc DeGirolami, and frequent guests. The blog has been in operation for a couple of years now and has filled an important niche in the American legal academy: fair and balanced coverage of vital issues at the intersection of law and religion.
We were delighted to learn yesterday that the American Bar Association Journal has named the Center for Law and Religion Forum as one of the top 100 blogs on law and lawyers in its annual “Blawg 100” survey. The ABA quoted a reader: CLR Forum “highlights interesting news in law and religion that no other such blawg highlights. Its commentary is incisive and fair. Its point of view is unique among blawgs for taking seriously varied religious traditions rather than mocking them or treating them in a lowest-common-denominator fashion.” We’re very grateful to the ABA and the readers who nominated us.
Now for the bleg: The ABA is asking readers to select their favorite blogs from each of the survey’s categories, including the “Niche” category, where the ABA has placed CLR Forum. Voting began yesterday and will continue until December 20. If you think that it’s important to have a blog that fairly covers law and religion issues and offers commentary that departs from conventional academic secularism, please check out CLR Forum and, if you like what you see, vote for us by clicking here and following the links. Thanks!
“New Pew Research Analysis Finds No Clear ‘Pope Francis Effect’ Among U.S. Catholics” reads the headline of a press release from the Pew Research Center’s Religion and Public Life Project. The release explains that though 79% of American Catholics rate the pope favorably, “the percentage of Americans who identify as Catholics has remained the same—22%—as it was during the corresponding seven-month period in 2012.” A summary of the study can be found here.
Sounds bad, or at least disappointing, and some newspapers are going to pick up the story — and ignore that hedging “clear” — but it is a non-story. With 314 million Americans, the number identifying themselves as Catholic would have to rise by three million to raise the percentage one percent, and that’s three million among the portion of the population countable by surveys . Francis’ greatest fan does not expect that kind of response in just seven months.
And besides, suppose in that time just one million more people started identifying, or more likely re-identifying, themselves as Catholics. Wouldn’t that be possible evidence of a “Francis effect” though it would make no difference in the percentage? Surveys are too blunt an instrument to measure such things, but not too blunt for press releases.
As middle age begins to bite and life’s pleasures become either more vicarious, whereby one lives through one’s children, or less impressive, as with one’s ever-diminishing speed on a long distance run, one delight that actually becomes ever more gratifying is having one’s prejudices confirmed. There truly is nothing sweeter. For this reason, I recommend the autobiography of British journalist, Melanie Phillips, Guardian Angel.
The Long, Slow Death of the Senate
Robert W. Merry, National Interest
The Council and the Question of Salvation
Thomas Joseph White, O.P., Catholic World Report
Where Equal Is Worse?
Kay Hymowitz, Family Studies
“The Cave and the Light”: True, But Not True Enough
Joel Gehrke, Federalist
A History of the Left-Right Divide
Yuval Levin, Salon
Pope Francis has issued an Apostolic Exhortation titled Evangelii Gaudium. The Pope presents the “Joy of the Gospel” in its wholeness, which has been the theme of his pontificate from the very beginning. Among many other things, including our obligations to the poor and the duty to establish and maintain just economic, political, and legal orders, the exhortation addresses the proper understanding of marriage—explicitly rejecting the “emotional bond” conception of “marriage” that underwrites revisionist ideas such as no-fault divorce and same-sex unions—and the obligation to defend the life of the child in the womb. Anyone who feared or hoped that Pope Francis intended to change (which would not be possible) or soft-pedal the Church’s teachings on these matters might want to note carefully what he says.
On marriage: “The family is experiencing a profound cultural crisis, as are all communities and social bonds. In the case of the family, the weakening of these bonds is particularly serious because the family is the fundamental cell of society, where we learn to live with others despite our differences and to belong to one another; it is also the place where parents pass on the faith to their children. Marriage now tends to be viewed as a form of mere emotional satisfaction that can be constructed in any way or modified at will. But the indispensable contribution of marriage to society transcends the feelings and momentary needs of the couple. As the French bishops have taught, it is not born ‘of loving sentiment, ephemeral by definition, but from the depth of the obligation assumed by the spouses who accept to enter a total communion of life.’”
On the sanctity of human life: “Among the vulnerable for whom the Church wishes to care with particular love and concern are unborn children, the most defenseless and innocent among us. Nowadays efforts are made to deny them their human dignity and to do with them whatever one pleases, taking their lives and passing laws preventing anyone from standing in the way of this. Frequently, as a way of ridiculing the Church’s effort to defend their lives, attempts are made to present her position as ideological, obscurantist and conservative. Yet this defense of unborn life is closely linked to the defense of each and every other human right. It involves the conviction that a human being is always sacred and inviolable, in any situation and at every stage of development. Human beings are ends in themselves and never a means of resolving other problems. Once this conviction disappears, so do solid and lasting foundations for the defense of human rights, which would always be subject to the passing whims of the powers that be. Reason alone is sufficient to recognize the inviolable value of each single human life, but if we also look at the issue from the standpoint of faith, ‘every violation of the personal dignity of the human being cries out in vengeance to God and is an offence against the creator of the individual.’”
The complete text of the exhortation in English translation has been posted on the Vatican website.
Since moving to Virginia I have experienced a divided mind although I know scripture warns against such. Growing up on the east coast of Florida, I have a strong inclination to side with the claim that the first Thanksgiving really occurred on September 8, 1565 between Pedro Menéndez de Avilés and the Eastern Timucua, who had long lived on the land around the great St. Johns River. Menéndez had just defeated the French and founded St. Augustine, the oldest inhabited city in the United States. After his victory a mass was celebrated, followed by a feast of thanksgiving. I find the Latino blood pulsating through my heart strangely warmed by the story, which is actually one of several accounts about thanksgiving masses.
Now a Virginian, I live a few miles south of First Landing State Park and only a bit farther from Jamestown and historic Williamsburg. A little farther beyond Williamsburg is Berkley Plantation, where the first Thanksgiving occurred on December 4, 1619 after Captain John Woodlief made his way up the James River. One could also mention Cape Henry where Christopher Newport and company first landed in 1607 and gave thanks to God for their safe journey, but this was a more spontaneous combustion comprised of two parts relief, one part exhaustion. Nevertheless, the Virginia thanksgiving appeals to my Southern sensibilities in the face of what could be described as New England priggishness.
Nor do I lose sleep over any Texan claims to the first Thanksgiving, with all due respect to the people of that great state. There is enough Texas pride to last for a long time. As an example, on one trip to London some friends pointed out to me the former site of the embassy of the Republic of Texas. True Texans know its location.
Despite my double mindedness, however, I am drawn to the views of providence that lurk behind these deep expressions of gratitude. Whether Catholic, Anglican, or Puritan in inspiration, all of these thanksgiving events teem with thankfulness “to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens” (to borrow Lincoln’s words). Indeed, Abraham Lincoln’s and William Seward’s use of phrases from the Book of Common Prayer in their Thanksgiving proclamations of 1863 bathes America’s national feast day in a Eucharistic hue.
Happy Monday! Let’s get to it.
“Let’s face it,” Peter Lawler says over at Postmodern Conservative: “The FILIBUSTER isn’t in the Constitution.” Meanwhile, Carl Scott still doesn’t want you to read that biography of Woodrow Wilson, no matter how tempted you might be, so put it down right now.
Peter Leithart is reading John Zizioulas’ book on the Eucharist, over a series of four posts (one, two, three, four). He also has a post on Cyril of Alexandria (along with a response). Finally, Leithart has a post on Martin Bucer and a post on Saul.
Here at First Thoughts, Ron Belgau reminds us gay people have faces, David Mills promotes some good advice, Greg Forster says that Bill Gates says that art is evil, Betsy Childs wonders how to be a good aunt, and Robert P. George has little patience for the Society of St. Pius X.
In “I’m Not a Spinster Aunt, I’m a PANK,” Allison P. Davis describes the newish phenomenon of “aunthood as a marketing opportunity.” PANK is an acronym for Professional Aunt, No Kids. Marketers see the PANK as “the next key demographic” because of her buying power; she has “discretionary income and discretionary emotional attachment.”
PANKs buy their nieces and nephews tiny designer goods. They also take them on fabulous trips. Davis quotes baby-fashion designer Yen Chan, who is herself a childless, doting aunt:
More and more people are delaying getting pregnant, so there are a lot more women out there that are quite happy, but don’t have children, but like to nurture. Both my brothers had children right away. I figured, Well, I don’t have children, I have a disposable income, I love those kids. So why not?
I can identify with these PANKs. While I fall well below the income level of the women described in this article, I adore my sister’s children, and I take great delight in giving them gifts. Yet the PANK mentality is dangerous because it mistakenly equates buying things with nurturing.
In a consumerist culture, parents must continuously struggle against the lie that the best parents make sure their children have the best of everything. Good parents know that it is not good for their children to have all that they desire. Good aunts, uncles, and godparents know this too.
To nurture is to encourage growth. Those of us who are childless should be nurturing the children around us by encouraging the growth of their minds, bodies, and most importantly, their souls. We should reinforce godly parenting rather than undermining it. We can introduce them to books that will cultivate their imaginations and form their characters. We can teach them songs (both the silly and the sacred should be included). We can talk to them. We can look them in the eye. We must relate to them as image-bearers of God, not as little mannequins.
As the holidays draw near, I look forward to spending time with my nieces and nephew. I have already given thought to what I will give them for Christmas, but I’m not going to limit that to what can be wrapped up and put under the tree.
Evidently, members of the Society of St. Pius X really do think they are more Catholic than the Pope—more Catholic than Pope Francis, more Catholic than Pope Benedict XVI, more Catholic than Pope John Paul the Great. Although I understand the efforts of the Vatican to reason with these people in the hope of persuading them to accept the teachings of the Second Vatican Council from which they vehemently dissent, these efforts were, in my opinion, doomed from the start by the sheer intransigence and fanaticism of the SSPX.
I do not question the importance of avoiding schisms whenever possible, but the SSPX simply does not believe what the Church solemnly teaches in certain key areas. In particular, the SSPX rejects the teachings of “Dignitatis Humanae” (on religious liberty) and “Nostra Aetate” (on the Jewish people and non-Christian religions). The refusal of ultraconservatives to accept these teachings while insisting that they are loyal and faithful Catholics reminds me for all the world of those ultraliberal Catholics who similarly insist that they are loyal and faithful while rejecting and seeking at every turn to undermine the Church’s teachings on the sanctity of human life and the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife. Neither side would like the comparison, but there it is.
Recently, some members of the SSPX in Argentina truly sank themselves in shame. They disrupted an annual interfaith service in the Buenos Aires Catholic cathedral commemorating the horrible night of violence against the Jews of Germany known as Kristallnacht. This was an unspeakable outrage and scandal. The people responsible should be banned from the cathedral and other Catholic churches (I would say the same for those who disrupt religious services for liberal causes, by the way) and, if they are canonically still in communion with the Catholic Church, serious consideration should be given to formal excommunication—not so much for disrupting the service, shameful as that was, but for publicly defying the Church’s teachings on Jews and Judaism and, apparently in the case of some of those responsible, for the grave and scandalous sin of anti-Semitism.
Let us be mindful that the Jews are the chosen people of God. They are, as John Paul taught, our “elder brothers in faith” (or, as Pope Francis says, “our big brothers”). They are, in the words of the Venerable Fulton J. Sheen, “blood brothers of Christ.” They stand in an unbroken and unbreakable covenant with the divine Creator and Ruler of all that is. Of them scripture says, “I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Let us therefore reject, as the Church herself long ago firmly rejected, the heresy of Marcion that would abandon the Hebrew revelation and cut Christianity off from its roots. Those of us who are followers of Jesus, whom we believe is the messiah long promised to Israel and the Redeemer given to all mankind, must never forget that the Christian church “received the revelation of the Old Testament through the people with whom God in His inexpressible mercy concluded the Ancient Covenant. Nor can she forget that she draws sustenance from the root of that well-cultivated olive tree onto which have been grafted the wild shoots, the Gentiles” (Nostra Aetate 4).
Of course, Christians hold and proclaim what the majority of Jews (though there are, of course, Jewish Christians, and the earliest Christians were all Jews) do not hold, namely, that Jesus is indeed the long promised Messiah—and the very son of God. Obviously, this is a most profound theological difference. And yet, the Church teaches us that God continues to work in and through the Jewish witness of faith in him—what Fr. Richard John Neuhaus of blessed memory described as the profound and wonderful mystery of living Judaism. And so in the great service of Good Friday the Church in our time prays “for the Jewish people, the first to hear the word of God, that they may continue to grow in the love of his name and in faithfulness to his covenant.” And the Church calls on all of her sons and daughters to embrace our elder brothers and sisters in a spirit of love and cooperation that we who strive to be devout and faithful Christians may unite with devout and faithful Jews to bear witness together to the goodness, faithfulness, and “inexpressible mercy” of Almighty God.
Church History, Not Parochial
Mark Noll, Books & Culture
America’s Best-Paid Fairy Tale Writer
John Gray, New Republic
‘Now and Then I Feel It’s Working’
J. Peter Nixon, Commonweal
Whither Oliver O’Donovan?
James K. A. Smith, Scribd
You Know What’s Funny? Catholicism
Kevin Sullivan, Washington Post
In support of his view that art is evil, Gates cites the utilitarian philosophy of Peter Singer, who openly favors infanticide. I believe it was Hans Urs von Balthasar who said that those who refuse to give the beautiful independent value alongside the true and the good lose, in the end, not only their capacity to appreciate beauty but even their capacity for truth and goodness.
Excellent advice for pastors, and for the rest of us: Paul Levy writing on Reformation 21 on When Your World Caves in, writing in response to two pastor friends who’d “fallen morally” and lost their positions and families. For example:
Online life is a killer. This isn’t new is it? There are lots of warnings about it out there and yet I’m not sure it really sinks in. I was on Twitter for a while and loved it. To be honest it’s addictive, catching up with old friends, getting new followers, checking who retweets you, linking to good articles etc. Very subtly good things can become bad things. It’s true in every area of life but online it’s probably more subtle.
As I became more obsessed with Twitter it became obvious I should just get off it and yet I didn’t want to. To cut off the arm and pluck out the eye. It won’t be the same for everybody but I suspect we can all think of folk who could do with getting off social media for a while. It might be a good thing to tell them. Of course Facebook and Twitter in and of themselves are not bad at all but, if you’ve got a slightly addictive personality like me, then you need to stay off it. For others it’ll be a good hobby but what it has done is make the moral collapse of some of my friends easier.
Both the guys I met with struggled and got into inappropriate relationships online which in the end turned toxic and destroyed them. The language is interesting on this, inappropriate = sinful, but that’s not often how it’s spoken of is it?
He also takes up the dangers of success, the problems with “accountability” programs, the need to sustain your marriage (by going to pubs), and other subjects.
The Fall, 2013 issue of Leadership Journal has an article by Stanton Jones up entitled, “Help, I’m Gay.” It is billed as “A pastoral conversation about same-sex attraction.”
The editors chose to illustrate the article with the picture at left.
This would be a good image to use on a gun range, where shooters can see the outline of a human head with no human features to disturb them as they practice aiming to kill. It is not an appropriate image for preparing Christian leaders to respond like Christ to the plea, “Help, I’m gay.”
Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people have faces. If Christian leaders want to offer pastoral care to us, they need to be able to look us in the face. If they will not show our faces, or are uncomfortable looking at our faces, they are not seeing us as human beings, and are not ready to be Christ to us.
For more images of faceless gay people from Christian publishers:
[Cross-posted from Spiritual Friendship]
Happy Friday! As we head toward the weekend, and inch toward Thanksgiving, here’s some reading for you:
Members of the Society of St. Pius X have distinguished themselves by disrupting a service commemorating Kristallnacht, a service held in the cathedral in Buenos Aires and previously hosted by the man who is now pope. The service they declared a “profanation” because a rabbi was leading it (the same rabbi who used to lead it with then-Cardinal Bergolio). According to someone who was there, the protest “started as a murmur of ‘Our Father’ and other prayers, and then the protesters began chanting the rosary louder and louder. Between 20 and 40 young men, some just teenagers, kneeled down and began praying fervently, their eyes fixed straight ahead.”
The AP reports (the lines in boldface type are Father Z’s):
The Rev. Christian Bouchacourt, the South America leader of the Society of Saint Pius X, said Wednesday that the protesters belong to his organization and that they have a right to feel outraged when rabbis preside over a ceremony in a cathedral. “I recognize the authority of the pope, but he is not infallible and in this case, does things we cannot accept,” Bouchacourt said in an interview with Radio La Red. [Sure. They have—right or wrong—a right to be outraged, and even to express their outrage. They don't have a right to disrupt that service in that manner.]
“This wasn’t a desire to make a rebellion, [“This”, he said—pointing at a duck—“is not a duck!” And this wasn't “rebellion”. Riiiight.] but to show our love to the Catholic Church, which was made for the Catholic faith,” Bouchacourt added. “A Mass isn’t celebrated in a synagogue, nor in a mosque. The Muslims don’t accept it. In the same way, we who are Catholics cannot accept the presence of another faith in our church.” [I think Father is confused.]
Francis responded that “aggression cannot be an act of faith” and “Preaching intolerance is a form of militancy that must be overcome.”
They have, as Fr. Z says, a right to feel outraged, even if one thinks that their disregard for the Second Vatican Council leaves them feeling outraged about something that should not outrage them. But to use the Our Father and the rosary as weapons, that itself is a profanation. That’s not prayer, it’s assault.
Three notable men died on this date fifty years ago. Most of the attention on this anniversary belongs to John F. Kennedy, assassinated in Dallas by a lone communist (somehow it is necessary to use both the adjective and the noun to quash various conspiracy theories). A strong runner-up for attention is C.S. Lewis, who collapsed and died in his home, “The Kilns,” on the outskirts of Oxford, England, weakened by recent heart and renal ailments.
The third famous man to die on this day was Aldous Huxley, transplanted Englishman, who died in Hollywood, California, of cancer, at the last receiving two injections of LSD (a drug he had long experimented with) administered by his wife Laura. Huxley’s claim on our attention comes in a very distant third after Kennedy and Lewis. Although many of his works remain in print, they are all—unlike those of Lewis—quite dated, and it is highly doubtful that by the end of the present century anyone will be reading anything by Huxley.
With just one exception: Brave New World, published in 1932, sells briskly to this day, is widely read in schools and universities, and is regularly invoked as one of the great prophetic dystopias written in the twentieth century. Today, as Huxley himself once told George Orwell, Brave New World seems a much more prescient and disturbing work than Orwell’s 1984.
In the forthcoming fall issue of The New Atlantis, online in December, I will have an essay on Brave New World, and its surprising parallels to a great work of political philosophy. Today I will just say thanks to Aldous Huxley, a kind of tormented seeker whose end was neither as shocking and tragic as the death of Kennedy nor as quiet and peaceful as that of Lewis. To have published even just one book as good as Brave New World is to merit some remembrance, a half century after one’s passing.
Spain’s History Wars
Filipe Fernández-Arnesto, Times Literary Supplement
Kenneth L. Woodward, Tablet
Aztec Political Thought
Xavier Marquez, Abandoned Footnotes
Lewis the Imaginative Man
Laura C. Mallonee, Poetry Foundation
Hymns for Hippies
James MacMillan, Telegraph