Mark 9:24

Archive for February, 2012|Monthly archive page


In Armchair Apologetics on February 25, 2012 at 8:52 pm

If we accept apostasy, we must accept that it weighs us down. In evangelizing, we must prove to honest men of reason that this terrible burden is a reasonable one.

It is a terrible burden because it means God’s Own True Church, founded to redeem men from sin, could not withstand sin. If you are to stay Christian, I don’t see any honest way around this.

If we see here that even Truth can fall, we are mistaken. We forget that He allows it, perhaps to show that even under persecution He rises.

You may deny reason, but you deny a gift of God. You may deny honesty, but then you do not worship Truth. You may deny evangelism, but you deny loving your neighbor.

Because such crosses deserve names, if you do accept the apostasy hypothesis I give you the name apostasist. Your religion foundationally includes this specific article of faith: the True Church, despite being founded by God Himself, was lost when doctrines were changed, altered or lost, either immediately or over the centuries. Your company includes non-Catholic Christians, various sub-Christian and non-Christian sects and certainly a few cults.

Why such wide company?  Apostasism necessarily does create not clarities or mysteries but novelties. From here, it is easy to see how apostasism harms evangelization.  Read the rest of this entry »


Ubiquitous absence

In Point of Order on February 22, 2012 at 5:39 am

Today marks Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras and the day before Lent. It is a time of feasting at the last, late opportunity before fasting comes down, and hard, our last chance before this big kahuna of penitential seasons, the prime opportunity for spiritual detox.

Get in some reading while you can — to help, throughout this post I’ve scattered links to old, forgotten posts. For example: Kyrie eleison!

Don't know about you, but I still feel more like the guy on the right, believe-you-me.

This becomes relevant to the wider audience because your author, in a losing battle against his idol, his idle, his timesink, decided to recuse himself from the Internet, for all reasons but necessity, for the days between here and Easter. They say the sacrifice you want to give up is not the one God wants you to give up, and so out goes the Internet. Sin being a privation — that is, sin being not-being — may God fill this void with Himself.  Christe eleison!

Rather let than the blog fade into silence, however, he manufactures one necessity with this solemn vow: Prodigal No More will still update Saturdays in Lent. And, with all the forethought of a man who leaves open a giant bag of catfood in the kitchen so Fluffy still eats while the housekeeper’s away, the author leaves unmonitored his comment box. May Askimet catch the spamKyrie eleison!

Doctors of the Church

In Armchair Apologetics on February 21, 2012 at 1:28 am

Place yourself in the shoes of a pagan who knows little about Christianity, but who has taken the first step of accepting that Christ has authority and Christ is God. Our convert also knows about sin, and has the sense he is missing something. To wit, he’s sick and he knows it.

Some particular man may find walking around his fellows while sick helps. Perhaps the fresh air, or the camaraderie, rejuvenates him.

As if living a virtuous life were not already difficult enough we have to discern it, too.

But this takes too low a view of his illness, which is always terminal. It undermines the clear objection that some sick man be dissuaded of his diagnosis by meeting our wanderer, and vice versa; we also forget the effort may kill him. This also ignores our others, so ill that a brisk walk would always kill them. Hospitals, with doctors and nurses and somewhat controlled conditions, make natural sense.

I write this because Christianity presents, broadly, two choices:

  1. Merchant square, or
  2. Hospital for sinners.

If you make the case that God wants the merchant square model, you have a unique argument to hawk.

Read the rest of this entry »

Opposed even to God, opposed to the mandate

In Pursue Truth on February 20, 2012 at 5:41 am

I know of an atheist, opposed even to God, who stated that the Health and Human Services mandate amounts to a rope around his neck — how much more ours?

If you are in favor of this mandate — which compels all employers to pay, through an insurance company, for contraception coverage even when the employer considers it religiously objectionable — you do not give the devil the benefit of the Constitution.

We did not want this fight.

I understand this impulse but for the clear objection: What then when the devil turns round on you?

If you don’t care for freedom of religion, consider that leaving undefended any point of the Bill of Rights is a dangerous precedent. If you don’t care for the Bill of Rights, I wonder with what bread and circuses we’ll ignore the guillotine. Yes, I liken this rope about our necks to be more of a guillotine; no, I do not mean this in a silly, chest-pounding, partisan way.

But before I explain why, I note that, in perhaps a routine pose that I hope is not its most substantial defense, the Obama administration does not yet argue that this action is Constitutional; the Department of Justice — by the by, not consulted — filed a motion to dismiss, instead arguing that the issue is not ripe. This amounts to saying: “No harm yet, therefore no foul.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Kant, can’t we?

In Faith and Reason on February 19, 2012 at 1:38 am

When seeing high-stakes comments online, even at a better blog than mine, I find the time to not mind the climb. Rhymelessly, Mary writes:

Categorical imperatives are principles that are intrinsically valid; they are good in and of themselves; they must be obeyed in all, and by all, situations and circumstances if our behavior is to observe the moral law. Therefore, if Catholic doctrine is true regarding sexuality, it must be true for all, for all time.

If it is true, it is true forever and always.

We can imagine a world where everyone stopped murdering, stopped lying, stopped committing adultery. But a world where everyone eschewed contraception would be a world of very, very, very high birthrates — forever.

Clearly, in a finite world this presents a problem. Perhaps it is not a problem today or in the very near future. But, had world fertility rates not fallen, sometime in the future we would have had to deal with the finiteness of the earth. I cannot see any way around this.

You’re concerned that the Church’s mandate does not fit the moral imperative. Why? I see two options, only one of which you’re directly worried about:

  1. Overpopulation, and
  2. Finite resources.

Read the rest of this entry »

Where points the mountain

In Lay Meditations on February 5, 2012 at 12:06 am

It takes no originality to describe the ascent to truth as climbing a mountain. Christians should take pains to add an emphasis: We do this by only by the grace of God.

Whoever we credit, rightly or wrongly, one feature of an ascent to truth is that as we near the peak it becomes clear we are not headed exactly where we thought we would be. Our chosen path turns too rocky; this land is too real.

Central to mystery is knowledge before us, but still even more some great knowledge beyond.

Discerned as it is by mortal reason, it must occur to us that this summit of small, striking truths can hardly be the Summit of All Truth; this even though the view is nothing we would have thought of; this even though it is eerily as our clearest, sharpest dreams.

From higher yet come the subtle hints of the great tapestry which is Creation, and in the thick air up here we see that we are caught on its messy side. From this height there is just the hint, just glimpse enough, of a greater pattern than we can ever know here. We can almost see something just beyond the cusp of the horizon, and only in the corner of our eye does the sun show his face.

Leaning forward, outward, past the bay below us, we sometimes see as in a sharp focus that all things, and not only all things we see, point in no uncertain direction. To what? — but at that point the horizon impedes us.

Read the rest of this entry »

In ordinate complexity

In Armchair Apologetics on February 4, 2012 at 10:01 am

We have before us a task of tedious simplicity, but its enormity it may crush us: Ten million square pegs meet ten million round pegs, mixed in a heap and scattered across the floor. There are also two slots of appropriate shape. If we keep the pace of one-and-a-half seconds to find and place each in the right spot we will spend the better part of a year in this monotony. We will spend another two weeks eating, four weeks sleeping, twelve weeks working.

All is ordered by measure, number and weight. Finding their right relation is the tricky part.

(If we take Sunday off, we add another seven-and-a-half weeks to our ambitious schedule.)

Scripture is vastly more complex. Rather than two shapes, there are at least a distinct hundred, and more subtly there are perhaps a thousand more. Left as a pile of stuff, we have no pre-ordained slots. We must figure out where what goes, how, why. Given these wrinkles, we cannot keep such brisk pace, even if we were tireless creatures of self-discipline trained to live in single-minded pursuit of scripture.

It does not take long to wonder: We are limited principally not by the millions of items and unknown several categories but also by our three score and ten. If in 30 generations someone eventually finds the truth, what of the earlier 29 generations? Will they suffer not knowing God, though this is His clear and constant will?

Read the rest of this entry »