Tuesday, December 01, 2020

Cluny Media

 I've been hearing a lot about Cluny Media lately. They republish old Catholic classics. They look like the real deal. Here is an article in First Things called, "Why we need Cluny Media," by Sohrab Ahmari. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

True Poetry and Philosophy

True poetry is not just about emotions, but about deep meaning. Philosophy is not just about ideas, but about deep meaning—the connectedness and hierarchical relationship of all things in God in the hearts of men. 

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary

Devotion to the Blessed Virgin is not a sentimental thing, although it involves sentiment. It is not just for those who have some kind of unmet emotional need. It is theological. It is intimately tied up with the faith.

At the foot of the cross Jesus gave us Mary as mother. All of us. Because we need her metaphysically.

I'd wager that the main problems in Protestantism stem from their rejection of devotion to the Blessed Mother. And even among Catholics. 

Even Islam venerates her!

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Universal truths

There are universal truths that apply to all, no matter what their circumstances or background. What McIntyre was saying about good citizenship in the video by Gregory B. Sadler is simply true. It is valuable, indeed imperative, to speak at such an abstract level so we can better understand the concrete. Of course, Newman is right about real assent. The abstract articulation of principles is not usually very compelling. But, it provides a boundary. A good citizen must be thinking in terms of the common good. Virtue requires a consideration of the dignity of the human person made in the image and likeness of God.

Whatever the defects of the western tradition, such as latent or blatant racism, it is the place where the human race has reflected critically on the universals. And it contains within itself the resources to overcome its defects, just as Catholicism has within itself the resources to overcome the tendency to a dualistic denigration of the body.

Of course, sometimes the impetus to overcome the defects comes from a critique from outside. The Great Conversation. And, genuine insight that may be as valuable may come from outside as well.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

A prayer for the heart

"If today you hear his voice harden not your hearts."

I frequently pray that my heart be softened--that my stoney heart be replaced by a heart of flesh. 

Recently, though, I have begun to also pray that my heart be strengthened as well as softened. A human heart is sensitive but also strong. We need courage, or fortitude, to be truly tender. Fear makes us tighten up and become hard and defensive. We cease displaying the vulnerability that is necessary for genuine love 

I would love to do a thorough study of "the heart."

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

After a visit to the Indiana Dunes

The yellow, wind-swept dunes
     Against the deep blue sky
Are marked with man-made wounds
     That make the seagulls cry.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Brubeck Take Five

Just for.

I loved the comment: "Those are the coolest accountants I've ever seen man."

Monday, July 20, 2020


At work I receive a magazine called In Trust. Its target audience is CEOs and board members of theological seminaries. The following quote is from one recent article by Anna M. Robbins, "The mission of seminary in an age of nostalgia" (Summer, 2020, pp. 14-17):
The Ghanaian concept of sankofa is one example of [the reminder that we can only go forward]--bringing the wisdom of the past to bear on the present in order to face the future. And it is important to look back so we can understand how we got to where were are now.
I think it is interesting that the author, whom I presume is a Christian, needed to look to Ghana for a word to describe what has traditionally been called "tradition." I suppose we sometimes need to look at things from an unusual angle to see them rightly--like Chesterton's use of the grotesque. Or, the usual word has become dead to so many people, or turns them off. The need to distance themselves from standard, classical expressions is endemic. 

I don't, however, see how you can keep the bridge with the past intact while distancing yourself from it at the same time. 

She should have easily said:
The Christian concept of tradition is one example of [the reminder that we can only go forward]--bringing the wisdom of the past to bear on the present in order to face the future. And it is important to look back so we can understand how we got to where were are now.


Sunday, July 12, 2020

My enthusiasms

We usually go through phases when we are especially enamored of one writer or another. My big phase, of course, was de Lubac back in the late '90s. Before that there as Merton. Before that, Tolkien (which never died). 

Here is a list of current writers and thinkers that I especially pay attention to these days:
Anthony Esolen    literature
Joseph Pearce    literature
Fr. Robert Spitzer    philosophy and science
O. Carter Snead    law
J. Budziszewski    political science
Helen AlvarĂ©    law
Bishop Robert Barron    prelate
George Weigel    I don't even know
Archbishop Charles Chaput    prelate
Mac Horton    literature, politics, and cultural critique mostly, but also a lot of television, which I don't watch
Msgr. Charles Pope    pastor
My attraction has something to do with depth, thoroughness, clarity, solidity of thought, and groundedness in tradition. It is not even that I agree with everything that they say. Note that only one of them is a theologian. Interesting. 

As I remember others, I will add them in a separate post. 

Two world views

I've recently run across two articulations of the two world views that vie for supremacy in our culture. The first was a short video by O. Carter Snead called "Carter Snead Explains the Secular Vs. Catholic View of the Human Person." Snead is a law professor at Notre Dame and the director of the De Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture. He talks about the modern idea of creating your own reality vs. the giveness of reality in the traditional view and our natural dependence on each other for flourishing. That hardly does what he says justice, so you'd do better to look yourself.

The second is an interview with science fiction writer, John C. Wright. In explaining why he converted to Catholicism, he talks about the two world views--the rich, fertile one that flows from Catholicism, and the sterile, bland one that flows from Gnosticism.
When pressed, Wright added, “Of the two competing worldviews vying for the souls of modern man, one is the orthodox Catholic scheme, which proposes certain mysteries about the Trinity and the Incarnation nearly impossible to imagine or believe, but, in the light of those mysteries, explains man, the cosmos and his place in it — whence he comes and whither he goes. All art, science, learning, law and literature spring from these traditional roots.” 

By contrast, Wright claims “the default worldview of the modern age is a degenerate form of Gnosticism, which takes some elements of the Christian worldview, such as compassion for the poor or the brotherhood of man, and then proceeds to cut and paste them awkwardly into a Darwinian or Hegelian background, before simmering the whole in Freud and Nietzsche until it is half-baked. The modern version goes by a variety of names subject to change every decade or so; names selected precisely because they mean the opposite of what they really mean.” 

 He summed this up as follows: “Neither ancient nor modern variations of this line of thought in Original Sin think that man’s evils spring from man, but instead from the world’s law and the world’s maker, so the world is false and must be destroyed.”
To me, this is it. This is the Great Divide. And I am totally committed to the Catholic version and all its consequences. This puts me in a distinctively marginal position, even among many Catholics!