Wednesday, December 29, 2004

The root of all flames

After viewing a couple of heating online discussions recently I've come to a conclusion. The source of all flame wars is an inflated ego. It frequently happens that someone makes a comment or asks a question that someone else, in his "wisdom," sees as stupid. Instead of keeping his mouth shut because it isn't that important or taking the time to figure out a charitible way to call attention to the defect, he has to show his superiority by making a flip or terse or sarcastic comment. The other person's feelings are hurt (read, his ego is deflated), so he responds with some kind of insufficiently thought out comeback.

For me, the solution is to be aware when I feel that "feeling" and find something else to do for the time being. Wait until the wave of emotion finishes sweeping over me, and then pray and think about a response, or not.

Thursday, December 23, 2004


I think I'm finally onto something. Here and here are a couple of interviews with Handler. Note two things he says:

Handler has also said that the books follow the great Jewish traditions:
The Baudelaire orphans behave well and bravely because it's the right thing to
do, not because it will get them ahead. "Judaism doesn't really promise any
reward, they just emphasize that good behavior is more or less its own reward, "
he said.


You've been quoted as saying that your books 'stem from great Jewish traditions' - which traditions in particular?

Guilt, the importance of morality in one's behavior rather than in one's heart, a belief that many large institutions will treat one poorly and the search for meaning in rhetorical details and food.

This is very similar to something Michael Medved said recently about why Jewish culture is actually better for the renewal of society than Christianity:

How have liberals done such a good job of associating themselves with virtue?

MEDVED: By emphasizing good intentions while ignoring bad results.
This is one of those things where Judaism actually fits better to conservatism
than Christianity, because one of the teachings of Judaism is that performing
the commandment counts more than your intentions. Judaism believes in changing
the heart by changing your actions. Christianity tends to emphasize changing
your actions by changing your heart. In this sense, serious Judaism sets you up
very well to reject the liberal scam that we are wonderful and nice people not
because we actually help anyone, but because we want to help.


Real Judaism has two central thrusts: One is replicating in your life the values
and practices that your grandparents honored. The other is taming human nature
with law, emphasizing doing your duty rather than following your heart. Both of
these will lead you to conservative conclusions, which is why Jewish liberals
who try to remain religious have to go through all kinds of pretzel-like
philosophical and ideological contortions.
I find this fascinating and perhaps it explains something about my uneasiness.

First of all, I really don't think all Christianity is simply a matter of the heart over the law. At least Catholicism has a much more complicated version of the relationship between the two. In other words, the fact that all is grace and right action flows from a transformation of the heart does not let us off the hook as far as living according to God's law. We are still judged by our deeds and darned well better make sure our deeds correspond to God's will. But, when they don't, and they often don't we have recourse to God's mercy.

Second, Medved seems to think secularized Jews are a big problem. Is there anything to Handler's statement that:

I was raised largely in the Reform movement with a few sidetrips into
the Conservative movement when deemed necessary. I would call myself a
cultural Jew for the simple reason that I'm not a religious anything.

Does domething of that bleed into his writing?

Just an example

So, Mr. Poe just tells the children that their parents perished in a fire. Here is an exchange:

"'The fire department arrived, of course," Mr. Poe said, "But they were too late. The entire house was engulfed in fire. It burned to the bround.'

"Klaus pictured all the books in the library, going up in flames. New he'd never read all of them."

To be completely fair, on the next page Klaus does find it hard to read books because of his parents' deaths. But the way this passage is written is pretty jarring.

Lemony Snicket

I can't find anyone, whether Christian, Catholic or not, who has anything negative to say about Lemony Snicket or the Series of Unfortunate Events books. Am I the only one who has a bad feeling about these books? I just don't get it. Greydanus seems to think they are okay. The USSCB. Screenit. Nicolosi has said nothing.

No negative take on the books.

There is just something subtly ungraced about them. I can't put my finger on it.

And there is that slur to the Blessed Mother in The Unauthorized Autobiography.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Abbas on the Uprising

. Now let's just hope he doesn't get poisoned.

The Newsweek Article

on the Nativity: Now I'm waiting for their deconstruction of the Koran.

Still waiting.

Still waiting.

Still waiting.

Still w...........

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Good quote from the Imitation of Christ

“Do not care much who is with you and who is against you; but make it your greatest care that God is with you in everything you do.”

Friday, December 10, 2004

Renaissance paintings of the Trinity

In class today someone noted how interesting it is that so many Renaissance paintings of the Trintiy who the Father holding in his arms the dead body of the Son after He has been taken down from the Cross. The question was whether this is Eucharistic. This is especially interesting in view of one painting in which the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are in a tabernacle. But the spirit has left Jesus. It is only his body, not the "soul, body, humanity and divinity" of Christ that the Father is holding. Any thoughts?

What I think Marquette should do about the Golden Eagles vs. Warriors naming controversy

Go Warriors!

On Willingham

He should have been given the full five years.

Malloy should not have signed off on the firing, then implied that it was Jenkins' fault.

Score one for the intelligent design crowd

is the story of an atheist who found God.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004


is a good article on Frank Capra's Catholic vision.

How to be at peace in your vocation

Archbishop Dolan gains this wisdom from the life and writings of John Paul II:
First of all, that I have to be a man on fire with love for Jesus Christ. I have to be a man at peace with myself and with my mission and vocation as a bishop; a man who has some very practical pastoral goals in mind that never leave my attention; a man who is not afraid, who firmly believes that Jesus is in charge of my life and that his grace is sufficient.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Ecumenical Services

Have you ever noticed how flat ecumenical services can seem some time?

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Latin Prayers

is a great resource for Latin Prayers.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

NFP Mentality
One thing that someone who is really immersed in a NFP mentality cannot say is, "We plan to have X [number of] children."

St. Andrew

Today is the feast of St. Andrew, the first follower of Jesus and the patron of Scotland. Our celebrant at morning Mass pointed out that St. Andrew was known especially for introducing others to Jesus. A good patron for evangelization.

Monday, July 05, 2004


My favorite books in the Old Testament are the Wisdom books. I think we often have too "Protestent" an understanding of the relationship between the Old and New Testaments which leads us to minimize the value of the wisdom of the Old Testament. I especially think that we men in the world can benefit greatly from reflecting upon the books of Proverbs, Ecclesiasticus, and Wisdom. With that in mind I am going to begin a series of posts commenting on the Book of Proverbs. Stay tuned!

Thursday, June 24, 2004

T-minus 7 days and counting

Until this blog is reactivated.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

The historical Jesus

Oswald Sobrino talks about the abuse of the phrase "historical Jesus."  I would only add one nuance (if nuance is the right word for "fundamental correction."

Sobrino seems to approve of Meier's statement that he quotes:

Meier even goes so far as to state that "[w]e cannot know the 'real' Jesus through historical research, whether we mean his total reality or just a reasonably complete biographical portrait" (Meier, p. 24). Instead, Meier proclaims that what the Gospels show us is the "earthly Jesus" in the sense of "a picture--however partial and theologically colored--of Jesus during his life on earth" (Meier, p. 25).

I think the Church teaches very clearly that the Jesus we get in the Gospels in not simply a partial and theologically colored picture of Jesus, but the real Jesus. 

Holy Mother Church has firmly and with absolute constancy held, and continues to hold, that the four Gospels just named, whose historical character the Church unhesitatingly asserts, faithfully hand on what Jesus Christ, while living among men, really did and taught for their eternal salvation until the day He was taken up into heaven (see Acts 1:1). Indeed, after the Ascension of the Lord the Apostles handed on to their hearers what He had said and done. This they did with that clearer understanding which they enjoyed (3) after they had been instructed by the glorious events of Christ's life and taught by the light of the Spirit of truth. (Dei Verbum 19)

"Real" here, of course, does not mean "complete" in the sense of recording every single thought and action of Jesus while here on earth. 

The sacred authors wrote the four Gospels, selecting some things from the many which had been handed on by word of mouth or in writing, reducing some of them to a synthesis, explaining some things in view of the situation of their churches and preserving the form of proclamation....


...always in such fashion that they told us the honest truth about Jesus.(4) For their intention in writing was that either from their own memory and recollections, or from the witness of those who "themselves from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word" we might know "the truth" concerning those matters about which we have been instructed (see Luke 1:2-4).

The phrase "partial and theologically colored" cannot somehow imply that the Gospel does not fully and accurately reflect the real and intended meaning of Jesus' life and ministry. 

Aeneas and Turnus
One of the things that I ask my kids when they read the Aeneid is if they think that Aeneas should have killed Turnus at the end. The point seems to be that since Turnus had no mercy on Pallas, then Aeneas should not have mercy on Turnus. This whole episode, of course, says something about the Roman character and the meaning of pietas for them. What would have happened had he not killed Turnus? Was it simply revenge, or was there a justice issue involved?

My kids usually just say, "Well, he wasn't Christian, so you can't expect him to be motivated by mercy." I don't know. Even within the context of pre-Christian social ethics, might there not be an argument for mercy in this case?

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

A good Catholic liberal education
I am a graduate of the Program of Liberal Studies at the University of Notre Dame. It was a wonderful program at the time, uniquely Catholic and open to the broader western intellectual tradition....(cont.)
What is this blog for?
I've dedicated this blog to the promotion of Catholic culture in the United States. I'm especially interested in retreaving the classical Catholic culture (in all its various manifestations) from the past. That means, for instance, an interest in the promotion of awareness of Eastern Christianity, as well as the patristic and medieval tradition. That is why I link to all those old Latin texts on the left.

I am also a big proponent of the ressourcement theologians of the 20th century, esp., of course, Henri de Lubac, who was the subject of my dissertation.

Right now I am beginning to read (in German) Romano Guardini's Besinnung vor der Feier der heiligen Messe. I hope to make some comments on that. I am also going to start a slow read of the book of Proverbs. Maybe I'll post some comments about that here, or on HMS.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

For those that prefer their radio news in Latin....

For those that prefer their radio news in Latin....
Karl links to this site on Finland Radio.

Monday, January 05, 2004

The laughter of a Father
A while back I went to a beautiful ordination. The ceremony was very moving for a variety of reason (some of which I may share at a future date because they are quite inspiring). After it was over, at the reception, someone made the remark that “God must look down on us at these things and laugh.” By the way he was snickering when he said it seemed he was implying that all the pomp and ceremonial that we surround such events with is really unnecessary and in fact ludicrous, that God would consider it frivolous.

At first I was angry about his remark. It was a beautiful ceremony and certainly God was not laughing at us for celebrating it the way we did.

Upon further reflection, however, it occurred to me that God really does laugh at such attempts, but it is not the laughter of contempt or derision, but the laughter that a father has for his little child when he does something like draw a picture or sing a song. The laughter is one of joy, of recognizing the beauty in the halting efforts of a little child to do something special for his daddy or mommy. From an objective standpoint the picture is no da Vinci, but still one can recognize in a child’s drawing the beginnings of the kind of vision and sensitivity that is exhibit much more obviously in one of the great painters.

When we created beautiful ceremonies, they do not hold a candle to the glories of the heavenly liturgy. Still, because we are made in imago dei (the image of God) and because we are recipients of His Grace, God must recognize in our efforts the beginnings of those qualities that will be revealed in full when we enter (if we enter) into the kingdom. When God sees us, He must laugh with the joy of a father who loves His children and sees them moving toward their destiny.

Catholic colleges and universities
If someone were to ask you, "To what college or university can I send my kid to get a good, Catholic, liberal education?" what would you say? What colleges, universiites or programs within a college or university would you recommend? I want to compile a list.

Friday, January 02, 2004

The return of Classic Catholic
This is the official beginning of the new Classic Catholic. I will post regularly on this site. I will also continue posting on HMS Blog until Greg kicks me off.

Why post on both? I've missed CC ever since I went over to HMS in March of 2003. They serve two different purposes for me. This blog is more of a reflection on classic Catholic culture and tradition. It is more scholarly and is aimed at a more specific audience. My participation on HMS is more popular and oriented toward family and sexuality issues and current church and world events. I also like the comments feature on this blog.

I hope to see you on both. I will double post some times.