Saturday, June 06, 2009
"Co-responsible for the Church's Being and Action"
The Second Vatican Council, desiring to pass on, pure and integral, the doctrine on the Church that had developed in the course of 2,000 years, gave the Church a "more deeply considered definition", illustrating first of all the enigmatic nature, that is, as a "reality imbued with the divine presence, hence always capable of new and deeper exploration" (Paul vi, Inaugural Address at the Second Session of the Second Vatican Council, 29 September 1963).
Well, the Church, which originates in the Trinitarian God, is a mystery of communion. As communion, the Church is not merely a spiritual reality but lives in history, so to speak, in flesh and blood. The Second Vatican Council describes her "in the nature of sacrament a sign and instrument, that is, of communion with God and of unity among all men" (Lumen Gentium, n. 1).
And the very essence of sacrament is that the invisible is tangible in the visible and that the tangibly visible opens the door to God himself. The Church, we said, is a communion, a communion of people who, through the action of the Holy Spirit, form the People of God which is at the same time the Body of Christ.
Let us reflect a little on these two key words. The concept of "People of God" came into being and was developed in the Old Testament: to enter into the reality of human history, God chose a specific people, the People of Israel, to be his People. The intention of this particular choice is to reach, through a few, many people and through them to reach all. In other words the intention of God's specific choice is universality. Through this People, God enters into the reality of history.
And this openness to universality is achieved in the Cross and in Christ's Resurrection. In the Cross, St Paul says, Christ broke down the wall of separation. In giving us his Body, he reunites us in this Body of his to make us one. In the communion of the "Body of Christ" we all become one people, the People of God, in which to cite St Paul again all are one and there are no longer distinctions or differences between Greek and Jew, the circumcized and the uncircumcized, the barbarian, the Scythian, the slave, the Jew, but Christ is all in all. He has broken down the wall of distinction between peoples, races and cultures: we are all united in Christ.
Thus we see that the two concepts "People of God" and "Body of Christ" complete each other and together form the New Testament concept of Church.
And whereas "People of God" expresses the continuity of the Church's history, "Body of Christ" expresses the universality inaugurated in the Cross and in the Lord's Resurrection. For us Christians, therefore, "Body of Christ" is not only an image, but a true concept, because Christ makes us the gift of his real Body, not only an image of it.
Risen, Christ unites us all in the Sacrament to make us one Body. Thus the concept "People of God" and "Body of Christ complete one another: in Christ we really become the People of God. "People of God" therefore means "all", from the Pope to the most recently baptized child. The First Eucharistic Prayer, the so-called "Roman Canon" written in the fourth century, distinguishes between servants "we, your servants" and "plebs tua sancta"; therefore should one wish to make a distinction, one should speak of servants and plebs sancta, while the term "People of God" expresses the Church all together in their common being.
Subsequent to the Council this ecclesiological doctrine met with acceptance on a vast scale and thanks be to God an abundance of good fruit developed in the Christian community. However we must also remember that the integration of this doctrine in procedures and its consequent assimilation in the fabric of ecclesial awareness did not happen always and everywhere without difficulty and in accordance with a correct interpretation.
As I was able to explain in my Discourse to the Roman Curia on 22 December 2005, an interpretative current, claiming to refer to a presumed "spirit of the Council", sought to establish a discontinuity and even to distinguish between the Church before and the Church after the Council, at times even crossing the very boundaries that exist objectively between the hierarchical ministry and the responsibilities of the lay faithful in the Church.
The notion of "People of God", in particular was interpreted by some, in accordance with a purely sociological vision, with an almost exclusively horizontal bias that excluded the vertical reference to God. This position was in direct contrast with the word and spirit of the Council which did not desire a rupture, another Church, but rather a true and deep renewal in the continuity of the one subject Church which grows in time and develops but always remains identical, the one subject of the People of God on pilgrimage.
Secondly, it should be recognized that the reawakening of spiritual and pastoral energies that has been happening in recent years has not always produced the desired growth and development. In fact it must be noted that in certain ecclesial communities, the period of fervour and initiative has given way to a time of weakening commitment, a situation of weariness, at times almost a stalemate, and even resistence and contradiction between the conciliar doctrine and various concepts formulated in the name of the Council, but in fact opposed to its spirit and guidelines.
For this reason too, the Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in 1987 was dedicated to the theme of the vocation and mission of lay people in the Church and in the world. This fact tells us that the luminous pages which the Council dedicated to the laity were not yet sufficiently adapted to or impressed on the minds of Catholics or in pastoral procedures. On the one hand there is still a tendency to identify the Church unilaterally with the hierarchy, forgetting the common responsibility, the common mission of the People of God, which, in Christ we all share. On the other, the tendency still persists to identify the People of God unilaterally, as I have already said, in accordance with a merely sociological or political concept, forgetting the newness and specificity of that people, which becomes a people solely through communion with Christ.
What is the program he proposes?
Of course, social and cultural difficulties abound but faithful to the Lord's mandate, we cannot resign ourselves to preserving what exists. Trusting in the grace of the Spirit which the Risen Christ guaranteed to us, we must continue on our way with renewed energy. What paths can we take?It seems simple, doesn't it? But we need to let go of our lukewarmness, and let the Holy Spirit set our hearts on fire.
In the first place we must renew our efforts for a formation which is more attentive and focused on the vision of the Church, of which I spoke and this should be both on the part of priests as well as of religious and lay people to understand ever better what this Church is, this People of God in the Body of Christ.
At the same time, it is necessary to improve pastoral structures in such a way that the co-responsibility of all the members of the People of God in their entirety is gradually promoted, with respect for vocations and for the respective roles of the consecrated and of lay people.
This demands a change in mindset, particularly concerning lay people. They must no longer be viewed as "collaborators" of the clergy but truly recognized as "co-responsible", for the Church's being and action, thereby fostering the consolidation of a mature and committed laity.
This common awareness of being Church of all the baptized in no way diminishes the responsibility of parish priests. It is precisely your task, dear parish priests, to nurture the spiritual and apostolic growth of those who are already committed to working hard in the parishes. They form the core of the community that will act as a leaven for the others.
Although these communities are sometimes small, to prevent them from losing their identity and vigour they must be taught to listen prayerfully to the word of God through the practice of lectio divina, as the recent Synod of Bishops ardently hoped. Let us truly draw nourishment from listening, from meditating on the word of God. Our communities must not lack the knowledge that they are "Church", because Christ, the eternal Word of the Father, convokes them and makes them his People. Indeed, on the one hand faith is a profoundly personal relationship with God but on the other it possesses an essential community component and the two dimensions are inseparable.
Thus young people, who are more exposed to the growing individualism of contemporary culture, the consequences of which inevitably involves the weakening of interpersonal bonds and the enfeeblement of the sense of belonging, will also taste the beauty and joy of being and feeling Church.
Through faith in God we are united in the Body of Christ and all become united in the same Body. Thus, precisely by profoundly believing we may achieve communion among ourselves and emerge from the loneliness of individualism.
If it is the Word that gathers the community, it is the Eucharist that makes it one body: "because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread" (1 Cor 10: 17). The Church, therefore, is not the result of an aggregation of individuals but of unity among those who are nourished by the one Word of God and the one Bread of Life.
Communion and the unity of the Church that are born of the Eucharist, are a reality of which we must be ever more aware, also in receiving Holy Communion, ever more aware that we are entering into unity with Christ and thus become one among ourselves.
We must learn ever anew to preserve and defend this unity from the rivalry, disputes, and jealousies that can be kindled in and among ecclesial communities. In particular, I would like to ask the movements and communities that came into being after the Second Vatican Council and that in our Diocese too are a precious gift for which we must always thank the Lord, I would like to ask these movements, which I repeat are a gift, always to ensure that their formation processes lead their members to develop a true sense of belonging to the parish community.
The Eucharist, as I have said, is the centre of parish life, and particularly of the Sunday celebration. Since the unity of the Church is born from the encounter with the Lord, the great care given to adoration and celebration of the Eucharist, enabling those who participate in it to experience the beauty of Christ's mystery is no secondary matter.
Given that the beauty of the liturgy "is no mere aestheticism, but the concrete way in which the truth of God's love in Christ encounters us, attracts us and delights us" (Sacramentum Caritatis, n. 35), it is important that the Eucharistic celebration manifest and communicate, through the sacramental signs, the divine life and reveal the true face of the Church to the men and women of this City.
The spiritual and apostolic growth of the community then leads to its extension through a convinced missionary action. Strive, therefore, in every parish as at the time of the City Mission, to restore life to the small groups or counselling centres for the faithful who proclaim Christ and his word, places where it is possible to experience faith, to put charity into practice and to organize hope.
This structuring of the large urban parishes by the multiplication of small communities allows the mission a larger breathing space, which takes into account the density of the population and its social and cultural features which are often very different.
If this pastoral method is also to be applied effectively in workplaces, it would be important to evangelize them with a well thought-out and adapted pastoral ministry since, because of the high social mobility, it is here that people spend a large part of their day.
Lastly, the witness of charity that unites hearts and opens them to ecclesial belonging should not be forgotten. Historians answer the question as to how the success of Christianity in the first centuries can be explained, the ascent of a presumed Jewish sect to the religion of the Empire, by saying that it was the experience of Christian charity in particular that convinced the world. Living charity is the primary form of missionary outreach. The word proclaimed and lived becomes credible if it is incarnate in behaviour that demonstrates solidarity and sharing, in deeds that show the Face of Christ as man's true Friend.
May the silent, daily witness of charity, promoted by parishes thanks to the commitment of numerous lay faithful continue to spread increasingly, so that those who live in suffering feel the Church's closeness and experience the love of the Father rich in mercy. Therefore be "Good Samaritans", ready to treat the material and spiritual wounds of your brethren. Deacons, conformed by ordination to Christ the Servant, will be able to carry out a useful service in promoting fresh attention to the old and new forms of poverty.
I am also thinking of the young people: dear friends, I invite you to put your enthusiasm and creativity at the service of Christ and the Gospel, making yourselves apostles of your peers, ready to respond generously to the Lord if he calls you to follow him more closely, in the priesthood or in consecrated life.
Plus: Benedict XVI's Q-and-A With Children Missionaries
"Praying Is a Very Important Thing That Can Change the World"
Jordi Savall and La Capella Reial
Friday, June 05, 2009
Mormac at Ignis Ardens forum provides these links:
Arrival at Paris: Porte de L'Hippodrome
Entering the city
Mass for the Monday of Pentecost
Crowds of Faithful at Place Vauban
Fr Nely's sermon
A powerful closing word by Fr Duverger
View from the Eiffel Tower
Pilgrim shadows from Eloi
Photos from the Paris-Chartres pilgrimmage (links via Mormac, Ignis Ardens forum):
Notes on a post-secular society
Both religious and secular mentalities must be open to a complementary learning process if we are to balance shared citizenship and cultural difference. By Jürgen Habermas
'Habermas vs the Pope', Prospect Magazine issue 116 November 2005
MITPressLog: Habermas and Religion
Jürgen Habermas Christianity and Liberalism
Jürgen Habermas Interview
video: Jürgen Habermas - The Kantian Project of Cosmopolitan Law
ZENIT - Cistercians Hit the Charts
Pater Karl Wallner über das admirabile commercium
P. Karl Wallner: Wers glaubt wird selig
Ostern - Das neue Leben - 01
Ostern - Das neue Leben - 02
Ostern - Das neue Leben - 03
Pater Karl predigt bei der Jugendvigil im März 2009 - Teil 1
Pater Karl predigt bei der Jugendvigil im März 2009 - Teil 2
"Sind Mönche die besseren Manager ?" 1
"Sind Mönche die besseren Manager ?" 2
Securitization--which is the conversion of pools of loans into securities that are sold in the secondary market--provides a means for massive debt-leveraging. The banks use off-balance sheet operations to create securities so they can avoid normal reserve requirements and bothersome regulatory oversight. Oddly enough, the quality of the loan makes no difference at all, since the banks make their money on loan originations and other related fees. What matters is quantity, quantity, quantity; an industrial-scale assembly line of fetid loans dumped on unsuspecting investors to fatten the bottom line. And, boy, can Wall Street grind out the rotten paper when there's no cop on the beat and the Fed is cheering from the bleachers. In an analysis written by economist Gary Gorton for the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s 2009 Financial Markets Conference titled, "Slapped in the Face by the Invisible Hand; Banking and the Panic of 2007", the author shows that mortgage-related securities ballooned from $492.6 billion in 1996 to $3,071.1 in 2003, while asset backed securities (ABS) jumped from $168.4 billion in 1996 to $1,253.1 in 2006. All told, more than $20 trillion in securitized debt was sold between 1997 to 2007. How much of that debt will turn out to be worthless as foreclosures skyrocket and the banks balance sheets come under greater and greater pressure?
Deregulation opened Pandora's box, unleashing a weird mix of shady off-book operations (SPVs, SIVs) and dodgy, odd-sounding derivatives that were used to amplify leverage and stack debt on tinier and tinier scraps of capital. It's easy to make money, when one has no skin in the game. That's how hedge fund managers and private equity sharpies get rich. Securitization gave the banks the opportunity to take substandard loans from applicants who had no way of paying them back, and magically transform them into Triple A securities. "Abra-kadabra". The Wall Street public relations throng boasted that securitization "democratized" credit because more people could borrow at better rates since funding came from investors rather than banks. But it was all a hoax. The real objective was to turbo-charge profits by skimming hefty salaries and bonuses on the front end, before people found out they'd been hosed. The former head of the FDIC, William Seidman, figured it all out back in 1993 when he was cleaning up after the S&L fiasco. Here's what he said in his memoirs:
“Instruct regulators to look for the newest fad in the industry and examine it with great care. The next mistake will be a new way to make a loan that will not be repaid.”
That's it in a nutshell. The banks never expected the loans would be paid back, which is why they issued them to applicants with no income, no collateral, no job, and a bad credit history. It made no sense at all, especially to anyone who's ever sat through a nerve-wracking credit check with a sneering banker. Trust me, bankers know how to get their money back, if that's their real intention. In this case, it didn't matter. They just wanted to keep their counterfeiting racket zooming ahead at full-throttle for as long as possible. Meanwhile, Maestro Greenspan waved pom-poms from the sidelines, extolling the virtues of the "new economy" and the permanent high plateau of prosperity that had been achieved through laissez faire capitalism. Why would anyone care what Greenspan thinks? The Fed is just a branch office of the banking cartel anyway.
DiNoia moving to Congregation for Divine Worship
American Papist: Rumor: Dominican to become next bishop of Fort Wayne?
I believe Fr. Di Noia was a part of the faculty at the DHS. Hrm, I didn't know this happened: Dominican selection of DiNoia nullified. Personally I would like to see him promoted to the head of the CDF eventually.
"Dominus Iesus" presented by Fr. Augustine Di Noia, O.P.
Dominican History: Fr. Di Noia, O.P., on the Passion Narratives
Dominican History: Fr. DiNoia, O.P. on the Dominican Charism
Vatican Radio: Rev. Augustine DiNoia, OP
The Carl J. Peter Lecture
Di Noia on Infalliblity
Speak Up Studios Podcast : Fr. J. Augustine Di Noia, O.P.
Ordo Praedicatorum » Blog Archive » Interview with Fr. DiNoia
Fr. J. Augustine Di Noia, O.P. Theology Lectures
ZENIT - The Subsisting Church of Christ
ZENIT - Mel Gibson's "Passion": On Review at the Vatican
Providence College - Convocation Keynote Speaker
Life is A Gift from God
Fr. Augustine DiNoia: Divine Wisdom and Christian Humanism
Being! Or Nothingness: Fr. Augustine DiNoia on Pope Benedict XVI
Thursday, June 04, 2009
Brian Kaller, Restoring Mayberry blog
Many people understand times will get tougher. Most people also have kids. Yet publications that discuss peak energy, the environment or the economy rarely talk about children, or how to train them for the world they foresee. Whether you have kids or not, it’s a useful exercise – it means thinking seriously about what the world might look like in ten or twenty years, beyond a blurry pastiche of Hollywood apocalypses.
Gene Logsdon, Dave Smith, OrganicToBe.org
When our bed of irises bloom for one brief but glorious week in late May, I think, strangely enough, of a letter a friend of mine received from a doctor in Minnesota. The doctor observed that in his medical practice, rural people face the prospect of dying with more equanimity than urbanites.
Aristotle’s remark that man is by nature a social animal is not often paired with another of his: man is even more naturally a marrying animal. The union of man and woman with the aim of reproduction creates the most fundamental society of all, the family. Any further society presupposes the family and is parasitic on it. The mark of any society is concern for the common good, and where better than in the family do I learn that I have goods that are not simply mine but ours? Parents and children, each with their private goods, must give precedence to the shared or common good of the family if it, and they, are to flourish.
To say that marrying and founding a family is natural to the human person, does not mean that it just comes about. The natural impulse must be humanized, consciously directed and ever preserved from the dangers that menace it. The greatest enemy of the family has arisen from the Enlightenment nonsense that freedom characterizes us, that we have no links or aims that are not freely chosen, that the natural instincts have no claim on the practical direction of our lives. For centuries there has been an assault on the fundamental unit of society with the result that political society is in chaos. It has become controversial to say that the family consists of a husband and wife and their children. The divorce of sexual activity from its manifest aim has created a chaos that is all around us. Replacement rates, in the touching phrase, are no longer met by western societies. Irregular unions, contraception, and abortion represent a vast suicidal movement toward extinction.
How is the impulse humanized? Through virtue.
My ever-constant quibble -- a distorted notion of freedom and autonomy -- for most people, is that just the state of sin, or is it really traceable to the influence of the Enlightenment?
At the age of 16, George Washington copied out his "110 Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation," which first appeared in a 16th-century manual written by Jesuits who were firm in their association of manners and morals. Washington came to represent the best of the Augustine age and "every body honoured him who honoured every body."
The way people dress and speak and treat one another signals their self-perception. I have seen enough undershirts worn as dress shirts emblazoned with scatological curses, and have heard enough four-letter Elizabethanisms from the mouths of debutantes, and have been to enough receptions with ear-shattering rock music, to know that we are not in a golden age, or even a reduced gilded age, of manners.
John Henry Cardinal Newman defined the gentleman, and perforce the lady, in cadences which have become almost as incomprehensible as the terms "gentleman" and "lady" themselves. "It is almost a definition of a gentleman to say he is one who never inflicts pain." And it is a very good thing to have a double standard: Eve is supposed to civilize Adam, and when a woman is vulgar she shows her man the exit from paradise. In speaking of pain inflicted, Newman speaks of moral care for the consciences of others. The gentleman puts others at ease and "makes light of favours while he does them, and seems to be receiving when he is conferring." He does not slander or gossip, treats his enemy as a potential friend, and is "merciful to the absurd."
via Tea at Trianon
LA CAPELLA REIAL DE CATALUNYA, biography, discography
audio: 20è aniversari de la Capella Reial de Catalunya. Convidat: Jordi Savall.
A reader sends this note to Fr. Z--
The Subprior of Clear Creek, Dom Francois de Feydeau, recently underwent an operation in which the doctors removed three cancerous brain tumors. The guestmaster, Father Bethel, has told me on more than one occasion that he does not know how they could ever have made the foundation at Clear Creek without Father de Feydeau. He is enormously talented in so many ways – a superb artist, an able builder & amateur engineer, an authority on Romanesque art, architecture, & spirituality without equal in the Western Hemisphere, above all a perfect model of a Christian following the Rule of St Benedict. I received a note from Father Prior, excerpts of which are below, asking that friends of the monastery join in this novena to Bishop Valdes, beginning TODAY, Tuesday the 2nd.
Dear Friends of Clear Creek Monastery,
Father Abbot of Fontgombault composed the attached novena prayer.
Bishop Francisco Valdes was a Capuchin bishop from Chile, who befriended Fontgombault in the early 1980s. He ordained Father de Feydeau (and Father Bethel) to the diaconate. Since dying in the odor of sanctity in 1982, his diocese of Osorno has begun the procedure to obtain his possible beatification.
Father de Feydeau is recovering very well from his brain surgery, but his cancer is medically incurable. This is why we are asking you to join in our novena for his cure, by the grace of God and the intercession of Our Lady, St. Benedict, St. Francis and the holy Bishop Valdes.
In Our Lord and Our Lady,
Brother Philip Anderson, Prior of Clear Creek Monastery
+ Special Novena
(June 2-10 2009)
Composed by Dom Antoine Forgeot, Abbot of Fontgombault
Bishop Francisco Valdes, our friend, we know through experience the power of your intercession; humbly and with confidence we pray to you on behalf of another Francis, severely stricken in his health: obtain for him a complete and prompt healing, for the good of his soul, the service of his community and the glory of God. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Sacred Heart of Jesus, I trust in Thee.
Our Lady, Health of the Sick, Pray for us.
Our Lady of Lourdes, Pray for us.
Our Blessed Father, Saint Benedict, Pray for us.
Saint Francis of Assisi, Pray for us.
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
Here we come to a surprising possibility. Could it be that many of our economic problems are not the result of insufficient regulations, as many argue, but instead the result of a regulatory structure that creates an unlevel playing field and thereby makes it easier for the large corporation and more difficult for the small concern? Could the internal dynamics of the corporation, itself, lead to this outcome? The implications are, I admit, far-reaching, but at the very least, we should be honest enough to admit that, along with an unprecedented explosion of consumer goods and services, corporate capitalism has nourished powerful forces that may not contribute to the long term health of our society.
by William Quirk
President Obama’s policy of trying to reinflate the bubble—see TAIF (an effort to revive securitization) and Public Private Investment Group (an effort to make taxpayers finance purchases of rotten assets from banks)—is a bad idea. Remarkably, his administration has not even proposed dealing with the cause of the problem—the “naked” credit default swaps. Today, CDSs are traded as secretly as ever. Some standard types, if the parties choose, may pass through a nonguaranteeing clearinghouse—a pitiful half-step to appease critics.
The current system has a bad design. We need to simplify and separate the banks’ utility functions from casino activities that should be carried on elsewhere. In February MIT professor of economics Simon Johnson said, “Are you going in with the bankers or are you being tough with bankers? They [the administration] don’t want to upset the banking industry and that’s the heart of it.”
Presidents get to choose—they can pick conventional or unconventional advisors. Given the current financial crisis, when it comes to economic advisors, you would not think the President would appoint the guys who wrecked the train—Summers and Geithner—to fix it. President Obama picked Larry Summers, a former Harvard president, to be the head of his White House National Economic Council. The President says he meets with Summers every day. Is Summers likely to give unconventional advice? Well, on April 3, the White House reported that in 2008 Summers earned more than $5 million from a hedge fund and $2.7 million in speaking fees from Wall Street companies. The speaking fees included Goldman Sachs ($135,000), Citigroup ($45,000), J.P. Morgan ($67,500), and the now-defunct Lehman Brothers ($67,500). White House spokesman Ben LaBolt said the compensation did not represent a conflict of interest and really was not surprising since Summers is “widely recognized as one of the country’s most distinguished economists.” Maybe, although it is not unreasonable to suspect that he would naturally want to preserve a system that has richly rewarded him. Every President gets the advice he wants. President Obama’s problem is that his choice is conventional. Summers’ policy of reinflating the bubble won’t work; the public is past it.
Something from 2006: An Early Retirement For The Hydrogen Fuel Cell
source: IMP Awards
*warning: possible spoilers*
As my mother had two movie passes to use and had always been interested in a good fright, I decided to take her to see Drag Me to Hell last night. My mother regretted wasting the two hours on such a "stupid" movie, when she could have been doing something more beneficial (like praying) instead. I thought it was a good lesson for her--it should discourage her from watching horror movies in the future.
Up to now I had not seen a Sam Raimi horror(-comedy) movie all the way through. I've seen short bits of Army of Darkness, but neither of the previous Evil Dead movies. (I've seen only the first two Spiderman movies.) Alison Lohman was fine as Christine; she replaced replaced Ellen Page. I haven't seen Juno, so I can't say I agree that Page would have given a better performance. Justin Long plays the boyfriend Clay... I remember him being rather annoying in Live Free or Die Hard, and it was hard to shake that impression while watching the movie.
There were parts that were funny and gross. But I would have to agree with my mother's assessment--I probably would not have watched the film on my own.
Christine is a loan officer at a bank who is approached one day by a gypsy woman asking for an extension on her mortgage payment. The gypsy woman has been ill and unable to work. Christine, feeling the need to show the manager of the bank that she can be tough in order to secure a promotion to assistant manager, decides to reject the petition. The gypsy woman goes on her knees and begs, but Christine calls the security guards to remove her from the bank. The gypsy woman, perceiving that she has been shamed by Christine, later returns to put a curse on her. That night Christine begins to be stalked by a demon. She later finds out from a seer/fortune teller that the demon will drag her down to hell in three days.
Christine is mostly a sympathetic character. She has been a pushover and has a self-esteem problem (when she was young she was fat), and is determined to advance in her career so as to impress the parents of her boyfriend Clay and show that she is a suitable match for him. (She overhears his mother complaining that her son should be marrying a more ambitious woman with a better career, able to socialize and introduce her son to important people.) Despite the "tough" decisions that she feels she has to make, underneath she wants to be the "nice" girl who doesn't offend or harm others.
She is presented with a possible solution at the last-minute, but must wrestle with her conscience since it involves committing evil (something more reprehensible than the sacrifice of the cat that she does right after she realizes that she has been cursed and is being stalked by the demon). Her behavior when she figures out what is to be done is understandable, but a reminder of the impact of "girl power" feminism (women can be equally aggressive and physical as men without losing their femininity) on female characters.
My problems with the movie are not with the characters or with Christine's struggle to escape the curse, but with the depiction of evil and the "supernatural." I don't derive any pleasure from being frightened. Horror movies tend to feed irrational fears based on the exaggeration of evil, and I do not think this is a good thing, especially for impressionable imaginations. The use of magic and the occult and the false distinction between "good" and "bad" magic are morally problematic as well. Some may say that as long as one does not take this seriously, it is ok and can be entertaining, but I find it repulsive to the intellect, and cannot suspend my judgment just to try to enjoy a movie. Art is subordinate to the truth. (How does it differ from fantasy, like LOTR? My shot at an explanation -- LOTR is supposed to be an alternate world/universe -- but horror movies are generally conceived as something possible for this world -- no one fears what cannot happen in real life. But one needs to be persuaded that the evils depicted in a horror movie could be real, in order for the horror movie to be work and inspire fear.)
Do such movies reinforce the beliefs and superstitions of our poorly educated people concerning the universe and the moral order? Hell is frightening, but depicted inaccurately -- the demons will be feasting on the soul of victims? According to the movie, it is not a punishment that we deserve by preferring ourselves to God. Rather it is the private dominion of the demons, and it seems that God has no control over what they do or whom they drag down. God is actually quite absent in this movie, though there is one mention of Him, when a character says "Thank God." But the medium who is asked by the seer to help Christine does not invoke God (as far as I can tell), but some benign spirit. Christine could have given an extension to the gypsy woman on her mortgage payments -- but does her lack of mercy deserve this, being sent to hell?
The ending was not very satisfying, even though it tried to be a twist. I thought it was predictable nonetheless, if you were paying attention to certain details in the movie.
I don't think the story qualifies as a tragedy; rather, one's fate is something that is out of one's control. The ending certainly does not respect the notion of desert, which I believe to be a part of traditional tragedy...
I still haven't finished that post on horror movies... I have a little bit more to say about them.
I was looking for some books covering the Anglo-American political tradition, and Professor Kopff is of some help:
Willmoore Kendall and George Carey in The Basic Symbols of the American Political Tradition (1970) traced the American political tradition back to the Mayflower Compact of 1620 and other important documents that pre-date John Locke and could not have been influenced by him, like the Fundamental Order of Connecticut (1638-39) and the Massachusetts Body of Liberties (1641). Kendall and Carey argue that the American political tradition was not “derailed” until Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address (1863). Barry Shain’s The Myth of American Individualism (1994) shows the centrality of Protestant Christianity and its communal character, founded in congregationalism. The importance of pre- and non-Lockean religious elements in the American Founding and their continuing importance is developed by Samuel Huntington in Who Are We?(2004)He adds:
The importance of pre-Lockean traditions, British, Christian and Classical, has been made over and over again for generations after Hartz by scholars including P. G. A. Pocock, Bernard Bailyn, Gordon Wood, Carl Richard and many others. The importance of the Classical Tradition for the Constitution has been documented just last year by David J. Bederman, The Classical Foundations of the American Constitution (2008). Catherine Winterer’s The Culture of Classicism: Ancient Greece and Rome in American Intellectual Life, 1780-1910 (2002) has shown that the classical tradition continued to be influential for generations after the founding. The living significance of non-Lockean Christian and British traditions is part of the daily experience of most Americans.
Professor Gutzman responds: Left-wing America.Grant Havers, Liberals and Illiberals
Richard Spencer, Re: Is America Unconservative?
Tom Piatak, America First, Of Course
Who cannot be ignorant of the Founders harkening back to the Classical age -- but is their understanding of government classical? What was inherited specifically from the modern English political tradition, and what, if anything, from the medievals?
Doing some further searching, I find an answer from Dr. Larison to a query:
For the Founders’ understanding of the relevant legal and political issues, I would have to recommend the primary sources of their own writings first and foremost (Regnery has a good edition of the political writings of John Adams with which I am familiar, and Jefferson’s writings are widely available), together with a combined reading of Filmer’s Patriarcha and Sydney’s Discourse Concerning Government (which was the Whig rebuttal of Filmer). There are several collections of Antifederalist and Federalist writings surrounding the ratification debates that convey the rival conceptions of the legal and political traditions both sides in the debates on the Constitution shared. As for studies of the more general background, I recommend The Language of Liberty by J.C.D. Clark for understanding the rhetorical and political tradition in which the Founders were working (this study extends beyond the Revolutionary period into the early 19th century, and treats both “sides” of the Anglo-American world together).
For the immediate post-independence period I recommend The Jeffersonian Persuasion by Lance Banning, particularly the connections it makes between the tradition of Country dissent against the Court (as represented by Bolingbroke) that the Jeffersonians relied upon in making their critiques of cities, merchants the “monied interest.” For some of the historical background of the 17th century, Crisis of Parliaments by the late Lord Russell is fairly good for the basic narrative up to the Civil War (I cannot claim that Russell is without his biases, but he was a good enough historian to keep them from overwhelming his interpretation). I’m afraid that American history is my amateur interest, not my professional area of expertise, so I am undoubtedly neglecting many very good and probably more important volumes that will help you more than my scattershot recommendations. I hope these help.
How little reading and research on this topic I've done since July 2006. That's rather pathetic.
Clyde Wilson, Nullification: Its Time Has Come Again
Lee Edwards, Revisiting Russell Kirk’s The Roots of American Order
Jefferson Finis Davis Tribute
Jefferson and Varina Davis (source)
Jefferson Davis President Confederate States of America
The Papers of Jefferson Davis
Jefferson Davis: The Essential Writings
The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government by Jefferson Davis
Google Books: The rise and fall of the Confederate government
Beauvoir: The Jefferson Davis Home and Presidential Library
Next time I'm in Kentucky, I'll have to go to the Jefferson Davis Monument.
Sons of Confederate Veterans
DixieNet.Org :: Official Website of the League of the South!
source: Stone Mountain Memorial Closeup
Stone Mountain Park
Stone Mountain Memorial Association
Main Street Stone Mountain
Tuesday, June 02, 2009
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2009 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon the people of the United States to turn back discrimination and prejudice everywhere it exists.The Presidential Proclamation
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of June, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-third.
"By virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States" -- which means what, exactly? The imperial presidency has done silly stuff before, but this is an assault on traditional mores. Alas, not a few public schools will probably follow the example of Obama and officially recognize June as LGBT month. Some colleges and universities will do so, as well. Any more examples that the culture wars have been lost, at the national level?
How does one transport luggage in one of these? (Then again, airplanes will be a feasible mode of transportation for how much longer?) The small, eco-friendly cars may be useful for short trips within the city, where parking is scarce, but they don't have much trunk space. No trips to Costco. Can they carry a week's amount of groceries? They are relatively inexpensive, but if I were to buy a new car, I'd still be tempted to go with a Camry or an Accord or a Civic. (How's the VW GTI?)
Honda Worldwide Geneva2007 Honda Small Hybrid Sports Concept
2009 Honda Global Small Hybrid details released
Small Change - MINI Clubman & VW UP - European Car
First image of 2010 Volkswagen Lupo
New Renault Clio car review (wiki) Renault.com - Renault Clio Estate
Buoyed by China's sustained economic boom, which offers opportunities unthinkable to their parents and grandparents, Beida's current students tend to believe that China is destined to blaze a path different than the one chartered by the 1989 student leaders.
"In 1989 they [students] all believed in Western democracy. That is why they even had the Statue of Liberty on Tiananmen Square," a philosophy student surnamed Zheng told Inter Press Service (IPS). "But I think China should follow its own path of development in politics as well as economy, and not be a copycat of the West. We have done that long enough."
Such confidence is partly fueled by the success of China's authoritarian government in delivering material goods to its people. But there are other layers too: disillusionment with the Western model of liberal capitalism during this time of global financial crisis, and newfound pride in the country's traditional culture that is feeding a revival of the Confucian political and moral ethos.
While few of the Beida students who talked to IPS openly vindicate the bloodshed that occurred in the early hours of June 4, 1989, nearly all of them said the crackdown was necessary to prevent China from veering dangerously off its chosen path.
"There would have been chaos, and our economic development would have suffered," said another student, Lan Pingli. "But we need many years of peace, stability and economic prosperity to be able to find our own Chinese way of political governance."
If Lan sounds uncannily like a communist propaganda apparatchik, it is because she and many others among her peers believe Beijing's form of authoritarian governance combined with a market economy is the right formula for the world's most populous country. They subscribe to the idea that political change will come to China not by following the Western model of parliamentarian democracy, but China's own practices.
The Communist Party, which has long regarded Confucius as a feudal thinker, has made a flip-flop, tacitly approving a state comeback for Confucianism, and even promoting it as a key aspect of an alternative political model for China.
"Confucianism has quietly come back," said Joseph Cheng, a political scientist at the City University of Hong Kong, "and the communist leadership has been exploiting it to help fill the ideological vacuum and improve morality. It is a low-key revival, but it suits their needs to find a new cohesive force at a time when Marxism is dead but democracy is absent."
China watchers say President Hu Jintao believes this country's rampant consumerism has left an ethical vacuum that could be filled with a return to the Confucian values of honor and decency. In a recent lecture titled "The Socialist Concept of Honor and Disgrace", he extolled Confucius's "eight virtues", such as plain living and public service, and warned of his "eight disgraces", like pursuit of profit.
Some experts say the revival of Confucianism has broadened China's political spectrum and could in the long-run serve as a basis for a new model of governance.
"What is interesting is that now there are more options on the table than compared with the 1980s, when political evolution was viewed only as a change from an authoritarian to a democratic form of government," said political theorist Daniel Bell, author of a book on China's new Confucianism. "In China at the moment, the spirit of experimentation is prevailing."
Yet many believe that China's political options have actually narrowed since the late 1980s, when the Communist Party crushed the pro-democracy protests.
"I don't see any serious initiative on the part of the communist leadership to change the current political model," said Cheng. "In fact, since the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown, party leaders have shown less and less readiness to compromise on their monopoly on power."
Others say dressing its power in Confucian robes cannot help the Communist Party avoid accountability for the killings of untold numbers of unarmed civilians.
"Confucianism is against killing," said writer and social critic Yu Jie. "You cannot justify a crackdown like Tiananmen on the grounds that you were trying to keep the country on its own track."
The re-appearance of state Confucianism in order to legitimize and uphold the regime. They've even surpassed the bounds of imperial authority.
Throwing the book at corruption, by Wu Zhong, China Editor
Wu Zhong makes these two claims: (1) "In Confucian tradition, learning and reading were pursued to first serve one's self interests - the goal was utilitarian." (2) "A Confucian scholar studying hard could gain much through passing exams and becoming an official. The goal of learning then was selfish."
Can any non-Christian ethics not be "selfish" -- that is centered on the self as the ultimate end of action? What alternative would Wu Zhong offer?
AsiaTimes: Hezbollah spices up Israel-Iran mix
Hezbollah, which is widely favored to win parliamentary elections in Lebanon on June 7, has made it clear that should this happen, it will seek even closer ties with Iran, to the extent of military assistance. Israel has upped the ante by reportedly focusing on covert activities to "disrupt Iran's nuclear program", as well as supporting the Sunni Islamist group Jundallah against Tehran. - Kaveh L Afrasiabi
For President Obama and other opponents of torture, the important fact here is that, if we understand what Boyd is saying, we no longer face the choice Cheney offered. We need not choose between doing what military necessity commands and acting morally. Military necessity itself demands that we act morally. The real choice is between doing what wins wars and loses wars, with Cheney arguing for the latter. Suddenly, it is the Republicans who are on the wrong side of the “national security” issue.
Let me offer President Obama three pieces of advice, all intended to escape the Republicans’ trap:
First, when this issue comes up again (and it will), go to your NSC director, General Jim Jones, for advice. He is familiar with Boyd’s work. Your political people are not.
Second, apply Boyd’s insight about the three levels of war not only to the question of torture but to everything we do in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. At present, we are sacrificing the moral level to the physical in lots of ways, which is to say we are defeating ourselves. A good start would be a Presidential order forbidding air strikes on populated areas and demanding they be restricted elsewhere to situations where our troops would otherwise be overrun.
Three, solve the issue of detainees at Guantanomo and elsewhere by designating all of them as what they are, namely Prisoners of War. International law specifies how POWs must be cared for. POW camps on American soil are nothing new; we have had them in every war. POWs may be held until the war is over or exchanged. This is what the Bush administration should have done from the outset, a point Democrats can make. The current mess was created by Republicans.
Politicians usually roll their eyes when military theory is mentioned, deeming it too esoteric for “the real world.” As President Obama’s inability to answer Cheney effectively shows, nothing could be further from the truth. The Bush administration led America into two quagmires, in Iraq and Afghanistan, because of its ignorance of the theory of Fourth Generation war. If the Obama White House continues as ignorant as its predecessor, it will set the country up for fresh disasters. A wise President will prefer to learn from theory than from failure.
AsiaTimes: Fighting the wrong fight in Afghanistan
The "bad guys", along with Osama bin Laden's trusted corps of advisors, are swarming in the valleys, hills and mountains of Afghanistan as a risk-averse, air-power-friendly United States military has effectively surrendered the countryside over the past three years. If you doubt that, try taking a stroll outside the massive sand-filled walls of any American base. - Philip Smucker
A K-5 Curriculum for Students in the Post-Carbon Era (pdf)
Sarah Rios and Jaime Campos, Nature Bats Last
Will education be important in the post-carbon era? What will need to be taught? What skills need to be acquired? We hope to provide one alternative for educating students, after the fall of empire.
I don't care for the multiplication of intelligences by Howard Gardner-- I prefer the classical understanding of the virtues and arts, hexeis and techne. Those who are involved in mass education cannot but be involved in the moral formation of the children, even if one would prefer that the government and the public schools not be. As for interpersonal intelligence -- do boys and girls develop differently, or at different rates? I suspect that this part of the curriculum privileges the female ideal over the male. If some allowance were made for differences between males and females, I might go along with it. As it is, I think education should be segregated according to sex at a pretty young age. I have the same sort of criticism with regards to "intrapersonal intelligence" -- there seems to be too much of an emphasis on the emotions when it comes to self-understanding? Children should be able to explain why they feel what they feel, but that's about it. Paideia may start with the emotions, but it does not end there--children first learn to be guided by others, and then to guide themselves through the use of reason.
I haven't read these -- do the authors get Aristotle right? Greek Philosophy: Aristotle, The Doctrine of the Mean and D. S. Hutchinson, D. S. Hutchinson, The Virtues of Aristotle
A voyage to the holy mountain of the Orthodox Church. First conducted and recounted in 1997. Meaning now, this year. Because on Athos, earthly time is one and the same as the eternal today of heaven
The Resurgence of Prayer, in a World that Wants to Exclude It
From Monte Cassino, the pope revives the motto of Saint Benedict: "Ora et labora." And Cardinal Ruini explains how prayer is the best response to the modern crises of faith. It has also been discussed at a Festival of theology
What to make of this?
(see also his A Conservative Obligation: Bach’s Art of the Fugue)
Monday, June 01, 2009
Dan Bednarz, PhD, HealthafterOil
As with the financial sector and the automobile industry, healthcare will be humbled by the ongoing fiscal/economic crisis, which has hidden ecological roots and far-reaching social and political implications.
Dubai calls on the Rothschild bank for help, perhaps out of desperation. In Saudi Arabia a Saad Group company defaults. US, European and Asian banks are struggling. The end of Ramadan in September might mark the start of an economic depression worse than that of the 1930s.
The Archbishop emeritus of Hong Kong says it's time to criticise Deng Xiaoping for his responsibility for the massacre. June 4th 1989, marks the moment when love and patriotism for China blossomed in the hearts of the people of Hong Kong. Using the recent economic progress as a justification of the massacre “is nonsense”.
Marriage is but one part of a larger set of cultural conditions. Marriage is a condition in which individuality is subsumed to the larger considerations, demands, and obligations of culture and commonweal. At the most basic level, we sacrifice our autonomy on behalf of the good of a “unit” now defined as a couple, not two individuals. At a basic level, that unit is the source of future generations - the very source and conduit for the conveyance of human life and particular cultures. But the unit is itself an expression of, and draws from, the community as a whole. Thus (as I’ve written elsewhere), marriage is entered into through the blessing of and in the presence of community, not (as Las Vegas versions would suggest) as a contract of individuals. Marriages derive from, exist for, and are legitimized by the community and culture from which they derive. Thus, in their earliest instantiation marriages had nothing to do with the wishes of the individuals who composed them. They were the arrangements by families who looked to the continuity of a way of life (and, yes, family status) rather than the individual wishes of the partners.
Sunday, May 31, 2009
(via Dr. Helen)
Dr. Nancy Ann Davis & Dr. Richard Driscoll, You Still Don't Understand:Typical Differences between Men and Women
You Still Don't Understand
The author's website.
You Still Don't Understand Podcast Episode
You Still Don’t Understand: Typical Differences between Men and Women- and How to Resolve Them -- Deborah Harper interviews Richard Driscoll (mp3)
Dr. Helen: PJTV: The growing rift between men and women
A Jesus for Real Men Christianity Today
"The Church Is Unceasingly Formed and Guided by the Spirit of the Lord" [2009-05-31]
Papal Address at Conclusion of Marian Month of May
"In Her Humility, She Found Grace in God's Eyes" [2009-05-31]
Benedict XVI's Homily for Solemnity of Pentecost
"The Holy Spirit Overcomes Fear" [2009-05-31]
An interesting bit: Nicaea & Easter
A 1997 move for a common Easter date
RISU /Ukrainian Catholic University Organizes Seminar on Easter Date
UCU / Current / News / UCU Organizes International Seminar on Common Easter
A 1997 Move for a Common Easter Date
ES / Home / IES News / A Common Date for Easter is Possible: the 1997 Aleppo Consensus
Fr. Peter-Michael Preble: Common Date of Easter (wow, so he has his own website)
Hopes rise for East-West common Easter - CathNews
Her official website.
EMI Classics - Kate Royal - Biography
Opera Today : Kate Royal at Wigmore Hall
Kate Royal Midsummer Night
Midsummer Night / Kate Royal ArkivMusic
Kate Royal - Midsummer Night (HD)
Classical Archives: Album: Kate Royal
The magic of Kate Royal - Times Online
Cultural Life: Kate Royal, soprano
Kate Royal Interview Classic FM
Interview: Kate Royal
Erica Jeal meets constantly in demand singer, Kate Royal
15 Questions to Kate Royal
Handel: As steals the morn upon the night (HWV 55)
Kate Royal - Händel: Eternal Source of Light Divine
Happy We with Kate Royal and Ian Bostridge
happy we... Handel.
Kate Royal - "Ecce Cor Meum" - Paul McCartney