Saturday, August 26, 2006

Popping the question to her father

by Drew Dyck

See also Solomon's Line on Premarital Sex by John Thomas

More Miss HK 2006 photos

Ok, the dress is a really modernized qi pao, keeping the mandarin collar and the shilhouette of a qi pao; still it's a "closed" dress. It has frilly sleeves, which I hadn't seen before. A traditional qi pao has non-functional buttons; the buttons and cut being a vestige of traditional Chinese robes and jackets.

Some more pics of Aimee Chan, the winner:

She has Reese Witherspoon's chin...
she probably is the most physically attractive one out of these year's contestants. What would KK say about Miss HK contestants in general? haha...

short intro/ad by Aimee Chan (the way she speaks Canto isn't so good...)

a clip of the winners

More photos here:
TVB website
(For 2005: TVB,

Yahoo! HK search results: 1

Official site; 2006 pageant

Now for something completely random:
Hong Kong Police
Hong Kong Practical Shooting Association

Helping cities, towns and municipalities adapt to peak oil

Helping cities, towns and municipalities adapt to peak oil
by Randy White

A good list, for people and governments who take the problem seriously. Good luck finding them.

Misc Photos

Sister Nirmala prays by the tomb of the late Mother Teresa on her 96th birth anniversary in the eastern Indian city of Kolkata August 26, 2006. The global order of nuns, founded by the Nobel peace prize-winning nun who died in 1997, was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2003 at the Vatican. REUTERS/Jayanta Shaw (INDIA)

Catholic nuns from the Missionaries of Charity pray at the tomb of Mother Teresa on her 96th birth anniversary in the eastern Indian city of Kolkata August 26, 2006. The global order of nuns, founded by the Nobel peace prize winning nun who died in 1997, was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2003 at the Vatican. REUTERS/Jayanta Shaw

Nuns visit an exhibition of the 'Veronica's Veil' at the Saint Veil monastery in Manoppello, central Italy, August 24, 2006. Pope Benedict XVI will make a pilgrimage to a remote monastery in the Abruzzo region, east of Rome, next week to visit the mysterious icon which many believe shows the face of Christ. Picture taken August 24, 2006. REUTERS/Dario Pignatelli (ITALY)

The 'Veronica's Veil' is seen at the Saint Veil monastery in Manoppello, central Italy, August 24, 2006. REUTERS/Dario Pignatelli (ITALY)

This photo provided by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Visual Services shows a letter written by Pope Gregory to the Cistercian Abbot in Poland circa the 13th century. The letter, on display at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2006, is one of 17 recovered by a Wisconsin man during World War II. The documents will be returned to national-archive officials in Poland on Aug. 30. (AP Photo/University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Visual Services)

I wish I had script like that.

Some Zenit articles of note

Cardinal Martino on "Deus Caritas Est"

God's Love: the Foundation of Our Living Together

VATICAN CITY, AUG. 26, 2006 ( Here is a translation of an essay by Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, on Benedict XVI's encyclical, "Deus Caritas Est." The essay, adapted here, was first published in L'Osservatore Romano.

* * *

The Universal Dimension of Social Charity
By Cardinal Renato Martino

Truth draws men together because it frees them from individual opinions. Love draws men together because it makes them overcome individual egoisms. The announcement of Christianity is that Truth is Love. Therefore Christianity is the religion of the communion and the unity of human kind.

This, substantially, seems to me to be the central aspect of the message [that] "Deus Caritas Est" sends us, men of the third millennium, about our social unity. In fact, Benedict XVI writes: "God is the absolute and ultimate source of all being; but this universal principle of creation -- the Logos, primordial reason -- is at the same time a lover with all the passion of a true love" (No. 10).

The metaphysical Principle looked upon man and loved him. God is truth, thus our world and our life have meaning. Christian truth, however, does not just give life an architectonic, abstract meaning. Christian truth, also and foremost, gives life an existential meaning, a vital experience of meaning. God is truth that comes toward us, that speaks to us, that meets us. He is truth as an event of love. Otherwise life would reflect an abstract, and therefore insipid, truth and love would be blind and reduced to mere passion.

This pivotal message of "Deus Caritas Est" -- God is love -- is the foundation of our living together. In fact, it "constitutes us," it "calls us to a commitment" and extends the bonds of love to the utmost borders of the earth. Here -- in the love of God -- is where the bonds that unite people beyond their many differences find their foundation and an open perspective to embrace and follow.

Feeling called upon by truth and discovering to be loved are experiences that lead to the consolidation of the consciousness of a person's own dignity and, consequently, lead to conquer the capability to break out of one's self. He who is loved actually experiences that he "is" and he "matters" and, therefore, that he is a resource and is capable of giving.

He who feels loved receives, therefore learns to give. He who feels loved experiences the faithfulness of others and learns, in turn, to be faithful to others. The love of God shows man his own immense dignity and at the same time it shows man the same dignity inside other men, and thus invites him to open himself to the love for the others in a chain of reciprocal rewards of high social and communitarian value.

It is the love of God that "constitutes us," as it makes us understand that we are and what we are. It is the love of God that "calls us" together to take upon ourselves the task of looking at one another with the same glance of love that has constituted us. Human society is not born out of the "mutual struggle for recognition," but from the experience of being loved, which enables us to love others.

Loving the world and man, God entrusts the world and man to humanity itself, not as a collection of "things" but as a gift and a duty, as a task to accomplish together. When he puts us in our own hands as a duty to ourselves, God asks us to help him in the fulfillment of creation and salvation at every level: spiritual and eternal, human and historical.

In "Deus Caritas Est," the communitarian value -- I would say communicating, that is constitutive and constructive of the community -- of God's love is largely present. This encyclical is not directly a social encyclical, but when it grounds the human community and solidarity in the love of God, it repositions in their right Christian context all the aspects of social life, the same constitution of society and the active solidarity between men.

In order to identify, in the encyclical, some of the main instances of this "communicating" function of the love of God, we may start by focusing on creation. God's act of creation is presented in the encyclical as an act of unselfish love and in biblical faith the creation from the Word is the consequence of the fact that "God loves man" (No. 9).

The natural plan is therefore already pervaded by charity. A design of communitarian love unfolds over it. In finding himself "created" -- and not a product of chance or of natural mechanisms -- man feels loved. In Jesus, then, the creative Logos becomes flesh and reveals in greater detail its design of love for man. The Logos becomes "this" man, Jesus of Nazareth, the Savior. Here, the connection between creation and salvation becomes explicit to faith. Salvation is possible through a "historical body" of Christ, through a community to which creation was already destined.

Another instance that is very present in the encyclical is the unifying encounter between God and Israel, between Christ and the Church, between man and woman. It is betrothal, marriage, fidelity. Love that is experienced -- it was said -- makes us capable to love in the sense of total self-giving, that is in an exclusive way and for eternity.

The absolute fidelity of God to Israel enables Israel in turn to pronounce a final "yes." Self-giving, if authentic, is also exclusive and total. We can only love "unconditionally," with our whole selves. Charity, thus, creates durable bonds because they are founded on gratuitousness, on gift and on forgiveness.

In Jesus, the incarnated God unites with each man and "we enter into the very dynamic of his self-giving" (No. 13). The incarnation of God in Jesus is not just "giving," but "self-giving." Christ draws us to him by giving himself. Since then the only way to unite is through self-giving. The marriage between God and Israel, as the marriage between Christ and the Church and the marriage between man and woman, has a strong social dimension. We can truly say that society is built on love.

A third instance is the commandment of love for neighbor, the program of the Good Samaritan. The glance of Christian love extends beyond Israel, beyond the Church, beyond man and wife. It embraces the entire humanity, the one that has already been redeemed and the historical one, it reaches each and every single person and, at the same time, the entire humanity.

"Love of God and love of neighbor," says the Holy Father, are connected: "If I have no contact whatsoever with God in my life, then I cannot see in the other anything more than the other, and I am incapable of seeing in him the image of God. But if in my life I fail completely to heed others, solely out of a desire to be 'devout' and to perform my 'religious duties,' then my relationship with God will also grow arid" (No. 18).

These three instances of charity that are illustrated by the encyclical -- creation as an act of love, marriage and fidelity as a social fact, the love of God and the love of neighbor bound by an unbreakable bond -- are the theological foundation of the prodigious unifying force of the Christian faith and of its tension to break all the barriers that separate men from one another. In this sense charity founds the community and urges the realization of justice.

What is the first and main contribution given by the Church to the human community? Charity, for which the Church herself lives at the service of the world. The unity of the family based on marriage, the respectful encounter between nations, the respect of the dignity of human beings, brotherhood instead of hate and war, the joint fight against poverty ... the first help that the Church offers for the maturation of these values and the pursue of these aims is the celebration and the testimony of charity that is carried out directly, through the charitable activities promoted by the Church, and indirectly, through the work of the lay people enlightened by the social doctrine of the Church.

The Church promotes the authentic development of man, wrote [John Paul II in] "Sollicitudo Rei Socialis," when she announces Christ. The Church is beneficent to universal social unity when she announces the Gospel of charity, states "Deus Caritas Est."

Cardinal Schönborn Proposes Evolution Debate

Calls for More Science, Less Ideology

RIMINI, Italy, AUG. 25, 2006 ( Cardinal Christoph Schönborn is proposing an ideology-free debate on the theory of evolution, and wants to clarify the Church's position on the topic.

The archbishop of Vienna presented his proposal Thursday to a packed auditorium at the Meeting of Friendship Among Peoples, organized by the Communion and Liberation Movement in Rimini, Italy.

At a press conference Wednesday, the cardinal, explained that the Church does not hold the position of "creationist" theories on the origin of life and man, which draw scientific consequences from biblical texts.

In fact, he added, there is "no conflict between science and religion," but, rather, a debate "between a materialist interpretation of the results of science and a metaphysical philosophical interpretation."

Cardinal Schönborn, who sparked a worldwide debate in 2005 with an article in the New York Times on the subject, called for clarification of the difference between the "theory of evolution" and "evolutionism," the latter understood as an ideology, based on scientific theory.

By way of example, the cardinal mentioned Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, who saw in the publication of Charles Darwin's "The Origin of Species," "the scientific foundation for their Marxist materialist theory. This is evolutionism, not theory of evolution."

The archbishop of Vienna warned against the application of this evolutionist ideology in fields such as economic neo-liberalism, or bioethical issues, where there is the risk of creating new eugenic theories.

More than a theory

Journalists asked the cardinal what Pope John Paul II meant in his address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, in Oct. 1996, when he spoke of evolution as "something more than a theory."

Cardinal Schönborn explained that the phrase meant that "the theory, as scientific theory, has been expanded with new scientific data, but of course that phrase cannot be interpreted as an 'Amen' of the Catholic Church to ideological evolutionism."

The archbishop of Vienna noted a document published by the International Theological Commission in 2004, with the approval of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, entitled "Communion and Service: The Human Person Created in the Image of God."

He said the paper clarifies the distinction between ideology and science, and "gives an answer to those who wished to interpret John Paul II's phrase in an ideological sense."

"What I desire intensely is that, also in school programs, questions be explained, at the scientific level, opened by the theory of evolution, such as the famous question of the missing rings," Cardinal Schönborn said.

The cardinal said that 150 years after Darwin's theory, "there is no evidence in the geological strata of intermediate species that should exist, according to Darwin's theory."

He continued: "He himself said in his book that this is a hole in his theory and asked that they be found.

"This should be discussed in a serene manner. If a theory is scientific and not ideological, then it can be discussed freely."

So who will rally around the cardinal? Fortunately, Fr. Coyne is no longer around in an official position at the Vatican observatory to issue statements to counter the cardinal. I'm sure there are plenty who would take issue with the cardinal's assertion that I've bolded.

Fr. Oakes on the delusions of blogging

One of the great delusional fictions that bloggers operate under—something I have discovered only when I started contributing to this page—is that there are people out there who actually care what a blogger has to say! Speaking personally, I am not so naive as to think that, if I had the computer skills (let alone the time) to set up my own blog site, anyone would care to look up what I had to say. (Mechanisms that tell the bloggers how many souls visit their sites each day must be, I would imagine, rather mortifying for most of these cyber-opinionators.)

But I have been writing this past month on this site at the invitation of the editors and have thus found myself strangely addicted to the forum, not least because so many readers seem to consult it (is that, too, a function of August?). For that reason, I find I am also addicted to the same narcissistic delusion of most bloggers: that there are people out there who actually think my lucubrations worth the trouble of reading.


He goes on to talk about nominalism:

But as soon as that concession is made, I get to thinking of the medieval nominalists (based on my apparently now superseded Jesuit training in Thomistic philosophy), who claimed that all words (or at least nouns) are but terms of convenience. For the nominalists, the debate over Pluto could only arouse bemusement. Planet for them could only be a functional term to begin with. There being no essence of planet, or asteroid, or plutonian, the rules for the use of these terms should only be adjudicated by the convenience of astronomers (or, apparently, of grade-schoolers, encyclopedeists, mobile manufacturers, and toymakers).

I only recall this debate, which by now probably strikes most moderns as hopelessly jejune, because most historians of medieval philosophy now regard nominalism as an unmitigated catastrophe for philosophy. Certainly professional medievalists like Etienne Gilson hammered away at that thesis with unrelenting fury. But also thinkers like the Yale philosopher Louis Dupré (who shows no particular parti pris toward medieval philosophy over against modern philosophers) also trace back, in their genealogical labors, nearly all the woes of modernity to the nominalist turn.

In my opinion, this thesis of the Nominalist Disaster only works if one can first resolve a much more fundamental problem that has beset philosophy since Plato first became enraged at the Sophists, who very definitely held that language is fluid, whose meaning is entirely functional and based on the uses to which it is put. For centuries untold, Plato was regarded as having won the debate. But the view that language is essentially a matter of convention, mere convenience, was given a whole new lease on life by the philosophy of the later Wittgenstein.

Bertrand Russell liked to tell the story of the time he gave a lecture after which an elderly lady came up to inform him that the universe actually rested, as the Hindus rightly knew, on the back of a turtle, to which he, in true tortoise mode, snappily replied, “And just what does the turtle rest upon?” to which she (allegedly) said, “Oh sir, you don’t understand, it’s turtles all the way down.”

One of the central debates in philosophy centers on this question: What goes all the way down: numbers or words; the a priori truths of mathematics or the conventions of language?

Should the nominalists really be attributed with causing the breakdown of the university and philosophical inquiry? I wonder.

Also, Ryan T. Anderson discusses recent reports of scientists creating ethical embryonic stem cells.

Communio provides Critiques of Altered Nuclear Transfer (ANT) and Oocyte Assisted Reprogramming (OAR).

Fumare has some coverage of who's researching what (including one prominent university across the [Charles] river).

Red Book for Transfiguration College now available

Karl comments at Amy Welborn's blog that the Statement of Educational Purpose, or "Red Book," for Transfiguration College is now available. Transfiguration College has a great books program, much like St. John's College, St. Mary's College, Thomas Aquinas College
(and what St. Justin Martyr was supposed to be, though with a twist--tutorials instead of seminars), except that it is geared towards Eastern Christians. From the official site:
Transfiguration College is being founded to form the minds of students living in this age through the wisdom received from ages past. Because we inherit this wisdom from the East—from the pagan thinkers of antiquity and the Fathers of the Eastern Christian Church—Transfiguration College looks to the Light of the East.

We are working to establish a four-year bachelor of arts college that will integrate the natural light revealed by the pagan Greek philosophers with the supernatural light received through the Early Church Fathers, including the distinctive spirituality of Byzantium.

Transfiguration College will be the first Catholic institution in the United States to offer a classical education within the Byzantine tradition. The spirituality of the Christian East—in theology, iconography, and above all in the Divine Liturgy—will be an essential dimension of the education offered at Transfiguration College.

download the Red Book here (pdf)
(You can compare it with TAC's founding document, the "Blue Book," here.)

The students will learn about icon writing, and even practice writing them!

St. John Damascene isn't included on the reading list presented on the Curriculum page, though it says it is a "partial list." However, the De fide orthodoxa is listed in the Red Book under the Theology curriculum. Some writings of St. Athanasius and St. Maximos the Confessor are also included on the reading list--do they include the texts that Orthodox theologians might cite in their debates with Latins? Mystagogy of the Holy Spirit by Photius (St. Photius the Great? On the other hand, Gregory Palamas is listed as St. Gregory Palamas...) plus Gregory Palamas' 150 Chapters, Hagiorite Tome, and Defense of the Holy Hesychasts are there on the list. What position does the college take towards hesychasm and the question whether it can be reconciled with the Latin theological tradition? I suppose I could write an email to Karl and find out. (No last name given on the blogs, otherwise I would use it.)

St. Anselm, St. Augustine, and St. Thomas are also listed as possibilities for a "philosophy" seminar. That is rather puzzling, since the texts by Anselm and Augustine are arguably theology texts. (And same goes with the Prima Pars of the Summa Theologiae, though some of it is materially identical with philosophical theology or metaphysics.) Aristotle is included, but no Physics. (No commentaries on Aristotle by St. Thomas either.) It is proposed that the Organon will be covered the first semester, but is that enough time for someone to become really familiar with Aristotelian logic, and to learn how to exercise it?

All in all, the list of texts by the Church Fathers for theology is impressive--one would wish that Latins could also become better acquainted with the same texts, but there is only so much one can do in an institution whose purpose is to certify its students for the professional world. (Hence, the continual need for reform at the secondary level.)

Transfiguration College has its own blog.
Byzantine Evangelization.

Other Links:
Other Great Books programs.
Mortimer Adler archive
Center for the Study of the Great Ideas
"Why should we read great books of the Western world?"

Marie George has written a critique of a certain conception of Great Books, but it's not available online unfortunately. (After getting her Ph.D. in philosophy she went on to study for a B.A. and M.A. in biology, but as far as I know her writings on biology and philosophy of biology have been few. I hope she will write more on those topics soon.)

Photos of Kylee from last weekend in Cleveland

My mother, my sisters (along with their SOs), and the niece were in Cleveland last weekend for the wedding of the MD's friend.

Photos from Thursday

The groomsmen?

The groom and bride.

The woman to the right is rather attractive... is she single?

My sisters making faces.

The clips of the dancing looked great.

Friday -- day of the Wedding

I think the groom's clothing is awesome. (And the bride looks beautiful.)


"Hey why are you holding her!"


"My mommy! Go away!"

"Mine! Mine!'

We see who won that fight.

"I'm taking you down!"
Actually I think she's reaching for a toy, but it looks like she's going to wrestle little girl Hannah.

"I can dance. You can't. You can't even walk for long."

Fighting again. "My mommy!"
And who said the consequences of original sin don't exist?

Mommy bird is feeding baby bird.


There's a clip of the niece dancing after this picture was taken. Hilarious! Plus the clip where she is kicking her foot in time with the music.

"Whoa. What's wrong with your hand."

"I can't believe you're touching me with that."

Haha. I am told that she gets a big laugh out of passing gas. Whom does she resemble?