Saturday, March 30, 2013

Internal conflicts in foot-washing law

Ed Peters reports. I think he's about right. The law as it stands is not very good, and women should be allowed in the rite. But it's also not very good to just ignore laws that we disagree with. It's also odd that the Pope could rather easily change the law himself, but hasn't bothered to do so.

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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Happy Holy Thursday

There's this Why I am a Catholic bit going around. I must agree with the Curt Jester:
When I first saw this question asked today and some of the responses, my own thought came down to the same Because Catholicism is true. This first response in my mind still seemed incomplete to me. Catholicism is true, yet most people and even many Catholics don’t believe all the truths of Catholicism. So for me my real answer is Because of grace and that Catholicism is true.

Also for me the temptation early in my conversion was to assign the source of my conversion to my intellect (such as it is). That I had grasped that Catholicism was true and thus I became a Catholic. Other turning points in my life were also predicated on that same reasoning. A intellectual pride that I was willing to change my current belief if given evidence for why I was wrong. I viewed my conversion almost in Pelagian terms without crediting really the sheer grace of God in all that he provided me. Now I can see it a bit more clearly in realizing the gift of faith while also seeing my own cooperation in responding to that grace.
Sounds about right to me. I've sometimes been accused of being irrational in my religious beliefs, but for me, it all came slowly as I studied, and in retrospect as grace acted. And I didn't like it very much at the time, not at all. And yet here I am, or really here we are.


Monday, March 25, 2013

The strenuous life

Inspiring! If I accomplished one of the eleven things that TR did, I think I would be happy.
In addition to all of these tangible accomplishments, Roosevelt infused vitality into every aspect of his life. He practically bounded from room to room, giving hearty handshakes, slapping backs, and grinning ear to ear. Even as he got involved in politics, he exercised regularly and took up boxing, tennis, hiking, rowing, polo, and horseback riding.
I'm working on my grin.

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Disagreeing pleasantly

Concerning Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone:
Ask this San Diego native if he has gay friends and the answer is, "Of course!" His views on gay marriage don't cause heartache in those relationships, he says, because his friends know him.

"It's a lot harder to be hateful or prejudiced against a person, or group of people, that one knows personally," he says. "When there is personal knowledge and human interaction, the barriers of prejudice and preconceived ideas come down."

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Forgiveness (even when they don't deserve it)

Point one:
So it appears that one of my Lenten projects is going to be to try to find a way to think differently about people I regard as guilty of serious evil. It can’t be to pretend that they are not guilty of serious evil (I don’t do it of myself when I sin–or at least I try not to), but neither can it be the wish they they get their comeuppance.

And point two:
After reading the story of the woman taken in adultery this weekend, my conscience got the better of me and I thought, “You’ve had cries for your blood posted on the web. And more than that, they are often perfectly justified cries for your blood. Do you really think it advisable to be baying for somebody else’s blood?”

Hard to argue with that.
Thanks Mark Shea for the reminder.

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Monday, March 18, 2013

Solitary confinement

Worse by far than the prison situation in general, which isn't very good at all.
There is no pretense that this is a temporary affair. Instead it is long-term, severe behavior modification, and it is the most vile, mind and spirit-deforming use of solitary confinement. Control units represent the darkest side of behavior modification. Inside a control unit, the prisoner usually has no idea how long he or she will be there. It is an indeterminate sentence, and usually the rules or guidelines for exiting are unclear at best and impossible to comprehend at worst. It is a hell without any apparent end.

Being sent to a control unit prison is tantamount to torture, as acknowledged by many human rights organizations including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Prisoners are held under conditions that today are not considered ‘humane’ even for animals. They are an extreme abuse of state power.
I'm not sure why people see that the death penalty is rather bad but don't get so upset at this. A living death, it is.

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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Increasing the power of the king

From the first book of Utopia:
Another proposes that the judges must be made sure, that they may declare always in favor of the prerogative, that they must be often sent for to court, that the King may hear them argue those points in which he is concerned; since how unjust soever any of his pretensions may be, yet still some one or other of them, either out of contradiction to others or the pride of singularity or to make their court, would find out some pretence or other to give the King a fair color to carry the point: for if the judges but differ in opinion, the clearest thing in the world is made by that means disputable, and truth being once brought in question, the King may then take advantage to expound the law for his own profit; while the judges that stand out will be brought over, either out of fear or modesty; and they being thus gained, all of them may be sent to the bench to give sentence boldly, as the King would have it; for fair pretences will never be wanting when sentence is to be given in the prince's favor. It will either be said that equity lies on his side, or some words in the law will be found sounding that way, or some forced sense will be put on them; and when all other things fail, the King's undoubted prerogative will be pretended, as that which is above all law; and to which a religious judge ought to have a special regard.

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Self-reliance, positively put

A fine essay, and a fine conclusion.
Regardless of why we have such a culture of advice-seeking, we should be conscious of its effects on us. When we are told that someone else has answers, we are de-incentivized from seeking out our own answers. Yet someone else does not always have answers, or at least the appropriate answers to questions that are unique to each of us. When we fall into the habit of relying on others, we become incapable of coming to our own conclusions.
This dude has read Montaigne, for sure.

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Friday, March 15, 2013

Bad book reviews - Fathers and Sons

Fathers and Sons was an exceptionally quick read for me. And this was quite a beautiful book. Perhaps it was a little short for my liking, even, as I got to know the characters, and see them develop, but it all felt quite rushed. If I had to give one sentence on the message, it would be that people are complicated.

Russia of the 19th century is probably my favorite period for literature, what with the debates over freeing of the serfs, nihilism, liberalism, Slavophilia, etc. This book is a bit about intergenerational clash, old ideas against new ideas. It is also very much about love, and how love can make or break people. Pavel Petrovich, I felt a deep sympathy for him, a man running from himself.

Turgenev got serious grief from both the Right and the Left when he published it. That's always a promising sign, in my book, that the author has something good to say. I think Mark Shea has a similar problem sometimes.


Some refreshing anticlericalism from the new pope

The good kind, of course, that avoids the idolization of them, not the bad kind that wants to kill them. Mark Shea links Sherry Weddell linking an interview:
BERGOGLIO: Their clericalization is a problem. The priests clericalize the laity and the laity beg us to be clericalized… It really is sinful abetment. And to think that baptism alone could suffice. I’m thinking of those Christian communities in Japan that remained without priests for more than two hundred years. When the missionaries returned they found them all baptized, all validly married for the Church and all their dead had had a Catholic funeral. The faith had remained intact through the gifts of grace that had gladdened the life of a laity who had received only baptism and had also lived their apostolic mission in virtue of baptism alone. One must not be afraid of depending only on His tenderness…
Rather refreshing, given that I was once advised not to start a bible study because no one would come if I didn't have a priest there. For what purpose one is not sure.

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Work, vocation, and joy

A little from the book Mystic Microsoft on when Kraig, still an atheist, found his mission at Microsoft.
Yes, that was it! I felt joy and I wanted to share it! And by sharing it, I wanted more than anything to awaken that joy in others. This, I realized, was my real mission at Microsoft, even, in a sense, my personal ministry. My position within Developer Relations, my responsibilities, the very technologies I worked with—everything!—these were vehicles not for The Gospel, but for sharing joy. After all, joy is what we are all really seeking in every activity. To lovingly share one's inner light and awaken joy in the hearts of others is perhaps our highest outward responsibility as human beings.

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pope Snoop


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I just finished this this morning, only a little late for this. Well worth a re-read, and I may re-read it again later this year. Summary in one sentence:
Be not afraid!

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I hope that by now I've communicated the nature of my own arrogance in the whole matter. I didn't like the way things kept changing, especially after I'd committed myself emotionally to one way of doing things. Attachment is a sure-fire recipe for frustration.
From Mystic Microsoft, Chapter 2.

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Monday, March 11, 2013

Language and costs

The Harvard International Law Journal has an article, really a series, on the drawbacks of the international language rights situation, which as far as I can tell talks a very big game but which people have avoided implementing due to the high costs. Opinio Juris published one in full, and this passage caught my eye:
When cases bearing on language reach major human rights courts and quasi-judicial institutions, and especially the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), these enforcement institutions do not in fact demand that states accommodate substantive diversity. The UNHRC and the ECtHR are not prepared to force states to swallow the dramatic costs entailed by a true diversity-protecting regime. Although they operate under different doctrinal structures, these two adjudicative bodies reach a similar legal outcome: they consistently allow the state to incentivize assimilation in the public sphere (on fair terms) into the dominant culture and language of the majority.
Both because it seems like a fair balancing act, and because it seems to me that the better approach would be to make that sort of balancing when negotiating the treaty, rather than hoping that ECtHR notices that there's a problem and does something about it. But overall, an interesting look into a world that I don't know very much about.

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Friday, March 08, 2013

Catholic Feminism!

So happy International Women's Day! I was not aware of this day existing until ... today! But I am happy it exists. Apparently it has socialist roots, but that doesn't bother me.

So I have two suggestions for how to observe:

1) Read up on women's issues today, in the Church, in society, in politics, in terms of healthcare, education, religion, etc. There are so many places where women still need to  be treated with dignity and respect. We may think those places are far-away, but we really don't have to look to far to see how women's issues are still a hot topic right here in our own backyard.

This article by Fiorella Nash published by Faith magazine in 2009, is just as relevant today about the unique and challenging position of Catholic women. It's not what you may think- a lot of oppression of women can come from within the feminist movement itself, silencing dissonant voices that do not agree with the central tenant of feminism these days: total self-autonomy. This article is an excellent read, I highly recommend it!

Why, right here in New York State, a bill has been proposed that will make New York have the least restrictive abortion laws in the country. As a feminist myself, I suppose I am to laud this in the name of women's rights. However, this tramples on the rights of women doctors to follow their consciences, and forces them to perform third trimester abortions on demand, like the one that recently claimed the life of a 29-year-old New York school teacher, who had a late-term abortion in Maryland after a poor diagnosis of the baby. When self-autonomy and rights to our bodies involves high risk procedures that can kill a perfectly healthy mother along with her child, rendering her surviving husband and two children wife and motherless, I would rather NOT have that freedom in our society.

2) Second way to observe International Women's Day: Take action! Email your state representatives about the Abortion Expansion Bill, letting them know that you believe this law would further put women at risk for coercive abortions and physical harm, rather than foster a pro-woman and pro-family society that values the family, motherhood, and children.

Donate money to Catholic Relief Services, or another charitable organization, that helps women in third world countries meet their basic needs of sanitation, food, shelter, and education. Or get involved through volunteer work, such as serving women at a local soup kitchen or shelter.

I am a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, and have considered myself a feminist since high school. Yet, I often feel that I am considered "the enemy" and my opinions are treated with horror by my pro-abortion-rights friends. Similarly, there are some men (and women) in the church, who treat the word "feminist" like it is a dirty word, something completely incompatible with Catholic values. I believe that I, and millions of other Catholic women, would argue that Catholic values WITHOUT feminism is incompatible. But feminism does NOT simply mean unfettered abortion and reproductive technology access. It was NOT about this to begin with, but was about access to the vote, the workplace, and higher education. Women still need wider access to many fields, and stronger laws protecting the family. Family values HELP women and society, by making healthcare, education, and childcare, more affordable, and putting in place stronger maternity and paternity leave laws, etc.

I am so glad I read Nash's article. I do believe that I myself need to be more outspoken about being feminist and Catholic, and to take more action myself on these issues that lie close to my heart.

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Thursday, March 07, 2013

Hugo Chavez and doing good

A man with his heart in the right place, but rather disasterous for his country. LGF reports a report on why Democrats shouldn't eulogize him. Of particular interest to me is the effect he had on the political system:
Chavez also attacked Venezuela’s democratic political system. Human Rights Watch reported in 2012 that “the accumulation of power in the executive and the erosion of human rights protections have allowed the Chávez government to intimidate, censor, and prosecute critics and perceived opponents in a wide range of cases involving the judiciary, the media, and civil society.”
All for a good cause, of course!


The value of Catholic centerism

A vigorous, life-giving Catholicism never associates itself with either left-wing or right-wing ideology. The neo-conservatives made the fundamental error of doing just that with the right-wing. The Gospel is too subversive to ever be so closely aligned with human political ideologies of any stripe. The result of this misreading of the Gospel is a misreading of events and of the signs of the times.
Quite so Mr. Sobrino, quite so. There's a lot to like about markets, but they are not the right tool for every job, any more than a power drill is. Also agreed - the relatively small importance of the Curia. I would add, perhaps Rome and the papacy is too important in the minds of many, though perhaps not.

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13 women in Congress for religious liberty

Say what? Must be the wrong kind of women.
Fourteen members of Congress sent a letter to the House leadership asking that conscience rights be included in the upcoming budget bill. They mentioned specific violations of the right to conscience, including the HHS Mandate.
Thanks to CAEI for the link.

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Monday, March 04, 2013

Integrity in politics and science

Koop turned out to be a scientist who believed in data at least as deeply as he believed in God. And he proceeded to alienate nearly every supporter he had on the religious and political right.
A fine article from TNY, linked from TNM. And a fine scientist and Christian though also human. You're not doing it right unless everyone hates you, I guess - his handling of the AIDS epidemic managed to annoy just about everyone.

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Fine charitable ideas from Mr. Shea

It is interesting to note that when Jesus tells his great parable of judgment we call the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats (Mt 25:31-46), the big dividing line between sheep and goats is not their views on justification by faith alone, their sacramental theology, their opinions on the papacy, their thoughts on just war and gun control or even their visible membership in the Catholic Church. It is how they treated “the least of these.”
I've not been paying enough attention to the least lately. Time for some Lentan manning up. Mr. Shea does a quick overview of the corporal works of mercy, and some ideas for how to actually do each of them. Can you hit them all in the next month?
So what are the corporal works of mercy and where do they come from? They are: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, harbor the harborless, visit the sick, ransom the captive and bury the dead. As you can see, they are rooted in the Bible itself (half of them come from the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats, and the rest are virtuous acts we see attributed to various heroes of the Bible such as Moses or Tobit). The corporal works of mercy are addressed primarily (though not exclusively) to bodily needs since we are embodied creatures. However, they are also charged with sacramental significance too, as we shall see. The works are the response of love to the fact that the Word became flesh and, in the least of these, still dwells among us. Let’s take a quick look at each.

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