Hi. I’m From the Church. And I’m Here to Help You.

I recently noticed that my dad was walking more slowly.  Not lame, not crippled – just more slowly.  And then I realize that my parents are at an age when – while it may be described as “young” – sudden death would not be described as “tragically young.”  And so certain concerns become more acute.

There are still pockets of salt-of-the-earth people out there who view, say, homosexuality with such loathing disgust that they, literally, want absolutely nothing to do with it. They do not want to think about; they do not want to talk about it; they do not want to joke about it; they do not want to watch it; they do not want to laugh about it.  They do not want to hear sermons about it. They do not want to pray about it. They do not want to consider its “psychological” motivations.

To these people, talking about all that is like talking about horse rape. Effeminacy is described as “being a sissy,” but the descriptions and estimations stop right there. Whether this is prudent, possible, whatever is debatable. But these people exist.

The internet is full of Catholic folks engaged in all sorts of discussions about homosexuality.  And the Church’s hierarchy are engaged publically in these discussions as well.  She is a universal Church, and this is, unfortunately, a universal problem of sorts at the moment.  Interaction is bound to occur, and to the extent that the truth is presented all to the good.

But how is this explained – as a witness to the Splendor of Truth – to people who view interaction itself – regardless its merits or motivations – as scandalous?  There are people who view any “debate” over homosexuality as nothing less than a burning Gomorrah to flee. It is very difficult for me: the reasons some people are so good, decent, moral, virtuous tend to be the reasons that prejudice them against the Roman Catholic Church.

Life on the Metric System

Modern people tend to believe that it is possible to elevate subjective will above objective reality and the intrinsic morality of acts.  One less obvious way in which this occurs is the modern desire to squish out as much “good” from all sorts of everyday type of human events.  But because moderns have a rather tenuous understanding of “the good” this squishing process usually manifests as a cold, clinically calculated “metric.”  Now, because moderns grasp of the good is tenuous – which is not to say non-existent – these metrics are described and promoted as euphemisms of the good: value, quality, outcomes, productivity.

And modernity reigns triumphant.  Metrics are everywhere – from hospital readmission rates to Rotten Tomatoes to weekly mass attendance and YTD parish donations.  The problem, however, is not necessarily that some unit is being measured.  The problem is that moderns believe the good can be exhaustively squished out by forcing human life and acts into the box of the metric.  The problem is that the metric is often enough a perversion of the good – an attempt at the good without all that problematic talking about “goodness.”

Weekly mass attendance and parish donations may (or may not) be very important in understanding some aspect of parish life.  But the good of the salvation of souls, a sin repented, an additional sacrament received, an additional prayer offered up – these can never be squished out by metrics.  Life is wonderfully so much more interrelated and complex than cold clinically isolated metrics.  Christians should take note lest, in reducing life and the good to modernity’s metric system, they offend Providence.

A Cabbage Patch in Hell

I do not know the particulars of the little Alfie case.  However, I do know that whenever I hear the terms “vegetable,” “vegetative state,” “semi-vegetative state,” and on and on, my internal sirens start blaring.

It is instructive, this intentional use of “vegetable” by the medical specialists.  In a field of medicine that is fleeing from eponyms (lest they refer to a deplorable) and fleeing to soulless sanitized HR sterilities (“evidence-based medicine”), the fact that such a non-clinical, non-sterile – and down-right vulgar description of a human being – term of “the vegetable” is insistently used should wake us up a bit.  Socially acceptable vulgarities tend to reveal who it’s ok to toss into the dumpster.

And when medical experts use this non-sterile, non-sanitized non-evidence-based unmedicine specifically and often solely as a justification to kill a human being, it makes one wonder how Dante may have stylized the afterlife of some murderers had he been given certain modern material to work with.

Hit em Where It Hurts

I’m not a particularly virtuous person, so the nuts-and-bolts of the morality side of the “faith and morals” coin of Christianity has always been a challenge for me.  In fact, I’m a rather scrupulous sinner. Which is a horrible state of affairs.

Anyway, one of my concerns has been moral courage. When the ideals are Our Lord, Our Lady, St. John the Baptist, St Paul, St. Stephen, and on and on and on….how can one measure up?

Recently a very holy priest told me that – in moments commanding moral courage – I should just comment that I’m a serious Catholic. And let the chips fall where they may.  At the time I thought this was rather naive. Father, how could you advise this in the context of the dumpster fire (and it seems both “left” and “right” would agree here) that the Catholic Church finds herself?

Subjects are, well, subjects.  And the subject submits to One who has authority over him.  There is probably a bit of a cop out going on.  But I’m ok with that.  As I think He is OK with that.  So many times I see that Catholics behave as if Catholicism weren’t true.  But if Catholicism is true, then simply telling interlocutors that one is a serious Catholic is – in context – enough.


If Only They Were Donatists

Depart from Me.  I never knew you.

There is much hay made over the “form” of baptism regarding the baptism of heretics.  If matter, form, and intention are present then the sacrament of baptism and it’s effects have occurred.

But not so fast.  Quite great catechisms of the Church have told us that, while the sacramental seal has been conferred with valid form and matter and intention, the graces of the eradication of sin incumbent upon baptism for the adult who intentionally remains impenitent have not obtained.

But what of those unintentional unbaptized sinners?

To my knowledge, while the Church has said a great deal about the validity of baptism of heretics with an eye toward the actions of the one who baptizes, little has been said regarding the standing of an impenitent adult heretic receiving baptism – invincible ignorance or no.

So what is the standing of the one who has attained the age of reason who believes – or commits acts of – adultery or contraception or sodomy, etc is a moral good and receives baptism?  This is not so uncommon occurrence as many pious Catholics may initially think.  Particularly when we recall that unbaptized Catholic catechumens – white not “heretics” defintionally – can remain grave sinners, invincibly or otherwise, as much as anyone else.

It is frightful to consider how valid those sacraments may very well be.

Here I Stand

For certain definitions of “good,” Protestants – whether taken as individuals or groups – can be good.  They can be good people, good leaders, good parents, good children.  Protestants can have beneficial impact upon societies and mores.  And depending upon one’s goals, coalitions of sorts with Protestants may be prudent for Catholics.

However, Protestantism is categorically, objectively evil.  Many well-meaning Catholics will often say things like: “Protestantism is wrong because it leads to eleventy different denominations.”  Or perhaps it will be said that Protestantism is evil because it adheres to sola scriptura and sola fide.  And while those are certainly monstrous heresies, they are not the essence of Protestantism.  Focusing too much on particular heresies – despite the apologetic merit those discussions may have – misses the essence of Protestantism and leads to a point-missing argument over orthodox/reliable/friendly/safe Protestantism versus lesbian priestesses of Lund versions of Protestantism.

The essence of Protestantism – it’s right there in the name – is a protest against God’s authority divinely founded in the holy Roman Catholic Church.  Non serviam.  Sola scriptura is simply the formalism by which this protest takes place.  Sola fide keeps folks from asking too many questions.

There is absolutely no conception of the good by which Protestantism, taken in its essentials, is good.

Bearded Hipsters are Dreamers Too

It is hard for me to shed too many tears over the issue of gentrification.  It is not hard because I am unsympathetic to the anger aroused when generations-old black communities are disrupted by hordes of bearded suspenders-wearing hipsters.  But it is difficult because sometimes it’s hard to keep one’s eye on the ball.  What to think about Chinese immigrants – who displaced Italian immigrants and blacks – having community meetings to address what to do with all the Hasidic Jews moving in?  But to be completely honest, these gentrification sorts of discussions nearly always devolve into themes of American suburb-hatred and “let’s assume the absolute worst thing about white people” that tend to bore me numb.

What is fascinating to me, though, about gentrification is that it is a clear example of mass immigration on a very local level.  And, as gentrification dramatically shows, mass immigration is inherently disruptive to the current community.