August 22, 2006

         

I've been reading Andrew Bostom's compendium on Muslim jihad through the millennia....For a break, I picked up the memoirs of Confederate Colonel John Mosby, the "Gray Ghost", perhaps America's most successful guerilla fighter...[W]hat I considered on reading the first chapters of Col. Mosby's memoirs is that I've always respected the good men on the "other side", but have somehow conceived a disdain for them because of the side for which they fought. But after reading Dr. Bostom's accounts of truly inhuman warfare, I rather like these men, Col Mosby, Gen'ls Lee & Longstreet, all those who fought honorably and well. They may have chosen the wrong side (I carefully refrain from saying they did choose the wrong side) but once they chose it, they fought for their homes and people in the best way men can fight, and I'll honor them for that. Perhaps we can learn from these good Americans in our thousand-year struggle against Islam. - Bill of "Summa Minutiae"

In the unlikely event that I become a saint, I promise to intercede on behalf of anyone who buries a statue of me upside-down and then retrieves it after success. I believe I would find it quite touching. I appreciate interesting, personal devotions like the one in question. I expect the Saints find them every bit as touching as I find my daughter's drawings. This sort of devotion emphasizes that the Saints are real living people, not intercession machines with specific access protocols...An act is superstitious if it is thought to be efficacious in itself, as opposed to being a particular devotion to ask for the intercession of a particular saint. But that is true of any ordinary devotional act, such as praying before an icon: it can be superstitious depending upon disposition, but with the right disposition it has merit. Praying before an icon with the proper disposition is efficacious (in the same way that buying me a beer is efficacious in getting my favors). It seems to me that condemning this practice as superstitious in itself, independent of the disposition of the practitioner, is a mild form of iconoclasm. - Zippy Catholic on the practice of burying a St. Joseph statue upside down in hopes of selling your house

Beauty is essential in spiritual formation. Beauty is not beauty without truth and goodness--it is "as an Angel of Light" whose heart is complete darkness. The most beautiful image in the world that denies God only seems beautiful--it is a seed of darkness. This is probably similar to what Savonarola taught the people of his day, only he made the mistake of assuming that anything suggestive of the beauty of the human form was somehow tainted and evil. There are the Venus de Milo La Primavera and La Trionofo di Aphrodite, all of which portray the female body in its splendor without necessarily provoking the prurient. When one approaches works like The Naked Maja and such like, the question becomes more nebulous, and for some of us none of these images in any amount is licit. That is the individual way and path. Nevertheless, it is part of spiritual formation to dwell upon the beautiful because it bypasses the eternal censor and tells us something that mere intellect cannot tell us about God. God cannot be apprehended, much less embraced by intellect alone but only through the union of intellect and emotion that make up the mind of the person. Certainly our sense feed the mind, but it is ultimately the mind that is the primary gatekeeper and the spirit within us that says, "Let it be done unto me," to God. And these things may only happen when we have surrendered all to God. - Steven Riddle, setting off scores of Google image searches for "The Naked Maja"

At that age, I might have been interested in exploring the Eight Beeratitudes. - Terrence Berres on the "Theology on Tap" series aimed a college students

Before I read [The Brothers Karamazov]... I didn't even believe that fiction had anything to say that couldn't be said better in nonfiction; I thought of novels as mere entertainment. The Brothers K transformed me from the kid who already knew everything to the young man who wanted to understand everything for the first time. - Patrick of "Orthonormal Basis"

True freedom is not found by seeking to develop the powers of the self without limit, for the human person is not made for autonomy but for true relatedness in love and obedience; and this also entails the acceptance of limits as a necessary part of what it means to be human. . . Apart from this, the quest for justice becomes self-destructive since it is of the very essence of fallen human nature that each of us overestimates what is due to the self and underestimates what is due to the other. - Lesslie Newbigin via blogger at "Historical Catholic"

I am not exactly a fascist. I am not exactly not a fascist either, but I am not a member of any fascist party, and I differ from fascism on the role of the church and on the treatment of archaeological sites. So I see eye-to-eye with bonafide fascists quite a bit. So, naturally, the offense I take to the "islamo-fascist" term is that it presumes that one is talking about Mohammedans when one is talking about those who practice "islam." As I have argued before, true Islam is the Catholic Church and true Muslims are Catholics. Those who follow Mohammed are Mohammedans, not Muslims. Now, since my own differences with fascism tend to be about the role of the Church (my own authoritarianism is really Franquismo), when it comes down to it "Islamo-fascist" is me. Except, why mix Arabic into it?... Why not Romano-fascists? Except that is quite redundant, as there is no fascism without fasces, and they didn't come from Dublin. So we could go with Catholo-fascists. Or Franquistas. Or Keilholtzisti.... - Erik of "Erik's Rants & Recipes", because it's not every day you hear the phrase "I am not exactly a fascist."

I'll take his critique of sending checks seriously if one is ever returned uncashed. - Terrence Berres, on German Diaz's comment that "Sometimes people send a check and think that's helping; we want them to get involved here, that's what changes minds and hearts." (Mr. Berres spends a week or two every year in South America on mission, lest ye think he only writes checks.)

Yesterday, during a viewing of [The Empire Strikes Back], I found about three different heresies glinting menacingly in Yoda's instructions to Luke. If I had more time, I'd tackle each one for at least a paragraph . . . but I'm afraid that I'll just have to refer to St. Augustine of Hippo's writings on Manichaeism and Pelagianism for now. Suffice it to say that there are eons of difference between a truism and a truth. A truism goes with the flow of the universe and as such may be a very good thing to know, if one wants to get on properly. On the other hand, a truth defies the universe, so much so that one who believes the truth may find himself at war with the whole cosmos...While there are some true things which seem a very part of the fabric of the universe, there are also other true things which, to borrow an expression of Pope Paul VI, are in the universe, but not of the universe. The Incarnation was not something natural; it came from somewhere beyond all we can fathom of space and time, daring us to believe in it, but almost unconcerned in the event that we would not. Anyone can take two tablets of Yoda's bland instruction a day and be perfectly well, even perfectly civil, for the rest of his days--just as we see those with a daily intake of Buddha's, Confucius' and even Krishna's instructions getting on. Yet there is no such peace for those who would follow the commandments of the One Whose Kingdom is not of this world; for He came not to bring peace, but to bring a sword. How much more glorious would have been the Jedi light sabre, if its lone wielder--not just any lone wielder, but the inimitable Luke Skywalker--had defied not merely an Empire, but an entire universe. - Enbrethiliel of Sancta Sanctis

Yet you came and were not turned away. You, too, found room before the manger. Your gifts were not needed but they were accepted and put carefully by, for they were brought with love. In that new order of charity that had just come to life, there was room for you, too. You were not lower in the eyes of the holy family than the ox or ass. "You are my especial patrons," said Helena, "and patrons of all latecomers, of all who have a tedious journey to make to the truth, of all who are confused with knowledge and speculation, of all who through politeness make themselves partners in guilt, of all who stand in danger by reason of their talents." - concerning the Magi, in Evelyn Waugh's "Helena"

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