July 28, 2004

    Spanning the Globe to Bring You the Constant Variety of Posts

We are limited in our lack of imagination. We can not imagine how merciful and how loving God is to us. All of our methaphors and comparisons are insufficient. But we must try. - Jeff Miller of Curt Jester

I take my problems to the Lord on Sunday, I take my blues to the honkytonk. - lyrics to country song by "Pirates of the Mississippi

I've read a lot of comments recently that don't seem to appreciate what it means for Christian forgiveness to be based -- as all things Christian are -- on love. In particular, the "God doesn't forgive unconditionally, so neither should we" sort of argument that I've already looked at betrays a misunderstanding of mercy. If you love someone, you forgive him the reparation that is due you out of love. Love doesn't wait to be asked before it acts, thank God. - Tom of Disputations

Sinners must also endure purgation in order to be in shape for eternal life, which God doesn't forgive (at least not entirely), because He "can't" forgive it, in the sense that He wants us to be the kind of creatures who must endure purgation in order to be in shape for eternal life. It all sounds a bit screwy to me, and it can be mercilessly proof-texted against, but today I think it would hold together and even resolve some standard "justice vs. mercy" problems....Of course, Christian forgiveness happens by grace, and becomes a virtue by practice...And once you've forgiven someone, what's to stop you from unforgiving him later? Nothing, as far as I can see, except grace. Christian forgiveness, then, demands all sorts of prior virtues and is given in an intangible and so-to-speak insecure manner. - Tom of Disputations

I was reading a reprint of an old catechism and it had a chapter entitled, "Our duty to God." It made me realize that our treatment of God is a neglected topic. It even sounds weird to ask "how do you treat God"? ...In terms of our relationship to God 'being good' means fulfilling our duty to God. It's not only about how well we treat others: "I don't steal, lie or cheat so I'm I good guy."...What are our duties to God? What do we owe him? This neat book spells it out like this: A-C-T-S. A is for Adoration C is for Contrition T is for Thanksgiving S is for Supplication - Mary of Ever-New

Another NYT column by Barbara Ehrenreich urged women to stop listening to the cultural ordering of "good" and "bad" reasons for abortions, and just stand up and say they did it for whatever reason. It's hard to imagine, though, that a woman who wrote about how she killed her dog because it got in the way of her lifestyle would win any sympathy. Not because anyone this side of PETA thinks dogs are equal to humans, but because they think dogs are worth something, and that wanton cruelty to animals is immoral and, in some cases, criminal. That seems to be more or less the position that Kerry is taking about the unborn -- that there's an "evolution" (ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny?) that winds up with a full person, but it doesn't happen all of a sudden. - Camassia

The Passion of the Christ is not a documentary any more than the Gospel according to St. John is journalism. Like Brother Sun Sister Moon...[these] films are, for good or ill, less concerned with facts than with meanings. They are also intensely personal, the fruits of their respective directors' meditations on Scripture or the life of a great saint. People who quibble about the historical accuracy of the The Passion somehow remind me of skeptics who reject Sacred Scripture because the creation account in Genesis is not scientifically accurate. For the umpteenth time, the creation story is symbolic, emblematic, idiomatic . . . fill in the blank with your adjective of choice. Cosmological books may be dazzling and exciting reads, but they are only about what has happened to the universe; they say nothing about where the universe came from or why humans are such freaks of nature. The Scriptures do, but they cannot be faulted for having been written in a style vastly different from that of a scientific dissertation. Similarly, it is unfair to reject The Passion only for being too much like a Eucharistic celebration than a reconstruction of an historical event. - Sancta Sanctis

The Church is a place where healing takes place, a hospital for the sick. But it is not only men who are waiting for their final redemption, but also the creation itself. When you look at the example of Saints like St.Seraphim, or St. Anthony (so sanctified that wild beasts were not adversarial towards him), you get an idea of how another world is possible. In fact, glimpses of it are seen, here and there, even now. One interesting example in the case of St.Seraphim, was the fellowship he had with wild beasts. The animals did not fear him, nor acted with hostility towards him. He was even known to sit serenely, as a gigantic brown bear approached...but it had no malice, but was his friend, and St. Seraphim would smile and feed the wild animal as if it were a pet. -commenter on a msgboard, on the tension between a world created good but also wounded. - poster on a message board

The loss of joy does not make the world better -- and, conversely, refusing joy for the sake of suffering does not help those who suffer. The contrary is true. The world needs people who discover the good, who rejoice in it and thereby derive the courage and impetus to do good. We have a new need for that primordial trust which ultimately faith can give. That the world is basically good, that God is there and is good. That it is good to live and be a human being. This results, then, in the courage to rejoice, which in turn becomes commitment to makng sure that other people, too, can rejoice and receive good news. -Cardinal Ratzinger

Will someone explain Ms. Kerry's Clintonian semantics in her Tuesday DNC address where she said America should be a "moral nation" but not a "moralistic" one? - Hambone

I do want to become a saint. I want it for a great many mixed reasons, some good, many bad. But the desire, the longing to know God face to face, is a gift from Him. It is an undeniable grace, and having been given it, I would be less that grateful and less than saintly were I not to act upon it. I act upon it most effectively when I do so least consciously. Self-conscious saints (in the way we understand the term self-consciousness) seem to be an oxymoron. Normally we think of saints as selfless, but I would say rather that they participate in the great Self and this cannot happen if you choose to separate yourself in a self-conscious way. The long and the short of it is, that God grants the longing to be with Him. He will use, I think, almost any motive and turn it to good. - Steven of Flos Carmeli

(art credit: Disputations)

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