December 20, 2005


Americans are practical, we hate symbolism or anything even close...Yet beginning tomorrow, the Octave preceeding Christmas, truly though all throughout Advent, symbolism abounds. Many bloggers have already noted that tomorrow begins the Greater Antiphons, called the 'O' Antiphons, sung at Vespers each of the seven days preceeding the Nativity of Our Lord. Each Antiphon give us one of the very ancient titles of Our Lord and begs Him, under that title to help us poor sinners. When He is called Wisdom (Dec 17), we beg him to teach us prudence; when He is called Adonai -- My Lord (Dec 18), we beg Him rule us; Root of Jesse (Dec 19), deliver us; Key of David (Dec 20), unlock the prison of those in darkness; Daystar (Dec 21), enlighten; King of the Nations (Dec 22), save mankind; Emmanuel -- God with us (Dec 23), Save us. Then on Christmas Eve, Christmastide begins with the First Vespers of the Nativity. - Andrew of "Nobis Quoque Peccatoribus"

It wasn't for her. - Tom of Disputations, responding to a comment asking why if God allowed Mary to be born without original sin, then why not all of us

This painting by a third grader pretty much sums up the joy of blogging.

Flying, originally uploaded by Pumpkin Chief.

Like the child with a paintbrush, we blog primarily because self-expression is a satisfying and necessary human activity. Or as Debra said, we blog "because it's fun." More fun than shopping or watching TV or cleaning the house or any number of other things we might otherwise be doing. And sometimes, dangerously more fun than communicating with the person in the room with us--or (gasp!) reading a book. As the painting also depicts, we blog to soar over the planet and pick up a few friends along the way. For many of us, the joy of feedback and blog relationships are benefits we didn't expect, but soon learn to relish. - blogger at "The Marvelous Garden"

To equate not seeing that the minimum wage is not a prudential act in helping the poor with not knowing the meaning of Christmas is simply ridiculous. Granted many Republicans are at ease with using Christian terminology and having their acts show that it is empty. But it is almost comical to hear Democrats try to do the same thing. I lived in Japan for a couple of years and they loved English words on products, but the way they put them together showed they had no idea what they meant (see Engrish). Many Democrats have exactly the same problem. They want to use the wording, but they have no idea how it goes together - maybe this could be called Religrish. Now I admit to being a pretty partisan conservative, but I am not blind to the myriad faults of the modern Republican Party. I am Catholic first and cringe when reading/hearing torture apologists just as much or maybe even more than when I hear the abortion apologists on the left. No this isn't one of the both parties suck posts - instead I say "A Pax on both houses." That is the peace of Christ. "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!" Though of course as this passage from the Gospel of Luke denotes that peace is conditional. - Curt Jester

We continue to be religious, largely Christian nation, but our elites tend to look down on ordinary religious sentiment. That analysis seemed so true this past weekend. While Narnia overwhelmed the box office, The Golden Globe awards went to movies of questionable moral value. One, for example, was a “love story” between two men. It is very unfortunate if a movie like that becomes “mainstream.” Besides the obvious immorality, it has the effect of casting suspicion over all male friendships. When we downgrade marriage, friendship also has a way of getting lost in the shuffle. - Fr. Phil Bloom on Mark Shea's blog

The fiasco surrounding the review of Brokeback Mountain is simply the most egregious example of a problem that has been building for some time at the OFB. When I first encountered their reviews a number of years ago, I was very impressed with how well they were done and how successfully they brought balanced Catholic sensibilities to the field of film criticism. But in recent years the quality of the reviews and ratings has declined—to the point that I no longer consult them as they are of little use. In the case of Brokeback Mountain, though, the OFB has gone beyond mere uselessness. - Jimmy Akin

The film office has long worried more about violence on screen than sex. I ignore their advice. - Sandra Miesel on Mark Shea's blog

I am weary of the dynamic of this new Christian market - what Barbara Nicolosi calls the Passion Dollars. I am tired of the film producers and distributors using (some) Christian churches and organizations to market their films and tired of (some) Christians clinging on to these cultural products in the hopes that they will evangelize. It all comes out seeming rather sad in the end. It is this web of mystery we are caught in. Art is a fundamental part of life, and people see glimpses of the transcendent through it, which has the power to open their hearts to God. But in the crush of the marketplace, where everyone is exploiting everyone else, authenticity gets drained, even just a little bit, out of the moment. - Amy Welborn

While [Rodney] Stark's premise that reason is the primary guide to religious truth is overbroad -- God's existence and actions can be observed from His creation, but Christianity is still a revealed religion the last time I checked -- his thesis concerning the culturally decisive intra-Christian embrace of Aristotle and reason is sound. It's noteworthy that Islam's Aristotelian scholars, e.g., Averroes, found it necessary to become atheists, while Christians did not. - Rich Leonardi on Rodney Stark's latest book

I personally knew the late Francis A. Schaeffer -- the Protestant cultural critic and Christian apologist who lived in the L'Abri community in Switzerland... Once when I visited Francis there, he took me to his new office... [and] we talked there over tea, and part way through our visit he opened the pine-paneled door of a closet adjacent to us to show me that he had covered the reverse side of the door with hideous photographs and magazine pictures of starving and crippled children, war wounded, lepers, amputees, bloated bodies of flood casualties and massacre victims ... I felt a wave of nausea. He explained that sometimes amidst the natural beauty of these Swiss alpine surroundings, it was easy to forget the reason Christ had come, and he needed to be reminded of the reality of the human condition, the reason Christ had come. - Michael Rose, via the Pertnacious Papist

So many little unfairnesses scrape at that raw, angry place in the heart. Money, looks, fame, intelligence. The effortless drape of my neighbor’s elegant overcoat, the easy seductive patter of the man at a nearby restaurant table, the cool grace of some winning stranger’s smile. All the luck that smoothes the way for others and not for me—not for me, not for me: that’s the small, irritating noise our fingernails make as they rasp at a scabby wound. And still, we are all equal in this, at least: that we must suffer death, and in those deaths there is an injustice so huge, so gross, so unjust it fills the cosmos—the enormous pain that swamps all the little ones. The universe has the justice, at least, to apply its greatest unfairness with a great impartial fairness. “This time, for the first time, I don’t feel special,” the author Susan Sontag told her son a few months before she died from blood cancer at age seventy-one. - J. Bottum of "First Things"

Mark Stricherz notes how the decline of blue-collar comedy and drama coincides with the shift of the Democratic party away from labor and towards cultural liberalism. On a related note, I've worried a bit about the takeover of the professional class in American Catholicism, a takeover which Eugene McCarraher denounced in his polemic "Smile When You Say Laity". Even the seminaries, it seems, manifest a professionalist ethos with their emphasis on study, study, study. On a vocation discernment retreat a few years back, I met a fire chief who was applying for the seminary but viewed the rigorous academic requirements with much trepidation. I think I've only met one priest who could honestly be somebody "Archie Bunker" could have a beer with...This structural orientation towards the professional class seems to account for the American Catholic Church's weakness in ministering to Latin American immigrants and the Latin American Church's weaknesses towards the rural poor. The Tridentine seminary regimen itself, I am told, didn't effectively preserve the faith of Europe's urban working class once the Industrial revolution took hold. Perhaps the "worker priest" needs to be revisited. - Kevin Jones of "Philokalia Republic"

Speaking of childhood misunderstandings of electronics, I would promptly get up and stand beside the TV when the station had technical problems and posted the "Please Stand By" screen. - Bill of "Summa Minutiae"

"Love your Neighbor as Yourself" is a Trinitarian ethic. In the Holy Trinity, neighbor *is* self. - Kevin Jones

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