February 27, 2011

Gotta smile...

What marvelous things these Baptists are discovering! All–ahem– early Christian, y'unnerstand, nothing at all to do with those wicked Catholics.

Well, go for it! There's heaps more of such "Early Christian" stuff just lying around, free for the taking. Why, you could probably fill the whole year with them! Think of it as adding fiber to your diet.

Associated Baptist Press - Spiritual preparation for Easter not just a 'Catholic thing':

Easter Sunday -- the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ -- is for Christians the culmination of their community life, expressing the heart of their faith. But among Baptists and other evangelicals, an intentional period of preparation for their holiest day is often understated or absent -- in contrast to Christmas, the other great Christian observance, typically the focus of elaborate church festivities for weeks prior to Dec. 25.

Many Baptists are seeking to reclaim that pre-Easter focus -- historically called Lent -- which has been an integral part of many Christians' experience since the earliest years of the church.

"It's a biblical thing, not a made-up Catholic thing," says Kyle Henderson, pastor of First Baptist Church in Athens, Texas, acknowledging a robust Baptist suspicion of spiritual practices seen as too closely associated with the Roman Catholic Church or its distant cousins, the Anglicans.

Some Baptists say they sense those suspicions -- in part a legacy of the Protestant Reformation -- have left them with a diminished spiritual vocabulary.

"There is an uneasy sense that something got lost," says Phyllis Tickle, whose 2008 book, The Great Emergence, chronicles the blurring of denominational distinctions in late 20th- and early 21st-century American Christianity.

Every 500 years or so, says Tickle, the church metaphorically holds a great rummage sale, "getting rid of the junk that we believe no longer has value and finding treasures stuck in the attic because we didn't want them or were too naïve to know their true worth."

The Reformation was one of those rummage sales and the current great convergence" is another, she maintains. For evangelicals, the long-forgotten treasures in the attic include a wide array of spiritual disciplines -- including Lent -- with roots in the church's first centuries....

Of course the thing is, the Church is the center-of-gravity of Truth. She pulls us towards her. These folks are letting down their guard, and I'm looking forward to lots of laughs...

G. K. Chesterton once said of his own conversion to the Catholic Church:

I had no more idea of becoming a Catholic than of becoming a cannibal. I imagined that I was merely pointing out that justice should be done even to cannibals . . . [but] it is impossible to be just to the Catholic Church. The moment men cease to pull against it they feel a tug towards it. The moment they cease to shout it down they begin to listen to it with pleasure. The moment they try to be fair to it they begin to be fond of it. But when that affection has passed a certain point it begins to take on the tragic and menacing grandeur of a great love affair.

Heh heh...

Posted by John Weidner at 10:20 PM

February 26, 2011

"We will die with dignity!"

Charlene recommends some real heroes...

In the ugly world that we live in, there are few things uglier than the nasty little slime-leftists who fawn over Castro's miserable totalitarian garbage pile. How I hate them. How I wish I could send every one of them to spend a year in one of Cuba's prisons or labor camps.

And I still remember vividly the mad heroic attack by Cuban exiles on Castro's tyranny. And the betrayal of them by JFK.

A Genuine Black American Hero for Black History Month:

...For three days his force of mostly volunteer civilians battled savagely against a Soviet-trained and led force 10 times their size, inflicting casualties of 20 to 1. To this day their feat of arms amazes professional military men. Morale will do that to a fighting force. And there's no morale booster like watching Fidel Castro and Che Guevara ravage your homeland and families, believe me.

When his betrayed, decimated, thirst-crazed, and ammo-less men were finally overwhelmed (but NOT defeated!) by Castro's Soviet-led bumblers at the Bay of Pigs, Oliva snarled at his brainless eunuch of a Castroite opponent, Jose Fernandez (a Spaniard, technically): "the only reason you're holding a gun on us right now, Fernandez, is because we ran out of ammo."

During almost two years in Castro's dungeons, Oliva and his men lived under a daily death sentence. Escaping that sentence would have been easy: simply sign a confession offered to them daily by their guards denouncing the U.S.�which is to say: repeating what Danny Glover, Nelson Mandela, Jeremiah Wright, etc. etc. etc. constantly snarl and bellow about the U.S.

Considering their betrayal, you might think these men had pretty good cause to sign it. But Castro got his answer from Oliva and his men as swiftly and as clearly as the Germans got theirs from McAuliffe and his men at The Bulge—"NUTS!"

Oliva and his men repeatedly spat on the Castroite document—convinced this defiance would doom them to death by firing-squad. "No man in Cuba is as free as a political prisoner in rebellion," said longtime Castro political prisoner Francisco Chappi. We were tortured, we were starved. But we lived in total defiance."

"Inside of our souls we were free," said another Bay of Pigs freedom-fighter (also Black and today a proud U.S. citizen) named Sergio Carrillo, a paratrooper at the Bay of Pigs in 1961 and a Catholic priest in America today. Neither Oliva nor any of his men signed the document. His hundreds of men stood solidly with their commander. "We will die with dignity!" snapped Oliva at the furious Castroites again, and again, and again. To a Castroite such an attitude not only enrages but baffles....
Posted by John Weidner at 8:45 PM

February 24, 2011

I don't think I'll read this book...

...But the description did inspire an evil cackle.

Middle-earth according to Mordor - Laura Miller - Salon.com:

...In Yeskov's retelling, the wizard Gandalf is a war-monger intent on crushing the scientific and technological initiative of Mordor and its southern allies because science "destroys the harmony of the world and dries up the souls of men!" He's in cahoots with the elves, who aim to become "masters of the world," and turn Middle-earth into a "bad copy" of their magical homeland across the sea. Barad-dur, also known as the Dark Tower and Sauron's citadel, is, by contrast, described as "that amazing city of alchemists and poets, mechanics and astronomers, philosophers and physicians, the heart of the only civilization in Middle-earth to bet on rational knowledge and bravely pitch its barely adolescent technology against ancient magic."

Because Gandalf refers to Mordor as the "Evil Empire" and is accused of crafting a "Final Solution to the Mordorian problem" by rival wizard Saruman, he obviously serves as an avatar for Russia's 20th-century foes. But the juxtaposition of the willfully feudal and backward "West," happy with "picking lice in its log 'castles'" while Mordor cultivates learning and embraces change, also recalls the clash be...

I doubt if the joke can really work at book length. But it is funny.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:34 AM

February 21, 2011

Bargaining with themselves...

Roger Roger's Rules — Watershed Moment in Wisconsin:

...Obama is so keen to preserve and nurture public sector unions because they are the lifeblood of the contemporary Democratic Party. To an astonishing extent, the unions are the government in many locales.� They elect officials and then sit down to bargain with them over their salaries and benefits. Since they are essentially bargaining with themselves, they generally make out quite nicely. It's a corrupt and ultimately unsustainable practice. Sooner or later, as Margaret Thatcher observed about socialism, they will run out of other people's money. Many of us believe that day is nigh, but the unions and their enablers apparently have calculated that there is at least a little more ruin they can inflict....

The analogy to draw is if, say, the managers of the Ford Motor company were elected. And if the UAW provided many of them with the necessary campaign funds. That would be a preposterous state of affairs and it would not be tolerated.

Posted by John Weidner at 10:21 PM

February 19, 2011

Secondary loyalties are secondary...

GK Chesterton...

The same people who call the convert a pervert, and especially a traitor to patriotism, very often use the other catchword to the effect that he is forced to believe this or that. But it is not really a question of what a man is made to believe but of what he must believe; what he cannot help believing. He cannot disbelieve in an elephant when he has seen one; and he cannot treat the Church as a child when he has discovered that she is his mother. She is not only his mother but his country's mother in being much older and more aboriginal than his country. She is such a mother not in sentimental feeling but in historical fact.

He cannot think one thing when he knows the contrary thing. He cannot think that Christianity was invented by Penda of Mercia, who sent missionaries to the heathen Augustine and the rude and barbarous Gregory. He cannot think that the Church first rose in the middle of the British Empire, and not of the Roman Empire. He cannot think that England existed, with cricket and fox-hunting and the Jacobean translation all complete, when Rome was founded or when Christ was born. It is no good talking about his being "free" to believe these things. He is exactly as free to believe them as he is to believe that a horse has feathers or that the sun is pea green. He cannot believe them when once he fully realises them; and among such things is the notion that the national claim upon a good patriot is in its nature more absolute, ancient and authoritative than the claim of the whole religious culture which first mapped out its territories and anointed its kings.

That religious culture does indeed encourage him to fight to the last for his country, as for his family. But that is because the religious culture is generous and imaginative and humane and knows that men must have intimate and individual ties. But those secondary loyalties are secondary in time and logic to the law of universal morality which justifies them. And if the patriot is such a fool as to force the issue against that universal tradition from which his own patriotism descends, if he presses his claim to priority over the primitive law of the whole earth--then he will have brought it on himself if he is answered with the pulverising plainness of the Book of Job. As God said to the man, "Where were you when the foundations of the world were laid?" We might well say to the nation, "Where were you when the foundations of the Church were laid?" And the nation will not know in the least what to answer--if it should wish to answer-- but will be forced to put its hand upon its mouth, if only like one who yawns and falls asleep.

(Thanks to Jeffrey Steel)

Posted by John Weidner at 9:01 PM

February 17, 2011

"Joshua fit de Battle of Jericho"...but it wasn't the bloodbath you thought it was

I recently bought a very interesting book, Who Were the Early Israelites and Where Did They Come From? by William Dever.

I've always been a bit uncomfortable with the story of the Exodus and the conquest of Canaan by the Israelites. As the story goes it's a bloody mess. Downright genocidal, in fact, and that at the command of God. That's where a lot of the "wrathful God of the Old Testament" stuff comes from. And even though I'm one of those violent Tea-Partiers, mass slaughter can get a bit tiresome!

But the odd fact is that the archeological record does not show much evidence of war and destruction in Palestine in the relevant time-period, late 13th Century to early 12th BCE.

Canaan, the region we call Palestine, was then divided up into fairly small (think 25 miles wide) city-states, under petty "kings." These were typical Middle Eastern states with a traditional pattern of agriculture practiced mostly in the flatlands and lowlands. Featuring great estates, oppressive nobles, and miserable slaves and serfs and peasants. And all of them more or less under the thumb of Egypt. However, in this period the little Canaanite kingdoms seem to have gone into decline, with fewer signs of wealth found in excavations. But not evidently suffering from much destruction or conquest

At that same time, something new was happening. Settlements were growing up in the nearby Palestinian hills, where few had lived before. Often right on a hill-top. And those settlements seem to have been egalitarian hamlets, without signs of social stratification. No big-shots, no kings, no landlords. (Continued)

 

The people who settled the hills were creating new land and wealth by the extensive use of technology, including terracing, silos and cisterns. There is little sign that they were fleeing attackers—they weren't building any fortifications, and few weapons have been found. Nor do they seem to have driven anyone else off the hills.

Dever feels that, despite the lack of inscriptions or distinctive pottery, these people were ethnically Israelite. The same type of pillar-and-courtyard house they built is what is considered typical of the Israelites a century or two later. That the Israelites were not conquerers from outside as much as they were a local development from out of Canaanite culture.

But remember, the Canaanite petty kings were all vassals of Egypt. So it could be said that the new Israelite culture was in fact based on escape from bondage to Egypt! Dever takes no position on the historical reality of Moses, but one can infer that if some people did indeed escape from Egypt (maybe the Joseph tribes, who play a disproportionate role in the story), their history could become the defining story for the larger culture. And the stories of bloody conquest are just what would seem natural and proper as explanations in those days. God could have worked through these people in a more peaceful way than the stories tell.

Of course Israel eventually adopted the usual organization of kings and aristocrats and standing armies and corvees. But it is interesting that many passages in the OT assume that the right way of life is one without kings or landlords, with everybody sitting under his own fig tree, etc.

There's also I think an interesting similarity to Victor Hanson's thinking in his fascinating book The Other Greeks: The Family Farm and the Agrarian Roots of Western Civilization. That what really made Greece what it was was a movement during the Greek Dark Age (c. 8th Century BCE) of people leaving the old-style aristocratic grain-and-cattle agriculture of the flatlands, and "homesteading" small plots of typically about 10 acres up on the unused hillsides. They developed a diverse and intensive agriculture, with vines, olives, grain, fruit-trees, vegetables, animals. This was extremely productive, at a cost of year-round labor, and much thought and experimentation. Leading to a culture of thinking and individuality and sturdy democratic values.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:01 PM

"The problem of radical Islam is the problem of Western weakness."

Once again, pacifism causes wars...

Richard Fernandez :

...Why would anyone believe, even for a moment, that any Western state could "pre-emptively" nuke the Muslim world when it cannot muster the will to secure its borders, balance its budget, get Pakistan to release a diplomat or get Argentina to release a C-17's cargo load of equipment? That would be like thinking that man who can't run 50 yards can run the 100 meter dash in 9.5 seconds.

The path to nukes is far more probably going to take the path of use in desperation. And in fact a country which secured its borders, drilled for its own oil, got Pakistan to release diplomats, and did the normal things would be the only kind of country which might use nukes pre-emptively because it conceive of such a strategy. Yet ironically it would be the kind of country that wouldn't have to attack pre-emptively. The idea of country going straight from supine behavior to nuking pre-emptively is a fantasy built on the awareness of weakness. Solve the weakness and then your enemies will consider you capable of pre-emption. But guess what: solve the weakness and you won't have to pre-empt. They will back away.

This is all elementary game theory; and tried, true and hoary deterrence theory. Be strong and you won't need to use nukes. Be weak and you'll use them for sure.

The problem of radical Islam is the problem of Western weakness. That is the problem to which the policy nuking Muslims is an impertinent answer. Who's going to do it? Obama? And yet if Obama lost the next election in favor of someone who might actually resist, then the probability of having to pre-empt declines dramatically.

The logical problem is that any strategy which requires pre-emptively nuking the Islamic world implies a President who is too weak to do it anyway. But that doesn't mean it might not happen. As I've argued ad nauseam, the biggest danger to nuclear use, in both the Israeli and general Western case, is via the act in desperation.

As long as Israel's strategic position is strong, it will not unleash the nukes. But only in its dying gasp will that be certain. So what do the geniuses at State do? Bring Israel to the point of strategic death.

For the same reasons, the weaker Obama makes America the more its enemies are emboldened. Yet this does not bring pre-emption closer. That becomes more and more unthinkable until the last push, when desperation takes hold. Then the probabilities go from near zero to near 1.

The Pakistanis and even the rapists in Tahrir Square are testing, testing. And they are finding no resistance. Therefore they will push and sooner or later, they will push too far. Why not since no stop signal will be received from the Smartest Man in the World....
Posted by John Weidner at 6:37 PM

February 16, 2011

Obaman's got it right...

Obama assertion: FBI can get phone records without oversight — McClatchy:

...WASHINGTON — The Obama administration's Justice Department has asserted that the FBI can obtain telephone records of international calls made from the U.S. without any formal legal process or court oversight, according to a document obtained by McClatchy....
The Obama Administration is dead right. I told you this was the case back in 2006...
...And for as long as electronic communications have existed, the United States has conducted surveillance of those communications during wartime�all without judicial warrant. In the Civil War, for example, telegraph wiretapping was common, and provided important intelligence for both sides. In World War I, President Wilson ordered the interception of all cable communications between the United States and Europe; he inferred the authority to do so from the Constitution and from a general congressional authorization to use military force that did not mention anything about such surveillance. So too in World War II; the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt authorized the interception of all communications traffic into and out of the United States....
-- Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez

All the stuff about our right to be free of unwarranted search and seizure are concerned with criminal law. Honest Abe had Lafayette Baker's thugs out tapping telegraph lines all the time. With no crap about search warrants. But if they overheard that you had robbed a bank, you were safe—that admission could not be introduced as evidence against you. Your civil rights were safe. On the other hand, if they discovered that you were a Confederate spy, you were headed to Old Capitol Prison with a gunny sack over your head. And Gawd help you, you were going to... talk. Sorry, that's the way it was. We freed the slaves and preserved the Union, but the brass knucks had to be used to do it.

And that was right. why? Because this is in a different category. the category is not law, but WAR! when the rule of law and diplomacy and fair dealing breaks down, then you are in the category called war. And it is a category error to apply the rules of peace. to paraphrase Talleyrand, "It was worse than a crime. It was a category error!"

Kit Carson, Lafayette Baker (seated)
Posted by John Weidner at 9:39 PM

Why can't foreigners speak in a simple straightforward way, like we do?

'AND SHE IS SPOKE'

I'VE heard a half a dozen times
    Folks call it Reims.
That isn't right, though, so it seems,
    Perhaps it's Reims.
Poor city ruined now by flames--
    Can it be Reims?--
That once was one of France's gems-
    More likely Reims.
I'll get it right sometime, perchance
    I'm told it's Reims.
      -- Winifred Letts

Posted by John Weidner at 8:54 PM

February 13, 2011

"Theological Zombie Apocalypse"

Good stuff from Mark Shea, writing to a theology student who is concerned about the un-diluted liberalism of the reading for his Christology class... Some Suggestions on Subverting the Dominant Paradigm:

...As to the indoctrination materials they are having you read, consider it research for your future campaign of Subverting the Dominant Paradigm which you will wage once they've forced you to do the kabuki of offering the pinch of incense to the Spirit of Woodstock. You are not being brainwashed. You are building antibodies. Someday, like the Omega Man, your antibodies will inoculate others against the Theological Zombie Apocalypse that has overtaken so many schools of theology in Catholic higher education. You'll know the mantras and the tired heresies and will be able to explode them from within, freeing future students for the thrill of encountering orthodoxy instead of the wearying drone of the graying radicals who, instead of living 40 years since 1971, have been living 1971 40 times. You are Our Man in Academe, going deep undercover to destroy the regime of heresy from within.

The trick will be not so much to remain orthodox (that's fairly easy, considering how dreadfully dull the theological legacy of the Pepsi Generation is). Rather, the trick will be avoiding becoming a bitter Pharisee who turns Catholic faith into a particularly nasty and uninviting sort of Protestantism.

What do I mean? I mean that you cannot build a life on protest, not even a protest against heresy. If your Catholic faith is primarily a reaction against Those People Over There (whoever They are) then it is not about Jesus Christ, but about anger over some human hurt you have received (like the hurt of getting drivel from teachers who have betrayed their office and used it to subvert the gospel). The Catholic faith is not a mere reaction to this world. It is about God breaking into this world with joy in order to save it. It is hell, not the Faith, that is on the defensive. That's why "the gates of hell" (a defensive image from siege warfare) shall not prevail against the Church. So the trick is to be joyful, not angry and bitter, in your work of subverting the dominant paradigm. Have worldly teachers sold the Faith for a pot of heterodox message? Sure! What did you expect the world to do?

But the good news is, not only is that project failing, but the gospel is emerging stronger than ever because Jesus Christ lives. Brickbats and crosses it shall endure till That Day, but it remains full of joy, not bitterness, till then. So the approach we take is not the mere anger of the Revolutionary against the Old Regime, but the gladness of the saint. As Jesus put it:
I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.� (Luke 10:18-20)
This mistaken focus on defeating the spirits rather than rejoicing in Heaven is the central mistake that many of those concerned about retrieving the Tradition from the vandals have made. They have become so focused on their anger over the vandalism that they have forgotten that it's not about defeating Hell, but about rejoicing over the triumph of a Heaven that has already defeated Hell on Easter.

So do your subversive work joyfully ...

"A pot of heterodox message" I haven't heard many puns better than that! I forgive forthwith Mr Shea for certain intellectual sins that have dispirited me in the past.

Posted by John Weidner at 1:38 PM

February 11, 2011

This tops everything since John Kerry...

Mitt Flips Again - By Deroy Murdock - The Corner - National Review Online:

As Andy Warhol once said, "That's not fake. It's real plastic." Warhol's immortal words came to mind as I learned about Willard Mitt Romney's latest flip flop. The 2011 paperback version of his book No Apology is at war with last year's hardback edition. The fairly accommodating Romney who said nice things about President Obama has been hauled off and replaced with an angrier, more combative Romney — perfect for the GOP presidential primary season, which will heat up as Romney addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington this morning at 10:30....

I can't believe how stupid this is. He's just handed every political enemy the perfect metaphor. If he sounds soft it will be described as the "hardcover Mitt." If he tries to seem tough then Sarah can raise her eyebrow and suggest that we're getting "the Paperback Mitt."

Mitt Romney is not politically astute. He makes these dumb ass mistakes frequently. Therefore he would not be a good President, since the President's job is political leadership above all else. It's not like being a CEO, who rarely has to win the political support of the public.

What kind of fool would run for the Republican nomination without ever having had a hunting license! He could easily have arranged to spend a single weekend hunting with friends, and having a few pictures taken of himself with a gun, to put on his website.

Posted by John Weidner at 3:52 PM

February 10, 2011

The Iron Lady comments on Obama and Egypt...

Experience shows that if you lack a coherent set of beliefs and principles, you will flounder. You must know already what you want, and why, and broadly how best to attain it, if you are ever to deal effectively with the thousand-and-one crises that face you in government."
    -- Margaret Thatcher

That's just so true. Every would-be politician should have it tattooed on their elbow, to keep it in mind. Actually it's true about whatever you do. Life will always throw you curve-balls, and you need have general principles that can guide you in the unexpected situation.


On the same subject...

My truth must be firm, and who will love you if you veer and change your loves every day, and what will become of your great schemes? Continuity alone will bring your efforts to ripeness.
--Saint-Exupery

Or better yet, Chesterton...

..But there are some people, nevertheless — and I am one of them — who think that the most practical and important thing about a man is still his view of the universe. We think that for a landlady considering a lodger, it is important to know his income, but still more important to know his philosophy. We think that for a general about to fight an enemy, it is important to know the enemy's numbers, but still more important to know the enemy's philosophy. We think the question is not whether the theory of the cosmos affects matters, but whether, in the long run, anything else affects them...
    -- from Heretics

Posted by John Weidner at 8:12 PM

February 9, 2011

Bye bye, DLC...

Dems Show Centrists the Door - WSJ.com:

...The DLC's decline is one more illustration that the core of the Democratic Party apparently has decided that no course correction is needed after what President Obama called its "shellacking" in the midterm elections. The DLC helped elect and re-elect Bill Clinton, one of its first chairmen, in the 1990s by promoting support for balanced budgets, free trade, welfare reform and tough law enforcement. But the organization fell on hard times after it was seen as insufficiently confrontational with President George W. Bush. And its support of the 2003 Iraq war angered a growing militant strain among left-wing Democrats.

I vividly recall Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman visiting The Wall Street Journal in 2005 and lamenting the shrinking ranks of the party's moderates. "There are just so many on the other side," he said. "They just keep coming over that hill." Mr. Lieberman lost his 2006 Democratic primary to an anti-war challenger and had to win election that fall as an independent. Last month he announced his retirement from politics....

This fits the 70-Year Cycle Theory, which I've blogged before, exactly. Because that is exactly what happened to the Republicans in the 1930's. The Republican party seemed to continue to be vigorous, because parts of the party were filled with passionate intensity, and the Party's war-chests were filled.

But the energy at the center was moving to the Dems. Industrial workers especially were moving from the Republicans to the Dems. The Democrats also pulled off the double-whammy of gaining Northern blacks while holding Southern whites.

We hear tons of howls from the press and other Democrat outlets about how the Republicans are extremists of the fringe. That's BS.

My guess is that Dems will fail to pull off a Clintonian move to the center, and therefore will be crushed in 2012.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:53 AM

February 7, 2011

To perish alone, undefended...

I do believe that we are required to wade into those things that matter to our country and our culture, no matter what the disincentives are, and no matter the personal cost. There is not one among us who wants to be set upon, or obligated to do and say difficult things. Yet, there is not one of us who could in good conscience stand by and watch a loved one or a defenseless person-or a vital national principle-perish alone, undefended, when our intervention could make all the difference. This may well be too dramatic an example. But, nevertheless, put most simply; if we think that something is dreadfully wrong, then someone has to do something.

    -- Justice Clarence Thomas, Francis Boyer Lecture, Feb. 13, 2001
Posted by John Weidner at 3:12 PM

February 5, 2011

To be Christian and yet not a disciple simply does not compute...

Sherry Weddell, Of Spiritual Babies & Graduate School:

...Increasingly, evangelicals are more than willing to acknowledge Catholic strengths and are more than a little dazzled by them. I attended a gathering of high powered evangelicals committed to spiritual formation in early July. They were talking and quoting Catholic authors almost exclusively: Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Henri Nouwen, Thomas Green and referred a great deal to monastic practice. Their passion was a profound union with God and so naturally, they turned to the great mystics. I learned from them that many of the foremost evangelical universities in the country now have spiritual formation programs in place that are adopting the same approach.

But so many of their evangelical assumptions were still in place. One impressive missionary leader, who lives in St. Petersburg, was stunned when, in response to his questions, I had to explain to him that being a Christian and being a disciple weren't the same thing in the Catholic tradition. One was sacramentally based and the other a personal response.

The bewildered look on his face said it all. There was no place in his spiritual worldview for such a distinction. After all, he was turning to historic Christianity for guidance in how to help immature disciples become mature disciples. It had not yet dawned upon him that a faith that produces such saints could simultaneously have large numbers of members who are not yet disciples at all. Who don't even know that discipleship is possible. Many of whom don't even have an imaginative category in their heads for discipleship. Because they have never heard anyone talk about it....

I was raised Evangelical, and the odd thing is that I'm only really getting into that now that I'm a Catholic. All sorts of memories rise up from my youth; things I had quite forgotten.

And I too am, increasingly, "stunned" to discover what Sherry describes... "I had to explain to him that being a Christian and being a disciple weren't the same thing in the Catholic tradition.." I felt immediately at home in the Catholic Church, and still do. And yet, I also keep discovering that Catholics—cradle Catholics that is—are kinda weird.

But the interest of Evangelicals in Catholic teachings is an astonishing thing. I've never encountered this, but I've heard many rumors of it. It makes good sense, since the Church is a inexhaustible treasure house. But she is also mysteriously attractive, she draws people, and I'll bet dollars to your donuts that some of those evangelicals Sherry mentions will bye and bye be writing their conversion stories. Heh heh.

Myself, I'd advise evangelicals to infiltrate the Church and take over!

 

Posted by John Weidner at 10:31 PM

What did anyone expect?

Obama Said to Fault Spy Agencies' Mideast Forecasting - NYTimes.com:

WASHINGTON — President Obama has criticized American spy agencies over their performance in predicting and analyzing the spreading unrest in the Middle East, according to current and former American officials....

Let me spell this out in words even a community organizer can understand.

YOU, Barry Obama, are the poster child for the idea that government can understand and manage complex and subtle issues and problems.

That idea is STUPID. Your philosophy is rotten at the core. It is absurdity. That idea almost made sense in the Industrial Age. In the Information Age it is ludicrous to imagine that centralized bureaucracies can be nimble and creative enough to keep up with a world that is changing at a mad pace...


Posted by John Weidner at 1:52 PM

February 4, 2011

"The man who isn't quite there"

Charlene recommends this piece, How to Understand Rush Limbaugh:

...In retrospect, the amazing part of the story is how thoroughly the White House misunderstood Limbaugh's appeal, his staying power, and his approach to issues. It also points to a curious fact about Limbaugh's standing in the mind of much of the American media and the American left. Even though they talk about him all the time, he's the man who isn't quite there. By which I mean that there is a stubborn unwillingness, both wishful and self-defeating, to recognize Limbaugh for what he is, take him seriously, and grant him his legitimate due. Many of his detractors have never even listened to his show, for example. Some of his critics regularly refer to him as Rush "Lim-bough� (like a tree limb), as if his name is so obscure to them that they cannot even remember how to pronounce it.

In short, he is never quite acknowledged as the formidable figure he clearly is. Instead, he is dismissed in one of two ways�either as a comic buffoon, a passing phenomenon in the hit parade of American pop culture, or as a mean-spirited apostle of hate who appeals to a tiny lunatic fringe. These two views are not quite compatible, but they have one thing in common: they both aim to push him to the margins and render him illegitimate, unworthy of respectful attention. This shunning actually works in Limbaugh's favor because it creates the very conditions that cause him to be chronically underestimated and keeps his opposition chronically off-balance. Indeed, Limbaugh's use of comedy and irony and showmanship are integral to his modus operandi, the judo by which he draws in his opponents and then uses their own force to up-end them. And unless you make an effort to hear voices outside the echo chamber of the mainstream media, you won't have any inkling of what Limbaugh is all about or of how widely his reach and appeal extend....

One of the curious things about Rush is that during his New York years he was able to make almost no friends in the media world, even though he was a media giant. And even though he is an affable and interesting man. He was invited to none of the parties. Liberals are cowards!


Posted by John Weidner at 8:53 AM

February 2, 2011

True about a lot of things...

Twitter / Joshua Treviño:

We've gotten to a point where it's assumed that rhetoric on the American Founding and Constitution is pro-Republican. I'm okay with that.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:17 AM