Monday, January 30, 2006

It's winter. I'm hibernating.

No urge to blog lately. Raging at the episcopal doorstops who fiddle as Roman Catholicism burns seems to be a great waste of time. They're there till they die, are on the receiving end of a criminal investigation, or have an attack of integrity. Yes, number three is sheerest fantasy, but what can I say--I'm a sci-fi/fantasy nerd.

All I can do is help my beloved edit some of the defective catechetical materials used at the parish and run a faithful bible study.

Fear not--I'll detonate at some point in the future. But for now, the powder's simply not dry enough.

Home life has been bittersweet. We investigated a Catholic school for Maddie, and while the school passed my inquisitorial sniff test, we crunched the numbers and came to the conclusion that a new house has to take precedence. Casa Price, despite our continuing efforts to relegate massive quantities to storage, is simply too small for us anymore. So, we're going to use the tax return to tart 'er up and sell as fast as we can.

Which, in our neighborhood, looks to be about a year. Yet another nightmare, but naught else to be done.

The children continue to grow, with Madeleine now calling me "Dad." Not "Dah-ee" or "Daddy," but "Dad." It's still jarring. I imagine "Daaaaaaaaaaad....." comes later.

Mercifully, D3 and Rachel still call me "Daddy" and "Dah-ee," respectively. That helps. Some.

Not so much as an inch of snow on the ground here in Metro Detroit, which doesn't help my mood. If I wanted an extended, rain-soaked autumn, I'd move to Washington, thanks. On the bright side, perhaps it's a byproduct of the Pistons playing red-hot basketball (be very, very afraid, Victor).

Oh, and those of you monitoring Super Bowl hype buildup should know that Motown is entirely in the bag for the Steelers. The local bars started rolling out the "Welcome, Stiller Fans!" red carpets during the middle of last week. No similar "Welcome, Latte-Swilling Communists!" for Seahawk fans. Not even from the Starbucks outlets.

Sorry, grungies, we just can't relate.

More later, as inclination permits.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Oh, Lord--this is hilarious.

I'm emerging briefly from my work-imposed hibernation (it's stunk of late, but there you go) to post this magnificently British verbal execution of the Anglosphere's loudest Darwin's Witness, Richard Dawkins. Apparently his new TV special redefines "boob tube," according to the Times of London:

Scientists all over the nation must hold their heads and groan whenever Richard Dawkins appears on television, as he did in The Root of All Evil? (Monday, C4). He is such a terrible advertisement, such an awful embarrassment, the Billy Graham of the senior common room. His splenetic, small-minded, viciously vindictive falsetto rant at all belief that isn’t completely rooted in the natural sciences is laughable. Dawkins is a born-again Darwinist, an atheist, so why is he devoting so much blood pressure and time to arguing with something he knows doesn’t exist? If it’s not there, Richard, why do you keep shouting at it? He looks like a scientific bag lady screaming at the traffic, and watching him argue with a fundamentalist Christian, you realise they were cut from identical cloth, separated at birth. Dawkins is, of course, the archetype of a man who protests too much, and I’d say he’s well on his way to, if not a Pauline, then at least a Muggeridgian conversion. Any day now, he’ll be back on telly quoting CS Lewis.

Monday, January 16, 2006

My misfiring neurons at work.

During one of my bouts of prolonged sleep deprivation during the weekend, it hit me:

The assault on the Death Star in the first Star Wars film is actually a fully-developed parable about conception.


[It works a lot better than you think.]
Heather has posted up a storm recently.

She's also interested in any suggestions you can offer.

Take a look here.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Amongst our weaponry are such diverse elements as...

I already knew this, but the confirmation is nice.

Still, the slight Nestorian and Monophysite tendencies are nagging. But not a drop of Pelagianism, you will note. Unlike everybody else who has taken it...Ahem.

You scored as Chalcedon compliant. You are Chalcedon compliant. Congratulations, you're not a heretic. You believe that Jesus is truly God and truly man and like us in every respect, apart from sin. Officially approved in 451.

Chalcedon compliant




























Are you a heretic?
created with

[Thanks to Hilary.]

Monday, January 09, 2006

Unringing the Division Bell.

As noted briefly below, before the hatchet came out, there has been a lot of serious talk about the divisions in the Catholic Church in America. The only unserious part of what has become an interesting back-and-forth is the observation that the numbers of combatants are small. The proper reply is: so what? Decisions in the Church are made by a miniscule number of people. To borrow the Harry Turtledove coinage, the Church is not big on snoutcounting. It's not like the changes that have been coming to you for the past two generations are made by a careful polling of the vox populi. Change a few minds here and there--especially the bishop at the top--and the game is up.

Moving on: Yes, this is a weird change up, in the immediate wake of a fisking, but here goes: the fundamental problem is one of trust. Neither side trusts the other further than they can be tossed. Distrust of motives, the moving of goalposts, double/triple/quadruple standards, histories of mistreatment and abuse of power all work to poison the dynamic. Worse, there is no real mechanism for resolution of the problem--there's not even a place to air the grievances. Certainly not the USCCB structure, which has the same rifts and is part of the problem in any event. What the Church needs is some facilitator or facilitators trusted by a critical mass on both sides, and I'm at a loss as to even one person that fits the bill.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Küng Kong.

Much talk of late regarding the fissures in the Catholic Church, and how to possibly bridge them. From the gray borderlands between "conservative" and "traditional" Catholicism, I'd like to offer a suggestion to my "progressive" brethren:

Try not to talk about yourselves, your heroes and your opponents in ways that make me want to blast you out of the Gucci saddle of your high horse with both barrels.

Exhibit A, this little squib from Robert Blair Kaiser in the (please sit down) Reporter, which manages the difficult trick of being both insufferably triumphalist and nauseatingly twee at the same time. Kaiser won awards for his coverage of Vatican II while he worked at Time. Interesting, at least in the academic sense, because there's no evidence of anything apart from award-winning self-regard here.

The subject? The Teutonic Colonic Himself, Hans Küng, whose theological endeavors are now quite appropriately focused on his favorite topic: Himself. He's in the midst of a truly Extra Absorbent multi-volume autobiography. The first installment clocks in at 533 pages, and goes through 1968.

At this point, I'll simply note that Carl Bernstein was only able to crank out 592 pages about the late pope's life through 1996.

Sounds like a whole lotta Küng. Editor? Though, in all fairness, when he isn't bent on shanking Mother Church, he can be formidable, indeed. I own Does God Exist?, and it is worth your time, though he stumbles slightly at the end.

If he’d played his poker hand differently, Hans Küng could have been pope.

There are three certainties in life. (1) Death; (2) Taxes; (3) You will aspirate your beverage at least once reading a copy of the National Catholic Reporter.

Ooookay. I guess that whole infinite universes hypothesis makes it possible--"possible" being a very elastic term. Though the likelihood of him becoming Pope is on roughly the same order of probability as me getting the job, and we're both less less likely than Elvis. Note also the beginning of an ill-developed, if still tiresome, poker theme.

The turning point in his life came when Pope Paul VI called Fr. Küng in after the fourth session of the Second Vatican Council and said, “You know you could really help the church.” The pope was hinting that Fr. Küng could get along much better in the postconciliar church if he’d just go along with the papal party in the curia.

Any source for this story other than the bilious memory and limitless capacity for nursing grievances and slights possessed by Fr. Küng? I'm not saying there was no meeting, I'm just not buying The Last Temptation of Küng implications. I'm also not fussy about the quality of the corroboration--for example, I am willing to accept the testimony of Co-Co, the Curial Lemur. Anyone? Bueller? At most, it's his spin on the offer ("The [P]ope was hinting..."). Anyway, the anecdote is just a set-up to illustrate the Steely Integrity of Our Hero.

Fr. Küng didn’t want to get along, much less go along.

Fight the power! K to the Umlaut to the N to the G! HK is in the hizzouse!

After creating immense enthusiasm for the council with his preconciliar bestseller, The Council, Reform and Re-Union,

The enthusiasm for Das Buch has since assumed room temperature. Out of Print.

Fr. Küng, as a peritus

Exhibit No. MMMMMCVXI demonstrating that episcopal personnel decisions are the polar opposite of infallible. But you already knew that.

(a theological expert) at the council, had done battle during the council’s third and fourth sessions with the forces of no-change inside the Roman curia that were clinging to hierarchy despite the majority’s efforts to democratize and decentralize the church.

The great Myth of the Council cherished by those sitting in the left side of the pews. Also known as the Rynne Spin. Given the consensus-building ambiguity in the documents themselves, determining what the "majority" wanted is frequently an exercise in Talmudic spelunking. But there is no doubt whatsoever Prof. Küng has it in for the Curia. After all, he's not running it.

And I especially enjoy the Scooby Doo-ish description of "battle...with the forces of no-change...."

"If it hadn't been for you meddling periti and that dog..."

“I didn’t want to serve

Heh. Non serviam.

OK, OK. Too easy, but irresistible.

And what's this "hierarchical church" I keep hearing about? I have problems with buckets of archbishops, bishops, priests and deacons, but they are part of the Church. Been that way since the first century, like it or not. And Fr. Küng definitely does not like it.

the hierarchical church,” Fr. Küng told me recently during a two-day visit to Phoenix. “I wanted my writing and my research to serve the people of God.” His thinnest (but most powerful) book, Infallible? An Inquiry,

So powerful that it's also out of print. But it is a metaphysical certainty that it is still available at the li-berry of your local Catholic™ emporium of higher learning (and even higher tuition).

hit at the heart of papal absolutism. It put him on John Paul II’s

For whom Küng bears a bottomless well of pure hatred. Probably one of those German/Polish things.

Score one for Poland.

hit list, and, suddenly, Hans had to fold his hand and find another game.
Meanwhile, his colleague at the council, Joseph Ratzinger, decided to go along,

See--some progressives still believe in apostasy. And the sin against the Holy Ghost is most assuredly apostasy from aggiornimento. But you have to believe really, really hard in the Myth--and subject yourself to the spin cycle on a daily, brain-damaging basis--before Santa will give you a sleigh bell.

Yessirree, Joseph Ratzinger was surely and purely a craven toady void of any intellectual or moral integrity whatsoever.

and proceeded on a career path that poker players might call a long winning streak.

Again with the poker. Memo to the drowsy NCR editor: Jai-alai players might call it a long winning streak, too. Ditto the masters of curling. Use that red pen, dammit.

Back to the point: People who kvetch about "the hierarchical church" while drinking deep from the well of clerical politics might call it "a long winning streak."

Others might call it a life of service to the Church.

Even poker players.

After a brief stay at Fr. Küng’s University of Tübingen, Germany, Fr. Ratzinger became the archbishop of Munich, and a cardinal, and, four years later, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, formerly known as the Holy Office, in Rome. Twenty-five years later, when Karol Wojtyla died, he was perfectly positioned to be the next pope.

Lord, how refreshing: A reference to the CDF as the Inquisition. Straight from The Tired Leftist Hack's Style Manual for Writing About Roman Catholicism, p. 1. Other helpful tips: fish on Friday quips and comments about taking the express elevator to Hell for missing Mass.

"Perfectly positioned." Yeah--the fix was in. Because, as everyone knows, agreeing to become the doctrinal heavy at the Vatican is the passport to universal popularity (see Panzerkardinal, God's Rottweiler, Enforcer of Faith). Which is why everyone really said he had no shot. Just ask Fr. McBrien.

Had Fr. Küng taken the cue given him by Pope Paul, he could have been a formidable contender -- as Cardinal Küng -- at the conclave of 2005.

Because all the periti were put on the fast-track. Not.

Then there's that little matter of his personality. I remember watching an interview of him included on a Vatican II CD-ROM available at our parish. "Axe to grind" and "ungracious" doesn't begin to describe it. The guy could curdle water.

But wait--here Mr. Kaiser gets his meme confused. After all, what makes Hans Küng the Shining Beacon of Selfless Christlike Service to The People of God is his gutsy refusal to play by the rules, right? A sort of Deutsche Duke boy against the Curial Boss Hoggi. Jeee-ja!

But now Mr. Kaiser wishes he'd caved in like that lousy rat fink scab Ratzinger.


Cardinal Ratzinger, for all his intelligence and political skills, was (and is) a pallid, timid man with limited people skills. (I could compare him with President Richard Nixon’s security adviser, the sober Robert MacFarlane.)

If Robert McFarlane (note spelling) had been Nixon's NSA, of course. He wasn't. He was Reagan's. Nixon's was this obscure fellow named "Henry Kissinger."

At the conclave, a vibrant Cardinal Küng might have been another Jack Kennedy, full of fun and alive with ideas for the church’s new frontier.

And now our man of unbending integrity/clerical rat fink transforms into a celibate JFK/Lenny Bruce hybrid. From alternate history to fantasy, in one sentence.

I'll have what Mr. Kaiser's having. Make it a double.

Fr. Küng, of course, found another game. He started working with leaders of the world’s great religions and founded his World Ethic Foundation in Tübingen to enlist all the major religions in the common search for peace through dialogue. “There will be no peace in the world,” he insisted, “without peace among the religions, there will be no peace among the religions without dialogue, and no dialogue without emphasis on a common ethic. Without dialogue, we shoot each other.” In 2003, England’s Prime Minister Tony Blair came to Tübingen to give the Global Ethic Foundation’s inaugural lecture. In May 2005, Fr. Küng went to Tokyo to receive the Niwano Peace Prize, Japan’s version of the Nobel Prize.

Not a bad idea there: "Jaw, jaw, jaw is better than war, war, war," as Churchill famously said. Though he admittedly had exceptions to that one. Nevertheless, it definitely beats passing off his theological freelancing as cutting edge Catholic thought.

I am curious, though: How is it playing in Tehran?

Hans has been a friend of mine since the heady days we shared at Vatican II. I had no trouble, then, persuading him to visit Phoenix in November as part of a campaign by the Jesuit Alumni in Arizona to promote a thinking church.

There is no catchphrase in the dividing American church that sets me off quite like "thinking Catholic." Or now, Mr. Kaiser's less-felicitous "thinking church."

Every single time I hear it, it's being used by "thinkers" who are in the midst of uncritically regurgitating someone else's stale ideas.

Exhibit No. 124 for the prosecution.

I was pleased to see that, at age 77, he has the same trim, athletic figure he had 40 years ago, and the same fun-filled personality and boyish smile that he shone on the reformist bishops and theologians at the council.

As opposed to the other stuff he showers on everyone else.

He swims every day near his home in Tübingen, and he’s planning a two-week ski vacation this month in Austria. He did 40 laps in his pool at the Pointe Hilton at Tapatio Cliffs before he went off to a dinner and 80 laps the next day to prepare for his Saturday night lecture.

The only thing that came to mind here was a quote from actor Jay Mohr when he was guest-hosting The Jim Rome Show: "He's so buff he's gay."

Not that it has anything to do with this, but I've always wanted to use that line.

Thomas Olmsted, bishop in Phoenix for the past two years, demonstrated no sympathy for the version of a thinking church of Jesuit Alumni of Arizona or for Fr. Küng’s presence either.

Gosh, how interesting that it took until after Bishop O'Brien had his desert Chappaquiddick for JA of A to start cogitating about a "thinking church." Apparently problems just magically appeared in Phoenix with the arrival of + Olmstead.

He declined to be part of the interfaith event in Phoenix,

WHAT "interfaith event"? This fact just materializes in the midst of the groupie-ish hero worship. Whatever they paid the NCR editors for work on this article, it was too much. And that includes squirrel pelts.

he blocked attempts to advertise it in parish bulletins or on the diocesan Web site, and told the group it couldn’t offer complimentary tickets to seniors in six Phoenix area high schools

What a crippling blow to attendance by The Yutes. Because, as we all know, there's nothing American high school seniors would enjoy more than listening to a German theologian piss, moan and preen on a Saturday night.

, or to the priests and laypeople working in his office.
Olmsted explained through his chancellor that Hans Küng “doesn’t have faculties to teach as a Catholic theologian.”

Absolutely true--followed on the heels of an extensive investigation, too. Which means that the only possible rebuttal by a "thinking Catholic" is to arch his back and hiss from the top of the cupboards.

He was referring to a Vatican decree of 1979 that said that Fr. Küng, though still a priest in good standing, had lost his license to teach Catholic theology. That declaration had a pre-conciliar,

See The Tired Leftist Hack's Style Manual For Writing About Roman Catholicism, p. 4.


See The Tired Leftist Hack's Style Manual, p. 1.

whiff about it that reminded millions of Catholics of nothing so much as the church’s Index of Forbidden Books,

See The Tired Leftist Hack's Style Manual, p. 2.

which was abandoned at Vatican II.

M.J. Benton, owner of Essentially Books in Scottsdale, testified to Fr. Küng’s ongoing popularity. “I can’t keep his books in the store,” she said. “I’ve sold almost a hundred copies of his memoir [My Search for Freedom] in the past month, and I keep selling two of his works in paperback, Global Ethics and Women in Christianity.”

At this point, I get to employ the same dismissal used by my progressive sistren after being told of the vocational upticks after papal visits to America: "call me in two years." And I'll be happy to examine the remainder bins.

Fr. Küng’s publisher, Eerdmans,

A Protestant publishing house, which I only mention (I own a couple of Eerdmans books) because it's rather surprising it wasn't picked up by one of our Ex Corde-allergic emporia or Orbis or Maryknoll.

reports it has “almost sold out the memoir” and is waiting with some eagerness for the second volume.

It's going into its third year since being published. The initial print run is the key to determining "runaway best-seller" status.

Ms. Benton says Fr. Küng appeals to contemporary Americans because “he has found a peaceful way of settling differences between religions.”

Has he now? While it's a perfectly decent idea, some actual examples of settlements would be nice before I'm willing to take a pull at that carafe of Kool-Aid.

By Friday night, Jesuit Alumni of Arizona had sold 550 advance tickets to Hans’ Saturday night lecture. On Saturday morning, The Arizona Republic carried a Page One story reporting the bishop’s efforts to squelch it.

Read: Not promote it on the dime of the faithful.

On Saturday night, a crowd of more than 1,100 laughing, exuberant Catholics, a good many friendly Protestants, and a scattering of Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus showed up to applaud Fr. Küng’s message, that there is great good in every religion, and that people of all religions can make the world a more peaceful place.

And I'm just sure Prof. Küng fired no shots at his own Church. None 'tall.

Dangerous stuff for loyal Catholics, right?

I wouldn't know--I can't think.

It's well past time to gag this guy with a used jock strap.

Pat Robertson opens his piehole again, says Ariel Sharon's stroke could be God's punishment.

The doofus is far beyond the feeble human powers of parody. When they made him, they broke the mold.

And slapped the mold-maker.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

On Evangelicals.

A lot of Catholics desperately need to get a grip on the evangelical phenomenon and the people who inhabit those circles.

Sure, there are the way-past-shell-shock veterans of the Endless Rhetorical Wars of The Sixteenth Century here and there, especially in 'NetWorld (a place with some, but not necessarily significant, overlap with reality). The unblinking, CO2 breathing fanatic who regurgitates at will the content of Chick tracts or the arguments of a favored windy apologist whom he invests with far-beyond-papal infallibility, those whose asserted love of Christ comes fully equipped with fanged illogic and hair-trigger invective.

But they are the minority. Come on--how often do you run into these folks? My experience is 2-3 times total since my conversion. Yet, despite this fact, Catholics return the favor with this:

"Where do you meet evangelicals who are not 'like that'?? I have yet to meet one, sorry to say."

To which I reply, given that ours is still an overwhelmingly Protestant nation overwhelmingly populated by Protestant citizens (at least in mindset, if not practice):

"How do you manage to post comments from Hell, anyway?"

Get out more. My less-but-still-flip response: "How about workplaces, neighborhoods, bookstores, concerts, sporting events, county fairs, restaurants, classrooms...?"

My experience with real flesh and blood evangelicals has been that they are the polar opposite of the Internet Warrior Versifiers. My brother, my next-door neighbors/friends (who often find Catholic distinctives flabbergasting, if not disqualifying us from genuine Christian status), and dear friends outside the neighborhood all testify against the Great Evangelical Ogre that exists in far too many Catholic minds. Their are people who walk the talk of a Christian life, in sincere word and deed.

Yes, the dicks are out there. But so are the Chucks (Colson), and there are a lot more Chucks, if you pay attention. If you sit down with their best works, you'll find a worldview far more amenable to Catholic thought than the stuff cranked out by publishers who claim to wear their Catholicism on their dustjackets. Let me put it this way--there's a lot more Inter-Varsity Press on my bookshelf than from two of the biggest Catholic publishers (who shall remain nameless).

It's not all snake-handling, ululating and people with big hair pestering the Almighty on basic cable. Get past the caricatures to the real people, and there's something very worthwhile.
When will the persecution of Charles Curran ever end?!?!?

I stumbled across this in a Barnes & Noble yesterday.

Note the publisher.

Oh, the blacklisting, the shunning...

...the tenure...

Still and all, interesting to get a Methodist perspective on that particular topic.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

A question for the New Year.

I hope yours was and remains a happy one, not so by the way.

For the musically-inclined with a deeper knowledge of Catholic music (Aristotle, Matthew especially welcome):

Is there the equivalent of a good Palestrina box set out there? If not, any other recommendations? One of my presents was a one-CD compilation of various of his works, and I'm happy to say I'm hooked. More remarkably, so are the kids, who appreciate it much more than I could have imagined. I think the harmonies have sucked them in, but no matter. Anything to show them that their musical heritage is not limited to corporate picnic karaoke...but I digress.

Any input would be greatly appreciated. Ditto on the works of Olivier Messaien, too.

Thanks in advance!

A rough stretch.

  Forgive the vagueness and ambiguity, but I am going through a tough patch at the moment. July was full-stop awful, and August, while bette...