19 December 2010

I call hypocrisy!!!!!

ISP's should be regulated so that porn is on an "opt-in" basis, say ministers in the U.K.

This is so obviously wrong and bad it's worse than laughable.

Hello?  Are they going to do anything about -
  • those raunchy TV shows
  • raunchy stage shows
  • schools teaching sex
  • retailers selling inappropriate clothing for little girls
and the gazillion other things that lead kids to think that it's OK to participate in sexual acts outside of marriage?

No, they are not.

So:  keep your stinkin' paws off the Internet.

04 December 2010

"Through" vs. "In" in Philippians

What follows will tire your eyes and probably not be of any meaning. Blame Pope Benedict XVI.

This isn't about the latest flap.  It's because he is a world-class theologian, excellent teacher, and a gentleman and a man of profound talent and humility.  And, - I say this with wry exasperation - he is methodically removing all the obstacles that kept me apart from the Church.

Anyway - you can skip the rest of this.

Today I looked at a bookmark I sometimes use.  It has flowers and a Bible verse, Philippians 4:3.
I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
I recently had the privilege of acquiring the excellent Baronius edition of the Douay-Rheims version of the Bible.  Curious to see how the verse reads in that version, I looked up the verse.
I can do all things in him who strengtheneth me.
I'm not an expert in the English language, but I do have a degree in English and French, so I come by my interest in words honestly.  I'm also old enough to have spent plenty of time diagramming sentences (thanks, Miss Rich!).  I have a strong sense of what words mean, but I admit up front that my understanding is idiosyncratic, in the sense that it's mine, and I'm working without a dictionary open in front of me.

The NIV's version uses the word "everything."  To me, that is a word which, these days, means an agglomeration, an olio of whatever... a lump.  The D-R translates it as "all things."  OK, essentially the same meaning, but more precise.  "Everything" in today's vernacular is often used for hyperbole, and people know it doesn't mean, well, every thing.  "Everything's a mess."  "Everything's great."  "All things" is much more precise.  Even in today's speech, "all things" cannot mean "some" or "a few" or "most."  All is all.  No exceptions.

The second thing I noticed in the difference is the use of the word "through" by the NIV - "through him..." as opposed to "in him..." in the D-R.  That kind of word choice gets my attention.

While I was wandering in the wilderness, so to speak, I read a great many Bible translations, commentaries, sermons and other writings of Protestant scholars and theologians.  I can tell you quickly and helpfully about the characteristics of the KJV, NKJV, NASB and, to some degree, the ESV, in various editions such as the LAB, the Thompson Chain Reference, etc.  I also did some serious rumination over the Catholic versions such as the Jerusalem Bible and the New Jerusalem Bible.  I often compare the translations and wonder how decisions were made, but that's a separate post.

So - why would the NIV have "through him" instead of "in him"?  I think, when you're talking about Jesus, words matter.

Before the ESV came on the market, the NIV was one of the most-used translations in evangelical circles.  I do not question the word choice... I'm sure that the translators can prove why they made that choice.  But, still:  through.

"Through" to me implies a beginning and an end.  You don't go through something eternally; "through" is a temporary state.  Am I right?

"But, but, but," I hear you say, "that's not what's meant.  It means that we get the strength through Jesus."  OK, I agree.

But wait - there's more.

"... who gives me strength."  The word "gives" troubles me.  When you give something, there was a time when the gift had not been given, right?  And a gift cannot be given in future.  If I give you a gift in a box, once I've accepted the gift, opened it, thanked you - the gift is complete and over.

"... who strengtheneth (strengthens) me."  Phrased this way, the meaning is of ongoing strengthening.  However, there is an implied condition.  The strengthening happens in him.  In him.

How do you get in someone?  Well, you don't, usually.  But there is one man who invites you into himself, and will respond to a like invitation.
He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him.
That's in the gospel of John, chapter 6, verse 57.  Most Evangelicals and most Roman Catholics differ on the meaning of this verse.  Evangelicals see it as merely symbolic, and echo the disciples' shocked remonstration in verse 61.  Roman Catholics take it at face value.  In the NIV, it reads:
Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me.
That's quite a difference.

If you're translating the Bible, and Philippians 4:3 comes along, how much does your understanding of John 6:57 guide your choice, if you have one?
I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
I can do all things in him who strengtheneth me.
I'm a Roman Catholic.  The latter is the way I understand it, and always have.  Jesus is in me, and I am in him, because he provided a way - a mysterious, deeply loving way - to come into my soul, by my invitation.  In that moment, I knew that I was abiding in him.  At this time, I do not participate in communion out of obedience to the Holy Father and the Magisterium; I do not have that right due to choices I made during the wilderness years.  I've never not loved God, however, and Jesus has led and protected me in sometimes quite overt ways through the years.  I trust Him to know me and know my needs.  I am engraved on the hands of God, and my soul has been redeemed through the blood of the Lamb.  Now, I wait expectantly for the next unfolding of God's idea for my life.  I got to this point by surrender to God, abject and utter relinquishment of my right to myself.  That surrender does not allow me to pick and choose, only accept with grateful love whatever He brings to me.

For what I have done in turning away from His Church during her illness (because I see it as that, just as I learned what my mother had was an illness), I cannot expect His mercy.  I took a vow in Confirmation.  I promised Him.  I do not excuse myself.  That said, I did not expect the persecution and horror to come from within the Church; I really didn't.  It blindsided and confused me, and, in the end, coupled with the issues in my life, I couldn't hang on.  One of the last times I went to Confession... maybe it was the last time, I don't really remember... I confessed that I had given in to anger at some of the decisions of the bishops.  I heard a distinct, exasperated "Tsk!" from behind the screen... just like that.  His counsel before absolution was along the line of "just let it go," meaning that the Church I loved was over and done with, and it was time for me to let go and move on with my life.

Intellectually, he was obviously right.  I think he was the one who surprised me by having me suggest the penance, and I don't remember what I said, but whatever he imposed I remember was trifling.

It never made any sense to me.  I was a Catholic who had come to the Church by way of the Manual of Prayers for the Catholic Laity my mother's boyfriend - the one she really loved - gave her in 1942 or so.  The changes imposed after the Vatican II council were bewildering.  It was well before the Internet, so there was no way to reach out and find others who were not cowed and resigned to the disassembly of the Catholic way of life.  There was one woman in our neighborhood who attended a traditional chapel, but she and those with her were talked about as if they were doing something immoral and unfaithful.

I couldn't believe that Jesus would take me into His Church, feed me with Himself, then let it all crumble.  But, by then, I'd had the love of my life leave me, weeping, for another young woman, and my father leave for another not-young woman, and neither of those women were anything like me, so I was used to being abandoned inexplicably.  Maybe that was the way of the world, after all, and maybe the Church that I loved was really gone.  (She survived for 1960-something years, but when I joined - poof! Heh.)  So maybe the Prots were right.  I set out to explore, always staying with Jesus wherever I could find Him.  And He stayed with me.

And now, after John Paul II, who raised my hopes somewhat, we have been given Benedict XVI.  If you had told me all those years ago that we would one day have a wise and dear Pope who would issue Summorum Pontificum, I would have laughed fondly as I would at a hopeful child telling stories to itself in the dark.  But then, if you had told me that I would one day be my dear one's wife, I would have laughed then, too. But here he is, sitting beside me.  Next week will be our first anniversary.  I still reach out and touch him, sometimes, just to reassure myself I'm not dreaming.

Sarai laughed, too.

God has a sense of humor.  And a plan.  He lets the devil roam and whisper and tell his lies and plant doubt in confused minds.  And yet I know - know - that angels walk the earth, and that when one of Jesus' redeemed calls out His name in faith that the devil retreats like a salted snail.

I regret that I did not have the courage to tough it out, that my faith failed its test.  But God has used the intervening years to humble and teach me.  I have a copy of the Baronius 1962 Missal.  There is a FSSP outpost 20 minutes away where Mass is offered in the Extraordinary Form daily.  In my diocese, the bishop is perfectly OK with that and even allows Catholics in any parish to register in the FSSP parish.   God does, truly, restore the years the locust has stolen.  If he can do this, he can do anything... even, if He wants, bring me back into Communion with Him.  In the meantime, He allows me to abide with Him, and He strengthens me.

22 November 2010

The (latest) controversy: a thought

Pope Benedict has been quoted in saying, as I understand it, that one male prostitute's use of condoms, to prevent another's infection (a charitable gesture, in other words) can be an indicator of a moral impulse... a desire to protect another from a loathsome, fatal disease.  This is obviously and objectively true, even though it happens in the context of mortal sin.  It is a flicker of goodness, showing the persistence of spiritual life, even amid the smothering morass of sinful behavior and attitudes.

The Pope is, in a sense, giving a hypothetical sinner the benefit of the doubt, and showing that there is always hope, even for the worst of sinners.

The "liberals" and "media" have always wanted so badly to portray the Holy Father as a mean, narrow-minded old coot.

Pope Benedict happens to love souls, the presence of which in some humans are more easily presumed present via theological conviction than by simple observation.

Do the "liberals" and "media" really understand that Pope Benedict XVI and many, many Catholics pray for them, daily?  Pray knowingly and humbly and devoutly, for the God- and/or Catholic-haters' salvation, and their eventual joy and security in the Lord?

"Any publicity is better than no publicity."  Whether or not people believe, or remember, or know anything about the Pope and the One he lives to serve, they are being reminded, and will gossip, and will discuss, and will read.  I predict God will use this latest flap for His sublime purposes.  Let's watch, and pray, and expect His plan to be revealed.

16 November 2010

The TSA flap


Iowahawk (1.)

Iowahawk (2.)

Byron York

My dear departed mother foresaw all of this years ago, back in the 70s, when we went through it with Carter... so at least it's not a surprise to me. {weak smile}

It will be interesting to see what the airlines and airports do after Thanksgiving, and a month or two of people deciding to drive.

I have a 1,500 mile trip coming up in a few weeks; I'm seriously considering taking the car.

O hai! back, k? thx

I've been thinking about posting, on and off, for months now. I guess today's the day!

My return to this blog is prompted by developments in my spiritual life.

Those who have previously favored this blog with a reading know my ambivalent feelings towards the Roman Catholic church.

Through the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, God has graciously allowed me to see a restoration of the Church to which I converted 40 years ago, right before "the changes" hit Southern California's Catholic churches.

I have stayed at arms' length for many, many years now. My faith has remained, of course (thank God!). I have delved deeply into the Scriptural studies of Christian denominations. I've learned a great deal, but, in every case, there is a hesitancy, if not outright refusal, to accept the implications of the Gospel of John and Jesus' plain words about His Body and Blood.

That has always bothered me. Other Christians' careful, sometimes extensive, explanations about why the literal words cannot possibly mean what they say is akin to - not the same as - the daily office reading in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer which excises certain verses in Romans 1.

Yesterday, I read a post on the Ignatius Insight blog which has done much to "reconvert" me. It's from an essay in the Homiletic & Pastoral Review, entitled Pope Benedict XVI, Theologian of the Bible. I found it to be a useful overview of how the repudiation of modernism by Pope Pius IX led to a kind of shuttering of the intellectual curiosity and inquiry which scholars should be expected to bring to their study of the Biblical texts, and the eventual reaction to that. In the Spirit of Vatican Two (/sarcasm) Catholic Bible scholars went the route of modern "engagement with the text," resulting in a deconstructionist and reductionist approach to Sacred Scripture. The Holy Father, ever the teacher, corrects this approach, encouraging keen scholarship while retaining the historic, traditional interpretation of the Bible, which is not just another "text" with which to "engage." For a Catholic, to "engage" with the Bible is to "engage" with God. Only by the most strenuous effort can one study the Bible "as literature," without encountering its Author. C.S. Lewis famously wrote, "Those who talk of reading the Bible 'as literature' sometimes mean, I think, reading it without attending to the main thing it is about; like reading Burke with no interest in politics, or reading the Aeneid with no interest in Rome..."

Anyway, I followed the link to the entire essay; I recommend you read it all.

As I read, I was struck once again by the conviction that the Roman Catholic Church, alone, has the reckless courage to read the whole Bible, including the Deuterocanonical books (sometimes called the Apocrypha), and take it seriously. This shows up in all sorts of ways that many find objectionable: marriage is forever; life is sacred and precious; and, of course, Jesus' body and blood are actually present in the elements, once consecrated according to the formula which He gave and clearly commanded, "Do this in memory of me."

I cannot do it on my own, but I want to become part of the Church again. Due to certain life arrangements made back in the day when I was persuaded by the local representatives of the Church that they really didn't want my type around any more, I cannot fully participate in the sacramental life. However, the events of my life over the last several years have convinced me that God can do whatever He jolly well pleases, and, if He wants me to come back home, He will arrange it. In the meantime, I can pray, and contemplate, and love, and, yes, read Scripture, and He is with me and all is well.

Will you pray for me as I take tentative steps back to my spiritual pasture?

07 April 2010

A new life

The Easter season is a time of new beginnings. For me, it was the time of my reception into the Church in 1971. I still keep a wary distance, but it is thrilling to see God's work!

The appointment of Cardinal Mahony's co-adjutor is a ray of light amid the general dreariness of the world, economy, etc. God bless Archbishop Gomez as he prepares for what one hopes he'll see as a challenging opportunity to Do Good For Souls.

As for me ... I'm in a new place, a new life, amid a new family. God has unfolded circumstances in my life in ways only He could, and in ways He would only if I trusted Him completely.

After many years, I'm catching on, a bit, I think.

I look forward to blogging here, if not at length, then at least more often.