Thursday, December 08, 2011

Which one ought to raise Elijah?

Whatever you think of Michelle Bachmann, she didn't deserve this underhanded "gotcha" at one of her book signings, perpetrated by a gay parent using her 8-year-old son as a tool:

Read about the incident here, and then tell me: in whose household would 8-year-old Elijah be raised better -- his manipulative mother's, or Michelle Bachmann's? If you need help, look at the big effort Ms. Bachmann makes to get close enough to Elijah to hear his tiny voice, and the patient, motherly expression on her face before the trap is sprung. Then examine the gloating that Elijah's mom indulges in, when she posts her video at HuffPo (link at site above).

Well, THAT's a relief!

To the question of whether Advent is a penitential season, one Fr. Reginald Martin in Our Sunday Visitor offers this answer:
The violet-colored vestments worn during Advent may give an impression that the days before Christmas, like those of Lent, are a time of penance. In fact, they are a time of anticipation and preparation. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “the liturgy of Advent each year … makes present this ancient expectation of the Messiah” (No. 524), and the subdued colors of the season symbolize the darkness we must endure as we await the light and warmth that Jesus’s birth will bring into the world.
During Advent we do not use the Gloria at Mass, and this, too, may seem penitential. However, the Gloria is the hymn the angels sang to announce the birth of Jesus, so we simply lay it aside until we celebrate Christ’s birth at Christmas. In the meantime, however, we continue to sing the Alleluia.
The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) mentions that Advent should be marked by a moderation suited to the character of the season without expressing prematurely the full joy of the Nativity of the Lord. This is an excellent summary of our belief: the happiness and joy of Christmas are not fully realized, so we observe the days of Advent with moderation and sobriety.

Moderation and sobriety? You mean like buying the 8' tree instead of the 10' one, and not getting too hammered at the office Christmas Holiday Party?

Fr. Martin seems to imply that hearing an overall theme of repenting for our sins would be bad for us, and would get in the way of preparing ourselves for the Incarnation. I admit that he could be right -- if the big problem in the Church today was an excess of penitence. If, say, Catholics were mobbing the confessionals like a Black Friday sale at Walmart, and drowning out the Mass every Sunday with uncontrollable wails of sorrow.
But of course our real problem is exactly the opposite. We're altogether way too satisfied with ourselves, way too confident that whatever we do in life, heck, we deserve forgiveness and the joys of Heaven when we die.

And for forty years, most of our clergy have been encouraging us to stay smug and put repentance aside. Guys, that's not what we need. Tell us how repentance fits into the task of preparation for Christmas. Don't pretend it doesn't have a role to play. 

Monday, December 05, 2011

Michael Crichton hits the mark

At the end of his 2004 novel about deadly games played to advance the cause of global warming alarm, State of Fear, the late Michael Crichton provided a very interesting appendix, titled "Why Politicized Science is Dangerous." He first described two 20th-century instances of such science: eugenics (wildly popular among European and U.S. intellectuals until World War II ended), and Lysenko's pseudo-genetic scam in Soviet Russia (avidly pushed by Stalin, with disastrous results).

Then he made these unsettling points about global warming / climate change:

Now we are engaged in a great new theory, that once again has drawn the support of politicians, scientists, and celebrities around the world. Once again, the theory is promoted by major foundations. Once again, the research is carried out at prestigious universities. Once again, legislation is passed and social programs are urged in its name. Once again, critics are few and harshly dealt with.

Once again, the measures being urged have little basis in fact or science. Once again, groups with other agendas are hiding behind a movement that appears high-minded. Once again, claims of moral superiority are used to justify extreme actions. Once again, the fact that some people are hurt is shrugged off because an abstract cause is said to be greater than any human consequences. Once again, terms like sustainability and generational justice -- terms that have no agreed definition -- are employed in the service of a new crisis. ...

And I would add one more thought: once again, we are pushed toward abandoning more control over our lives to an ever-more-powerful government. And power's the real stake in this game -- and the earlier ones, too.

You can always get them back

How perennial sin is! The more history I read, the more it seems that there's hardly any evil in our modern world that the Church hasn't had to tackle many times already, in its past.

One of the most telling moments in C. S. Lewis' Narnia books comes in Prince Caspian, when a ghostly old woman hears the Narnians refer to the White Witch, who appeared to have been killed at the end of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. She scoffs: "[W]ho ever heard of a witch that really died? You can always get them back."

And we do.