Universalis, About this blog

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Obsession about fetal stem cell research

Medical researchers have urged Sydney University to reconsider making a deal with Australia's oldest Catholic college that will prevent foetal stem cell research at a new medical facility.

I don't know if they're referring to embryonic stem cells, which require harvesting of the cell linings of embryos by the 14th day, or if they truly mean fetal (as in fetus) stem cell research. Either way, it's still wrong, and the fact that embryonic stem cell research has so far netted zero successful treatments while adult stem cells have been used for 72 successful human treatments just makes the matter that much more unbelievable. God bless St. John's residential college on this deal, and God bless Sydney U.

From an atheist into a priest

Yes, another conversion story, and a very romantic one:

My beloved wife, Elisabeth, prayed incessantly for my return to the Catholic Faith. Daily for this intention, she accepted and offered up all her sacrifices, trials, sufferings, and at the end, even her death.

But she did this secretly.

She never argued with me; she never spoke to me of the supernatural side of her life, save by her example.

I have, since Elisabeth’s death, learned to appreciate the power of her silence. God heard the constant prayer it concealed, and, when her sacrifice was accomplished, completed the conversion that was begun in me by her influence and by my reading her diary, which I found after her death, and which I present to you here.

The Word of God

Over at Lito's blog, I posted the following in response to his blog piece, "Unity or Truth":

It also struck me as I was reading this post that minimizing Christianity to "the Word of God" reflects what is happening with Bible fundamentalists. In what way? Well if Jesus is the Word of God, and the Bible is the Word of God, then all we need is the Bible and we have Jesus.

Hence we do not need the sacraments.

To American Evangelicals, or perhaps moreso to the Calvinists, the sacraments are extra-Biblical. Not that they have no Biblical basis -- although they will say that, too, about the sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist -- but that they do not fit into this minimalist notion of "just the Bible and me" and nothing else.

Does that make sense?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Why do I blog about Christian (dis)unity?

Discussion between Lito and myself, which started with my post here about a former Calvinist (now Catholic), continues in this post. The latter post took off from Lito's points about what THE Church that Christ built means, and has now spilled over to the canon of the Old Testament.

I tend to shy away from debates because I am not worthy. I am neither a biblical scholar, nor a historian, nor am I even an exemplar of Christianity. But I started a blog, and I love posting conversion stories, and I have always felt drawn to the topics that divide Christians, which, to me, are a grave scandal and a terrible rejection of the Spirit of unity which the Lord infused into the Church 2000 years ago. I can never, ever, swallow the notion that disunity is something we have to live with, because the Lord was so explicit in his will for the unity of his flock, a unity which, he prays, mirrors the oneness of the Son and the Father in the Trinity. That oneness leaves no room for doctrinal contradictions and ambiguity.

And that is why I continue to blog about this.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Surfing around and found: the Early Church Fathers on the Church

More to share about the Church, found via Free Republic, from the early Church fathers, with quotes from St. Ignatius of Antioch (Letter to the Smyrneans 8:2 [A.D. 110]), St. Irenaeus (Against Heresies 1:10 [A.D. 189]), Tertullian (On the Prescription Against Heretics 22,30 [A.D.200]), St. Clement of Alexandria (Stromateis 6:13:107:2 [post-A.D. 202]), and others.

Surfing around, found Sean's faith website

It looks pretty good (Catholic, of course). Also found online transcriptions of St. Francis de Sales' pamphlets, "The Catholic Controversy", in which he dealt with questions of the Church, the Papacy, Scriptures, Purgatory, mission of the Church, and Faith and Reason. St. Francis de Sales, of course, is a doctor of the Church, well known for having written "The Introduction to the Devout Life". Well known also for having brought back a large part of Le Chablais, in Geneva, which was already a Calvinist territory, "by preaching, zeal, learning, kindness and holiness."
[Further reading: Catholic Encyclopedia entry on the blessed saint and doctor. The pamphlets transcribed in the link above are also must-reads.]

Friday, February 02, 2007

What is the Church?

There's an ongoing discussion in the comment boxes of this post. The dialog begins with Lito pointing out something wrong with the question posed by Jeremiah:

"Given my Calvinist distinctives, which church would have claimed me as one of their own?"

It all goes downhill from there. :-)

There is an obviously large difference between the Catholic understanding of "the Church" and that of Lutherans (and Evangelicals) -- Lito is a Lutheran. The Coming Home Network has an online journal with good contributions from various converts to Catholicism, which is a good place to start with regards to the Catholic position, in light of the authors' previously held non-Catholic perspectives.

And the thoughtful visitor may wish to join the discussion by leaving comments.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Would YOU officially affiliate your church with an excommunicated leader of his church?

Jan. 31, 2007 (CWNews.com) - The primate of the Greek Orthodox Church has criticized the Patriarchate of Constantinople for accepting the affiliation of Orthodox bodies which, in effect, compete with established Orthodox churches in other countries. Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens made his comments in response to the decision by the Constantinople patriarchate to welcome Bishop Basil Osborn, who had been the head of the Russian Orthodox Church in Great Britain. By accepting the affiliation of Bishop Basil-- who has been excommunicated by the Moscow patriarchate-- the Ecumenical Patriarchate is creating a “dangerous divisive situation,” the Greek archbishop said.

I am sympathetic to both camps. I understand the need for fraternity among Christians, even extended to those excommunicated, but on the other hand, what's the point of excommunication if it only results in a splinter church whose leader has not reconciled with the Church? Would he not lead his flock to ruin? At the same time, there is this practical problem that Christians outside the Catholic Church truly must deal with: in the absence of a single arbiter, how is excommunication of any use? Excommunication is not a consignment to hell, as people often mistake it to be, but a means of effecting repentance and reconciliation -- exactly as the Lord taught to those who go astray (Matthew 18). But excommunication is worth nothing without the concept of a bottom-level foundation for the authority to excommunicate. This authority was given, of course, to the Apostles, and the Orthodox patriarchs are certainly exercising their authority in the cited report. But what if it is a clash between patriarch and patriarch? Bishop and bishop? If an excommunicated bishop or patriarch were to up and take along with him his own flock, then who is the highest administrative arbiter?

Well, of course I was going to say the Successor of St. Peter, who was given the particular role of holding the keys of the kingdom in Matthew 16, for binding and loosing on earth as in Heaven! If not the Pope, then who else? If not anyone, then what's the point in the Lord even mentioning excommunication?

Trapped in the wrong body, or the wrong mindset?

Hats off to Uncle Di, who exposes the forces of political agendas against (gasp) Natural Law.

This is vile even by progressivist standards. German quacks started pumping a 12-year-old boy, now 14, full of female hormones so as to make him "the world's youngest transsexual." For legal reasons, castration and other surgical mutilation must be delayed until "Kim," born Tim, turns 18.

According to the Telegraph article:

Tim was diagnosed as a transsexual two years ago, when doctors and psychiatrists concluded that his claims to be "in the wrong body" were so deeply felt that he required treatment. The therapy involves artificially arresting male puberty, with a series of potent hormone injections before the administration of female hormones to initiate the development of features such as breasts.

Says Uncle Di:

Progressivist intellectuals such as deans and editors and high court judges see the indefensible puerility of a phrase like "trapped in the wrong body" as clearly as we do. But they tolerate it -- and, at need, defend the mutilation it purports to justify -- as the price of deflecting the force of Natural Law reasoning, which, if permitted to direct their deliberation and choice, would mean they'd have to forfeit altogether the project of protean sexuality (self-created, free-form, non-judgmental sexual liberty) which is the keystone of their public philosophy. Such a forfeiture is unthinkable. Sooner than put that project at risk, they're willing to put up with incoherence and cruelty.

The political alliance between abortion rights and gay rights absolutists bears this out. Gays claim that unitary human nature is a fiction and that the individual has absolute dominion over his own trajectory. Why? Because it allows them total liberty of sexual indulgence. Abortion partisans claim that a woman has absolute dominion over her own body. Why? Because it allows them total liberty of sexual indulgence as well as the liberty to disencumber themselves of the undesired consequences of that indulgence. Robert Bork points out that an absolute right over one's body was not recognized by law (the law didn't permit a surgeon, he says, to amputate a man's healthy arm even if he asks him to -- say, to settle a bet), but there's no question today that judges will pretend it's absolute wherever the project of moral self-determination -- what Scalia calls "the sweet mystery of life" jurisprudence -- is imperilled.

The excision of a healthy baby, like that of a healthy limb, is of a piece with the decision to addle a 12-year-old boy with estrogen on the basis of the politically expedient imbecillity that he's "trapped" in the wrong body. It has nothing to do with physiology and everything to do with Elton John's habits of oral hygiene -- which habits the Western élites have made the touchstone of public thought about civil order. If a few innocent Tims get Kim'd in the process -- well folks, we've already put orphans out to ranch in gay households and ash-canned tens of millions of unborn babies as surgical waste. It's the price of progress.