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Monday, February 23, 2009

Tolerance ain't Love: not even close

Ms. Juliette Hughes makes a big opinion splash out of the mess in St. Mary's Brisbane parish. It's a rather judgmental piece, which is ironic, and it's also loose with facts, which is.. well.. perhaps standard fare for too many writers when the topic is religion. Her piece revealed too many misconceptions about the Catholic faith, and I sincerely pray for her and her parish priest and/or bishop. They should get together and clarify some rather pressing issues. Foremost of these was the disastrous confusion between love and tolerance.

Tolerance is a postmodern buzz-word. It falls horribly short as a noble cause. Tolerance is about "live and let live". It makes rubbish of responsibility (there is no sense of it) while allowing everyone to feel good about themselves. Love goes much further. Love means accepting an appropriate amount of responsibility. Love means caring beyond the feelings of the loved one. Otherwise, the latter may feel wonderful about their lives while harming themselves in various ways. Leaving them in such a state is not love. Encouraging them to remain in that state is not love. What Ms. Hughes should really be considering are the Catholicism's claims in the case of St. Mary's. She does not sound interested. She dismisses the bishop's views with one short quote.

She prefers tolerance to love. But rejecting love in favor of tolerance rejects so much more: sin (the absence of which accounts for why tolerance must be infinite), forgiveness (since there is no forgiveness if there is no such thing as sin), correction (nothing to correct, eh?), healing (what's to heal if everything is fine?), salvation (if there is no sin, what is there to save us from?). No, ma'am, tolerance ain't love. Ask any parent and they'll tell you. If they've ever had to compel their child away from something clearly harmful, which their child did not understand as being so, they'll tell you: their children deserve love, not tolerance.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Population control and children as burdens: Japan may exhibit the logical conclusion

Startling firsthand account and statistics from Michael Thomas Cibenko in this New Oxford article about Japan's population implosion: http://www.newoxfordreview.org/article.jsp?did=0209-cibenko

"The starkest example I encountered was an elementary school that had been built for a student population of at least one hundred. There were several full-size classrooms, a large gymnasium, library, playground, swimming pool, and parking lot. But I was astounded to discover on my first visit that there was only one student. One student with one teacher."


"I later attended an autumn festival in my village at which elders traditionally take turns calling out the names of babies born that year. But that portion of the festival was very short and somewhat awkward, as there were dozens of senior citizens but only three names to be called."


".. I witnessed the bizarre sight of elderly women cuddling robotic dolls. It was explained to me that women buy these expensive dolls because they have no grandchildren to dote on. The dolls, which apparently sell in huge quantities, tell their owners how much they love them, and welcome them when they walk back into the room."


"In 1950 there were approximately twenty-eight births for every thousand people in the population; in 2007 that number was only eight births per thousand. When one pauses even briefly to consider it, the difference is staggering. It is also interesting to note that the average number of children per Japanese family today is, low and behold, one -- the same as in China. The difference being that in China it's by state mandate; in Japan it's by choice."


"Japan's population peaked in 2005, and will plunge from its current 127 million to just 89 million in 2050 -- a decline of 30 percent. In terms of median age, Japan is currently the oldest nation on earth. The median age in Japan today is 43 years old, which, from the data I've read, is twice the age of many African nations. Japan will continue to hold this title through the year 2050, when the average age in Japan is projected to be 61 years old."


"An increasing number of Japanese leaders are looking for the "easy way out" of the dilemma of over-aging, as evidenced by the Japanese Association of Acute Medicine's 2007 recommendation to allow euthanasia for the terminally ill."


"... in 2007, the government soberly noted that the number of children in Japan has declined for the twenty-sixth consecutive year. Over the past decade more than two thousand junior and senior high schools have closed due to lack of children. Many of these have been converted into homes for the elderly. ... more and more Japanese pediatricians are switching to geriatric medicine."


"One recent poll revealed that a staggering 70 percent of young Japanese single women say they have no intention of getting married, many of them stating that babies are simply "too much trouble.""


".. the only real solution to the plague of depopulation is also rooted in another, yet altogether different, aspect of Western culture, that of Christianity. What Japan really needs to experience is a radical rekindling of the love of God, and as a consequence, love of children."

Monday, February 16, 2009

Power in Sacraments

My niece, who is leaning towards Evangelical Protestantism these days, asked me earlier if I had heard of "Power in Praise", which appears to be this particular book. No objections to the power of praise, and I've been to pentecostal services too (both Evangelical and Catholic). I'm not a great big fan, but I don't mind, assuming it doesn't stand to replace what Christ never meant to be replaced. I'm talking about sacraments.

Such as the sacrament of reconciliation. As the Holy Father explains, it is a restoration of our communion with the Father. We were indeed washed, justified and sanctified in baptism, a sacrament which St. Peter declares saves us, but as we journey through life, we dally with sin on occasion. St. Peter cites the example of someone who once again takes up his vomit. But Christ is the healer, and as he declares to the leper, "of course I want you to be clean". He goes beyond declaring us clean though. He stretches out his arm, touches us, and makes us clean.

Physical. Sacramental. Not because the priest is holy, but because Christ is holy.

And don't get me started on the Eucharist. On second thought, please do. The source and summit of our faith indeed, the Eucharist. Unless we eat of the flesh and blood, meat indeed and drink indeed, then we have no life in us (John 6). Physical. Sacramental. Not because the bread is yummy, or the wine makes us feel good, or that the worship service has great praise and worship music. No, it's because Christ declared it so. His body. His blood. We can't really understand it completely, and it isn't obvious. We might regard it with complete skepticism (or cynicism) as did the Pharisees when they beheld the poor, unknown carpenter from Nazareth. Nothing spectacular to look at. No bells and whistles. As plain as ordinary bread. And that's enough Truth for me.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Rosary Reflections; the agony in the garden

Mantegna's Agony in the Garden, Musée du Louvre, Paris Prolixius, I think I read from St. Josemaria Escriva's book on the Rosary. The Lord was kneeling, and in a "bitter agony." In the mp3 I use as a prayer aid, Mother Angelica invites people to "agonize with Him for souls!" It was perhaps a month ago when I realized just how remiss I was with this: to have grave concern for the salvation of others. My family. My friends. How often do I pray for them? How often do I offer assistance? Encouragement? Advice? Not that I want to be pushy, but neither can I afford to shrug off any responsibility and say "live and let live." And then it hit me: the postmodern culture we have is often about that. Along with "whatever floats your boat" or "if it makes you happy." The unfortunate corollary is then a tendency towards individualism.

And yet there is the Lord in the garden, taking on the sin of the world, so that all may be made anew. The awesome responsibility unfolds before him, one that he embraces completely, as so he does also with the cost, which he should not have to bear. Who is he doing this for? Me. In my sins. But largely unasked and unappreciated, he accepts the yoke. In agony, but committed.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Prayers for Michael Dubruiel..

.., evangelist and writer, and husband of blogger/writer Amy Welborn. He collapsed at the gym and could not be revived. I've only read one piece of Michael's, and it was good and very insightful. Our Sunday Visitor posted this tribute to Michael on their blog.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Blogging around the Net on Humanae Vitae Issues

Some interesting snippets I found tonight:

  "We are told to have sex any time we feel the urge. Condoms are handed out in grade schools. Promiscuity is not only condoned, it’s tacitly encouraged ... But if you should get pregnant and it’s just not a ‘convenient’ time for you, don’t worry, there are Family Planning Services. ... That inconvenient fetus can be surgically ripped from its uterine moorings, ground up and tossed into the trash like so much garbage.

"Problem solved, and the mother can resume her egocentric lifestyle. But the scars on that woman’s soul will never quite heal. I’m a man, but I’ve got them on mine."

Responding to those who call for abortion to be "legal but rare," Graham asked, "Why rare?

"What’s wrong with abortion, that you think it should be a rare occurrence? I’ve had moles removed from my skin. Doctors don’t tell us that a mole removal should be rare. So what’s with this ‘rare’ business? Or is it a tacit agreement that abortion … is plain wrong?
 -- Actor Gary Graham rejecting abortion
  Djerassi, a chemist, novelist and playwright, said that in most of Europe there was now “no connection at all between sexuality and reproduction” he said, “This divide in Catholic Austria, a country which has on average 1.4 children per family, is now complete.”
 -- Dr. Djerassi comments on low birth rates in Austria.
(Note the MercatorNet article posted an update where Dr. Djerassi clarifies errors in previous reports.)

I must say I found the comments in the last link somewhat bizarre, for the most part. They range from despair to cold materialism, with a smattering of environmental extremism thrown in.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

SSPX Bishop Williamson

As Fr. Z says, he mans up with an apology about his "imprudent comments" about the Holocaust. Insightful enough to be politically sensible, I guess, but I doubt that people would ever let him get away with it anyway. But I have to say that, while the media furor was understandable, I thought it was a teaching moment, too. The bishop was ordained in schism, after all. Lifting the excommunication was because the schism was deemed to be over. The bishop's historical perspectives and actions in publicizing them are obviously wrong, and, yeah, he should be sorted out on those. But I don't want to see excommunication being the blunt instrument used against political, historical, social and various other commentaries, even horribly wrong ones. Perhaps some other disciplinary action to keep him from offending again?

In any case, Israeli Jews seem to understand that Bishop Williamson is (very) wrong and the pope is rejecting his Holocaust views and commentaries.