Recent News

Trust

I came across an advertisement for a financial institution recently that, sad to say, displayed more wisdom than we usually find today among many people, including many Catholics: “Trust is binary. Either you have it or you don’t.”

A bold statement these days, by anyone. For the politically correct, “binary” distinctions are not only stupid and simplistic but hate-filled – most notably as in “male and female He created them.”  There are even “Catholic” theologians who argue that such binaries are a mere glitch in our brains.

Cdl. O’Malley: serious about restoring trust

 

Forget that itinerant Palestinian preacher who said, “let your ‘yes’ be yes and your ‘no’ be no.” We’re much taken just now with gray areas, our superior moral awareness to previous ages, recent changes in public understanding, stylish deliverances of “conscience.”

But that is going to change now, if only because it must. Revelations about the Church leadership in several countries and in the Vatican itself have led us to the point that we wonder whether we can still trust what our own religious leaders say and do. To judge by what I hear from Catholic leaders and lay people, our bishops need to wake up to the sheer magnitude and intensity of the anger out there. Fast.

 

Click here to read the rest of Dr. Royal’s column at The Catholic Thing . . .

Home Free

In an April 2nd column I wrote about my pending “battle” with cancer. I wrote then that I didn’t consider myself engaged in conflict against the disease:

If I had sorcerers instead of physicians, and if those wizards could conjure and embody cancer to stand before me, fists raised, then I’d fight – if that were the way to a cure. But I’m simply cooperating with the protocols. And may God’s will be done.

A couple of weeks later I was saying, “There’s nothing like being treated for cancer to finally make you feel sick.”

Before chemotherapy and radiation began on March 19, I hadn’t felt the least bit sick. But after seven Monday sessions of chemo and thirty (Monday thru Friday) sessions of radiation, I was sicker than I’d ever felt in all my 70 years: worse than the worst flu I’d ever had; worse even than the bad reaction I had when I got both cholera and smallpox vaccinations before an ill-fated trip to Asia in 1969.

But being “cured” of cancer is a tricky business because the disease has a way of “hiding,” which word I put between quotation marks because cancer has no conscious agency. It’s a dumb thing, although it’s not wrong to say it continues to stump some of the best scientists on earth.

 

Click here to read the rest of Mr. Miner’s column at The Catholic Thing . . .

More Fiddling While the House is Burning

Last week, a highly influential Italian magazine, Famiglia Cristiana, put on its cover Matteo Salvini, the head of one of the two major parties now jointly running the Italian government. Both parties – one Right, the other Left (actually a vaguely anarchic creation of comedian Beppe Grillo) – advocate sharp controls on illegal immigration. As do the majority of Italians and people in other European countries where illegal immigration has become overwhelming. For that, Salvini – a professed Catholic – was compared to Satan in a blaring headline: “Get behind me, Salvini!”

This is neither a personal nor an ideological attack, says the cover: “It’s a question of the Gospel.”

One may be forgiven for thinking, rather, it’s a question of profound unseriousness on the part of a Catholic magazine that ought to know better, the very same unseriousness that continues to distract large parts of the Church from something diabolically serious – and contrary to the Gospel – just now.

Like other political questions, immigrants and refugees present a serious issue, on which several different Christian approaches are perfectly compatible with the Gospel. You may, as Pope Francis has done, argue that we have an obligation to accept as many refugees as we can, prudently (his word).

 

Click here to read the rest of Dr. Royal’s column at The Catholic Thing . . .

For the Sake of the Church

A prediction: The McCarrick revelations will turn out to be a good thing. How so? Well, a part of the priest sex-abuse fairy tale is the cover-up.  We know this – and that the cover-up always magnifies the crime.

When a good priest has discovered the homosexual sins of a bad priest (let alone of a bishop), and if that good priest has gone to his pastor or to a bishop (let alone an archbishop), it’s likely that he will hear a version of this:

Thank you, Father. We must do something about this, and we will! But, for the sake of the Church, you must tell no one else. The media will pounce on such a story to discredit Catholicism itself. You’re brave to come forward. But I wouldn’t want you to risk your career by becoming the focus of an ongoing and sensational investigation.

That’s a high hurdle to jump in a Church that values hierarchy and discipline. But my prediction is that a great many priests who know of homosexual (and instances, too, of heterosexual) sins by priests (let alone bishops) will now begin to come forward.

I hope they will – every last one of them. Because the drip, drip, drip of scandal is really hurting the Church. If there’s a levee that needs bursting, we should welcome that: a torrent to cleanse the swamp.

 

Click here to read the rest of Mr. Miner’s column at The Catholic Thing . . .

Fiddling While America – and Rome – Burn?

The famous political philosopher Leo Strauss is reported to have once said that modern political theorists are worse than the ancient Roman emperor Nero. Because contrary to the old saying, they know neither that they are fiddling nor that Rome is burning.

The U.S. bishops held their annual June meeting in Fort Lauderdale a few weeks ago and, to judge from reports, largely spent their time together discussing current politics and changes to a voters’ guide for the Fall midterm elections.

In Rome, just last week, Fr. Antonio Spadaro S.J., editor of the semi-official Vatican publication La Civiltà Cattolica, along with Marcelo Figueroa, a Presbyterian chosen by Pope Francis personally to be editor of the Argentinean edition of L’Osservatore Romano, released another long essay attacking an American religious phenomenon: “The Prosperity Gospel: Dangerous and Different.”

Unlike their previous effort, which argued that collaboration between conservative evangelicals and Catholics was an “ecumenism of hate,” this article drew little attention. Which is no surprise.

Though peddlers of the prosperity gospel have connections to President Trump – who seems to be the real target of the essay – few familiar with religion in the United States would regard that slice of our varied faith groups as particularly prominent. In fact, among most religious people, both Left and Right, it’s regarded as a kind of eccentric Christian sect.

Click here to read the rest of Dr. Royal’s column at The Catholic Thing . . .

Source and Summit: Bishop Barron’s “The Mass”

It has been seven years since the release of then Father Robert Barron’s Catholicism, which I reviewed at the time, calling the DVD series “the most vivid catechism ever created.”

In the time between then and now, Robert Barron has gone from being rector of Mundelein Seminary in Chicago to the episcopacy as auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles. But he has continued the Word on Fire apostolate that has brought him much-deserved acclaim.

His new video production, The Mass, is considerably less visually vivid than Catholicism because it lacks the sweep of worldwide location shooting that made that earlier series truly “a Journey into the Heart of the Faith.”

The Mass is a long lecture filmed in one day last October at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church in Santa Barbara, California. Bishop Barron stands at a lectern and holds forth, and he does so brilliantly. There are six segments of about twenty-five minutes each, meaning the bishop spoke for at least 2-1/2 hours that day. If he stopped at several points to take sips of water, those moments ended up on the cutting-room floor.

Click here to read the rest of Mr. Miner’s column at The Catholic Thing . . .

Noli Impedire Musicam

Lenin – who gave the world the socialist murder machine formerly known as the Soviet Union – loved music when he was in exile. Once he returned to Russia, to spark the Bolshevik Revolution, he said he couldn’t much listen to music anymore: “It affects your nerves, makes you want to say stupid nice things and stroke the heads of people who could create such beauty while living in this vile hell.”

There was, is, and always will be a kind of radical Lover of Mankind who will sacrifice saying “stupid nice things” and even actual living people to some harebrained scheme that makes our fallen world still more vile. But there’s a lesson here, even for us in well-off, tolerant-to-a-fault societies, who may be tempted to think that our whole lives should be consumed by cultural, political, or spiritual wars.

People in a position like mine may be especially susceptible to this temptation, which is why active measures, in a different key, are necessary. I myself try to play the piano at least a half-hour every morning because it reminds me – if not necessarily people in the house who have to listen – that God’s Creation is a harmony, a discordant harmony to be sure, but a definite concord of creatures, not perpetual warfare.

Many people send me books, good books, about our current turmoil. I appreciate these, but as someone always engaged in heavy reading for several book-writing projects of my own, often can’t get to them or even acknowledge the favor. But a generous TCT supporter gave me a book at dinner this week that has captured my attention: Spiritual Lives of the Great Composers by Patrick Kavanaugh, a conductor who is also director of the Christian Performing Arts Fellowship.

 

Click here to read the rest of Dr. Royal’s column at The Catholic Thing . . .

Portia’s Suitors: a Review of ABC’s “The Proposal”

My wife and I met in the Seventies; we worked at the same publishing company and dated for far too long. Then I came to my senses, and we were married on April 29, 1984.

Watching three episodes of ABC-TV’s “The Proposal” occasions this remembrance. A woman (or man) looking for a spouse sits in a kind of isolation booth (as it was known on the old “The $64,000 Question,” but here called the “Pod”) and listens to ten suitors serially make the case for why he (or she) would be the perfect spouse. In successive rounds, ten contestants vie for “love” until the last two suitors make final pleas, now face-to-face with Pod Person.

It’s not exactly The Merchant of Venice with Portia judging the Princes of Aragon and Morocco, plus Bassanio and another. The Washington Post called “The Proposal” the “guiltiest of guilty pleasures.” If that’s true for you, for shame!

Host Jesse Palmer promises that this “has never before been attempted on television” and that the contestants have been vetted by a “blue-ribbon panel of matchmakers.”

Click here to read the rest of Mr. Miner’s column at The Catholic Thing . . .

The Unobserved Anti-Christian Bias

When we think about the persecution of Christians at the present moment, what comes to mind for most of us are places like China, the Middle East, or pariah states like North Korea, Venezuela, or Cuba. These situations are occasionally noticed but not exactly well publicized in the secular media. We mostly have to rely on religious outlets, Catholic and Protestant, to do the heavy lifting of keeping us informed about the plight of fellow believers in the modern world.

But there’s a whole other dimension of threats against Christians that goes almost unnoticed. We know of the pressures that churches and religious organizations – and even single believers like florists and bakers – come under these days in America when they resist attempts by State or Federal agencies to impose the new sexual ethos, or to enforce rules on alleged “hate speech” or bias on believers.

The Supreme Court has so far been fairly good at protecting religious liberty. And if President Trump – as is highly likely – appoints another justice (or two?) to the Court, sensitive to Constitutional protections of religion, we may have at least some long-term shelter from the constant anti-Christian drumbeat in the universities, media, and Hollywood.

I’ve been aware for years of similar problems in Europe, where there are generally not the same kind of First Amendment protections or judicial recourse. But I had no real idea of the extent of the problems there – I think almost no one does – though we now have a very useful tool to take its measure.

Click here to read the rest of Dr. Royal’s column at The Catholic Thing . . .

Two Nations, Revisited

Almost two decades before J. D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy, and 15 years before Charles Murray’s Coming Apart, James Q. Wilson, one of the most eminent social scientists of the 20th century, identified the root of America’s fracturing in the dissolution of the family. Wilson, professor of government at Harvard, professor emeritus at UCLA, and a former head of the American Political Science Association, received the American Enterprise Institute’s 1997 Francis Boyer Award at the think tank’s annual dinner. He used the opportunity to introduce a new line of sociological argument: what he called “the two nations” of America.

The image of “two nations,” Wilson explained, harked back to an 1845 novel by Benjamin Disraeli, the future prime minister of Great Britain. These were the separate, non-intersecting worlds of rich and poor. Between these two nations Disraeli described, there was “no intercourse and no sympathy” — they were “as ignorant of each other’s habits, thoughts, and feelings, as if they were…inhabitants of different planets.”

More than a century and a half later, Wilson argued, the United States had also become “two nations,” but the dividing line was no longer one of income or social class. Instead, it had become all about the family — specifically, whether one hailed from a broken or intact home.

Click here to read the rest of Mrs. Eberstadt’s column at National Affairs . . .