Sunday, September 20, 2009

A "Great Apostasy" Negates the NT Canon

To justify their separation from the Catholic Church, Protestants require a theory of "Great Apostasy". This is the idea that the Christian Church vanished from the earth shortly after the death of the last Apostle, leaving us with only the Scriptures as our guide.

But as Devin Rose points out: the Great Apostasy "solves" one problem while introducing another. How can we have any confidence that the "apostate" 4th-century church successfully identified the 27 books of the New Testament without omitting inspired works or introducing spurious texts?

As far as I can tell, Mormon author James E Talmage doesn't answer this question in his 1909 work entitled "The Great Apostasy", and yet Mormons also accept the New Testament canon of the Catholic Church. His Scriptural "proofs" appear in pages 24-38 and only the last couple proofs come from the Book of Mormon.

Prayer With I-Thou Awareness, Obama, and Ad Orientum

Erin and I have been studying a pamphlet entitled "Lectio Divina: And the Practice of Tersian Prayer".

I think my favorite concept from the pamphlet is the idea of being aware that you are speaking and to whom you are speaking. That is, being actively aware of yourself and aware of God to whom you are speaking. It's an exercise of attention, an exercise of awareness, that is absolutely necessary in the mind of Teresa. Teresa goes so far to say that prayer lacking this kind of I-Thou awareness is "gibberish".

I think I've prayed my fair share of this "gibberish".

I wonder what Teresa of Avila would have to say about Obama's self revelation of his prayer life in this beliefnet interview he gave prior to being elected president.

Do you pray often?

Uh, yeah, I guess I do.

Its' not formal, me getting on my knees. I think I have an ongoing conversation with God. I think throughout the day, I'm constantly asking myself questions about what I'm doing, why am I doing it.

(No, that's not some isolated gem, some slip of the tongue. The interview is equally kooky throughout.)

This I-Thou attention, this awareness of self and other that Teresa is calling for seems quite natural in Ad Orientum worship, but rather strained with the celebrating priest facing me. I find myself intentionally avoiding his gaze, looking at the crucifix or the tabernacle.

I really wish my parish was equipped to celebrate the Tridentine Mass, but very often a good thing not to get things exactly your way.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Delicious Quotes From Augustine's "On Christian Doctrine"

I love the fact that I can go to and read things like St. Augustine's "On Christian Doctrine". The best things in life are indeed free.

I think the Fathers are a fascinating glimpse into the early church. Often, the topics they find worthy of attention seem somewhat alien to our 21st century. At other times, the Father could be mistaken for writing in our own time. The following two quotations from the preface belong to the second category.
But now as to those who talk vauntingly of Divine Grace, and boast that they understand and can explain Scripture without the aid of such directions as those I now propose to lay down, and who think, therefore, that what I have undertaken to write is entirely superfluous. I would such persons could calm themselves so far as to remember that, however justly they may rejoice in God's great gift, yet it was from human teachers they themselves learned to read.
Oh, how often I have conversations in which people entirely dismiss the value of any systematic, calculated approach to interpretation of the Scriptures!
In the last place, every one who boasts that he, through divine illumination, understands the obscurities of Scripture, though not instructed in any rules of interpretation, at the same time believes, and rightly believes, that this power is not his own, in the sense of originating with himself, but is the gift of God. For so he seeks God's glory, not his own. But reading and understanding, as he does, without the aid of any human interpreter, why does he himself undertake to interpret for others?
Excellent question!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

PP Implies Fertility and Pregnancy are Diseases

I enjoy a dry martini after work.

Six parts gin, one part vermouth, two olives. The therapeutic effects are readily apparent. Therefore, I conclude, health-care reform should include the use of public funds to keeping my freezer/refrigerator stocked with gin, vermouth, and olives (and toothpicks---can't forget the toothpicks).

Sound ridiculous? Absolutely. But the the argument for subsidizing my martinis is far stronger than Planned Parenthood's argument for subsidizing contraception and abortion. The reason: my martinis address an actual disorder.

Planned Parenthood claims that contraception and abortion are "health care".
By implication, Planned Parenthood is also claiming that fertility, pregnancy, and developing human beings are diseases. Fertility, pregnancy, and developing human beings are not diseases, therefore contraception and abortion are not "health care".