Thursday, October 30, 2014

Farewell to Reality

Denyse O'Leary writes here about a book, Farewell to Reality, a critique of modern science. Her article addresses the waste of time known as String Theory and its bastard child The Multiverse. Those theories may be flops as science, but they are superstars for atheism. Everybody recognizes that our Goldilocks "just right" universe has astronomical odds against it. However, if you spread those chances around an infinity of 'verses in The Multiverse, you no longer have to have nightmares about a Creator who may care what kind of existence you lead.

We're constantly assured that we would believe in the Multiverse, too, if we could "only understand the math." The trouble is, real scientists who can understand the math are saying it's a crock and science should get back to figuring out real stuff instead of chasing imaginary philosophical rabbits.

It occurs to the Bear that Farewell to Realty might just as well be said about the rest of the world. What actually is, is less important than what people say it is.

For example, there is no amount of murder that could be committed by Muslims in the name of Islam that would cause the "Islam is a religion of peace" refrain to falter. To use a less bloody example, no amount of dialogue will ever be enough to accomplish whatever it is dialogue is supposed to be accomplishing. (The Bear believes the goal is actually dialogue.)

In our own Church, we are seeing that the battle is no longer over dogma. Dogma is in dusty old copies of Denzinger that nobody reads anymore. What is, isn't important. Now it's all about impressions, the buzz. Create enough extra-dogmatical buzz, and anything's possible.

It's really a very neat trick.

I prefer the buzz of bees.
The buzz factor is the reason why it matters what Pope Francis says, and why it matters what we say. Take the Synod. Certainly, the Farewell to Reality side didn't win outright. But they marched out as far as they were able and hammered in their stakes, marking the boundaries of the new consensus that will be growing in the coming year.

To the extent there remains any reality aside from the brute laws of nature, consensus is the only thing that matters. And consensus follows buzz. This is why the Bear feels obligated to contribute to the counter-buzz. If the woodlands are a bit darker these days than they were in the past, that is unfortunate, but not all days are sunny. Perhaps it is easy to forget the moments of humor and fun (at least fun for the Bear) we still enjoy here in Zoar.

The Bear truly hates to disappoint or alienate his readership. Heck someone with the on-line Catholic clout of Michael Voris can't keep his audience happy, so what chance does a poor old bear? Things were easier when all he had to do was ride a bicycle around the ring or drink a bottle of Coca-Cola. Times change.

Physicists playing cat's cradle with String Theory, politicians praising the peacefulness of Islam, and prelates contradicting Christ about marriage. The Bear doesn't see much difference. They all demonstrate how the West, at least, is saying Farewell to Reality. Perhaps one day soon, we will meet a reality that is more insistent than these.

The Bear wonders what we will do then.

May the Force Be With You

It's in the Bible!

More than half of Evangelicals believe the Holy Spirit is "a force," according to a poll conducted by LifeWay Research.

And this, kids, is why we need a rock solid magisterium, and what happens when people depart from the Holy Catholic Church. The Bear believes people have no idea just how different Protestantism is from Catholicism.

If an intelligent Catholic is puzzled by something, she will consult what the Church teaches, and perhaps inquire of some of the greatest minds in Christian history, or maybe ask Father.

Yeah, they got hair, too.
A Protestant will open his Bible and try to figure it out on his own, or, possibly, "ask Pastor." (There is also Beth Moore's latest book.) You see, one's personal interpretation of the Bible (or, rather, the part Protestants retained) is the first and final authority. They are a religion of the book, like Muslims.

Catholicism is a religion of the Church. The Bible is honored as inerrant (by some more than others) but is always interpreted within the protective hedge of the magisterium.

Protestant = Book. Catholicism = Church. There are huge implications to this simple contrast.

Nonetheless, the more we can accommodate these people and adopt their methods and beliefs, the happier most in the Church leadership are. The question is, why?

Pope Makes Headlines by Saying Something

The Bear will be busy doing autumn chores like sleeping and eating pot roast. Therefore he is pre-writing his blog for the next day or two:

(Rome) Pope Francis today uttered a bourgeois commonplace that sent shock waves through the Catholic Church.

A typical reaction was that of thirty-two year old Catholic mom Mary Summerville, of Brook Lawn, Massachusetts. "I just love this Pope. I can't remember a pope who, like, said stuff."

Of course, not everyone was happy with the Pope's comments. "He's reckless," charged Michael Wentworth, who writes a conservative Catholic blog called "Burn In Hell Forever, O Damned." "We get statement after statement, but there's never any theological context. Does he have an agenda?  Or is he just a guy who likes going around saying stuff like the stuff he said?"

Sources close to the Vatican say Pope Francis plans on saying something again over the next few days that will cause similar reactions among the same groups.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Descent Into Hell

The Bear thinks he mentioned he is reading Charles Williams' 1937 novel Descent Into Hell.

It is a challenging book, but one of the scariest the Bear has read. It is about the small ways people send themselves to Hell.

One character is a military historian who has had a scholarly feud with a peer over the position of some troops in a single battle during the War of the Roses. It means nothing, really, except that his position is his, and the other historian's position isn't.

On one particularly disappointing day, the scholarly gentleman opens the newspaper to see that his rival has received a knighthood! Just at that moment, he could have rejoiced in his friend's good fortune. At the very least, if he couldn't manage that, he could have willed the intention of joy. That's all. But no, he gives himself utterly over to envy and hatred and self-pity. Such petty decisions are the stuff of damnation in Descent into Hell. Titanic battles are waged in the small precincts of everyday life.

The Bear has always thought headlines in Heaven are much different from ours. Instead of great affairs of state, they blare that Sidney Settlemeyer wanted to ask for seconds, but didn't.

This being a fantasy novel, there is a doppelganger, a succubus, the ghost of a suicide, places where the past is uncomfortably near to the present, and more. The prose borders on the poetic. It is not a book that would be published today, but makes an excellent Halloween read for the patient and carries a profound spiritual message.