Monday, September 15, 2014

A Calm Suggestion

The Bear wrote quite a rant today. (99% of what he writes goes into the Bear's Private Collection or Growls, Rants and Roars, never to see publication.) But no one wants to read a rant, right? So let's see if the Bear can distill it down to something nice and calm.

The Bear is experiencing cognitive dissonance from the apparent abandonment of the Church dogma that there is no salvation outside the Church. The Bear is confident that a minority of bishops would be willing to assert such dogma, "minority" meaning none. Coupled with recent statements about the holy "polyhedron," and developments in ecumenical and interfaith relations, the abandonment of the dogma of extra ecclesiam nulla salus leaves the Bear rather nonplussed.

It would seem to be desirable to clarify, or, failing that, to stop making the claims that the Church has traditionally made about itself. Perhaps an ideal solution would be to liquidate Church assets to the extent necessary to comfortably retire the entire establishment, and reopen under new management that would be faithful to the Church's history, tradition and teachings.

That is all.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Is There a Problem With the Weddings?

A Nice Day for a White Wedding

UPDATE II: How is this playing the press? Predictably. If there is an expectation game with the October Synod, this plays into the hands of those who want a "more merciful" Church, as Reuters has it.

  • Reuters: " the latest sign that the Argentine pontiff wants the Catholic church to be more open and inclusive."
  • Reuters: "The pope has said the Church must end its obsession with teachings on abortion, contraception and homosexuality, and become more merciful, or risk collapsing "like a house of cards".
  • Time: "Some hope a major Vatican meeting next month on family concerns might lead to permission for divorced Catholics who remarry to receive Communion.

Why be negative about the grand weddings of cohabitating couples in St. Peter's Basilica? Isn't it wonderful that they are doing the right thing? After all, nobody's perfect. Do you imagine, Bear, that there are no improprieties before many Church weddings?

First of all, this is not the hill the Bear would pick to die on. In the great scheme of things, this is small potatoes. Nonetheless, it feels like there is something off about it. Is there, or is the Bear just being growly?

The problem is that these are couples who have approached a relationship God wants as marriage as some cheap imitation. The quaint expression "living in sin" really does capture it. One assumes they have gone to confession, but, even so, should we pull out all the stops? What message are we sending? That there are multiple paths to your big Church wedding, including concubinage? Shouldn't there be a whiff of the penitential?

Yes, by all means have the weddings, but do it in a way that does not ignore the irregularity of the situation. Not to punish anyone, but to avoid scandal, to send the message that it is good to get married if you are living in sin, but better not to have lived in sin at all. A nuance? Perhaps. But in religion, as in conversation, nuance matters.

UPDATE: The Bear and his mate seldom disagree. (It is foolish, after all, to disagree with someone called "Red Death.") The last time was over the baptism in the church of the baby obtained by the lesbian pair in Argentina. Her argument was, "It's a baby!" But she disagreed on the Bear's cautious disapproval of the weddings, arguing, "Who am I to judge?"

So the Bear must think upon this matter again, since he respects his mate. (In fact he respects her enough to have married her 35 years ago.)

The Bear's argument is subtle, and easy to mischaracterize.

First, let us stipulate that all of the Catholic parties have repented, gone to confession, and everyone concerned is ready to enter into Holy Matrimony as the Church sees it.

Second, let us all agree that their being married is better than their living together without being married. As far as they go, weddings are a good thing, and a joyful occasion that would ordinarily be unclouded by controversy.

Third, let us all cast aside opprobrium and not only hold nothing against the couples, but wish them the very best.

So on what grounds might one object?

Simple. Concubinage, or living in sin, or cohabitation, or whatever you want to call it is a public sin, and an ongoing offense against Holy Matrimony. Sorry to smudge the frosting on the wedding cake, but it is fornication plus a public, though no doubt, unintended, insult to the sacrament of matrimony, which, if you have not noticed, has taken a lot of flak lately.

Public sins cause scandal, and should be treated differently than private sins, because they can cause more evil. As noted originally, if years of concubinage end with the public approval of the pope himself, not to mention a white wedding in St. Peter's Basilica, what does that say about living together? That it is just another path to the nice church wedding? That the Church treats those who have cohabitated for years the same as the bright-eyed kids who have remained chaste? What message does it send about chastity in general?

Everything is a message with Pope Francis. One supposes his message here is, "If you're cohabitating, why, you should get married! We're all about forgiveness! The Church will welcome you!" The Bear doubts those cohabitating need the reminder, but let's hope the Pope is right.

On the eve of the October Synod, the Bear has to wonder if another message is intended. "The Church's old way of thinking about marriage is loosening up. We all need to relax about these matters and meet people where they really live."

What better way to frost the the Synod than with wedding cake icing?

Saturday, September 13, 2014

It's a Nice Day for a White Wedding

White Wedding

In answer to a question concerning plans to marry cohabitating couples at St. Peter's basilica, the Pope smiled and said, "It's a nice day to start again."

What happened next was unprecedented even for a pope known for shaking things up. 

Rising from the folding chair that has replaced the papal dining room chair since the beginning of September, Francis sang out: "It's a nice day for a white wedding," and begin laughing. Then he playfully sang Billy Idol's 1982 hit, "White Wedding." Francis flashed his trademark smile as he substituted some lyrics, such as singing "Hey little sister, I don't care what you've done." A clearly exhausted, but happy pontiff returned to his chair to heavy applause.

People Can Live Without Brains

Doctors in China made a shocking discovery when a 24 year old woman reported to the emergency room feeling dizzy. Her entire cerebellum -- a section of the brain normally necessary for life -- was completely missing, leaving -- literally -- a large hole in her brain.

She joins a small group of people known to be missing part, or in rare cases, almost all of their brains. Yet somehow, these people manage to live normal lives. In fact, there is no way of knowing how many people comprise this group, since the condition is only disclosed by brain imaging.

In other news, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick uttered the Muslim prayer "In the name of God, the Merciful and Compassionate," at a conference organized by the Muslim Public Affairs Council on September 10. The Cardinal said that Catholic social teaching was identical to the Prophet Mohammed's ("peace be upon him," the Cardinal added). 

[Bear: perhaps the old fellow, just wants a religion he can kneel in.]

In related news, President Obama said that the terrorist Islamic State known as ISIS is "not Islamic." The Washington Post cited a Gallup poll from 2010 indicating Protestants are far more likely to support terrorism than Muslims, who had "promised to be completely honest with us, because, seriously, why would they lie?" according to Gallup. 

[Bear: that would explain all those beheadings in the South we've been reading about.]

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Bear's Unpopular Truth Challenge

The current reign of the Prince of the World discussed in the Spengleresque-titled Fall of the West is more easy-going than one normally associates with the diabolical. In fact, it is a neat reversal of that old serpent's first conquest. We may eat freely of any tree in the world, so long as we forget the knowledge of good and evil. Once you accept that the cost of truth is too high, and pretend there is no difference between good and evil, there is no reason you can't enjoy life, even attain to the highest offices in the secular and religious worlds.

In That Hideous Strength, C.S. Lewis named the infernal agency managing the novel's diabolical conspiracy the National Institute of Coordinated Experiments -- N.I.C.E. George Orwell's Ministry of Love was in charge of repression and torture, and his Ministry of Truth was exactly the opposite.

Today's exercise: speak an unpopular truth. You don't even have to do it to another person, but you must say it out loud.

The Bear wagers it might be harder than you imagine! The most effective censorship is self-censorship. Feel free to comment on your results.