Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Imagine There's No Magisterium. It's Easy if you Try.

"For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself for battle?" 1 Corinthians 14:8.

A Botched Trumpet Call Could Defeat a Whole Army

St. Paul was borrowing a military image from the Old Testament and the Roman legion. In the days before radio, musical instruments were essential to alerting and passing instructions among military formations. Their use faded with the fall of the Roman Empire, but from the 16th century on, drums, fifes and horns were everywhere on the battlefield.

American forces traditionally preferred the fife and drum, but the official U.S. Army Music site lists 25 separate calls in the daily routine. "Retreat" and "To the Colors" ought to bring back memories to U.S. military types.

Of course, the haunting "Taps," used at military funerals, is the best known bugle call of them all. It is impossible to mistake. Military calls were so distinctive that even horses out to pasture learned what call meant to head back.

No matter how they were used, from the simple blast of the shofar (ram's horn) to the varied drumrolls and bugle calls of the 19th century army, they had to be short, clear and well-known to the troops. A botched trumpet call could paralyze an army and lead to defeat.

A Lack of Clarity is Worse than Heresy

The context of the quote from St. Paul was the Corinthians' enthusiasm for speaking in tongues, but it is an excellent illustration of the importance of clarity in general.

The Bear believes a lack of clarity is even worse than heresy.

The first step in effective cross-examination of a witness is committing them to their testimony beyond any hope of weaseling out. Only then can a lawyer go in for the kill. All possible escape routes must be sealed off.

A heresy at least allows one to know what the heretic believes. A heresy can be fought with logic and precedent.

However, a lack of clarity renders all truth suspect and provisional. It cannot be identified and cannot be fought. The Bear complained in his last article that the Church has been unclear on salvation since Vatican II. Whatever deficiencies one might allege against the Council of Trent, at least its anathemas are short and clear.

Among the novelties of Vatican II was the idea that it would be a "pastoral" council. It is only today that we are learning how much TNT is packed into that nice little word, "pastoral." Instead of laying a bum trip on people by condemning things, it would wax poetical in groovy love letters to the world. And the world was expected to ignore the poorly-taped-together compromises apparent in the documents.

"What Must We Do to Be Saved?" Hell if Bear Knows.

As a reasonably educated Catholic, the Bear could not begin to tell you what is required for salvation. It is clear that one need not be Catholic, or Christian, or believe in one God, or any God at all. It is also clear that things might be vaguely iffy outside the Catholic Church.

On the other hand, maybe the Church is bigger than we had imagined. Martin Luther is praised and the Pope goes to Sweden for Halloween revels with a female Lutheran bishop. Meaningless phrases like "the Three Great Abrahamic Religions" are words to conjure with and if the magisterium of the photo-op can be believed Jews are now saved without regard to Jesus.

The Church's selective butchering of proof texts would make a Seventh Day Adventist blush.

Imagine There's No Magisterium. It's Easy if You Try.

The lack of clarity has obscured the very concept of the magisterium. Everything gets blended together in a trippy Peter Max vision of dancing microphones to the accompaniment of backward masking "Adultery is A-OK with the Big J."

It is also clear that most of us don't need to worry about Hell. Unless we do. It doesn't depend on what you do, but what you read.


Merciful "pastoral considerations" trump any actual teaching. The truth seems to be tailored to each individual, i.e. doesn't matter any more. It's all "pastoral." (Again, that word.) Clericalism is more in style than ever, since clerics have misplaced the "binding key" in the sofa cushions and shrug as the "loosing key" unlocks every problem. Pastorally.

On the other hand, most Catholics hear "it all depends" and assume the right to make up their own minds on everything anyway. So maybe nobody takes clerics seriously after all.

Who knew it was all so simple, all along? What a waste all that tedious theology was. It's all mercy, man.

Ah, old St. Paul and his goofy military analogies. There is no trumpet because there is no army, no Church Militant. Every person marches to his own drummer, and it isn't hard to find a congenial beat somewhere in the Church today.


  1. Yeah.
    This is all screwing us up a lot more than we may have cared to admit.
    I have been obsessively checking the Internet blogs and posts for oh, four years now, and I don't feel any better about things and may feel worse.
    I can't say I haven't been dogged about trying to find answers, I know I have, God knows I have, but, there are no answers, when the Church picks up it's skirts and tip toes off to other realms. It's easy to say, go TLM, that anyway, is the bare minimum one must do, in my opinion, but, it's not an answer in total.
    The truth is we need a Church for a reason, and we remain shocked every day that the one we had has left us. Of that, we have no doubt. They're gone.
    Blast those rotten men.

  2. "Pastoral" used to mean getting people to be good: obeying the commandments, saying their prayers, doing some charitable acts, and such.

    Now the word is used to mean getting people to feel good. "Accompanying them" while they lead immoral lives, whether it's fornication, adultery, or homosexuality.

  3. Oh, that was a homerun, Bear. A blood-curdling blast to the centerfield bleachers. Like Melville stumbling upon the whaling tale, or Conrad upon that journey up the African river, you hit upon a metaphor that increased in resonance as you ventured forth.

  4. Everyone is kinda getting to the same place, and it is a scary, unthinkable, corridor. A severe trial and test of faith is very near, probably has actually already begun in earnest. This is IMO Steve Skojak's best. piece. ever.....

    Everyone is getting to the same place. Hold on my friends.

    1. Bear is pretty certain Steve would not enjoy any comparison to the Bear! This is just a mangy one-ring amateur circus where a Bear refers to himself in the third person while he clowns around.

    2. Oh, it's a great deal more than that. A bear that dispenses wisdom and humor during dark days becomes pretty important.

  5. Bear- Pastoral is just another name for Protestant or doing whatever the hell you feel is OK.

  6. I just read this online book. Now I'm not sure what to think. It's making me rethink all things Catholic.

    Seattle kim

    1. Kim, dear, don't make Bear hunt you down with a hammer and an extra long nail!

      Clearly, it is time for the Bear to post another article about why he is not Orthodox. There is the allure from the outside, then there is the reality from the inside you don't think about until you've been a convert for a while.

    2. Seattle Kim~

      Since you read that book, you owe it to yourself to read this book
      Russia and The Universal Church
      by Vladimir Solovyev

      Owl started reading through the 'book', more of a tract, that you posted and got only so far before the Ahh Geeze set in.

      Orthodoxy is great but the Papacy is a sore point in Orthodoxy because one needs to uphold the Petrine Primacy at the same time as one needs to deny that the See of Rome currently holds the Petrine Primacy. It is not easy and as soon as a writer starts saying things that indicate that Peter didn't hold a unique Office is a clear indication that the writer doesn't even know their own Orthodox Faith very well.

      All squares are rectangles and all rectangles are quadrilaterals but only some quadrilaterals are squares.

      The above needs to be kept in mind when discussing the Episcopacy. All episcopates are equal but some are more equal than others. All Bishops are equal but not all bishops have their Office descend from Peter. This doesn't touch the issue of Primates and Metropolitans, something that doesn't exist really in Roman (Western) Catholicism because the Western Church only has 1 Primate, thus one Church, while the Eastern Churches have their own Primates and Churches. In the Eastern Churches (and Orthodoxy) there whole facets of ecclesial theology involving Primates and Metropolitans (Archbishops are close but not really the same thing) that tends to be unaddressed or just left out of a Roman Catholic's ecclesial understanding. Further, the Petrine Sees are very important in Orthodoxy to the point that if you want to start a fight, bring up the issue of whether Moscow or Constantinople holds the place of primacy.

      Owl could go on, but the short of it is that the best Orthodox argument is not that there is no Pope but rather that the Office can become dormant.

    3. The author seems to use an extremely ultramontanist version of the papacy as a straw man to attack, arguing that the pope can change doctrine and morals as he pleases, and Catholics would be bound to obey. This would surely please Francis enthusiasts,but it is not a correct understanding of papal authority.

  7. In the various apparitions Mary is portrayed as holding back her son's hand from smiting us. Could we just have the smiting? Really?

    1. I've thought the same thing at times, but I guess we don't understand what we're asking for. But I get it. These are odd days, like hoping for a schism. I say, just split already, as least then we know!
      What crazy times. But when times are your president is more Christian than your pope, I guess anything can happen.


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