Monday, August 26, 2013

Goodreads review: Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska

Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska: Divine Mercy in My SoulDiary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska: Divine Mercy in My Soul by Faustina Kowalska

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sister Faustina writes her diary as a very frank and open disclosure of visions and locutions which she continually experienced over a period of several years. In it, she reveals her petty grievances and imperfections mixed in with an earnest and wholehearted drive for sanctity. She lived and wrote 100 years ago, having grown up in a typical Polish family, and entering religious life at about 20 years of age. Thanks to a couple of wise confessors, she was encouraged to not only follow the extraordinary visions given her but to write about them, the result being this very book.

Sister Faustina's relationship with her Savior was a spousal one. Jesus was not only her Lord and God but her divine husband. She saw herself as a bride of Christ, and her notes are marked by radical intimacy, devotion, docility and obedience. She is called by Christ to a special mission, that of spreading devotion to His greatest attribute, His mercy.

In some respects, her presentation of Divine Mercy is very much like the Evangelical notion of a simple faith conversion experience. Any soul, especially a hardened sinner, need only put his trust in the Mercy of the Savior, and he can be assured of a place in heaven; all sin is instantly forgiven, obliterated by the justifying sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. But Sister Faustina's experience of Divine Mercy is wholly Catholic in its understanding. Her revelations never consciously strayed from Catholic doctrine, and everything she experienced was subjected to the discernment of her superiors, confessors and spiritual directors.

This Divine Mercy is constantly contrasted with her own unworthiness and with the wrath of God which she and every sinner rightly deserves. It is, moreover, a very costly gift. Sister Faustina's short life was marked by an extraordinary amount of physical, emotional and spiritual suffering, which she came to see as a sharing in Christ's own salvific sufferings. As Christ's bride, it was her duty and high privilege to suffer like and with Him, and for the same purpose - to bring wayward souls to salvation. So much so that she begged Jesus to allow her to drain her cup of suffering to the last dreg. She was granted this request, and, after years of intense suffering, died of tuberculosis at the Christ-like age of 33.

Two quotes from the book:

"Some day, we will know the value of suffering, but then we will no longer be able to suffer." [963]

"If the angels were capable of envy, they would envy us for two things: one is the receiving of Holy Communion, and the other is suffering." [1804]

Let the reader - especially the serious Catholic - beware. This book could change your life.

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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Goodreads review: Healing the Culture

Healing the Culture: A Commonsense Philosophy of Happiness, Freedom, and the Life IssuesHealing the Culture: A Commonsense Philosophy of Happiness, Freedom, and the Life Issues by Robert J. Spitzer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The faculty of reason should be seen as the common denominator uniting people of various beliefs and persuasions. As rational beings, we have the privilege and obligation to use the discipline of logic and reason in addressing human difficulties and controversies.

Healing the Culture, by Robert J. Spitzer, S.J., Ph.D., qualifies as a work of reason. Spitzer employs a step-by-step common sense approach to construct a framework of timeless and universal principles, and applies those principles to current cultural crises, especially abortion and euthanasia.

Spitzer begins by defining four levels of happiness. The first level is characterized by immediate gratification, of maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain. The second level is typified by the comparison mentality, of achieving competitive advantage and bolstering one's ego. The third level goes beyond self, toward seeking the good of others. The fourth and highest level of happiness is derived from giving and receiving ultimate or transcendant goodness -- Truth, Love, Justice, Beauty. These four levels move from the immediate to the enduring, from the shallow to the profound.

Next, Spitzer draws connections between one's view of happiness and one's view of other principles: success, self-worth, love, suffering, ethics, freedom, personhood, rights, and the common good. He treats each of these in depth, but perhaps personhood, when looking at abortion and euthanasia, is the critical point.

All too often, the debate over life issues such as abortion and euthanasia are typified on both sides by political posturing, anecdotal arguments, and emotional pleas. Spitzer's reasoned and methodical approach is both refreshing and extremely important. It is an example of good philosophy that is practical, rational, and engaging.

Using rigorous logic, Spitzer examines various criteria for defining who is and is not a person. Reason dictates that such a definition not be tied to accidental, temporary, or non-essential traits, but that it must depend upon inherent powers and essential attributes, regardless of whether those attributes are currently manifest, dormant, or undeveloped. Spitzer concludes, quite reasonably, that every being of human origin should be considered a person. It is important to note that Spitzer does all this in a way that even an unbeliever would find compelling, providing that said unbeliever is honest, willing to think, and is a person of basic good will. It is also important to note the legal and cultural ramifications of these simple but profound ideas.

Pope John-Paul II repeatedly called upon Christians to build a 'culture of life'. Benedict XVI emphasized the importance of using reason in our dealings with the culture. In my opinion, Healing the Culture fulfills both of these mandates, and is well worth reading, digesting, and sharing.

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Goodreads review: War Against Population

The War Against Population: The Economics and Ideology of Population ControlThe War Against Population: The Economics and Ideology of Population Control by Jacqueline Kasun

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A host of issues such as poverty, hunger, AIDS, and Global Warming have been attributed by many to the general ill effects of overpopulation. But when the particulars are looked at case by case, no causal connection can be shown. Consider a certain famine, and you find its primary cause is a civil or regional war. Examine an epidemic, and you find that it resulted from widespread sexual promiscuity. Another devastating crisis is seen to come via a combination of political greed, incompetent management, and uncontrollable natural forces. Show me, if you can, a specific, serious human problem that is demonstrably caused by Too Many People. To date, I haven't seen a single instance.

Is there something in the human psyche that demands simplistic answers? ("If we can just solve the overpopulation problem, everything will be OK.") Or do we find dark delight in news of impending doom? Or a secret self-loathing, that readily embraces the notion that we ourselves are the biggest problem? It is interesting to note that population control advocates have nearly always been members of rich, industrialized nations.

A more sinister explanation to consider is that some people are deliberately beating the overpopulation drum to further their own agenda. One extremely well-researched book that explores this possibility is Dr. Jacqueline Kasun's 1988 (later updated) book, The War Against Population. This is not some nutty 'conspiracy theory' work. It is well documented in showing that some very powerful elitists view population control as a key to their political and material interests. To really control people (and their stuff), control their numbers. One well-exposed example is the Nixon Administration's 1974 National Security Council Memorandum 200 (NSSM 200), a.k.a. the "Kissinger Report", and subtitled "Implications of Worldwide Population Growth For U.S. Security and Overseas Interests". Consider just this one citation among many from NSSM 200:
Whatever may be done to guard against interruptions of supply and to develop domestic alternatives, the U.S. economy will require large and increasing amounts of minerals from abroad, especially from less developed countries [See National Commission on Materials Policy, Towards a National Materials Policy: Basic Data and Issues, April 1972]. That fact gives the U.S. enhanced interest in the political, economic, and social stability of the supplying countries. Wherever a lessening of population pressures through reduced birth rates can increase the prospects for such stability, population policy becomes relevant to resource supplies and to the economic interests of the United States. (NSSM 200, CHAPTER III - MINERALS AND FUEL)

In addition to exposing an anti-population agenda, Dr. Kasun presents a formidable quantity of evidence to debunk the myth - and groundless fear - that we humans are too many in number, or anywhere near too many. Do you find this important? Are you willing to perhaps question the scientific neutrality of many population studies? In the interest of intellectual honesty, I highly recommend The War Against Population as an excellent starting point for such questions.

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Monday, August 5, 2013

Slouching Towards Savagery

Combining two earlier thoughts: The previous post "God, Husband and Father" opined that Patriarchy (and, with it, civilization)

...starts with the Woman, and it starts with raw biology. The beginning of the patriarchal order is when the woman binds herself to one man and one man only. She in effect decides to belong to that one man, most likely to the man to whom she gives her virginity.

Secondly, my early impression of Nicaragua (the "Repaso" post) contains this paragraph:
But if I expected to find the same innocent culture that I encountered in Guatemala in 1975, in that I have been disappointed. Along with money and technology, most Americans and Europeans have brought with them the corrupt morals and worldviews that threaten to completely undermine their own native cultures. And with few exceptions, Nicaraguans look up to their wealthier neighbors and want to be more like them. So the same kinds of trashy TV, political ideologies and immorality are flooding in, and folks here seem generally to be eager to emulate Americans and Europeans, even if in lemming fashion it ends with their own demise.
My sentiments have not changed much in the two years since I wrote the above. The culture of Central America (perhaps of the whole world) is slipping steadily into a dull savagery. And I think it has to do with the feminization of the culture and of women's independence.

The feminized culture isn't the Utopia promised by the feminists, especially for women. Since a 'liberated' society means sex without responsibility, its women are much more likely to attract womanizers and misogynistic woman abusers. Indeed, a feminist culture is a paradise for these irresponsible miscreants. Likewise ample accommodation is given for serial sex and the adulterous changing of partners, a sort of prostitution in slow motion. Likewise for sterile, childless or one-or-two-children households. What is increasingly not tolerated in the feminized world is the large and stable patriarchal family where an unattached man marries a virgin and where true motherhood is cherished.

Because of a lazy, feminist lack of strong fatherhood in the Church, and a resulting lack of strong fatherhood in society, any sanctions or taboos against unwed sexual activity are downplayed or completely ignored. (God forbid that we should marginalize or offend the whores or their bastards!) Socialist government programs insure that fatherless families are well tended to. As a result, young women have no fear or scruples about promiscuity, and tend to deliberately choose mates with no commitment. I guess liberated (savage) women find liberated (savage) men attractive.

When women choose savagery, there is little or nothing that men can do about it except play the same game. The typical gigolo / womanizer has several women, either in succession or at the same time, and perhaps dozens of biological offspring whom he need not support. The decent man who wants a stable relationship and who wants to be a real father is lucky to find one woman (usually one who was not his virgin) and will produce zero or one of his own offspring, while perhaps supporting one or more bastards from his wife's previous lover(s). So the gigolo's biological offspring, not the good man's, are well represented in each succeeding generation. In this game of demographic natural selection, women decide who will win, and right now the gigolo is winning big time. Civilization starts with the Woman; so does its demise.

As implied above, I have no idea whether this is a global phenomenon or an anomaly of Central American culture. I suspect the former. Nor do I have a solution to suggest. Perhaps the situation will be self-corrective. Since matriarchy / savagery is inherently unstable and backward, the whole damned house of cards may soon collapse. Globally, I suppose patriarchal Muslims will survive the collapse and effectively own the demographic future, with perhaps a few scattered pockets of traditional, large, patriarchal families keeping the Christian faith burning here and there.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

God, Husband and Father

In the previous post, I offered my radical (root cause) analysis of the current moral crisis in the world. Now for an even more radical analysis, of a deeper root cause, a systemic ill at foundational levels...

Until recent times, the patriarchal structure of families and of society was not seriously questioned. And for good reason: from a Scriptural point of view, the most basic human authority is that established by God before the Fall of Man - the authority of Man over the rest of God's creation, and the real authority which God bestowed upon Adam over Eve, and, by extension, of all husbands over their wives. This domestic line of authority is, from a divine point of view, the source of all other human authority, the beginning of all human organization and governance.

    As an important aside, it must be pointed out that patriarchal authority does not automatically infer actual superiority. Jehovah's Witnesses (not the brightest bulbs in the pack) make the intellectual blunder of deciding that, since Jesus obeys the Father he must be inferior to the Father and therefore not divine. Feminists make the identical error in proclaiming that Patriarchy degrades women by making wives obey their husbands.
    Notice that in all four biblical passages¹ where wives are enjoined to be subject to their husbands, they are told to obey their own husbands. Which is to say, they have no business obeying other men. This debunks the feminist myth, does it not? For the feminist complaint to be credible, Patriarchy would have to demand that all women obey all men because of their innate inferiority to them.
    As it is, true Patriarchy is about a divinely established order, and has nothing to do with an organic superiority. In this context, the word 'superior' may denote an order of authority, but it does not necessarily mean a higher level of worth or goodness. Consider: The Catholic Faith teaches that in the Holy Family there was one sinner, one sinless human, and one sinless divine-human. Yet the sinful Joseph had patriarchal authority over Mary and the child Jesus, both of whom were really superior to him.

1.  Eph.5:22, Col.3:18, Tit.2:5, I Pet.3:1

Moreover, this patriarchal pattern is reflected in - nay, is the essence of - true monotheism, the relationship between Man and the Almighty. God as Father and God as divine Lover are two parts of one ancient theme. The pages of Scripture, both old and new testaments, are full of references to a nuptial relationship between God and his people. That most grevious sin of idolatry is always portrayed as the sin of adultery, analogous to the traitorous deceit of an espoused bride leaving her true husband and embracing false lovers.

As St. Augustine pointed out, the human soul is always feminine before God. But notice that for
Augustine's insight to make any sense, we must assume a patriarchal structure to our own human society. We must first understand that it is right and necessary for every young lady to save her virginity for one man, and then devote herself to that one man. And the man must then be willing to shoulder his responsibility as leader and provider and father. Only when we accept this as our norm can we see our proper posture before God our Father. There is a necessary link between the patriarchal roots of civilization and the patriarchal essence of true religion.

Interestingly, it starts with the Woman, and it starts with raw biology. The beginning of the patriarchal order is when the woman binds herself to one man and one man only. She in effect decides to belong to that one man, most likely to the man to whom she gives her virginity. If the man finds her devotion credible, he can for the first time know what the woman always knows via her biological role: he can know his own children. He can be a father in the true sense, and can shoulder the responsibility for both his devoted wife and for their children. From a biological point of view, the woman's devotion and submission is what enables the man to abandon the haphazard biological strategy of spreading his seed as widely and generously as possible, and to adopt instead the better approach, of caring for his own children and for their mother. It is the woman's feminine devotion that makes patriarchy - fatherhood - possible, and which is therefore the beginning and foundation of civilization as we know it.

Likewise, the soul that would be saved must abandon all false lovers and give herself wholly to her God. Like the devoted virgin giving herself to one man only, the Church and each of her members must be devoted wholly to God our Father and divine Lover. This means we must categorically reject the surrounding culture and its values. We can no longer pretend to be friends of this current culture nor of those holding worldly power (Jas.4:4). Having devoted ourselves to God alone, we must reject the adulterous advances of all others, especially the usurpations of feminists and egalitarians.

Consider how our present world scorns fatherhood. The feminist / egalitarian / homosexual campaign to redefine marriage and the family amounts to a rejection of the patriarchal institutions of marriage and family. Portraying abortion as solely a woman's 'right' deliberately ignores the rights of the baby and also denies the holistic patriarchal structure of the family and the responsibility of the father. The breadwinner status in the home is supplanted by government entitlements which foster dependency upon the bureaucracy and render genuine fatherhood practically superfluous. The net effect of the world's agenda is to foster a post-civilized savagery in which both men and women flit from mate to mate like bees flitting from flower to flower. Can someone tell me how a child of God can be on friendly terms with such? No, the Christian politician - or even the Christian who is a friend of politics - is a contradiction of terms, an oxymoronic impossibility. The Christian who cavorts with worldly powers is more prostitute than bride. Every soul that would be devoted to God must heed St. Peter's Pentecost call to "save yourselves from this wicked generation." (Acts 2:40)

Unless we reject the soft tyranny of feminism and return as a people to the disciplined virtues of patriarchy, we will lose all vestiges of fatherhood. Which is to say, we will be lost and uncivilized, no better than wild animals. And unless we return as a Church to a wholehearted devotion to God and a rejection of our surrounding culture, we will lose our connection to God our Father, and will be damned.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Abdication of Conscience

The political and cultural battle continues to rage over whether the government can rightfully usurp people's consciences by, for example, forcing Catholic hospitals to perform abortions, or forcing adoption agencies to place children with same-sex couples. The struggle is over whether the government can be allowed to trump faith and conscience.

I believe this battle is much older than most folks realize. The conscience clause ought to have been raised several decades ago when the government began to use public money to fund abortions, sterilizations, and the like. If it is wrong to commit an abortion, then it is also wrong to pay for one. If the government must not force a Christian physician to do abortions, it must likewise not force the taxpayer to fund them. It is this simple but radical conviction that led me to launch over 4 years ago.

But is this really the root (radicus) of the problem? Perhaps the issue goes back even further. Like maybe the 1940's, back to FDR and the New Deal. And then greatly intensified in the 70's and beyond with LBJ's Great Society and the War On Poverty.

Raised in a liberal Democrat home, it was difficult for me to make this radical (root cause) connection. For a long time I was strongly in favor of the various social programs of the liberal Democrats. It initially made no sense to me that the same politicians who wanted to 'help' the poor also wanted to abandon the poorest among us, those who cannot raise even a tiny voice in protest. Only gradually has it occurred to me that government entitlement programs and tax-funded abortions are woven of the same fabric. And only recently have I begun to understand the reason why. It has to do with the question above: Ought religious people surrender their faith and conscience to government authority?

The corporal and spiritual works of mercy - feed the hungry, clothe the naked, instruct the ignorant, give aid to the homeless, the sick, and the dying - have always been an integral part of an authentic life of faith. But nowhere in Scripture or in sound Catholic teaching are we commanded to turn these duties over to a secular government. In fact, the desire to do so could be seen as an abdication of one's personal responsibilities. The faithful Christian must feed the hungry and clothe the naked. To ask Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi to do this for me is to surrender my moral conscience to them. If you want Barack Obama to be your conscience with regard to the hungry and poor, then he will also be your conscience with regard to the pre-born and sexual deviation. The problem with ObamaCare is not an inadequate conscience clause. The problem with ObamaCare is ObamaCare. The problem with ObamaCare is the New Deal and the Great Society. The problem began when the government usurped the Church's responsibility to the poor and needy, when the government began to commandeer people's consciences, and when Christians willingly abdicated.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Blogger's Block

Despite (or perhaps because of) my recent blog-fade, the last post attracted 3 quite different and interesting comments, albeit over the course of nearly 9 months of silence from me, which represents an exception to the general lack of interest shown most other posts.

While acknowledging that criticisms of my writings are usually well deserved, allow me to offer the following defense:

  • Re-read the top line of the aforesaid post. I have never claimed any prophetic charism for myself, but was mostly just repeating a thought from a brother in Christ that struck me, as it still does, as being insightful and prophetic. And a bit scary.
  • The immediate and precise details not being realized, it yet remains to be seen whether the main point will come to pass - namely, will Obama break diplomatic ties with Israel, and will this finally call down God's righteous judgment upon America?
  • I can't explain why I felt compelled to attempt a 'prophetic' blog post. It was my first and, most likely, last such attempt. Neither can I explain my subsequent writer's block and inabilility to offer further thoughts. Perhaps the two inexplicable phenomena are related.

The final point is currently forefront in my mind. Not that I have been completely silent (see my Books page and my other blog.) I have not yet learned to just humbly shut up (Job 40:4,5). But perhaps my blogging days are coming to an end. "Dogpatch, Ergo sum" was always an Idea blog; perhaps I simply have no further ideas or new thoughts to offer.

No, that's not exactly true. I do have at least one additional thought rattling around inside my skull for some time now. Not sure if I will ever get around to articulating it here. But here's a hint: if I write an article about this thought, I would like it to happen sometime before Father's Day. That gives me - what? - 2 or 3 months to write the article. Or not.