Saturday, January 17, 2009
THE HIT COUNTER HAS MYSTERIOUSLY REAPPEARED
CATHOLIC MASTER MASON
Matt Abbott has an interesting column today. Right up top is a link to a Catholic Master Mason who is a Nevada Assemblyman, and apparently proud of his Masonic connections because he lists them in his biography, including Master Mason of Lodge No. 32, member of a Scottish Rite lodge, and a Shriner temple president.
Catholic members of Masonic Lodges are in a state of sin and are not permitted to receive communion. I wonder if he does?
Claborn and how many others?
Friday, January 16, 2009
THAT SMALL PASSAGE IN THE MIDDLE
Buried in the midst of an AP press release titled "Vatican Gay 'behavior' in seminaries declines" is this interesting claim:
In a report U.S. bishops released this week, the Vatican agency noted past "difficulties in the area of morality" within seminaries that "usually but not exclusively" involved "homosexual behavior." The evaluators said the appointment of better administrators in diocesan seminaries "has ensured that such difficulties have been overcome."
"Of course, here and there some case or other of immorality — again, usually homosexual behavior — continues to show up," according to the report. "However, in the main, the superiors now deal with these issues promptly and appropriately."
The evaluators had no such praise for schools run by religious orders, which critics consistently condemn as too liberal on celibacy, homosexuality and church teaching in general. The report said "ambiguity vis-a-vis homosexuality persists" within institutes run by religious orders. The report also cites those schools for failing to fully adhere to Catholic theology.
Nearly one-third of the 40,580 U.S. priests belong to religious orders.
Coming to a parish near you?
Thursday, January 15, 2009
CREATE AMERICAN GLOBALIST UNION AT CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION
World Net Daily's Bob Unruh comments at a link provided by Apirit Daily:
Globalists are "salivating" over the possibility of a Constitutional Convention at which issues such as the 2nd Amendment could handily be dismissed, according to a leader who warns Virginia likely is the next target for the drive.
"There is no question in my mind that, should a new Constitutional Convention be called, it would be the end of the United States of America as we know it, and our current Constitution and Bill of Rights would be forever altered beyond recognition," Constitution Party presidential candidate Chuck Baldwin wrote in his latest commentary.
"The globalists who currently control Washington, D.C., and Wall Street are, no doubt, salivating over the opportunity to officially dismantle America's independence and national sovereignty, and establish a globalist North American Union – in much the same way that globalists created the European Union. A new Constitutional Convention is exactly the tool they need to cement their sinister scheme into law."
IS IT PAYBACK TIME FOR PROP. 8?
is being asked by Jack Smith at "The Catholic Key" blog:
The San Francisco Chronicle ran a story today on San Francisco City Assessor Phil Ting's attempt to squeeze millions from the Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco in the form of Real Estate Transfer Tax. The unprecedented action is looking a lot like payback against the archdiocese for its support of Proposition 8.
A little backstory - When you sell a piece of property in many California jurisdictions, including San Francisco, the seller must pay a rather exhorbitant tax for the privilege which is based upon the value of the property. It is akin to a sales tax on a home or commercial property.
The San Francisco Archdiocese owns hundreds of lots in San Mateo, Marin and San Francisco counties. The exceedingly vast majority of these properties are the lots which make up a parish plant, i.e., church, school, parish hall, parking lot, rectory. The Chronicle story is mistaken to call the properties in question "empty lots and commercial land". They are not.
The Archdiocese has historically held title to these properties under two names - The Roman Catholic Welfare Corporation and the Roman Catholic Archbishop of San Francisco, a Corporation Sole.
In December, 2007, San Francisco Archbishop George Niederauer announced a corporate restructuring within the archdiocese and by May 2008, almost all properties in question had been consolidated under the title of the Archdiocese of San Francisco Parish and School Juridic Persons Juridic Property Support Corp.
Since this is not a sale or transfer to an different organization or person, no transfer tax is invoked and no transfer tax has ever been invoked in the history of the state for such a transaction. According to Archdiocesan Communications Director Maury Healy, "a tax on transfers of property, all owned by the Catholic Church, within the same family of Archdiocesan corporations, is unprecedented in the history of the state of California and the law is overwhelmingly in our favor on this subject."
There is more at the blog site, including comments that would seem to back-up Smith's claims of motivation for unfair treatment.
TURNING CHRISTIAN SPEECH ABOUT HOMOSEXUALITY INTO "HATE SPEECH":
Government bid to kill free speech protection
Thursday, 15 January 2009
The Government is planning to overturn the crucial free speech protection added last year to the controversial ‘gay hate’ law.
The free speech protection was added to the new offence of ‘incitement to homophobic hatred’ after a late night victory in the House of Lords last May.
It makes it clear that criticising homosexual practice or urging people to refrain from such conduct will not, in itself, be a crime.
But in section 58 of its new Coroners and Justice Bill, the Government is attempting to remove the protection.
The offence of inciting homophobic hatred catches any words or behaviour which are threatening and intended to stir up hatred. It carries a maximum seven year prison sentence.
At the time, campaigners argued that no genuine Christian would do anything to fall within that definition.
However, there was strong concern that the new law could be used as an excuse to silence religious views about sexual behaviour.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
GETTING TOUGH ON APPARITIONS
The Globe and Mail reports:
The Pope is declaring a 'holy war' against people who claim falsely that the Virgin Mary is appearing to them.
He will attempt to snuff out an explosion of bogus heavenly apparitions with new guidelines to help bishops root out frauds.
Benedict XVI plans to publish criteria to help them distinguish between true and false claims of visions of Jesus and the Virgin Mary, messages, stigmata - the appearances of the five wounds of Christ - and weeping or bleeding statues.
In some cases exorcists will be used to determine if a credible apparition is 'divine' origin or 'demonic'.
The guidelines will be published by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
The Pope is said to be deeply concerned by the explosion in the number of pseudo-mystics who, claiming a direct line to God, set themselves against the bishops and lure the Catholic faithful out of the Church and into cults.
The handbook comes six years after the Pope - when he was simply Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger – first said that the boom in such phenomena posed a risk to the unity of the Church....
The first step will be to impose silence on the alleged visionaries and if they refuse to obey then this will be taken as a sign that their claims are false.
The article also indicated that between 1905 and 1995 there were 295 supposed apparitions reported. Of these 11 were deemed genuine.
I wholeheartedly welcome some sanity on this subject. This can't come soon enough!
DOROTHY DAY AT GRAILVILLE
According to Taylor (GREEN SISTERS, p. 28):
After attending a two-week intensive course at Grailville in 1943, Catholic Worker Movement cofounder Dorothy Day (1897-1980) gave a report that sounds as if she had made a retreat at Crystal Spring, Michaela Farm, or the Green Mountain Monastery. Day chronicled: "We have learned to meditate and bake bread, pray and extract honey, sing and make butter, cheese, cider, wine, and sauerkraut.
In a treatise published by the NCRLC in November 1944, Grail member Janet Kalven uses poetic imagery to communicate what would today signal themes of ecofeminism. Kalven prescribed: "Like Anteaus, the mythological hero, modern society must renew its strength by contact with the earth. Women have an essential role to play in that renewal." On the porch of the old Victorian main house at Grailville in the summer of 1997, Kalven spoke with me about Grail members' early interest (in the 1940s) in organic gardening and the philosophies of sacred agriculture and biodynamic farming theorized by nineteenth-century Austrian mystic Rudolf Steiner. She explained (in part because of this interest) that the garden directly outside what is now the community dining hall has been cultivated organically since its inception in the 1940s. She also spoke of how Grail members performed rituals in the fields and in the vineyards, claiming nature as their sanctuary, ritually observing the seasons and reveling in the bounty of the land. "We had a liturgical approach to rural life," recounts Kalven. "We had the idea that you understood the symbolism of the Grapevine more if you had actually pruned a grapevine." Barbara Ellen Wald's 1943 essay "Grail Adventure" similarly brims with excitment about her first year with the Grail and evokes seasonal themes and imagery similar to those now found within the culture of green sisters. Walk writes: "The beautiful rhythm of the Church year with its cycles and seasons has never before had such a deep significance for me...[At Advent] we eagerly counted the hours until 'the earth would open and bud forth the savior.'"
Kalven also recounts that in the 1970s, Grailville--a haven for prominent Catholic liberals--welcomed the new philosophies of Thomas Berry.
Here is the website for Grailville.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
GLOBAL EDUCATION ASSOCIATES (GEA)
In a comments box below Mathew in Fairfax asks:
Do you mind if I ask about the comments of yours the author refers to on page 263? I found only one comment you made pertaining to MacGillis in January 2005, here:
Are those the comments the author is referring to?
They might be, but I've written on GEA a few times in the past. Some of those posts can be found in an older blog, "Running Off at the Keyboard".
I was on the mailing list for GEA for a time, and received their newsletters. They stopped, though I didn't think my subscription had run out. I've read Gerald and Patricia Mische's book, TOWARD A HUMAN WORLD ORDER. They were the founders of GEA, but I haven't looked at them in some time.
They are an affiliated NGO with the U.N. and promote the Earth Charter. For more details on that endeavor, check out Lee Penn's FALSE DAWN.
In the passage you refer to, Taylor admits that Genesis Farm (MacGillis' organization) and Michaela Farm (belonging to a community of sisters) promote "biodynamic agriculture", and both are affiliates of GEA.
I have no problem with organic farming. I should state that at the outset. What I have a problem with is the spirituality behind "biodynamic" farming which involves the beliefs of Rudolf Steiner, Theosophist (founder of the Theosophical Society in Germany), Anthroposophist, founder of the Waldorf Schools and other endeavors, among them Biodynamic Farming. Steiner was a Gnostic who broke with the Theosophical Society over his insistence that theosophical beliefs needed to be couched in Christian terminology for Western mass consumption. His theosophical beliefs permeate his activities across the board, and they are not compatible with Catholicism by a long shot. This includes some very strange ceremonies held over/in the garden.
Here is another article on Biodynamic Farming that incorporates not only the scientific practices, but the spiritual as well. From the website:
Steiner understood the farm as a living entity and the farmer through his or her toil, intent and conscious feeling, as a motivating, even healing part of that being. Some of Steiner's teachings resonate with accepted scientific concepts, such as the "agroecosystem", while others, particularly those involving planetary alignment and cosmic beings are from a different way of understanding.
Indeed it is a "different way of understanding". It is the religious way of understanding, and it isn't the Catholic religion that is being understood with Biodynamic Farming. Therefore, I don't believe women religious who advertise themselves as "Catholic" should be engaging in it, and promoting it.
Steiner's material comes via access to the Akashic Record, a clairvoyant endeavor that violates the First Commandment and CCC 2116. I object to the spirituality not the science. I believe that if you are calling yourself "Catholic" you should practice Catholicism, not Anthroposophy, whether you are a "green sister" or an anonymous face in the pew.
THE PAPAL YEAR
NewsMax.com predicts the events likely to shape 2009 for Benedict, among them trips to Africa and the Holy Land, and a meeting with Obama in July.
There is something else of note in the article--a picture of Benedict carrying his shepherd's staff, or rather his papal cross. It isn't the bent cross of John Paul II which he he carried earlier in his papacy and which Piers Compton referred to as the "Broken Cross". Rather it is very traditional. This is the same cross that he carried during his Mass on EWTN last Sunday.
CARRIE TOMKO'S "ILK"
The passage before that quote down below sheds a bit of light on the nature of the word:
As with other mainline religious "greening" movements, green sisters are grappling with the fact that the terms of the current debate over the "greening of faith" are firmly set against them. This quite successfully forces green reformers like the sisters into a defensive posture. Within the discourse of greening movements in religion, terms such as nature worship," "paganism," and now "New Age" carry powerful and culturally embedded negative responses within biblically based religions. In subway terms, these epithets constitute the "third rail"--the track rail that is electrified to a high and dangerous voltage, the hot rail one must not touch. And yet movements to harmonize religions with themes, images, or patterns of nature almost immediately trigger the use of these terms. Green sisters are thus thrust into the distracting position of having to reassure and deny. Consequently, they rarely get to the point of actually testing the terms of the debate in a way that would establish a broader cultural, historical, and political context for each of these terms, what they mean, and how they may or may not be relevant today.[Or put in other terms, they have not yet been able to redefine the words in order to reshape the debate, but they'd like to.] In the absence of widely circulated treatises such as Zayac's, questions posed to green sisters about "greener" worship and ecospiritual practices tend to be framed from a critical rather than metacritical standpoint. That is to say, challengers ask rhetorical questions such as 'But this is nature worship, isn't it?" rather than asking what it really means to worship nature and how an opposition between Christianity and earth-reverence or earth spirituality developed in the first place.
To the extent that sisters are able--through their earth ministries, their written work, and even their artwork--to shift the framework of these discussions away from a binary opposition between legitimate Christian worship and closeness to nature, they will likely change the tone of some of these exchanges. If they are unable to do so and their opponents are indeed successful in using the New Age label to discredit the movement as flaky, silly, superficial, or self-absorbed, the movement's efficacy may be seriously threatened. It is thus critical that sisters find ways to reframe discussions so that they are not so often placed on the defensive about these issues.
In order to shift the debate away from New Age name-calling, the sisters have instinctively tried to demonstrate systematically that they are historically rooted in traditions of the Church. They return again and again to their Catholic heritage, digging into the soil of their own "backyard" and recovering its "heirloom" seeds to replant and cultivate. Repeatedly, they assert ownership of Roman Catholic traditions and claim this realm as the living "bioregion" to which they are indigenous. This is likely a good strategy, not because such an approach will ever get anyone of Bill Jacob's or Carrie Tomko's ilk to agree with them, but because it comes from the heart. If green sisters did not value and love the living traditions of the Church (even with their difficulties) and revel in their study, debate, and analysis, which they so clearly do, they would have "pulled up stakes" and "moved on to new ground" long ago. (pp. 271-272)
Much earlier in the book Sarah McFarland Taylor tells us about this claimed preserving of Catholic tradition:
There are, of course, some aspects of religious tradition that have not been conserved. Aspects of Catholicism that are regarded as not being "life giving"--for instance, patriarchal norms, abuses of hierarchy, notions of humans' divinely sanctioned right (or indeed mandate) to dominate and subdue the earth, and associations of women's bodies with sin, to name a few--are permitted to pass away, much in the way that, in sisters' organic gardens, the death of diseased vegetation makes room for new and "healthier" growth.(p. 14)
For the green sisters, Taylor spells out the kind of "healthier" spiritual growth that is being pursued. On p. 12 we are told about the "sacramental food culture of the green sisters movement", on p. 13 we read of the "notions of 'sacred agriculture' and the gender dynamics involved in recasting farming as a kind of 'priestly practice.'"
If words traditionally applied to that which belongs to God are now going to be used to apply to the province of man, something in religion is forced to change. We move the concept of holiness out of the realm of God into the realm of humanity. We, in effect, become our own God.
The author proposes that the green sisters desire, as they follow the works of Thomas Berry, what I have come to see as a reanimalization of the planet:
For Berry, the Great Work of our time is for humans to turn away from a "technozoic" era of ecological destruction and despair and to turn toward a new "Ecozoic" era, in which human beings live in harmony with the natural world. Joanna Macy similarly envisions the transition from an "Industrial Growth Society" to a "life-Sustaining Society" as our only truly viable path into the future. She prophesies that "when people of the future look back to this historical moment, they will see, perhaps more clearly that we can know now, how revolutionary it is. They may well call it the Great Turning...(p. 19)
Those who contemplate such a turning should give some thought to the way the animal kingdom operates. In a nutshell, animal eats animal. That is how they survive. And the killing is never pretty. Animals live in constant fear of being eaten. They have no peaceful place to raise their young away from predators unless man provides it. We are talking here about returning to the days of the cave man--of dog eat dog.
Plantlife, too, has no consideration for its fellow species. A chickweed would as soon choke out a tomato vine as sprout a new leaf. True Christianity, with its introduction of altruism, offers a far greater potential for human happiness than does a return to paganism and nature worship.
Taylor does provide a convenient new word--"Rhizomorphoric" (p. 25). It's proper use concerns the way some plants spread. Pachysandra is a good example. Pull it up between the roses and it shoots out new tendrils between the Yews. It has so many points of growth that it is nearly impossible to kill. Now apply that concept to the new social order called "networking" in which several units in the network can be destroyed or discredited and the network will continue nearly unaffected, and will morph into yet a new entity. "Rhizomorphic" is a good word to apply to today's New Age, pagan, rosicrucian and masonic social order.
Monday, January 12, 2009
I'VE BEEN CITED
in a book by Sarah McFarland Taylor titled GREEN SISTERS: A SPIRITUAL ECOLOGY. Taylor is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Religion at Northwestern University. The book was published by Harvard University Press.
She did an in depth study of the ecology movement within the Catholic women religious communities. An Episcopal woman, it is not surprising that we come at this topic from opposite perspectives. She has, however, been fair in her assessment of the issue I raised, which is the issue of pantheism.
The passages in question can be read at Google Books on page 263, 269 (which is not available online, and 272. She has also cited Catholic blogger Bill Jacobs, as you can see on p. 272.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
PAYING FOR HEALTHCARE
I woke up this morning thinking about the fact that while wages and prices seem to be falling, the cost of healthcare is escalating, and I don't hear any noises about Obama plans to address the thousands who don't have insurance.
Logic tells me that we are not going to be able to afford to keep sick people around much longer; and since I'm one of the sick people, it's a sobering realization. I had a discussion with my husband over breakfast about this dismal fact. He said it may come, but we won't live to see it. I'm not so sure.
I just peeked into Constance Cumbey's blog and discovered the same thoughts were the subject of her latest post about some auto industry execs who had a conversation about this very thing in the booth next to hers at IHOP.
FROM THE EMAILBOX
Spirit & Life®
"The words I spoke to you are spirit and life." (Jn 6:63)
Human Life International e-Newsletter
Volume 04, Number 02 | Friday, January 09, 2009
Dignitas Personae and the Right to Life Part II
Brian Clowes, PhD
NOTE: this is the second installment of a two-part series on the document Dignitas Personae. Author Brian Clowes has been an HLI missionary for twelve years and offers this reflection on the practical aspects of the document for the Spirit and Life audience.
As we saw last week, the primary purpose of the new Vatican instruction on bioethics, Dignitas Personae, is to clarify Church teachings on biotechnologies that have become prominent since Donum Vitae was published in 1987. Dignitas Personae draws a bright line between scientific activities that treat human beings as a commodity to be produced - or as God's greatest gift.
One of the primary topics addressed by Dignitas Personae is assisted reproductive technologies, or ARTs. Some people think that the authentic pro-lifer should welcome any means taken to bring children into this world, but such thinking reflects an improper understanding of human dignity.
The Catholic Church has always taught that a child should be the fruit of total self-giving between a man and woman who are committed to each other through marriage. Technologies that assist the marital union in conceiving a child through natural means respect the dignity of the child. One example would be the surgical repair of damaged Fallopian tubes. However, those that replace it through brute-force technology, such as in-vitro fertilization, do not respect this inherent dignity and inevitably lead to terrible abuses.
For example, if a child can be conceived in a Petri dish, why should we not then check to ensure that this "product" is free of defects? Why not freeze, experiment on, or discard embryos that are defective or that nobody wants? Why not use gametes from people who have desirable genetic characteristics? Why not rent a third party's uterus to perform the arduous task of childbearing, thereby pushing pregnancy into the province of the poor?
Dignitas Personae is very helpful in that it clearly shows how certain common medical procedures may be either licit or illicit, depending on their objective or usage;
* the freezing of oocytes is illicit, although the freezing of ovaries may be permissible if a woman with cancer or some other disease of the ovaries desires to have children in the future;
* pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), which "weeds out" those embryos deemed to be inferior is not allowable because it is a eugenic procedure, although prenatal diagnosis is permissible if its intent is to prepare medical teams and parents to properly care for a sick infant;
* embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) is impermissible, since it invariably leads to the death of the embryo, although adult stem cell research is licit;
* and using gene therapy to enhance the human race is considered the ultimate in the condemned pseudoscience of positive eugenics, although the same type of therapy used to cure disease in a single subject's non-reproductive cells would be permissible.
In other words, correcting a specific defect in one person's cells is called "somatic cell" gene therapy and is acceptable. But "germ line" gene therapy, which would affect all of a person's cells, is not, since it requires manipulation of embryos in a laboratory.
Since Donum Vitae in 1987, rapidly advancing biological technology has raised many completely new issues. One of these is "altered nuclear transfer," or human cloning that produces embryonic stem cells but not an embryo. This procedure needs more study to ensure that a new human being is never created and then destroyed before it can be declared licit. By contrast, reprogramming adult cells into what are called "induced pluripotent stem cells" is allowable since it can never result in the creation of a human person.
Pro-lifers will perhaps find the most controversial segment of Dignitas Personae to be the one dealing with the "prenatal adoption" of frozen embryos, leading to the birth of "snowflake babies." The desire to adopt these "orphan" embryos is certainly well intentioned and understandable, but leads to a number of problems, the primary of which is the perpetuation of the system that leads to the perceived necessity for such adoptions in the first place. The closest parallel might be Christian organizations which recently "bought back" slaves in Sudan, which implicitly implied that human beings may be bought and sold, and also encouraged slave-taking for profit. Dignitas Personae warns of the many ethical and practical problems associated with it.
Another subject that pro-lifers have been debating for years is vaccines made from the cell lines of aborted preborn babies. For the first time, the Church definitively addresses this topic in Dignitas Personae. The document states that parents may legitimately use such vaccines if there are no alternatives, since they have no say in how the vaccines are made. However, the parents should always ask their health care systems to make other vaccines available.
Dignitas Personae represents a welcome clarification regarding many medical and scientific procedures in the increasingly complex area of human reproduction, and will answer many questions that have, until now, not been dealt with authoritatively.
We urge all of our readers to go directly to the document and study it if they have any questions.