Monday Links

Richard Neuhaus: An Election About the Nature of the Church:

American Babylon is our culture. It is not the culture of our choice, although, given the other cultures on offer, it may be the culture we would choose if we had a choice. It is certainly the culture in which we have been chosen and for which we have a measure of responsibility. The irrepressible human aspiration toward the transcendent, toward that which at the core of our being we know to be our destined home, takes many different forms. That aspiration is our religion, whether or not we call it by the name of a religion. The aspiration may be stifled or misplaced, but it cannot be denied; at least it cannot be denied for long. When, as Augustine teaches, our loves and loyalties are rightly ordered, we recognize that the only satisfactory alternative to Babylon is the City of God. At least this is how Christians see the matter.

Living in the now and the not yet, we know Christ now. We know him in the context of prophetic promise as the Messiah of Israel; we know him in the biblical narrative of his birth, life, teaching, miracles, suffering, death, resurrection, and promised return; we know him in his words spoken in the assembly of the Church that is his body; we know him in the Real Presence of his sacramental promise daily fulfilled; we know him in the encounter with the needs of others who are, in the words of Mother Teresa, “Christ in distressed disguise”; and we know him in the cultivation of his friendship --day by day and, as Saint Paul says, without ceasing --that is the life of prayer.

Christ is now, the New Jerusalem is not yet. But then one must quickly add that the distinction between the now and not yet is not a separation, and certainly not an absolute separation. The movement of theological liberalism launched in the nineteenth century was given to such a separation. Alfred Loisy, a later modernist who was finally excommunicated from the Catholic Church, put the matter succinctly, “Jesus came preaching the Kingdom and what arrived was the Church.” In the view of many, the disappointment was understandable. Jesus and the gospel of the Kingdom is thought, not without reason, to be ever so much more appealing than his presence in the distressed, and distressing, disguise of the people who are the Church. And yet, while the two can be distinguished, they cannot be separated.

Saul of Tarsus, soon to become Paul the apostle, learned this the hard way. On his way to Damascus to imprison the Christians, Christ appeared and asked, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” Saul might have objected that he was not persecuting Christ but only the disciples of Christ. He would learn --as with great difficulty Christians have been learning ever since --that Jesus cannot be separated from his people; that Christ, the head, cannot be separated from the Church, his body. To persecute the members of the body is to persecute Christ, the head of the body…

Meanwhile, and as members of the “contrast society” that the Church is to be, Christians exercise the courage of their convictions in trying to bring clear reason and moral truth to bear in the temporal order. This is the mission betrayed by Catholics and others who resort to embarrassingly contrived complexifications in order not to be seen as adherents of “single-issue politics” in a political season in which we are confronted by the starkest alternatives on the single issue that distinguishes the culture of life from the culture of death.

If the Brits get it, why don’t we? Is America really going to do this?:

Obama thinks world conflicts are basically the west \'s fault, and so it must right the injustices it has inflicted. That \'s why he believes in ‘soft power’ — diplomacy, aid, rectifying ‘grievances’ (thus legitimizing them, encouraging terror and promoting injustice) and resolving conflict by talking. As a result, he will take an axe to America \'s defenses at the very time when they need to be built up. He has said he will ‘cut investments in unproven missile defense systems’; he will ‘not weaponize space’; he will ‘slow our development of future combat systems’; and he will also ‘not develop nuclear weapons,’ pledging to seek ‘deep cuts’ in America \'s arsenal, thus unilaterally disabling its nuclear deterrent as Russia and China engage in massive military buildups…

Obama dismisses the threat from Islamism, shows zero grasp of the strategic threat to the region and the world from the encirclement of Israel by Iran, displays a similar failure to grasp the strategic importance of Iraq, thinks Israel is instead the source of Arab and Muslim aggression against the west, believes that a Palestinian state would promote world peace and considers that Israel – particularly through the ‘settlements’ – is the principal obstacle to that happy outcome. Accordingly, Obama has said he wants Israel to return to its 1967 borders – actually the strategically indefensible 1948 cease-fire line, known accordingly as the ‘Auschwitz borders’…

Daniel Pipes (Obama Would Fail Security Clearance) lists Obama \'s extensive connections to Islamists in general and the Nation of Islam in particular, and concludes with this astounding observation:

Obama’s multiple links to anti-Americans and subversives mean he would fail the standard security clearance process for Federal employees. Islamic aggression represents America \'s strategic enemy; Obama \'s many insalubrious connections raise grave doubts about his fitness to serve as America’s commander-in-chief.

Melanie Phillips stumps Richard Dawkins (or how Little Green Men are more believable than God):

I put to him that, since he is prepared to believe that the origin of all matter was an entirely spontaneous event, he therefore believes that something can be created out of nothing — and that since such a belief runs counter to the very scientific principles of verifiable evidence which he tells us should govern all our thinking, this is itself precisely the kind of irrationality, or ‘magic’, which he scorns. In reply he said that, although he agreed this was a problematic position, he did indeed believe that the first particle arose spontaneously from nothing, because the alternative explanation – God — was more incredible. Later, he amplified this by saying that physics was coming up with theories to show how matter could spontaneously be created from nothing. But as far as I can see – and as Anthony Flew elaborates – these theories cannot answer the crucial question of how the purpose-carrying codes which gave rise to self–reproduction in life-forms arose out of matter from which any sense of purpose was totally absent. So such a belief, whether adduced by physicists or anyone else, does not rest upon rational foundations.

Even more jaw-droppingly, Dawkins told me that, rather than believing in God, he was more receptive to the theory that life on earth had indeed been created by a governing intelligence – but one which had resided on another planet. Leave aside the question of where that extra-terrestrial intelligence had itself come from, is it not remarkable that the arch-apostle of reason finds the concept of God more unlikely as an explanation of the universe than the existence and plenipotentiary power of extra-terrestrial little green men?

John Robb on the global system shock: Observations:

One of the most interesting aspects of this global crisis is that it will impact all parts of the globe. This is arguably a first. In historical crises, wars or catastrophes, there is always a large external environment of relative normalcy. Our first real global event will directly impact all economic activity from Botswana to Albany. It’s even more interesting since the impact of this event is occurring simultaneously in all places at once.

This is a very bad thing.

Vanderleun: “What if we run out of jobs Americans won’t do?”: Armies of the Blight

Gagdad Bob tackles the problem of free will: Freedom, Authority, and the Absent-Presence of God:

…the Christian lives with “the paradox of almighty God reduced to a state of extreme powerlessness.” This is said to be “the most perfect revelation of the God of love.” It is quite radically different from the pagan or new age belief in a God who would leap down from the cross and, for a mere $1995.00, sell you the magical secrets of fulfilling your every desire at a weekend seminar in beautiful Sedona, Arizona! …
In short, “The idol of power has such a hold on some human minds that they prefer a God who is a mixture of good and evil, provided that he is powerful, to a God of love who governs only by intrinsic authority of the Divine — by truth, beauty, and goodness — i.e., they prefer a God who is actually almighty to the crucified God.”

Joe the Plumber & First Principles: Joe the Plumber, Part IV

Touchstone zeros in: Practical Atheism Revisited:

We are Christians, Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox, denouncing the Democratic party as constitutionally anti-Christian…

One of the most common defenses for Democratic loyalties is to assert the moral equivalence of the two parties, to claim that their respective errors leave the Christian to vote for the one he thinks most Christian, or least unchristian. If the Democrats endorse abortion, sodomy, and the like, Republicans cut social programs for the poor. This is a plausible and attractive argument except for one thing. We know with certainty that abortion and sodomy are evil, but we do not know with any certainty whether any particular disbursement of funds for the poor is good or bad or mixed. Our faith directs us to give alms, quietly and generously, and to bless and care for the widows and the fatherless, but also tells that those who will not work shall not eat. Distinctions, often difficult ones, must be made in our policies between who should be marked as poor and who should not, and on how collective monies should be spent or not spent for their relief, the kind of distinctions that have historically marked differing party philosophies, and upon which Christians have historically had differences of opinion. A Christian may think the Democrats’ social and economic programs are superior to the Republicans’, but he knows that the Democrats’ moral policies are aggressively ungodly.

Think gay marriage is about gays getting married? Think again: What same-sex “marriage” has done to Massachusetts:

Homosexual “marriage” hangs over society like a hammer with the force of law. And it \'s only just begun.

It \'s pretty clear that the homosexual movement \'s obsession with marriage is not because large numbers of them actually want to marry each other. Research shows that homosexual relationships are fundamentally dysfunctional on many levels, and “marriage” as we know it isn \'t something they can achieve, or even desire. (In fact, over the last three months, the Sunday Boston Globe \'s marriage section hasn \'t had any photos of homosexual marriages. In the beginning it was full of them.) This is about putting the legal stamp of approval on homosexuality and imposing it with force throughout the various social and political institutions of a society that would never accept it otherwise. To the rest of America: You’ve been forewarned.

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2 thoughts on “Monday Links

  1. Please pray that California votes YES ON PROP 8..protecting marriage for a man and a woman. pray HARD! It is only agenda; one of the biggest lies is that gays can’t get rights, when they only really have to go to a lawyer and get their rights. Also, most do not wish to marry…this isn’t about hating gays, it’s about preserving marriage and protecting children.

    A friend pointed me to your blog. I can’t respond to all your excellent pieces in this piece above, but I sure did appreciate your thinking regarding Jesus and the church… If I couldn’t rely on Him tomorrow night, when the votes are coming in, I don’t know quite where I’d go. Nice to know He’s in charge because we are certainly messing things up down here!

    Blessings.. Z

  2. Another outstanding post, Doc. I haven’t read the full Neuhaus article, yet, but the paragraph about Saul’s lesson on the road to Damascus really struck me as powerful.

    I’d like to plead for prayer for Arizona, also, for passage (on our second attempt) of Prop. 102–clearly and simply defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. No room for confusion, on this one. Opposing campaign signs call for voters to “Keep politicians out of marriage.” I’d like to say back to them, “If you had left judges out of marriage, we could!”

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