To converse with one another in a way that all parties find meaning; Is it possible? I hope so. This blog is an invitation to anyone who wants to discuss, quietly, with as little heat as possible, the topics of our day. The painting of the wounded bird is my daughter's work. I have always seen the crucifix in that particular work of hers and the intention of this blog is to converse in the shadow the crucifix provides. Like all things truly Christian this is a paradox, for in that particular shadow more light is to be found than anywhere in the universe.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Main things

The main thing, the main things, how easy it is to lose track of them, to chase rabbits, to lose the daily attention to the main thing, the main things.

As Christians we place God at the top of the list, or so we say. I don' think I do that very successfully. Change is necessary. Firm commitment to certain things on a regular basis will need to be renewed.

Right now I am still battling the worst flu/cold/bronchitis attack I have ever encountered. All I want to do is sleep and veg. So the renewal of a firm commitment waits in the wings. Hopefully not for long.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Deception pro and con

A friend sent me this: "A few years ago, a municipality sent mailers to several hundred addresses suspected to be where bail-jumpers were hiding. "Congratulations, you've been selected for a free big-screen Superbowl party! Come down to the auditorium to see the game and have free pizza and drinks!" Several hundred scofflaws came down, got their free pizza and drinks, got real comfortable, and then the police swarmed in and scooped them all up. Beautiful."

If this is ligit for cops to do, and most people think it is, then this sort of deception is not intrinsically evil. The state is not allowed to do something intrinically evil, no matter what. So . . . if that is the beef that the antagonists have in the discussion about sting operations (Lila Rose), then we are not arguing about lying and its intrinsic evil. but rather a behavior that might or might not be called vigilanteism.

It's a different discussion.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

On Retreat

My wife and I are visiting a mini-retreat put on by Opus Dei. Last night was the men’s turn, with an evening of recollection. There was a talk by an Opus Dei priest on the Mass, a talk by a layman on the importance of having “a plan”, an examination of conscience, a second talk by the priest about every Christian’s priestly soul and ample opportunity for confession.
This morning was mass and then the women’s turn. So I am holed up at a local coffee house, already on my second cup and thinking about lots of things.
What is coming to mind is how real that old phrase is—the one we utter when someone else does unthinkable things: “But for the grace of God there go I.” I think this is often said without much thought, sometimes even smugly. For me, today, the phrase is very real.
I have prayed for humility for years, and now I begin to see that humility is very simply a deep inward realization of truth. If we are given even a glimpse of where we would be without divine providence we must shed the ragged clothes of pride and exhale its puffed-upness, we must open our closed fists and look up to see Him who was pierced, who bled, who suffered, who sacrificed all he had, yes, giving his very life . . . for me

Friday, February 18, 2011

How come . . . ?

How many have followed the conversion of Planned Parenthood worker Abby Johnson? It's a pretty cool story.

So here is my question. When the Bernard Nathansons and even the Norma McGorveys (the plaintiff in Roe v. Wade) and now the Abby Johnsons see the light and become pro-life, why is their conversion to pro-life so often accompanied by conversion to the Catholic Church.

Do evangelicals know this? Does it give them pause? Would it perhaps be something that might change how many bible-only folks think about the ancient faith (the Catholic one)?

What do evangelicals think when Lila Rose--who has done more than anyone else I can think of to expose the evil of Planned Parenthood's agenda--embraces the Catholic faith? Does it put any kind of dent in the "Whore of Babylon" myths so rampant in the evangelical world? Does it cause them to stop and re-consider their position?

Any curiosity out there at all?

A parallel question arises in light of the faith of the Scalia-Thomas-Roberts and Alito supreme court quartet, all of them pro-life, all of them devout Catholics.

just wondering . . .  is the wall between us that high that evangelicals can't see this sort of thing?

tom in ohio

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Prayers of Heaven

A while back, six years ago actually, I went to the movie The Passion of the Christ with friends: Protestant friends. Afterwards, we went out to a local tavern and enjoyed what turned out to be quite lively and pleasant conversation. One of the participants in the conversation, a good friend, made the comment, “in The Passion of the Christ, we were presented with the great beauty of Mary’s humanity, not the picture of some saint.” This comment struck me as quite incongruous. What is there about Mary’s humanity, her “humanness” as it were, which would contradict her being recognized as a saint, a resident of heaven? What sort of understanding of the Catholic canon of saints did my friend’s opinion reflect?

Lila Rose's Sting Operations: condemn or commend?

Much conversation has ensued in the blogoshere about whether Lila Rose sins by presenting a persona other than her own to Planned Parenthood clinics in her "sting operations." Through her actions much truth comes out, but that does not necessarily legitimize the way in which comes out.

There was a long thread here of responses to an initial article by Dawn Eden and William Doino Jr. Eden and Doino take the clear position that lying is always wrong, intrinsically. Mark Shea concurs.

When something is intrinsically evil it cannot be condoned even if it seems to bring about good. Is this the case with Lila Rose's "stings"? Are they evil?

Firstly, I wonder about the the drama of it all, the playacting that Lila and her crew do. They pretend to be persons they are not, dressing and talking like a whore and her pimp, or dressing and talking like a troubled 14-year old who is being abused by a 30-year old man. They are playing the role that a real whore and a real pimp, or a real teenager would also play (albeit not before a camera at least no voluntarily), that is, they are representing something that really does exist, something that is neither phantom nor make-believe. They know this, and they also know that when the sting is over they will take off their masks and make-up and return to their lives. When the sting is over the deception ends, the purpose is not deception, but rather the opposite! And this purpose is not thwarted.

Secondly, one must ask: When does the practice of deception become sinful? Is all deception sinful? In war time don't submarines hide under the water? In police work don't undercover agents pose as non-policemen? When Corrie Ten Boom hid Jews wasn't she being, in a certain sense, deceitful, right from the get-go, long before anyone interrogated her? She pretended to the Germans to not be hiding Jews. The very act of hiding carries with it the will to deceive. Is it the speaking the deception make it sinful? Is that the test, when it is spoken?

What about a Joseph who hides his identity from his brothers as well as his ability to both speak and understand their language. This is intrinsically evil? What about Rahab, the harlot in Joshua 2 who hides Jewish spies, lies to the authorities about it, and earns a place in the bible hall of fame in Hebrews 11 for doing so. Augustine claims Rahab was wrong to lie but that she did not know better because she was a Pagan, not a Jew and did not know the 10 commandments. That seems weak to me, especially given her reward in the New Testament. Furthermore, the the law forbidding lying certainly belongs to the category of "natural"--things we can't not know, laws that don't require revelation for us to be bound by them. In other words even Pagans know it is wrong to lie--and so do Hindus and Buddhists. The golden rule (I won't lie to you because I don't want you to lie to me) does not require any "thus says the Lord;" it is written in the human heart.

Was Strider sinful in hiding his identity from the Hobbits at Bree? Were the twin boys Cor and Corin in C.S. Lewis's The Horse and His Boy sinning for masquerading for a good part of the story? All of the great stories of heroes masking their true identity now need to be banned? 

When Jesus tells us to hide the fact that we are subjecting ourselves to the rigors of fasting by oiling our hair and washing our face, is he asking us to do something sinful? When the Christians let Paul escape down the walls of Damascus they did so at night, very much hiding their actions from the eye of the authorities. Isn't that deceptive? Does one really think they were obliged, if asked, to tell the authorities which direction he went? Or . . . they needed to have command of verbal trickery to tell a truth that does not help the authorities find him? Really? Where does this end?

To me it appears that lying to protect the life of the innocent, far from being sinful, can even be

When it comes to "sting operation" journalism such as Lila Rose's I am not at all convinced that
it is intrinsically evil. The attempts to do end up like those defending absolute pacifism. They do not work.

Tom in Ohio