Tuesday, 9/24/13

    1. Choose your own cross
    2. Acteva
    3. Crackberry collapses
    4. Focusing on the “field hospital” figure
    5. Papal dog whistles?
    6. Shut up, they explained.


Rod Dreher continues probing whether Pope Francis’ extended interview (with some lines predictably amplified by a press ever eager to defend and extend the sexual revolution) overall is helpful or harmful.

Early Sunday, he yielded the floor to Fr. Peter Funk, prior of the Monastery Of The Holy Cross, a Benedictine abbey in Chicago. Fr. Peter addresses Rod’s question to Priests about whether Francis made their jobs easier or harder:

Do the words of Pope Francis, supposedly urging Catholics not to be “obsessed” with rules about “homosexuality, abortion and contraception” make it easier or harder for Catholic priests?

As a priest myself, I would first ask “easier or harder for what?” …

The examples of the Apostles, especially that of Paul, offer a challenge to the categories of ‘easier’ or ‘harder’ in Christian ministry.  As my novice master liked to say, we all understand that discipleship brings the Cross, but we’d all like to choose our own Crosses.  Yet it is when the Cross appears where we least expected it, where we assumed that we could avoid it, that it is really the Cross.

Here we are really invited to die to ourselves, our preferences and opinions.  Pope Francis’s words, and the media spin on them, are challenging to be sure.  They might be naïve, and to be honest, I wish at times he spoke with a bit more exactitude (who in the Church’s pastoral ministry is manifesting this obsession with a “transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines imposed insistently?”).

If the Pope’s words make things harder for us priests and for some of the faithful, harder does not necessarily mean worse ….


I was appalled to hear of a wonderful organization nearly bankrupted by their event planner collecting money but then refusing to pay it to them. I chipped in to help them out in their hour of need.

I have reason to think that the event planner was Acteva, which you could Google for yourself, but these were among the top hits:



Is it just me, or is the collapse of Blackberry absolutely stunning, and a real cautionary tale for how fleeting tech success is? Apple sold twice as many phones in two days as Blackberry did in the most recent quarter!


Let’s contextualize this second experience in terms of Francis’ notion of the Church as field hospital. I happen to have handy a little text-book on military triage, and I find in it two principles that I think are relevant. The first is that if you don’t know what you’re doing and the patient is badly injured but not at the point of death you should do nothing. Hold the person’s hand, talk nicely to them, reassure them until the doctor gets there. The second is that there are some kinds of wounds that can be treated by anyone who knows first aid, but many can only be treated by a specialist. Even if the wound is potentially life-threatening an unskilled medic may do more harm than good and they may make it difficult, or even impossible, for effective treatment to be applied once the patient receives more qualified medical care. Note that this is a book on military medicine: these caveats are addressed to people who are trained to work in field hospitals.

Relations between the Church and the gay community involve a lot of very old, very deep wounds—some of them infected, most of them involving severe complications. Someone with a superficial knowledge of the subject matter cannot address it effectively, particularly in a single presentation. Words like “bigot” and “homophobe” are the gay community’s way of saying “Ow! You’re hurting me. You don’t know what you’re doing. Just leave me alone.” Nor is this an irrational response. We all have the right to insist that amateur medics not attempt emergency surgery on us, particularly without anaesthetic.

(Melinda Selmys) This is just two paragraphs from a very perceptive piece, which I recommend.

She has a followup, too, about which I’m less enthusiastic. But this excerpt is interesting:

From a purely academic point of view, it’s an interesting reversal: in the early church, celibacy was a radical and liberating option precisely because it gave people the ability to exercise choice with respect to their sexuality. In most cultures, throughout most of history, marriage has been the unchosen vocation: people were routinely forced into conjugal intimacy through circumstances beyond their control. Although the Mediaevals romanticized the Virgin Martyrs as icons of purity pitted against lascivious Roman governors, in fact the reason that consecrated virginity was a scandal to Roman society is that it undermined patria potestas, allowing young girls to refuse the marriages that their fathers had arranged for them.


The most sophisticated concern from “the Right” of the Pope on his long interview seems to be his use of language that’s sort of the reverse liberal mirror image of conservative “dog whistles.”


The biggest concern from “the Right” of the Pope on his long interview seems to that the Right now needs to brace itself for a long, long siege of “Shut up, they explained.

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“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.