Wednesday, 12/3/14

  1. The narrative of the profitmakers
  2. The true grandeur of man
  3. Pray that calamity may befall me, Father
  4. Just-So Stories on parade
  5. Opaque rationale for a transparent trial
  6. The last refuge


Things are not progressing. They change, but they do not progress. History is not going anywhere. Some changes bring benefits, many changes bring misery. The myth of progress is a narrative that justifies the destruction of traditional ways of life (or anything else that is seen as standing in its way). It frequently takes no account of the collateral damage left behind in its march. Progressive-driven accounts of history carefully ignore the carnage and dislocations brought about by change. Progress is the narrative told by those who receive the profits.

[I]t was in the modern world (in the West) that racist slavery had its birth. Slavery had existed in Africa and was quite common there. Its adoption by Western European (and American) powers was tolerated and later endorsed by false Protestant theologies and progressive ideologies. It was never a part of the ancient order.

Racist theories were grounded in notions of “modern superiority,” and of the “white man’s burden of civilization,” or worse still, notions that would later provide a haven to evolutionary racism and modern eugenics. The true problems of modern slavery were barely addressed by the Emancipation Proclamation and subsequent legislation. Its racist basis is not only thoroughly modern, but still alive in the modern breast. All of which is falsely dismissed as something that modernity has swept into the dustbin of history. Modernity is not our savior.

(Fr. Stephen Freeman)


From September 2006:

Benedict’s lecture last week at Regensburg was primarily targeted to his Western audience. And secular liberals, like the editorial board at the New York Times , completely missed this. (The Times , it should be noted, like modern Europe, also lacks any compelling grounds on which to issue a demand for an apology. And one may question what role the media has played in causing and fanning this controversy.) But those who rush to the pope’s defense in saying that he didn’t really mean to be critiquing Islam also miss the thrust of Benedict’s address. Benedict was challenging both those who have relegated religion to the realm of personal superstition and thus embraced agnosticism or atheism, and those who have pictured God as will detached from reason and thus embraced a version of Islam that can condone violence and terror. Benedict was arguing that both have failed to appreciate the true grandeur of man as a participant in the being of God and thus failed to grasp the centrality of human reason.

(Ryan T. Anderson, via Ken Myers via Matthew Kaul via David Mills. Whew!)


Over the years, as strange as it may seem, we’ve had a number of people ask us if we’d pray they win the lottery, promising that if they did they’d donate a large portion to the brotherhood. The logic seemed to suggest that if the monks were going to get some of the take, the Lord would be more than happy to tweak the State Lottery numbers so they’d win big. Upon hearing this, I’ve often thought the poor person would more than likely lose their soul, should they win, with temptation likely to make them forget their promise to God. When large sums of money are in one’s hands, it takes a person with a very strong will to be philanthropic with their fortune. Most of us are better off without a lot of money, as news items in recent years have given us ample examples of people who’s greed has been their ruin.

Prayer is not about asking for things, but about relationship. Prayer is the vehicle that takes us into the heart of God ….

(Abbot Tryphon)


There is now a delightful annual Festival of Bad Ad Hoc Hypotheses:

BAHFest was founded by Zach Weinersmith, a 32-year-old cartoonist in Davis, Calif., who regularly uses scientific ideas in his Web comic “Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.” In one of his comics, a fictional biologist theorized that babies are pudgy and football-shaped because our ancient ancestors punted them from village to village to spread their genes.

The result is a bunch of just-so stories that sound very like The Real Thing. I suspect that it’s aimed a popular press credulity and sensationalism, but the sword has two edges (there’s probably an explanation for why swords evolved that way).


[Massachusetts] Governor Deval Patrick said Sunday that he “wanted to see an indictment” in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. …

“The transparency of a trial would be good for the community,” he said, “and because so many of us have the supposition that police officers are not going to be held accountable and not going to have to answer for the shooting of unarmed, young black teenagers.”

(Boston Globe) This seems quite wrong to me. The police officer has “answered for the shooting” at some length to the grand jury and the transcript has been made available and can be read by anyone who wants to do so. There’s your transparency. The point of a trial in this case would be something other than transparency, as is the point of demanding that federal civil rights charges be filed.


Spoken of a Confederate Flag in an apartment window near Purdue:

“The person who is displaying that flag needs to get on the right side of history,” ….

Ah, yes! “The right side of history.” The last rhetorical refuge of the walking brain dead.

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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.