Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Testing for God

Jennifer F. has been taking part in a series of interviews on The Cynical Christian. In the second interview, she laments the lack of logical proofs used to evangelize atheists, but also says that she doesn't think that there is much anyone can say to convince an atheist. In this post she speaks more about effective witness, and how it is more important to live a life of charity than to marshal effective arguments.

I would say, rather, that no argument from reason will be convincing if not made with love. But if your heart and life are conformed to Christ, you might suggest one of the Ten Prayers God Always Says Yes To, in this case, "God, Prove to me that you exist."

Here is how I think it ought to be set up: "You're a person of reason, right? So among other things, you have to admit that you don't know everything and could be wrong, and you want to know the truth, no matter what it is, right? You've asked me to prove God's existence to you, and you're right, that I can't. But God can.

"Well, let's presume that the God that the Catholic Church proclaims is real. That is, He loves us all without limit or exception, knows everything, can do whatever He wants, and made us to know Him as well as we are able, and love Him as much as we can. Now, if all of those things are true, you can test for His existence.

"Silently, within the vaults of your mind, say to Him, 'God, I've heard the claims that the Catholic Church has made about you, and I don't believe it. It's utterly ridiculous. Prove to me that I am wrong.'

"Now, if He does not do this for an honest seeker of the truth, it means one or more of the following things:
  • He doesn't care.
  • He doesn't know.
  • He can't prove it.
  • He doesn't exist.
  • Or, the seeker doesn't really want Him to prove His existence to you.
"If you have been proclaiming with complete certainty God's non-existence for years, my money would be on the last one. See, to be sincere in such a request, you would have to overcome years of certainty of non-existance and approach the test with the expectation that you could be wrong. And if He loves you without limit, that means He would not compel you to believe without your consent. Further, if He is omniscient and omnipotent, there's no reason to think that He would provide you with a proof to convince everyone, but rather only you. It's not like doing so would be a strain on His resources, and He ought to provide you with a proof that cannot be used to compel belief in others."

If this test would be convincing, it would be from God's work, and not my own.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Because It's Annoying Me

A short and random list of television shows I just can't wait to miss.
  • Nip/Tuck
  • Rescue Me
  • Dirt
  • Dexter
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
  • The Jerry Springer Show
  • Weeds
  • The Tudors
  • Queer As Folk
  • The Shield
How about that ... I think I've included every single F/X Original Series I know of.

I would like to miss Charmed, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and Smallville a lot more than I do, but I rarely get to choose what is on the telly. If I did, it would nearly always be "Nothing."

The Blegroll!

Many of you may be familiar with the term, "blegging," which refers to the practice of putting a paypal donation button on one's blog. It's generally regarded as something like a busker putting out a bowl or leaving open his instrument case so that appreciative passers-by can leave tips.

I have avoided the practice. I write this blog with the intention of educating people and converting them to my opinions. I've already made my material public domain, with no effort to protect it in any way (see the sidebar piece labeled "Licensing and Attribution"). Blegging has always seemed a bit too much like self-promotion.

Anyway, my talents and skills are by God's grace, and for God's service. While I may be poor by US standards, I want for little if anything. On the other hand, my conscience has been nagging me for years about tithing. Certainly I am not able to help all the causes, missions, apostolates, and so forth that I think are deserving of money.

But I can encourage you to do so. Hence, the Blegroll, which shall be a series of links (using images if I can find them) for any worthy causes which come to my attention. Please give generously!

edit: If you know of anyone else who deserves our money, is a good steward, and will use it for God's work, let me know in the comments.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Regarding Art

Jennifer F. has written yet another fabulous post; this one regards the purpose of art and the nature that it has when its form follows its true function. Read and enjoy!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Up the Revolution!

Today is Tax Day, the day most likely to spark a new American revolution. I shall be brief: the difference between taxes and extortion is this: one involves being threatened by armed men when you don't give up your money. The other is illegal.

Check out Tom Purcell's tax day column!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

International Treaties

Once upon a time, I wrote an essay conveying my concerns about how treaties that give legislative authority to extranational bodies were a grave threat to our sovreignity; the Constitution makes a ratified treaty superior to all other laws of the land. I had fretted that this could authorize the UN (or worse, a committee of appointees) power to legislate for us, and supersede our government in so doing. I had imagined that we needed a constitutional amendment to require ratification of every act of a body given authority over us by treaty. Fortunately, I was wrong. Today on Catholic Exchange, I found this:

As the treaty provision at issue was not "self-executing" — in other words, it did not become automatically binding upon ratification by Congress — it could not bind states without further Congressional action. The U.S. Constitution requires action by the legislative, not the executive, branch to transform a non-self-executing treaty obligation into domestic law.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Mafia Discourse and the Church Militant

This post is going to ramble. Once again, I've seen a number of things online that just seem to tie together.

This article was on the front page of Catholic Exchange today; in it, Dr. Stanley Williams takes Sean Hannity to task for his use of what Eric Scheske once called "mafia discourse tactics" (and on Fr. Thomas Eutener, at that)! It seems to me that all too often, such tactics are used to avoid the truth.

Then I found a link to this post by Adoro te Devote. She goes on at length about what it means to be a confirmed Catholic -- it means we've volunteered to be part of the Church Militant, to go into spiritual and rhetorical battle to defend and promote the Faith. But she also expounds on the way we are to do this: with caritas. St Paul tells us that without caritas, all other gifts of the Spirit are nothing.

I don't mean to suggest that there is no place for all-out warfare. There are cases where our opponents clearly intend nothing less than our complete destruction, and doing whatever it takes to stop them is called for by the Church. (The Caveman makes the case for executions here, and provides an example of when warfare is so justified.) But such cases are rare. I think the Church is better served by initially giving others the benefit of the doubt, and not presuming hostility before it has been demonstrated.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

More blogrollin'

Catholic Analysis has just joined both my personal blogroll and my recommended blogs, on the strength of this post. In truth, what gets me is not the point that Mr. Sorbino is trying to make (which is valid, in my opinion), but the strength and versatility of the image he uses to make it.

It's a very blunt image, and he makes apologies beforehand to the squeamish. This seems prudent to me, by the way; as I am about to use this image,

I suggest strongly that the squeamish stop reading.

The point Mr. Sorbino is making is that contracepted sex does not consummate a marriage. But the image he uses is this: a woman using contraception turns herself into a condom: a disposable thing which, once used for pleasure, becomes a piece of waste. So too do all who engage in sterile sex.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Try to Not Faint

Yes, unprecedented output from yours truly: three posts in one day. I've selected a new template, as you can no doubt see. There's just ONE problem: in too many places, type is rendered in ALL CAPS. That is just really annoying to me, and I can't figure out what to change to fix it. Any help in this matter would be most appreciated. Post it to the comment box or email me: arkanabar at lycos dot com (be sure to put "your site" in the subject of the email so I can tell it isn't spam.)

Too Funny to Not Post

So the Whapsters have posted a bunch of Catholic-specific two cows jokes. I've compiled them here, along with those from their comment box. I was laughing myself silly, reading these.

Franciscan: You have two cows. Moved by the beauty of sister cow, you unleash them. Your ensuing lack of milk allows you to glory in the poverty of Christ.

Capuchins: You have the two cows unleashed by the Franciscans. Your proprietorship of the cows proves that you are closer to the spirit of St. Francis. You put long hoods on your cows.

Franciscan Friars of the Renewal: You have two cows. They are grey, more like the cows St. Francis owned. You write a rap somehow rhyming "lactation" with "transubstantiation." It's cool.

Carmelite: By concession of Pope Innocent IV, you have two cows. You don’t eat them between Sept. 14 and Easter.

Discalced Carmelite: You have two cows. You feed them by arduously dragging hay to their trough, but then you deliver it by truck. Ultimately, abundant hay falls effortlessly from the sky.

Benedictine: You have two cows. You use one to preserve the art of animal husbandry for all time. You kill the other and make intricate, colored markings on its hide.

Dominican: You have two cows. You feel as if you should share one with the Franciscans, but can’t bring yourself to trust them with it.

Dominican, ver 2: You had two cows. Then you had a good meal. Now you have a new book written on vellum.

I also looked in my Dominican library, and found Aquinas' work:

Summa Taurologica: (De Res)

Article 1: Whether the bovine essence is always expressed as two individuated cows?

Objection one: The Musician often asked for "more cowbell." Yet he does not ever ask for more than one cowbell. Therefore bovinity is expressed in one individuated being.

Objection two: The Announcer argued at every game that there was a "Holy Cow!" This is because cowness is sufficient in itself and does not need multiplicity.

Objection three: The Boy also argues that one should "Not have a cow." We witness again the singularity of bovinity.

Sed contra: The Prophet Amos warns us: "Listen, you fat cows of Bashan!" (Amos 4:1). He argues in the plural, thus speaking to more than one.

I argue that, while bovinity can indeed be expressed in an individuated essence, the true completeness of the bovine is best expressed in two cows: namely, an older cow for milk and all your regular carnivore expressions of butcher cuts, and a young cow for veal. Thus, the perfection of the cow is best expressed in two individuated cows, yet each cow contains the essence of cowness, or the potential for succulence.

Reply to objection one: This is because there was only one musician worthy of the skill of playing the cowbell in the band at any one time. If a trio of skilled cowbell musicians were assembled, we'd have more cowbells.

Reply to objection two: Although the Holy Cow is one, it covers a multiplicity of events on the diamond, from a home run to a triple play, so analogically, we could argue for different cows, expressed equivocally in the word "cow."

Reply to objection three: The Boy is speaking metaphorically.

Cistercian: You have a more extraordinary method of procuring milk.

Carthusian: You should have two cows, but they never made it to the Grand Chartreuse as they kept mixing up the difference between "Cistercian" and "Carthusian."

Carthusian, ver. 2: You have two cows. Each has its own little barn. They moo only on Sundays, between 3.00pm and 5.00pm.

Trappist: You have two cows. You do not appreciate their mooing, yet require their milk to craft high quality fudge. You assign them to a novice.

Society of Jesus: You have two cows, but everyone from Louis XIV to Pastor Luke at 1st Community Baptist believe you control the cattle industry. Admittedly, you founded many farms in the bovine tradition, but struggle with what bovinity means in the 21st century.

The De LaSalle Christian Brothers: You have two cows. You sought them out and adopted them after the Jesuits threw them out of their educational field. Ideally, the cows will realize their milk is a gift from God, and their vocation is to share that milk with others for the common good of society.

Opus Dei: You have two donkeys, and tend to them very carefully. You never admit that you engage in this work, but are delighted to meet other covert donkey owners.

Opus Dei, ver. 2: You have two cows. You put one cow in a barn, the walls of which you decorate with pictures of the cow's father and its other ancestors. You send the other cow on the street and tell it to try to "blend in". The second cow comes back to the barn every week in order to get milked by the first cow.

Communion and Liberation: You have two cows, and bring them to huge annual gatherings. You speak to them only in the present tense.

St. Egidio: You gather two cows together in a very old barn and reflect on Scripture. Other cows begin to come, too. You sell their milk for third world debt relief.

Augustinian: Posthumously, two cows claim you as their owner. One of them burns down the northern half of the barnyard.

Salesian: You have no cows, but work to improve the welfare of calves orphaned by factory farming. You are a visionary when it comes to cattle futures.

Salesian, ver. 2: You have two cows. You teach them to stop swearing and to juggle. In turn, they find more cows, teach them to stop swearing and to juggle, then bring them back to you so you can share the love of Christ with all the cows and their calves.

Priestly Society of St. Peter (FSSP): You have two cows. While acknowledging the legitimacy of modern farming methods, you prefer your own cows to develop organically.

Mercedarian: You had two cows. Long ago they were captured by infidels. They began to convert to avoid being made into shawarma. A ransom consisting of coins and a few novices was sent and the cows came back. Nowadays you teach their descendants.

Society of St. Pius X: You have two cows. You raise them precisely according to USDA standards, c. 1950. One cow denies that the USDA exists and runs off to take care of itself.

CMRI: There have been no true cows since 1958.

Sede vacantist: You have a cow and an ass. You dress the ass as a cow, and proclaim him as the only true cow. You spend the rest of your time insulting your cow.

Knights of Columbus: You have two cows. You teach your cows the secret handshake and they carry prolife sandwich boards at the next march. Later, they will be popular at the annual barbecue.

Norbertine (Premonstratensian, or "White Canon): You have two cows. You and all your confreres refer to them as "kine." You are baffled when other people have no idea what you are talking about.

Neocatechumenal Way - you have two cows that you nurture to a very high degree, then you send them to missionary barns in foreign countries.

Oratorian: You have two cows. You stand them up in a field and tip them over periodically.

Knights Templar: You have two cows. Forward the bovinary!!

Knights of the Garter: You have two cows, of such surpassing beauty, pomp, and elite grace as have never been seen before. All other cows aspire to belong in this herd.

Knights Hospitaler: You have two cows, which are the only source of food for holy pilgrims. Prepare to defend them from the surrounding envious infidels.

Knights of the Swan: You have two cows. They are almost but not quite as beautiful and gracious as those of the Knights of the Garter. They are unfortunately not waterproof...

Usus Antiquior fans: You have a bos taurus. You have two of it. Their barn is facing east. You must light six candles (maybe seven!) when you milk them.

Holy Cross: You have two cows. One of them was recruited by the farms Michigan and Penn State run, but stuck with you because he wanted a high-quality education. The other is planning to go to Uganda after spending a few years at your farm in order to spread the message and spirit of your farm to less fortunate cows.

Congregatio a Sancta Cruce: You see two cows. You work on their footwork and put them on the offensive line.

Legionaries of Christ: You have two cows. You groom them meticulously and feature them in glossy publications to attract more cows to your farm. And don't you say anything bad about the farm's founder.

Catholic Worker: You don't have two cows. And even if you did, you wouldn't consider them yours.

Womenpriests International: You have two bulls. You have a ceremony on a boat and tell everyone that they're really cows now. No milk, but plenty of bull....

"Spirit of Vatican II": You are two cows. One strums a guitar while the other shakes a tambourine. Rearrange the pews.

Death and the Eucharist

From Lifesite News:
[Francis Cardinal] Arinze said that he is regularly asked if a person who votes for abortion can receive Holy Communion. He replies, "Do you really need a cardinal from the Vatican to answer that?

"Get the children for first Communion and say to them, 'Somebody votes for the killing of unborn babies, and says, I voted for that, I will vote for that every time.' And these babies are killed not one or two, but in millions, and that person says, 'I'm a practising Catholic', should that person receive Communion next Sunday? The children will answer that at the drop of a hat. You don't need a cardinal to answer that."

Indeed, it's so obvious that any child can answer it. It takes a self-deluding, self-appointed alternate magisterium, "I am my own personal Pope" type of pride to deny that such a person has abandoned Christ and His teachings.