Monday, August 22, 2011


I am tired of hearing this false gospel that is currently being propagated, that to be a real Christian I must do some extraordinary thing for Christ. That real Christianity cannot be realized on a rural farm is rubbish. If it cannot be lived there, it cannot be lived anywhere. We take up the Great Commission because of our insecurity, guilt, and discontentment. But Christianity is not a call to be extraordinary, but to see the extraordinary in the ordinary. So that water is no longer just water. Bread no longer just bread. Christianity is not a call to be somebody, but to be nobody. It is in being ordinary, becoming nobody, that we become real Christians. That we become like God. We love the people in our lives. Everything else, everything, is vainglory. Now it is extraordinary to love and pray for our enemies - but it is done in quietness. There is no stirring of any public pool here. No hubbub. No hurrahs. What is extraordinary in Christianity is that closets achieve more than councils, and that a cup of cold water is a conversion. We achieve more letting go of greatness than grasping at it.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Assurance and Stuff

Forgive the sloppiness of yesterday's post - blog posts are often written hurriedly or in the heat of the moment, which is not so much an excuse as a sad statement of fact. I realize the disagreement between Protestants and Catholics that I touched on concerning justification is a complicated one. But it saddens me how many intelligent, thoughtful, and good people are simply unaware of Catholic teaching - or only have a cursory understanding of it.

So I was telling my wife about the Sproul lecture I had listened to and she interrupted me, with just the proper bit of chide in her voice, saying, "Why are you listening to him?" Which is actually a question I've been pondering for some time on the heels of the controversy this year in Protestantism over hell that was precipitated by Rob Bell. Frankly, Protestant controversy is Protestant controversy and I have no business sticking in my nose. Often I do, reasoning that I have friends and family who are Protestant, and I'd like to be able to engage them if it ever comes up in conversation. But I'm Catholic, and it's really no business of mine. The Catholic Church has her own issues and problems and I would better spend my time praying about difficulties that I am dealing with in my own family, parish, and community. There is a hell in my heart that St Paul calls the love of controversy.

Now what drew me to listening to him yesterday, which I haven't done in years, is that I saw an intriguing tweet, which I can't seem to find now, that said something about how Assurance of Salvation Leads to Sanctification. Intriguing because I have recently been talking to some friends about assurance (Catholics don't believe in assurance of salvation). And intriguing because I wondered how something I no longer believe in could lead me or others to holiness. Sproul pushed against Catholic teaching quite a bit in his bit, and I just grabbed a moment of it and reacted. (Reaction, by the way, is never a great starting point for great thought. Note to self.) I didn't find anything instructive in his belief about holiness and assurance, and was disappointed by how convoluted and silly the argument was. But I live in an alternate universe and I imagine people are just as perplexed when I open my mouth.

Whether my salvation is secure, in my thinking, is entirely the wrong focus (and it needs to be gotten out of the way - this is actually Sproul's contention as well). I'm in the Church. I receive the sacraments. I belong to the Body of Christ. God loves me and shows mercy to me - every day. What do I need a contract for? He's my Father. (I don't need to be constantly checking my birth certificate to confirm that my dad is my dad.) And though I daily stray from him, he is still my Father and it is only in his house that I ever truly feel peace and rest. Now certainly we may have doubts about things - sometimes we may even wonder whether we're saved (one of the elect). Some of these fears are natural to us. Some of them are the work of the Holy Spirit to draw us back to God, to renew our baptismal vows*, to drive us to his grace and mercy in Confession/Reconciliation. But the fear is from the pit. And if you struggle with always thinking that God is dangling you over said pit, or you fear that you think you are saved but may be one of those with a false sense of assurance to whom God says, "Depart from me, I never knew you," then your answer is not found in some fanciful promise. Your answer is Christ, and in the forgiveness and mercy that he continually extends to us. We love him imperfectly and so we fear. Trust him. He is good. He is the Lover of Mankind. Trust him.

*Our baptismal vows are mostly an affirmation of the Apostles' Creed. We renew them, re-affirm them, remind ourselves of them within our Liturgy, but also even as we enter our parish and cross ourselves with holy water - a sign/symbol that it is through our baptism that we enter the church:

V. Do you reject Satan?

R. I do.

V. And all his works?

R. I do.

V. And all his empty promises?

R. I do.

V. Do you believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth?

R. I do.

V. Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary was crucified, died, and was buried, rose from the dead, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father?

R. I do.

V. Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting?

R. I do.

V. God, the all-powerful Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has given us a new birth by water and the Holy Spirit, and forgiven all our sins. May he also keep us faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ for ever and ever.

R. Amen.

"I surrender myself to thee, O Christ, to be ruled by thy precepts."

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


R.C. Sproul: Works do not justify. Faith alone justifies. But faith that does not work does not justify.

It is fascinating to me that R.C. thinks (1) this is faith alone and (2) that this differs from Catholic thought.

Catholics do not believe that we must do anything in order to be part of the Body of Christ - God's mercy is so gratuitous that we may baptize our infants, who can do nothing. Pope Benedict XVI, saying nothing different or new, said that Catholic thought is compatible with "faith alone" as long as faith does not abandon love. (Gal 5, faith working through love.)

One must understand what one truly believes as well as what the other truly believes in order to have real disagreement.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Dormition of the Theotokos (Feast of the Assumption)

Fr Stephen Freeman has an excellent post on the Feast of the Dormition, Marian theology, and communion with Christ/salvation in general. I would encourage you to read it in order to edify your faith or to better explain why Mary figures prominently within the Church (or ought to).

Here in America, the Catholic Church has abrogated our holy obligation since the feast (Aug 15) falls on Monday.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Holy Wit

It is the feast day of St. Lawrence, a third century martyr. Here's a legend about him via American Catholic:

As deacon in Rome, Lawrence was charged with the responsibility for the material goods of the Church, and the distribution of alms to the poor. When Lawrence knew he would be arrested like the pope, he sought out the poor, widows and orphans of Rome and gave them all the money he had on hand, selling even the sacred vessels to increase the sum. When the prefect of Rome heard of this, he imagined that the Christians must have considerable treasure. He sent for Lawrence and said, "You Christians say we are cruel to you, but that is not what I have in mind. I am told that your priests offer in gold, that the sacred blood is received in silver cups, that you have golden candlesticks at your evening services. Now, your doctrine says you must render to Caesar what is his. Bring these treasures - the emperor needs them to maintain his forces. God does not cause money to be counted: He brought none of it into the world with him - only words. Give me the money, therefore, and be rich in words."

Lawrence replied that the Church was indeed rich. "I will show you a valuable part. But give me time to set everything in order and make an inventory." After three days he gathered a great number of blind, lame, maimed, leprous, orphaned and widowed persons and put them in rows. When the prefect arrived, Lawrence simply said, "These are the treasure of the Church."

The prefect was so angry he told Lawrence that he would indeed have his wish to die - but it would be by inches. He had a great gridiron prepared, with coals beneath it, and had Lawrence's body placed on it. After the martyr had suffered the pain for a long time, the legend concludes, he made his famous cheerful remark, "It is well done. Turn me over!"


It is unconscionable that people, children, are dying for lack of food or water. It is unnecessary. Even in drought or famine, such as in Somalia, the deaths that are happening are tragically unnecessary. They could be prevented but for tyranny. And tyranny takes many forms.


Don't be like me. Don't be like me. Be like your mother. Don't be like me.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Revise Us Again, by Frank Viola

Revise Us Again, by Frank Viola, is a patchwork quilt of sorts, at times poorly sewn. This is an editorial and organizational criticism more than a criticism of the content of Viola's thoughts. The theme of revision, though used throughout in chapter subtitles, seems to be imposed on the book, as if it were applied as an afterthought and whose idea was better than its execution. So for me the writing never gains the necessary momentum to carry me along. The intended thesis is never fully realized and ends up feeling like a compilation of musings about what's bent or broken in Evangelicalism without a clear enough focus or a proper framing. The idea seemed forced to me - or reached for and missed.

I do, however, appreciate several themes that Viola does present in Revise Us Again. First, my Christian life requires as honest an examination as I can give it. I don't think this theme consistently reaches the level intended, that of revision, though perhaps it could have had it been worked at a bit longer. Second, I am happy that Viola gets at the idea of community as an expression of charity. This idea is so terribly important and so awfully missed in so many of our church communities. And third, Viola seems downright charitable in this book - this is not to say that he normally isn't, Revise Us Again is my first encounter with Viola's work, but I appreciate his generosity toward others. He doesn't condemn in this book, he doesn't berate - he points and suggests, nudges the reader as if to ask, "What do you think about ... ?" The book scored highly for me in this respect - Viola desires that his book draw the Body of Christ together rather than divide it. This is a noble goal and one not easily attained when writing about what we do poorly or get wrong as Christians.

Now I did take issue with Viola in Chapter 9, "Stripping Down to Christ Alone: Revising the Holy Spirit's Ministry." I read this chapter wrongly every time, and I believe it's because I don't share Viola's history - I'm not "post-Charismatic" as he labels himself. Perhaps if I had a similar background to Viola's, this chapter would make a great deal of sense to me, or even seem necessary. But as it is it seems, at best, off. So when he includes the following sentence in the chapter, "To my mind, the Holy Spirit has but one job: to reveal, to make known, to magnify, to glorify, and to make central and supreme the Lord Jesus Christ," I cringe. (And what bothers me about the sentence is the phrase, "has but one job.") Most likely, I am quibbling. But it doesn't seem an apt description of "the Lord, the Giver of Life," or comprehend the Orthodox prayer "O Heavenly King ..." If we must talk about the Holy Spirit having "but one job," it is important to understand that this one job is the same one job the Father and the Son are busy about - the restoration of all things, reconciliation, redemption. Of course, speaking about the Most Holy Trinity makes me nervous to begin with because I fear we often err by saying more than we ought to, that we speak of things too great and marvelous for us.

Don't misunderstand, every time someone writes about more than one person of the Most Holy Trinity, I do not expect an orthodox treatise on the proper relationship between the three persons of the Godhead. But Viola sets it up in such a way that it needs to be discussed or qualified in some way because he juxtaposes Son and Spirit, and in such an arrangement there seems to this non-post-Charismatic that the push back Viola gives pushes back too hard and too far. Now his audience may need the heavy push, the shaking that says, "It's Christ." So I must assume the best and pray that it helps many others as they wrestle with their own histories. Nonetheless, the chapter deserves some clarification and needs a positive assertion about the unity of the Divine Persons rather than to do what it does - push off from one in favor of another (this is not Viola's intention, but it is my impression).

All in all, I liked Revise Us Again. I have my differences and my opinions, but the re-evaluation of "What is it we are about?" is relevant when there seems as much upheaval as stability within Evangelicalism. And it is always timely in my own life in respect to the Church, the community, within which I live and worship. There are weaknesses within the work and the project seems, in places, to reach beyond what it attains. But the thinking within the book is sound and the spirit of it leans toward restoration.

Friday, June 10, 2011

last day

The last day of school, a little milestone, a moving forward - change. I'm not good at it. Time is a stream that carries all things with it. I am a soddened stick near the bottom, bumping slowly along in my unwillingness to move forward. I am not the leaf, newly fallen, that dances with current and ripple.

It is the milestone that slaps me across the face. That shakes me and yells at me to wake up. I am weighed down by anxiety and fear - it is so frightening to be present. I run from Today - backward or forward. Anywhere, really. I have difficulty moving forward because I have not lived today. And I missed yesterday. I have missed it. And fear will make me miss all of it.

Friday, May 20, 2011

last days + scoffers = not what you think

Sometimes we must dress devils red, with pitchforks and barbed tails. I think the teaching about the Rapture, specifically Harold Camping's Rapture, is such a devil.

Camping's prediction is one of those that leave you alternately laughing and crying. His exegesis is inane - shoddy work at best. It is a morning's mist. And the morning of May 22nd will show it to be so - though Sunday morning will not be enough to convince the people who follow Camping. (Traditionally, Sunday mornings convince few.) If I were his neighbor, I'd meet him at his door in the morning, with doughnuts and a paper, and kindly invite him to Mass. Mr. Camping needs our prayers and perhaps our pity, but his belief, the idea itself, calls for a reasonable amount of scoffing. Camping is neither the first nor the last of these terribly specific wearers of menacing sandwich boards.

The teaching about the Rapture in general, and the way some teach it, is fraught with problems - devils even. My wife, for instance, has very real fears associated with the teaching about the Rapture. The teaching is laced with fear. It was and is used "evangelistically," which is a Christian way of saying it is used to scare the hell out of people. And when we scare the hell out of people, the only thing we accomplish is putting a bit of hell in their hearts. Fear is a part of hell. And hell worms its way out.

The teaching of the Rapture derives from and buttresses an us-them theology, it is uncharitable and fosters arrogance. And it is escapist. (The rescue aspect of the teaching is what endeared it to me for so many years). I used to believe in the Rapture (pre-tribber), but no more. The Rapture is Darby's invention, a man who was a contemporary of Darwin and Lincoln. It is not the teaching of the Christian faith - believed by all, at all times, and everywhere (as St Vincent of Lerins says).

I do believe, however, as the Creed says, that "[Christ] will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end." I do believe that we will be caught up in the air, but only to descend again with the coming King (no going off to heaven for some specified or unspecified amount of time). This is how peoples in the Middle East greeted kings and conquerors. They rode out of the city walls to greet and escort him back into the city. For us it is like meeting family or friends at their car or on the porch when they visit - we go out to embrace them and kiss them, and then we lead them inside.

Christ might come tomorrow or 3,000 years from now.

Here is a quote from Pope Benedict's most recent book:

A further key element of Jesus' eschatological discourse is the warning against false Messiahs and apocalyptic enthusiasm. Linked with this is the instruction to practice sobriety and vigilance, which Jesus developed further in a series of parables, especially in the story of the wise and foolish virgins (Mt 25.1-13) and in his sayings about the watchful doorkeeper (Mk 13.33-36). In this last passage we see clearly what is meant by "vigilance": not neglecting the present, speculating on the future, or forgetting the task in hand, but quite the reverse - it means doing what is right here and now, as is incumbent upon us in the sight of God


Jesus' apocalyptic words have nothing to do with clairvoyance. Indeed, they are intended to deter us from mere superficial curiosity about observable phenomena (cf. Lk 17.20) and to lead us toward the essential: toward life built upon the word of God that Jesus gives us; toward an encounter with him, the living Word; toward responsibility before the Judge of the living and the dead (Joseph Ratzinger, Jesus of Nazereth: Holy Week, end of Chapter 2).

This is what eschatology is about. Unfortunately, we have spun it onto its head. It is not about our rescue. Not about the destruction of evil men (i.e., those who didn't say the Sinner's Prayer or those who believed differently than I believed). Not even about my reunion with Jesus. It is about the consummation of the reconciliation of all things that began with Mary's fiat. It is the Kingdom of Heaven come. It is me loving my neighbor and helping the poor. It is the redemption of the cosmos. And so we say Maranatha! but we mean it differently. We mean it credally - "The Lord has come!" and we mean it longingly, "O Lord, come!" But even as we long for his coming we do not mean simply that time when he returns. We mean it in the context of the Lord's Prayer - of getting heaven into this world and getting heaven into my own heart. The Lord is near.

So I scoff because we are not called to some kind of spiritual meteorology. "Why are you looking at the sky?" said the angels at the Ascension. And then they offer an eschatological statement for the purpose of its robust and joyous implication: "Get to work!"

In this sense, the urgency of evangelization in the apostolic era was predicated not so much on the necessity for each individual to acquire knowledge of the Gospel in order to attain salvation, but rather on this grand conception of history: if the world was to arrive at its destiny, the Gospel had to be brought to all nations (Ratzinger, Jesus of Nazereth: Holy Week, Chap 2).

God loves Harold Camping and those who follow him. He loves us. And he says to us: Go and love others as I love you. Working is how we wait.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


It was the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne, Indiana. My wife and I, though Evangelicals, walked into the church twenty years ago to observe a daily Mass. Holy men, wooden statues, greeted us within the narthex, nearly showing us cowards. Further in, we found only a few people in a building that swallowed them. It was quiet, somber, and dark. Lifeless.

What does it mean to be follower of Christ? What does it look like? Does the countenance of a woman matter in worship? Do we know what lies in a man's heart?

We make so many judgments.

Every morning we see ourselves from a place of mercy. The challenge for us, our mandate, is to show the same mercy, even more, toward our brothers and sisters and toward all people. To see them, as St Paul says, as better than ourselves. To see ourselves as sinners so that we might cry out for Christ's presence every moment of our lives.

I used to look at the Catholic Church (not a particular church, but the entire structure) from without it and, at my best, be saddened by all they thought they had to do to please God - what salvation meant to them. There was baptism and all the other sacraments, Mass and so many other things that, left undone, they thought would incur God's wrath. Perspective is so important. We are constantly in danger of misreading the other. It's all too natural. Now as a Catholic I sometimes wince even still, five years later, at the obligations laid upon me. And when I do so it is because I have lost perspective and forgotten that the Church is my Mother. Her goal is to nurture and nourish our sanctity, to draw us to Christ and drag us when necessary. She says that this or that obligation or precept is important for us if we want to pursue holiness, if we want to become like God, if we want to be clean. Here, she says, are graces - food that costs no money, wine that is free - come and be satisfied. Open wide your mouth, she says, and I will place God in it.

Nowadays I look back at Evangelicalism, and I see there the other I once saw in the face of Catholicism. I see the morality, the obligations, that each little community imposes on itself, the unwritten but real codes: Be like this. Listen to this music. Eat this. Don't drink that. Fellowship here. KJV only. Anything but KJV. Read your Bibles. Do not do all these terrible things. Pretend as if you do not want to do all these terrible things. Smile. Clap your hands. Believe this and that. Here is the list of what it means to be Christian - to be part of this community. And I remember that they too need mercy and grace, that they are supplicants before God's throne just as I am. They are my brothers and sisters. It is true that they are sinners, every one of them. But they are better than me.

I, well, I am broken. I court death. I am in need of constant care, placed in the inn by my Brother - that one good, true Neighbor - to be cared for by the innkeepers, to be healed by the sweet oil and wine that is kept there. This is why I am Catholic.

Monday, May 16, 2011

chariots of fire

I watched Chariots of Fire over the weekend for the umpteenth time. Though I disagree with him, Liddell's resolve to honor God is admirable. It fascinates me how God responds to Liddell's, "I won't run on the Sabbath." Liddell is very strict in setting apart the "Sabbath" as holy. And while I believe the Lord's Day ought to be set aside for liturgy, rest, and family, I don't think one has to be as absolute about one's inactivity (i.e., one's participation in sports or work) as Liddell was. So it is my opinion that God's and Liddell's view of the Lord's Day are not entirely the same. Assume with me for a minute that I am correct. Even so, God honors Liddell. And this is how God is, isn't it? He honors what we have to give - whether it is a small thing, seemingly insignificant, misguided, or even wrong. We can only give what we are able to give.

And he is goodness and mercy to us.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Red Eggs and Resurrection

The sacred story varies, but I have grown to love it and so I share it with you:

It is said that some years after the Resurrection, Mary Magdalene was carrying a basketful of eggs into Jerusalem. She met up with Governor Tiberius, who followed Pontius Pilate. She proclaimed the good news of Christ's resurrection to Tiberius, who rejected it saying, "Christ has no more risen than those eggs are red." Immediately the eggs turned red. "Christ is risen (Christos Anesti)," she said, holding out a red egg. Tiberius said, "Truly he is risen (Alithos Anesti)."

And such is the greeting of the Eastern Church throughout the 40 days of Easter: Christos Anesti!

Make some red eggs today and remember.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Holy Triduum

Holy week is upon us. It's the rush of life. It is holy activity. Tonight begins Holy Triduum - Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday. I am reading the OT reading tonight (Ex 12.1-8, 11-14), Sophie is having her feet washed (token feet), and Avery is participating in the offertory procession. Tomorrow at 3:00 is the Good Friday liturgy - where we venerate the Cross (for Evangelicals, think Chris Tomlin's "Mighty Is the Power of the Cross"). Then Saturday night is Easter vigil, which begins at dusk. And, of course, Sunday is Easter - the Eighth Day of Creation, New Creation, Resurrection. (Here's a good article describing the Three Days (triduum) if you need a primer or refresher.) We may not all make it to Holy Saturday's Easter Vigil Mass, but I would like to get there if possible. It's a standing-room-only kind of Mass and can take two or three hours. Powerful hard with babies.

And while every Sunday is a little Easter where we celebrate the Paschal Mystery, this is a sanctified time where we are re-presented the joy and love and hope and life given us - shown again what is always ours. Night has passed, behold the dawn! Blessed be God forever!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Life. Today.

It is a season of penance, when dead things are called to life and redbuds drape themselves in purple. Jack and Cate play outside, running back and forth across our dirt driveway. Their laughter trips over red lava stones, heralding life.

Life does not arrive when the kids are grown and I have time to do as I please - writing, working, concerned with adult matters instead of dirty pants and hungry tummies - life is now. Today. Life is not postponed because of my kids, not interrupted. It is propagated through them. Propagated in me. Propagated in the world they touch. They are joyfully, wildly alive. And while their life, untamed and freckled, often requires all of mine, I would not wish for any other. And they run and play and fight and whine, catching me up. And I, though often tired and discontent, bud.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Take Up Your Cross. No, Mine.

Too often, we elevate the importance of the work God has called us to. So we are called to do this or that work and we believe it the apex of Christian life, of incarnational or iconic living. Our apostolate always seems greater than another's, our spiritual emphases and works of mercy a clearer path to God. This, of course, is untrue generally, though it may be true specifically. That you are called to have a dozen children may be necessary for your salvation. Or that you become a monk. Or that you work as a missionary or a priest or a homemaker. Now all these are good, and we may, to a greater or lesser extent, be expected to be involved in a variety of these callings - though in different functions. But my service is different than your service. It ought to be. If I push hard enough, my calling becomes bent from its original shape and no longer remains in service to Christ and his Church. To borrow St Paul's metaphor, the Body becomes grossly disfigured as the hand becomes everything. And then my life leans fully into egoism and autonomy, and, sometimes, potentially, heresy. Of course, this does not mean we cease to take up our cross, but rather that we do not demand our neighbor take it up as well - or think that if he doesn't, he does not serve God as he ought or as well as we do. Do not judge him, he has his own cross to bear.

Before becoming Pope Benedict XVI, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger was asked in an interview, "How many paths are there to God?" And Cardinal Ratzinger answered, "As many as there are people."

(Image taken from

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Are We Poor?

"Are we poor?" says my son, says my daughter, says my heart.

And I think of the man on the street and the ladies who live across from us in the duplexes. I think of so many whose first chore of the day is to walk to a well or a river for water. And for water that isn't even clean. I think of them after taking a hot shower in the middle of winter. I think of them while sipping at my coffee. "No," I say. "We are not poor." And the car breaks again and the floor rots under us. The bath tub is useless and our water pipes hold together only stubbornly. This house is at odds with itself.

"Are we poor?" they say.

I say, "It depends what you mean by 'poor.' " It seems obvious to them what they mean: They cannot have the new pair of shoes they want, or that video game, or clothes that they do not have to share. It seems obvious when they go to bed, stacked like cordwood. Or when the weather constrains them to indoors, and their parents grow impatient at their play (it is so loud). It seems obvious. But still they ask.

"Look around you," I say. "You have a big family that loves you, that is and always will be together. Who, when I take just half of you out to the store, people ask whether you are all mine. You are rich where richness counts."

"Are we poor?" they say. And I think of my anger and my covetousness. I think of my despondency and impatience. I think of how I hoard what I do have, failing to give to those who do not. And I say, "I am poor."

Outside, overnight, it has snowed. It is a Carolina snow. And the ground, pizzelle-like, reminds me of holidays and weddings. We are not poor, children. We are not.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Baptism / Epiphany

"A Russian Orthodox Christian crosses himself in 9-degree weather as he emerges from a cross-shaped ice hole in a traditional Epiphany celebration in Moscow."


Pic from

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Sun Does Not Hide Itself

"God is good, without passions and unchangeable. One who understands that it is sound and true to affirm that God does not change might very well ask: 'how, then, is it possible to speak of God as rejoicing over those who are good, becoming merciful to those who know Him and, on the other hand, shunning the wicked and being angry with sinners.' We must reply to this, that God neither rejoices nor grows angry, because to rejoice and to be angered are passions. Nor is God won over by gifts from those who know Him, for that would mean that He is moved by pleasure. It is not possible for the Godhead to have the sensation of pleasure or displeasure from the condition of humans, God is good, and He bestows only blessings, and never causes harm, but remains always the same. If we humans, however, remain good by means of resembling Him, we are united to Him, but if we become evil by losing our resemblance to God, we are separated from Him. By living in a holy manner, we unite ourselves to God; by becoming evil, however, we become at enmity with Him. It is not that He arbitrarily becomes angry with us, but that our sins prevent God from shining within us, and expose us to the demons who make us suffer. If through prayer and acts of compassionate love, we gain freedom from our sins, this does not mean that we have won God over and made Him change, but rather that by means of our actions and turning to God, we have been healed of our wickedness, and returned to the enjoyment of God's goodness. To say that God turns away from the sinful is like saying that the sun hides itself from the blind" (St Anthony the Great, Cap. 150).

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Cap'n's Log

I'm currently reading two books. The first is Catholicism: Christ and the Common Destiny of Man, by Henri de Lubac, and the second is Why Evolution Is True, by Jerry A. Coyne. Both books are quite good. I can't read but a few pages at a time of Lebac, who constantly knocks me on my metaphorical butt with his thoughts on the Church and unity. Unity is what brought me into the Church, but it has been a while since I've actually thought much about it as it relates to life in the Church, unfortunately, and it's been a wonderful reminder. (Thank you, Fred, for the suggestion.)

The second book is about evolution, which you may have deduced from its title. It's actually quite good, if you like learning about evolution, but the author does make the mistake (in my opinion) of sometimes pushing his science into his metaphysics. But maybe he backs off later in the book. We'll see.

We had the entire week off, due to the snow and ice. Monday is MLK Jr. Day which gives us a grand total of 10 days. A little ice age, or at least a secondary Christmas break. Which means, likely, that we will get very little of our spring break. C'est la vie. That's what happens, and how it happens, in the South.

Anna turns 10 on Monday. What a beautiful girl. Looking forward to having the day off with the family. Because, you know, we haven't had much time together lately.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snow Days

This is our second day off school here in North Carolina. We had freezing rain last night, though fortunately with no power outage or broken limbs through the roof of the house. The kids will be off Wednesday as well, and, at best, we'll have a two-hour delay on Thursday. Though with the temperatures they're forecasting, my guess is that it will be Friday before any of them see the inside of their school again. Laura has been off too, of course, though with her teaching in a different county what is called off and what is not usually is somewhat of a nail-biter. When she has to be at school and the kids are off, well, that's just not even funny. I get enough of that every summer.

I need to write here more often, but have gotten away from it and have spent more time with small posts via Facebook. But FB doesn't allow one to really write - and no one there really wants to read anything, so I'd like to breathe some life back into this little blog. Though it is hard to get the time to write. After two months, my upstairs computer has come back to life - for some odd reason. Raised from the ashes. I don't know how long she'll last, but I hope it's a long while. I love this old Mac.