Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Thomas Storck takes a very ressourcement{1} oriented look at the phenomenons of the 1960's counter-culture and the establishment they claimed to be fighting in a piece titled Change and Return which can be read at this link. Prepare yourself for a well-reasoned defense of the notion that some of the ideals of the 1960's "counter-culture" may well be of greater vintage (and also more intrinsically Catholic) than either the proponents or their opponents would casually presume.

Also well worth reading at the same link is Storck's piece Aging Hippies or Old Western Men? I particularly recommend this one if you have an interest in the old world or medieval period. I intended to link to the latter piece about seven odd months ago but ended up forgetting about it. However, as it is at the same link as the first piece, you now get two for the price of nothing except a bit of time to read them (of course).


{1} For an exposition by your humble servant on the subject of ressourcement outlooks, see the weblog entry titled The Definition of a Conservative. (Posted to the Rerum Novarum Miscellaneous BLOG a few months ago after over two years of mostly subconscious reflection.)

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Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Today's Johnny Cash song was recorded in 1971. I was originally going to do these in chronological order but the lyrics to this song mesh well with the previous Points to Ponder installment where Stephen mentions the concept of justice.

Man in Black:

Well, you wonder why I always dress in black,
Why you never see bright colors on my back,
And why does my appearance seem to have a somber tone.
Well, there's a reason for the things that I have on.

I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down,
Livin' in the hopeless, hungry side of town,
I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime,
But is there because he's a victim of the times.

I wear the black for those who never read,
Or listened to the words that Jesus said,
About the road to happiness through love and charity,
Why, you'd think He's talking straight to you and me.

Well, we're doin' mighty fine, I do suppose,
In our streak of lightnin' cars and fancy clothes,
But just so we're reminded of the ones who are held back,
Up front there ought 'a be a Man In Black.

I wear it for the sick and lonely old,
For the reckless ones whose bad trip left them cold,
I wear the black in mournin' for the lives that could have been,
Each week we lose a hundred fine young men.

And, I wear it for the thousands who have died,
Believen' that the Lord was on their side,
I wear it for another hundred thousand who have died,
Believen' that we all were on their side.

Well, there's things that never will be right I know,
And things need changin' everywhere you go,
But 'til we start to make a move to make a few things right,
You'll never see me wear a suit of white.

Ah, I'd love to wear a rainbow every day,
And tell the world that everything's OK,
But I'll try to carry off a little darkness on my back,
Till things are brighter, I'm the Man In Black.


Points to Ponder:
(On Liturgy and its Fruits)

When any view the Mass obsessively as the be-all and end-all of the Catholic faith---i.e., as an end in itself--- rather than as the means to Christ's and the Spirit's spiritual fruits (faith and good works), they are bound to be off-kilter spiritually. Rather than see Jesus Christ present in the Eucharist they will be scanning the rite for problems, irritants everywhere, for elements that do not please them. In this way the Christian faith devolves into self-centeredness.

The fruits of the Spirit (1 Cor 13; Gal 5:22,23) and the praxis of the beatitudes (Matt 5-7), i.e., the imitation of Christ, are the test as to whether ours is a Self religion or a Him religion. The Mass (whatever the rite) is the means to this grace. When the Liturgy is approached for the Eucharist alone then we see and experience the liturgical rite as the window, par excellance, to Him, leading to orthopraxis.

What is orthopraxis? Some object to the word as of recent origin. As someone wrote recently: practically speaking, orthopraxis simply means right practice, just as orthodoxy means right belief. It should be obvious that the lexicon of Christianity has constantly evolved and is constantly evolving around fixed points defined by the magisterium, first from pagan denotations (theo, deus, Christ, ecclesia, Phylakas Angelos, homoousion, substance, etc) and, later, from different schools and movements within Christianity itself. It is better to help shape the language which has already become a part of the lexicon of the theology of the day than to defensively wish it hadn't arrived.

The concept of right practice is very biblical, of course, for "faith without works is dead," Sts. Paul and James teach, and as the prophets continually emphasized (Isaiah 1:11, 16-17; Amo 5:21-24; Hsa 6:6 ; Mk 12:33) . Our sacrifices and rites without justice are repugnant to YHWH. Traditionalists and maybe a few conservatives have much to gain from this word. And liberals must not make it a substitute for right belief, but an expression of it.

So the Mass and orthodoxy exist for right practice, good works, the fruits of the Spirit and the teachings of Jesus as found preeminently in the Beatitudes. This is the measure of whether we are approaching liturgy appropriately and as Catholics. If we only find irritants in a rite---gross abuses aside--- there is something wrong with our spiritual vision. We see the what only and not the Who and the why. The problem is with us, not with the Church's rites. [Stephen Hand: TCR Letters and Musings]


Sunday, October 05, 2003

Today's Johnny Cash lyrics are from a song he recorded on July 1, 1957...

Give My Love To Rose

I found him by the railroad track this morning
I could see that he was nearly dead
I knelt down beside him and I listened
Just to hear the words the dying fellow said

He said they let me out of prison down in Frisco
For ten long years I've paid for what I've done
I was trying to get back to Louisiana
To see my Rose and get to know my son

Give my love to Rose please won't you mister
Take her all my money, tell her to buy some pretty clothes
Tell my boy his daddy's so proud of him
And don't forget to give my love to Rose

Tell them I said thanks for waiting for me
Tell my boy to help his mom at home
Tell my Rose to try to find another
For it ain't right that she should live alone

Mister here's a bag with all my money
It won't last them long the way it goes
God bless you for finding me this morning
And don't forget to give my love to Rose

Give my love to Rose please won't you mister
Take her all my money, tell her to buy some pretty clothes
Tell my boy his daddy's so proud of him
And don't forget to give my love to Rose


Ruminations of Apolonio
(A Rerum Novarum Quadruple Slam)

A sampling of musings from a modern Catholic evangelist who quite possibly has the purest philosophical approach around. The first link is on morality in general - a sample of which reads as follows:


I just interviewed a couple of my classmates on the issue of morality. I asked, "What is morality?" All of their answers were relatavistic. One person answered, "Morality is a set of guidelines and rules you set for you to follow." This is what most believe. And I was scared of it. It seems as if an abolition of man is possible. If it is, then man is not man anymore, but a machine or an animal. We simply have not exterminated morality in practice, but in theory. It seems to me that men act as if they are "men without chests". But why? Wasn't September the 11th enough to convince us that there is such a thing as evil? We sometimes need to experience things in order to be convinced something is true. For More Go Here

I hate to say it but at times my pessimism is comparable to Apolonio's is at the above link. (I wonder how Apolonio would score on the Myers-Briggs profile but I digress.)

Thoughts on Sex

...What is love? Most people think it's a sort of emotion. It is not. Love is a matter of the will. Love is giving one's self for another; making a person's good your responsibility. It is a self-giving act. It is also a rational act, though above reason, it is not contrary to it. Wouldn't a person think before he gets married? It is not blind as people think it is. Lust is blind, not love. As Chesterton says, Love is not blind' that is the last thing it is. Love is bound; and the more it is bound the less it is blind." Love does not bind your emotions to another, but it binds yourself. The more a person loves, the more responsibility he gets. For More Go Here

I believe it was Frank Sheed that once said that modern man as a rule never thinks about sex. Apparently he was not referring to Apolonio who quite clearly has :)

Thoughts on Beauty: My First Attempt

...A beautiful object reveals itself to the intellect. The more it reveals itself, the more beautiful it is. The intellect then is delighted in knowing the object. It satisfies our desires and produces love. Love then produces an ecstasy. This is why when we have listened to a beautiful music, it seems as if we have transcended ourselves. Every experience of beauty, Hans Urs Von Balthasar said, points to infinity. For More Go Here

I would argue that beauty is only in some things of a purely objective nature. Most of the time there is an undergirding subjective factor to it which needs to be faced squarely. But that is perhaps something that could be discussed another time. Finally, we have existential approaches to evangelization:

Evangelization:My Existential Approach

...There are different kinds of approaches to evangelization. It depends on the person or the people whom you are spreading the faith about. However, my first and basic step is to start from man. This is a popular starting point today and some probably disagree with it. However, I believe it is the best start that fits for the modern world. Some might call it the "existential approach". For More Go Here

In five words: Maurice Blondel, call your office ;-)

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"One From the Vault" Dept
(Dialogue on Mel Gibson's Movie --Part II)

The first installment of this thread can be read HERE.



I agree that it would be good for people to wait until they have seen the film before deciding on its merits. That is why I wrote to try to suggest that those of us who have not seen it should not be rallying to its defense (which seemed to be more the tendency on this site than rushing to condemn it).

Well, in an ideal situation I would agree. However, since this film is being attacked by people who have not seen it, I believe we have to at the very least neutralize that. After all, there could very well be a solid tool here for evangelization and if the well is poisoned in advance, that will mitigate the potential positive effects amongst those who are incapable of recognizing the agenda of the saboteurs.

Those who have seen it or read the script are entitled to express opinions, which the rest of us can evaluate as we would any other opinion about something on which we have no direct knowledge -- that is what I understand by listening to the reasons behind the judgments of those who have seen or read it.

Yes but when the critics are trying to avoid the primary issues and stick to "what-ifs", I lose any respect for their credibility that I may have had.

I respect the opinions of Michael Medved and William A. Donohue (quoted by James Scott aka BenYachov) as well as those of Philip Cunningham. And at this point I can't judge the film, as is the case with many other people.

Medved and Donohue would not have come out if not for the lack of fairness on the part of the critics of the film. (Almost all of which are apparently reacting rather than thinking here.)

Now I'd like to respond (briefly, I hope) to some of the things you wrote.

By all means :)

(Shawn) "Again, is there no room whatsoever for artistic license???"

(XXXXXX XXXX) There can be. But in this case it is fair to insist that it must not be anti-Semitic in its effect nor contradict history or scripture.

I did not see these people too worried about films such as Last Temptation of Christ, Dogma, or any host of other films which were blatantly anti-Catholic. If there was a bit more even-handedness then I would not have as much of an objection to the critics of Mel's film. But I do not like inconsistency and unfortunately that is what we are seeing here.

(XXXXXX XXXX's Post) "Cunningham also notes that the U.S. Bishops' Criteria for the Evaluation of Dramatizations of the Passion say "that divergent scenes from the different gospels cannot simply be strung together for dramatic effect if the effect is to intensify 'Jewish' culpability."

(Shawn) I take it therefore that if there was no intention of the dramatic effect to "intensify Jewish culpability" that it would be okay."

(XXXXXX XXXX) I disagree.

So using the other Gospels to fill in details that the primary source (the Gospel of John) did not have would be a problem then???

(XXXXXX XXXX) The document quoted by Cunningham refers -- very reasonably IMO -- to "the effect" not "the intention."

Okay, then another question comes to mind: how are we to objectively judge the "effect"??? I do not see these people offering a solution to this, only a bunch of opinions which are no more valuable than the opinions of others. And of course these people are never to be found when the "effect" of lies about the Catholic faith crop up in movie after movie. Again, if they themselves showed more objectiveness, it would be easier to take their concerns seriously.

(XXXXXX XXXX) So Cunningham's objection is that as he reads the script Gibson has put the events from John and Matthew together in a way which intensifies Jewish culpability.

But he has not actually *seen* footage now has he??? Rough scripts can often go through many revisions before the final product emerges. But rather than submit such concerns privately, these people want to do so publicly to (apparently) attempt to discredit Mel's movie not only before it premieres but before it is even finished. This is not an honest way to go about with criticisms.

(XXXXXX XXXX) He is not saying that Gibson intended that effect, just that it is the effect.

But of course the question then arises: did he go into this endeavour intending to find ways to make the rough cut of the script "offensive"??? And of course one persons "effect" is another person's "non-effect." This can be witnessed to by reading any group of reviewers of a film where some give high marks to what others downgrade.

There needs to be an objective source and that can only come from a private screening of the film followed by interviewing the watchers. But I am wondering if we can get an objective analysis of the film after these people poison the waters as they are doing.

For the charge of antisemitism is like being tarred and feathered: if they get it to stick it will oftentimes never come completely off.

(XXXXXX XXXX's Post) You and I can't tell at this time.

(Shawn) "Yes but why are we seeming to presume that Mel Gibson is an anti-semite???"

(XXXXXX XXXX) I'm not.

I was not saying "we" as an indictment of you XXXXXX XXXX. It was a reference to the critics who by bringing Mel's father into the mix are going a little shuck and jive themselves. (Because Hutton is a bigot.) But that does not mean that Mel is one. And furthermore, Hutton has *nothing whatsoever* to do with the movie. Yet they mention him for some reason.

I cannot help but feel it is because they want to try and indirectly undermine Mel via his father. In light of the nature of the complaints (i.e. the deicide issue and if all Jews are guilty or the sins of those who handed Jesus over to Pilate), I am seeing an amazing hypocrisy at work on their parts. For if they are so concerned about subsequent generations being blamed for the sins of past generations, why are they doing the exact same thing to Mel by bringing up his father???

(XXXXXX XXXX) "Furthermore, apparently what Gibson gives us isn't all in the Bible anyway.

(Shawn) Minor details (such as the wearing of chains) should hardly keep anyone awake at night."

(XXXXXX XXXX) a.) My point was that some people were saying something like, "It can't be anti-Semitic because it's all in the Bible." But that is an innacurate defense, because it's not all in the Bible. Artistic license, and all that.

This is a fair criticism. The defenders should have stuck to saying "it is overwhelmingly based on the literal text" and that statement would probably stick. But they went for the absolute terms like "all" or "only." So they set themselves up to be refuted very easily.

(XXXXXX XXXX) b.) Chains may not be a biggie, but having a Jewish mob "brutalizing" Jesus when it isn't in any of the Gospels is another matter. (The closest thing to it is Luke's reference to "[t]he men who held Jesus in custody" ridiculing and beating him -- Lk 22:63-65.)

That is probably the text he had in mind.

(XXXXXX XXXX) And if the primary source is John, what is the effect of introducing this bit from Luke, heightened by "artistic license?"

To help magnify for the viewer the tremendous sufferings of the Saviour perhaps???

(Shawn) "One of those on the Ad Hoc Scholars Committee (Amy-Jill Levine) apparently noted as follows: "[A]ccusing him of being 'quite selective in choosing audiences'" to preview the film, Levine imagined how children of those invited would characterize Jews if asked, "'In the movie, who killed Jesus?' or 'Did the Jews in the film seem very interested in money?'" Levine added, "Every single response may be benign, but why take the chance?"]"

(XXXXXX XXXX) This particular objection strikes me as pretty weak.


(Shawn)"Another Ad Hoc Scholars Committee representative (Sister Mary C. Boys) stated the following: ["We're not saying Mel Gibson is an anti-Semite, or even that the film is anti-Semitic," Boys said. "But rather, that by stressing the brutality, the torture, and by ascribing that visually to the Jews, the Christians seeing this will naturally conclude that the Jews carry the primary responsibility for the death of Jesus."]"

(XXXXXX XXXX) If what scripture says was done by Pilate's soldiers, by the members of the Sanhedrin, or by the guards is depicted as being done by a mob of unofficial Jews, that would be problematic IMO.

I agree. But we are trusting these people who also have not seen even a rough cut of the film to tell us what the visuals are. Not to sound like Thomas but until I see it for myself, I am afraid I will not trust them based on their trackrecord of inconsistency and their weak objections.

(XXXXXX XXXX) I am glad to read the quote stating that Mel Gibson is not anti-Semitic.

Me too. He has for a long time been among my favourite actors in Hollywood. Part of the reason I object to the blanket deicide assertion pertaining to "traditionalists" is because I know a lot of "traditionalists" who do not believe in deicide. (Nor did I ever that I can recall hold such a view.)

It is true that there are many radtrads who do have this view; however it is not a universal within the so-called "traditionalist" movement. So we have essentially the same people who decry stereotypes against others using a stereotype against the "traditionalists" as if somehow their opposition to Vatican II means that they therefore *must* be propagators of the deicide view.

(XXXXXX XXXX) I hope he has not made a movie which is unintentionally anti-Semitic in effect.

Me too. But without seeing at least a rough cut - and even that would be an incomplete viewing - it is all guesswork. So as Catholics we should presume the best here as that is the hallmark of a proper charitable outlook.

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