Wednesday, August 08, 2018

A Few Points to Note On Elections Special and Otherwise...

I am seeing the usual sorts try to put on the election results whatever spin they feel helps their agenda so lets clear a few things up right now:

1) There is no such thing as a moral victory in elections, only winning and losing. So those who love, hate, or fall somewhere in between on the Trump scale, trying to spin a given election to fit the #narrative you want is what hacks do. A win is a win whether its by 50 votes or 50,000 votes. PERIOD.

2) #Trumpbots, when you crow about a win in a district that favours the party in question, that shows insecurity on your part. Stop it.

3) The party out of power usually wins more seats than not. For that reason, #Resistbots and #NeverTrumpbots need to stop acting as if a win of any given seat or two is necessarily indicative of anything larger on the horizon. Again, the party out of power usually wins more seats than not in midterm environs.

4) Special elections are always unique animals, particularly congressional races. I have seen folks who hate Trump spinning OH-12 as if its a disaster because the GOP candidate did not win by a requisite margin. Likewise, I have seen Trump supporters acting as if winning OH-12 means there is no so-called "Blue Wave" coming and its all #MAGA as far as the eye can see. Its all about feeding a chosen narrative and not seeking to approach these things objectively. I understand there is some elation to get from a win or frustration from a loss but again, special elections are rarely if ever indicative of how the bigger fall elections will go so stop pretending they are on all sides.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Points to Ponder:

Where is it written that one cannot criticize others (even seriously at times) without detesting them as people??? [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa September 21, 2006)]

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Monday, August 06, 2018

On My Resignation From Where Peter Is, General Concerns For The State Of Public Discourse There and Elsewhere, Etc.
(Musings of your humble servant at Rerum Novarum)

To begin with, this situation has been on my mind since nearly the very beginning of my involvement at Where Peter Is. And as I sketched some of this out in my introduction column at Where Peter Is (WPI), I will use what I said there to explain why I have decided to with this posting formalize my decision concretely at the present time. To wit:

Many years ago, I was involved in apologetics but I have been distancing myself from that for about fifteen years now. Fundamentally this was due to the limitations involved in mere apologetics. However, there was also the factor of too many involved in that endeavour revealing a disturbing degree of intellectual dependence on the Church’s magisterium to try and navigate complex subject matter. There is also an equally disturbing tendency of not a few folks to try and dogmatically impose an artificial uniformity onto others which creates unnecessary divisions. This is hardly in line with “the common saying, expressed in various ways and attributed to various authors…recalled with approval: in essentials, unity; in doubtful matters, liberty; in all things, charity” (Pope St. John XXIII: Encyclical Letter Ad Petri Cathedram); ergo, I want nothing to do with that crowd.{1}

What I outlined above are areas that I believe should be well understood by all but indeed they are not. Even among those who can cite the relevant texts, understanding is usually lacking because merely citing a text does not mean its actually understood very well. Much as the Bible is used as a prooftext-fest for not a few of our brethren (separated and otherwise) against one another, the same is the case with magisterial interventions by Catholics. I begin seeing very early on these same problems in the manner whereby WPI was operating. But in keeping with the title of the column{2}, I sought to explain the alternative which is what I intended to focus on after getting my feet wet with a few columns first. I made reference in the inaugural column to both general areas of interest{3} as well as problems I had seen over the years{4} both methodological{5} as well as attitudinal{6} in the various Catholic spheres I had inhabited over the past twenty years. It was hoped that touching on these matters at the get-go could help alert site participants to look for them in their own writings and attitudes but this does not appear to be the case. Therefore, my involvement even as a silent lurker would appear to give a tacit approval to the very same problems I had outlined in the inaugural column.

There is also the issue of the general thrust of the way the site had been operating. Even apart from some of the specific columns that I found profoundly problematical{7} is the general atmosphere as presented on the site and on the message thread. I made my good friend Pete Vere aware of some of these matters very early on in an email communication:

I have been doing a lot of pondering on this writing relationship with the group page Where Peter Is (WPI). When I came aboard, it looked very promising. Since that time, I have only seen things that lessen my motivation for being involved there. I do not like the idea of having to wait for many days for simple columns to post. When I joined that was not an issue but over the past week it has become one. I also do not like basically being told what to write about or when to publish something.
I support Pope Francis but that does not mean I support every sentence that comes unformed from his mouth -particularly when it is in areas that fall outside of his divinely vested competence. However, I also have serious problems with the attitude of so many who take issue in the latter areas in the manner they far too frequently do so. And the free passes folks on all sides give to their chosen comrades to engage in detraction, calumny, and general belittling of chosen "outcasts" while excoriating "the other side" for the same offenses: this too does not meet with my favour.
Also, I am not even remotely interested in the political-themed stuff I am seeing with greater frequency on the group messenger. It is too similar to what I see in virtually every other sphere and as I am reducing significantly my involvement in that stuff in other places, I am hardly going to take on more of it [here]...
It appears that the aim of WPI is to act as a general apologetics site for all things Pope Francis. However, I have no interest in general apologetics whatsoever. It is too simplistic and too divisive. I went over this in the inaugural column so my stance on this should not be surprising. I was also told in a more veiled way that material needs to be shaped for a pro-Francis audience or something like that. I operate under the assumption that the dialogue that Pope Francis and his predecessors have spoke of going back explicitly to the pontificate of Pope Paul VI is one they take seriously and furthermore, that they want Catholics to take part in. I do not see how that can be the case if the goal is just to create an echo chamber of nodding yesfolk who take turns complaining about what the yesfolk of other echo chambers say and vice versa.
This is a serious problem today: too many echo chambers and far too few who try to bridge these chasms in a productive fashion. That is what I saw myself doing as a member of WPI. I am interested in helping build bridges, not helping destroy them. There is a reason I started the inaugural column with that passage from Fr. Taft. I am not interested in creating unnecessary conflict but instead to help find ways to resolve it. It does not seem to me that WPI and I in that respect are on the same page and the goal of members of the former seem to be the antithesis of what I aim to do.{8}

For his own reasons, Pete has decided to part ways with WPI as well as the rest of public social media. Apart from what I thought WPI could be as enunciated in my inaugural column, I got involved in the project to collaborate with an old friend as we used to in the old days when we wrote web content as well as columns for periodical publications. We may be able to resume collaboration in the coming year but obviously that will not be happening at WPI. I therefore for the reasons specified above formally resign from Where Peter Is as of this column's publication and its notation on the messenger thread of its site participants. I thank them for the original opportunity but in the end, it simply is not the right fit for me; therefore, I wish them well and bid them adieu.

“The world is full of people who are bridge destroyers. They want to destroy the bridges that already exist. That’s not me.” [Rt. Rev. Archimandrite Fr. Robert F. Taft, SJ]


{1} Excerpt from Lighting Candles Instead of Cursing the Darkness (circa June 16, 2018)

{2} Lighting Candles Instead of Cursing the Darkness

{3} Among the ecclesial areas I have done a fair amount of study in are the areas not often familiar to apologists or indeed many theologians. For example, what is involved in the principles of authentic dialogue? (It is one thing to throw the term around and another to actually understand what it involves!) What is and is not involved in a magisterial intervention and what is and is not considered (properly speaking) “magisterial”? What are the general norms of theological interpretation involved in properly understanding the theological qualifications of magisterial interventions? What are the situations where someone can take issue with magisterial interventions and the recognized methodology thereof? And furthermore, what sort of spiritual dispositions should be involved in all such endeavours? These are areas worth delving into... [Excerpt from Lighting Candles Instead of Cursing the Darkness (circa June 16, 2018)]

{4} I have observed over the years that there is a greater frequency of coarseness in discourse in society generally speaking. What is even more disappointing is that I see it just as prominent among Catholics who should know better. To quote the words of a soon-to-be canonized saint, “[i]t would indeed be a disgrace if our dialogue were marked by arrogance, the use of bared words or offensive bitterness” (Bl. Pope Paul VI: Encyclical Letter Ecclesiam Suam). While I will at times bluntly call out such things when I see them, that is as a rule not how I have preferred over the years to go about these or other matters. [Excerpt from Lighting Candles Instead of Cursing the Darkness (circa June 16, 2018)]

{5} See the material from footnote one.

{6} I have also seen a growing coarseness in discourse among Catholics with the proliferation of labels intended to stigmatize others. [Excerpt from Lighting Candles Instead of Cursing the Darkness (circa June 16, 2018)]

I unfortunately in following the private messaging thread of WPI seen this sort of thing proliferate there as well as some of it creep onto the site itself.

{7} It is not my interest to go into this matter in any depth. Suffice to say, I hope bringing this matter to the attention of others on the site will make them more attuned to what they write and the manner in which it is presented in the future.

{8} Excerpts from an Email Correspondence (circa June 24, 2018)

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Points to Ponder:
(This is the conclusion of the series started HERE. Without further ado...)

Love your dad because he’s your father, because he made you, because he thinks for himself, and most of all because he is a person. Have the strength to doubt and question what you believe as easily as you’re so quick to doubt his beliefs. Live with a truly open mind — the kind of open mind that even questions the idea of an open mind. Don’t feel the need to always pick a side. And if you do pick a side, pick the side of love. It remains our only real hope for survival and has more power to save us than any other belief we could ever cling to. [Andrew W.K. (circa August 6, 2014)]

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Sunday, August 05, 2018

Points to Ponder:

I have learned to hold popular opinion of no value. [Alexander Hamilton]