A place I thought lost is becoming, or has become, a bright spot in Catholic higher education. The Catholic University of America, formerly known as Fr. Charles Curran’s heretical playground, is rediscovering, or has rediscovered, its Catholic identity; if, that is, the author Austin Ruse knows what he’s talking about, and I certainly expect that he does. A sign of hope for those of us who always seek them but most often do not find.
I should trouble myself to wish the few who visit here a Merry Christmas, even though
[He] was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.
He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
It is a fact, and a sad one. But if He found you and me, He will find others, perhaps many others. We wait and hope, praying always and never losing heart.
Heard a Protestant preacher fielding questions on the radio the other day. He was an expert on something, though I can’t remember what. Maybe God’s justice and the reality of hell. Anyway, he’d written a book he hoped people would buy. One young man wanted advice in answering a question posed by many of his friends, among whom he counts fence-sitters, sceptics, and unbelievers. And even some Christians. The question was: why would an all-knowing, all-loving God create creatures who He knew would rebel against Him?
The preacher said that that was a really good question. (Every talk show host says that. I wonder why.) He rambled a bit, but the upshot was that the young man should tell his friends that they can rest assured that no one goes to hell who doesn’t deserve it. But this doesn’t answer the question, which by implication was casting doubt on hell’s very existence.
The question was in fact just another way of posing the so-called ‘problem of evil.’ It is one of the most, if not the most, common objections put forth by doubters, who often seem not so much in doubt about the answer as dogmatic in what it must be. Thus, it seems to be not really a question at all, but an accusation.
Frankly, I don’t know why the preacher didn’t just tell the young man to tell his friends that if they wanted a universe in which the possibility of evil did not exist, then they wanted one in which human beings didn’t either. No people, no problem.
As an aside, I think people who bring up the problem of evil as presenting an insurmountable obstacle to faith are indulging a sort of blasphemy: God-shaming. ‘If God were perfect, He wouldn’t do this. If God were all-loving He wouldn’t do that. If God were all-good he wouldn’t make people who like to do bad.’ Even though the bad is what we choose, without any help from God whatsoever. Ain’t that just like people, always trying to shift the blame? It reminds me of Adam: “The woman made me do it.” He might have said, “Yes, God, I ate the apple, with full knowledge of the consequences, because I didn’t want her to suffer alone in her alienation. She’s my wife, after all. We’re in it together, to the end.” Who knows, it might have changed the course of human history. But I doubt it.
My daughter’s daughter, my granddaughter. She’s now one year old, and when she looks at me, I’m like a dead man come to life again.
[Update: two more articles went up at Crisis on the same topic, and Zippy makes his appearance in comments to both. Sorry, you'll have to find them yourself. It's easy.]
In case you didn’t get your fill of the atom bomb debate when the Hiroshima and Nagasaki anniversaries rolled around, I’m posting a comment exchange between my friend Zippy and the author of an article at Crisis called “Combatants, Non-Combatants, and Double Effect.” I may not have captured all of the back and forth because I haven’t been back in a couple of days. But this should give a glimpse of what a genuine massacre looks like.
Intentional murder of the innocent is about the worst thing one can be guilty of. But my impression of the author’s main point is that Catholic unity is paramount, that in this case it is permissible to believe that the bombings were murderous, and likewise permissible to believe the opposite. It’s okay if you do and okay if you don’t. Amazing.
I also note that early in the exchange, it becomes clear that ‘rhetoric’ in the Deacon’s opinion is a dirty word, so I doubt he knows what it really means. Perhaps he was looking for something like the more commonly maligned ‘sophistry,’ but that’s not a dirty word either.
I guess abortion is OK as long as it is done with bombs rather than suction aspiration.
Deacon Jim Russell •
I’ve got an idea–would you like to read the article and then offer a comment? Thanks.
Got married straight out of high school. To a guy I knew since fifth grade summer camp. Summer wedding. Guests were mostly mosquitos. We had a baby boy, then a toddler, now a teen. Last year my husband phones me at work, says he’s got a boyfriend named Dale, says they’re movin’ in together. Says he’s sorry, says he loves me, but not like that.
“What else is there?” I say. You think the world is somethin’ and it turns out to be something else.
Sheriff’s deputy Gloria Burgle (played by Carrie Coon), from the TV series Fargo.
What else is there? Exactly.
Back in February 2015 I put up a post called The End of Usury. The post’s title reflected wishful thinking, prompted by Zippy’s Usury FAQ at his website. That FAQ has been updated at least three times and, at the urging of readers, at last been put into hard copy and is now available at Amazon. I’ll say again what I said at the time: “…if you’re open to the possibility that certain transactions can still be described in our own time as usurious, that its practice is in fact very real, a very venal and grave iniquity..,” then this is the book for you. I promote it because I have become convinced of its moral urgency. The sin of usury derives, after all, from one man’s use of another human being, from his treating that being as an object. That its connection with other depredations of our time is an intimate one ought therefore to be rather obvious.
Buy as many copies as you can afford. Give them to every priest and religious of your acquaintance, to all your friends, and even send one to the Vatican. The Man Upstairs just might see that it finds its target.
A few highlights from the MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS ON THE OCCASION OF THE WORLD MEETINGS OF POPULAR MOVEMENTS IN MODESTO (CALIFORNIA) [16-18 FEBRUARY 2017] (10 FEBRUARY 2017):
I would also like to highlight the work done by the PICO National Network and the organizations promoting this meeting. I learned that PICO stands for “People Improving Communities through Organizing”. What a great synthesis of the mission of popular movements: to work locally, side by side with your neighbors, organizing among yourselves, to make your communities thrive.
Okay, so Obama was on the right track after all.