Modernists Are Tricky. That’s Kind of The Point.

July 12, 2014 at 11:49 am

modernism

There’s no way to keep up with the furious pace of those seeking to change the Catholic faith from the inside out, and it’s gotten pretty exhausting trying. It’s like theological whack-a-mole. This is why, I think, it’s good to step back and try to engage in pattern recognition, looking for the larger picture that is emerging through their death-by-a-thousand-cuts approach. Taking any single statement, appointment, interview, etc., on its own is most likely (though not always) insufficient. Seeing many pieces of circumstantial evidence pile up on one side of a scale gives weight to a thesis that’s difficult to definitively prove.

In other words, Modernists are tricky. That’s kind of the point of their whole operation. They are infiltrators, waging war through ambiguity and endless nuance, throwing chaff at their pursuers in the guise of this or that apparently orthodox thing they embrace while simultaneously dealing damage with the other hand.

The latest symptom of the Modernist infection comes from the appointment of the new Cardinal Archbishop of Cologne, Germany:

The Vatican has appointed the archbishop of Berlin, seen by German media as part of a “new generation” of less dogmatic clergy, to take over the Cologne archdiocese, the largest and richest in Germany, it said on Friday.

The move makes Rainer Maria Woelki, who turns 58 next month, one of the most influential Roman Catholic cardinals and is an indication of the type of person Pope Francis wants to see in prominent Church roles.

Berlin’s Tagesspiegel newspaper called him “the prototype of a new generation of bishops … not grumpy and dogmatic … these men speak of mercy and mean it. They’re open to people, even their critics, to a point and have a heart for the disadvantaged. Still, they’re theologically conservative.”

Woelki is a Cologne native and served there for years under his retired predecessor, the staunchly conservative Cardinal Joachim Meisner, before becoming bishop of Berlin in 2011.

When his Berlin appointment was announced, some politicians and Catholics in Berlin said he was too conservative for a city with such a large gay community, pointing to comments he had made that homosexuality was against “the order of creation”.

They also noted that he did his doctorate in theology at a pontifical university in Rome run by the conservative Catholic movement Opus Dei.

But Woekli surprised Berliners by saying he respected all people and would gladly meet with gay activists.

A year later, in 2012, he said: “If two homosexuals take responsibility for each other, if they are loyal to each other over the long term, then one should see this in the same way as heterosexual relations.”

Berlin’s Alliance against Homophobia nominated him for its Respect Prize that year, an honour he politely declined by saying it was normal for a Christian to respect all people so he should not receive an award for it.

 

Some people read this and see only certain keywords and phrases: “mercy”; “conservative” (x3); “open to…critics”; “Opus Dei”; etc. These work in support of their confirmation bias, namely, they support the fact that a pope they want to like is appointing prelates they want to believe are good men to be in charge of important things.

When I read these articles, however, I can’t help but view the facts through my Modernist-doublethink-secret-decoder-ring. In the life of those who advance the Modernist cause from within the Church there is always some confusing mixture of laudable and problematic characteristics, which makes it difficult to figure out exactly what they are about. This is why, I think, men like Cardinal Schönborn can be responsible for the organization of the new Catechism that is widely lauded as a theological resource while simultaneously participating in or approving of scandalously inappropriate liturgies.

My “decoder ring” is, of course, Pope St. Pius X’s encyclical, Pascendi Dominici Gregis, since it warned us with great specificity about what to look for. For example, in referencing the credibility of the modernists within the Church:

[N]one is more skillful, none more astute than they, in the employment of a thousand noxious devices; for they play the double part of rationalist and Catholic, and this so craftily that they easily lead the unwary into error; and as audacity is their chief characteristic, there is no conclusion of any kind from which they shrink or which they do not thrust forward with pertinacity and assurance To this must be added the fact, which indeed is well calculated to deceive souls, that they lead a life of the greatest activity, of assiduous and ardent application to every branch of learning, and that they possess, as a rule, a reputation for irreproachable morality.

“Mercy” is the word of the day that covers a multitude of anti-Catholic thought popular within the hierarchy of the present-day Church: it is not merciful to forbid divorced and remarried Catholics from receiving the Eucharist; it is not merciful to forbid Catholic politicians who support abortion from receiving the Eucharist; it is not merciful to leave heterodox theologians outside of visible communion with the Church (even when they do not publicly retract their heresy); it is not merciful to treat homosexual relationships as qualitatively different than heterosexual ones when approaching from a pastoral standpoint, etc.

[pullquote]
I can’t help but view the facts through my Modernist-doublethink-secret-decoder-ring.
[/pullquote]

Mercy, when contrasted with dogma, is set up as an alternate orthodoxy. It is the orthodoxy of the heart, of kindness, of the anti-Pharisaical ethos. But those who would set up this dichotomy never acknowledge that true mercy is always inextricably intertwined with justice, and justice is predicated upon law.

These people wish to change dogma to create an inclusive Church. A Church without boundaries, unfocused on rules and sacraments, unwilling to exclude salvation to those who choose not to embrace it, a Church that can lock hands with people of every other faith in a seamless garment of interwoven theology, all respecting each other’s “faith walk” progressing on a path to the same “god”. And dogma gets in their way, because the real Church looks nothing like that.

Again, from Pascendi, the Modernist’s view of dogma. It should sound eerily familiar to anyone paying attention:

Dogma is not only able, but ought to evolve and to be changed. This is strongly affirmed by the Modernists, and clearly flows from their principles. For among the chief points of their teaching is the following, which they deduce from the principle of vital immanence, namely, that religious formulas if they are to be really religious and not merely intellectual speculations, ought to be living and to live the life of the religious sense. This is not to be understood to mean that these formulas, especially if merely imaginative, were to be invented for the religious sense. Their origin matters nothing, any more than their number or quality. What is necessary is that the religious sense — with some modification when needful — should vitally assimilate them. In other words, it is necessary that the primitive formula be accepted and sanctioned by the heart; and similarly the subsequent work from which are brought forth the .secondary formulas must proceed under the guidance of the heart. Hence it comes that these formulas, in order to be living, should be, and should remain, adapted to the faith and to him who believes. Wherefore, if for any reason this adaptation should cease to exist, they lose their first meaning and accordingly need to be changed.

“I’m not interested in converting Evangelicals to Catholicism.”

July 11, 2014 at 3:05 pm

pope-francis-internet-is-a-gift-from-god

Pope Francis, who will soon preach at a Pentecostal church in Rome — and plans to offer them “an apology from my church for the hurt it has brought to their congregation.”

(No word on whether the Penetecostals will apologize for their propagation of heresy.)

In any case, the Vicar of Christ evidently doesn’t want anything to do with that solemn nonsense known as “evangelization.” Again, he tells a non-Catholic he has no intention to try to convert anyone:

It’s fair to ask what kind of Catholic Church we as Evangelicals want to see. At lunch I asked Pope Francis what his heart was for evangelism. He smiled, knowing what was behind my question. His comment was, “I’m not interested in converting Evangelicals to Catholicism. I want people to find Jesus in their own community. There are so many doctrines we will never agree on. Let’s not spend our time on those. Rather, let’s be about showing the love of Jesus.”

I’ve talked before about Cardinal Kasper’s dismissal of the “ecumenism of return”. People who question why Kasper is a hand-picked adviser of the pope fail to recognize the congruencies in their theology (or anti-theology, as the case may be.) All one needs to do is refrain from projecting the orthodoxy they desire in a pope on a man who holds the office but has little interest in what it is meant to signify, and the mystery solves itself.

Matthew 7:15-20 comes to mind.

(Source)

8 Easy Creativity Boosters Guaranteed to Produce Results

July 10, 2014 at 4:21 pm

 

I’ve been working on a number of creative projects lately, and found myself working too hard to make progress on them. I decided to take a look back at this post, which I wrote a couple years ago when I was in better shape and had attained a lot of mental clarity and a positive attitude.

The thing is, I was feeling fantastic during the time when I wrote this. I was routinely coming up with motivational topics to write about because I felt motivated. I had cut out alcohol, dropped thirty or so pounds, and was exercising, eating right, and getting enough sleep.

Life caught up to me, and I’m not there anymore. Reading this, and remembering how I felt, is motivating me to start again. In honor of getting back to that place, I’m republishing the post today.

Originally Posted on Mar 22, 2012:

 

I’ve experienced a real burst of creativity lately. It’s helping me to do double or triple the amount of work I would usually do in the same amount of time. It’s a good feeling, but as any creative person knows, creative bursts are often short-lived. Here are 8 tips on how to keep it going:

 

8. Put Down the Booze

 

 

You may think that because Van Gough, Picasso, Poe, Wilde, and Hemingway all found their muses with the help of the Green Fairy that you should too. I’m telling you, it doesn’t work. Drinking alcohol may loosen the inhibitions that keep creativity in check, but it also loosens your will to do work and fogs your brain. I can’t tell you how many times I thought I’d find the next chapter of a story I was working on at the bottom of a glass, only to wind up losing interest in writing at all. If you think it helps your ADD-riddled brain to slow down and identify ideas, then try to stick to brainstorming while you’re on the sauce. Keep a notebook handy and write things down when they come to you. Have conversations with friends (unlike creative work, these are often enhanced – or at least made more entertaining – by a touch of white lightning) and see if you have any takeaways you can use next time you’re fully sober.

 

7. Turn Off the TV

 

Seriously. You can chillax, or you can create, but you can’t do both. TV numbs your brain. You may think that catching the latest episode of Fringe will give you ideas for the next chapter in your own novel, or that Breaking Bad will be like a crash course in character development and exposition, but at the end of the day, you will just be watching TV. Ask yourself how often you’ve gotten up from the couch to go do something productive afterward. I’m not saying you can’t find inspiration from television, but do it sparingly, and do it on days when you intend to just relax, not expect to get some creative work done.

 

6. Find Silence

 

It’s harder than ever to get any real quiet. We’re constantly distracted by a cornucopia of sound. Conversation, radio, MP3 players, Spotify, TV, traffic – you name it. Give yourself some time without noise. Go for a walk and don’t bring your headphones. Get up earlier and sit in a room overlooking a scene that you love. Let your mind wander, and it will begin to get the creative juices flowing.

 

5. Use Music

 

Silence is grand – and necessary – but most of us can only find it in small doses. If you can’t find silence, find noise that is conducive to your muses. I have a long morning commute, and I used to listen to audiobooks every day. They were great, but I spent so much time focusing on the narrative that I wasn’t thinking about anything else. I switched over to using Spotify in the car, and next thing you know, I was getting to the office brimming with ideas. Find music that suits your mood. Don’t feel like it has to be Beethoven or Mozart. Rock some Skrillex if you want to. Listen to someone mellow like Lights. Find your own tune, whatever it is that gets the creativity happening.

 

4. Get More Sleep

 

This is one of the hardest things about fueling creativity. When you’re feeling creative, chances are you’re up late working on things. You have so many ideas, and not enough time to do them. This week, I’ve been getting somewhere in the ballpark of 4-6 hours of sleep a night. The more tired I get, the more sluggish my brain is. Get at least 8 hours of sleep and your head will feel clear, allowing you to work better, faster.

 

3. Eat the Right Foods


 

This can’t be overstated. Despite the fact that I’ve still got at least 40 lbs. to lose, I’ve never felt better in my life. The food that I’m eating (and not eating) has an enormous impact on my brain. Everyone has a different approach to nutrition, but I’ve made no secret about what mine is: get rid of wheat. Get as much coconut oil and Omega 3s as you can. Eat red meat and vegetables. You’ll be amazed how amped your brain is when you dial in the right nutritional balance.

 

2. Look for Inspiration

 

You know that old saying, “No man is an island”? Well, it’s true. Those of use with strong creative impulses can do a lot on our own, but we do even better if we feed on other sources of creativity. Read design websites. Thumb through magazines. Take a spin around Pinterest. Check out Fab.com. Read novels. Play with children. Climb a mountain. Visit a city at night. Go to an art museum. Browse Etsy. There are so many amazing sources of inspiration around you, you just have to tap into them.

 

1. Make Stuff!

 

Everything else on the list is no good unless you actually move into the production phase of creativity. If you’re a photographer, pick up your camera and start shooting. If you’re a sculptor, grab that clay and start working it with your hands. If you’re a writer, start dancing the keys. Don’t worry about whether it will be any good or not. Failed attempts are just building blocks for success. Many great ideas are born out of the incomplete execution of an earlier concept. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever gotten on creative work is this: “If you don’t like what you’ve done, lower your standards.” Silence the internal critic just long enough to give birth to something. Then you can give yourself permission to revise, or start over.

Just this morning I saw a great quote:

“I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.”- Michael Jordan

So get out there and make it happen!

New Comment and Email Policy

July 8, 2014 at 4:01 pm

Winston_Churchill

With the increased amount of traffic I’ve had this year (over 100K pageviews in the last 60 days) I’m having to shore up some areas that didn’t need attention before.

To that end, I have posted new “policies” (such as they are) about comments and emails. Of particular note: if you email me, I can quote it in whole or in part for public consumption or private correspondence unless you specify otherwise. Please consider this when writing. 

 

Remote Control Fertility

July 8, 2014 at 3:21 pm

w4342I read a lot of science fiction. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s a genre that excites the imagination and allows for us to explore the possible in ways that are virtually limitless.

So take a walk with me, will you? A walk into a possible future.

Let’s say that in this future, medical technology has become sufficiently advanced that medical implants can be installed which will disperse pharmaceuticals at regular intervals for years. Decades even. Doctors can remotely monitor the dosage, check vital signs, and make necessary adjustments without ever troubling you to come in for a visit.

When it comes to your health, you just set it and forget it!

Now let’s imagine that in addition to your seasonal antihistimines, your mood-enhancing seratonin reuptake inhibitors, and your cholesterol-fighting statins, you also have an implant for the peskiest of medications. You know what I’m talking about. The pill that if you forget to take, a little parasite grows inside you, diverting your body’s nutrients, making you lethargic and moody, and ultimately becoming so large that it bursts out in a gory mess from a place that you’d rather not think about.

That’s right. I’m talking about your birth control.

Who has time to hassle with pills, barriers, creams, shots, patches, and the like? All the nuisance of running a chemical defense screen really saps the joy out of hot nights filled with casual sex with consensual partners you identified through a GPS-powered location-based “hookup” app on your phone, amiright?

[pullquote]
I mean, who doesn’t want a radio transmitter in their butt that could effectively render them sterile at the whim of a complete stranger?
[/pullquote]

So instead, why not outsource the worry to someone who went to school for this? Someone who routinely wears a white coat and gets to say cool words like “plasmapheresis” at the office? Why not let someone — perhaps a lab technician or a nurse’s assistant you’ve never even met — have a remote control kill switch on your fertility for the next sixteen years?

What. Could. Go. Wrong?

If Bill and Melinda gates have their way, this fantastically convenient future could be yours for the implanting! I mean, who doesn’t want a radio transmitter in their butt that could effectively render them sterile at the whim of a complete stranger? Especially since our government never acts coercively in matters of health care, uses its bureaucratic tentacles to harass political dissenters, or invades our privacy for no reason.

And it’s not like any government has ever tried forced sterilization before. And even if they did, it could NEVER HAPPEN IN AMERICA. That’s just a paranoid delusion whipped up by the Tea Party!

I, for one, look forward to a world where our fertility is just one more thing we don’t even have to think about. And why should we have to, when someone else is willing to do it for us?!

After all, despite any Supreme Court ruling to the contrary, we all know we have a fundamental human right to be provided by our government with the means to enjoy consequence-free sex as much as we damn well please!

This is How Empires Get Started

July 8, 2014 at 1:00 pm

Pardon My Dust

July 7, 2014 at 12:24 pm

 

 

The past month has been busy at our house. We’ve had new ceiling lighting put in, our almost-unusable laundry room is being remodeled, and the past week has been the front foyer being re-tiled. We are replacing the old slate with different, nicer slate. Our older, in need of repair home is getting some TLC.

It’s awesome. The changes are beautiful. But what all of this work means is a preponderance of dust. Dust on my desk, dust on my cabinets, dust tracked throughout the house, dust everywhere. When you do projects at home, you expect things to get a bit messy. When you do them on a website, you’re supposed to try to keep them clean and seamless.

Screw that.

I’m working on installing a new theme for the blog. One that works better with the ads. One that’s cleaner and simpler and has more features. One I actually paid for (thanks to your kind donations!) The typical way to do this would be to make a copy of the database, set up a subdomain, do a fresh WordPress install, re-jigger the configuration files, export and import content, play around with settings, get everything working perfectly, then swap and re-deploy the test site on the main URL.

Does that sound like fun to you? Yeah. Me Neither. I’ve done it before. I have no patience for it now. Too much else going on. I create content, I don’t do IT.

The long and short of it is that pretty much as soon as I hit “post” on this page, you’re going to be seeing the sausage being made. It’ll be messy for a bit. I’ll clean it up as I go. C’est la vie, no?

Thanks for your patience.

 

The Management

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

July 3, 2014 at 11:10 am

life-goes-on

Hello there, faithful readers!

I realize posting has been scarce here lately. Summer is always busy, and this one has been especially so. Home improvement projects, a wedding, a first communion, a flooded basement, an anniversary, and life as usual have all been happening within the past 30 days. I also submitted a work of short fantasy fiction to this contest. (Professional fiction writing is one of my life goals. But I’m either working on that or writing here, usually not both.)

Also, much to do on the business front as we are working to update and revamp systems, marketing, website, logo, etc. (Know anyone in Virginia looking to buy or sell a house? Send them our way!)

There’s been a lot going on that I’ve wanted to comment on, but just haven’t found the time or focus to address. Partially, this is because I don’t know how to put my finger on what I want to say. If there are temporal nodes, as it were — points in history around which a number of divergent factors coalesce to create a change larger than the sum of its parts — I’d say we’re right smack in the middle of one.

Why?

In no particular order: The war for the soul of the Church; the coming battle (already started) over communion for the divorced and remarried; the massive and deeply troubling and brutally violent rise of a self-proclaimed Islamic caliph (with nothing standing in his way); the hugely disturbing situation happening on our southern border; the immunological consequences thereof (and the oppression being used to keep that story from getting  out); the uncontrolled outbreak of Ebola spreading through Africa (for which there is no cure); the dirty, knock-down, drag-out battle for control of the only party that can bring conservatives to power in this country; the ongoing instability in Europe; the never-relenting threat of economic collapse; and the fact that we’re still killing about 50 million babies every year around the globe.

I’m scratching the surface here. There’s a lot going on, and it’s getting really hard to read all the signs. But they all point down a fairly dark road, and lots of people are asking themselves how long we have before we reach a tipping point.

Not long, I expect. Not long. Something has to give.

Yesterday, my wife, who has a sense for the shifting tides of the world, sat up at her desk and asked me, “Do you feel that?”

“What?” I asked.

“Change.” She said. “Change is coming.”

“Good change or bad change?” I asked.

“You always ask me that.” She said. “I don’t know.”

 

I don’t know either. It could be good, it could be bad, it could be both. I’m increasingly convinced that it’s going to have to be very difficult for a while in order for things to get better.

But like the song says, “Ob-la-di, ob-la-da, life goes on….

Things to do. Kids to raise. Stories to finish. Coffee to drink.

Hope to write more soon.

 

 

Sample Letter to a Parish With Abuses

June 25, 2014 at 9:01 am

Dear_Sir_formal_letter_iStock_000004683049XSmall

This morning, I got the bug up my nose to look up the contact info of the parish I mentioned in my post about proper reception of communion.

I sat down with my coffee and wrote them a little note. This is what I said (the specific place info has been redacted):

 

Good Morning,

I was baptized at St. ____ by Msgr. _____, in December of 1977. I’ve been there only a handful of times since, but I recently had the opportunity to visit while in _______ this past month.

Two things I noticed struck me as odd.

First, many of the parishioners bowed before the Blessed Sacrament rather than genuflecting. I recently came across this article by Bishop Paprocki of Illinois, in which he reminds us that the universal practice of the Church is to genuflect, not bow (it’s in the GIRM) and that only those unable to genuflect should bow.

http://www.courageouspriest.com/bishop-paprocki-bow-genuflect

The second thing I saw was the great number of people receiving communion in the hand. This practice, as you no doubt are aware, began as an abuse in the late 1970s in some of the European nations. In an attempt to contain it, Pope Paul VI issued an indult for those countries where the practice was already commonplace (the United States not among them) along with norms for proper reception according to this method which, as common sense dictates, is solicitous of not only the stealing of the Blessed Sacrament for sacrilegious purposes, but also its unintentional desecration through loss of particles or hosts later dropped by people unaware of what to do with them because they are not Catholic and should not be receiving in the first place.

In a recent speech by another esteemed bishop, Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Kazakhstan, this reality was brought to light:

‘There is also the question of the objectively irreverent reception of Holy Communion. The so-called new, modern manner of receiving Holy Communion directly into the hand is very serious because it exposes Christ to an enormous banality.

‘There is the grievous fact of the loss of the Eucharistic fragments. No one can deny this. And the fragments of the consecrated host are crushed by feet. This is horrible! Our God, in our churches, is trampled by feet! No one can deny it.

‘And this is happening on a large scale. This has to be, for a person with faith and love for God, a very serious phenomenon.

‘We cannot continue as if Jesus as God does not exist, as though only the bread exists. This modern practice of Communion in the hand has nothing to do with the practice in the ancient Church. The modern practice of receiving Communion in hand contributes gradually to the loss of the Catholic faith in the real presence and in the transubstantiation.

‘A priest and a bishop cannot say this practice is ok. Here is at stake the most holy, the most divine and concrete on Earth.’

It was lovely to see St. ____ parish again, but I do believe that if the faithful were to be made aware of the danger of such practices as regards to our common belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, it would be of great spiritual benefit to them.

The faithful want to worship God appropriately. If they fail to do so, it’s often out of ignorance, not malice.

I hope you will take my correspondence in the spirit of fraternal charity in which it is offered.
Best Regards,
Steve Skojec
Manassas, Virginia

 

Will they simply hit delete? If I had stuck it in the mail, would they file it in the special round filing cabinet with the other trash?

I don’t know.

I do wonder if there would be some value in creating templates for letters like this to send to parishes where such abuses are rampant, as well as to the bishops of those dioceses. Would you use such templates if they existed? Would a grassroots campaign of letters and emails to parishes such as these make a difference, or at least prick the consciences of pastors of souls?

I wish I knew. But it seems awful to only complain about it and not address those who have the power to fix it.

Those Ugly Ads and the Dreaded “Donate” Button

June 24, 2014 at 9:46 am
untitled shoot-212

Honesty in Fundraising

I don’t know about you, but I believe that the things we’re talking about here are really important.

I spend a lot of time on the posts I write, and increasingly, that takes me away from other paying work. I also need to keep my hosting package fairly robust, because I’m getting a good deal of traffic. I checked my analytics last night and was a bit shocked to see that this site has had over 75,000 pageviews in the past 30 days.

The bottom line is: this is my passion, but it doesn’t pay. Not yet.

I have some things I’m working on. I ask for your prayers — specifically for God’s guidance — as I seek the best way to build on what we’ve started here.

Until then, I need to try to recoup what costs I can. I added those terrible ads beneath the post titles. Adsense tells me these are the best to use. I hate them. They absolutely violate my aesthetic sensibilities. I’m not sure how long I can take it.  (Some of you have told me you’re seeing ads that are inappropriate. I’m playing whack-a-mole with those, because they’re served up by Google and I have little control over them other than to report them when I see them.)

I have also added a “donate” button on the sidebar, top-right. If you find what I’m doing here valuable, and want to make a contribution to the effort, I’d appreciate it.

I’m always looking for new and better (and less obtrusive) ways to monetize the content I provide. It takes as much time as a part-time job, so it’d be nice if it helped pay the bills of my large family.

A final note: I’ve had a few people ask me about subscribing to posts by email. I’ve added a subscription page for those who would like this option. It’s easy, doesn’t cost anything, and I won’t ever sell your information.

As you were.

 

Thanks,

The Management