Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Jewish Ladies

Catholic bloggers and blog readers may remember the blog Once A Chicken, Now A Fish by Janjan from the Boston area who recounted in her blog her religious journey from the Reform Judaism of her youth to Messianism and finally to the Holy Catholic Church. Janjan kept up with blogging for awhile, but eventually deleted all her posts except for her multi-post recounting of how she became Catholic along with her husband.

As is usually the case, I came upon Janjan's blog late in the game when her story was about done after reading about at Amy Welborn's Typepad blog. Janjan's story is one that I've kept in mind since I first read it not only because of its content, but also because Janjan bore a resemblance to a friend of mine, a Jewish lady who is also from the Boston area.

This afternoon I was checking up at a political blog I read now and then and I read a post by one of the blog's many contributors who goes by the nom de plume of Robin of Berkeley [California], a Jewish lady herself who has made her own journey from liberalism to conservatism. She recounted her experience in attending Christmas Eve Mass. It reminded me of Janjan's story and so I thought I'd post a link back to Janjan's old blog and Robin's post for consideration.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Rorate: On the loss of Latin

This post from Rorate Caeli is a good starting point for investigating the anti-intellectualism that has come upon the Church in the last forty years.

Monday, December 07, 2009


In email or in posts at messageboards, little quotes at the end of each message have been a common sight since the beginning. Below is a series of quotes I've used over time that I rediscovered the other day when I was checking something out.

My indifference has shut me out. I live in a world of ghosts, a prisoner of dreams. I want God to put out his hand, show his face, speak to me. I cry out to him in the dark but there is no one there.
-Antonius Block, 'The Seventh Seal'

Block is of course the protagonist in Bergman's The Seventh Seal. Block here is expressing his existential crisis of faith as he struggles with Death to learn what comes after.

But I say to you, King of the Numenoreans, not till now have I understood the tale of your people and their fall. As wicked fools I scorned them, but I pity them at last. For if this is indeed, as the Eldar say, the gift of the One to Men, it is bitter to receive.
-Arwen Undomiel, 'The Lord of the Rings'

This passage spoken by Arwen the daughter of Elrond in an appendix of The Lord of the Rings is one of my favorites. Tolkien's elves are immortal, bound to the earth unto the end. Men on the other hand are granted at their creation the Gift: they are allowed to die and their souls pass beyond the circles of the World to heaven. Of course, immortal elves view death as a release while mortal men view death and the great unknown beyond as a punishment. Hence Arwen's words as she goes from immortality to mortality.

There should be a science of discontent. People need hard times and oppression to develop psychic muscles.
-from "Collected Sayings of Muad'Dib" by the Princess Irulan

This is one of Frank Herbert's epigrams attributed to the protagonist that preceded each chapter of Dune. The idea that 'hard times' and 'oppression' bring out human ingenuity in coping and overcoming is certainly not new, but Herbert's expression of the concept is eloquent.

Quite an experience to live in fear, isn't it? That's what it is to be a slave.
-Roy Batty, 'Blade Runner'

All the best lines from the science fiction/cyberpunk classic Blade Runner are given to the antagonist Roy Batty (played by Rutger Hauer). In the movie, Roy is an artificially created and enhanced being whose ranks are used by Man to fight, to work in hazardous environments and to provide sexual services. Roy escapes in order to track down his creator in a bid to obtain more life (his kind live and die in a span of only a few years). In this quote, Roy expresses to the protagonist as the protagonist hangs off a building about to fall to his doom the sense of what it is to be a slave.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

The Zero Sum Game

It's been awhile since I've written about the People's Republic of China (mainland, communist China). The Holy Father issued his letter back in 2007 and after that, things in the Far East dropped off my radar screen.

Now we have this: China: One Bishop's About-Face Reignites the Dispute between Bertone and Zen by Sandro Magister.

I'll sum up very briefly: The secretary of state Cardinal Bertone believes that now is the time to come out of the shadows, even if it means accepting the directions of the communist regime; this is based on the Pope's phrasing on how the clandestine Church is not a natural state. He makes other points as well on the state of the clergy in China. Cardinal Zen of Hong Kong on the other hand believes that the Pope's words about the clandestine Church not being a normal feature of Church life, the Pope means that the Church should continue until the abnormal circumstances of communist oppression are at an end.

My first instinct in this matter is to go with Cardinal Zen and give nothing to the communist Chinese.

Just as it is easy to connect to the clandestine community Bertone's statement that "a truly Eucharistic community cannot retreat into itself, as though it were self-sufficient, but it must stay in communion with every other Catholic community."

This point of Bertone's quoted by Magister is on the outside convincing, but I am reminded of various instances throughout history when Christians have been persecuted or when a small, orthodox faction of Christians have been at odds with a far larger faction of heterodox Christians that have the backing of the State. Does communion with other Catholic communities trump the freedom of the Church to govern its own affairs? I would say no.