I think it’s fair to say that people are finding this presidential election rather disturbing. Very few of us will be casting our votes for a candidate. Most of us will be casting our votes against a candidate. The caliber of the choices we’ve been handed are, to say it politely, rather dismal. To make matters worse, these dismal choices seem to reflect our overall dismal political, social, moral, economic, and spiritual situation. Things have gotten so hopelessly bad, it would seem, that we don’t have a prayer.
But in fact, we do have a prayer, a very familiar one. It may be the only thing we really do have that will do some real good, and bring some much-needed light to our darkening landscape. Here it goes—with a little commentary for our time....It's the Our Father.
Please see the full blog post at tothesource: http://tothesource.org/national-affairs/prayers-for-this-election/tothesource.org/national-affairs/prayers-for-this-election/
Let's pray to Mother Teresa during her canonization day, and eight days thereafter, for the conversion and complete healing of the great physicist Stephen Hawking.
See the rest of the blog post at: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/benjamin-wiker/st.-teresa-of-calcutta-pray-for-stephen-hawking
In my previous post, “Why the Catholic Church Defined Marriage,” I noted that the Roman pagan world, into which the Church was born, had monogamy, but not the Christian understanding of monogamy—and that’s why the Catholic Church had to properly define marriage 2000 years ago by redefining it against the pagan culture.
To repeat: Roman heterosexual monogamy was not life-long. The pagan Romans allowed easy, no-fault divorce, and multiple remarriages. A man had a right to have sex with concubines, his slaves (male and female, adult and child), and prostitutes. Marriage was basically a contract for having children and handing on property.
To be fair to the ancient pagans, there were a handful of Greek and Roman philosophers and statesman who proclaimed something much more like the Christian understanding of marriage—primarily Aristotle and the Stoics. But these philosophers were the exceptions, even among philosophers, and certainly had little effect on the larger culture—and it was that larger cultural, moral, legal context against which the Church redefined marriage as life-long, sexually-exclusive, heterosexual monogamy.
But if the Catholic Church redefined marriage once, can’t it redefine it again? That’s what proponents of gay marriage demand.
The answer is “no.” Redefinition is never possible again. The first redefinition 2000 years ago was a correction of the definition of marriage in light of revealed and natural truth, and these truths cannot be changed.
Read the rest of the NCR blog post, and find out why:
Why Christ Will Never Let His Bride Redefine Marriage
Given that the state has now taken upon itself the power and authority to redefine marriage, it’s a very good time to ask why the Catholic Church defined marriage to begin with.
Now it might seem nonsensical to say that the Catholic Church defined marriage, as if no one had ever heard of marriage until about 2000 years ago. But in a very real way, that’s true. Marriage defined in terms of lifelong, heterosexual, sexually exclusive monogamy was a Catholic invention, in somewhat the same way that the university itself, as an institution, was a Catholic invention.
This is a very important point. We tend to think that the particular definition of marriage we affirm—again, lifelong, heterosexual, sexually exclusive monogamy—has been shared by all cultures up until very recently. And then suddenly, out of nowhere, we’ve got the sexual revolution in the 1960s, which in turn leads to the redefinition of marriage to include gay marriage in 2015.
On this view, nearly all of history holds the right and obvious definition of marriage, and only within the last year has marriage become derailed.
But that is not true. The truth is, more or less, the opposite. Marriage defined in terms of lifelong, heterosexual, sexually exclusive monogamy is the historical odd bird, so to speak. That is, the Christian definition of marriage is the exception, not the rule.
Read the rest of the post at the National Catholic Register:
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) just announced that it wants all pediatricians to take on the role—which rightly belongs to parents—of sex educator. Whose view of sex will they teach?
Read my article at tothesource:
Steven Spielberg’s newest movie The BFG is a perfect fairy tale—for everyone.
About four or five years ago, I mentioned to my children that computer animation is advanced enough that someone should bring to the screen one of our family’s favorite books, Roald Dahl’s The BFG (Big Friendly Giant). Having heard last year that Steven Spielberg took up the challenge, I’ve been waiting since then for the release of the movie version.
Now it has happened, and it is well worth seeing—by everyone.
Roald Dahl’s book (originally published in 1982) is a giant head and shoulders above most of today’s fare aimed at children or teens, most of which are either (1) mindless, politically-corrected, preachy twaddle, (2) heavy-handed teen “realism,” i.e., stained by vulgar language, and punctuated by sexual experimentation, divorce, and suicide, or (3) occult-dabbling that’s meant to occupy the place in literature formerly ruled by fairy tales. In short, not good children’s stories, because they are not good stories at all.
By contrast, Dahl was actually a supremely talented story-teller, one that all ages could enjoy. The BFG, one of his best, is a story about a little orphan girl snatched up and spirited away by a giant who, although he turns out to be both Big and Friendly, lives among the far larger, nasty sort of giants, the ordinary kind who eat children (especially orphans). While Sophie, the girl, gets to know and love the BFG while living in his cave, the evil giants—Fleshlumpeater, Childchewer, Manhugger, Bonecruncher, Meatdripper, Gizzardgulper, Maidmasher, Bloodbottler—want her for dinner. The BFG is a dream-catcher, the evil giants are the stuff of nightmares.
The basic ingredients of good fairy tales, a sign of which is that an adult can read it, and be entirely entertained. I should know. We read The BFG to our kids several times, they each read it countless times again, and our appreciation of his yarn-spinnery and wit grew each time.
Read the rest of the review at to the source: http://tothesource.org/reviews/big-friendly-giant/
So, you’re depressed by the election? Perhaps even nauseated? Spending too much time surfing Craigslist looking for a rent-to-own catacomb to hole up in for a few decades? Given up on thinking that things couldn’t get worse?
Join the growing rank of those who believe that political culture in America is growing ranker every day.
But there is a sunny side to this seemingly hopeless political decay, and two facets of it in particular are worth examining.
Read the rest of my article at the National Catholic Register: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/benjamin-wiker/the-sunny-side-of-political-nausea/#ixzz4DpIRSgz7
Perhaps you have heard about Virtual Reality, the latest technology that allows viewers to be immersed in a 3D, computer-generated game or movie. You put on the odd goggles, say the Oculus Rift, and suddenly you are thrown into the middle of a virtual reality Paris, where you can look all around you, and see everything (more or less) that you would see if you were actually in Paris. Or into the middle of a flaming castle with demon warriors charging at you from all directions. Or into the midst of a feast thrown for a bevy of elves by friendly, pink, curiously-dexterous unicorns.
Or, as of this coming December, into the ancient Holy Land, so that you look around at the birth of Jesus, at the wedding feast at Cana, or the crucifixion, or the Resurrection. So promises VRWerx, a company specializing in virtual reality games and movies. The film, clumsily entitled “Jesus VR—The Story of Christ” promises to transport begoggled viewers back 2000 years to the center of history, in the Incarnation, Death, and Resurrection of God.
Read the rest of the post at http://www.ncregister.com/blog/benjamin-wiker/coming-soon-in-virtual-reality-the-story-of-christ/#ixzz4D5U8WFZe
I've always been perplexed by the WWJD religious accoutrements, and I've finally worked up sufficient gumption to state my misgivings aloud.
"What Would Jesus Do" seems like a very odd question, given the implied assumption about the proper answer by those actually sporting WWJD bracelets, t-shirts, medals, etc. With all good intentions, I believe they want me to say, "He would help that poor beggar by the bus stop," or "He would have been deeply kind to that old lonely man at Wendy's, instead of walking by nervously," or something like that. The point seems to be that you and I should do exactly what Jesus did, and in the everyday situations we now face as Christians.
But my response to the question WWJD is this: "He'd raise that poor boy from the dead," or "He'd cure that young woman's facial deformity," or "He'd forgive that person's seemingly unforgivable sins--provided that he was truly repentant," or "He'd walk on water," or "He'd read the thoughts of so-and-so, and rebuke them--or me, if I'm so-and-so," or "He'd threaten sinners with the fires of hell, if they--or we--didn't shape up and love others as He loves us," or "He'd cast out demons by a mere word," or "He'd reveal things about God, about Himself, that could not be known by mere human beings," or "He'd hand Himself over to death by sinners because He's the Son of God, the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity."
In short, most of the things that Jesus did--and I assume would do, if He were here, walking around, eating with us, going to weddings, and so on--were the kind of things that only God could do. Or, to put it from the perspective of the folks at the time, Jesus did the kind of things that made the Jews and pagan Romans of the time wonder if that man, that son of Joseph the local carpenter, that guy they knew since he was a kid, was actually God.
I realize the good intentions of the WWJD folks. But I really think that the proper question is WWJHUD, "What Would Jesus Have Us Do?" He does feed the poor, by a miracle--assuming that there were poor in the two great crowds he fed. But I don't remember him giving a cup of water to anyone who was thirsty, although he did turn water into wine. Did he clothe any naked? Help out widows and orphans with money, or visiting anyone in jail? Yet these are the very things, in Matthew 25 that we human followers are commanded to do. So it would seem what Jesus would do, and what He would have us do are significantly different.
I don't mean to be nitpicking, but I do believe that this is an important point. Jesus did things that we can't do because He is God. He is not merely an important moral exemplar that we can imitate. In fact, the notion that Jesus was only a moral exemplar, and not divine, is a kind of modern heresy that comes from the Enlightenment. Benedict Spinoza (1632-1677) was the first great proponent of Jesus the Merely Moral Man. Spinoza did not like Christianity, and the religious wars of the time. He did not like his own Judaism, and the persecution it brought his family. He did, however, like the new materialist science that eliminated God and the human soul from the universe--and hence, if widely accepted, would lead to the eventual cultural removal of Christianity and Judaism. In service of that goal, Spinoza designed a new way of reading Scripture, one that removed all the miracles, and turned Jesus into a Merely Moral Man, i.e., not divine. By this means, Spinoza thought he could give us a Jesus whom we could imitate--thereby making us generally nicer--but eliminate the miraculous elements of Christianity that gave it its historical, cultural force.
Jesus is a good guy. You can be one too. And let's leave all these divisive theological doctrines behind.
The problem, of course, is that we're actually leaving behind all the things that Jesus actually did that showed the world who He actually was: God Incarnate.
To read more about Spinoza, and how Jesus became the Merely Moral Man, you might try my Worshipping the State:
It’s final. Britain is exiting the European Union. I am inclined to think that leaving the EU will one of the best decisions Britain could make—even while admitting that I could be wrong. But such is the way with politics and the prudential decisions it involves: there are so many contingencies in human political life that accurate predictions of success are usually made only in hindsight.
That’s why it is clarifying to shift our attention from trying to make accurate predictions about Britain’s future, to a consideration of principles that are more enduring than opinion polls and media pundits. In this instance, we should be looking at the most Catholic principle of subsidiarity, one which favors Brexit.
For the rest of this post, go to my blog at National Catholic Register