“Just another guy with a blog.  No big whoop.”

December 31, 2010

Do you know the early warning signs of a Catholic losing his Faith?

I do. I've seen them many times in many people over the past 25 years that I've worked in the field of Catholic apologetics and catechetics. They include:

  • Apathy
  • Lack of knowledge about Catholic teaching
  • Lack of knowledge of how to explain, defend, and share his beliefs from the Bible
  • Being bombarded with messages, arguments, and "come-to-our-church!" invitations from non-Catholic missionaries
  • Uncertainty
  • Doubt
  • Difficult moral challenges and temptations
  • Feeling a lack of love and acceptance by his fellow Catholics

No doubt, you've seen these warning signs in Catholics (or former Catholics) you know. And I'm sure that, if you're like me, you want to do something to help — to show a Catholic who's teetering on the edge of abandoning the Faith that there are good, solid, compelling answers to the questions, doubts, temptations, and difficulties they may be facing.

Helping people in that situation is something very dear to my heart. That's why, nearly four years ago, I established the Envoy Institute of Belmont Abbey College as a means of reaching out to Catholics of all ages, and especially younger Catholics in high school, college, and who are just starting out in life as a young adult. Our goal at the Envoy Institute is to help equip them before they run into doubts and difficulties with the knowledge and tools the need to remain strong in their love for Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church. Through Envoy Magazine, our conferences, summer apologetics camps, online materials, and more, we seek to teach Catholics how to explain their Faith more intelligently, defend it more charitably, and share it more effectively.

And you can be part of that outreach by becoming a member of the Envoy Institute.  In addition to getting an automatic subscription to Envoy Magazine, as well as a bunch of other excellent benefits and insider perks, you'll also gain the satisfaction of knowing that you are personally doing something positive for untold numbers of young Catholics who are in real danger of losing their Catholic Faith when they get to college or head out into the workforce for the first time. (Those are the two must vulnerable transition points, by the way, the two key life junctures where  many Catholics lose their Faith.)

You can get more information here about the Envoy Institute, who we are, what we do, and how you can join us as a sustaining member. Here are my goals as we head into 2011: 
135 members at $10 per month. We have 112 now, so we need another 23
100 members at $30 per month. We have 45 now, so need another 55
45 members at $50 per month.  We have 18 now, so need another 27
We also need more one-time annual donors at higher levels:
We currently have 5 members at $1,200 annually, but we need 20
And I'm looking for 10 members who pledge $2500 annually. Are you one of them? 
Of course, as you might expect in this touch economy, the Envoy Institute is running a deficit right now for 2010, based largely on the cost of printing and shipping over 80,000 copies of Envoy magazine FREE to thousands of college students around the country (on nearly 50 major college and university campuses!). We also have a deficit incurred by our first-annual apologetics summer camp, which was extremely well received and promises to expand quickly in 2011. If you'd like to help me expand our Envoy Institute camps other venues in the summer of 2011 and beyond, as well as provide student scholarships for young Catholics whose folks aren't in a position to send them to camp, you can do that and much more good by becoming a member of the Envoy Institute.
Becoming a member of the Envoy Institute is simple and easy, and it helps us in our outreach to Catholic students — high school & college — and Catholic young adults. To enroll, please call Ms. Joan Bradley at 704-461-6009 or e-mail her at joanbradley@bac.edu or visit http://envoyinstitute.net/memberships.html.
Thank you, God bless you, and Happy New Year!http://envoyinstitute.net/index.html

December 30, 2010

The woman who inspired the iconic WWII "Rosie the Riveter" poster has died

“Geraldine Doyle, 86, who as a 17-year-old factory worker became the inspiration for a popular World War II recruitment poster that evoked female power and independence under the slogan "We Can Do It!," died Dec. 26 at a hospice in Lansing, Mich.

“Her daughter, Stephanie Gregg, said the cause of death was complications from severe arthritis.

“For millions of Americans throughout the decades since World War II, the stunning brunette in the red and white polka-dot bandanna was Rosie the Riveter.

“Rosie's rolled-up sleeves and flexed right arm came to represent the newfound strength of the 18 million women who worked during the war and later made her a figure of the feminist movement.

“But the woman in the patriotic poster was never named Rosie, nor was she a riveter. All along it was Mrs. Doyle, who after graduating from high school in Ann Arbor, Mich., took a job at a metal factory, her family said.

“One day, a photographer representing United Press International came to her factory and captured Mrs. Doyle leaning over a piece of machinery and wearing a red and white polka-dot bandanna over her hair.
“In early 1942, the Westinghouse Corp. commissioned artist J. Howard Miller to produce several morale-boosting posters to be displayed inside its buildings. The project was funded by the government as a way to motivate workers and perhaps recruit new ones for the war effort.
“Smitten with the UPI photo, Miller reportedly was said to have decided to base one of his posters on the anonymous, slender metal worker, Mrs. Doyle. . . .” (continue reading)

December 28, 2010

A winter's day meditation: Tempus fugit. Memento mori.

“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and get gain’;whereas you do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that’” (James 4:13-15).

Inconvenience Store

Makes me wonder how far away their bathroom is located.

December 24, 2010

Madrid Family Holiday Traditions

Over the years, we've treasured several fun and nostalgic Christmas traditions here at Rancho Madrid. One of my favorites, for example, is the enjoyable holiday game we love to play called "Pin the Cleanup on the Guest."

Good times.

December 23, 2010

Take a virtual tour of St. John Lateran Basilica in Rome

Like the virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel that I posted on this blog a few days ago, here's another one that lets you explore the the exquisite Cathedral church of the Archdiocese of Rome. And for the historical background on this venerable house of God, here's a portion of the article about it taken from the Catholic Encyclopedia:
This is the oldest, and ranks first among the four great "patriarchal" basilicas of Rome. The site was, in ancient times, occupied by the palace of the family of the Laterani. A member of this family, P. Sextius Lateranus, was the first plebian to attain the rank of consul. In the time of Nero, another member of the family, Plautius Lateranus, at the time consul designatus was accused of conspiracy against the emperor, and his goods were confiscated. 
Juvenal mentions the palace, and speaks of it as being of some magnificence, "regiæ ædes Lateranorum". Some few remains of the original buildings may still be traced in the city walls outside the Gate of St. John, and a large hall decorated with paintings was uncovered in the eighteenth century within the basilica itself, behind the Lancellotti Chapel. A few traces of older buildings also came to light during the excavations made in 1880, when the work of extending the apse was in progress, but nothing was then discovered of real value or importance. 
The palace came eventually into the hands of Constantine, the first Christian emperor, through his wife Fausta, and it is from her that it derived the name by which it was then sometimes called, "Domus Faustæ". Constantine must have given it to the Church in the time of Miltiades, not later than about 311, for we find a council against the Donatists meeting within its walls as early as 313. From that time onwards it was always the centre of Christian life within the city; the residence of the popes and the cathedral of Rome. The latter distinction it still holds, though it has long lost the former. Hence the proud title which may be read upon its walls, that it is "Omnium urbis et orbis ecclesiarum mater, et caput".
It seems probable, in spite of the tradition that Constantine helped in the work of building with his own hands, that there was not a new basilica erected at the Lateran, but that the work carried out at this period was limited to the adaptation, which perhaps involved the enlargement, of the already existing basilica or great hall of the palace. The words of St. Jerome "basilica quondam Laterani" (Ep. lxxiii, P.L., XXII, col. 692) seem to point in this direction, and it is also probable on other grounds. 
This original church was probably not of very large dimensions, but we have no reliable information on the subject. It was dedicated to the Saviour, "Basilica Salvatoris", the dedication to St. John being of later date, and due to a Benedictine monastery of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist which adjoined the basilica and where members were charged at one period with the duty of maintaining the services in the church. This later dedication to St. John has now in popular usage altogether superseded the original one. A great many donations from the popes and other benefactors to the basilica are recorded in the "Liber Pontificalis", and its splendour at an early period was such that it became known as the "Basilica Aurea", or Golden Church. This splendour drew upon it the attack of the Vandals, who stripped it of all its treasures. 
St. Leo the Great restored it about 460, and it was again restored by Hadrian I, but in 896 it was almost totally destroyed by an earthquake ("ab altari usque ad portas cecidit"). The damage was so extensive that it was difficult to trace in every case the lines of the old building, but these were in the main respected and the new building was of the same dimensions as the old. This second church lasted for four hundred years and was then burnt down. It was rebuilt by Clement V and John XXII, only to be burnt down once more in 1360, but again rebuilt by Urban V. 
Through these various vicissitudes the basilica retained its ancient form, being divided by rows of columns into aisles, and having in front an atrium surrounded by colonnades with a fountain in the middle. The façade had three windows, and was embellished with a mosaic representing Christ as the Saviour of the world. The porticoes of the atrium were decorated with frescoes, probably not dating further back than the twelfth century, which commemorated the Roman fleet under Vespasian, the taking of Jerusalem, the Baptism of the Emperor Constantine and his "Donation" to the Church. 
Inside the basilica the columns no doubt ran, as in all other basilicas of the same date, the whole length of the church from east to west, but at one of the rebuildings, probably that which was carried out by Clement V, the feature of a transverse nave was introduced, imitated no doubt from the one which had been, long before this, added at S. Paolo fuori le Mura. It was probably at this time also that the church was enlarged. When the popes returned to Rome from their long absence at Avignon they found the city deserted and the churches almost in ruins. Great works were begun at the Lateran by Martin V and his successors. The palace, however, was never again used by them as a residence, the Vatican, which stands in a much drier and healthier position, being chosen in its place. It was not until the latter part of the seventeenth century that the church took its present appearance, in the tasteless restoration carried out by Innocent X, with Borromini for his architect. The ancient columns were now enclosed in huge pilasters, with gigantic statues in front. In consequence of this the church has entirely lost the appearance of an ancient basilica, and is completely altered in character. . . . (continue reading)

December 21, 2010

Christmas decorations taken too far. Would you be embarrassed if this were your next-door neighbor?

Here are 25 houses I wouldn't want to live next to. I wouldn't want them in my neighborhood. I wouldn't want them in my state. They are kind of funny, but I prefer to enjoy this kind of humor from a distance  — like from over the Internet. 


December 20, 2010

A Social Network Christmas

Here is an ingenious and touching video depicting how the Good News of the Incarnation and birth of Christ the Lord might have been shared on Facebook, had it happened today. Share this on Facebook!

December 19, 2010

Take a virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel

This is very nice!  The level of detail is superb, making it almost as if you were there, inside the room itself where conclaves are held and popes are elected. Check it out.

December 14, 2010

The most unusual review of one of my books I've ever seen

Lost in Translation:

A remarkable book review of my most recent book, The Godless Delusion: A Catholic Challenge to Modern Atheism (co-authored with Ken Hensley), popped up this morning on my Google Blog Search app.

I think I get the gist of what the reviewer is saying, though I cannot be entirely sure. The review is in English, sort of, though it reads as if it were washed and rinsed through an online translator program. Maybe it was first written in Slovak or Hindi and then translated into Finnish and then translated into English. I can't tell. But I am pretty sure it's an all around positive review, for which I am grateful in any language.

The review is of "Delirium Without God," which I find to be an amusing and entirely apt rendering of what the book's title, "The Godless Delusion," connotes.

Among the many unique and remarkable phrases contained in this review, I have learned some new verbs, such as the picturesque "booty up,"  adjectives such as "abaft," and nouns such as a "blazon of altercation." I quite like that last one. And there is also this complimentary description of me, which I find interesting:
I acquisition this is one of Patrick Madrid's abundant assets. He has become one of my admired apologists for the the Catholic faith. He does not appear out all pumped up, attractive for a fight. He starts with simple honest questions and lets logic, understanding, and animal acquaintance backpack the altercation forward. 
I must confess that it honestly has never occurred to me to implement that old art-of-war tactic of engaging in "animal acquaintance" in order to backpack an altercation forward.  I'm all about backpacking altercations forward, of course, but I just don't think that animal acquaintance should have any role to play in that regard. But then, that's just me.

My thanks to the reviewer for taking the time to booty up the agitation.

December 6, 2010

Hey! I used to go to school with that guy

Now this is pretty amazing. Dave Beaumont was in my class ('78) when we both attended "Our Lady Queen of Angels" high school seminary in San Fernando, CA. I haven't seen or heard from him since those long ago days, though I did hear from some classmates of ours that he had entered the Capuchin order. 

And just now, I see Dave turn up in, of all places, the Washington Post as Fr. Dave Beaumont, O.F.M., Cap.  I'm not surprised at all to learn that he's a dedicated friar engaged in some wonderful, grueling, sacrificial, and quite dangerous work, ministering to his flock in rural northern Mexico -- right in the heart of where the drug-related violence is raging. I doubt you'll ever see this post, Dave, but you sure can count on my prayers for protection and guidance. May God reward you. Siempre adelante!

You can't always get what you want

My grandson Patrick was not happy today when my daughter Bridget and her husband Al broke the news to him that their new baby on the way is a little girl. As you can see, though, his kid brother Joey wasn't the least bit bothered by the news. And neither were Nancy and I and the rest of the family!

Tom Peterson of "Catholics Come Home" talks with Fr. Benedict Groeschel

Many of you are familiar with the wonderful media outreach to fallen-away Catholics that has been conducted for several years by the good people at Catholics Come Home. Their television commercials, which air around the country on secular television stations and networks, have proven to be quite effective in helping many thousands of  people come into, or back into, the Catholic Church.

Tom Peterson, the president and genius behind Catholics Come Home and Virtue Media was recently the host on Fr. Benedict Groeschel's EWTN television program, "Sunday Night Live," explaining the behind-the-scenes work of the apostolate. It's well worth the watch.

December 3, 2010

Understatement of the year: "This debate will be followed closely at the Turkish embassy."

As Europe slowly begins to wake up to the serious danger it faces, a gutsy Catholic member of the Austrian parliament, Ewald Stadler, adds a few choice words of his own. Please watch all five minutes of this amazing speech.

Courtesy of Eponymous Flower.

December 2, 2010

I'm not entirely sure what this means, but it made me chuckle

Their name is Luka

December 1, 2010

Did NASA Discover Life on One of Saturn's Moons?

Gawker reports:

NASA is 
holding a press conference on Thursday "to discuss an astrobiology finding." Are they going to announce that they've found evidence of extraterrestrial life?
Blogger Jason Kottke took a look at NASA's press release, which touts "an astrobiology finding that will impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life" (astrobiology, besides being a cool word, is "the study of the origin, evolution, distribution and future of life in the universe"), and decided to investigate further by looking at the participants' resumes. So who are the participants?
  • A geobiologist who's written about "geology and life on Mars";
  • an oceanographer who's done extensive work on arsenic-based photosynthesis;
  • a biologist examining Titan, the largest moon of Saturn, and its similarities to early Earth;
  • and an ecologist investigating the "chemistry of environments where life evolves."
(. . . continue reading)

A Catholic college girl's lament

So, you think it's safe to send your children to (at best) a nominally Catholic college or university? Think again. Meet Emmy Cecilia (her pen name), a young Catholic woman who made the uninformed and greatly regretted decision to enroll in a prestigious, four-year "Catholic" university out West. She explains what it's like for a student who believes what the Church teaches to attend a school where practically no one else does, especially her professors, who seem bent on expunging any traces of Catholic orthodoxy in their students before they graduate. P.S. I should mention that I know this young woman personally, and I can vouch for her credibility, sincerity, and honesty.

Being at a CINO (Catholic in Name Only) college is hard and getting harder. I'm beginning to see certain assignments marked down. The tension between professors and certain students (myself included) is beginning to increase. My anxiety's also beginning to get a lot worse. . . .

On Friday I was talking to another faithful Catholic and she was talking about leaving the school as soon as the semester was over... and she's not the only one. Many of us who do not agree with the "teachings" that happen at that school are considering transferring elsewhere, even if it means losing this semester. I had the good fortune of meeting a former student and she said she left after a year because she went through the same that I went through with the professors . . . and she had the same professors, years ago, that I have now.
You can just imagine how bad things are. I don't 100% regret going there only because it's taught me a valuable lesson, but I wish I would've really looked at the school before even applying. I knew things were bad but I didn't know the extent of it until I actually got there. I think I can withstand the abuse (and I feel like it is a form of abuse) for another semester or even until I graduate but I am not 100% sure. As I said, my anxiety is getting worse (so much worse) so I am really thinking about what to do. . . . (continue reading)

November 27, 2010

Heavenly Eye Candy: The latest images from the Hubble Telescope

These are simply ineffable. Whenever I see this kind picture of the heavenly bodies, I think of the biblical exclamation of awe and wonder:

“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is thy name in all the earth! Thou whose glory above the heavens is chanted by the mouth of babes and infants, thou hast founded a bulwark because of thy foes,
to still the enemy and the avenger. When I look at thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars which thou hast established; what is man that thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that thou dost care for him? Yet thou hast made him little less than God, and dost crown him with glory and honor. Thou hast given him dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet.”

(click here for more images, or click the stardust above)

November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving! (and a bit of wise advice)

For all your TSA humor needs: new bumper stickers

November 21, 2010

Inspiring New Advent Meditations That Will Help You "Prepare The Way of the Lord"

This is really impressive, friends. Please check this out.
We can expand and nourish our minds through the power of words inspired by the Word, such as the meditations contained in Belmont Abbey College theology professor Dr. Ron Thomas’ new booklet and companion CD, Prepare the Way: Daily Meditations for Advent. It's being offered, along with the companion CD of the meditations read by Dr. Thomas.

Please click here to sample the powerful words and beautiful images that await you when you receive your booklet.

Last year, Dr. Ron Thomas wrote a booklet and recorded a companion CD entitled Meditations on the Stations of the Cross, which was ordered by thousands of people all across America to enrich their Lent. In fact, EWTN found Dr. Thomas’ recorded Meditations on the Stations of the Cross to be so powerful and inspiring, they played his meditations on their worldwide radio network every day during Holy Week of 2010.

Imagine beginning each day during Advent by taking some quiet time and meditating on words that will bring you “the peace that surpasses all understanding,” and help you prepare your heart and mind like never before for the coming of Christ. That's how powerful this new Advent meditation booklet is. (And with your new companion CD, you could also do this in your car, helping you maintain peace and calm, even in the midst of rush-hour traffic.)

To sample the audio of one of the daily meditations,
CLICK HERE. (File will open in QuickTime.)
To get all the info on this excellent new book of Advent meditations, please
click here or click the image above. You're all in my prayers in a very special way for a peaceful and blessed Advent.

November 17, 2010

"How I Solved the Catholic Problem" -- Confessions of a Protestant missionary to Guatemala

Guatemala is at a turning point. Historically it's been a 100% Catholic country — but that's changing — rapidly. Demographers predict that early in this century Guatemala will become the first mostly-Protestant Latin American country. This story shows a different side of that trend: How two Evangelical Protestant missionaries went there to convert Catholics and discovered something amazing and life-changing.

By Kristine L. Franklin
The jet made a careful descent between the three volcanoes that ring the sprawl of Guatemala City. It was April 19th, 1992. My husband, Marty, and I had reached the end of eight years of preparation to be Evangelical Protestant missionaries.

We were finally here, excited and eager to settle in Guatemala. We knew our faith would be challenged and stretched, but we were more than ready for it because above all else, we desired to serve God with everything we could offer. Our new life as missionaries had just begun.

I didn't feel even a twinge of regret over what we'd left behind in the States: family, friends, a familiar language and culture, and amenities like clean water and good roads we Americans so often take for granted. In spite of the unknowns ahead, I knew we were being obedient, regardless of the cost. We were living smack in the middle of God's will, and it gave us a great feeling of security. We had given ourselves fully to bringing Christ's light to the darkness of this impoverished, Catholic country.

As the jet touched down onto the bumpy runway, tears welled in my eyes. "Thank you, Jesus," I whispered as I reached over to squeeze my husband's hand. Marty and I had come to the end of a long journey, but we were also beginning a new one. "Some day, Lord," I prayed silently, "I hope this foreign place will feel like home."

I was elated as we walked down the exit ramp from the plane and began the long-awaited adventure of being Protestant missionaries - missionaries sent to "rescue" Catholics from the darkness of their religion's superstition and man-made traditions and bring them into the light of Protestantism.

There's no way I could have known that three years later, almost to the day, my husband and my two children and I would stand holding hands again, elated again, waiting to be received into the Catholic Church. Let me explain what happened that led me, a staunch Evangelical, to become Catholic. . . . (continue reading)

A look at the unraveling of the "seamless garment" faction of U.S. bishops

The Catholic World Report has a good piece on what writer George Neumayr calls "Cardinal O'Conner's Revenge." It thoughtfully explores the underlying reasons why the liberal candidate for president of the USCCB, Bishop Gerald Kikanis, lost yesterday's election to New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan. It's a brief but good read. Here's the best line: "The irony of Bishop Kicanas’ defeat is that the fingerprints of dissenters are on the weapon that felled him . . ." 

November 16, 2010

I Would Like to Show You More Than This

A few thoughts are in order here:

1) The 80s gave us some truly excellent music and some truly lame music videos.
2) Bryan Ferry is a talented singer-songwriter.
3) The other members of Roxy Music, who are also talented, were (literally) overshadowed in this video.
4) That single note you hear when you see the saxophone player blow when he leans back for his “solo” is actually played on the synthesizer, not the saxophone.
5) Roxy Music's “Avalon” is also a very cool song.
6) Men do not look good when wearing eye-liner and sporting pointy sideburns.
7) Feel free to add any additional thoughts you think are apropos of this.

Battle Toad

“A new toad species with striking red eyes, discovered in the cloud forests of Chocó, Colombia.” Photo credit: Robin Moore/iLCP

November 15, 2010

Quantitative Easing: So simple even kids can understand it

Courtesy of The Anchoress (And please excuse the couple of bad words spoken herein.)

What's wrong with this picture? A Catholic nun is frisked by a TSA worker

This is the main photo-story at the Drudge Report right now, accompanied by the headline: THE TERRORISTS HAVE WON.

I don't know about that, but I do know that there's something very disconcerting, indeed quite outrageous, to see a Catholic nun in her religious habit being ignominiously groped by an airport TSA worker. Note that the picture shows what appears to be a hijab (head scarf) being worn by the TSA worker. Think about the irony of that juxtaposition. How many Catholic nuns do you know of who have committed acts of terrorism against an airliner and its passengers & crew? Hmm . . . I can't think of any. Can you? Of course, it's quite possible that it is not a hijab that the worker is wearing. But the picture gives that impression. In itself, it's an insignificant detail, but given the circumstances we're living in these days, it's certainly... remarkable, to say the least.

November 13, 2010

An Apologetics Primer on Explaining the Communion of Saints to Protestants

Every Sunday, millions of Christians around the world recite the Creed, professing their belief in the “communion of saints.” Few realize the importance of this phrase, which is sandwiched between other deep mysteries of the faith.
The Catholic understanding is denounced by many Protestants as “unbiblical.” It’s a bitter irony that the very doctrine of Christian unity has itself become a barrier to unity. The controversy revolves around the question, “Is it biblical to ask the saints in heaven to pray (intercede) for us?”

Catholics say yes. Since Christians are united with each other through Christ, and are commanded to love and pray for one another, Christians on earth can ask Christians in heaven for their prayers.

 Protestants say no. They say that praying to saints undermines Christ’s unique mediatorship, pointing to 1 Timothy 2:5: “There is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.” They 
think asking the saints to intercede for us is in direct conflict with this verse. The Anglican Reformers, under the leadership of Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said, “The Romish doctrine concerning . . . [the] invocation of saints is a fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but is, rather, repugnant to the Word of God” (39 Articles of Religion, article 22). Vatican II gave the Catholic position . . . (click to continue reading)

November 9, 2010

Peter Kreeft and Robert Spencer Debate the merits and demerits of Islam

Several weeks ago, I heard that this debate was coming up, but I was unable to attend. Two people I know personally and respect, Dr. Peter Kreeft and Robert Spencer, debated the question of Islam. For those of you who know Dr. Kreeft's work, you know he is eminently reasonable, always irenic, and a deep thinker. In fact, as I have gone on record saying many times over the years, I regard Peter Kreeft as our generation's C.S. Lewis.

Robert Spencer, who, like Peter, is a fellow Catholic, has in recent years produced a serious body of in-depth critical scholarship on Islam. His website, jihadwatch.org, is very influential and both widely admired and widely reviled (mainly, though not exclusively, by Muslims). These two men have very different views of Islam and of Muslims, and this debate promises to be an excellent opportunity for both positions to be carefully examined, compared, and contrasted. That's the hallmark of any good debate, in my opinion. I say "promises to be" because I haven't watched this video of the debate yet, though I am just about to do so.

Catholic blogger (and one of my Twitter friends), Lisa Graas, alerted me to the video clip, which I post for you now on my blog. I'd also like to lead off with the beginning of her commentary on the debate (below). And, as ever, I am very interested in knowing what you think of this. So, please, post comments to your heart's content.

Lisa writes:
On Thursday, November 9, 2010, Robert Spencer and Peter Kreeft participated in an historic debate at St. Thomas More College on the topic “Is the Only Good Muslim a Bad Muslim?” Video of this debate is below. 
Kreeft’s final remark:
“I suppose Bob must be right in saying that if everything in the Qur’an must be accepted literally and practiced then these are bad Muslims, so in that sense, I would have to agree with him that the best Muslim is a bad Muslim.”
Any Catholic who cares to understand this issue with any intelligence is strongly encouraged to watch this debate. I also recommend, of course, the catechism and Vatican II, particularly Nostra Aetate. Here are my thoughts on what Vatican II had to say about Jews, Christians and Muslims. . . .

November 3, 2010

Here's the most encouraging headline I've since since yesterday's election

Abortion Groups NARAL, Planned Parenthood, Emily’s List Dejected After Election
Oh, yeah, baby! I loved seeing that. And I loved seeing this quote from the same LifeNews.com article:
“'Yesterday was a difficult day' for the pro-abortion movement, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards admitted in the opening of an email to supporters of the abortion business today.”

November 1, 2010

"Put no trust in princes, in mere mortals powerless to save" (Psalm 146:3)

I find this picture from today's Drudge Report very poignant and thought-provoking.

Here we are, on the eve of the U.S. mid-term elections, and most people seem to sense the palpable unease that is in the air. A great tumult may be not be far off. Tumult and turmoil go hand in hand. And many pessimistic prognosticators have been prognosticating for the past year that something big and bad will happen in the U.S. that will shake things badly. An economic implosion, perhaps, or another successful terrorist attack, a natural disaster, or some kind of event that will provoke wide-spread civil unrest. God forbid! 

I hope they're all wrong. I hope that tomorrow's election will help to stabilize things somewhat and maybe even move us back toward some kind of sanity in our fiscal and social policies. Heaven knows that the damage wrought in the last two years of the current regime's disgusting bacchanalia of spending and social engineering will be hard to correct. Some say impossible. But I am hopeful. Like many of you, I am worried and prayerfully cautious about how things will turn out. I don't put my trust in the princes and princesses of either political party, but I remain hopeful. 

Look at that poor man in the picture. He is not hopeful. He personifies the despair that so many are experiencing these days. See how he kneels (kneels!) in the gutter, hands folded and face set like flint in grim mask of supplication as the presidential limousine whisks by him. I don't know what was in his heart at that moment, and I don't know what his political views are or what he hopes will happen in tomorrow's election. But I am quite moved by this picture. This man represents something very sad to me about the way America has been changing in recent decades, certainly since I was born in 1960. His face reflects an abject servility that is very disconcerting when I think of how cringing and servile so many Americans have become in their attitude toward The Government. How bad can it get, and how long can it go on?

What makes me so sad — and angry, too — is that this disconsolate man should feel so hopeless that he is reduced to kneeling in the gutter in hopes that the occupant of that armored limousine will take notice of his plea for help. I see a look that says, “Please look at me! Live up to your promises. Don't betray me. Don't leave me here in the gutter after you promised to help me me up.”

The Government (certainly not this one) can't save him. It can't save us. It can't even save itself from itself. It devours. It's a necessary evil that seems bent on becoming ever more unnecessary.

Perhaps the most disconcerting thing about this poignant image is that it might just as well portend the calm before a storm -- one man's last, ditch effort to get help. And when the limousine passes him by once again, and things just continue getting bleaker, what then? 

October 31, 2010

Mormons set to build new temple in Rome, Italy

The Mormon Church has been on an ambitious temple-building spree for the past 30 years. With 134 currently operating temples and nine under construction, the group recently announced 14 new temples, including one in the Eternal City. This, of course, is something they consider to be a milestone in their expansion, in part because Italy has been a country where Mormon missionaries have not had great success in finding converts.

The two major reasons for their overall lack of proselytism progress there is, in my view, 1) because Italy is more than just ostensibly a Catholic nation and, 2) because Mormonism is so very, very “American” that Italians, as with other Europeans who tend to look down on America and Americans, are even less interested in buying what the Mormon missionaries are selling than they might otherwise be.

In any case, I am disappointed but by no means dispirited by the news of this new temple. It may well be that Catholics in Italy who are still serious about explaining, sharing, and defending the True Faith will see in this development an opportunity to renew their efforts to reach out and evangelize Mormons and others. I certainly do pray for that and hope that the appearance of this new Mormon temple in Rome serves as a much-needed catalyst for Catholics to stand up for the Truth in the face of a Made-in-America theological off-brand.
Dinne s’alcun Latino è tra costoro
che son quinc’ entro, se l’unghia ti basti
etternalmente a cotesto lavoro.  — Dante

October 27, 2010

Japanese Beatles

Meet the BeaTrips. I love their Engrishy tag line: "The Beatles Real Cover Band." These boys don't look the part, but they nailed the song — except, perhaps, for the very last line, which to me doesn't sound much like, "I've got blisters on my fingers!" Maybe I should try to catch their act, next time I'm in Japan. 

Now, feast your ears on the exquisite Engrish stylings of "John," as he warms up the cloud for this next number. Once they start playing, I can pretty much groove with them all the way down the line (again, Parr's baseline is frawrress), but the Yoko-esque vocals that keep peeking through around the edges are disorienting. Still, their technical musical proficiency means that a splendid time is guaranteed for all.

This next one both attracts and repels. Technically, the music is good, especially Parr's bass rendition, though "George's" vocals suggest, somewhat creepily, how the Beatles
might have sounded if (shudder) Yoko had completely taken over the band.

Wine is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy

“Blessed are You, Lord, God of all creation. Through Your goodness we have this wine to offer,
fruit of the vine and work of human hands. It will become our spiritual drink.”

Some additional info about Luisa Piccarreta and the "Divine Will" Movement

A new era of grace. Revelations of Jesus never before seen by the eyes of the Church. The possibility of a holiness beyond that of saints. An Italian mystic who rivals the Blessed Mother in importance and sanctity. Sound intriguing? Good. We're about to take a trip through the Kingdom of the Divine Will. Hang on, it could get bumpy.

Divine Will Hunting
By Fr. Terrence Staples

Church history is littered with strange movements; those that have passed away and those that still remain. Just about all of them started with a single individual who, through charismatic presence or seductive writing, managed to gather a flock of believers. The Divine Will movement is no different.

Enter Luisa Piccarreta. Born in 1865, bedridden for most of her life, she claimed to receive locutions from Jesus. Evidently, the communications were lengthy and frequent, filling 34 volumes by the time of her death in 1947.

According to Piccarreta's writings, there were three great eras in salvation history which corresponded to, and followed from, three great "fiats." The first was the creative fiat: God created all things by His Word. This initiated the "Age of Creation." The second fiat came from the Blessed Virgin Mary: "Let it be done to me according to your word" (Luke 1:38). This ushered in the "Age of Redemption."

Finally, after many years of turmoil in the Church, God has completed the work of creation and redemption by inspiring the third fiat: Piccarreta's own surrender to God. Her submission, which is presented as being on par with the fiat of creation and that of our Blessed Mother, brought the Church to a new level of sanctity. We have now entered the "Era of Sanctification." Through Piccarreta, the Kingdom of the Divine Will came to earth and is available to all who welcome it. Eventually, this new gift to the Church will spread to all Her members and creation will be restored to its pre-Fall state.

This raises the obvious question: What does this gift entail? According to Piccarreta's revelations, to "live in the Divine Will" is to literally possess the Divine Will in such a way that one's actions become purely divine. Before the "Era of Sanctification," all that could be achieved by the saints was a "poor and lowly union with God." They could, by grace, do God's will, but were not capable of possessing the Divine Will itself.

This new union with Deity was introduced to the Church by Jesus through Piccarreta (though Adam, Eve and the Blessed Mother had this gift as well). One alleged locution has Jesus saying, "When a soul acts in My Will, her humanity is, as it were, suspended. Then the Divine Life of My love takes its place and acts; and, as it acts in a creature, My love finds itself unburdened of its desire for expression" (Book of Heaven, 94).

Contrasting the traditional way of holiness (ie. obedience to God's will by grace) with the new way (ie. possession of the Divine Will), Jesus tells Piccarreta, ". . . to live in My Will is to reign in It and with It, while to do My Will is to be at My orders . . . To live in My Will is to live with a single Will — God's Will — a Will all holy, all pure, all peace." In this way, the traditional Catholic means of holiness is denigrated as mere servitude, over and against the new life in the Divine Will.

How, then, is one to receive this sublime gift? Two things must be done . . . (continue reading article)

[Also . . . read the letters to the editor written for and against this article, as well as Fr. Terrence Staple's lengthy, point-by-point response to challenges to his view of Luisa Piccarreta and the "Divine Will" movement.]