Ever had a conversation with that person staring back at you in the mirror? I have, on occasion, particularly of late after celebrating yet another birthday, with the exchange starting these days with "Dad!?... is that you?".
But I digress.
Mark Shea has had a conversation with himself and the subject matter is the re-release of a book he wrote called By What Authority?:
Shea: By What Authority? is an explanation of what the Church means by “Sacred Tradition” written in user-friendly language. It is written for Evangelical Protestants and the Catholics who love them. The core argument of the book centers on the question “How do you know what books belong in the Bible?” and the centerpiece of that argument is basically found in Chapter 6, where we discover that the reality is not that Catholics believe in Sacred Tradition and Evangelicals don’t. Rather, it is that Catholics believe in Sacred Tradition and know that they do, while Evangelicals believe in Sacred Tradition and don’t know that they do. The central image I use to try and get at this is that of Light and Lens. Scripture is the Light, but it is often a fuzzy and blurry light. We require a Lens in order to focus that Light. The lens is Sacred Tradition and both Catholics and Evangelicals make use of that Lens all the time—but for Evangelicals, it’s often unconscious.
Shea: Sure. In addition to telling us which books belong in the Bible (the Table of Contents is, after all, not inspired), Sacred Tradition tells us things like “monogamy is the one and only way to conceive of Christian marriage”, “abortion is a sin”, “God is a Trinity”, and “revelation closed with the death of the apostles”. None of those things are clear from Scripture alone. And some of those things are less clear in Scripture than, say, the doctrine that Mary is the Mother of God or the Church’s teaching on Purgatory. I don’t go into it in the book, but you could likewise point out that Scripture does not tell us how to get married (there are examples ranging from “kill all the males in a town and cart the women off as captives” to “take over the harem of your father” that I doubt Focus on the Family or Rome would smile on, but only Rome can explain why these “biblical” examples are not our model as Christians). Nor does Scripture have anything explicit to tell us about why communion is supposed to be a regular sacrament but foot-washing (another ritualistic act performed at the Last Supper) is not.
Bottom line: what matters as much as the bare text of Scripture alone is the way in which the Scripture was read in the context of the life of the Church. The simple fact is, the Church handed down both the book and the way of understanding the book. And so, for instance, it celebrated “the breaking of the bread” regularly, but not the washing of feet. The book was read in light of the rule “Lex orandi, lex credendi”—the way we worship is the way we believe. In weighing doctrinal questions, the Bible was not on the Judge’s Bench, but in the Witness Box. So when the Church came to deliberate, say, the question of whether Gentiles needed to be circumcised (Acts 15), they did not do a topical Bible study on circumcision. Instead they looked at apostolic Tradition, arrived at a decision (“We are saved by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ”) and then said, “Hey! Look! The Scriptures agree with us!”). Then they send out a letter with the daring statement, “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us…”
Mark: Yeah. That is pretty daring. And some would say that your crediting of a narrative like that is an example of the fact that you are—not to put too fine a point on it—a boot-licking Vatican toady. Protestant critics have been saying that for years. But in the past year or so, even many Catholics are starting to say the same, given what your critics call your “craven defenses of the Novus Ordo Church”. Many wonder how you can you possibly credit the reliability of Sacred Tradition as it is embodied by the Magisterium of a post-conciliar Church that has lost all its moral authority?
Shea: Funny you should ask. Because that goes right to the heart of one of the two reasons I wanted to revise and expand the book.
Mark: Two reasons?
Shea: Yeah. The first one is the inexplicable popularity of The Da Vinci Code, which came out a few years after my book was published and which millions of presumably educated people took seriously as “impeccable research” on the origins of the Christian faith. Not coincidently, the reason they did so was, in part, due to the second reason: the fact that the Church’s witness went into eclipse due to the priest scandal at just the moment Da Vinci was published.
Mark: And rightly so. How can you make excuses for those horrors or the bishops who covered them up, help facilitate them, and in some cases, even committed them?
There's much more, check it out and learn something.
Me... I'm gonna go talk to the guy in the mirror about getting me a late birthday present... Mark's book.
I'd never heard of this until today. Where have I been? Probably like most males, lost in knowing anything about women's health and thus, simply oblivious. So today I take a tiny step in knowing more about it and my plan is to drag you with me. Hang on, don't click away just yet.
Why, by now you're likely asking, am I doing this?
Firstly, because I love women, particularly my wife but certainly there are others, and love compels me to know more about them.
Secondly, because I'm fully aware that there's a war against these women I love. You might've heard something about it. The war is real but likely not exactly as you've probably heard.
NaProTechnology is, in essence, a weapon in that war and, as a man, I'll confess (yet again) that there's something about fighting a good fight I find appealing.
NaProTECHNOLOGY (Natural Procreative Technology) is a new women's health science that monitors and maintains a woman's reproductive and gynecological health. It provides medical and surgical treatments that cooperate completely with the reproductive system.
Thirty years of scientific research in the study of the normal and abnormal states of the menstrual and fertility cycles have unraveled their mysteries.
NaProTECHNOLOGY uses the Creighton Model FertilityCare™ System biomarkers to monitor easily and objectively the occurrence of various hormonal events during the menstrual cycle. NaProtracking provides valid information that can be interpreted by a woman and by physicians who are specifically trained in this system.
Unlike common suppressive or destructive approaches, NaProTECHNOLOGY works cooperatively with the procreative and gynecologic systems. When these systems function abnormally, NaProTECHNOLOGY identifies the problems and cooperates with the menstrual and fertility cycles that correct the condition, maintain the human ecology, and sustain the procreative potential.
Women now have an opportunity to know and understand the causes of the symptoms from which they suffer.
I think I need to spend more time at that site, learning more. There's lots there.
But let's face it, we're a visual people and so video is also effective in learning more about something. So watch what follows:
Grab ya some? Peak your curiousity?
It ought. It does me. Here's another... c'mon, it's less than two minutes:
If you're a guy and you're like me, you've probably learned more about women's health in this post alone than most guys learn their entire lives.
And if you're a gal... well... forgive us guys will ya and let me ask, does any of this appeal to you?
I'm hoping so.
There's a war on, it's real and we need to choose a side. Why not choose a side that's helping women counter-culturally but effectively? Seriously.
You won’t see Adolf Hitler peering back at you from the featured display tables at Barnes & Noble any time soon. But browse the most popular e-book stores these days and Der Führer’s mug is seemingly unavoidable. For a year now, his magnum manifesto has loomed large over current best-sellers on iTunes, where at the time of this writing two different digital versions of Mein Kampf rank 12th and 15th on the Politics & Current Events chart alongside books by modern conservative powerhouses like Sarah Palin, Charles Krauthammer and Glenn Beck.
In fact, all seven of Beck’s books trail Herr Hitler’s nearly century-old tell-all, which consistently holds its own against new e-blockbusters likeGame Change by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, This Town by Mark Leibovich, and Nate Silver’s The Signal and the Noise.
Or to put it another way: On Amazon, there are more than 100 versions ofMein Kampf for sale in every conceivable print and audio format, from antique hardbacks to brand-new paperbacks. Of those 100 iterations, just six are e-books—yet all six of them rank among the 10 best-selling versions overall. And those are just the ones people are paying for.
If someone has an explanation, I'd like to hear it.
Yet more signs of societal decay? Or... simple curiousity?
I honestly don't know but would like to. I find it troubling either way.
In the second chapter of the Book of Matthew is recorded the story of the Massacre of the Holy Innocents, an event which recalls the Pharaoh's instructions to midwives during the time Israel was enslaved in Egypt:
Exodus 1:15-16, 22: And the king of Egypt spoke to the midwives of the Hebrews: of whom one was called Sephora, the other Phua, Commanding them: When you shall do the office of midwives to the Hebrew women, and the time of delivery is come: if it be a man child, kill it: if a woman, keep it alive...
...Pharao therefore charged all his people, saying: Whatsoever shall be born of the male sex, ye shall cast into the river: whatsoever of the female, ye shall save alive. Moses was saved from this murder when his mother placed him in a little ark and floated him in the river. Moses's sister watched from afar as the Pharaoh's daughter found the child (Exodus 2). The massacre from which Moses was spared is a type, a foreshadowing, of the massacre of the holy innocents that took place soon after Christ was born.
As to the slaughter of the Innocents in the New Testament, first some background: Herod the Great, the Governor of Galilee, was an Idumean Jew whom History describes as an extremely cruel man: he was a man who killed several of his wives and his own sons when he suspected they were plotting against him. Challenges to his power were met with a swift and final response, and he even tried to ensure that his cruel campaigns survived him when he arranged that on the day he went on to his eternal reward, hundreds of men in the area would be killed so that there would be mourning at his funeral. Though this arrangement was never carried out, it speaks well of Herod's nature.
And during this tyrant's reign, the Magi -- whose adoration of Baby Jesus is remembered on the Epiphany (6 January) and its Eve (Twelfth-night) -- saw the Star of Bethlehem and went to Jerusalem, asking where the new King of Jews may be found. Herod heard of their asking around about the newborn King and, calling the high priests to find out about this this Child, was informed that it was prophesied that the Child would be born in Judah.
Threatened by this prophecy, he sent for the Magi to find the Child and report back so he could go and "worship," too. The Magi found Jesus but, knowing Herod's heart after having it revealed to them in a dream, didn't go back to tell Herod of His whereabouts.
Meanwhile, the Holy Family, warned through St. Joseph who was visited by an angel in a dream, makes their flight into Egypt.
Herod became enraged at the Wise Men's "betrayal," and killed all the baby boys in Bethlehem who were two years old and younger.
The fourth day of Christmas commemorates these baby boys, who are considered martyrs -- the very first martyrs (St. Stephen, whose Feast was commemorated 2 days ago, was the first martyr of the Church Age). As Bethlehem was a small town, the number of these Holy Innocents was probably no more than 25, but they are glorious martyrs who died not only for Christ, but in His place. Vestments will be red or purple in mourning, and the Alleluia and Gloria will be suppressed at Mass.
There's more, including an interesting section on customs practiced by some in Hispanic countries.
Yesterday Rick posted a beautiful video that I subsequently commented in part - “There’s plenty of mainstream rock, in particular, that mentions religious themes that probably go right over most listeners head. Including us atheists.”
Few would deny that rock and roller Bruce Springsteen is a national icon. Fans often associate his music with American pastimes, youthful romance — and the rebellious soul. But some scholars are convinced that there’s something deeper to be learned from Springsteen’s four decades of musical success.
Rutgers University recently announced that it will offer a new course exploring the career and theology of The Boss. The seminar, titled “Rock and Roll Theology,” will explore Springsteen’s entire anthology of lyrics from “Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.” (1973) to his most recent album “Wrecking Ball” (2012).
Rutgers Today, the school’s official news outlet, said the one-credit freshman seminar will be taught by associate professor of Jewish studies and classics, Dr. Azzan Yadin-Israel.
In an interview with Rutgers Today, the professor of theology described the songs and ideas that inspired this unique course. “In some songs, Springsteen engages biblical motifs explicitly, as the titles indicate. For example, ‘Adam Raised a Cain,’ ‘Jesus was an Only Son,’ ‘In the Belly of the Whale’ (referring to Jonah). But concepts with biblical resonance appear throughout his works (the Promised Land, redemption, faith), and it’s just a matter of taking the theological overtones seriously,” Yadin-Israel said.
Nadia Bolz-Weber bounds into the University United Methodist Church sanctuary like a superhero from Planet Alternative Christian. Her 6-foot-1 frame is plastered with tattoos, her arms are sculpted by competitive weightlifting and, to show it all off, this pastor is wearing a tight tank top and jeans.
Looking out at the hundreds of people crowded into the pews to hear her present the gospel of Jesus
Christ, she sees: Dockers and blazers. Sensible shoes. Grandmothers and soccer moms. Nary a facial piercing.
To Bolz-Weber’s bafflement, this is now her congregation: mainstream America.
These are the people who put her memoir near the top of the New York Times bestseller list the week it came out in September. They are the ones who follow her every tweet and Facebook post by the thousands, and who have made the Lutheran minister a budding star for the liberal Christian set.
And who, as Bolz-Weber has described it in her frequently profane dialect, “are [mess]ing up my weird.”
A quick tour through her 44 years doesn’t seem likely to wind up here. It includes teen rebellion against her family’s fundamentalist Christianity, a nose dive into drug and alcohol addiction, a lifestyle of sleeping around and a stint doing stand-up in a grungy Denver comedy club. She is part of society’s outsiders, she writes in her memoir, its “underside dwellers . . . cynics, alcoholics and queers.”
Which is where — strangely enough — the match with her fans makes sense. The type of social liberals who typically fill the pews of mainline churches sometimes feel like outsiders among fellow liberals in their lives if they are truly believing Christians; if they are people who really experience Jesus and his resurrection, even if they can’t explain it scientifically; if they are people who want to hear words from the Apostles in church, not Thich Nhat Hanh or Barack Obama.
In her body and her theology, Bolz-Weber represents a new, muscular form of liberal Christianity, one that merges the passion and life-changing fervor of evangelicalism with the commitment to inclusiveness and social justice of mainline Protestantism. She’s a tatted-up, foul-mouthed champion to people sick of being belittled as not Christian enough for the right or too Jesus-y for the left.
So dear reader, especially you believers, read the whole thing. Fill me in on where she goes astray. Maybe I just missed it.
I'm of the firm belief that truth can take many forms... and as long as truth leads to Truth... who in hell am I to judge.
The Christianity tent is huge. Of course I want all to be Catholic, and maybe in time, those touched by the truth preached by Ms. Bolz-Weber, and there's truth there folks, might lead people home to the Church, where Truth in my view is preached most fully.