Saturday, August 25, 2018

Pope Francis Must Resign


Dear Friends in my Apocalypse Email Group and Readers of this Once Defunct Blog (which covered the Abuse Scandal, among other things),

This is an Apocalypse - which means a revelation, an uncovering.  

Apocalypse indeed.


Because now we know.

The bishops are not inept or stupid.  They never have been.  All along, the bad ones have been deliberately and coyly asserting their agenda - which is a dark, sick and hidden agenda, one that preys upon the most innocent among us.  And Pope Francis has been in cahoots with them.  As annoying as the conspiracy theorists and Francis haters are among us, they've been right.  The extremists saw the truth before we did - hard as that is for some of us to admit. 

Understand this: this has all been deliberate.  Men do not allow other men to abuse children or adults under their authority (such as seminarians), nor do they allow the frank hypocrisy under their watch that this ugliness has revealed them to have allowed.  These things just don't happen.   "Oops!  Bishops and priests are sexually promiscuous, and some of them with children and our Catholic seminaries are often places where such sickness is encouraged and cultivated and where seminarians are deliberately targeted for abuse and corruption and gosh what can I do about it?"  No, these things just don't happen.  They are deliberate.

Pope Francis is the top enabler, facilitator and hypocrite.  That may hurt and sting, but it's true.  He and Wuerl and Cupich and all of the fifth column within the Church has to go.  Yes, we're all sinners and yadda yadda - but this is not our fault; we are in the penumbra of victims - not terrorized as the direct victims are, but fooled and suppressed and victmized all the same.  It is not our fault.  It is the fault of the enemy within.

Pope Francis is as bad as McCarrick - worse, in a sense, because Francis could have stopped McCarrick and his ilk, but he didn't and he lied about it (lying is endemic to the fifth column).  There is a reason our Church is so sick and so many of us have felt so lost and confused within the heart of our Church for so long.  It has been infested.  The infestation must be cleared out.

It's not just the liberals or the conservatives, the far left or the far right, who have undermined us.  It is neither political nor ideological.  It is the planned sabotage of the Body of Christ and of all that is good.  It is a coordinated attack on what common, normal people hunger for and value.  "And this is the verdict: The Light has come into the world, but men loved the darkness rather than the Light, because their deeds were evil." (John 3:19)

See it for what it is.  I blogged about this for years and many of my readers pushed back.  I received at least one threat of physical violence.  I had so-called conservative Catholics swear and curse at me.  I had readers put pressure on organizations I worked for to fire me because I was exposing the bad behavior of bishops that they liked, exposing them here on this blog.  

I finally stopped blogging.  I did not need the hassle.

But what you all are seeing, with this perfect storm of McCarrick and the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report, and now Pope Francis, I saw clearly years ago, along with a few others who looked into the Scandal and tried to tell the ugly - indeed the horrific - truth about it.  

So believe me - this is real. 


If the Pennsylvania Report is replicated in all fifty states - the Church will never be the same.  But that may be the very purgation that we need.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Pray for Ireland

A request from an Irish blog reader ...

***

Please pray for Ireland. This Friday, May 25th 2018. The people or Ireland are being asked to vote "Yes" or "No" to abortion in a referendum on our constitution. Ireland needs prayers. Many if not most most American Catholics can trace their faith back to an Irish ancestor. Ireland needs prayers, rosaries, Masses, sacrifices and most of all fasting for this Friday to protect us from abortion. Please ask your family, especially children, friends, priests, bishops, religious, and all Christian faithful and people of good will to pray for Ireland  (and, thinking of children, the "all the babies in Irish mummies' tummies"

Voting Takes Place in Ireland on Friday 5/25/18 at these times:

Eastern: 2:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Central:  1:00 AM - 4:00 PM

Mountain: Midnight Thursday - 3:00 PM Friday.

Pacific: 11:00 PM Thursday - 2: PM Friday

Please pass this message on,

Thank you and God bless you.

Ireland without abortion is a jewel in the international pro-life movement because the United Nations has consistently ranked Ireland, (a modern, developed country) without abortion, to be about joint 6th out of 183 countries in the world for maternal health. This is better than the United States and Britain and gives American prolife campaigners proof to argue that legalized abortion does not help women's health rates. The "Yes" for abortion side has control of the national television service, all the national newspapers and all the national radio stations. Google have intervened in the voting process by shutting down and blocking all advertisements on the issue on YouTube, as these were benefiting the "No" abortion side. Misinformation, false information and lies are coming out faster than it is possible to correct them. Catholic schools are almost universally completely silent on the issue due to the stifling secular atmosphere. Hearts are being mislead and hardened. Prayer and Grace can soften them. Please offer prayers to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus, on whom the Irish people have relied for centuries.

Please pass this message on,

God bless you.

Diarmaid O'Conghaile

Galway, Ireland.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

This summer I will be performing at the 37th Annual American Chesterton Society Conference,
“The Test of the Imagination.” The conference is being held in Orlando, FL, August 2-4, 2018.
I will be one of about a dozen presenters, who will be speaking on topics ranging from “Chesterton and
Mary Poppins” to “Chesterton and Kierkegaard.” My presentation is titled
I CALL YOU FRIENDS - AN EVENING WITH TOLKIEN & LEWIS, my two-man show on the friendship of JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis, which led to Lewis' conversion. Whether or not you know anything about G.K. Chesterton,
I would love to have you join me at this fun conference devoted to intellectual stimulation,
spiritual edification, and joyful fellowship.

Registration is open and you can find all of the details at
https://www.chesterton.org/37th-annual-chesterton-conference/

I hope you will be able to make it!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Education - Classical and Catholic

The subject of education fascinates me, both because we're generally getting it so wrong these days, and also because in losing the purpose of education, we are losing a vital treasure in our lives and in our culture.

The classical Christian educational movement has boldly stepped in to fill the vacuum in secular education this past decade or more.  I'm personally involved both with Chesterton Academy and Homeschool Connections.  Another school in the Classical / Christian mold is St. John of the Cross Academy in Lafayette, Louisiana.

Timothy Trossclair of St. John of the Cross reached out to me a few weeks ago to help publicize a fundraiser the school is having to construct their own school building on land that they already own.

I asked Tim to tell me more about the school and to allow me to interview him (and the school's co-founders) for this blog.

Here's the interview, which is lengthy, but interesting.

***

What is St. John of the Cross Academy and why did you found it?

Tim:  Nick Trosclair, Peter Youngblood, and I started Saint John of the Cross Academy in 2015 with the express purpose of implementing a truly classical and Catholic education. During our collective twenty years of experience in diocesan, public, and independent schools, we were frustrated by the insurmountable obstacles to actually teaching anything, let alone to implementing either a true catholic or classical education. These obstacles resulted from at least four of the following causes: First, pure bureaucratic sloth and lack of any idea of subsidiarity, coupled with a daily dose of garden variety incompetence. Second, class sizes that demonstrate an overemphasis on financial stability (usually resulting from a board that does not understand the principles of education and prefers wealth to wisdom). Third, a clear lack of understanding of what a classical education means. Fourth, a clear lack of understanding of what a catholic education means (these last two are the most damaging).


For this reason, we decided to remove ourselves from the modern system and place our families deep within the traditions of Holy Mother Church, as well as the classical heritage our own western civilization. Our by-laws make it clear that bureaucratic sloth is not to be tolerated (subsidiarity is one of the four marks of the Academy); that class sizes must remain small in spite of the possibility of great financial gains (the laws of the Academy maintain that SJCA cannot lawfully exceed a ratio of 8 pupils per teacher); that the classical languages of Greek and Latin, the classical content of western literature, and the classical methods (the trivium using the socratic pedagogy) must be strictly maintained; and, finally, that the Mass and the liturgical calendar and missal will be our daily guide, as well as the study of the fathers, doctors, and saints of the Catholic Church (we are a year-round Academy that bases our holidays and vacations strictly on the liturgical calendar of the Church).  


In regard to our philosophy of education, the main idea is that education is not an occupation but an entire way of life that springs forth from a long and glorious tradition handed down from one generation to the next. It is the formation of the mind and heart to become free and fertile ground into which may be planted the seed of a common culture, the social virtue, which rightly disposes a person to his heritage and society, both the immediate society of his family and the state as a whole, and to his duty as a member of that society. Thus, we believe that the primary educators of a child must be the parents. Of course, this is a very heavy responsibility and can at times even become a burden. Its for this reason that parents ought to seek out a community of like-minded people to aid them in this singularly difficult and important task. That community ought to include tutors, themselves dedicated to mastering the intellectual and moral traditions at the heart of their shared culture, to aid them in achieving their goal of firmly instilling the best aspects of that culture in their children. This is the reason for the founding of Saint John of the Cross Academy, a classical tutorship that facilitates the kind of community, bound together by a truly traditional Catholic culture, in which children receive an education worthy of the name.


The tutors of SJCA recognize their role and its importance, but they know that it is essentially a secondary and instrumental role. Thus, while they all have a total and lifetime commitment to the mastery necessary to be classical tutors, they also understand that their expertise does not in any way supersede the rights and responsibilities of parents. Tutors are instruments in the hands of the parents cultivating their children, and indeed the whole family (our by-laws also maintain that parents of the Academy are required to meet at least bi-monthly to discuss some author who clearly demonstrates the Catholic ideal; last year, we read and discussed St. Augustine's Confessions). They dedicate their life not so much to an occupation, but to a work of mercy.

You say that there is a lack of understanding of what classical education means and of what Catholic education means.  What do they mean?

Peter: We’ve all experienced the abuse of the term classical, which is part of the initial impetus of the founding of the Academy. I think the Trosclairs would agree that in our experience, “classical” simply referred to some engagement with classical texts and and emphasis on class discussions over textbook presentation and regurgitation. There is even some lip service paid to the classical liberal arts, the Trivium. But what we’ve found is that a thorough-going classical education is radically different from anything we’d been a part of. Though classical content is certainly essential, both because it incorporates us into the tradition and because it is tried and true as regards its value for education, but the real heart of classical education is the moderation and mastery of the pupil’s own intellectual faculties. All content (including the mathematical and scientific) and pedagogy serves this end. And the classical pedagogy implies a classical anthropology, remembering the necessity of discipline to train the passions and acquire good habits of mind and heart. It is also responsive to the natural intellectual development of the human being, emphasizing as it does the progression from imitation and memorization in the grammar stage, to analysis and synthesis in the dialectical and rhetorical stages. Memory provides the seed of conceptual thought, and so must be nurtured and honed to be ready at the command of the pupil before he can proceed to the analysis of the images in the dialectical stage, and this analysis ultimately provides the basis for the pupils’ exercises in rhetoric, by which the pupil learns to communicate his own mind (formed by the best minds of his ancestors) with skill. Classical education, then, is not just the familiarization of the pupil with the thought of his ancestors, but it is the active incorporation of the pupil’s own rational activity into that of his ancestors. That is, he learns not just what his ancestors said, but how and why they said it, and he learns, perhaps most importantly of all, to be able to speak in a sense with the very same voice. But this is because it is in a sense his own voice, as the face of the father is seen in the face of the son. As Alexander Pope said, “What we call Learning is but the knowledge of the good sense of our predecessors.” The pupil is made a living part of the intellectual tradition of the classical world. The lack of this incorporation is what T.S. Eliot laments in his essay After Strange Gods, remarking as he does there that the world suffers not from a lack of genius, but from a lack of anything close to a common culture, which alone enables men to pursue with excellence a common good. Now that this education also be called Catholic entails that the tradition we are speaking of is not just that of some natural culture, but rather the providentially established and developed culture of the Roman Catholic Church. The pupils of a classical and Catholic academy are meant to enter into the very intellectual and moral life of that great cloud of witnesses, the Saints and Doctors, memorizing their doctrines, imitating their devotion, and thinking with the mind of the Church. We have an uphill battle in this regard because in many ways, we have been cut off from our own heritage. Many days have been spent desperately trying to discover what advice our ancestors would have given us if their books had not been destroyed or fallen into an oblivion of disuse. But we hope that our efforts might produce some appetite for excellence of mind and heart in our children and pupils, as well as some small semblances of the virtues of piety and religion, and that they might pursue these things further than we have in imitation of the great teachers of old.

Nick: To echo Tracy Lee Simmons’ simple and penetrating definition: classical education is classical immersion. As with second language acquisition, to feel at home in a culture we must immerse our memories, minds, and passions in it. By immersing our pupils in the Catholic traditions of the West, we hope that our pupils will not feel like strangers, alienated from the ancient culture which fathered them. But how might we immerse them? The classical schools throughout the centuries are unanimous: we imitate. We imitate our fathers, those who formed and transmitted western culture. Imitation is the key to classical learning, impressing tradition into not only our minds but also our passions. By imitation in reading, writing, thinking, and speaking, we feel tradition, we become her living vehicles. The height of this immersion and imitation is the Liturgy of our Fathers. Culture without “cult,” without true worship is impossible. Just as we imitate the great thinkers, so we imitate the great saints in the liturgy of the Traditional Catholic Mass.

One other aspect of classical education that must be emphasized is the limitations of the subjects of study. As Seneca pithily stated: Nusquam est qui ubique est, or, he who is everywhere is nowhere. Pupils should master a few subjects and its contents, lest they be stretched thin, mastering nothing while assuming that they know everything.

Since subsidiarity is one of the four marks of your academy, does this mean that the teachers have the authority to plain their own course content?

Peter: Each of the tutors has full authority over their content, though we have all agreed on certain fundamental texts that serve as cornerstones of each content area. Naturally, though, as we are always discussing with each other the texts we are working through, each tutor influences the others with regard to what is taught and how.

Nick: I would also like to add that our bi-monthly Great Books seminars provide a healthy space for parents and tutors to influence the curriculum.

Tim: Yes. The seminars in turn also allow our parents to be influenced by the curriculum themselves and enter into the great discussion, which allows them to continue the conversation at home with their children.

It should also be mentioned that, while the preparation of the course is left up to the judgment of the individual Tutor, the instructor is safeguarded from merely teaching his subject in a vacuum by having to rigorously follow the principles, methods, and content of the classical and catholic tradition. This protects the pupils from having to suffer the widespread problem of the teacher who seeks to merely impose his own ego on the classroom rather than handing on the intellectual virtues of our patrimony.

How much Scripture study is there?  Do you study any of the New Testament in the original Greek?

Peter: Though there isn’t single period devoted entirely to scripture study across all levels, passages of Scripture are routinely assigned in both the Latin periods and the Theology periods. In Latin (Nick could speak more to this), the focus is mainly on the grammar of the text, with some exposition of the senses of the terms used, and memorization. And this flows perfectly into the Theology period, where the basis is always the Dogma as contained in the Scriptures and tradition. The pupils in dialectical and rhetorical pupils in Theology are asked to give the various senses of certain passages, or else to recall passages in support of the dogmatic statements of the Church. Nick has recently begun teaching Greek to select pupils, something we’ve been wanting to do since our founding, but seeing as the pupils mostly lacked mastery of Latin, we thought it best to hold off until we could attain that first. I believe his immediate goal is for the Gospel of John to be read in Greek.

Nick: Scripture memory is central throughout our curriculum, but especially in the grammar and dialectical stages. Before the pupils can competently reflect on Revelation, they must have a command of both salvation history and key verses of the Old and New Testaments. In our first two years we noted this scriptural gap in our older pupils. We did our best to remedy this lacuna, but, ultimately, scripture memory must begin as early as possible. We see a great difference in those pupils who have been at SJCA the last three years. They are ready for deeper reflection and imitation.

Only this year (this is our third year) have we begun to teach Greek. As Peter said above, we demand some proficiency in Latin before studying Greek. After two years, one of our pupils was ready for the challenge. By the end of the year he will be reading the First Epistle of John and portions of the Gospel of John.

Some homeschool families seem wary of classical studies outside of those that are Church related.  Do you study Plato and Aristotle?  Virgil and the other classical Pagan authors?  If so, how do you tie the study of Pagan philosophy and literature into the study of Christ and His Church?

Peter: I think Tim could answer this best, as he heads up the literature and history content areas. But suffice it to say that we take the same position on these studies as did Alcuin, Thomas, and Dante...or St. Justin Martyr, for that matter! There is a reason why the Holy Spirit lead St. Paul to the West. The Greeks and the Romans, for all their vanity, were fertile soil for the Gospel not by chance, but by Providence. Part of this is precisely the intellectual tradition of Greek philosophy and literature, as well as Roman jurisprudence. St. Paul has no trouble quoting the pagan poets, so neither do we!

Tim:  We certainly do study those pagan authors. Last year we read and discussed Aristotle’s Politics in detail, as well as Cicero’s speeches and Virgil’s Aeneid. It is clear that our fathers in the faith, as well as the doctors of the Catholic Church, believed that, since Christ is the “light who enlightens all who come into the world,” it was important that we study those men who followed His light even when they were not aware of His particular name. St. Augustine, argues openly for the study of the pagans when he compares the natural wisdom of the ancients to the gold and silver the Jews were commanded to take from the Egyptians during their exodus (see On Christian Doctrine, Bk II). He says that “whatever has been rightly said by the heathen, we must appropriate to our uses,” and that, just as the Jews took with them the goods of Egypt before fleeing into the desert (Ex 3:20-22), we too ought to hew from the pagan rocks whatever moral or intellectual goods they have to give us as well.

How do we do this? The pupils learn in their theology class that God is the author of both the natural and supernatural worlds and that one inevitably points to the other. They also learn the theological principle, taught so clearly by the common doctor, that “grace perfects nature.” So when we are reading and discussing great authors like Homer, Aristotle, or Virgil, they see clearly that not only do the rocks of creation unwittingly cry out to their creator, but the pagans cry out as well. For example, we discuss the moral consequences of events in Oedipus Rex, compare the epic heroes of Aeneas and Odysseus to Christ, and apply the arguments of Aristotle to Catholic moral theology. When learning that the common good is the height of man’s natural end while reading Aristotle’s Politics, they come to realize the depravity of this life without being able to obtain God in the next (i.e., that the natural end is not enough). Questions from the pupils naturally arise that lead them ever more deeply into a real understanding of their Catholic faith and the greater end God has placed before them, namely, the common good as found in eternity. In fact, I recall that while discussing the Politics, one pupil had the question, “if we have two different ends, then do we also have two different forms of morality?” This led into the whole class conversing about the differences between our natural purpose and our supernatural purpose and why the martyrs have obtained the highest end possible. Thus, not only did the Politics aid the pupils in better understanding the very nature God perfects by His grace, but reading Aristotle made them want to be martyrs. This is the gold and silver of which St. Augustine spoke, and we would be fools to spurn it.  

You have "tutors".  Are tutors different than teachers?  How?

Peter: Nick actually wrote a very good article explaining this exact point for our website, so he can say it best. Ultimately, in a genuinely classical academy, the teachers are the authoritative voices of tradition, the authors we read. We are merely the guides, the coaches of their thought and discipline.

Nick: As an instrument in the hands of the parents, the classical tutor is responsible for the daily intellectual and moral formation of his pupils. Traditionally a tutor was not a part time, remedial teacher. C. S. Lewis, one of the last men to be classically tutored, describes the comprehensive formation of his tutor. He was classically formed by his tutor W. T. Kirkpatrick, dubbed “the Great Knock.” The Great Knock molded Lewis in the classical tradition as a personal teacher every day for several years. He demanded precision, ever questioning, coaching, correcting and challenging the boy in his academic exercises; he would allow no half-measures--there was no hiding from the Great Knock. The tutor should allow no half-measures, ensuring that the pupil has mastered each exercise before graduating to the next. Demanding precision and perfection, the tutor is committed to the overall formation of his pupils.The Catholic tradition perfected the tutorship in the early modern Jesuit schools in which the young were intellectually and morally formed.

You mention a "like-minded" community ("homonoia" as St. Paul would say in Greek).  This unity of mind in Christ seems to me to be lacking in almost every parish I've visited.  Is it really possible to have everyone in your community of the "mind of Christ"?  Do you have squabbles, push-back and resistance from students and parents?  How do you handle these?

Peter: We have been fortunate to have families that trust us very much, so no serious resistance has been met. Since our operation is necessarily small, we have been able to evaluate families right from the get go to ensure that we’re all on the same page, at least as regards the fundamental role of the Academy in the life of their family. That’s one of the reasons why our bylaws are rather long. We want to make it crystal clear what we are about. We’ve lost more than one potential family because of our insistence on things like liturgical tradition, for example. But the families we do have, even those who may not see exactly eye-to-eye with us on each and every issue, see the value of what we are attempting and have shown themselves incredibly open to engaging with the tradition in ways they would probably not have if they were not part of the community of the Academy. Our being small also allows the lines of communication to be consistently open, and the complete lack of anything approaching bureaucracy allows for candid, and therefore constructive, discussions to be had between the tutors and families.

Tim: The parent seminars, emphasis on the Benedictine way of life, and the liturgical calendar do much to make sure that when it comes to an overall worldview, we are each on the same page. While reading something like St. Augustine’s Confessions together in the seminars, we are each sharpening that view and discovering a lost tradition for which all who are a part of the Academy desire.

Imitating the Benedictine way of life through prayer and work (ora et labora) is another element that bolsters a like minded approach to our daily routine. Once we are able to acquire (God willing) a school building on our 14 acres in Sunset, Louisiana, our goal is to mirror, to the best of our abilities, the Clear Creek Abbey Monks in Oklahoma. All of the parents of SJCA know that we want to imitate what they do, to the degree the laity is capable of this, and they are all on board thus far. In order to continue in this direction, we hope to take annual retreats to the monastery with our pupils and their families so as to continue to learn from their ordered way of life (the founding tutors have gone on retreat their every year just before the start of the new academic cycle since the founding of the Academy).  

Also, regarding the importance of the liturgical calendar to SJCA, the Academy is in session all year, with breaks based strictly on the approved 1962 liturgical calendar of the Catholic Church. This encourages all of our families to celebrate the major feast days, and we provide opportunities for communal celebrations when we can. This emphasis on the intellectual, monastic, and liturgical traditions nourishes our community in an integrated way that is centered in Christ and the Church He founded.

I once taught at a Catholic school that was really no more than a homeschool co-op calling itself a school.  The parents were in complete control of the institution and deferred to the students, who ended up running the place.  The principal (and consequently the faculty) had no real authority.  This was not so much subsidiarity as "the inmates running the asylum".  Do you think this is a possible scenario that could develop at your school, and if so how would you avoid it?

Peter: I think I speak for all of us Tutors when I say that if ever there developed anything remotely like the situation you described at the Academy, we would immediately shut it down without a second thought. It would mean that we are not actually educating anyone, if we mean by education the formation of intellectual and moral virtue (which is what everyone used to mean by it). That said, I think there are enough safeguards in our by-laws and in our structure to prevent this. Our board is composed by law of equal parts tutor and parent, with a priest for counsel. Furthermore, the parents of the Academy are obligated by oath and contract, so long as they remain a part of the academy, to follow the direction set out first in the marks of the Academy and put into practice by the tutors in our day-to-day operations. But the families of SJCA, I believe, would oblige themselves to these things whether it was in a contract or not. No one really comes to us unless they see a real issue in the world, that issue being that their children are being pressured by nearly everything around them to become effeminate and pusillanimous. All of our parents recognize the need in their children (as in us all) for real discipline, and our bi-monthly parent seminars serve as a great way for us all, as a community, to remind one another of our duties as parents to be the first educators of our children. On that issue at least, I believe there is true unanimity of mind among the whole community.

Fr. James V. Schall often quotes Yves Simon, who says there are three types of students: 1. those who are only concerned with grades; 2. those who think they know everything; 3. "and those who recognize that there are ways to learn that others know better than themselves. The first two types are simply not teachable, but the third recognizes that he must take responsibility for his education and has a certain faith or trust that someone else can guide him."  Is this what you've found as well?

Peter: This is absolutely true. Fortunately, in following the classical method, we can pretty aggressively eliminate the first kind of student, or at least eliminate that trait in the young pupil before it becomes irremediable. That is, either one shows real mastery over not just the material, but their own faculties, or else we continue to improve. And the truth is that for every pupil, there is room for improvement with regard to this mastery. This allows the student to simply focus on getting better, quicker, more prepared with regard to the task at hand, and letting the grade fade into the background. With regard to the second, I’m sure we’ll always find pupils that fall into that category. I think it is sometimes necessary to forcibly show those pupils that they do not, in fact, know everything. Shame can be very useful if meted out with care, and as Aristotle says, can be something like a virtue in the young if they are taught to feel shame at the proper things. And truthfully, those kids that think they know everything are mostly only acting like they do because they are deathly afraid that they don’t. If you show them that they don’t, but then show them that they might actually be able to know at least something with certainty and even prove it with skill if they simply listen, there’s a chance that you’ll see the light go on. But the real key is to educate them young before their pattern of behavior has conformed to that of the world.

Nick: To reiterate Peter’s last remarks, docility is difficult to cultivate in older pupils. It is for this reason that we hope to have pupils begin SJCA in the grammar stage, ensuring that the child is aware of his vocation as a pupil.

Tim: The goal is to have all of our pupils obtain the habits of the third student. Nothing prepares them more for this than the classical and Catholic approach to education. In the former, the students must first master imitating the great authors that have gone before them. It is a necessary principle of education that one place imitation over creation. We have seen this flipped in modern times, and it is why we have an epidemic of young people with loads of self confidence and no virtues to show for it. When the pupil tries to imitate someone who has already mastered a particular subject, it is painfully obvious when he or she has not yet acquired the same habitus or skill, and they simply cannot feign mastery when the rule has so clearly not been met.

On top of this, the classical method calls for small class sizes. The fact that our pupil to tutor ratio is so low makes it virtually impossible for a pupil to hide behind his peers or lurk in the shadows until graduation day pretending to be a know-it-all. If the pupil has mastered something, then he will demonstrate it; if he cannot demonstrate it, then he will begin again until he can.  

Catholic education adds to this with its emphasis on the virtue of piety. This virtue allows us to render due honor to our ancestors, country, and above all, God. One of its necessary components is the subvirtue of docility of which Nick spoke, which is the means by which we humbly dispose ourselves to learn from the great authors who have gone before us.

Friday, January 12, 2018

The Individual and Culture

When the actors I've worked with get frustrated with their careers, I give them simple advice.  Do good work.  Do the best work on the best material you can find and the rest will follow. 

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. - Mat. 6:33

We can't control our careers, as they're beyond our reach.  But we can control what kind of plays we do and how well we do them.  And if we do good work, then, after a while, we find we have a career.

Compare this with T.S. Eliot's view of culture, cited and expanded upon at the website of St. John of the Cross Academy ...

As T.S. Eliot remarked, culture is something that comes about as a result of the members of a community simply pursuing true human excellence in their diverse activity. The minute the abstract “culture” becomes itself the aim of our action - one begins to wonder what the word means in such a context -, that is the same minute we cease to be active participants in culture. This is the path to becoming an ideologue, but not a cultured human being. 

This resonates with me, especially since I run in circles where people are quite earnest about "reforming our culture".  This is a noble goal, but it's only achievable in so far as each of us repents and follows Christ.

Here's the Eliot quotation the St. John of the Cross Academy refers to (my emphasis) ...

For if any definite conclusions emerge from this study, one of them is surely this, that culture is the one thing that we cannot deliberately aim at. It is the product of a variety of more or less harmonious activities, each pursued for its own sake: the artist must concentrate upon his canvas, the poet upon his typewriter, the civil servant upon the just settlement of particular problems as they present themselves upon his desk, each according to the situation in which he finds himself.

By the way, the classical Christian education is making a comeback at places like St. John of the Cross and Chesterton Academy for these very reasons: culture is being renewed by people (like parents, teachers and students) doing their best work on the best material.

And this all ties in to Eliot's "Choruses from the Rock", which says this (and much more than this) ...

I say to you: Make perfect your will.
I say: take no thought of the harvest,
But only of proper sowing.


Peter Blume, The Rock (1944)

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The Deification of Desire



From an email to a friend ...

I thought about Christopher West when I read an article recently about how the Evangelicals are no longer saying "Jesus is the reason for the season" and encouraging people to focus more on Christ and less on consumerism during the holidays.  Now they focus on the so-called War on Christmas, demanding that stores allow employees to say "Merry Christmas" rather than "Happy Holidays".  This is an interesting shift, because the battle in Evangelical circles used to be Jesus vs. Shopping.  Now it's Shopping-for-Jesus.

And all young Evangelicals I know simply sleep around.  They don't think anything of it.  They think promiscuity and faith can go hand in hand.

Christopher West is all about the deification of desire.  He tries to turn sexual desire into a way to find God - which is a deeply Pagan attitude.  Evangelicals are doing the same.  Shopping is a Christian thing and should be "Christianized".  Promiscuity is fine and dandy.  And their politics is infused with religious fervor.  They don't want politicians to be Christ-like; they want Christ to affirm them in their political ideology.  Christ serves commercialism, capitalism, sex and politics.  He makes our desires in those fields "Christian".  We don't submit those activities to Him and His demands; we demand that He submit to our desires so that we can feel justified in them.

And this is what's going on in the Catholic Church ALMOST EVERYWHERE.  It's nearly ubiquitous.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

How People Argue "Eristically"


In philosophy and rhetoric, eristic (from Eris, the ancient Greek goddess of chaos, strife, and discord) refers to argument that aims to successfully dispute another's argument, rather than searching for truth. - Wikipedia
You know you're in an eristic or bad faith discussion with someone when he or she does the following ...
  • Your opponent refuses to engage the most important points you're making.
  • Your opponent focuses on issues that are minor or tangential to your main argument.
  • Your opponent demands evidence to support your tangential points, while providing only opinion and no evidence to support his own claims.
  • Your opponent directly or indirectly attacks your motivations, thus moving the discussion away from the issue to your character.
  • Invariably, if you're arguing with an eristic "Devout Catholic", you'll be told (in so many words) to go to confession for defending your position with any zeal, fortitude or persistence; or, in lieu of that, you'll be referred to a Scripture verse that implies that you are lacking in charity for standing up for the truth.
  • Your opponent will completely ignore tone, context and the obvious connection between ideas in anything you say.
It is futile to argue with such a person.  Your opponent is not interested in discovering the truth.  To engage such a person is not only frustrating and a waste of time, it is a sin.  It is casting "pearls before swine" (Mat. 7:6)

Monday, October 23, 2017

GK Chesterton Responds to Pope Francis



This is from The Everlasting Man.  My emphases of his text in boldface; my comments in italics.  He is speaking here on the view of Marriage as presented by Our Lord (see Mat. 19)

What he [Jesus] advanced
was something quite different; something very difficult; but something
no more difficult now than it was then. When, for instance, Mahomet made
his polygamous compromise we may reasonably say that it was conditioned
by a polygamous society. When he allowed a man four wives he was really
doing something suited to the circumstances, which might have been less
suited to other circumstances. Nobody will pretend that the four wives
were like the four winds, something seemingly a part of the order of
nature; nobody will say that the figure four was written for ever in
stars upon the sky.

[Chesterton is implying here that Christ is asserting that the nature of Christian Marriage is "part of the order of nature", a fidelity that is somehow "for ever written in the stars upon the sky" in the way no worldly compromise could be.

But neither will anyone say that the figure four is
an inconceivable ideal; that it is beyond the power of the mind of man
to count up to four; or to count the number of his wives and see whether
it amounts to four.

[Chesterton is using humor here to illustrate a point.  "The Islamic view of Marriage is an impossible ideal for me!  How on earth am I to count my wives and assure myself that I have only four?  It can't be done!"]

It is a practical compromise carrying with it the
character of a particular society.

[This is Chesterton's point.  Mohammed's compromise on marriage was a compromise with the Middle Eastern pagan society and culture of his day.  Christ's teaching on Marriage - and therefore the Church's - is no compromise at all, and certainly not with the world or the world's "compromised" attitude toward love, matrimony and fidelity.]  

If Mahomet had been born in Acton in
the nineteenth century, we may well doubt whether he would instantly
have filled that suburb with harems of four wives apiece. As he was born
in Arabia in the sixth century, he did in his conjugal arrangements
suggest the conditions of Arabia in the sixth century. But Christ in his
view of marriage does not in the least suggest the conditions of
Palestine of the first century. He does not suggest anything at all,
except the sacramental view of marriage as developed long afterwards by
the Catholic Church.

[Christ taught something in the Gospels that was only fully expressed later.  His teaching on Marriage is radically unworldly and new, and not the least conditioned by the world around him - either the Roman attitude toward Marriage or the Jewish.  It was a new thing, a suddenly and startlingly right thing - and insisting on it was one of the reasons people were furious with Him.] 

It was quite as difficult for people then as for
people now. It was much more puzzling to people then than to people now.
Jews and Romans and Greeks did not believe, and did not even understand
enough to disbelieve, the mystical idea that the man and the woman had
become one sacramental substance. 

[It is this central teaching of Jesus on Marriage that the Catholic Church has always defended, with true mercy and not a parody of mercy - mercy for those abandoned by their spouses and mercy for the broken children of broken families, as well as mercy for those who do the breaking and who repent of it.  The worldly pressure to compromise or abandon this teaching today is enormous and it has infested the Church at every level.  But of all the Catholic doctrines based on the teachings of Christ, this is perhaps the one with the most Scriptural support.  When it comes to Marriage, Pope Francis in his apostolic exhortation and elsewhere refuses to clarify; Jesus in the Gospel refuses to be vague.  If the Catholic Church folds on "the mystical idea that the man and the woman become one sacramental substance", or that rejecting this idea by an ongoing sin throws the sinner out of full communion with Christ, the Church will have folded indeed. If the Bride of Christ abandons Marriage she will have abandoned the bridegroom Himself.] 

We may think it an incredible or
impossible ideal; but we cannot think it any more incredible or
impossible than they would have thought it. In other words, whatever
else is true, it is not true that the controversy has been altered by
time. Whatever else is true, it is emphatically not true that the ideas
of Jesus of Nazareth were suitable to his time, but are no longer
suitable to our time. Exactly how suitable they we to his time is
perhaps suggested in the end of his story.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Charlie Johnston Exposed!

Here are some observations by Dr. Jim Dooley on Charlie Johnston.  ...

***
Written October 14, 2017.
Charlie Johnston is a false prophet and most probably a fraud.  I can’t guess with complete certainty if he is a fraud / liar, delusional / mentally ill, or deceived by demons.  However, it really doesn’t matter; he’s any combination of the above.  He’s now wrong – yet again.  He’s racking up quite a collection of totally failed, so - called prophecies:  
  • He predicted that there’d be no peaceful transfer of power.
  • He predicted that Barack Obama would extend his term.
  • He predicted that President Trump wouldn’t be sworn in.
  • He predicted that the next American leader wouldn’t come from the normal electoral process.
  • He predicted we’d witness this as a sign from God, so we would believe.
  • He predicted the breakout of a world – wide civil war AND a complete economic collapse.
  • He predicted that during the period from October 13 to October 17, 2017, we’d be totally, visibly & miraculously delivered via the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  
  • He predicted that virtually the entire global population would convert to Catholicism.
  • He predicted that our infrastructure would be broken down & we’d be simplified.
  • Wrong on every prediction; that’s a perfect record!

We must note that he has been forbidden by his Archbishop to speak at any
church – owned properties and his followers have twice been strongly advised by the Archdiocese to, first, place their faith only in Jesus, the Scriptures and the Sacraments, and, second, to avoid trying to interpret his failed prophecies as valid.  The Magisterium has spoken.  Period.  Yet he still publishes articles on his blog, ‘The Next Right Step.’

Additionally, he has a cult - like following, which troubles me greatly.  He claims
to say simply that everyone must take the next right step and be a sign of hope to those around them.  Obviously, we don’t need Charlie to tell us to perform acts of charity towards others, especially when the world is in dire straits, which we can all clearly observe by simply viewing the nightly news, i.e. gay ‘marriage’, global wars, etc.  Thank you for stating the obvious, Charlie.  

I have nothing personal against Charlie, who’s a fellow Catholic.  Yet, significantly & deeply troubling, he used his alleged supernatural “prophecies” to initially attract and subsequently maintain, & actually augment, what has evolved into a cult – like following.  He obviously basks in the attention.  He also repeatedly scrubbed negative comments from his blog, allowing only supportive ones from his cult members to remain.  Finally, he attempted to spin a clear smack down from two separate Catholic Bishops, the Archbishop of Denver and the Bishop of Bismark, into something positive.  

He’s been proven to be a complete fraud yet again; has been proven false numerous times, and must be given no more platform, ever!  Yet, despite his repeated false and failed predictions, he has the unbelievable audacity to continue to post articles on his blog ‘TNRS / Abraham’s Journey”.  He has quietly returned and posted numerous articles on his blog, despite his promise to vanish from the public scene if he was proven false – which he has been.  He quietly returned, clearly for his own selfish and egocentric reasons.  At least have the honor to vanish.

He, his blog, and emails from ‘TNRS / Abraham’s Journey’ should be shunned.  The next right step must be to add Charlie to the dust bin of failed prophets & complete frauds.  Prayers for those whom he hurt, deceived & misled - and for him.  Charlie, and his dubious intentions, remain in our Rosary.  Ave Maria, Stella Maris!

***

Thanks to Jim for going through the effort to document all of Charlie's false prophecies - though it will make no difference to Charlie's True Believers.

The reason I finally stopped blogging at Waiting for Godot to Leave was that some of my readers continued to make excuses for Charlie, even after he admitted lying about his claim that he and I had emailed one another. 

Charlie's followers - if they still continue to put any faith in this man - are getting exactly what they deserve.