Thursday, January 31, 2013

Cardinal Mahony Bearing Witness



My friends, do you wonder why people abandon the Church?  Do you wonder why atheism is all the rage among the pierced and tattooed teens and college kids who work at Subway?  Do you wonder why nobody takes the whole God thing too seriously any more?

Well, there are many reasons.

But one reason is this.  It's because so few bishops do what Los Angeles Archbishop Gomez just did.
Reading these files, reflecting on the wounds that were caused, has been the saddest experience I’ve had since becoming your Archbishop in 2011. ... Effective immediately, I have informed Cardinal Mahony that he will no longer have any administrative or public duties.
Thus writes Archbishop Gomez, banning Cardinal Mahony, a "prince of the Church", from any public or administrative duties.  Why?  Because Mahony deliberately and with care and precision shielded child abusing priests from the law, shuffling them from parish to parish, and pawning them off on other dioceses.   He let the predators have continued access to their prey - innocent children - as long as it did not cost the archdiocese any money or him personally any embarrassment.  His reputation and the almighty dollar counted for more than the safety of children, for the effective treatment of priests, or for the service of justice.

Church documents recently released show that Mahony and his assistant, Fr. Curry
were aware children had been raped and otherwise assaulted and were attempting to keep authorities in the dark. They discussed giving the abusive priests out-of-state assignments and keeping them from seeing therapists who might have alerted law enforcement.
Some prince.

Frank Weathers quotes Archbishop Gomez's whole statement here.   Also, for a glimpse into the mobster mentality of Cardinal Mahony, one of the worst bishops in the history of the world (for this and other reasons), see this piece here.

As I wrote to some friends on Facebook ...
Abp. Gomez is doing the right thing - but it's nothing more than any good secular non-Christian man should do. There's nothing heroic about this virtue that Gomez is displaying; it's just doing what's right.  Why creeps like Mahony could not even live up to basic decency by worldly standards much less the standards of Christ and His saints is beyond me.
The power of witness is very strong - when we witness for Christ or when we witness for our own selfish, cowardly and despicable selves.

The Heresy of Our Day - Bad can Do Good

The combox on my post The Worship of Catholic Celebrities is Nothing New has become more interesting than the original post, in my opinion.

We cover quite a bit there, from funny checklists to indignation to definitions of immanentizing to Freud and Jung.  If Del Rayva shows back up (he claims Christopher West was the best man at his wedding), things will get even more fun.



On the topic of Freud and Jung, about which I've written before - with some authority (I hope) having read everything Carl Jung ever wrote at least once and having been a huge fan of his in my atheist days - I had this to say ...

Freud sees that some of our best acts have base motives; Jung says that even our worst acts have noble motives. Of the two errors, the latter is by far the more insidious. And the latter is, overall, what Christopher West seems to be peddling.

Now this was a brief comment and suffers from a kind of shorthand.  Do some of our best acts have base motives?  Of course.  Freud was right.  Anyone who knows human nature and who's honest with himself knows that.  Do some of our worst acts have noble motives?  Naturally.  Jung was right.  This is one reason why intentions (but I meant well!) are often beside the point in life.

But the Jungian stepchildren - and many of us Christians are the illegitimate heirs of Jung, Gnosticism and New Age nonsense, simply by breathing in the intellectual air around us - the Jungians will claim that the intent justifies the act.  This is wrong.  For while, subjectively speaking, a good intention may somewhat excuse an actor from full culpability for his act, good intentions do not (necessarily) result in good acts.  In the same way that the end does not justify the means, so the motive does not justify the act - objectively speaking.

To think that it does is a simple error not only in basic moral theology but in common sense.

I think this error is endemic.

It explains what a reader pointed out to me privately - many of the Westians are also the same folk who were defending Lying and Consequentialism, trashing the Catechism in the process.  Now I am NOT saying that all defenders of Lying are defenders of Christopher West and Matt McGuiness  - but I know at least Del Rayva is and I know of at least three others - all three prominent and famous defenders of both Christopher West and Lying When It Suits You.

So what we see here is a common thread.  And that thread, for both defenders of Lying and West (and torture for that matter) operates from the mistaken notion that since there is always in us an ultimate spiritual urge, that urge validates anything we do with it.  (See my posts on Spiritualizing Pornography and Bad Things Can be Done by Good People and others.)

***

Now this gets complicated in that all of our motives are mixed.  Even our love for God can be mixed with selfishness and cowardice.  Another reader wrote to me not long ago worried that his contrition for his sins was based more on fear of hell than love of God.  I replied that the Church teaches that such mixed motives ("imperfect contrition" in this case) is better than nothing and will do in the absence of pure motives ("perfect contrition" in this case).  We never do any good thing out of totally pure motives; nor do we do any bad thing out of totally corrupt motives.  We are odd mixtures of good and evil, and this is why SALVATION IS NOT DEPENDENT UPON US.

Salvation comes from without.  It is the Blood of Christ, and the grace His sacrifice earns for us, that saves us.  We are active in our salvation in so far as we participate in this grace - but the grace is what (originally and in order of priority) saves us; that is what will bring us to the New Jerusalem (we hope and pray), where

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. (Rev. 21:4)

That's where West's "mature purity" will be found (though have no doubt that sodomy, and the Westian excuses for sodomy, won't be found); that's where we will be washed totally and perfectly clean by the Blood of the Lamb.  That's where our Eros will be perfectly spiritual, expressing true Charity and reflecting the love of God in the Holy Trinity.  That's where what we desire and what we do will be good and pure and holy, and satisfying - with motive, means and end totally in harmony and showing perfect integrity of character (see Jesus and his life).

But we're not there yet.  The Kingdom is not totally immanent, only parts of it, such as the Holy Spirit, the down payment and earnest money for our heavenly reward.  This is why we still pray, "Come, Lord Jesus".

That's why here and now, we must have some common sense.

It is worse to spiritualize bad motives (Jung, West, et al.) than to materialize good acts (Freud).  For it is better for us to acknowledge the sins of the flesh and how they humble us than to turn "sins of the flesh" into "sins of the spirit" by pretending as if a man who wants to look at pornography is thereby wanting to look on the face of God.

So fellow Porn Addicts, listen up.

Your hunger for God will not make your lust anything other than lust; and it won't make the porn you use anything other than evil.  Even the natural end you seek - happiness, release and satisfaction - which are good things in and of themselves - will not justify either your inordinate desire or your use of evil means to achieve such ends.


And fellow sinners, the same applies to everyone of us.  Just substitute (above) your sin of choice for "lust" and your act of choice for "porn" and you've got a handy formula that will keep you sane and aware of your sins, if not holy.

And come, Lord Jesus!



Monday, January 28, 2013

The Worship of Catholic Celebrities is Nothing New

Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.
18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.

This is the KJV translation of Romans 16:17&18.  I have always liked the phrase "their own belly", which is often translated elsewhere as "their own appetites".  The image is clear - avoid those who worship not Jesus but their bellies - or the region a few inches below their bellies.

And if we need to paraphrase Paul, which sometimes helps, here is what he's saying ...

Please take note of those who cause divisions and "put obstacles in your way" (NIV) that are contrary to the true doctrine you have learned.  AVOID THEM.  They don't worship Christ, but they worship their own appetites (their greed, their hunger, their lust) - and their slick talk can fool the naive and simple.

In other words, be aware when either liberals or conservatives deny Christ and come up with theologies that suit their own desires - whether those theologies are rationalizing sins of lust, abortion, torture, lying, greed or anything that we really really want to feel good doing because our bellies are growling.

***

But, you know, none of this is new - not even the fawning idolatry of Catholic celebrities, about which Mark Shea writes in his inimitable manner over at Catholic and Enjoying It.

Mark mentions Fr. Corapi and Michael Voris.  I could mention others of the current day.

But take one example from long ago.

Back in the 1820's, the up and coming Elvis of conservative Catholic circles in Europe was Fr. Felicite de Lamennais.  He was the boy wonder of his day, and while a few were wary of his theology, which had a strong anti-rational streak, nevertheless Rome went so far as to give one of his books an imprimatur and

"Lamennais himself soon visited the Holy SeeLeo XII received him very kindly and at one time even thought of making him a cardinal, despite his excitable character and exaggerated ideas."  (from the Catholic Encyclopedia)

In fact, Lamennais went  so far as to establish his own cult of personality.


"... he derived valuable assistance from a certain number of young men, ecclesiastics and laymen, who gradually formed a group of which he was the centre. Of these the best known are Gerbet, de Salinis, Lacordaire, Montalembert, Rohrbacher, Combalot,Maurice de Guérin, Charles de Sainte-Foy, Eugène and Léon Boré, de Hercé."

But not everybody went ga-ga over the rock star.  One of my heroes, Bl. Dominic Barberi, sounded early alarms among his Passionist brothers about Lamennais and his work, and was soundly excoriated by his fellow priests.  In fact, the General of the Passionists demanded that Barberi admit that his criticism of Lammenais was wrong and that he (Barberi) was prideful and arrogant (sound familiar? just look at any number of comboxes on this very blog).  Barberi obeyed his General to this extent: he gladly admitted his pride and arrogance, but refused to back down from the theological position he took criticizing Lamennais.


I have not done wrong, neither can I unsay anything that I have written or said.  To me, it is as clear as the noon-day sun that from the principles of De Lamennais flow conclusions pernicious both to the Church and to Society.

wrote Barberi.  He took quite a bit of heat for this and his reputation among the Passionists "was reduced to zero".

But about a decade later, in 1833, Rome (which always moves slowly, carefully and deliberately) condemned the errors of de Lamennais.

How did Fr. Lamennais react to this fraternal correction?  First, he renounced his priesthood.  The he left the Catholic Church.  Finally he renounced the Christian Faith entirely.  He died a maverick and a crank in 1854.

Numerous attempts were made to bring him back to religion and to repentance, but in vain. He died rejecting all religious ministration, and after requesting that his body "be carried to the cemetery, without being presented at any church".

So just because someone claims to be a super-Catholic, do yourself a favor and discern the spirits a bit.  His arguments may be very anti-Catholic indeed, and he may not reveal his true colors until much later.

***

To conclude, if your folk hero


  • causes divisions among the Faithful
  • puts up obstacles to Traditional teaching
  • uses slick words and ambiguous speech 
  • is serving his own belly - his own appetite - by rationalizing sin or bad behavior
  • reacts to criticism viciously and in a mean or petty spirit

do what St. Paul says and AVOID HIM.

And more than that, as Paul continues to admonish the Romans ...

be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.  (Rom. 16:19)

The more you know about the Faith, and the more you strive to become holy, the more the Holy Spirit will grant you the wisdom about what is good, and the more you will be able to tell a good bit of business from a bad.

For the point of our Faith is not the evil that the false teachers are spreading, but the good that our true teacher has given us.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Eulogy for the Man

Bob Costas' eulogy for Stan Musial, delivered yesterday at Stan's funeral Mass at the Cathedral Basilica in St. Louis, is not to be missed.


The Evil

The evil.

It pulls us down.  It seeps into our pours.  It corrupts young flesh.  It spoils the spirit.

The resistance.  Always the resistance to good, to simple good - always preferring darkness to light.  "A glimpse of endless unmarked days, hard stone, cold fish, sneaking and whispering".

We think it's cute.  We think it's maybe kids being kids or Uncle Bob and his peccadillos or so and so who drinks too much or the slut down the street who is always seeking attention.  And what harm does it do?  Maybe it's Catholics making a case for intrinsic evils, or spiritualizing lust, or putting politics before Christ.  Maybe it's a little drug use here, a cry for help there, a bit of abuse, a cover up for the abuse.  A husband who deserts his wife.  A wake of pain that spreads.  Degeneracy, loving death, hating life.

We are wedded to it.  We need new wineskins to hold the new wine, but we refuse both.  We are corrupt and corrupting.  Everything we touch.  The air we breathe.  The stink and rot of the death we have chosen, of the death we fight for jealously.

That's right.  We not only sin.  We fight for it jealously.  And we turn on those who show us our sin.

Jesus Christ?  We'll make Him what we want Him to be - an idol, a toy, a puppet, a god of our choosing.

***

But not always.  We know the truth.  We know how rotten we are.  We know we need more than the mess we've made.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Man I've Settled For

This is the actress' opening monologue in my murder mystery Lifeless in Seattle


ANNIE:  Hello, ladies and gentlemen, friends and family!  I’m so excited!  You all thought that little Annie Reed would never get married!  Well, guess what!  After years of loneliness and misery, I’ve finally found the man of my dreams!  And he’s agreed to come here tonight and meet my family, for the very first time.  As you know, I’ve been picky – very selective.  I’ve always been a romantic at heart.  Not any man would do.  I wanted someone sensitive yet rugged, caring yet tough, suave yet brutish – and although the man I’ve got doesn’t really match any of those criteria ... nevertheless, I plan to marry him anyway!  So please welcome, the man I’ve settled for – Winthrop Peruse!

And in walks Winthrop (see below)



My actress who is playing the part of Annie tells me of a friend of hers who has just become engaged to an out of work 20-something who spends all day on the computer and video games, and who has managed to get added to her health insurance since they're "living together".

"I told her the engagement was a bad idea," the actress said.

***

This tendency, which I see with almost every young actress I've ever worked with, this tendency to get desperate and to settle, used to be known as pusillanimity - the forgotten vice - the opposite of magnanimity, the forgotten virtue.

Endless Adolescence has given us guys approaching thirty who live like thick headed teenagers.  I was guilty of this myself, but I'm glad my wife Karen "settled" on me all the same.  It wasn't until we started having kids, and I was in my 30's, that I started living with any consistent maturity.

But today's grown men never have kids - and thus they never become grown men.

***

Winthrop also appears in next month's show, The Horrible Hobbit Homicide.  This is the exchange at the end of Act One ...

BAMBI:  Oh, Winthrop, will you do it?  Will you help me escape the clutches of that horrible man I’m living with?

WINTHROP:  Well, I don’t know, I – uh –

BAMBI:  Kill Max for me, and I’ll let you play World of Warcraft on our honeymoon.

WINTHROP:  You’ve got a deal!  

Making Provision for the Wrong Thing

... Put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.  (Rom. 13:14)
Who said this?  A Puritan, a Manichean who separates flesh from spirit and who doesn't know that lust can be redeemed, as the Westians insist it can?

No, it was St. Paul.

Is he saying sexual desire is bad?  Of course not.

But he is saying "make no provision" for the desire of the flesh.

In other words, don't spend most of your waking hours figuring out how to game the system.  Provide for your wife and kids, but don't provide handy excuses for viewing pornography on the internet, telling yourself that when it comes to porn, virtue and mortification are old fashioned and outmoded tools of "moralists".  Stop "making provision" by telling yourself that you have "mature purity" and can gaze on naked bodies, that sodomy can be a legitimate way of expressing love, that Hugh Hefner is a hero - all things that Christopher West and his ilk have been telling their followers.

If this isn't "making provision for the desire of the flesh", what is it?

Again, your choice is to listen to the Apostle, a zealous follower of Christ and martyr for the Faith - or listen to a rock star with a gimmick.

Friday, January 25, 2013

The California Blues

If you want to drive to California from St. Louis, Missouri, all you have to do is head west to Denver.  Drive from Denver into the Rockies, and suddenly, there you are - in California!



As I've written before, there are really two cultures in the United States - the culture of Families and the culture of Sterility.

As a general rule, the former is Red State culture and the latter is Blue State culture.  But it's more than just politics.

Our murder mystery dinner theater shows, which we've been producing for over 20 years for Upstage Productions, are very funny.  Our regular audiences are normal Mid-Westerners who come to see us at the dozen or so rural wineries where we perform regularly in Iowa, Illinois, Missouri and Kansas.

We were the first mystery company that I know of that ever performed at a winery, and back when we started Colorado only had six or eight wineries.  Now they have maybe 150 wineries, most of which are not in the high plains east of Denver, but in the high mountains west of Denver.

Now our regular wineries are big on entertainment.  They offer bands in the summer and murder mysteries in the winter, and charge between $35 and $50 per ticket for dinner and a show.

By contrast, one winery in the Rockies charges $65 for dinner alone.  Another charges $75 for dinner alone.  Another is charging $100 per ticket for a dinner - a wine-pairing dinner (but no dancing girls or juggling midgets) - and they're sold out!

This, my friends, is what we find in California - snooty wineries whose wine may or may not be better than Mid-Western wine (it usually is), and who appeal to a certain demographic - the childless (who, because they're childless - and pretentious narcissists - have a lot more disposable income).

***

Meanwhile, for a lot less money you could have a lot more fun at our murder mystery (Lifeless in Seattle) tonight at Hill Prairie Winery in Oakford, Illinois, or tomorrow at Pheasant Hollow Winery in Whittington, Illinois, or at any of the many fun wineries where we perform regularly - all of them east of California.



Thursday, January 24, 2013

True Confession

Bless me father, for I have sinned.  On my blog I called a libertarian a libertarian.  I told sex crazed heretics that they were sex crazed heretics.  I called a spade a spade.  I quoted Scripture, in context, without proof-texting.  I pointed out what people were really saying underneath their veil of words.  I talked about the consequences of bad ideas.  I have criticized Christopher West, which is always slander.  I have criticized unrestrained Capitalism and used the phrase "The Economy" without genuflecting.  I have made people so mad that they told me to "go to confession".  I have made absolutely no sense and my commenters have made perfect sense.  I am too afraid to follow the rambling arguments of my readers, for fear of where they will lead and how bad I'll look when I'm shown up for the coward that I am.

And I murdered three men and knocked off a liquor store.

And that's about it.

Thinks: Holy Crap!  This guy shouldn't be blogging.

I Hate it When I'm Right

Now just THREE DAYS AGO I posted this ...

Why is it that Catholics in comboxes think it's OK to tell other Catholics to "go to confession" when they disagree with them? This is not the first time someone angry at me has said this.
"Go to hell" might be more vulgar, but at least it's a bit more honest. 

Just five minutes ago, a commenter on my post Forget about Sex, Let's Idolize Money! said ...

Please consult your nearest confessor on this thread. You have a need. 

Thank God for my readers.  Without them, I'd never know what a sinful son-of-a-bitch I really am.

The sad thing is, it's true!

Yours truly as Father Brown standing at the confessional, ready to hear my readers' confessions.

January's March

There were several full size buses.  The parking lot was jammed.  Teens and their parents were all over the place.  It was cold and dark, 6:00 at night.  It was the parking lot of St. Mark's Catholic Church in South St. Louis County.

The buses were gathering the young folk who would be participating in the March for Life in Washington, DC.  And this was only one meeting spot in one part of the St. Louis metro area.  Other meeting places saw similar groups of hundreds of young people packed and ready to go.


The bus our daughter Kerry got on headed first west to Sacred Heart in Valley Park, Missouri, where a large rally was held that lasted until the 11th hour, then east, to Washington DC, where the largest civil rights rally is still being held at this time every year and ignored by the main stream media.

At 8:00 am this morning, Kerry texted us that she had gotten no sleep and that they were now in Columbus, Ohio, eating breakfast at a Cracker Barrel, "The same one we at ate on our last family trip when I got sick and threw up," she reminded me in the text.

Thousands of buses filled with hundreds of thousands of young people descending on a president who promises to make "civil rights" his biggest goal, while he kills religious freedom, destroys marriage and the family, and zealously fights for the slaughter of the innocent.

George Weigel writes today in First Things

The pro-life movement is getting younger while the pro-“choice” opposition is graying. What really alarms the pro-Roe forces in American politics about the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., is not just the impressive numbers: it’s that the marchers get younger, every year. And that youthful vitality is not limited to one cold January day in the nation’s capital; there are new pro-life organizations among younger physicians and attorneys. All of which suggests that the pro-life movement is American civil society at its robust and self-revitalizing best.

As my daughter Kerry and others will tell you, there will be sleeplessness and sickness and sacrifice on the road to the capital of a nation that murders its young  - but the road is paved with hope as long as the young who have survived continue to tread it for justice and for life.

There is No God but Mammon and Ayn Rand is His Prophet

The ten things libertarians have taught me.
  1. Government is always evil, the only evil, the ultimate evil.
  2. Leave everybody alone and it will be Eden again.  Except if you leave people alone and they form governments,which is what people do when you leave them alone.
  3. The Economy is the only perfectly self-regulating thing that exists, and if left to itself it would bring salvation to the human race.  This has never happened in history, but that's no proof that it won't.
  4. All of our problems are caused by laws and regulations, see #1 above.
  5. See #1 above, read it and memorize it.
  6. See # 1 above.  Have I said that already?
  7. If you tell people what we're actually saying and demonstrate the consequences of our foolish notions, we call that "setting up a straw man".
  8. You are free to enter into any contract that you want, even if you are forced to by being enslaved.
  9. As long as somebody's making money off of something, it's all good.
  10. The economy can never be changed, except when we change it, and when we do it's always a bad thing to change it, and don't listen to the popes or the Church because they're naive and only experts understand economics and the economy is an abstraction that doesn't exist and man IS the economy and just leave it alone and let people make money any way they want because it's all good and see #1 above and what do you know you're a socialist and heaven is a place where anybody can make money doing anything they want and just get off my back and if only we could be left alone and law is a always a bad thing and 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Prayer and Trouble

One of the things that has always struck me about the Annunciation, when Gabriel appeared to Mary and she accepted the gift of the Holy Spirit and conceived Jesus, is that in every depiction I have ever seen of this event, Mary is shown praying when she is visited.  Sometimes she has a book upon which she is meditating, but her reading is clearly an aid to prayer.

She is surprised by the angel - but he does not appear while she's baking or chatting or going about her chores.  The Gospel doesn't tell us, but the Tradition, expressed in stained glass, painting, mosaics and literature throughout the millennia, tells us that she was visited by a messenger of God while communicating with God.  She is then, and habitually, it would seem, in a communion, a communion that bears fruit.  She is seeking God and He comes to her.  The Holy Spirit comes to her in a very intimate way not merely because she was chosen or because she gave her fiat, but because she was already intimate with God by communing with Him.

And we tend to think that with prayer comes all that lovely stuff, that peace and quiet and contemplation, that  smiling Buddha stuff, sitting alone and resting.

But what were some of the first things that came with Mary's prayer?  Scandal.  A difficult trip, a sacrifice to help another.  Trouble with Joseph.  Embarrassment.  Persecution.  Exile.

The flowers that spring from prayer do not usually make up the bed of roses we think they will.

Not only does "no good deed go unpunished" as people often say, but also "no good prayer is answered with complacency" - on our part or on God's.  The more we pray the less we are allowed to settle.  God may bring us peace, and yet

The peace of God it is not peace, but strife closed in the sod,
Yet let us pray for just one thing--the marvelous peace of God.

Madness and the Superman


Here I am as Superman.

Well, here I am performing a singing telegram as a Superman-type character who does not violate any copyright or trademark laws.

This picture was taken in 1982 or so.  In those days, I managed to perform over 2,000 singing telegrams across the St. Louis area for Eastern Onion and for Krazy Tunes.  The Superman telegram would go like this: I'd walk into a public place, such as an office or a restaurant, dressed in a business suit.  I'd ask for the birthday girl. 

When I found her, I'd say, "I've got a surprise for you for your birthday!" rip off my business suit (which was held together by velcro) and reveal my super-hero costume underneath.

Then I'd sing a birthday song, with the victim wearing a party hat and accompanying me on a party horn.  As you can see above.

***

One day, I performed a super-gram in downtown St. Louis.  I left the high rise and was walking to my car, dressed as Superman in tights and a cape.

Standing in front of the downtown Walgreen's was a crazy guy.

This was the famous crazy guy that all the cops knew.  He was probably 70 years old, and he would stand in front of Walgreen's every day holding up a sign telling everyone that his thoughts were being controlled by mysterious forces.  He saw me and began engaging me in conversation.  He told me that the Jews had inverted the law, and that that's why he was protesting in front of Walgreen's - because the Greens were Jews and "Wal" was "Law" spelled backwords, "Wal + Greens = Inverted-Law + Jews"

I talked to the crazy guy for a good fifteen minutes, with people passing by on the busy sidewalk.  He never once noticed I was dressed as Superman.

***

"He's imprisoned," I told a friend later.  "He's so locked in on himself and his own paranoid theories that he can't even engage the outside world."

Such is madness.  It is a prison.  It is narrowness.

Dale Ahqluist says of G. K. Chesterton

Chesterton shows that madness is narrowness – as he would later describe it as “the clean, well-lit prison of one idea.” He makes a remarkable connection between madness and idolatry. Idolatry is also narrowness. The worship of the false god leads to madness, because the false god will always be less than the real God.
Idolatry leads to smallness; it confines us.  And the smallest of idols is paradoxically the Superman. 

When we make man super or supreme, when man becomes the measure of all good, when we worship either our greed or our lust - sex or money - we go mad.  And we don't break out into madness, we break down, we break in.

Chesterton again ...

Madness does not come by breaking out, but by giving in; by settling down in some dirty, little, self-repeating circle of ideas.
And this dirty little self-repeating circle of ideas could be ideas about the biggest things in the world - sex, money, the Jews and their never-ending conspiracy - but the self-repeating circle gets smaller and smaller, until we become the tiniest of creatures in the tiniest of cages.

The worldly false prophets of release and liberation - be they sexual libertines or economic libertarians - are not selling liberty at all. 

They are selling the opposite.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

St. Paul and a Dose of Reason

And now, brethren, I appeal to you by God’s mercies to offer up your bodies as a living sacrifice, consecrated to God and worthy of his acceptance; this is the worship due from you as rational creatures.[a] 2 And you must not fall in with the manners of this world; there must be an inward change, a remaking of your minds, so that you can satisfy yourselves what is God’s will, the good thing, the desirable thing, the perfect thing

This is the Knox translation of Romans 12:1&2.

A few quick comments ...


  • Theology of the Body fans, take note.  Yes, our bodies are very important.  They are so important they are to be offered to God as a "living sacrifice".  They are far too important to indulge and coddle. They are so important they must be thrown away, discarded from our own selfish use, and "consecrated to God" so as to be "worthy of his acceptance."  

  • The "logike latreia" here translated as "worship due from you as rational creatures" is "a service of God which conforms to human reason."  There is in our reason and our ability to reason the shape and form of worshiping God.  Don't let the irrationality of the modern day, the zeal for emotions, the flight from reason in comboxes and on the internet, fool you.  The irrational is from the devil.  Reason is from God and He invites us to worship Him through reason.

  • "Be not conformed to this world" as the KJV says, "but be ye transformed by the renewing of your minds" (how often do we hear anything like this anymore from the pulpit?).  Why should we not be conformed but transformed?  So that we can discern God's will, and do the "good ... desirable ... and perfect thing," which is precisely what God's will is.

The more we follow fads that tickle our ears with promises of worldly benefits, the more we will be conformed to this world and thereby made less and less able to discern the simple but "good, desirable and perfect" will of God.

Forget about Sex, Let's Idolize Money!

Mark Shea today posted today this interchange I had here a few weeks back ...

Kevin O’Brien writes:
On a recent blog post, I said, “The economy was made for man, not man for the economy.” Reader Manny replied,
“The economy is not made for man … If you find it flawed, then fix mankind.”
This has sparked a number of comments on Mark's post, some of which seem to say some rather odd things.  One commenter insists that "The Economy" is not a real thing.  It's just what men do.  In fact ...

The actual truth that’s getting lost here is that man didn’t make the economy. Man IS the economy. The “economy” is just an abstraction we’ve come up with to describe humans, and the collective choices they make with the resources they have. All attempts to fix the economy are therefore attempts to fix human behavior in some way.
But this odd nominalism  ignores some basic facts, the most basic of which is that the sphere of man's commercial activity ("The Economy") does not define man.  Man IS NOT the economy, no more than Man IS sport and leisure or Man IS the electoral college or Man IS the internet.  Like anything else that man does, our economic activity should serve to make men happier and ultimately to give glory to God.  But even if you ignore the latter end and just focus on the temporal end of economic activity, "fixing the economy" is not exactly tampering with human nature, in the sense this comment seems to imply.  Yes, fixing the economy means to some extent fixing the bad behavior of men, but that's my point.  We should alter our bad behavior to live together in a happier way; we do that with laws regulating everything else - and we do that even now with laws that regulate the economy.

Think of it this way


  • Slavery was once an integral part of "The Economy" in this nation.  Since freedom and human dignity are more important than economic activity, we Yankees fought a war to abolish slavery.  We "fixed the economy" by eliminating forced labor as one of its pillars.  And even though slaveholders lost a lot of money on the deal, this is an example of realizing that the economy was made for man, not man for the economy.

  • At one time, the courts in this country actively used to prosecute unfair competition; "trust busting" was aimed at fixing the injustice of monopolies.  This is another example of realizing that the economy was made for man, not man for the economy.

  • Regulations prohibiting unfair labor practices, sweatshops, and other laws regarding dangerous working conditions are an attempt to fix man's economic behavior so that the powerful do not take advantage of the weak.

  • Today, Big Business has merged with Big Government so that more and more wealth and power is being transferred from the poor and the middle class to the very rich.  Instead of throwing up our libertarian hands and sighing, "Well, you can't fix a free market, even when that market stops being free," or saying, "Capitalism is great, even Unreined Capitalism, despite what the Church says," we can say, "You know what?  The economy was made for man, not man for the economy.  We can fix this.  We can regulate how people behave with money, the same way we regulate how people behave with contracts, marriage, interstate commerce and many other things.  We can work to build a society the commercial and economic structure of which is not antithetical to man's happiness or human dignity, as slavery and monopolies and Big Business / Big Government are.  We need not cower in fear before something that doesn't exist because it's an abstraction or that can't be fixed because it's just there.  The Economy is no more taboo than roads and bridges, which are also products of man.  We put up street lights and speed limit signs because we're not in awe of streets and highways.  But we keep hearing we can't touch the economy, as it's a kind of god that no one understands, or an abstraction that can't be touched, or something that is integral to who we are like sex and we can't regulate sex can we?  Although of course we do and we must."

I must say that if we had a Fear of God equal to our Fear of the Economy, we'd be a much more seriously religious people.



Monday, January 21, 2013

The Real Purpose of Sex is Not Very Sexy

Sex and Stan Musial!  That's All I Ever Blog About!  Well, this one's on sex. I'll get back to Stan Musial later.

Because I forgot to say one big thing about sex earlier today.  What I forgot to say is the purpose of sex is not very sexy.

You see, I realized that I made a Westian mistake in my latest post that's critical of the Westians.  The mistake I made was buying into their primarily poetic or romantic view of libido.  Christopher West and the Westians almost never mention the far less romantic reality of marriage and babies, which is to say they never talk about the one arena for which God made sex in the first place - the family, a.k.a: sex with your wife.  

I mean, who wants to talk about that?  Sex with the old lady?  What about that cute blonde down the street who's half her age?  What about those chicks on that internet site?  What about almost anybody but her?  If Christopher West talked about sex with the old lady, do you think he'd get the rock star treatment and the many speaking / rock concert gigs that he does?  Do you think college age kids would flock to his talks and get all tingly when he describes making love to a woman you've known for thirty years who gets on your nerves and is a tad overweight?  Do you think he'd sell lots of books and be a hero of the New Evangelization if described the consequences of all this great sex - namely screaming infants, runny noses, tuition payments, mouthy teenagers?

Of course not.

So if we really want to talk about sex ... if we really really want to talk about sex, and I really really do (though we can switch to Stan Musial any time you want to) - if we really really want to get a better understanding of sex and what God wants us to do with it, then we can't Go West, Young Man.  We've got to go east, across the pond.

And so I turn to the best writer of the 20th Century.  It's not Christopher West.  It's G. K. Chesterton.

Chesterton talks about everything.  Which means every now and then he talks about sex.  And he observes

Sex is an instinct that produces an institution; and it is positive and not negative, noble and not base, creative and not destructive, because it produces this institution. That institution is the family; a small state or commonwealth which has hundreds of aspects, when it is once started, that are not sexual at all. It includes worship, justice, festivity, decoration, instruction, comradeship, repose. Sex is the gate of that house; and romantic and imaginative people naturally like looking through a gateway. But the house is very much larger than the gate. There are indeed a certain number of people who like to hang about the gate and never get any further.

So while there's a germ of truth to the Westian emphasis of the importance of sexual desire leading to Eros, which leads to God - the more mundane (and much more creative) truth is that we get to God not through sex and sex alone, but through the place where sex was meant to lead us, the family - and the family (after the honeymoon) just ain't that sexy.  Changing diapers, arguing with the missus, paying bills - and even, as Chesterton states, worship, justice, festivity, decoration, etc. - wonderful as these things are they just ain't sexy, baby!  You have to clean up after the festivity and take the decorations down.  And the worship is usually at Mass on Sundays, and we all know how boring that is.

This is the humble truth, and really the awesome truth, of the purpose of sex.

The Catholic Church says, and has always said, that there's one place and one place only for sex.  In a marriage, with your spouse, expressing love, with openness to the possibility that children may be produced.  That's it.  And she tells us that with the authority of Jesus Christ, creator of the universe.

Yes, sex can be meaningful and wonderful and exciting and all that.  Yes, it can be a foretaste of the joy of heaven.  Yes, it can be an intense expression of love. Yes, it can be poetic and romantic.  All of these things the Westians keep telling us.

But they forget the greater picture.  Sex is not just for all that.  It's for the family.

It's for the dirty diaper, the past-due gas bill, the leaky roof, the nagging in-laws - it's for the great institution that passes on life and love and culture.  It's for the thing that's bigger on the inside than it is on the outside - for "the house is much larger than the gate"; and this is also what Chesterton said about the Catholic Church.

But I have never heard any of the Westians talk about sex with your wife.

If CNA publishes the next two articles on pornography by Matt McGuiness, will he emphasize that this is where our sexual desire is meant (by God) to go?  Will he stop talking about the ever-thrilling thought experiment of experimenting with sex?  And will he say a word or two about sex with your wife?

In a truly Catholic world, yes.  Yes he would.


The Good in the Westians

We know the bad in wake of Christopher West and his followers.


  • West has argued that sodomy is not intrinsically evil.

  • West has read graphic sexual imagery into pretty much everything in the Church, from icons of Mary to paschal candles and baptismal fonts.

  • West has argued that certain illuminated folk in the know (those who have achieved "mature purity") may dispense with custody of the eyes and gaze upon naked folk other than their spouses with impunity.  Since such gawking is not sinful in West's eyes, and since sexual desire is good, it follows that those with "mature purity" may indulge in the viewing of pornography, even if the pornographic images incite desire in the viewer, who is, remember, "maturely pure".  West does not spell this out, but it follows from his emphatic insistence that looking at naked bodies is not sinful for those in the know.

  • West's followers refuse to debate the merits of the claims of the Westians and instead characterize any criticism of these claims as calumny, slander, and uncharitable self-aggrandizement at West's expense.

  • An apparent disciple of West's, Matt McGuiness, argues that the means of avoiding the grave evil of pornography, such as virtue, mortification and confession (means advocated by the Church and Church Fathers), are a form of "scrupulosity" advocated by "moralists" and that the only way to understand our desire for porn is to give that desire free reign (even if only hypothetically).  Ignoring the admonitions of Jesus Christ (such as in Matthew 5:28 & 29) that even even a thought of sexual sin is a serious sin, and that the only adequate response to serious sin is violent repression, McGuiness claims such statements are made by mere "Catholic moralists" who are not in the know.

I could go on.  The bad that the Westians are believing and selling is very bad indeed, and we can see it clearly.

But what we don't see as clearly is the good that is motivating this bad theology and its bad consequences.

To give the devil his due, then, read on.

***

The Westians admit that pornography is wrong and that we live in a world that is sex-crazed.  They feel that a response to this that is Puritanical is inadequate.  In other words, if you are a young man bursting with hormones who is driven to spend most of your time trying to "score" some sort of sexual encounter, or if you find yourself addicted to pornography or masturbation, it won't do you much good, practically speaking, to say, "Sex is evil!  Must avoid it!"  This is a Protestant response, not a Catholic one, for the Catholic Church has always admitted that sex is good.  In fact, all creation is good, though fallen, and we should not throw the baby out with the bathwater; we should not reject all sexual desire just because that desire is easily mishandled.

A Westian would say that if a young man were better to understand his Eros, he would see that Eros is more than just an urge to "get him some".  Eros is made for something far greater than objectifying women or spilling your seed on the ground.  The key to curing our obsession with sex, say the Westians, is not to deny your Eros, but to follow it and see where it leads you.  If it leads you for a while through internet porn or anonymous glory-hold encounters at rest stops, or through the rear door of sodomy, well that's OK because it will lead you through all of these things and beyond to the real goal of Eros - love for God and unity with Him as your ultimate Bridegroom.  

***

Thus the good and the good intentions in the Westians.

Now anybody with common sense can see how dangerous this theology is, but the Westians don't see how dangerous this theology is.  They make a fundamental mistake at the very beginning of their thinking.

And that mistake is, as Alice von Hildebrand points out, confusing ontological value with moral value.  In other words, they think that since God made our desires, and since our desires are made to help us find God, then those desires are good - which is true.  But they err in thinking that any act that expresses those desires is therefore good - which is false.  

  • Is it true that sexual desire is a good, a good created by God?  Yes!
  • Is it true that this good is designed for something - not only for expressing love and making babies via the marital act, but also for experiencing, in a kind of sacramental way, unity with God and the nature of the Holy Trinity?  Yes!
  • Is marriage and the marital act and unity with God the goal of all of our expressions of sexual desire, and any act of ours motivated by this desire?  Here's where it gets tricky.

A thing may be good, but our use of that thing may not be good.

Using our desire to stare at naked pictures while telling ourselves we possess "mature purity" is not good.  Using our desire to objectify human persons by making or consuming pornography is not good.  Using our desire to read graphic and obscene sexual imagery into religious rites and icons is not good.  Using our desire to molest children is not good.  Using our desire to fornicate is not good.  Using our desire to masturbate is not good.  Nor will any of these acts (which the Church calls "sins") bring us to the end for which the desire (the original motivating force) is designed.  

Does this mean that God cannot bring good out of evil?  Of course He can.  

But we may not do evil that good may come, and we may not presume upon the grace of God that He will bring us to Him no matter what we do.

So Westians, read this carefully, it will save you much anguish and perhaps keep you from grave sin.

  • Sexual desire is good.  Inordinate sexual desire, or sexual desire that does not keep to the end for which God designed it, is bad.  Lust is what we call the thing that the good of sexual desire becomes when it is inordinate.  Acts that are motivated by lust are (like the use of pornography) sins.
  • This template can be applied to all sins.  Anger is good.  Inordinate anger is Wrath and is bad.  Any act that expresses Wrath frustrates the end for which Anger is made (justice) and is therefore sinful.  Hunger is good.  Inordinate desire for food is Gluttony and is bad.  Any act that frustrates the end for which hunger is designed by indulging in an inordinate attempt to wallow in it, even after nutrition and enjoyment has been achieved, is a sin.  And so forth.
***

These fundamental distinctions are lost on the defenders of Christopher West and West's disciples.  May they get beyond their urge to dismiss criticisms of West and McGuiness as nothing but slander against their heroes, and may they see the error of their thinking and the very bad fruit these errors are bearing all around them.

The Cardinal and the Cardinal

KSDK has just released this ...



ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KSDK) - The family of Stan Musial has announced a public visitation for the late Cardinals Hall of Famer.

Musial, "baseball's perfect knight," died Saturday at his Ladue home at the age of 92.

A public visitation is scheduled for Thursday, January 24 from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis. Fans and admirers are encouraged to pay their respects at this time.

The funeral mass will be held at the Cathedral Basilica on Saturday, January 26 at 11 a.m. His Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York and longtime friend of the Musial family, will join Reverend Robert Carlson, Archbishop of St. Louis, and Bishop Richard Stika in celebrating the mass.

Following the mass, the funeral procession will make its way to Busch Stadium, where the Musial family will lay a wreath at the base of the Musial statue as part of a prayer ceremony before heading to a private burial.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Covenant House or charity of the fan's choice in the name of Stan Musial. The Cardinals have set up a memorial site around the Musial Statute at Gate 3 at Busch Stadium, which will remain in place until a later date. The team has also set up a web page to pay tribute to Stan and allow fans to offer condolences to the family.

KSDK

Marriage is the Goal of Pornography

The argument of the Westians really seems to be, "Since our desires are good, any expression of our desires must be redeemable; and any act that expresses our desires, if indulged in and experienced deeply enough, would lead to the good those desire were designed for, even if the act itself is sinful."  They find it a bit scandalous to say simply, "Sin Your Way to Salvation!" so they focus instead on the goodness of our innate desires and the fact that sin is merely a wrong expression of this goodness.

What they fail to see is that, as Alice von Hildebrand points out, sin has no ontological value.  Our sexual desires (though twisted and corrupted in a way we call concupiscence) are made by God and are good.  True enough.  But any act of ours that abuses these desires, such as the production or consumption of pornography, is thereby sinful and has no claim on the goodness innately bestowed upon being itself by God's act of creation.

So perhaps the distinction really is a bit fine for the Westians, in their enthusiasm, to understand.

See this dialogue from a recent combox between a woman calling herself "Seraphim" (which I assume would be Seraph in the singular - unlike "Legion", which really has no effective singular) and myself ...


***

"Seraphim" writes
I am not a fanny of Christopher West. But after reading McGuinness' article, I was really, really disappointed with your response, which was nothing short of libellous in its misrepresentation. I don't see how you could read the original article and come away thinking that it does anything but show why pornography is wrong.

You asked what pornography would look like if it did go far enough. And the answer is really clear - it would look like sacramental marriage. What did it not go far enough in? Its fulfillment of our God-given sexual desire, for which it substitutes Unreality for reality.

Concupiscence is defined as the wrong application of a right desire. Pornography is concupiscent because it misapplies our sexual desire. Your insistence that sexual desire is unredeemable is a denial of the Christian sacrament of marriage. It is Manichaeanism. The desire for pornography IS redeemable, and Christ created its redemption in a little town called Cana in Galilee.

What was the purpose of the "thought experiment"? To show us that we don't take pornography seriously enough - that it is a much worse problem than we treat it as. Same goes with Walker Percy critiquing the affected melancholy of fin-de-siecle aesthetes, saying they weren't taking suicide seriously enough.

Go to confession and read the article again. This misrepresentation was downright shameful.

 I reply

Why is it that Catholics in comboxes think it's OK to tell other Catholics to "go to confession" when they disagree with them? This is not the first time someone angry at me has said this.

"Go to hell" might be more vulgar, but at least it's a bit more honest.

***

Seraph, our sexual desire is not bad in and of itself. It is made for marriage and for the marital act, which combines love with making babies. Sexual desire is good.

But pornography, as you point out, is a twisting of that desire away from the end for which it was designed.

The mistake the Westians make is saying that since sexual desire is good, any expression of that desire must be redeemable. This is wrong.

Try this analogy. Anger is good. In and of itself the emotion of anger is meant to be a response to injustice - that's why you're angry at me, Seraph, since you think I've treated McGuiness unjustly. But anger without constraint, anger not properly channeled, becomes Wrath, a deadly sin. And one expression of that deadly sin is murder. Is murder redeemable?

You say Pornography Gone Far Enough is Marriage. Is Murder Gone Far Enough Justice?

Anger is good. Wrath is bad. Murder is an expression of Wrath.

Libido is good. Lust is bad. Pornography is an expression of Lust.

This stuff is really rather simple, Seraph. 

Now, if you think I've misread McGuiness, then how on earth do you explain my DIRECT QUOTATIONS FROM HIS ARTICLE? 

***

See you after confession.


The Man who Invented the Fist-Bump

All of these bits of trivia regarding Stan the Man Musial are from a remarkable article from 2010, 90 Things to Love about the Man, from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.




  • Musial may have invented - or at least first popularized - the so-called "fist bump." Stan came up with it as an option to shaking hands. Musial was convinced that he was catching too many colds by picking up germs while shaking thousands of hands each year, so he adopted the fist bump as a friendly alternative.

  • No major-league player logged more seasons or had more hits with one franchise than Musial.

  • The Man was country before country was cool; he once put on some bib overalls to blow the harmonica on the television show "Hee Haw." In 1994 Musual recorded 18 songs that were included in a harmonica-playing instruction booklet.

  • Musial hit five home runs in a doubleheader against the New York Giants on May 2, 1954. Seated in the crowd that day was young St. Louisan Nate Colbert, who later became the only other MLB player to hit five homers in a doubleheader.


  • The Man once made a cameo acting appearance on the hit 1960s show, "That Girl," starring Marlo Thomas.  [MY NOTE:  I remember this.  The producers has built a replica set of Stan's restaurant Stan Musial & Biggie's in Hollywood, and when Stan arrived on set, he said, "I felt like I was back home!"]

  •  In 1999, Musial was given the Cavalier Cross of the Order of Merit, the highest honor that the Polish government bestows upon a civilian. Musial is immensely proud of that honor. Accordingly, Musial is worthy of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor that a civilian can receive from the President of the United States.

  • Musial was among the primary reasons why John Paul II visited St. Louis in January 1999.

  • In 1946, when he was making a Cardinals salary of $13,500, Musial turned down a $50,000 bonus and a five-year contract worth $125,000 to jump to the Mexican League.

  • Musial played in 2,907 regular-season and 23 postseason major-league games and was never ejected from a game by an umpire.

  • Musial worried about setting the right example for kids. Like many star players of his era, Musial signed an endorsement deal with a cigarette company. He later reconsidered and ended the lucrative arrangement because he felt it sent the wrong message to kids.

  • Willie Mays has praised Musial through the years for extending his friendship to African American players during those tense days. Here's a story from Mays, who told it to Kansas City Royals broadcaster Denny Matthews: "All-Star Game, late Fifties. There were seven black players on the National League All-Stars. We were in the back of the clubhouse playing poker and none of the white guys had come back or said, ‘Hi,' or ‘How's it going?' or ‘How you guys doing?' or ‘Welcome to the All-Star Game.' Nothing. We're playing poker and all of a sudden I look up and here comes Stan toward us. He grabs a chair, sits down and starts playing poker with us. And Stan didn't know how to play poker! But that was his way of welcoming us, of feeling a part of it, making us feel a part of it. I never forgot that. We never forgot that."

  • Joe Garagiola: "He could have hit .300 with a fountain pen."

  • In the late 1960s, Musial and other MLB greats visited U.S. troops in Vietnam. One wounded soldier looked up at Musial from his hospital bed and said, "You're the best." Musial's response: "No, you are."

  • Bob Costas: "All Musial represents is more than two decades of sustained excellence and complete decency as a human being."  [We like to sound theological on this blog, so we call that "sanctity".]


More on the Man

I think it's harder for a writer to capture a life of virtue than a life of vice.

But Frank Weathers does a good job of it, and also posts lots of video clips, in his tribute to Stan the Man over on Why I am Catholic.

Since things are so combative on the blogosphere, and since our Church is always being attacked, from every direction both without and within, it's hard to remember that sanctity is about simply being good, and that virtue, even heroic virtue, can look like a kind, unassuming, humble man married and faithful to the same woman for 72 years.


As Frank Weathers points out by quoting from a biography on Stan, his life was not the typical "booze-and-broads" story of behind-the-scenes sports heroes.

His was the life of a good Catholic who was what we're all supposed to become - a good and loving person.


And sometimes it's just as simple as that.

ADDENDUM:

I found this quote on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch website ...

Jack Buck said this about Stan: "When you first hear about this guy, you say, ‘it can't be true.' When you first meet him you say, ‘It must be an act.' But as you watch him and watch him and see how he performs and how he comports himself you say, ‘He's truly one of a kind.' There will never be another like him."

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Closer Look at a Second Look at a Horrible Evil

From an email I just wrote to some friends ...

The other strange thing about the Westians is they thrive on subtext, but refuse to acknowledge it.  When McGuiness says that we should participate in a thought experiment in which we go "all out" for pornography, because "virtue" (in scare quotes), penance, mortification and the like are scrupulous and ineffective weapons against porn, we all know what he's saying; but when we call him on it, the Westians jump in with, "It was a thought experiment!" or "He never said 'confession is useless' - show me where he said those exact words!"  The plain meaning of what West and his ilk write does the trick for their eager audiences; but when we criticize them we are told to stick to the exact words and a very literalist interpretation of what is written.  The audiences don't take them literally, but their critics are told to.
Frustrating.
***

At any rate, if it's literalism you want, it's literalism you'll get.

These are literal words from McGuiness' article, "A Second Look at Porn", and my literal responses to them.

The truth about pornography – and it is probably a truism in Catholic circles – is that it does not go far enough.

What would pornography look like if it "went far enough"? 


“Every man who knocks on the door of a brothel is looking for God,” G.K. Chesterton famously observed and it is no less true of men engaged in solitary Onanism.

Chesterton never said that.  And again, my reply: if a man knocking on the door of a brothel is looking for God, he is looking for God in all the wrong places.  If men "engaged in solitary Onanism" are likewise looking for God - well, all I can say is whenever I wanted to find God or anything true, beautiful or good - even when I was an atheist - the last thing I did was shut the door and masturbate. 


The moralists out there would tell us that the solution to the scourge of porn is “virtue” or self-control or some twelve step program or perhaps intensely frequenting the sacrament of reconciliation; while not discounting the value of confession or the usefulness of AA-type programs in dealing with sexual addictions, I must insist that virtue is a consequence of something else, not something that can be gotten at directly as it were

Why do you put virrtue in scare quotes, Mr. McGuiness?  And why is it that those who suggest that virtue, self control, 12-step programs and frequent confession are called - literally - "moralists" by you?  These are exactly the thing that helped me overcome my active participation in this addiction.  Does that make me a "moralist"?  You go on to say that you are not "discounting" the value of these things suggested by "moralists", but you say that virtue cannot be gotten "directly as it were".  What do you mean by that?


No, the solution is not to be found in mortification or penance alone, but in beginning to take our own humanity seriously; seriously enough to go to the depths of the inner meaning of our Baptism, which incorporated us into the Body of Christ, in the flesh.

Well, here's what St. Paul said about the "depths of the inner meaning of our Baptism" -

Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. ... For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. ... Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. (Rom. 6)
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. (Col 3:5) 

It sure sounds as if the "depths of the inner meaning of our Baptism" is indeed mortification - putting to death all that is earthly in us, such as sexual immorality.  These ineffective things the "moralists", as you call them, counsel, are the very things St. Paul points to as the things that guarantee the effectiveness of our new life in Christ.


We take our humanity seriously when we don't “short circuit” the questions that desire raises in us. The Catholic moralist would say, “Impure thoughts, bad! Stop having them;” the Catholic realist asks, “Impure thoughts, what are you really after?”

Mr. McGuiness, I was an active porn addict for many years, and I know exactly what my impure thoughts were after.  My heart was restless until it rested in God, but my impure thoughts were restless until they fed on the trash they were "really after" (in your phrase).  Not all of our desires are redeemable; not all of our sins are redeemable; this is why the new wine is put into new wineskins; this is why Baptism and its inner meaning - death to sin and mortification of sinful desire - is so important.


If you find scrupulosity satisfying, then, I would say, “Keep at it."

Now, friends, this is a trick of many of these Westians, and other bad writers.  So far McGuiness has said that "virtue" (in scare quotes), mortification, 12-step programs and frequent confession are not effective against porn - though he quickly adds that he does not "discount" them.  (Why does he not discount them, if they're not effective against porn?)  

And now suddenly the "moralists" who counsel this approach are advocating "scrupulosity" - which, of course, is never "satisfying".

This subtle shift from "moralist" - itself a somewhat pejorative term - counseling ineffective "virtue", to a kind of Puritan ("don't have evil thoughts!") counseling "scrupulosity" is simply sinister.

But these are his literal words.

***

But I can't go on or I'll get sick.

Suffice it to say that the lame defense, "When McGuiness tells the reader to go ALL OUT FOR PORN, he's telling the reader to do so as a THOUGHT EXPERIMENT" is just that, a lame defense.

And the people who defend this abysmal article as advocating porn only as a THOUGHT EXPERIMENT need to have a THOUGHT EXPERIMENT of their own.

They need to start experimenting with Thinking.