Hellish thoughts – Part 1

20 05 2019

The above video is of yet another intelligent Catholic thinker fumbling through the idea of the eternity of Hell for condemned souls. Admittedly, she is very honest in stating that she doesn’t really know how a soul can condemn itself to the worst pain and loss imaginable for all eternity, and how a merciful God can allow this. She does give the standard answers of how hell is a necessary implication of love and free will. If we are to come to love the supreme good definitively, it must be of our own accord, which means we can choose not to love. That this failure to love is accompanied by unspeakable loss and suffering remains a mystery in this line of thinking. Read the rest of this entry »





On the spiritual body

14 05 2019
Narada Muni Transcendental Spaceman

Narada Muni (source)

A reader left a comment with a link to an article by David Bentley Hart entitled The Spiritual Was More Substantial Than the Material for the Ancients. Here I will offer a few comments, specifically on the main themes of the corporeal vs. the spiritual body. Read the rest of this entry »





God of History vs. God as History?

24 04 2019

One of the great influences of my youth was a Russian Orthodox monk who was a Catholic convert. According to a biographical essay written by one of his disciples, he was converted by the Orthodox theologian Georges Florovsky. Having read Florovsky myself, I can attest that he is one of the only Orthodox writers worth a damn. Aside from his obvious mastery of Patristics and Church history, his more theoretical impact was clear and to the point: Christianity is a religion of history. That is, in contrast to Nietzsche’s attempt to revive the eternal return, Christianity is based firmly on the concept of linear time. Things happen once, and not over and over again. Humans are historic persons with their own unique substance, and not just masks for an eternal repeating energy flow. For instance, this is the main difference between Christian liturgy and pagan ritual in spite of any superficial similarities and appropriations. Liturgy can only commemorate historical events and not eternal cycles of seasons and movements of nature. It could be said that the latter only have meaning in light of the former. Read the rest of this entry »





In praise of bad marriages

22 04 2019

In my intellectual traversing around Hinduism, I encountered the above clip of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada [Founder of the International Society of Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), popularly known as the Hare Krishnas] speaking of his former married life. Prabhupada left his family once his children were grown to become a sannyasi, or renounced monk, but his marriage was apparently not a happy one. In this clip, Srila Prabhupada speaks about how as a young man, he went to his father to complain that he didn’t like his wife. At that time, marriage to more than one woman was permitted in colonial India, and the insinuation was that he was asking what his father would think if he were to take another wife. Instead of giving the blessing to take another wife, the father told his son that he was most fortunate not to like his wife. For by having a wife he didn’t like, it would be easier to leave her aside and go back to Godhead (that is, Krishna). We all have to give up what we love in this life sooner or later, and loving your wife less would mean that leaving her would be easier. Read the rest of this entry »





On conversion: I’m against it

4 04 2019

I am flighty in my ideas, I admit. Since my mid-20’s, I’ve basically had a live and let live approach. “If it works for you, that’s okay I guess.” Maybe this is caused by my (very) liberal education, my West Coast upbringing, and my coming of age in the era of multiculturalism. There was one instance (I can’t give details of course) when I was drinking wine with a Catholic friend who was thinking of converting to Islam (he did). I volunteered to drive him to the mosque and witness it (that didn’t pan out for reasons I don’t remember). It was surreal, but it takes all kinds to make a world. Read the rest of this entry »





Chasing the Incarnation

1 04 2019

A haunting image that has been etched into my mind manifested itself to me in a Russian Orthodox church during the All-Night Vigil for the Feast of the Annunciation. At a certain point during Matins (I won’t bore you with the context too much), the bearded priest stood before the icon of the Annunciation and chanted one of those old leftover ancient Slavonic chants with censer in hand. I am not sure why this made such an impression on me: it was a good hour into the service, and I know little Old Slavonic (I can sort of muddle my way through understanding what is going on.) The priest wore a sky blue phelonion gilded in gold, the robust baritone voice echoed through the church, and the melismatic chant reached back into time and grabbed from it some hidden reality that gleamed like the clouds at dusk… Read the rest of this entry »





Nature – Supernature – State

21 04 2009

fr7dtrad2

Fr. Peter Bernardi, S.J. on Maurice Blondel, Charles Maurras, and the Future of the Past in Catholic Europe

Fr. Peter Bernardi, S.J. gave a talk on his book, Maurice Blondel, Social Catholicism, and Action Française: The Clash over the Church’s Role in Society During the Modernist Era at Loyola University in New Orleans last night. The talk did not just address the evolution of Catholic political movements in France in the early twentieth century, but also focused on the main theological problem that the Church struggled with in the 20th century: the divide between nature and supernature, the state of man in his “normal condition” and man under the influence of grace. According to Bernardi, Blondel and the pro-Action Française Jesuit Pedro Descoqs represented polar opposite approaches in addressing the role of supernature in the natural political order. While the Jesuit defended in the name of neo-scholastic extrinsicism the French theorist Charles Maurras’ theory of the union of Church and State , Blondel advocated “social Catholic” collaboration with the liberal state in the hope of being a Christian influence that could reverse the trend of an increasingly secularized society. For Bernardi, Blondel’s liberalism resulted from his philosophical principles in which nature was never sufficient unto itself and needed to be transformed by evangelical ideas of justice and love.
Read the rest of this entry »





“Partial Communion”

2 02 2009

papa

Some personal reflections of a post-traditionalist

Over at the traditionalist blog, Cornell Society for a Good Time, they have posted a brief essay about the ambiguity of the term “imperfect” or “partial” communion. Of course, this has become almost an official term in the Catholic Church to categorize our “separated brethren”, that is, those people who profess Christ but are not in communion with the See of St. Peter and the Holy Roman Church. The general tenor of the post is critical in that it calls out the vacillation involved in such terminology; as I summarized it, it seems that one cannot be partially in communion anymore than one can be partially dead or partially pregnant. If the axiom “salus animarum supremus lex” (the salvation of souls is the highest law) holds, why would we toy around with such concepts asserting that people have one foot in the Kingdom and might be saved? Is such phrasing a fundamental abandoning of the mission of the Church? What other factors are involved?
Read the rest of this entry »