Category Archives: Faith

The Nature of Justice

Scales of JusticeI have a friend who lives in the same res hall as I do, and we also share the same calculus class. She hates calculus; she is a music major and she just wants to get her math requirements over with and has no problem with doing so with a D. She doesn’t really study, she doesn’t take the class very seriously, and she only does the minimal amount of work on the assignments. I work extremely hard in this class; as math is not a strong subject for me, I still need to put in a lot of extra effort to get my A. I probably spend more time studying and getting extra help for calculus than any other class and I take the assignments very seriously. So, imagine if, when grades are posted, that I get my A and the instructor decides that she likes my friend and doesn’t want to punish her for disliking math so she gives her an A, also. How would I feel? The word “unfair” comes to mind. Instead of saying it’s unfair or not fair, I could also say the result of our grades was also unjust or not “just”.

When we think about justice, we think about the law, or God, or even our parents dishing out punishment that is rightfully deserved because of our actions. Justice is served when the bad guys get their just desserts. But that is justice in action. What exactly is the nature of justice? What makes justice right and deserving of being sought, be it by man or God? The Catechism defines justice as “the moral virtue that consists in the constant and firm will to give their due to God and neighbor.” Let’s go back to me and my friend. A nihilist or an objectivist, for example, might say “Megan, what do you care? You got your A. Don’t worry about her grade.” But thinking about what the Catechism says, we need to remember the objective of justice. In this case, it is our instructor who is wronging both of us; she is failing to give what is due to me because she is discounting my work by demonstrating that the end result of my efforts is the same as the end result of my friends lack of effort. Justice is not only punitive toward the offender, it is an example for those who make the effort to not offend. Those who do wrong get their due through punishment and those who do right get their due, in part, by reward and lack of punishment.

There has been a lot of Christian hand-wringing in the last 24 hours over the concept of justice. We need to be careful to separate Eternal justice and Earthly justice, of course, but there is no question that Osama Bin Laden’s fate yesterday was a just result for his actions. It may seem simplistic to say that it would be unjust for those of us who avoid terrorist murder sprees to see him be allowed to live, but that doesn’t mean it’s incorrect. It is just that those who do bad are punished be it death for those who do bad in an act of war, Hell for those who offend God, or a bad grade for those who offend calculus. Reward and lack of punishment, Heaven, and a good grade are the opposite ends of this virtue that I think we sometimes misunderstand.

Vaginas, Catholic universities and the fake Magisterium

There have been some occasions that I have read about, over the last few years, where Catholic universities have been disparaged because they have hosted performances of a play called The Vagina Monologues. The very title of the play, of course, says that it’s about sex and probably pushes the limits of good taste. I have never seen it, nor read the book on which it is based so I don’t know the graphic specifics of the content.

The most recent example is that Gonzaga University is hosting a performance of the play. The charge of outrage on Catholic blogs seems to be lead by a faculty member at Gonzaga named Dr. Eric Cunningham who, like Notre Dame’s own Dr. Charles Rice, has a lot of problems with the supposed “Catholicity” of his employer yet has no problem continuing to accept a paycheck.

There are two concepts that are peculiar to the Catholic Church that are involved with the current uproar. One is the Magisterium, the official teaching body of the Church, led by the Pope and comprised of the world’s Catholic Bishops. The Magisterium, either extraordinary (acting as a group as in an Ecumenical Council) or ordinary (acting as individual Bishops) is the only means by which Church teaching can be officially promulgated. The rest is just opinion. No Catholic layperson, or even a member of the vocations who is not a Bishop, can claim to authoritatively put forth Church teaching or claim to authoritatively speak on Church teaching or belief.

The other concept is that of the Catholic university. There have been numerous writings about what constitutes a true Catholic school, as universities are not, generally, connected to and operated by a diocese or parish as high schools and elementary schools are.  My school is, for example, operated by an independent Board of Directors and has always been run by the Congregation of Holy Cross (priests with a C.S.C. after their names); the archbishop of Ft. Wayne has some influence but no official capacity to tell the school what to do. What he can do, hypothetically, is say the school can no longer call itself Catholic. But, in that the word Catholic is not copyrighted, there is no real meaning to that power.

So how do these two things connect? The hysteria of the fake Magisterium, those who have appointed themselves as arbiters of who and what is really Catholic, over The Vagina Monologues is just the most recent example of how Catholic laypersons use universities not to further the goals of the Church, but to further their own personal agendas, be they economic or political. Catholic universities, like any other, exist to educate. A large portion of education is a free discussion of ideas, even many that we may find offensive. The common reason the fake Magisterium uses to decree Catholic schools as no longer Catholic is that a play such as The Vagina Monologues is harmful to the faith and conscience formation of college students like me. Of course if they were truly concerned, they would say Catholic schools aren’t Catholic if they don’t demand their students refrain from watching graphic sexual movies, or TV shows, or listen to music with sexual themes. But the reason the fake Magisterium gets so (fake) upset about this play is that the name catches attention. We don’t often hear the word vagina, a clinical term, in polite conversation. Rename the play The Girl Monologues and no one notices that it even exists. Make Barack Obama a pro-choice Republican and no one cares that he speaks at Notre Dame’s graduation.

If Dr. Cunningham truly thought that Gonzaga was no longer Catholic, he–apparently being a pillar of the faith–would no longer be materially complicit in Gonzaga’s failings by accepting financial gain. Think of it like an observant Catholic working at Planned Parenthood. The Ignatius Press blog publishes him to make money: selling books and getting ad revenue from the blog. The Magisterium, on the other hand, has no economic nor political interest in anything they teach. They don’t make money off blogs or get paid based on who stays in the Church or who doesn’t. Mostly, they just don’t get paid. The chances of any one of them moving to a position more authoritative than the one they are in is about one in a million since the only chance at promotion for any Bishop is to get fitted for the Ring of the Fisherman.

There is a reason that Jesus put Church authority in the hands of a few and made them leave their possessions and families behind. There’s probably also a reason He didn’t give them the internet and blogs (he could have!).

Is Gonzaga Still a Jesuit University

Surreal: Gonzaga VP invokes “Ex Corde Ecclesiae” to justify production of “The Vagina Monologues”

Apostolic Constitution Of The Supreme Pontiff John Paul II On Catholic Universities

Happy Meals and so-called “gay marriage”

Happy MealI suppose it shouldn’t be surprising that San Francisco would decide that it can tell McDonald’s they are no longer allowed to sell a safe, legal product. If you have not heard about this, San Francisco, a city dominated by very vocal and powerful homosexuals, has passed a law that says McDonald’s can no longer put toys in Happy Meals unless the meals meet certain guidelines, mainly being under a certain amount of calories. Trying to keep little kids from becoming fat is a good thing, but I don’t see how Happy Meals are the main cause of obesity as opposed to lack of exercise and parents who let kids go overboard. I ate plenty of Happy Meals, I still like them sometimes, and I have never been overweight. Millions of other people are the same. But San Francisco’s “progressive” idea that they (homosexuals) know what is best for everyone and their hatred for big companies makes this type of insanely ridiculous law OK by them. Of course McDonald’s should do the right thing and ignore the law and sue all the way to the Supreme Court when it is enforced, but the fear of bad public relations will stop that.

Let’s not forget that San Francisco is the same place that has, as an official act of the city, condemned the Catholic Church in clear violation of the First Amendment and they have been upheld by a federal court in doing so. When I am asked the same question, over and over, by so-called “gay marriage” advocates why I oppose redefining marriage, I say again and again that I don’t trust homosexual activists to not attempt to force the Church to marry gay people (they already have talked openly of doing so and groups like “rainbow sash” have proven that homosexual rights advocates are openly hateful of the Church and want to see it brought down). I also don’t trust our courts or legislatures to protect the Church. Given the homosexual proclivity to use the power of the state to enforce their own brand of “morality” on everyone else, does it seem unreasonable for me to be concerned? You not being concerned is unreasonable.

God spelled backwards is Dog

My friend, Paul, sent me these pictures; these two churches, a Catholic Parish and a Presbyterian church, sit across the road from each other. I think it’s funny how the Presbyterians didn’t seem to have much of a sense of humor about the whole thing 😀

Catholic Church sign says "All dogs go to Heaven"

Presbyterian church sign says "Only humans go to Heaven, read the Bible"

Catholic Church sign says "God loves all His creations, dogs included"

Presbyterian church sign says "Dogs don't have souls, this is not open to debate"

Catholic Church sign says "Catholic dogs go to Heaven, Presbyterian dogs can talk to their Pastor"

Presbyterian church sign that says "Converting to Catholocism does not magically grant your dog a soul"

Catholic Church sign that says "Free dog souls with conversion"

Presbyterian church sign says "Dogs are animals. There aren't any rocks in Heaven either"

Catholic Church sign says "All rocks go to Heaven"

Catholic-hating homosexual advocates sex with 9-year-olds

The Holy Father’s visit to England is bringing out commentary from that nation’s top atheists; not surprisingly Richard Dawkins (the Church is “the greatest force for evil in the world.”) and awful novelist Phillip Pullman (“I hope the wretched Catholic Church will vanish entirely.”) are among them. But also among those participating in something called “Protest the Pope” is a “gay activist” named Peter Tatchell who has said:

“Several of my friends—gay and straight, male and female—had sex with adults from the ages of nine to 13. None feel they were abused. All say it was their conscious choice and gave them great joy. While it may be impossible to condone paedophilia, it is time society acknowledged the truth that not all sex involving children is unwanted, abusive and harmful.” (Link, so you can attempt to argue the source instead of the issue.)

So, let’s see if I have this right. The Church is the only entity on earth, according to almost all atheists/secularists, that should be called out for sexual abuse of Peter Tatchellchildren. This is despite the fact that sexual abuse is far more prevalent in U.S. public schools, but those are controlled by liberal teachers’ unions, so we can’t be telling the truth about that! This is, of course, the typical thought process of those who hate the Church. About 4000 priests, among a faith of over one billion adherents, over 60 years, condemn the entire institution, and it is perfectly fine that a leader of that condemnation be a man (pictured here, perhaps after someone’s father met him in person) who openly advocates sex with children.

But the Church is a force for evil?

Science and disproving God

“Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.”

There is no question that Stephen Hawking is a brilliant man; he is probably the only living scientist that can be positively compared to Albert Einstein. I don’t consider myself an expert on physics or cosmogony, so I am not going to be stupid enough to take on Professor Hawking on his own turf, but there is a serious issue with his claim when we consider the goals of science.

The reason that most scientists, even those with strong atheistic tendencies, can keep their scientific credibility in the science vs. faith “argument” is that they recognize that the goal of science is solely to explain the natural universe by objective, observable means. It is this goal that allows reasonable people of faith to trust in science. The goal of science is neither to prove nor disprove a God/creator/Intelligent Designer. It is here where Hawking has crossed the line from neutral scientist to dogmatic ideologue.

We can dispute Hawking’s claim about the creative powers of gravity forever. His theory relies on huge leaps of faith that can never be empirically proven nor denied (sound familiar?). He relies on the assumption that gravity is a naturally existing force that, instead of being a function of mass, may exist across universes (multiverse theory is for another day, but Hawking’s theory, logically, presupposes multiple universes); even leaving open the possibility that electromagnetism and strong and weak interaction do not also cross universal barriers. Hawking’s problem is that he seems to have proposed a scientific theory for the sole purpose of disproving God. Hawking no longer appears content with allowing for the idea that God lit the fuse on the Big Bang as he certainly was when he wrote A Brief History of Time. He wants to exit the arena of science and take on Aquinas; that round little monk was wrong…science and faith cannot coexist!

Perhaps it is his insatiable need to be written about in mainstream media, but Stephen Hawking is now no better than the most ignorant young-Earth proponent. Any time science adopts an agenda, science is damaged. I would have never thought that one of the world’s greatest scientists would be the one doing the damage.

Glenn Beck: Catholic Hater

Much of the news and political discussion now is centered around yesterday’s “Restoring Honor” rally in Washington D.C. hosted by radio talk show host Glenn Beck. In addition to the normal partisan reports about the rally, there are the wildly fluctuating estimates as to how many people were actually there.

Peter and Paul claim 750,000 people show up in the hills of Galilee to hear Jewish preacher; CNN estimates the crowd to be closer to 86,000.

Much of the news also seems to be centered on Beck’s calling America back to Christian values. I don’t have all that much interest in the politics of a radio host anymore. They all remind me of Lewis Prothero

That’s quite enough of that, thank you very much.

But Beck’s focus on Christianity this weekend causes me to revisit something from earlier this year that he said on his show.

“I’m begging you, your right to religion and freedom to exercise religion and read all of the passages of the Bible as you want to read them and as your church wants to preach them . . . are going to come under the ropes in the next year. If it lasts that long it will be the next year. I beg you, look for the words ‘social justice’ or ‘economic justice’ on your church Web site. If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words. Now, am I advising people to leave their church? Yes!” (audio)

The term “social justice”, as applied to the teachings of the Church, is rooted inGlenn Beck the encyclical of Pope Leo XIII, Rerum Novarum; believe it or not, the first time the Holy Father deemed it necessary to address the issues of labor, corporations, economics, the poor, and property rights in an official Church document. As an encyclical, the contents of Rerum Novarum–literally “Of New Things”…in 1891, industrialization and the rights of workers were new things–are binding upon Catholics as teachings of the Ordinary Magisterium. This is not to be confused with an ex cathedra or infallible teaching, but still binding on Catholics who follow Church teachings yet absent the threat of excommunication for heresy for standing in opposition. The fact that the term did not come into widespread use until it became part of the teaching of the Church, and the fact that no other church or faith uses the term to describe social teaching makes it clear that Beck was referring directly to the Catholic Church in his screed. The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church states “a large part of the Church’s social teaching is solicited and determined by important social questions, to which social justice is the proper answer.” (ibid 81) The Catechism of the Catholic Church, the official reference of the teachings of the Church (aside from Holy Scripture, of course) dedicates a section to social justice.

There is no doubt that Beck is referring to the Catholic Church as he later tells people that if they have a “priest that is pushing social justice, go find another parish, go to the Bishop“. It isn’t even so much that Beck later equated the teaching of social justice to communism and Nazis, he tells Catholics to leave the Church if they hear this teaching. Let me repeat that: if Catholics hear their parish priest refer to what is an official teaching of the Church, they should leave the Church. Make no mistake, Glenn Beck is, in his clumsy code, telling all Catholics to leave the Catholic Church for political reasons. He is telling me, he is telling my friends, he is telling those going up for first communion today to leave the Church that was designated by Christ Himself as His one and only Church. That is Matthew 18:6 type stuff.

Such a statement can only come from a deep-seated hatred for the Catholic Church. Beck is a former Catholic. He left the Church for a reason, and my experience has been that those who leave the Church are often the most bigoted toward the Church. All this talk about Glenn Beck as this wonderful Christian man is making me sick to my stomach. The fact that fellow Christians will not refute this man’s bigotry because they like his politics speaks volumes about the state of Christianity in America today. And I don’t ignore the fact that many, many Catholics fall into this same group and I would tell them to seriously reflect on if they believe authority lies in Christ, as given by Him, to the Holy Father or if it lies in your own personal political leanings. If you truly believe that authority lies in your political beliefs, then you need to think about taking Beck’s advice. I would prefer a smaller, stronger Church over a large Church watered down by those who use Christ as a political tool on either end of the political-philosophical spectrum.