IMPORTANT INFORMATION: Opinions expressed on the Insight Scoop weblog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Ignatius Press. Links on this weblog to articles do not necessarily imply agreement by the author or by Ignatius Press with the contents of the articles. Links are provided to foster discussion of important issues. Readers should make their own evaluations of the contents of such articles.
The headline alone — "Voter's Guide for Serious Catholics" — angered several readers of a full-page advertisement in Twin Cities newspapers this week and stirred complaints to the local archdiocese, which said it had nothing to do with its content.
"I go to daily Mass, I'm a serious Catholic, and I don't feel at all in conjunction with those views,'' said Carol Mulcahy of St. Paul.
The weak response of diocesan offices like the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis is precisely why this voter's guide is so important. Too many feel that official church teaching on morality has to be backpedaled and put on equal footing with issues like the environment and homelessness.
Karl Keating, the president of Catholic Answers, was interviewed by Ignatius Insight on the impact and response they have had with the guide. Read it here.
Interviewed by the Hispanic television network Univision, John Kerry once again used classic Cuomo-speak in articulating his "stance" on abortion:
"I am against abortion."
"I am in favor of the right to choose. Personally I am opposed to abortion, but I believe this is a decision that should be made by the woman, God and her doctor."
Well, I'm against "Catholic" politicians who publicly support abortion, but personally I believe that whether or not you vote for them is a decision that should be made by the voter, God, an—yeah, right.
Volume 1 is described on the jacket as "the first comprehensive exploration of the Supreme Court's approach to religion, offering a close look at every case, including some that scholars have ignored."
Volume 2 is described as "a complete analysis and interpretation of the Court's historical understanding of religion" that explains "the revolutionary change that occurred in the 1940s." Hitchcock looks at the "separation of church and state" and reveals the real history of the idea. You may be surprised at what he uncovers.
Both books are relatively short. They're scholarly works, in the sense of being well-researched and carefully argued, but they aren't tedious reading, as are many books labelled "scholarly."
Get these volumes and read them now before all your friends are talking about them and you feel left out.
(By the way, for those who think Insight Scoop is just one big commercial for Ignatius Press, please note that these books were published by Princeton University Press, not Ignatius Press--although James Hitchcock is an Ignatius Press author and a frequent contributor to Catholic World Report and ...)
Here's an AP story of Mel Gibson's opposition to California's Proposition 71, the embryonic stem cell initiative. (Good work, Mel!) Of course the AP story doesn't give all the relevant facts. For those, go here and especially here.
The Catholic Factor is a major issue in the election next Tuesday. Polls show a narrowly divided electorate—so narrowly divided, in fact, that a relatively slight swaying of Catholic voters can determine who will be the next President.
I fly to Wilmington, Delaware tomorrow to give a talk on Thursday to a chapter of the St. Thomas More Society, which is an association of Catholic lawyers dedicated to learning more about the Faith and putting it into practice in their important field of expertise. Which means I'll be cyber-silent until sometime late Friday. Please, no cheering. I'm not metrosexual by any means, but I do have a few feelings around here somewhere...although....I cannot....locate them at the moment.
The movie "Kinsey," about the life of sex "researcher"/pervert Alfred Kinsey, will be out on November. Read this column and this article and then do yourself a favor and buy a copy of Architects of the Culture of Death by Dr. Donald De Marco and Benjamin Wiker, which contains a chapter about Kinsey and his evil work. Also, check out this two-part interview with De Marco and Wiker over at IgnatiusInsight.com if you missed it. Dr. Wiker tells me he will probably see "Kinsey" and, if he does, will write a review of it for IgnatiusInsight.com.
That's the title of this article/review that I wrote for the September 2004 issue of This Rock magazine and which is now avalable on the Catholic Answers web site. The article is a critique of Luke Timothy Johnson's book The Creed: What Christians Believe and Why It Matters, which received far too many glowing reviews when it first appeared in late 2003. I initially had modest to high hopes for the book, but was ultimately very disappointed with Johnson's uneven approach, theological silliness, and condescending, even arrogant, tone. And then there are his stances on issues such as "gay marriage," women's ordination, and other sexual/gender issues:
Johnson’s affirmations of orthodox christological doctrines are fairly conservative theologically. But his support of women’s ordination, dislike for Humanae Vitae, and openness to "the possibilities of committed covenantal same-sex love" (a phrase from his homepage on the web site of Emory University, where he teaches) definitely fall on the liberal end of the spectrum.
My initial draft of this article was nearly six thousand words; this version is less than half of that. Perhaps I'll place the full-length version up on my web site or IgnatiusInsight.com at some point in the near future.
Tyndale Press, publishers of the 60 million-and-counting Left Behind series have published another "end time" novel, this one written by a notable foe of premillennial dispensationalism:
Illinois-based Tyndale House Publishers says the first book in the new series, "The Last Disciple," by "Bible Answer Man" Hank Hanegraaff and award-winning fiction author Sigmund Brouwer, asks the question, "What if the prophecies of Revelation have already been fulfilled?"
What if the Antichrist has already been revealed? The first book in a gripping new series by best-selling authors Sigmund Brouwer and Hank Hanegraaff explores the lives of Christians who struggle to survive and spread the Gospel during the climactic turbulence of “the last days.” With the enemy seeking to decipher the code of John's letter, Revelation, and destroy the church, believers must cling to the hope Revelation provides as they face the greatest of all persecutions. A spellbinding story of faith and fulfillment of prophecy. Discover the "code" of Revelation as you begin to see it through the eyes of the persecuted believers to whom it was written.
No, not another code book! Sigh. Hanegraff's novel is written from the preterist position, which holds that most of the Book of Revelation was fulfilled in the first century A.D. There are variations within this perspective that are more or less viable, as my book, Will Catholics Be "Left Behind"? discusses in some detail. However, the idea that the Book of Revelation was written in such a way (coded, of course!) that it would have been bewildering to Roman and Jewish enemies of the early Christians is difficult to support, especially when the book, as difficult as it can be, clearly identifies Jesus Christ as "King of Kings, and Lord of Lords" (19:16), which is about as coded as a cold sledgehammer. Besides, Jewish readers would have caught the numerous references to the Pentateuch, Ezekiel, Daniel, and other Old Testament books, and the writer's belief that Jesus was the promised Messiah.
Hanegraff writes, in his usual low-key, unassuming manner: "This series of novels constitutes one of the most significant projects I have ever been privileged to be involved in. Indeed, this initial novel is intended to be the first 'shot' in a debate that I believe will produce a paradigm shift -- a change in the way many in the church look at the end times." However that might be, I find it more than a little fascinating that this theological debate is taking place in the form of novels. Considering the obvious impact of the Left Behind series and The Da Vinci Code, this is not something to be taken lightly, even if it says some discouraging things about the reading public.
So this (thanks, Mel, for the link) is what worshipping the "divine feminine" is all about?
The plate of raisin cakes is raised and a woman says,"Mother God, our ancient sisters called you Queen of Heaven and baked these cakes in your honor in defiance of their brothers and husbands who would not see your feminine face. We offer you these cakes, made with our own hands; filled with the grain of life -- scattered and gathered into one loaf, then broken and shared among many. We offer these cakes and enjoy them too. They are rich with the sweetness of fruit, fertile with the ripeness of grain, sweetened with the power of love. May we also be signs of your love and abundance."
Yep, it's all about talking about how dense men are, eating cakes, and talking about love. But isn't that what already happens in coffee shops and restaurants all over the country every day?
IgnatiusInsight.com's entire two-part interview with Janice Bennett, author of St. Laurence and The Holy Grail: The Story of The Holy Chalice of Valencia is now available. Bennett's book is a detailed, provocative examination of the history and identity of the Holy Chalice of Valencia, believed by many to be the cup used by Christ at the Last Supper. Read part one of the interview here and part two here.
In an editorial in Sydney's Sunday Telegraph Australia's George Cardinal Pell goes on the offensive against those trying to silence Christians and also remarks on the upcoming election in the U.S.:
The Cardinal pointed out, "Christians (have) the same rights as anyone else in our democracy and (can) propose whatever policies they chose. If people didn't like their policies, they could vote for another party."
The timing of the Cardinal's editorial follows the Australian election just passed that elected the pro-Bush John Howard for another term. With the US election just days away, Pell's high profile endorsement of Christian principles in political life could lend strength to Americans opposed to John Kerry's strong support for abortion and same sex 'marriage.'
Referring to George Bush's traditional Christian morality, the Cardinal commented in the interview, "it was a consolation if a world leader was trying to do God's will rather than setting out to do whatever he could get away with."
The Cardinal added, "Isn't it better, I asked, to have a leader who believes that in the next life, he will have to answer for the decisions he makes in the here and now?"
- Cited Matthew 25:40 -- "Whatever you do to the least of these, you do unto me" -- and said Jesus' admonition should determine the moral obligation everyone in society has to each other. He did not mention abortion.
- Said: "The ethical test of a good society is how it treats its most vulnerable members." He did not mention abortion or his life-long support of it.
- Added: "I love my church, I respect the bishops, but I respectfully disagree. . . . My task, as I see it ... is not to write every doctrine into law. That is not possible or right in a pluralistic society. But my faith does give me values to live by and apply to the decisions I make." He did not explain which "doctrine" he might consider writing into law.
- Referred to a list of 10 "Christian principles in an election year" "created by the National Council of Churches USA (NCC), printed on the back of Mount Hermon's worship program, which the council said Christian voters are to keep in mind." Those principles say nothing about abortion.
- "Attended Mass on Saturday at St. Anthony's Catholic Church in Anthony, N.M., taking Holy Communion, though he may have violated the fasting period that Catholic teaching requires before receiving it."
- Never mentioned abortion, his support of it, and the Catholic Church's consistent and continual condemnation of the killing of the unborn.
Novelist (Father Elijah, A Cry of Stone) and iconographer Michael O'Brien, currently the Visiting Artist at Augustine College, will be having an exhibit of over thirty of his paintings from November 12-14, 2004 in the Exhibition Hall at St Barnabas Church (70 James Street at Kent, Ottawa, Ontario). On November 13th, he will be giving a lecture, "Art as Language of the Spirit," at 7:30 pm. More information can be found on the Augustine College web site .
Dave Kopel, who supports legalized abortion, dissects the media coverage of Archbishop Charles Chaput's recent remarks about Catholic voting:
On the whole, both Denver papers have been fair in their news stories about the controversy over Catholic voting. But on the column side, Post blogger Dani Newsum (Aug. 11) called Catholicism a "cult of men with terminal cases of arrested sexual and psychosocial development." The Post never would have published an article in their print edition using similar invective about the Buddhist sects which have an all-male celibate priesthood. It does the Post no credit to be associated with such attacks on any religion. ...
Post Washington columnist John Aloysius Farrell (Oct. 17) likewise went too far by claiming that Chaput and Colorado Springs Bishop Michael Sheridan "mimic Mullah Omar and his Taliban oafs" - as if there were no difference between religious leaders who speak out during free elections and tyrants who obliterate freedom and who rule without elections.
But that's the key point, isn't it: to people such as Farrell, the Catholic Church is just as evil, wrong, totalitarian, and murderous as the Taliban.
In yesterday's Rocky Mountain News, Denver Archbishop J. Charles Chaput takes on critics who have misrepresented his comments about stem-cell research and points out the hypocrisy of the same critics:
The Catholic Church didn't place stem-cell research on the public agenda. Others did. The Catholic Church didn't insert the issue into this year's campaign speeches. Others did. But for Catholics to remain silent on matters involving the sanctity of human life and the ethics of scientific research is not "tolerance." It's cowardice. ...
It's curious that many of the same people who publicly fret about the "separation of church and state" when it comes to issues like stem-cell research and abortion were delighted to have the church speak out about the plight of farm workers, economic justice, Vietnam, civil rights, Iraq and the death penalty.
That's the nature of ideologues: they view people and institutions as tools. They use you as long as their ideology is being advanced; as soon as you disagree, they try to silence, intimidate, threaten, and attack you. In other words, they are bullies. Thanks goodness that bishops such as the Most Reverand Chaput are standing up to them and refusing to be a tool.
A couple of weeks ago, John L. Allen, Jr. of the National "Catholic" Reporterwrote a piece about how the Vatican might vote in the U.S. presidential election this year if the U.N. allowed (okay, I made that last part up). Allen's latest "Word From Rome" column (hat tip: Amy Welborn) contains correspondence from Cardinal Renato Martino, president for the Council of Justice and Peace, who was not amused with Allen's informal polling.
Allen also comments on the Balestrieri story (see here and here for background info) and says:
Whatever one makes of the issues raised by Balestrieri's original questions, the saga of Cole's response makes an important point. The Vatican has a serious communications problem, because the outside world finds it impossible to distinguish between a formal response and what someone says in an unofficial capacity. If this were the American government, and a response to a letter to the White House came from a deputy insurance commissioner in North Dakota, most people would instinctively understand that it's not terribly authoritative; the same sensitivity does not apply to the Holy See, where somebody can chat up a Swiss Guard and then run around claiming to have a "Vatican response." This is an especially volatile problem in campaign season, where every utterance is presumed to have partisan political significance.
Balestrieri issued a statement Oct. 20 asserting that "although 'formaliter' the response is unofficial, 'materialiter' its contents can never be denied." He has also told reporters that many Vatican officials agree with him. There may be some degree of truth to that -- certainly there are officials in the Holy See who believe the church has to be tougher with public officials who dissent from magisterial teaching. On the specific issue of excommunication in such a circumstance, however, my experience is that there is a wide spread of opinion in the Vatican, and nothing like a consensus.