Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The dangerous game of fantasy ship-jumping

I've seen this sort of thing a lot lately.  No, I'm not going to post links; if you've seen these posts, too, you know where they are, and if you haven't, then there's not reason to trouble yourself by reading them.

I'm speaking of blog posts by Catholic bloggers in which the blogger writes something to the effect that he (or she) has just about had it with Pope Francis's bad habit of speaking out loud, or some such thing. The writer will hasten to say that he or she understands that people are just misunderstanding the pope, for the most part, but...but...but...

The writer then usually goes into some kind of rant in which Vatican II, guitar Masses, bad catechesis, stained-glass windows that look like the toddlers were throwing Jell-o(tm) at the walls, nuns in polyester, banners in felt, the scandal of the priest facing the people when he's talking to God, and all those [blankety] women on the altar reading or EMHC-ing or otherwise inserting themselves into the liturgy all get mixed up together. All of this then gets tied back to Pope Francis's "cute" habit of speaking off the papal cuff, with a few dire mutterings about what he's really up to, by which point the writer has worked himself or herself up to admitting that very little more of this and he (or she) will Jump Ship.

The problem with playing the game of Fantasy Ship-Jumping is that when the ship you are jumping from is the Barque of Peter, you usually don't end up on a better ship.  You may end up on a raft.  You may end up on some grandly-named Log of Inclusion. You may even end up on what looks like an authentic seventeeth-century galleon complete with carved mahogany and brass trim, only nobody actually knows how to sail it and in any case the sailors are still arguing about whether it's even possible, with today's fabrics, to re-create authentic sails, which means that the ship is going nowhere (which is okay, because the captain's chair is empty).

And those are the best-case scenarios.  You may decide that the water is an illusion. You may think you can swim just fine on your own, even though you don't actually believe in following all those quaint and silly rules about swimming.  You may re-define drowning as success, or stake out a lonely kingdom on a sand bar.

Some of the writers I'm referring to really do appear to be in a state of serious spiritual crisis.  They really do seem to think that any day now Pope Francis will create "Catholic divorce" or otherwise undermine the clear teachings of the Church in such a way that those who love her will have no choice but to leave her.  Or they think that Pope Francis is just counting the hours until he can suppress the Extraordinary Form and cut off all those who assist at it from the liturgy they love.  Or they think, worst of all, that he really is some kind of closet Marxist who will sow class envy among the faithful and call it good.

The problem with all of that is that it is not a sober analysis of where we are today in the Church; it's conspiracy theory thinking raised to an extreme level by the easily panicked or the liturgically wounded (and I mean no disrespect by that term).  The pope is not going to change Catholic teaching on the insolubility of marriage.  He may have had a rather bad experience with the Latin Mass crowd in Argentina, but he clearly doesn't plan to suppress the Extraordinary Form--though it also must be admitted that he does not plan to suppress the Ordinary Form, either (and neither did Pope Emeritus Benedict), which is frustrating to a small, reactionary subset of Extraordinary Form attendees.  And his repeated statements of concern for the poor and a desire for their relief are more like the sayings of Christ than of Marx; it is a small scandal that in this wealthy nation so few of us have even read, let alone pondered, the Church's vast historical wealth of social teachings which say much the same sort of thing, and which do not see unbridled capitalism as an end in itself.

If anything, what concerns me about the dangerous game of Fantasy Ship-Jumping is that people who play it are often already disaffected with the Church in some way or another, and are just looking for that signal, that sign, that clear indication that things have gone too far to be fixed and that they may abandon the Barque of Peter in good conscience. That is a spiritually dangerous place to be, and one that calls for prayer and concern on the part of their brothers and sisters in Christ.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Sarah Palin and the politically homeless Catholics

(Cross-posted at Coalition for Clarity)

I don't know that I would have learned that Sarah Palin blasphemously compared the torture of waterboarding to baptism if Rod Dreher hadn't written about it here.  I'm completely with him when he says:
OK, stop. Not only is this woman, putatively a Christian, praising torture, but she is comparing it to a holy sacrament of the Christian faith. It’s disgusting — but even more disgusting, those NRA members, many of whom are no doubt Christians, cheered wildly for her.
For having written that, Rod is now being attacked on Twitter as a non-conservative; one such Tweet even misidentifies Rod as a Catholic in order to add a little anti-Catholic bigotry to the attack.  About that, Rod writes:
Well, I’m not Catholic, but I’m honored by the Hon. Kincannon’s mistake, given that the Catholic Church has stood up strongly against torture. Now, let’s be clear about this: Kincannon doesn’t represent Southern Baptists, either in his anti-Catholic bigotry or his support for torture. My Southern Baptist friend Joe Carter is a Marine Corps veteran and a political and religious conservative, but he was quick to criticize Palin’s remarks on the Gospel Coalition site. So readers, don’t use this Kincannon tweet to slam Southern Baptists. What’s interesting here, and unsettling, is that a professing Christian is so eager to defend a Christian who endorses torture (and compares it to baptism!) that he publicly indulged in anti-Catholic bigotry, presumably because the Catholic Church opposes torture.
Like I said, I’m not Catholic, but I’ll proudly stand with Catholics and any other Christians who believe that human dignity and the Holy Name is more important than maintaining solidarity with barbarism and its proponents. How can it make you proud that the more an American goes to church, the more likely he is to support torture? What is perplexing is the increasing self-marginalization of the populist right. Do they imagine that most Americans take pleasure in hearing a conservative leader promote torture in a gleeful tone, and a crowd cheer for her in doing so?
Sarah Palin was one of the last Republicans on the national stage I actually supported, mainly because I believed that she was that rarity, a truly Christian, conservative, pro-life, Republican party woman who would help shape the party in years to come.  Boy, was I wrong.  There is nothing pro-life at all about a rabid support of torture.  There is nothing Christian about cheering for waterboarding or comparing it to baptism.  There is nothing conservative about the kind of warmongering that leads to approving of torture in the first place.  That leaves "Republican party woman," and frankly there's nothing in any of that that would be worth supporting.

So I regret having supported her, just as I regret having believed that Republicans actually offered a substantially different choice to voters (as compared to Democrats) instead of being the other side of the same filthy coin, minted by oligarchs, circulated by sycophants, and duly rendered to Caesar.  It's becoming increasingly clear that we serious Catholics are politically homeless in this culture of death and destruction, and that both major parties only tolerate us as long as we're willing to stifle our Catholic consciences and give them our votes.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Papal phone calls and major media freakouts

I don't usually post on Saturdays, but then again I don't usually go a whole week only posting once, either.  What can I say?  This Octave of Easter has been unusually busy for me.

But I thought it might be a good idea to say a word or two about the pope's most recent telephone call. You know, the one where he phoned an 83-year-old atheist anti-clerical bisexual politician to persuade him to give up the hunger strike that was killing him (hat tip: Deacon's Bench):

Marco Pannella, the 83-year-old leader of Italy’s Radical Party, had refused to eat or drink liquids to protest what he sees as inhumane conditions in Italy’s overcrowded prison system. Pannella refused to suspend the strike despite undergoing an operation earlier in the week for an aneurysm in his aorta, even declining to accept blood transfusions.
On Friday afternoon, Pope Francis phoned Pannella at Rome’s Gemelli hospital, with the two men speaking for roughly 20 minutes. Afterwards, Pannella said that out of respect for the pope, he had agreed to drink some coffee and to accept two blood transfusions that medical personnel urged him to undergo.  
According to a transcript of the call released by the Radical Party’s radio station, Francis vowed that he would help Pannella “fight against” the conditions facing the prisoners, and urged the elderly politician to “be courageous.”

Now, obviously, the pope has once again dangerously and radically sowed seeds of confusion, as he did not use this opportunity to condemn atheism, anti-clerical positions, bisexuality, or potentially suicidal hunger strikes.  Nor did he reassure conservatives that overcrowded prisons are really the fault of criminals for committing crimes in the first place, or scoff at the idea that anything about prison life is "inhumane," or call for a more generous application of the death penalty to deal with the overcrowding problem...

I kid, I kid!  But only to make a point.

Everybody's been fixated on That Other Call, the one where the pope told a woman married to a man who had not had his first marriage annulled...something.  Probably something quite specific to her situation, which was misreported in the press in the first place (e.g., she was not a divorced woman herself, as the press initially said).  The press office has said that nobody needs to expect clarification or explanations of the pope's private phone calls, and that nobody (including the media) ought to derive any sort of theology or generally applicable moral teaching from them.  This has not stopped the press, who never knows any better, from doing exactly that.

But it has also not stopped Catholics, who ought to know better, from doing the same thing, hyperventilating and speculating and sitting in judgment on the Holy Father for his reckless and dangerous habit of making phone calls [insert sinister music here].

Let's face it: the telephone was only invented in 1876.  Thus, it is still, in Vatican time, a startling new innovation that might or might not be a good thing to use.  This Holy Father has decided to take the amazing and decisive step of using it, not only for tame, safe, curial-approved communications, but to talk to people.  Actual people.  Ordinary people, many of them.  It is not all that surprising that the rest of us ordinary people might struggle to know what to make of this, when it is all so new, and to worry about what else popes might do (watch TV? add a Facebook page to his Twitter account?  Request that the Victrola in the papal apartments be replaced with a CD player, since it would be too reckless to move immediately to digital music? etc.).

Before long, though, we Catholics will get used to the idea of a pope calling up someone who has written to him or whom he has heard about to offer a few words of practical advice, applicable to only that person.  And when the media tries to spin it, as they always do, we Catholics will, by then, have learned to shrug and say, "So what?  The pope likes to pastor.  Personally and directly.  And we know better than to twist someone else's recollection of a few words of papal pastoral advice into some sort of Major Media Freakout."

Or, at least, we should.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


...our wedding anniversary today!

Poor Thad has a yucky cold, and a million things to do at work.  But he got to come home a bit early today and we got to spend some time together--just running a few errands, but still a nice treat for an anniversary that falls on the Tuesday after Easter!

Of course, we'll have a more "official" celebration later this weekend, probably a quiet dinner for two. But today it was just nice to get to be together for the afternoon, especially since we weren't expecting it.  After nineteen years, it's the little things that matter!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter!  Just wanted to share a couple of photos from our Easter dinner. (Artistic crafty-blog purists, look away!) This first one should be called "View From My Stovetop:"

Hasselback Potatoes.  Sliced, half a mixture of melted butter & olive oil poured on them & a little salt sprinkled, baked at 350 for 30 minutes while the ham was finishing, then poured the rest of the butter/oil mix on them and baked for about another 30 or so at 425 (because I didn't think they'd finish on time if I didn't crank up the heat).  Served 'em with sour cream to dollop the heck all over the place.  I haven't made them for years (so long ago none of the kids remembered my ever having done so!)  Yum!!

Easter cake made from scratch by Bookgirl, who is much, much better at this sort of thing than her mom has ever been!  A truly wonderful dessert that really stole the show (what, you thought I'd say "took the cake")?

Hope your Easter was beautiful, blessed, holy, and delicious! :)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Holy Week Blog Break

Just wanted to wish all my readers a most blessed Triduum and a happy and holy Easter!  I'll be away from the blog for a bit.  God bless!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Writing and procrastination

Last night, I opened up my as-yet unfinished manuscript of book five in the Tales of Telmaja series I'm working on, and discovered that it has been four months since I've even looked at it.

I could blame NaNoWriMo for being in November.  December is never a good "finish your manuscript" month.  But then--what month is?  And given that I usually don't do the "Camp Nano" thing in April or June, what's my excuse, anyway?

I could blame the editing of book two, A Smijj of Adventure, which admittedly did take up most of December.  And technically I haven't even finished yet--because I have yet to release the e-book version.  There's been a technology change since the last time I released an e-book, so I'm still trying to figure out which way to go.  But I also haven't made it a top priority, which is my own fault.  (Thanks, by the way, to the four or five people who have asked for the e-book--your patience is appreciated.)

I could blame life and homeschooling and mothering generally.  We've had more than our share of winter bugs this year (poor Bookgirl is battling another bad cold as I write this).  We've had lots of busy weekends and busier weeks.

But the plain and simple truth is that to be a writer is to be a procrastinator.

Sure, there are a few exceptions.  But most people I know who write, whether for a living or for a hobby, whether successfully or not, admit to being skilled at the art of Putting Writing Stuff Off for other pursuits.  Sadly, some of those other pursuits also involve writing; I'm far from being alone in spending hours dabbling in blogging or other forms of non-fiction while leaving my fictional characters stranded in dire peril for months at a time.

All of this is a long way of saying that I need to get back to my books, and that blogging may be rather more sporadic than usual--and it has been sporadic of late, anyway--while I get my Telmaj back in order.  And there's this other book involving mermaids and vampires that I really do need to finish, too...

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Catholics in the crosshairs of the New Tolerance

As I clicked around the Catholic blogosphere today, I found heartening signs of unity against one of the most pernicious moral issues of the day: the push to normalize homosexual behavior and force a change in the definition and understanding of the word "marriage."

Some examples follow, from:

Carl Olson

Fr. Dwight Longenecker

Jimmy Akin

Patrick Archbold

The American Catholic

There are more posts out there, I'm sure, saying much the same things.  The important point: we Catholics had better expect to be in the crosshairs of the New Tolerance.

After all, our Church teaches that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. She teaches that this is part of natural law, not just part of theology, although her theology of marriage takes this simple natural union and sanctifies it, showing it to be a powerful model of Christ and His Church as well as the vocation which can lead husbands and wives to grow together in holiness as they raise their children to know, love, and serve God.

There is only one kind of union which is marriage, though there are many that pretend to be.  Some of them involve the cohabitation of men and women who are not married to each other; sometimes they are married to other people and can never marry each other.  Other pretend marriages involve same-sex couples; still others involve groups of people who engage in sex acts with all of each other.  None of these things are marriage, because none of them involve the mutuality, exclusivity, permanent commitment and ordering toward procreation which marriage must include to be a real marriage.

Our civil marriage laws are a joke, and have been since the advent of no-fault divorce. There simply can't be a "marriage" in the temporary "union" of a man and a woman who can split up at any time, for any reason, and when this split can be unilaterally ordered by only one of the parties to the marriage contract.  That kind of "marriage" isn't a marriage: it's emotional blackmail.

But from being a mere bad joke that has harmed numerous families, especially innocent children, civil marriage is about to become a dangerous weapon in the hands of the secular totalitarians bent on crushing religion.  It is one thing to give ordinary male-female couples the benefit of the doubt when they say they are married (something lay Catholics generally ought to do, since we are not qualified to be individual marriage tribunals deciding the validity of the marriages of strangers); it is quite another to be presented with two men or two women and told we must participate in the obvious lie that their union can in any way constitute a marriage.  It simply can't, not in Catholic understanding.  And Catholics shouldn't be forced to violate our faith in order to participate in a palpable lie just because the government orders us to.

Things are going to get more difficult from now on.  As someone who has been writing about this issue for years now, I take no satisfaction whatsoever in having my worst pessimism about the state of our culture on issues like marriage justified to the full.  But we Catholics do have to wake up and be ready to stand together, to lay aside such burning questions as whether the pope will wash women's feet on Holy Thursday or whether small financially insecure colleges have an absolute right to the E.F. Mass on campus in order to present a united front against the chill winds that are blowing.  Those winds are from the future, and prognosticate a time when to be Catholic in America will involve being under open attack.  Our ancestors experienced this here in America and in the countries from which many of them fled; our descendants may even have to choose the faith over the nation, and flee from America as well in order to retain the real freedom to practice our faith.  The one thing we have to remember is that we are already standing in the crosshairs.  Just being Catholic will be enough to get you questioned, in the coming days and years, about what kind of Catholic you are and whether you share your Church's "bigoted and intolerant" view of marriage.  We'd better be prepared to give the answer that will resonate in the Kingdom instead of the one that might buy us a momentary and illusory semblance of peace.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Are you now, or have you ever been, a Catholic?

I'm writing this via the Opera (tm) browser.  Blogger (tm) keeps giving me concerned messages about how my browser is unsupported and unexpected things might happen (and suggesting I switch to a supported browser, like, say, Chrome).  I've used Blogger for years, and it will be interesting to see how an "unsupported" browser compares to my experiences on a "supported" one, since those include random crashes, random saving errors, random weirdness with links and pictures, and other charming reminders that human error creeps into technology quite easily.

I've continued to read about and ponder the Brendan Eich/Mozilla situation.  I encourage you to do likewise, in order to understand two important things.  The first is that the gay rights gestapo considers it to be proof of "homophobia" and a firing offense if a person says he or she believes marriage is between a man and a woman--in other words, if a person believes about marriage what Catholics, many other Christians, many Jews, most if not all Muslims, most Mormons, etc. believe.  The second is that some people with whom I disagree on the issue of same-sex "marriage" have denounced the gay rights gestapo for having hounded a good man out of his job simply because he held a political opinion that they did not agree with--a good, and most appreciated, gesture.

I think that the gay rights gestapo has overplayed its hand here.  They have revealed something I've insisted was the case for years now, only to be told by the more irenic supporters of gay rights that I'm paranoid or crazy: that is, that the end game here is to force anybody who thinks marriage is and must be between one man and one woman out of the public square altogether.  Believing what the vast majority of the human race has believed about marriage for at least the past two thousand years has been labeled hate speech, and not just hate speech, but hate speech which must be punished.

That this is a serious danger for all Catholics who accept Church teaching on the nature and purpose of marriage, the sinfulness of all sex outside of marriage including homosexual sex acts, and the impossibility of same-sex "marriage" being anything more than an attack on the natural family and a grave spiritual and moral danger for those who participate in such a thing must be recognized.  The time may be coming when "witch-hunts" will affect the company you work for, and such practices as avoiding meat on Fridays or wearing a crucifix at work will get you interrogated by human resources:

Are you now, or have you ever been, a Catholic?

Do you agree that your Church is wrong about gay "marriage?"

Will you sign this diversity statement repudiating your Church's teaching on gay "marriage?"  If you refuse to sign, do you understand that your continued presence here constitutes a hostile work environment for our valued LGBTQ employees?

Do you recognize that your Church's teachings and your acceptance of those teachings makes you an undesirable employee?  Do you recognize that at the very least you are no longer eligible for promotions or advances, and that it would be in the company's best interest for us to terminate your employment, if you continue to refuse publicly to repudiate your Church's teachings?

Five years ago, people were assuring me that I was crazy and paranoid for thinking anyone would ever lose his job over his support for traditional marriage.  Five years from now, that conversation I have outlined above will be taking place in the human resources departments of every major corporation in America, unless we can stop this push to eliminate, destroy, isolate and punish every person who believes that marriage is between a man and a woman now.  I am as certain of that as I've ever been of anything involving this issue.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Dear Firefox: You're Fired

The drooling idiots at Mozilla have decided that CEO Brenden Eich's numerous apologies for having ever thought that keeping marriage defined as the union of one man and one woman was a good idea have simply not been enough.  Eich is out; let the idiocrats, moronophiles and sodomy-sycophants at Mozilla begin their period of public celebration.

Meanwhile, those of us whose religion teaches us that marriage is the union of one man and one woman and that "unions" composed of two men or two women are called "public sin" should probably consider using a different browser.  Sure, Mozilla hasn't hung a sign at corporate headquarters saying "Catholics Need Not Apply," but that's probably just because the sign hasn't finished printing yet.  I'll be dumping Firefox(tm) later tonight for a different browser.

I doubt anyone at Mozilla will read the following letter, but I'm writing it anyway:

Dear Firefox:

You're fired.

I hate to do this to you when you've been my browser of choice for the last six or seven years now, but you've left me with no alternative.  Your parent company, Mozilla, has made it clear that people who believe, as I do, that marriage is between a man and a woman, a husband and a wife, a bride and a groom are not welcome to work for Mozilla.  Not even if they are CEO.

This is, apparently, called "tolerance" and "diversity."  You have demonstrated that your brand of "tolerance" means excluding Catholics like me and serious Christians, Jews, and Muslims who share similar ideas about the meaning of marriage from your company.  You have illustrated that what you call "diversity" means ensuring that all of your employes either accept the redefinition of marriage or keep their heads down and their mouths shut about what they do believe.  Such an intolerant "tolerance" and lockstep "diversity" are rarely seen outside of totalitarian entities.

I will miss my Firefox(tm) browser, but honestly, why would I use the product of a company that apparently thinks people like me aren't worthy of employment at that company (or, perhaps, any other)?


Erin Manning

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A must-read review of Noah

At Mark Shea's blog, a commenter shared this link to the most astonishing and brilliant review of Noah I've yet seen:
The world of Aronofsky’s Noah is a thoroughly Gnostic one: a graded universe of “higher” and “lower.” The “spiritual” is good, and way, way, way “up there” where the ineffable, unspeaking god dwells, and the “material” is bad, and way, way down here where our spirits are encased in material flesh. This is not only true of the fallen sons and daughters of Adam and Eve, but of fallen angels, who are explicitly depicted as being spirits trapped inside a material “body” of cooled molten lava.

Admittedly, they make pretty nifty movie characters, but they’re also notorious in Gnostic speculation. Gnostics call them Archons, lesser divine beings or angels who aid “The Creator” in forming the visible universe. And Kabbalah has a pantheon of angelic beings of its own all up and down the ladder of “divine being.” And fallen angels are never totally fallen in this brand of mysticism. To quote the Zohar again, a central Kabbalah text: “All things of which this world consists, the spirit as well as the body, will return to the principle and the root from which they came.” Funny. That’s exactly what happens to Aronofsky’s Lava Monsters. They redeem themselves, shed their outer material skin, and fly back to the heavens. Incidentally, I noticed that in the film, as the family is traveling through a desolate wasteland, Shem asks his father: “Is this a Zohar mine?” Yep. That’s the name of Kabbalah’s sacred text. 

The entire movie is, figuratively, a “Zohar” mine. 

If there was any doubt about these “Watchers,” Aronofsky gives several of them names: Semyaza, Magog, and Rameel. They’re all well-known demons in the Jewish mystical tradition, not only in Kabbalah but also in the book of 1 Enoch.

What!? Demons are redeemed? Adolphe Franck explains the cosmology of Kabbalah: “Nothing is absolutely bad; nothing is accursed forever—not even the archangel of evil or the venomous beast, as he is sometimes called. There will come a time when he will recover his name and his angelic nature.”

Okay. That’s weird. But, hey, everybody in the film seems to worship “The Creator,” right? Surely it’s got that in its favor!

Except that when Gnostics speak about “The Creator” they are not talking about God. Oh, here in an affluent world living off the fruits of Christendom the term “Creator” generally denotes the true and living God. But here’s a little “Gnosticism 101” for you: the Creator of the material world is an ignorant, arrogant, jealous, exclusive, violent, low-level, bastard son of a low level deity. He’s responsible for creating the “unspiritual” world of flesh and matter, and he himself is so ignorant of the spiritual world he fancies himself the “only God” and demands absolute obedience. They generally call him “Yahweh.” Or other names, too (Ialdabaoth, for example).
I've taken a lengthy excerpt, for which I hope Dr. Mattson will forgive me.  Do go and read the whole thing.

Why does this matter to me, when I haven't even seen and don't plan to see the movie? 

Because right now there's a ton of Christian squabbling about the movie, based on various Christian reviewers and their reviews, positive or negative, of it.  The positive reviewers are finding Christian messages and meaning; the negative reviewers aren't, and at least one of them is claiming that the positive reviewers are being paid, compensated, or flattered and appeased into giving their positive reviews.  It's a mess.

What makes much, much more sense to me is that the movie really is a Gnostic, Kabbalah-inspired mess itself, which makes the positive Christian reviews not so much toadyism as simply misunderstanding--but it also makes the negative reviews miss the mark, too.  We're all dupes, but we're all being duped together, in other words (and if I can say "we" given my non-viewing of the film).

And we Christians have got to be careful about that.  Nobody thought Battlefield Earth or After Earth were Christian movies, because everybody could see they were Scientology movies instead (and truly horrible films as well).  But the whole danger of Gnosticism has always been that it takes things that look and seem Biblical or Christian and then says, "Oh, but wait!  This isn't the real truth.  This is what the ordinary people get told, to make them behave.  If you want the real enlightenment, the real power, the real arcane mysteries, you have to read more than the Bible, and ascend higher than mere have to go On Beyond Jesus, in other words."

Is it a surprise that Gnosticism would be revived in our time?  Not at all.  Gnosticism always does well when people are both hungry for truth and disenchanted with "official" religious teachings and structures.  It also does well in an environment when people lack basic knowledge and instruction in the Faith, and have lost touch with the Church.  The promise of secret, mystic knowledge and power the individual can control himself is always alluring--and it's always an echo of the Fall, when exactly that kind of knowledge and power was promised by the Serpent, the Father of lies and a liar from the beginning.

In the end, while there might be many reasons to see an imperfect religious film, or even an imperfect secular film loosely based on religious themes, there can only be one reason for Christians to see a Gnostic one, and that is to warn others against its false ideas and blasphemy.  If Dr. Mattson is right about this movie, and it is a Gnostic film, then Christians should be on guard.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April Fool's Day and lying

As I traveled around the Catholic blogosphere today (virtually, of course) I noticed several incidents of April Fool's Day blog pranks.  They ranged from the silly and harmless to the unbelievable to the heart stopping and dubious, which is to say, they were pretty much par for the course.

And they were all lies.

Lying, as we know, is a violation of the eighth commandment.  It consists of saying or writing as true something which is not.  It is a sin.

Many people excuse April Fool's Day lying as a "joke" or a "prank."  They argue that because April Fool's Day is known to be a day when people will say false things or give false impressions on purpose for the sake of humor, it's all right to say things which are technically not true.  But we know that this is consequentialism.  It doesn't matter if the purpose of a lie is to tell a joke or be funny; a lie is still a lie.

Other people say that there are plenty of clues to let the listener (or reader, in the case of blog posts) know that something is an April Fool's joke instead of the literal truth.  We could just as easily say the same thing of stories about Santa Claus and the Easter bunny, right?  But if playing a game with our children doesn't excuse lying, how is it that playing a similar sort of game with adults as well as children does?  Just because someone may embed clues in a blog post which the clever reader will instantly recognize as "tells" that the blogger is lying through his or her teeth, does that make the lie all right?  Just because the blogger may end, even, with the actual word "Gotcha" and some cutesy emoticons, does that make his or her preceding falsehoods morally okay?

If we look at the situation closely, besides, we can see that the whole point of an April Fool's Day prank is to get the lie accepted as the truth, at least for those few seconds until the listener or reader realizes that he or she has been had.  And isn't that intent, the intent to say something false and have it accepted as the truth, the very essence of lying?  Sure, some clumsy pranksters will reveal too soon that they are joking, but the successful ones get away with the lie for the longest, before pulling the metaphorical rug out from under their victims and laughing at (or with, if you must) them.  In other words, to pull off a good April Fool's prank, the joke can't be revealed too soon--and the added deceitfulness of the whole enterprise just adds to the moral dubiousness.

In the end, there's only one creature who thinks that lies, and getting humans to tell them, is funny.  And we all know who that is.

And if you believed for one second that I was serious about a word of this...


:)  :)  :)

Happy April Fool's Day!!