Monday, March 31, 2014

Please take a minute...

...to sign Alisha De Freitas' petition to her insurance company to approve coverage of a medical procedure she needs!

(Note for the concerned: Autologous Stem Cell treatments use stem cells from the patient's own blood or bone marrow, not from any morally objectionable source.)

Splash of the Titans

(Note: I owe the title of this blog post to an audience review posted on Rotten Tomatoes.  Though I am shameless enough to steal it, I'm not quite shameless enough to pretend I came up with it on my own.)

Major spoiler alert: I have not seen Noah.  I have no plans to see Noah.  I am not receiving compensation of any kind for not seeing Noah, except the compensation of not seeing Noah.  That's a pretty significant reward for me, since movie theaters these days are, without exception, TMTs (Total Migraine Triggers).  It's the noise, the flashing lights, the noise, the too hot/too cold temperatures, the noise, the over-sized screens full of 3-D garishness, the NOISE (did I mention the noise?).  For me to see a movie, it has to be a movie so universally recommended and praised that it might be worth a migraine.  Few of them are.

But plenty of people have seen Noah, and have been willing to write about it.  (I wish to thank my sister Heather for sending links to some reviews I hadn't seen, by the way.) Some of them really liked it, and found lots of Christian themes to reflect on.  For instance, Steven Greydanus writes:
Noah feels deeply the Creator’s grief and wrath over sin and violence — far more deeply than he feels his mercy or love of mankind. The Creator speaks to Noah, not in a voice from heaven, but in visions and portents, and at times Noah’s understanding of the Creator’s will may be deeply, even shockingly, flawed.

Noah presents biblical characters facing challenges, dilemmas and uncertainties as knotty as those we face today. Compared to figures in most ancient dramas, they are both more recognizably human, yet also more persuasively other. I appreciate a costume drama being willing to let the characters’ milieu push back on audience expectations with cultural sensibilities different from ours.
And Rebecca Cusey says:
Anyone hoping to see merely an accurate portrayal of the few verses in Genesis is thinking too small. The movie is much bigger, much richer, and much more exciting than that.

It’s the kind of movie that Christians, indeed everyone, should want Hollywood to make.

Darren Aronofsky has breathed fresh life into a treasured story and made it a story everyone can enjoy and everyone can ponder.

Not so fast, says Barbara Nicolosi:
Where was I? Oh yes, Noah is a terrible, terrible movie. As a story, it doesn’t attain to the level of the worst of the cheesy Biblical movies made in the fifties. Aronofsky broke the first and sacred rule of storytelling: you have to make the audience care. We never cared about Noah even after he was kind to a wounded, half dog – half snake. (No, that wasn’t a mistake.) We never cared for any of the characters. I kept hearing people say this movie is deep. It isn’t. It is psychologically pedestrian. The only emotion the movie elicited in me was laughs of scorn. The script is problematic in every way in which a script can be problematic. Bad characterizations – no complex personalities, just stereotypes. Unmotivated choices abound. No imagery or story subtext. Huge story problems requiring ark-sized suspension of disbelief. Earnest, oh so earnest, dialogue with every syllable on-the-tedious-nose. Awkward transitions. Completely missing a coherent theme. Embarrassing soap-operaish holds on actors looking tense or worried or just staring ahead trying to convey lostness and doubt. And the fakest, funniest looking, plastic green snake used repeatedly to indicate “Evil is in the house.” It’s bad enough to be a Christian movie!
On Friday, my wife and I had a very rare date night.

Naturally, we decided to spend it being pummeled by the blaring condescension of the most insipid, absurd, unimaginative, clumsily contrived piece of anti-Christian filmmaking to come along since, well, probably just last week.

In fact, if I learned anything from Noah, it’s this: despite popular perception, you can often judge a book by its cover. Also, giant deformed rock monsters make for awkward supporting characters. [...]

Noah is a major Hollywood blockbuster, made by an atheist director best known for his previous flick where a mentally disturbed lesbian ballerina goes insane and bleeds to death on stage. Already, a critical person might be slightly concerned about his handling of the Bible, considering what he just did to the ballet.

These concerns grew from suspicion to reality before it was even released, when the man himself came out publicly and professed Noah to be both an environmentalist propaganda piece, and the “least Biblical” Bible film ever made.

He wasn’t lying.

But he forgot to mention that it’s also a terrible film.

And Brad Miner is thoughtfully and carefully eviscerating:
If you’ve heard bad things about Darren Aronofsky’s film Noah, believe them. It’s not just a bizarre, misanthropic rewrite of Genesis, it’s a brutal, soulless epic in its own right, a failure as both Biblical drama and . . . drama. [...]

An enormous problem lies at the heart of the film’s message, which is that Noah is the first VHEMT. That acronym stands for Voluntary Human Extinction Movement (the ‘T’ added to make it scan as vehement), a group that believes healing our beleaguered planet requires mankind to renounce reproduction – in order to do what God did in Genesis, only without the rainbow covenant.
It's difficult to believe that all of these people saw the same movie, isn't it?
One theory is that the people who said they liked it were being paid to say so, but I don't believe that.  I wouldn't accuse people I generally respect of being sell-outs unless there were some kind of overwhelming evidence, and praising a movie that other people damn is too faint to be evidence of any sort.
Another theory is that Christian movie reviewers try too hard to prove that they are open to secular movies, especially when advance press suggests that Christians will be outraged by those movies.  This one is sort of plausible, because I can remember other instances when Christians geared up to praise a movie of that sort, if only to prove that Christians can be cool, only to find out that secular audiences panned the movie, making the Christian praise of it look rather silly.  Yet even that is probably a bit of a reach.
No, the real reason for this Splash of the Titans among Christian movie reviewers of Noah is probably exactly what it appears to be: a simple case of de gustibus non est disputandum.  Judging from the reviews I've read, both the positive and the negative, I would say that Noah would probably not be to my taste either, as I have a low tolerance for rock people, homicidal grandfathers, and lethal antediluvian spring-loaded bear traps brought in as a plot device to explain why Ham hates everyone, when it's probably just being named "Ham" that did it.  (Kidding, kidding--I know the name is Biblical.  Just like Edna.  Only she's in Tobit, not Genesis.)  I also tend to dislike movies that play fast-and-loose with books I really treasure, which is why (gasp) I only saw the first half of Peter Jackson's Fellowship of the Ring before deciding that I preferred Tolkien's Tolkien to Jackson's.  Proving only that we Christians don't, in fact, take marching orders from anyone when it comes to must-see movies, must-miss movies, or anything in between.

So if you're wondering whether or not Noah is one of those cinematic experiences to treasure for the ages or just a waste of a couple of hours and more than a few dollars, by all means, read the reviews from your favorite Christian movie reviewer, and maybe even check out a few secular reviews too.  But in the end, God gave man free will for our own good.  Whatever Aronofsky’s Noah may think of the matter.

UPDATE: On the other hand, this serious and scholarly review of Noah is very intriguing, and might explain the discrepancies in interpretation over this film.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

So, a Catholic nun walks into a Catholic high school...

...teaches kids the truth about the sins of divorce and homosexuality, and the kids get up an internet petition denouncing her:
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

Charlotte Catholic High School is getting backlash from students and parents after a school assembly last week. 

Students said that a guest speaker discussed offensive material about divorce and homosexuality.
Sister Jane Dominic, with Aquinas College in Nashville, has a doctorate in sacred theology.

But her message about the influence divorce has on gender identification and homosexuality didn't go over so well. [...]

The way that material was presented has students and parents in an uproar.

In an online petition, which now has close to 1,800 signatures, one student wrote "we found some of (the) ideas expressed to be both offensive and unnecessarily derogatory. We are incensed that you knew the content of this speech and allowed these ideas to be expressed in a school that should be preaching a message of love and acceptance."

In other words, Charlotte Catholic High School is a den of whining crybaby heretics, just like just about EVERY SINGLE OTHER CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL IN AMERICA.  Seriously--does anybody know of a SINGLE diocesan Catholic high school in America that is not churning out heretical spoiled-brat intellectual infants by the bushel?  Because I have yet to hear of one.

I have three comments:

1. If a Catholic nun comes to your "Catholic" school and gives a talk that is fully in line with Catholic Church teaching, and your students, cry, stamp their feet, wet their pants, and otherwise react in a way that would embarrass toddlers, maybe, just maybe, the problem is with the precious widdle darlings who have been coddled into believing that Church teaching is irrelevant anytime it conflicts with the values displayed on prime time television shows, which the students clearly spend more time with than they do with their textbooks, in Church, or engaging in other serious, grown-up pursuits.

2. If Catholic high schoolers across America are spiritual crybabies, maybe this strategy of delaying Confirmation until the age of sixteen is as useless as I've long suspected it may be.  Did anybody in any of these kids' Confirmation classes examine them to find out if, you know, they actually believe in the teachings of the Catholic faith?  Or were the teachers of those classes too busy sending their feckless students out to city underpasses to teach yoga to the homeless as their "service project?"

3. Can anybody find the smaller online petition (200 signatures as of the time the article above was released) in support of Sister Jane Dominic?  'Cause I'd like to sign it.

UPDATE: Here's the link to the petition supporting Sister Jane Dominic; thanks to LisaR for sharing it!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Diocese of Helena was right to fire Shaela Evenson

Since I was critical of the decision of the Diocese of Helena to fire Shaela Evenson, who was only described at the time in the news as an "unmarried pregnant teacher," I will now retract that opinion.  The diocese was quite right to fire an unmarried lesbian pregnant teacher who deliberately manufactured a baby in a choice to raise him without his father (hat tip: Deacon's Bench):
The Butte Central teacher fired for being pregnant has given birth to a boy.

Shaela Evenson delivered Brody Tobin Evenson on March 7 at St. James Healthcare in Butte. Brody weighed 6 pounds, 15 ounces and was 21 inches long.

This is the first child for Evenson and her partner, Marilyn Tobin, both of Butte.

Evenson taught sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade literature and physical education at the Catholic school for the past nine years. She was dismissed Jan. 10 after the Helena Diocese received an anonymous letter about her pregnancy.

Both Superintendent Pat Haggarty and Evenson’s Ohio-based lawyer, Brian Butler, say Evenson was not fired for being a lesbian. [...]

The district has said it fired Evenson for violating the terms of her contract, which required her to practice the tenets of the Catholic faith inside and outside the classroom.

I have been critical of schools firing unmarried women who become pregnant in the natural way.  Sure, it's a grave sin to engage in fornication, and an unrepentant fornicator--male or female--would clearly be violating a contract like the one described.  But pregnancy by itself isn't evidence of unrepentant and habitual fornication.  More discretion, more discernment, and more mercy to a sorrowful single mother facing a crisis pregnancy might be needed in individual cases.

But it is profoundly evil to manufacture a baby in such a way that he is deprived of his rightful relationship with his father, and this would be true if we were talking about heterosexual married teachers using IVF or situations like this one involving lesbians.  Granted, the article doesn't give much info about whether Evanson used IVF or a turkey baster or some other method to get pregnant, but one thing is clear: the child is hers and that of some unknown man who is being denied his right to natural fatherhood.  Tobin is neither the child's father nor his mother, and it is evil to pretend otherwise for the sake of political correctness.

The Diocese of Helena made the right call.  I've been waiting since my first post, when a commenter supplied us with links to lots of information making this situation clearer, for the news media to publicize the fact that this was a situation involving lesbians and deliberate child manufacturing, not a crisis pregnancy about which there might be a real need for mercy and kindness.  I have not seen anything public until now, but now that it is public, I issue my public apology for having been critical of the diocese before, when I naturally assumed a crisis pregnancy situation instead of something as profoundly evil as this.  This woman clearly doesn't belong anywhere near Catholic school children in any position of authority over them.  That she could so callously deprive her own son of his father says everything we need to know about her fitness to teach Catholic children.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Happy Feast of the Annunciation!

(Picture by Hatchick)

Good parenting, bad parenting, circa 2014

This is going to be one of those Fairly Brief Posts.  But that's because there's not really much to say.

Consider, that in our world today, this is considered good parenting:
The mother of a transgender child wants the Saskatchewan government to remove any record of a person's sex on birth certificates.

Fran Forsberg has filed a complaint to Saskatchewan's Human Rights Commission on behalf of her six-year-old child, Renn, after the province's Vital Statistics Agency refused to change Renn's sex designation from "Male" to "Female" on the youngster's birth records. [...]

Renn's big brother, Tana, 9, isn't transgender but likes to experiment with girl's clothing. He wears costumes and wigs to church and once entered a drag queen competition. He has also posed as a girl on posters and billboards for the "Pink Revolution" campaign, which is intended to educate people about different gender presentations.

While this is considered bad parenting:
A long-running child custody case took a dramatic turn Tuesday, when a Massachusetts juvenile court judge awarded “permanent” custody of teen-ager Justina Pelletier to the state Department of Children and Families. [...]

Johnston wrote that the parents called Boston Children’s Hospital personnel Nazis “and claimed the hospital was punishing and killing Justina. Efforts by hospital clinicians to work with the parents were futile and never went anywhere.”

More recently, he wrote, “there has not been any progress by the parents. Rather, the parents ... continue to engage in very concerning conduct that does not give this court any confidence they will comply with conditions of custody.” He noted that because of allegations that Justina’s father, Lou Pelletier, threatened a state social worker assigned to the case, the worker had to be reassigned.
The Pelletiers' crime of "bad parenting", for those who don't know, is objecting to the fact that even though they are citizens of Connecticut, the Massachusetts DCF and Boston Children's Hospital seized custody of their daughter, declared that her medical problems which had been diagnosed elsewhere were psychiatric, refused to let her former doctors see her, discontinued her former therapy and treatments, and refuse to let her go home.  She has been in DCF custody for 14 months now, and though she is Catholic, she is not being allowed to attend Mass or receive religious services or support.  She has also been given no education or schooling while in state custody.  But the Pelletiers were accused of "medical child abuse" for believing Justina's former doctor and following his treatment advice, and thus disagreeing with BCH about her case when BCH insisted that she has somatoform disorder, not a physical medical condition.

So, to sum up: caring about your child's symptoms of physical illness, taking her to doctors, and following those doctors' advice to the point of disagreeing when some other doctor who isn't a specialist and has never even seen your child before a single interaction declares that her illness is all in her head makes you a bad parent, circa 2014; but encouraging your boys to cross-dress and demanding that your three-year-old's gender be changed on his birth certificate because he likes to dress like his older sister and his cross-dressing brother makes you a good parent, circa 2014.

And we've always been at war with Eurasia.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Drunk with power

If you're a taxpayer, you've been treating Uncle Sam at the bar.  How much?  Well, a lot:
In fiscal 2013, the last year for which there are complete records, the government spent almost $1.3 million on alcohol, more than quadruple the $315,000 spent in 2005. The spending on liquor has increased over the years toward the $1 million mark, with 2013’s tab growing more than $400,000 over 2012.

“You could say that Washington’s quite literally drunk on other people’s money,” said Jonathan Bydlak, president of the Coalition to Reduce Spending, a fiscal watchdog that advocates reduced federal expenditures.

“It’s very symbolic of the kind of problem we have in a whole host of government areas,” he said. “Obviously, the government operates in an environment with very few restraints. So unlike a business or a nonprofit, when they want to purchase for an event, they have to weigh it against expenses that people in government don’t.”
At a time when unemployment and joblessness top Americans' concerns, it's good to know that our leaders can relax with taxpayer-provided hooch--$400,000 more of it in 2013 than in 2012.  On the other hand, people who say we might as well fill Congress with inebriated simians as our usual two-party politicians are starting to have a point. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Priorities

Last year, Chicago's public high school system bragged that they had achieved a "record" high graduation rate of 63%.  Not so fast, came the quick analysis: the rate was only the highest since a new method of tracking started being used back in 1999.  And the graduation rate counted those students who  took five years to graduate, and did not reflect the dismal reality that many of these students weren't at all ready for college.

So roughly a third of Chicago's high school students still won't graduate, not even in five years, and many of the ones who do aren't literate enough even to apply to college, let alone to succeed there.  But we can rest assured that CPS is paying attention to its real priorities with today's news:
CHICAGO (CBS) – Mayor Rahm Emanuel defended a plan to make free condoms available at 24 high schools starting next school year, expanding an effort to reduce teen pregnancy and prevent the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases among youths.

“I want everybody to understand that doesn’t mean you’re absolved either as a parent or an adult to talk to an adolescent about responsible behavior, respecting who you’re with, and doing what’s right not what’s convenient,” the mayor said. [...]

Chicago’s teen pregnancy rate is double that in New York City. The expanded condom distribution program will be funded by a five-year, $20 million federal grant.

So, to recap: $20 million federal dollars to make sure Chicago's high school students, roughly a third of whom won't graduate at all and many of whom will not be college-ready if and when they do.  But they'll be able to have Sex Without Consequences, which is the most important American pastime anyway.  Ah, priorities.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

An army of mini-popes

Patrick Archbold has continued to post some things tangential to his post from yesterday, which I blogged about below.  He has also referenced, as has Mark Shea, the stand Michael Voris has taken regarding criticism of the pope (Voris is generally against it.  Good to know.)

It would appear from some of Patrick's writings from today that he is NOT saying we should prepare to become schismatic if the Church does something unthinkable; rather, he is saying that the whole reason we have to speak out and fight against whatever evils the Church tries to inflict on her members is precisely so some of those members won't become schismatic as they struggle to retain the whole, pure Faith and avoid the evils the institutional Church is planning or plotting or scheming to inflict on...the institutional Church.  Um, Houston?  We have a problem.

Look, I get that sometimes people who feel as though they are the remnant of faithful Catholicism in a sea of Nancy Pelosis or Joe Bidens become convinced that they have a stern duty, like some of the saints of old, to march up to the pope, to the bishops, or to their pastors and say, "Hey, this isn't helpful.  Cut it out."  And once in a blue, blue moon, maybe, just maybe, they do have such a duty.

But it is a far cry from occasionally and respectfully pointing out to your pastor that he is not following the rubrics of the Mass in some important area (for example) or writing to your bishop to ask why he has decided to permit some dissident speaker to appear at a local Catholic university (for another example), and deciding that the Church is in such a state of foul decay that you have to be ready to speak up (or blog) daily, if necessary, to denounce the Church's sins and crimes like one of the prophets from the Old Testament lest the weaker of your brethren fall into schism.  Particularly when the sin and crime you're planning to denounce with all zeal hasn't, in fact, become Church policy as of yet, and likely never will.

Sure, it's enticing to think of oneself as a modern-day Jeremiah or a modern-day Saint Catherine of Siena, denouncing the idolators or telling the pope to get His Holiness back to Rome where he belongs, or something.  We rightly have a great appreciation for those figures God has appointed throughout salvation history to speak boldly to His erring priests or kings, bringing them back to the right path when they had strayed from it.  But it is a great temptation to decide, on our own, that we are the heirs to this sort of vocation.  At the very least, it's the sort of thing one really ought to run by one's confessor or spiritual adviser: "Hey, Father, I know it's my vocation to be a wife and a mother and that this involves homeschooling my kids and doing the odd bit of redheaded Catholic blogging, but lately I'm starting to think that I really ought to imitate the saints, and by 'the saints' I mean St. Catherine of Siena, and by 'imitate' I mean fly to Rome to tell Pope Francis what's what, and all that.  Because, otherwise, schism, and whatnot."

Somehow I doubt one's confessor or spiritual adviser would be enthusiastic about the prospect.  Particularly if one is a lay Catholic with no special training in theology or Church matters.  And even if "...fly to Rome..." were to be replaced by "...speak, write, and publicize my deep but fully justified faithful Catholic dissatisfaction with the Church as she's being run presently, because everybody knows you can't trust any of the bishops, while most priests ordained since Vatican II are probably heretics, and while charity compels me to suppose that the Holy Father must be invincibly ignorant of the serious mess things are in, and that the last several Holy Fathers were likewise clueless, it's clear that the Holy Spirit didn't, for His own unfathomable reasons, bother to clue them in--probably because He wants me to do it."

Again, um, Houston...oh, skip it.

You follow me, though.  It is, at the very least, a dangerous temptation to decide that it is your job to guide the Church, unless you happen to be the white-clad papal gentleman in the Vatican, at which point, that is indeed your job.  The Church is not in desperate need of an army of mini-popes, all riled up with their zealous mission to save the Church from herself.

The Church is, in fact, in need of the same thing yesterday, today, and tomorrow: disciples of Christ who recognize her as His Bride and who listen to her, most especially when she speaks with His authority.  Are some of the Church's leaders going to make occasional mistakes when they are creating pastoral policies?  Perhaps.  But so long as they are being faithful to the Church's mission to spread the Gospel and bring Christ to all, even those mistakes can be turned to good account by God in His good time, provided that the spirit of joyful obedience and fidelity to Christ permeates the efforts being made.  And we ought, in the name of true charity, believe that such spirits do permeate such efforts unless it is absolutely proven otherwise.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Preemptive hand-wringing over ecclesiastical ticking time bombs

I'm just going to say this: I'm starting to worry about Patrick Archbold.

No, I don't know the Archbolds personally, and I'm not engaging in any sort of armchair psychoanalysis.  But how exactly does one react to a post like Patrick's from today, titled In Case of Schism, Break GlassExcerpt:
Say, for the sake of hypothetical but plausible example, the outcome of the Synod on the Family on the question of admission of divorced and remarried to communion follows the suggestions of Papal advisers Cardinals Marx and Kasper. That the remarried are admitted to communion after some pastoral counseling and the annulment process is moved from tribunal to pastor. In this case, the Church does not change its immutable teaching on the indissolubility of marriage, but the newly implemented pastoral praxis dramatically alters the landscape. 

Let's leave the predictable liberal cheering of such moves aside for the moment and focus on those orthodox Catholics who rightly understand the dangers associated with such change in praxis. For such as these, I see three options, go along, stay silent, or speak out. [...]

The last group will choose to speak out. They recognize that such a a change in praxis is a complete contradiction. That the very idea of readmission goes against all tradition and undermines the doctrine to the point of irrelevance. Further, they recognize that moving the annulment process to pastors would defacto make for quick and easy Catholic divorce. [...]

This group would realize that this current magisterial 'praxis' is not infallible and is in direct contradiction to all the tradition that came before it that sought to uphold the critical and immutable understanding of marriage. Recognizing the danger to doctrine and souls, this group would feel compelled to speak out and actively oppose the implementation of this praxis. The also understand that if such initiatives become rooted, there is genuine danger of real and lasting schism within the Church on these issues.  I say schism because one assumes there may be Bishops, priests, and lay people who refuse to go along and as such will be seen as separate.

As such, this group will choose to speak out even though they will likely be pilloried by liberals and the magisterialists. But nevertheless, they feel compelled to support and restore the traditional understanding and praxis that support the doctrine.

So if something like this was to happen, which group would you be in? What would you choose to do? Would you agree that the latter group above are merely reactionaries and that their intransigence hurts the Church?

I would ask you to think about it. For my part, I have made my choice. In the case of schism, break glass. We can clean up the mess later.

Let me just start with this: this is mind-bendingly, breathtakingly, heart-breakingly wrong.

In the first place, this reminds me of nothing so much as the hypotheticals endlessly raised during the late great torture debate--you know, those hypotheticals where we have a terrorist mastermind in our grasp and we know he's guilty and we also know for certain that he alone knows where the ticking time bomb is planted and if we don't start sawing off his fingers NOW that bomb is going to go off and kill millions of innocents.  For the sake of argument, Patrick Archbold is creating a special Church "ticking time bomb" scenario, where despite the fact (as Patrick posits) that Church doctrine has not changed the Church somehow decides that people who are in undeniably adulterous "marriages" that are not really marriages must be readmitted to Communion without much ado at all.  In the real world, nobody really thinks that is what is coming.  Fixing what is broken in the annulment process, making, perhaps, an easier pathway for people who were married outside the Church in the first place (e.g., making it easier for annulments to be granted when there's pretty clear evidence that the couple were never validly married at all without requiring the full-scale tribunal investigation), while simultaneously refusing to rubber-stamp "Catholic" weddings of people who have wandered into a Church four times in their lives (for baptism, First Communion, Confirmation, and then for the wedding)--those are things the Church can, should, and indeed must work on.  But aside from a few dissident voices who pretty much reject Church teaching on marriage anyway, I haven't heard anyone seriously posit that the Church is going to throw up her hands and give up on her teachings on marriage completely.

But that leads you to the second problem we have here, which is that for the sake of his argument Patrick is creating a futuristic scenario where nobody in the Church seems to think that this hypothetical tension he has created between teaching and praxis on marriage is worth bothering over--which means that the Holy Spirit is totally failing to guide the Holy Father on this issue, which would pretty much mean that the Church isn't the Church.  I realize that Patrick tries to get around this by using the word "non-infallible" to describe this alleged future praxis, but I honestly can't think of a time when the teachings of the Church on some important issue and her pastoral practice were so divided from each other as this would be (perhaps some Church historian or theologian would chime in, if there is some example).  Even if there was such an example from the past, though, we are left with the reality that the Church is still the Church, and any groups that split away from her over such issues are outside of her.  That's a very serious reality for those groups--which brings me to my third point.

What Patrick seems to be saying here is this: should such a "ticking time bomb" hypothetical occur, the "schismatic" groups of bishops, priests, and laity who would reject this new "praxis" and fight to restore the traditional understanding of marriage (which pretty much undermines his earlier claim that the teaching would not have changed as a result of this new praxis)--would be in the right, and he would throw his lot in with them.  Now, he can correct me if I'm reading him wrong (and I hope he will).  But I think it's hugely serious, and a real problem, for a faithful Catholic to begin fantasizing about the scenario or scenarios under which he would feel fully justified in leaving the Church--because that is what he appears to be saying here.

Even the would-be slighting term he has created for those who would go along with his hypothetical: the "magisterialists," is revealing.  All Catholics are bound to accept magisterial teachings.  The Magisterium is simply the Church's teaching authority, her authority to teach in Christ's name, which is vested in the pope and in those bishops who teach in communion with him.  To label a group of people "magisterialists" for refusing to have any problem with the ordinary magisterium of the Church is to betray a sad lack of understanding about the Church and her teaching authority.  We should all be magisterialists.  We should all stand with Peter--and yes, that means giving the pope the benefit of the doubt when we don't quite understand his goals or aims.

Because the other side of that magisterial coin is this: we trust that the Holy Spirit is guiding the Church and protecting her, and the Vicar of Christ, from falling into or teaching any serious doctrinal error.  Patrick has tried to get around this with his hypothetical by claiming that the Church will still teach that marriage is indissoluble, but will then go around winking and nodding and acting as though she understands that really, marriage can be dissolved for pastoral reasons, or something (which is, quite frankly, an untenable position to hold--when has the Church ever undermined her own doctrine in this way?).  But what I think Patrick Archbold may be failing to realize is that he's trying to have his cake and eat it too: EITHER the Church teaches some grave doctrinal error in which case she's not the Church after all and we have an absolute duty to leave her, OR the Church does not teach error in which case we would never be justified in leaving her even if we have serious problems with some area of praxis.  In other words, neither Patrick nor anybody else can have it both ways: a schismatic group forming out of anger over some hypothetical future praxis on marriage would still be committing the grave sin of schism and risking the souls of its members over their deliberate separation from Rome; it is not permitted to leave the One True Church because you think she's making some practical--but not doctrinal--error.  No, not even if you were right--but the odds are that you would be wrong, if you are a lay person with no special competence to sit in judgment on the Church's way of doing things.

Finally, what worries me the most about this is the preemptive hand-wringing and the creation of a new ecclesiastical ticking time bomb scenario.  As we often saw in the torture debate, the whole reason for a ticking time bomb scenario was to create in the minds of those positing it a justification for intrinsic evil: surely it would be okay to do this evil thing to prevent this worse evil! ran the thinking much of the time.  But the answer is always no.  It is not permitted to do evil, not to prevent worse evils nor even to achieve some actual good.  If a deliberate, willful act of schism is gravely sinful--and we must believe it to be so--then no amount of ecclesiastical ticking time bomb scenarios will ever make it justified.  And that's before we even examine the Church's record on things like this, and admit that despite people predicting various lapses in doctrine or even in practice the Church has yet to leave the path of truth--how can she, when she follows the One Who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life?  To believe that the Church is about to throw her teachings on marriage out the window is to show a surprising lack of trust in the Holy Spirit and hope in His powerful role in the direction of the People of God--for which prayer is the best remedy.

Friday, March 14, 2014

The agenda of secularism

This is pretty unbelievable--and yet, all too believable:
The Air Force Academy admitted Wednesday that a cadet leader had to remove a Bible verse he had displayed outside his dorm room because it offended non-Christians and could “cause subordinates to doubt the leader’s religious impartiality.”

The controversy started when a cadet leader posted a passage of scripture on his whiteboard with a quote from the New Testament book of Galatians. “I have been crucified with Christ therefore I no longer live, but Christ lives in me,” the verse from Galatians 2:20 read. [...]
Mikey Weinstein, director of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, told me that 29 cadets and four faculty and staff members contacted his organization to complain about the Christian passage.

"Had it been in his room -- not a problem," Weinstein told me. "It's not about the belief. It's about the time, the place and the manner."

He said the Bible verse on the cadet's personal whiteboard created a hostile environment at the academy.

"It clearly elevated one religious faith [fundamentalist Christianity] over all others at an already virulently hyper-fundamentalist Christian institution," he said. "It massively poured fundamentalist Christian gasoline on an already raging out-of-control conflagration of fundamentalist Christian tyranny, exceptionalism and supremacy at USAFA."

Exactly two hours and nine minutes after Weinstein complained to Air Force Academy Superintendent Michelle Johnson, the Bible verse was erased from the cadet leader’s whiteboard. [...]

Johnson said in a written statement that the verse was removed because there was a “potential perception” problem.

“The scripture was below the cadet’s name on a white board and could cause subordinates to doubt the leader’s religious impartiality,” the superintendant said.

You really should read the whole thing, here.

This is not happening by accident.  It's part of the agenda of secularism, the same agenda that is presently using gay "marriage" as the stick with which to drive religious believers out of the public square.  To the secularist, any expression of religion that takes place outside of one's private room or dwelling might "create a hostile environment" or otherwise offend people; even religious expressions in churches may eventually come under attack by the raging secularists who think that belief in God is a form of mental illness and that only the absence of belief can be actively promoted by the State.

But promoting the absence of belief over belief is, itself, a form of belief.  The religion of secularism is atheism, and it is an atheism which is rapidly becoming militant.  The idea that religious believers must be stifled, harassed, shut up, and punished for expressing their faith openly comes from an absurd belief that non-believers have some kind of right to be protected from religious speech; it is an idea that, despite its absurdity, is strangely popular today.  From seeing religious speech as good, noble, and worthy of sharing publicly to seeing religious speech as discriminatory and only worthy of suppression has taken our country about fifty years, give or take; how many years will it be before religious speech will be considered dangerous and deserving of government control?

An Air Force cadet quoting the Bible on the whiteboard outside his room is something that would have seemed normal, acceptable, and even praiseworthy not that many years ago.  But in the new order where only non-belief has any rights, such an act is condemned as hateful and discriminatory.  And it's only going to get worse--especially in the military, which has been the favorite experimental center for leftists who think the military's job is to promote feminism, homosexuality, and (coming soon!) transgenderism in order to force those who serve to accept all of these ideas without question or criticism.

How long before Christians simply can't serve in the military at all, without facing open persecution for being Christian?  Some military members say--albeit very, very quietly--that we are already there.  I think that any Christian parent has to consider very carefully whether there is still a place in the military for those who believe in God and the natural family as well as their country, and perhaps to advise their children against fighting and dying for someone else's supreme right to erase a perfectly innocuous Bible verse from the whiteboard outside a Christian's door.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The followers of the dodgy prophets of doom

Every now and again, my blog's email inbox gets a bit...interesting.

If you blog, you know what I'm talking about; if you don't, suffice it to say that it's just exactly like getting spam in your regular email inbox, except that the spammers are trying to sell you something blog-related or to interest you in some topic they think is earth-shakingly important in the hopes that you will blog about it, even if the odds of you being interested is vanishingly small.  Now, sometimes actual readers of my blog will give me a "heads-up" to something I definitely am interested in writing about, and I'm always grateful for that sort of thing.  But the "spam" type emails I'm talking about are the kind that in no way relate to anything I've ever written about or would even presumably be interested in, even if it's vaguely Catholic.

That last is what happened to me this week, as a gentleman I will not name sent me several emails I don't intend to quote (despite my policy which says I can quote emails sent to me unless they are labeled "private") trying to get me hooked on the prophecies of Maria Divine Mercy.

If you are one of the many Catholics who has never heard of Maria Divine Mercy--well, be thankful.  She's yet another of the crop of dodgy prophets who arises from time to time spreading "messages" which are supposed to be from Our Lord or Our Lady--yet, unlike a real seer, these sorts of self-proclaimed prophets are rather wary of letting the Church decide if they are actually receiving messages worthy of belief by the faithful, or are somehow deluded or even actively hoaxing people. Jimmy Akin discusses why Maria Divine Mercy isn't a credible prophet here, and Dr. Mark Miravalle dissects her alleged "messages" here.

And theologian Ronald Conte has much to say about Maria Divine Mercy here, including this:
In my humble and pious opinion as a Roman Catholic theologian, faithful to the Magisterium, and a Bible translator, the claimed private revelations to an anonymous woman, in the form of messages posted on her website (www.thewarningsecondcoming.com), are not true private revelations from God. These messages contain many substantial doctrinal errors, in addition to the heretical claim that this woman will write a book which will become a part of the Bible, and which will be equal to one of the Gospels. Her claimed private revelations endanger souls and contradict the clear and definitive teachings of the Roman Catholic Church on many points; therefore, these messages are not from Heaven. A list of examples follows.
Go here for more.


Now, you might point out that this Maria Divine Mercy hoax/scam originated back around 2010 (if I'm not mistaken) and that her alleged identity as an Irish business woman has been known since some time last year, and you would be right.  So why bother writing about "MDM" (as blog shorthand calls her) now?

To be honest, I'm writing because of my email correspondent.  This gentleman is apparently interested in "proving" that MDM is right about Pope Francis being a false pope (yep, that's one of her more bizarre claims) and that MDM herself is the seventh angel about to break the seventh seal at which point there will be a schism in the Church prior to the thousand years of the peaceful reign of Christ on Earth for the handful of good people who got in on the Messages early.  Or something.  He is not interested in reading the reams of sane, quiet reflection that real Catholic prophets don't usually diss the Church, attack the pope, and try (unsuccessfully) to remain anonymous while telling groups of disaffected Catholics exactly what they so desperately want to hear (e.g., that the Church is in chaos and tatters and some Faithful Remnant Group of Faithfulness is going to be the only ones who survive, clutching their blessed candles while the Three Days of Offline Darkness rages about them and they consign their relatives and friends--well, relatives, anyway; these sorts seldom have actual friends--to the outer darkness, and so on).  I know, I know--it's hard to believe that a nice Irish business woman might not actually be receiving secret Catholic messages of doom and destruction which have so far only failed to come to pass a few times, but might, instead, be either deceived herself or a deceiver.  It's almost like finding out that a spunky saintly devout Catholic Internet nun was actually--well--none of those things, except the Internet part.

The truth is, the dodgy prophets of doom don't bother me nearly as much as their followers do.  Their followers tend to accost you at church or in a religious bookstore, or at a Catholic conference, or in your email inbox, and earnestly tell you that they're hoping you'll listen to what they have to say about the True Secret Truly True Thing they've just learned about, and then they hit you up with chancy messages, off-kilter apparitions, alleged visionaries, pseudo-seers, and the like.  So long as you listen and nod and say noncommittal things ("Um, interesting!  Yep, yep...oh, my kids are waiting for me--gotta go!) they are willing to give you the benefit of the doubt.  But the minute you say, as kindly as possible, that the particular apparition they're fond of was judged as being not of supernatural origin a decade or so ago (for example) or that lots of really smart people have looked into MDM's claims and found them sadly lacking (for another example) they can turn on you like some kind of cross between a Jehovah's Witness and a pit bull, and tell you that when the sky starts raining down fire-breathing cicadas on your head you'll be sorry you didn't listen to them, because they know the Real Truth about it all.

And that, to me, sums up the difference between credible visions, apparitions, and prophecies, and frankly incredible ones.  The credible ones tend to exhort you to be a better person, yourself, to pray and repent and receive the Sacraments and reach out in charity toward your neighbors.  The non-credible ones tend to puff you up in your own pride as they encourage you to believe that you are one of the lucky ones who will have the proper kind of sacred blessed asbestos umbrella (patent pending!) with which to avoid the caustic rain of fiery cicadas, and that if other people won't listen to you, it will be their own expletive deleted fault when the End comes and they are utterly destroyed.  Which is not exactly a Christian sort of attitude to have, not at all.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Another bit of evidence that the death penalty is a bad idea

These kinds of stories are among the reasons I no longer support the death penalty:
Standing outside in a denim shirt and dark-rimmed glasses, 64-year-old Glenn Ford said he feels resentment when remembering the nearly 30 years he served on Louisiana’s death row for a crime he didn’t commit. In fact, prosecutors now say he wasn’t even at the scene of the murder and did not participate in it.

But now, he’s a free man.

A judge ordered Ford’s release from the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, where he had been held since March 1985.

He was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to die by electrocution by an all-white jury that found him guilty in the robbery and murder of Isadore Rozeman, a Shreveport watchmaker who was killed in his repair shop on Nov. 5, 1983, according to Reuters. It was a verdict Ford always disputed, saying he wasn’t even there. But, until recently, the courts wouldn’t listen.

How many people have served time on death row, years, decades even, and then been exonerated?  That's not even the most chilling question; that would be: how many people have been executed for crimes they did not commit?

If even one innocent person has ever been executed for a crime, that is one person too many.  Given that our nation has the ability to incarcerate those convicted of crimes in such a way that public safety is preserved, the death penalty should be abolished.  Justice may have taken 30 years in the case of Mr. Ford, but better justice late than the final injustice of the execution of the innocent.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Ban bossy? But I was BORN this way...

In the annals of political correct too-precious trivia we have today's report that Facebook's chief operating officer is encouraging people to ban the word "bossy," a word that is apparently used to stifle girls' innate leadership characteristics:
Can banning one school-yard word really change the world? Sheryl Sandberg says yes. 

Sandberg -- the chief operating officer of Facebook and author of the best-selling book "Lean In" -- is spearheading the launch of a campaign today to ban the word "bossy," arguing the negative put-down stops girls from pursuing leadership roles. 

"We know that by middle school, more boys than girls want to lead," Sandberg said, "and if you ask girls why they don't want to lead, whether it's the school project all the way on to running for office, they don't want to be called bossy, and they don't want to be disliked." 

Sandberg said these attitudes begin early and continue into adulthood. 

"We call girls bossy on the playground," Sandberg said. "We call them too aggressive or other B-words in the workplace. They're bossy as little girls, and then they're aggressive, political, shrill, too ambitious as women." 

Sandberg's organization Lean In is joining forces with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Girl Scouts USA CEO Anna Maria Chávez to launch a public service campaign called "Ban Bossy." The banbossy.com website gives tips for parents, kids, teachers and others about how to encourage young female leaders.
Pardon me whilst I wring out my lace handkerchief.

I'm sorry, but any girl who can be kept from a leadership role because she fears being called "bossy" might--just might--not be the sort of girl who will grow up to be the sort of woman who can handle leadership.  The old trope that what is condemned as "bossy" in a girl is admired as leadership in a man might have been true in 1955 or so, but those of us who are bossy ourselves know that being bossy isn't about leadership: it's about ordering people around and telling them what to do and pretending that that is leadership.  Which it isn't.  Not by a long shot.

In other words, "bossy" is about attitude, not about aptitude.  A bossy person knows that she can make her little brothers do more than their fair share of the chores (by the way, younger brothers of mine--sorry about that!) or pressure them into taking all the blame for things she's at least partly responsible for.  If her bossiness extends to the classroom (mine didn't, because I didn't have that kind of social clout in school) she's the girl who tells everyone else on the class project what to do and hounds them to do it while simultaneously choosing a relatively easy task for herself and both magnifying its importance and minimizing its ease.  Even when the bossy person isn't getting away with that sort of thing, chances are that she's a natural micro-manager, the kind of person who wants everyone to do everything exactly the way she insists that it has to be done and who never listens to negative criticism or input from others as to whether there might not, after all, be perfectly reasonable alternatives to doing things her way.

If--and it's a big if--the bossy person can learn to cool it with the attitude, take others' advice, step back and let other people contribute, quit micromanaging, and learn to delegate and to trust that those to whom she has delegated will, indeed, be able to complete their tasks, she might make a fine leader someday (or maybe she'll just be a relaxed and sane stay-at-home homeschooling mom instead of a too-tightly wound one).

Those of us who were born bossy have the same choice about that bossiness that everyone has about those kinds of characteristics: we can argue that the word itself is somehow harmful and demeaning to women (though there can be bossy men, too!) or we can agree that "bossy" isn't leadership, and that leadership isn't being "bossy," either--that a true leader is far less likely to exhibit the characteristics of a bossy person and that a bossy person may be in a leadership role, but that doesn't make his or her bossiness any easier to deal with.  The second thing seems to me to be a good place to get a conversation about leadership going, a conversation that might unpack some of the true qualities of leadership which in addition to delegating and listening and permitting open contribution also includes such things as good, strong decision-making and the willingness to take full responsibility for those decisions even when--especially when--things don't go well.  The first idea--the idea that says, "Okay, everybody, the word 'bossy' is now banned from use because we've decided it's harmful to girls!" seems just a little...a little...oh, what's the word?
 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

A brief survey regarding Catholic pastors

Well, I'm in the throes of a lovely two-day migraine (which is why I didn't post yesterday).  But I wanted to put this brief "survey" post up today--these are things I've been thinking about in light not only of the FMC situation but of other situations where many of us (myself included) have a tendency to believe, in any conflict between a bishop or pastor and group of lay people, that the laity must be in the right.

I'm not advocating for any kind of return to clericalism, mind you.  The attitude that priests are always right and lay people must always defer to them gets poisonous really quickly, not just for us, but for them as well.  Pope Francis isn't the only recent pope to warn about clericalism and its dangers.

But I suspect that the "lay people are always right!" attitude is coming from some real place, and with that in mind, I invite you to answer these questions in the comment box (and I apologize for not knowing how to do those nice embedded surveys, but I'm technologically impaired).  They are all "yes/no" questions, so you can simply put "1. Yes, 2. No," or whatever if you participate.

1. I believe my pastor fully accepts all Church teachings and is faithful to the Magisterium.

2. My pastor is an approachable man and I believe we could have a perfectly civil conversation about anything at all, especially Church matters.

3. My pastor is kind, respectful, and polite in his dealings with his flock.

4. My pastor is aware of the realities that 21st-century working families face, and is considerate in his scheduling of parish events and activities, especially those that are mandatory for parents such as sacramental prep. classes or meetings.

5. My pastor is aware that many families are struggling financially these days, and does not assume, in his fundraising efforts, that most people have a great deal of disposable income which they squander on luxuries.

6. My pastor is fully supportive of the Church's pro-life teachings and creates an atmosphere that is welcoming to large families, families with small children, etc.  He also supports pro-life ministries, especially those which give direct aid to women in crisis pregnancies, and permits information about NFP and/or NFP classes to be shared at the parish.

7. If I ever had a serious issue with something at my parish, I know I could talk to my pastor openly and honestly about it, and he would listen without being dismissive or defensive.

8. While my pastor is firm when it comes to Church teaching, I know that when it comes to mere parish policies or rules he puts people above policy whenever possible.

9.  My pastor may, quite naturally, know some people at the parish better than others, but he does not have an "in-group" or "clique" of lay people within the parish.

10. My pastor makes every effort to recognize his flock and learn their names.

Thanks in advance to all who participate!  I am aiming this at my fellow Catholics, but if you're not Catholic just say so in the comments along with your answers.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Helpful vs. less helpful: the Fisher More College situation

I may be updating this post periodically today, but I wanted to share a couple of quick things for now that may shed light on the Fisher More College situation.

One of them, extremely helpful in my opinion, is this public statement from Dr. Taylor Marshall:
Much of the politicization around the “Latin Mass and FMC” is Mr. King’s careful attempt to distract attention away from his financial misdealing at FMC. The college is currently teetering on bankruptcy and this latest entanglement with the bishop will lead to a public statement: “Fisher More closed down because the new bishop of Fort Worth persecuted the Latin Mass!” when in reality the College is failing because Mr. King entered into a dubious real estate deal that washed out college’s endowment AND all the proceeds from the sale of the original campus.

How did a College sell its extremely valuable campus to TCU for several millions dollars in 2012 only to announce at Christmas 2013 that it might be closing without an immediate fund raising campaign through Rorate Caeli? [...]

FMC hosted a public repudiation of Vatican 2 and the Ordinary Form of the Mass in April of 2013 that was so offensive that my wife and I walked out of it before it’s conclusion. That did not do much to heal the breach with the local diocese or presbyterate and it contributed to the priests of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP) discontinuing their support and presence at FMC. The current FMC website advertises that the FSSP provides a chaplain, but this is not true.

At the same time, Michael King estranged himself from the diocese of Fort Worth by not allowing the Ordinary Form (as stipulated by the previous ordinary Bishop Vann of Fort Worth). He also contracted an irregular/suspended priest without faculties, and hired “trad resistance” faculty while there was no bishop in Fort Worth to check these developments. Mr. King was able to create a community in his image (he affectionately referred to himself the “father” of this community) during the episcopal inter-regnum of the diocese of Fort Worth.

Clearly, a bishop's intervention was inevitable. The current controversy really has nothing to do with the Latin Mass per se. The Latin Mass is at the center because Michael King is politicizing the Latin Mass in his favor, knowing that “bishops vs the Latin Mass” is red meat for some traditionalist blogs.
Do, please, go and read the whole thing here.

Less helpful, to me, is the public posting of Patrick Archbold's letter to Bishop Olson:
Pursuant to your actions vis-à-vis the prohibition of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite from taking place at the chapel of Fisher More College, I have the following questions:

What problem is this prohibition intended to remedy?

Is this prohibition the least restrictive measure possible to effect that remedy?

What consultations, if any, were held with the school to avoid such actions?

Are there clear criteria or actions set out which, if followed, would allow for the restoration of permission for the public celebration of the EF at Fisher More College?

Since the offering of the Extraordinary Form is key to the mission of Fisher More College and is a particular attraction for many of its students and their families, is it of concern to you prohibiting the EF may undermine such attraction to the school and thereby precipitate its demise?

There is more, in the same vein--and tone.

Why do I find this less helpful?  It's not that Pat Archbold wished to write to Bishop Olson and ask these questions (even though most of us probably make it a practice only to write to our own bishops about diocesan matters).  It's that the letter, which he chose to share publicly, seems to me--and I know some may disagree--to begin with an accusative tone that seems to presume that the bishop is in the wrong here, when most of the information I am hearing on the ground here in Fort Worth is saying something very, very different.

I'll add updates to this post during the day if it becomes necessary, but I think at this point that with so many people with direct experience of this college--Taylor Marshall especially--saying that Bishop Olson was indeed justified in taking this quick and direct action, it may behoove the rest of us to give the bishop the benefit of the doubt here.

UPDATE: I keep seeing people on various blogs insisting that it is not fair to "punish" the college students by taking the E.F. Mass away from them (and an assumption that the nearest E.F. Mass is in Dallas).  However, the nearest E.F. Sunday Mass is at St. Mary of the Assumption Church in Fort Worth, only 2 miles away from Fisher More College.  The Mass is at 5:30 Sunday evenings (a Mass time I'd have loved when I was in college!).  I don't think Bishop Olson is placing an undue hardship on the college students who are sincerely attached to the E.F. Mass when there is such a Mass available at such a near distance which they can attend for the time being--even indefinitely--while things are being straightened out with the college.

Monday, March 3, 2014

On Bishop Olson and Fisher More College

I wasn't sure if I was going to blog about this today or not, but there is a situation here in the Diocese of Fort Worth that others are blogging about; since I have heard a few things myself about this situation, it seems like a good idea to discuss it here.

As several blogs have mentioned (including Rorate Coeli, but I don't link to them on general principles), Bishop Michael Olson of Fort Worth has ordered the tiny Catholic college called Fisher More to stop holding the Extraordinary Form Mass in the college chapel.  Father Z discusses the matter here, and Creative Minority Report here (both sites include the bishop's actual letter to the college).  I commend Father Z, especially, for urging caution in jumping to conclusions about this.

The local blogger at A Blog for Dallas Area Catholics has more:
As commenter Skeinster noted, there are problems at Fisher-More.  Problems so severe, I privately regretted having supported their fundraising drive last fall (I had heard inklings at the time I gave that support, but came to know much, much more shortly thereafter).

A lot of people who live outside Texas, and even many within the state who reside outside the Metroplex, do not know how close together Dallas and Fort Worth are.  It’s only about a half hour drive from downtown Dallas to downtown Fort Worth.  As such, our local Traditional Latin Mass community shares a lot of people between the two cities.  And, the priests of our FSSP parish provide a TLM in the Fort Worth Diocese on Sundays.  Some priests from our parish have taught classes at Fisher-More.

But they have stopped doing so.  In fact, many long-time faculty have left Fisher-More.  This is not solely related to their financial woes.  In fact, it has to do with really severe problems with the college’s administration, and in particular, the college president Michael King referenced.
I know many exceedingly good traditional Catholic families who have (or, I should stress, had) children at Fisher-More.  I know some folks who have taught there. I know some who are still employed there.  All are unfailingly stalwart supporters of the great Tradition of our Faith and all recognize the hideous crisis now afflicting the Church.  But many – most – have increasingly grave concerns regarding Fisher-More and especially the direction Michael King is taking the college.

Well-known traditional Catholic academic Taylor Marshall left Fisher-More last summer over these same concerns.

These concerns center on Mr. King taking an increasingly severe stand regarding the Council and the changes that have occurred in the Church in the past 50 years.  I am not privy to all the details – perhaps some of those who are could chime in – but the level of excoriation for the Church and Her leaders has reached a state that even many good, traditional Catholics are scandalized by the rhetoric.  And, from what I have been told by many, no dissent from Mr. King’s “direction” is tolerated. Those that voice doubts or express concerns are dismissed, virtually on the spot.  This applies to both faculty and staff. As such, the college has lost many longtime faculty and administrators and even the college’s founder has been sidelined. Again, I have had all this confirmed to me by numerous sources.  Many students – very solid, traditional Catholic students – have left the university as it seems to be heading towards such extremism the students fear scandal if they continue their studies.
Read the rest here.

For what it's worth, the blogger (who goes by the nickname "Tantumergo") is not saying anything I haven't already heard.   I have also heard--but have not confirmed--that a sizable (for such a small college) group of SSPX students and families are involved with Fisher More, and that sedevacantist speakers have been invited to the campus; please note: this is simply an unconfirmed allegation at this point, but since it supports the theory many have that Bishop Olson's actions here--admittedly serious ones--are being prompted by a serious situation in the first place I don't mind mentioning it.  If it is proven to be false I will gladly update the post to clarify.

In some senses I do find it hard to comment on this, as I also have some experience with Bishop Olson when he was the pastor of my former parish, and I know those experiences may color my interpretations of his actions as our new bishop.  That said, the one thing I do not believe for a moment is that Bishop Olson is some kind of enemy of tradition.  For now, I trust that this action was taken for good reasons, and that we may even learn more about those reasons in due time.

UPDATE: A local homeschool group received an email back on Feb. 17 indicating that Mass would not be celebrated at the Fisher More chapel "effective immediately."  Further exchanges between members of the homeschool group led to the disclosure that the FSSP priest who had been saying Mass on campus had been recalled by his superiors with no other priest being assigned to the chapel.  So whatever the problem is at Fisher More, it certainly didn't start with the bishop's letter.

UPDATE 2: Reader Leslie Fain shares this Catholic World Report piece on this story--thanks, Leslie!