Daily Archives: February 25, 2009

"Is Barack Obama the Messiah?"

Mark Shea linked this blog that affectionately (?) recounts the Obamassiah phenomenon.

Now, as Mark has pointed out in different posts for the past year or so, some of this stuff is the same kind of stuff Evangelicals said about Bush 10 years ago. Some of it really is just “religious liberals” saying “We’re praying for him” or “God did this”. Some of it is no different than the celebrity idolatry that goes on all the time in our society (“I’ll never wash this hand again”).

However, the blog provides a stunning archive of some of the blatant iconography that’s out there, the many songs/hymns written about him, the strange videos made by celebrities, and the key quotations from Obama himself and his supporters.

Here they are, the two quotes from Obama himself which directly go against Catechism 676 and prove that a vote for Obama was a mortal sin and perhaps an act of apostasy:

“… a light will shine through that window, a beam of light will come down upon you, you will experience an epiphany … and you will suddenly realize that you must go to the polls and vote for Obama”
– Barack Obama Lebanon, New Hampshire.January 7, 2008.

“I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth. This was the moment – this was the time – when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves, and our highest ideals. Thank you, God Bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.”
Obama’s Nomination Speech, 6/3/8

Liberals make fun of people who see Mother Teresa in cinammon buns, then they go and sell Obama’s breakfasts on EBay.

On June 5, 2008, Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., said that they should add a book to the Bible about Barack Obama.

There’s a piece from the Daily Kos about astrological signs pointing to Obama.

There’s a link to the San Francisco Chronicle article about Obama being an “enlightened being”

Marc Tillman, a philosophy lecturer at Catholic University of America (he should be fired) suggested that Obama is the “Platonic philosopher king we’ve been waiting for for 2,400 years”. Given the practical applicatoins of Plato’s Republic (destruction of the nuclear family, eugenics, a military state, elimination of free speech), I can’t see how any Catholic would want to see Plato’s vision realized in history.

On 7/10/8, Spike Lee said we’ll have to start measuring years based upon Obama, and that Obama represents a “seismic change in the universe.”

Here’s Michelle Obama’s famous speech proclaiming the end of the First Amendment:

“Barack Obama WILL REQUIRE YOU to work. He is going to DEMAND that you shed your cynicism. That you put down your divisions. That you come out of your isolation and that you move out of your comfort zone. That you push yourselves to be better. And that you engage.

Deepak Chopra’s “Quantum Leap” Peace.

Ezra Klein, in “Obama’s Gift,” says Obama is the triumph of Gnostic Dualism over the Christian worldview: “He is not the Word made flesh, but the triumph of word over flesh”

And the stuff on this site goes back long before the presidential campaign. Interesting, since I saw this coming back in 2004. An April 2007 Men’s Vogue article quotes a joint appearance by Obama and Morgan Freeman, in which the now-President says of Freeman (referring to his role in Evan Almighty), “This guy was God before I was.”

Of course, all of this is based in part upon two major deceptions:

1) the Hollywood image that the AntiChrist is someone people won’t like, someone blatantly “evil.”
2) the image promoted for the last 200 years or so that Jesus Christ as a “nice guy” that people liked, the WWJD mentality.

So, Obama is charismatic and gets crowds, and people like him. And they say, “He’s just like Jesus.”
Nevermind that Jesus deeply offended people by calling them to a higher standard of virtue, that they tried to kill Him quite frequently.

And they say, “George Bush was the antichrist. He was so unlikeable. Obama’s likeable. He’s the second coming of Christ.”

Jesus said to them in reply, “See that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and they will deceive many. You will hear of wars and reports of wars; see that you are not alarmed, for these things must happen, but it will not yet be the end. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be famines and earthquakes from place to place. All these are the beginning of the labor pains.

Then they will hand you over to persecution, and they will kill you. You will be hated by all nations because of my name. And then many will be led into sin; they will betray and hate one another.

Many false prophets will arise and deceive many; and because of the increase of evildoing, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the world as a witness to all nations, and then the end will come.
. . .
Woe to pregnant women and nursing mothers in those days. . . If anyone
says to you then, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not
believe it
. False messiahs and false prophets will arise, and they will perform signs and wonders so great as to deceive, if that were possible, even the elect.
Behold, I have told it to you beforehand.
So if they say to you, ‘He is in the desert,’ do not go out there; if they say, ‘He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. (Matt 24:4-28)

For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief at night. When people are saying, “Peace and security,” then sudden disaster comes upon them, like labor pains upon a pregnant woman,and they will not escape. But you, brothers, are not in darkness, for that day to overtake you like a thief. For all of you are children of the light and children of the day. We are not of the night or of darkness. Therefore, let us not sleep as the rest do, but let us stay alert and sober. . . . But since we are of the day, let us be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love and the helmet that is hope for salvation. (1 Thess 5:2-9).

God is amazing!

There are so many amazing sea creatures that we don’t even see or know about.

Case in point: Macropinna microstoma, the “barreleye fish”. It’s this fish that lives so deep in the ocean that a) the photographs of living specimens are usually too dark to see and b) the fish that are brought up are usually crushed by the pressure.

However, researchers recently managed to catch a living specimen and bring it to the surface. Turn sout the fish has a transparent head! Its eyes rotate around inside its transparent head and can see in many directions.

Traditional Latin Mass readings for Ash Wednesday

Epistle: Joel 2:12-19 : Call a fast! Get everyone together, blow trumpets and call a fast! And if you do it, God will bless you abundantly afterwards
Gospel Matt 6:6-21: Dont’ be like the hypocrites.

Why on Ash Wednesday do we read the Gospel about not making a show of our fasting and not covering our head with Ashes?

Catholicism is full of paradoxes.

The One Thing

The recent House episode I blogged about below and the “OctoMom” situation touch upon a parallel issue in the sacraments of Holy Orders and Holy Matrimony. In both cases, there is only one thing that distinguishes that vocation. It is the one thing that makes that vocation a sacrament. And, without that one thing, there’s no point.

In the case of the priesthood, it’s the ability to administer the sacraments, particularly Eucharist and Reconciliation. The primary reason to be a priest ought to be the desire to say Mass and/or the desire to forgive sins. It should be a longing to have actual power to bestow God’s grace in the sacraments for the salvation of souls. If a priest does not have that desire, his vocation is doomed. There are many other duties involved in the priesthood. There are many other reasons the priesthood may be appealing. But all of those should be ancillary.

In the “Unfaithful” episode of House, Fr. Daniel accuses House of being a hypocrite. Stating explicitly one of the show’s themes, Fr. Dan says that House puts on the air of being misanthropic yet he is in a career that involves helping people, and he has a real desire to help them. House denies that he desires to help people, and says his main motivation is solvaing puzzles. “Helping people is only collateral damage.” Whatever House’s protestations, “solving puzzles” should be the ancillary. There are lots of ways a curious people can “solve puzzles,” but one becomes a doctor specifically to help heal people.

Ironically, Fr. Dan says that he became a priest to “help people,” which is, in a vague sense, the wrong motivation for the priesthood. If his motivation was to “help people get to heaven,” that would be one thing. A week or two ago, the kids watched an episode of My Catholic Family on EWTN about Bl. Pierre Giorgio Frassati. Bl. Pierre Giorgio wanted to help the poor. A priest advised him that, if he wanted to help the poor specifically, he should remain a layman because laymen can earn money to give to the poor and laymen can pursue political activism to help the poor.

The priesthood is a very demanding vocation to pursue if one’s only motivation is to “help the poor.” There are plenty of ways to do that. Priests serve in administrative positions, but there are also many ways to do *that*.

These days, laity perform many professions in the Church that used to be performed by priests only. This is both a positive fruit of Vatican II and an unfortunate side effect of the vocations crisis. Some would argue that turning those careers over to laity has been a factor in the vocations crisis. However, as St. Francis Xavier would argue, priests should be busy about saving souls, not arguing theology in university or crunching budgetary numbers in a chancery.

Yes, priests can have positions of power or influence, but that most certainly should not be a motivation for either the priesthood or for being a lay employee of the Church.

If contemplative prayer is the goal, one could just as easily be a cloistered monk or hermit as be a parish priest.

The ability to administer Sacraments (save baptism and holy matrimony) is the only thing that makes the priesthood different. A man who wants to be a priest should have a desire to stand at the altar which exceeds the desire to be united with a woman.

Similarly, there is only one thing (or two, depending upon how you look at it) which sets marriage apart from any other vocation: conjugal unity and the begetting of children.

Like the priesthood, marriage involves many duties and many benefits. But, also like the priesthood, most of those duties and benefits can be found in other vocations and relationships.

You’re a man and want someone to cook your meals for you? Hire a cook.
You’re a woman and want security? Buy a doberman.

A brother and sister can live together like Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert in Anne of Green Gables (or the real life “couple” who inspired them) and adopt a kid. Again, there’s nothing wrong with unmarried people adopting, other than the question of a child having parents of both genders (which the Cuthberts give Anne, anyway).

But marriage is the only moral way for people to have intercourse *or* to beget their own children. Yes, there are other situations in which both these things can occur. These days, they can even be separated, as in the case of Nadya Suleman.

But just as a Protestant minister can pretend to preside at the “Lord’s Supper,” but there is no sacrament there, or a liberal woman can pretend to be “ordained” illicitly by some schismatic bishop, so too can people mock marital fidelity by their fornication or adultery or by artificial insemination.

The thing that distingusihes marital union is the principle and obligation of fidelity. People have a natural desire for union with the opposite sex. If one sees marriage as the only licit opportunity for such union–and the only relationship in which such union can be truly and fully realized–then marriage is exclusive and for life. As soon as one entertains the possibility that it can be OK to have that experience outside marriage, then there is not much point in being married. Marriage, as it is in our culture, becomes merely a convention or a legal arrangement, whose primary “benefits” are matters of legal convenience.

Ash Wednesday

“All aboard for Natchez, Cairo and St. Louis!”

T. S. Eliot loves epigraphs, especially obscure ones.

I.

“Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn”

These opening lines have an obvious context in regard to Ash Wednesday: the turning away from sin. But, in Eliot’s poetry, where the spiritual journey is paralleled to Eliot’s own life and to poetry itself, the lines have other meanings. While he never actually visited Vivienne in the mental hospital, “Ash Wednesday” can be read as his conflict over that fact, and the “Woman” being his wife, idealized in her institutionalized state, as Eliot apparently wanted a muse more than a wife.

“Desiring this man’s gift and that man’s scope”

obvious Shakespearean allusion to ambition. Eliot integrates quotations and paraphrases into his poetry so he can express at once the fragmentation of western culture and the need for cultural continuity. If the poem is read as the journey of the poet as poet, alluding to Shakespeare in the context of envying others carries a kind of circular meaning. Prufrock said, “I am not Prince Hamlet,” and this speaker quotes Shakespeare as if to say, “I will no longer hope to be as great as Shakespeare.”

“(Why should the aged eagle stretch its wings?)”

Eliot’s narrators were old, even when he was young. He was 42 when this poem was published.

“Why should I mourn
The vanished power of the usual reign?”

In a spiritual sense, the older man has lost his “youthful vigor.” His desire for sin has decreased, making it easier to pursue purity, so he has lost his “hope to turn” back to sin. The “usual reign” of concupiscence (or, perhaps more specifically, lust) has lost its power.
Culturally, the middle-aged Eliot has spent his career mourning the “vanished power” of the classical cultural model.

” Because I do not hope to know again
The inform glory of the positive hour
Because I do not think
Because I know I shall not know
The one veritable transitory power
Because I cannot drink
There, where trees flower, and springs flow, for there is nothing again”

Punctuation and spacing are very important in Eliot’s poetry. Grammatically, there should be a period at the end of this stanza, but he leaves it out, because he doesn’t want you to pause. He wants the thought here to carry into the next.
“Infirm glory” and “transitory power” indicate something that is fleeting. It’s something that’s passed, and has come and gone before. Possibly love? Artistic inspiration? Or spiritual consolation?

Perhaps “there is nothing again” refers to the Dark Night.

” Because I know that time is always time
And place is always and only place
And waht is actual is actual only for one time
And only for one place
I rejoice that things are as they are and
I renounce the blessed face
And renounce the voice
Because I cannot hope to turn again
Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something
upon which to rejoice”
One of Eliot’s typical metaphysical reflections leads to an acceptance of simply being.
He renounces the “blessed face.” What does this mean? The “blessed face” of his wife? Is it the true “Blessed Face”? Is he renouncing the desire to see God’s face? Accepting his Dark Night?
Eventually, the visionary has to accept when the visions are gone. And the artistic visionary has to accept when those youthful inspirations have dried up.

Things are so empty that the speaker must “construct something upon which to rejoice” in his imagination, perhaps indicating that the visions in the rest of the poem are such imaginings. Is he constructing a vision of himself actually visiting his wife and finding the hospital to be this ideal place, a heaven on earth? Is he constructing a new cultural ideal to replace the lost classical model? Is he constructing his own art to replace the lost artistic inspiration? Or his he constructing a religious vision to replace the lost spiritual consolations?

Smile of a Child TV

There is a relatively new cable channel offering 24 hour Christian programs for children, called Smile of a Child TV. It started in 2005. In addition to being available in limited markets, it is available online. Unlike networks that have only specific shows for online download, Smile of a Child has the network feed itself online. This is great in some ways, but of course it limits the ability to see certain programs, since one can neither download the specific program nor record it, like on traditional TV.

For example, Smile TV carries Superbook, but only at 4 AM Eastern Time.

Another victory for "adult stem cell" "shysters" in South America

In 2007, Michael Flounders, who suffers from a broken neck, went to Ecuador for a “controversial” adult stem cell treatment (only “controversial” because the American medical and political establishment wants to force embryonic research down everyone’s throats).

He now has:
a) feeling in his legs
b) hair growing on his legs which hadn’t grown since his accident
c) strengthening of muscles in his legs and abdomen.