Daily Archives: May 4, 2009

Michael Novak on the Old Testament

Michael Novak has posted a piece at The Catholic Thing on two recent challenges to Christianity–one from a letter writer and one from his granddaughter–denying belief in God because God, in the Old Testament, commands Israel to do evil.

Novak tries the typical “that’s how people were then, and Israel wasn’t as bad as the pagans” defense. I would say that, if that is his defense, I agree with his interlocutors.

Either God inspired the Old Testament, and, when the Old Testament God says something, He said it, or else He didn’t.

You can’t pick and choose what parts of the Old Testament were “really” God and which you think are human invention.

The Navarre Bible commentary on Jesus’ prohibition of divorce points out that the only mention of Divorce in the Torah is “If you get a divorce here’s how you do it.” Moses does not, technically, even “permit” divorce. He just doesn’t raise the issue of whether divorce is wrong. He just says, “If you have to get a divorce, here’s how to do it, to make sure it’s done justly.”

Jesus comes along and says, “Moses only said that much because of your weakness.”

Novak quotes his letter writer thusly:

“I take this episode as expressing the idea that God’s authority is
absolutely without limit, that there are no values apart from God’s will, thus
man has no dignity or rights on his own account. If he wishes us to slaughter
one another, we are in no position to question or to disagree.”

That’s sound theology. God’s authority *is* absolute. Its only limit is His own Love, and we are fools if we wish to limit God’s love to human terms. The ultimate message of the Book of Job is that God is ineffable.

People extrapolate from a couple verses in the Gospels that Jesus was a nice, tolerant, liberal hippie. They then construct an entire religion based upon this caricature of the Savior. They ignore and reinterpret anything in the Gospel that doesn’t mesh with the “hippie theory”, then they basically deny the divine inspiration of the Old Testament to make it fit their theory.

I’d have thought Michael Novak capable of a better defense of Old Testament warfare than this.

Anyway, the argument I heard on EWTN years ago (I *think* it was Scott Hahn) is that there was no salvation then. Mortal sin was literally mortal.

God is our Father, and Israel were His children. He had not yet given the Savior or the Sacraments. He had only given the Law. Like a good father, He did not want his children hanging out with “bad influences” until they were mature enough as a people to handle it.

Now, one thing that’s confusing in the case of the Midianites, for example, is that they were an Abrahamic people (and wasn’t Abraham’s wife a Midianite?). But the point was that pagans could not be allowed to influence Israel.

Genocide was the only way to do that. The later history of the Old Testament shows what happened when they didn’t obey God’s commands regarding pagans.

It is easy, from Christian theology, to see why the New Law has changed that, because we now have the capability of being forgiven–and we should never presume to judge God’s motives in these matters.

But I wonder why the Jews do not believe they have orders to slaughter the non-believers in their midst?

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Rome’s HLI chief says the Vatican is treating Obama the way it treats Communists

Last week, pro-life Catholic scratched our heads as the Vatican proclaimed that Obama’s first 100 days were not as earth-shattering as we’d feared. Now, I would tend to agree with that assessment, and most of what he’s done basically puts us back to where we were uner Clinton.

But Msgr. Ignacio Barreiro, the Rome bureau chief of Human Life International, sees parallels between how the Vaticcan is dealing with Obama and how it dealt with the former Soviet Union.

A former diplomat himself, Monsignor Barreiro explained the tactic being used by the Vatican newspaper. “It is a diplomatic move similar to the one used several years ago towards the Soviet Union,” he said.
“So here we have a replay of the Ostpolitik that was inspired by Cardinal Agostino Casaroli. This policy is inspired by the perceived need to reach a working accommodation with the many governments in Europe and in America that are dominated by liberal and socialist ideologies.”
Barreiro added however: “In the same way that the Ostpolitik did not work and only weakened the Church, this current approach to the Democratic Administration will fail and would lead to a further weakening of the Church in the U.S. and probably worldwide.”

In somewhat related news, the Vatican has been flooded with letters from pro-life leaders around the world, criticizing the piece in L’Osservatore Romano by Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella, current president of the Pontifical Academy for Life (PAV/PAL), who opposed the now infamous excommunication by Archbishop José Cardoso Sobrinho of Olinda and Recife in Brazil.
According to LifeSite News, pepole are concerned that the move indicates a change in tone at the Vatican, especially as L’Osservatore Romano is “carefully vetted” by the Vatican Secretary of State and the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith.

In an open letter published by LifeSiteNews.com today, highly respected philosopher Professor Joseph Seifert, a lifetime member of the ontifical Academy for Life, said that the article has led to a “deep crisis” in the PAV, and “more importantly, of the public perception of Church teaching on abortion.” (See letter: http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2009/may/09050107.html
or http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2009_docs/SeiftertonFisichel…)
Professor Seifert, rector and professor of philosophy at the International Academy of
Philosophy of Liechtenstein, writes that because of this article, and its support by the pope’s official media spokesman, Fr. Frederico Lombardi SJ, “countless persons” throughout the world now attribute to the PAV and by extension to the Pope himself, “a propagation of a new moral doctrine diametrically opposed to the teachings of the Church”.

Mulgrew back to Series TV

Star Trek Voyager alumna and pro-life (liberal) Catholic Kate Mulgrew has announced on her Facebook page that her new series, Mercy, has been picked up by NBC for fall 2009!

No word on what it’s about.

"Cool Catholics on Twitter"

Narcolepsy is an autoimmune disorder

Stanford researchers have found an immune cell they believe is responsible for the sleep disorder narcolepsy.

After years of amateur research into medical issues that effect our immediate and extended families-including narcolepsy, (possible) celiac disease, autistic spectrum/pervasive developmental disorders, schizophrenia, and my mother’s as-yet-unspecified autoimmune disorder–I’ve learned that most of these disorders tend to be found in the same families and are generally associated with the same genetic mutation on the HLA gene, so it’s not surprising at all that they’ve confirmed narcolepsy is autoimmune.

Having learned that Gianna does *not* have celiac disease but merely a wheat allergy, yet knowing we all have that same wheat allergy (and wondering if I should still be genetically tested for Celiac), I’m wondering if the difference between autoimmune disrders is just additional allergies.

I wonder if the HLA gene just creates the general tendency for the immune system to “revolt.”

Then which autoimmune disease(s) present themselves in the patient depend upon other genes. For example, the gene for wheat allergy + the HLA mutation = Celiac disease.

OK, let me get this straight . . .

The Society of St. Pius X is considered the scum of the earth in the Church today. The Pope is considered a useful fool at best, and a raging anti-Semite at worst, for *merely* lifting the excommunications of the four bishops who were illicitly ordained by Archbishop Lefebvre in 1988: their status is somewhere akin to that of a divorced layperson. They *can* receive the sacraments if they a) stop acting as priests (since their faculties are suspended), and b) repent and go to Confession.

The SSPX contains some weirdos and fanatics, most prominent among them being Bishop Richard Williamson. Yet the official positions of the SSPX regarding Vatican II do not, at least as presented, seem much different than those of Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict:

1. They insist that Vatican II is not a dogmatic Council, as both Popes John XXIII and Paul VI says.
2. They insist that Vatican II “got out of hand” in John XXIII’s view.
3. They insist that one does not have to accept every innovative teaching of Vatican II to be a Catholic in good standing. Since many of us are not schismatic and criticize some of Vatican II’s teachings, that position makes sense.
4. They insist that the Novus Ordo as it is contains flaws (Cardinal Ratzinger said similar things).
5. Their website explains positoins such as sedevacantism, etc., but on a page that emphasizes that those are positions that the SSPX does not officially endorse (it’s all a bit confusing in that regard).

Now, compare this. The Holy Father John Paul II stated infallibily, based upon the 1900-year tradition of the Church, that it is impossible to ordain women to the priesthood. Yet Call to Action, an organization that insists it is legitimately Catholic while completely rebelling against the authority of the Holy Father, is hosting a bunch of invalidly and illicitly “ordained” “women priests”.

So we have one group whose official views are only slightly more “extreme” than those of the Pope himself, but they are considered outcasts.

Then we have a group who are completely against the Pope, and they’re considered in full communion.

What gives?

Glad to know we can choose not do something that’s not in the rubrics

hoose not to do Reports are circulating all over the media about “drastic changes” being considered at Mass if the current over-hyped flu pandemic ends up hitting a certain level.

The changes include things like eliminating hand-shaking during the signum pacis (why not just eliminate it altogether? It’s optional and distracting) and reducing lay reception of the Chalice (which is, according to the General Instruction on the Roman Missal, only to be done with small congregations, anyway, and, according to Cardinal Arinze, the preferred method of lay reception of the Precious Blood is by Intinction).

May I suggest a drastic reduction in Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion at the altar while we’re at it? Increase their duties for visiting the sick and homebound, by all means. But imagine how much we can reduce the risk of contagion if only the priest is distributing the Host?

But I really like this one:

“At the moment, individual (church leaders) can make decisions on their
own, such as suspending the shared cup of Christ or holding hands during the
‘Our Father,'” said Deacon Chuck Parker, Director of Liturgy with the
Archdiocese of Denver. “Phase six requires mandatory adherence, which are all
temporary. We would resume those acts once we were advised to do so by health
officials.”

Glad to know we’re being given the freedom to decline doing something that isn’t in the rubrics, and which several informal comments form the Vatican over the decades have discouraged (although both Cardinal Arinze and Pope Benedict have said they see no problem with it as long as it is voluntary between individuals and not a “parish thing”: you cannot say, “Let’s now join hands for the Our Father.”).

BTW, this is great example of why it is inaccurate to refer to Archbishop Charles Chaput as a “conservative.” He is very pro-life, but, otherwise, he tends towards the liberal end of the political spectrum and the Charismatic end of the liturgical spectrum.

The official instruction from the USCCB, if there is a full-fledged outbreak, includes

“They should instruct people who feel ill not to receive from the cup,” the
statement says.

So, they’re not going to *stop* laity from receiving from the Chalice (I know the USCCB doesn’t like the word “chalice,” and thinks–rightly–that Americans are a bunch of drop-outs with kindergarten level vocabularies, but can’t they at least try to use the correct terms??). But they *are* going to prevent those who are sick from doing so.

This is what really annoys me about these “epidemic” things in the Church: whatever happened to “come to me all you who are weary?” Whatever happened to bringing the sick to Him to be cured?