The Palomar Community College District, Rush Limbaugh and the NFL

I’ve gotten a couple of “canned” comments (they sure look like they’re canned) about my piece on Rush Limbaugh and the NFL.

I think I’ve found the cannery.

In looking at the IP info, both of them come from the “Palomar Community College District” in California.  Obviously one or more people with connections to this institution of higher learning (?) have nothing else better to do with the state’s computers (this, a state in dire financial straits) than to issue non-responses to blog posts on current events.

The fact that this is coming from California doesn’t surprise me.  The nastiest objections to the content on this site come from that state, and even its educational institutions.  But perhaps someone will have more use for this information than I do.

P.S.  I don’t agree with Rush’s explanation of the difficulties black people in the U.S. face today.  The issue of the government being a surrogate father cuts across racial boundaries.  I discussed this issue a while back here.

Why I Don’t Agree With the Concept of the “Sacrifice of the Mass”

Kim Dwyer took strong exception to my statement in “Think Before You Convert” that “(t)he Catholic view of the Mass as a sacrifice–which is tied up with their view of the church–is unbiblical.”  Given that this is an important subject (Abu Daoud also dealt with it recently) I think some elucidation is in order.

Side note to my evangelical friends: I am one of those people who hold to the Biblical view that Jesus Christ is really present in the Eucharist.  I deal with this subject at length in Reflections on an Orthodox View of the Eucharist and will not discuss that further here.

First, let’s allow her idea that Jesus Christ’s sacrifice is “a perpetual sacrifice, ever present till the end of time when he will come in glory to judge the living and the dead.”  This is because all things are perpetual in God: his knowledge, his love, etc.  God is above time, and moreover anything attributed to God is essential to him.  (I won’t get into the dispute about the nature of attributes in God, i.e., Moses Maimonides vs. Aquinas  That sacrifice was, as she goes on to point out, “the reason he came into time and space from eternity.”

Tying the real presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist and the perpetuity of all things in God, the question remains: is the Mass a sacrifice in and of itself, or it is the re-enactment and/or extension of the original sacrifice?  The scripture makes that answer clear:

But, this priest, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins, which should serve for all time, ‘took his seat at the right hand of God,’ and has since then been waiting ‘for his enemies to be put as a stool for his feet.’ By a single offering he has made perfect for all time those who are being purified. (Hebrews 10:12-14, TCNT)

Given that there is only one sacrifice, and that the nature of this sacrifice is unique, the Mass must be an integral extension of the original sacrifice.

Roman Catholicism’s presentation of the concept of the “Sacrifice of the Mass,” however, is at best confusing and at worst misleading.

Part of the problem is unwittingly pointed out by Kim herself:

…Our Saviour did sacrifice Himself once on the cross, but also on the night of the last supper, made a new covenant which is Himself, in the sacrifice of His Sacred body and blood…

Are we talking about one sacrifice or two?  Our Lord’s institution of the Eucharist must be seen in totality and in unity with his sacrifice on the Cross.   The whole core of the salvific history, starting at the Upper Room and going through the Passion and death to the Resurrection, must be seen from a theological standpoint as one event.  The making of the New Covenant not only refers to the Last Supper but to the Cross itself.  Pushed to its limit, calling the Mass a sacrifice per se implies that Jesus Christ is sacrificed on the Cross again each time, and this is unacceptable.  Putting the emphasis on the relationship (which certainly exists) of the Mass and the Last Supper doesn’t solve the dilemma.

And that leads us to the next problem, which I alluded to in the original article: the nature of the Catholic priesthood and the church itself.  The Catholic Church regards its priests as successors of the Jewish priests who ministered in the Temple (which is, BTW, the origin of replacement theology.)  Moreover the Church regards itself as the active dispenser of God’s grace through the sacraments, with the possibility of withholding same if the occasion calls for it.

Tying the two together, however, runs into this problem:

This was the High Priest that we needed–holy, innocent, spotless, withdrawn from sinners, exalted above the highest Heaven, one who has no need to offer sacrifices daily as those High Priests have, first for their own sins, and then for those of the People. For this he did once and for all, when he offered himself as the sacrifice. The Law appoints as High Priests men who are liable to infirmity, but the words of God’s oath, which was later than the Law, name the Son as, for all time, the perfect Priest. (Hebrews 7:26-28, TCNT)

To put the priesthood on the level that Roman Catholicism does certainly leads one to conclude that the “Sacrifice of the Mass” is more akin to those in Judaism than the one complete sacrifice effected by Our Lord Jesus Christ, which leads one to wonder what advantage was gained by Our Lord’s saving work on this earth.

It is these two reasons why I have difficulty with Roman Catholicism’s concept of the “Sacrifice of the Mass.”

Reply to Anita Dunn: Quoting Mao Cuts Both Ways

White House Communications Director Anita Dunn needs to think twice about quoting Chairman Mao.  Let’s consider these two well-known quotes, from Mao’s 1927 classic “Report on an Investigation of the Peasant Movement in Hunan:”

For the present upsurge of the peasant movement is a colossal event. In a very short time, in China’s central, southern and northern provinces, several hundred million peasants will rise like a mighty storm, like a hurricane, a force so swift and violent that no power, however great, will be able to hold it back. They will smash all the trammels that bind them and rush forward along the road to liberation. They will sweep all the imperialists, warlords, corrupt officials, local tyrants and evil gentry into their graves. Every revolutionary party and every revolutionary comrade will be put to the test, to be accepted or rejected as they decide. There are three alternatives. To march at their head and lead them? To trail behind them, gesticulating and criticizing? Or to stand in their way and oppose them? Every Chinese is free to choose, but events will force you to make the choice quickly…

Secondly, a revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery; it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another.

Mao was a revolutionary.  Unlike many of his contemporaries, who attempted to build a viable left-wing movement out of intellectuals and workers, his idea was to use the peasants, those widely-despised “ignoramuses” who made up most of China’s population.  And he succeeded, a fact that Dunn isn’t shy about trumpeting.

But Dunn, like her master, is now in power.  There’s no indication, unlike Mao, that a “perpetual revolution” is in the offing.  Au contraire, what we have is an attempt to build a perpetual mandarinate, one that really gives short shrift even to trade unionists who have been an important component of the Democrat Party’s coalition for a long time.

Substitute “tea baggers” for “peasants,” mix in some major desperation, and you have the makings of serious social unrest.  If they find a real Mao Zedong–unlike the “imitation” one (like Lu Xun’s “Imitation Foreign Devil”) that Anita Dunn is–Barack Obama and his underlings are going to have a real mess on their hands.

“African Anglicans do not need the Pope’s intervention”

Indeed they don’t, according to Ugandan Archbishop Henry Orombi:

AFRICAN Anglicans do not need the Pope’s intervention over consecration of gay bishops, the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, Henry Luke Orombi, has said.

Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday announced new initiatives allowing Anglicans to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of their spiritual and liturgical tradition.

Orombi said such measures by the Vatican are not called for in the African Anglican Church, which he said had successfully resisted liberalism from Western countries.

“Anglo-Catholic Anglicans have been disillusioned by the liberal churches in the West that created a theological crisis with their liberal attitude to sexuality. Many of them would be happy with the Pope’s initiative. But the African Church does not need that because it is strong on biblical theology,” he argued.

Being strong on Biblical theology is the deal.  The African churches most active in GAFCON tend to come from the “Protestant” side of Anglicanism, so they don’t have the affinity to Rome that the TAC types do.  (How an Anglo-Catholic province like the West Indies will deal with this will be really interesting.)

And the African Anglicans, having upended ecclesiastical colonialism once, are doubtless unenthusiastic about taking orders from another European centre of power.  After what the AC’s been through, I can’t blame them.

Santana: Black Magic Woman, and the Isolation of Academia

This week’s music alluded to in the novel The Ten Weeks is Santana’s “Black Magic Woman,” a song that got a good deal of radio play at the time the novel is set.  But I’d like to digress a bit and use it to illustrate how academics (and I am one, part time at least) can be out of touch with reality.

My wife is an independent music teacher, has been for many years, and is a member of the Tennessee Music Teachers Association.  I usually travel with her to their annual meeting, which allows me to take in the piano recitals and other cultural events.  For the most part, music education in the U.S. (esp. at the collegiate level) is centred around what is improperly called “classical” music, even though that style of music is about 5% of what people actually listen to.

With the cultural events come the feeds.  (I mean the eating feeds, not the RSS ones.)  One year we were at one function where the opening entertainment was done by a member of the jazz faculty of the local university.  That was a nice treat, but at the end of the performance he had to excuse himself because he wanted to take his son to hear Carlos Santana.

One of my wife’s college faculty colleagues turned to me and asked, “Who’s Carlos Santana?”

The video below should explain it all…

The Hard Truth: Some Didn’t Want the Germans Back Together

Not Conservative Margaret Thatcher, nor Socialist Francois Mitterand:

History comes back to haunt us. Just over 20 years ago, the then British prime minister Margaret Thatcher told Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev: “Britain and western Europe are not interested in the unification of Germany. The words written in the Nato communique may sound different, but disregard them. We do not want the unification of Germany.” She went on to say, inaccurately: “I can tell you that this is also the position of the US president.” That’s according to the Russian record made by one of Gorbachev’s closest aides. A British note of the conversation, quoted in a volume of documents just published by Foreign Office historians, adds some fascinating new detail…

Things are made no better by the fact that François Mitterrand and the French were conveying much the same message to Moscow. Gorbachev’s close adviser, Anatoly Chernyaev, who made the record of the Thatcher conversation, notes in his diary on 9 October 1989 that Mitterrand’s aide Jacques Attali “talked with us about a revival of a solid Franco-Soviet alliance, ‘including military integration – camouflaged as the use of armies in the struggle against natural disasters’.” Linking these French whispers to Thatcher’s remarks, Chernyaev reflects: “In brief, they [that is, the French and the British] want to prevent this [German unification] with our hands.”

The French and British were looking backward at two world wars where their entire vision of civilisation–to say nothing of their national sovereignty–were attacked by the Teutonic colossus to their east.  The unification of Germany in 1871 had set the stage for the next seventy five years of German expansion–economic and military–and the cultural changes that went with it:

It was here where “modernity” as we understand it first became the philosophy of an entire society in the years leading up to World War I; indeed, the enthusiasm generated by those heady days fuelled Germany’s aggressive prewar stance and led to the war itself. Its defeat was not educational; Adolf Hitler simply used a more “populist” form of modernity to propel the rise of the National Socialists and the return of Germany as a world power, albeit unwelcome after 1 September 1939.

Germany’s place in modernity was better understood during the 1930’s and earlier than now. For some of those involved in aviation, an obvious centre of modernity, the temptation of admiration for Germany in the 1930’s was too much…the German influence on many during this period is too great to ignore. It is easier to see the horrors of Nazism in hindsight than through the lens of the 1930’s. There is a sober lesson: just because something is popular, successful and outwardly attractive, it doesn’t make it right.

Retro though it was, the French and the British attitude towards German reunification in the 1990’s is understandable.

The Americans, for their part, had more in common with the Germans that either cared to admit.  (German immigration to the U.S. was part of the reason for that.)  And, of course, American victory in the two world wars over Germany–a victory which left the homeland largely intact, unlike Britain, France or many other European countries–made the U.S. a superpower.  The Americans felt they could be more at ease with a reunified Germany.

Europe’s subsequent course hasn’t been written yet, so eurotriumphalism is premature.  Germany is still the economic engine of the EU.  If the need to expand that superiority elsewhere becomes necessary–and I’m thinking about a reawakened Europe militarily in the wake of the general U.S. retreat we’re seeing now–Thatcher and Mitterand’s concerns may come back to haunt us.

Our Subprime Federal Government, and a Lesson for the Church

They’re at it again with credit:

Earlier this month, a congressional oversight panel released its first analysis of the Obama administration’s $75 billion Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), an effort to keep 4 million families from losing their homes. The analysis shows that the Treasury, in trying to keep people in homes they can’t afford, is relying on the same perverse principle that inflated the housing bubble in the first place: namely, that it’s fine to borrow recklessly to buy a house, because house prices can only go up and up. Trying to maintain a bubble mentality, rather than help people adjust to life after the bubble has burst, will hobble economic recovery.

If there’s one lesson from the economic disaster of the last year and a half or so, it’s that one can only expand one’s wealth on credit for so long, then things come to an abrupt halt.  It makes sense, therefore, that a salutary long-term objective would be that it’s necessary to find a system that facilitates more sustainable economic growth without the need for wide-open credit and zero savings, especially on the consumer level.

But our government has not learned this lesson, even if that lesson would facilitate some of its own objectives, such as making us do with less and thus burning fewer fossil fuels.

But I’d like to take this in another direction: why is Christianity in the U.S. largely AWOL on this issue?  There was a time when thrift and deferred gratification was a part of the Christian message.  Is the Scotch-Irish influence so strong that both of these concepts have been thrown out the window, even in the church?  Has prosperity teaching forced us to become riverboat gamblers with credit so we can make God (and ourselves) look good?  Is our desire to keep up with the world forcing us to keep on the world’s borrowing binge, only forced off with disasters such as the last year?  And why is a way whose ultimate purpose is eternal life so unwilling for the most part to be real “salt and light” on this issue?

I realise there are those in Christianity who have figured this out.  But I get the feeling that the message hasn’t quite sunk in completely just yet.  As a teacher, that bothers me.

The Sunnis put the Squeeze on Shi’ite Iran

Yes, they do, as was probably the case in the Jundallah bombing on Sunday:

This brings us to Saudi Arabia, whose relations with Iran are passing through a period of mutual antipathy bordering on hostility. Tehran has alleged that Iranian hajj pilgrims are being maltreated by Saudi authorities and that Saudi intelligence is accountable for the mysterious disappearance of an Iranian nuclear scientist who was on pilgrimage to Mecca recently.

Saudi newspapers with links to the establishment have carried in recent months extremely vituperative attacks against the regime in Tehran, often at a personal level directed against the Iranian leadership. They have almost gone into mourning now that the turmoil on Tehran’s streets following the disputed presidential election has receded. Ahmadinejad has alleged that his opposition kept up links with Riyadh in trying to bring about “regime change” in Tehran.

Saudi Arabia has two great worries over Iran. First, that Obama is pressing ahead with the normalization process with Tehran – a “thaw” was visible at the Geneva talks on October 1- and Tehran has begun responding to US overtures. The worst Saudi nightmare is coming true.

I’ve been watching this for a long time, but most Americans are oblivious to this.

Middle Eastern politics are never simple.  Anyone who reads the Old Testament carefully will know this.  But Americans on both sides of the political spectrum all too easily fall into simplistic moralising on the subject.  The Obama Administration’s semi-orchestrated retreat from being a world power will bring conflicts like this to the surface.  But we’ve always been trapped in a “fight or flee” mentality, and the bill for that is going to come due in a hurry.

As always, it’s time to pray…

Time to Fish or Cut Bait: The Road to Rome Just Got Easier for Anglicans

It’s not just a road for Hillaire Belloc, either:

In a move with potentially sweeping implications for relations between the Catholic church and some 80 million Anglicans worldwide, the Vatican has announced the creation of new ecclesiastical structures to absorb disaffected Anglicans wishing to become Catholics. The structures will allow those Anglicans to hold onto their distinctive spiritual practices, including the ordination of married former Anglican clergy as Catholic priests.

Those structures would be open to members of the Episcopal Church in the United States, the main American branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion. American Episcopalians are said to number some 2.2 million.

The announcement came this morning in Rome in a news conference with two Americans: Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Archbishop Augustine Di Noia, Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

As earlier rumours suggested, it comes in the form of a “personal ordinariate,” as opposed to an out-and-out rite, like the Eastern Rite Catholics.  Such an ordinariate would be implemented by local bishops’ conferences.

The Vatican has made attempts to soften the blow vis-à-vis the Archbishop of Canterbury, as can be seen here.  But the true nature of this should not be concealed:

  • It’s reflective of the simple fact that the Vatican, in view of the ordination of women and the rise of open homosexuals in the Anglican Communion, has decided to take the risk of messing up ecumenical relations for all of the Communion in order to achieve unity with part of it.
  • It will force Anglo-Catholics to “fish or cut bait” on swimming the Tiber.
  • It will put the main impetus for orthodox Anglicanism in the hands of the Evangelicals, i.e., the Africans and their allies.  That is, to a large extent, already the case, but with the Anglo-Catholics headed for Rome, and able to take the easy road there, the Evangelicals will be the main ones left on the field.
  • It undermines the whole concept of the Church of England, a nationalised church under the governorship of the Queen and separate from Rome.
  • It will keep many Anglicans awake at night wondering what to do.

Is It Possible? Press Conference 20 October on Anglican and Catholic Unity

More likely in a limited sense, with the Traditional Anglican Communion:

There will be a briefing tomorrow (20 October).  Featured is the topic of relations of the Holy See with “Anglicans”.

The main speakers will be the Prefect of the Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith, His Eminence Card. Levada and the fomer Sotto-Segretario of the same CDF, now Secretary of the Cong. for Divine Worship H.E. Augustine DiNoia, OP.

This all makes sense if…if… this is to announce that there will be a reunion of Traditional Anglicans with the Catholic Church.  This would be in the bailiwick of the CDF.   And Archbp. DiNoia would have been involved when he was at the CDF.

However, a group of Traditional Anglicans would also no doubt have the Anglican Use for their liturgy, and therefore having the English speaking Secretary who had been at the CDF, rather than the Spanish speaking Prefect of the CDW makes perfect sense.

So… I suspect this is about the reunion of the so-called Traditional Anglicans.

Speculation on the relationship between the Traditional Anglican Communion and Rome has been one of the premier parlour games in the Anglican and Catholic worlds.  There was a time when I was sceptical on this moving forward, but a new pontiff has new ideas, so we shall see.