George Dunlap, January 23, 2020, Morning musings; while enjoying a cup of hot coffee on a cold and damp morning.
As I read the morning Catholic and secular news blogs, I read of wars and sadness. Many times I endure, past those stories, and at times I am greatly saddened by the pain man inflects on his brothers. But today, I am blessed with Hope and Beauty. Please enjoy The Apostles Creed as sung byRebecca Gorzynska. This is Beauty and Joy.
I continue to use my go to phrase, about Catholic’s engaging evil, Edmund Burke paraphrased, “Always remember, that the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” Remember…the Catholic Faith is a fighting faith. Fighting to help those who are lost see the light of God. George Dunlap, December 16, 2019
“Catholicism, by which I mean real Catholicism, is a fighting faith,” writes David Carlin for The Catholic Thing.
To which I would add that Catholicism is, or should be, an offensive
rather than a defensive force. As followers of Christ we are not charged
with preserving our own position. The Great Commission requires us to
move always forward, capturing new ground (or rather more souls). Church
history shows that when the Church is not actively engaged in
the work of evangelization—when we are preoccupied by the effort to ward
off threats, as unfortunately we are today—the faith suffers. We are,
as a faith, much better at offense than defense.
Nevertheless I admire Carlin’s essay, “How Not to Defend a Castle,”
because he correctly identifies the specific challenge that the Church
confronts today. We are not, as a rule, fighting against Christological
heresies. When a new acquaintance tells you that he was raised as a
Catholic but drifted away, because “I had some troubles with what the
Church teaches,” you don’t immediately suspect that he is a monophysite.
No, the odds are overwhelming that he could not reconcile himself to
one or more of the Church’s teachings on sexual morality.
I find Fr. Scalia’s writings to be very current and to the point. My failure is, that I do not live my faith in public, but in private…in hiding. I must show the world my faith with humility and passion. I pray I do not live my life like “the rulers”…waiting for a leader, riding in on a warhorse…imposing his Kingdom over the sinners.
Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. These words of Saint Dismas, the Good Thief, saved in his last hours on a cross, resound as a perfect acknowledgment of Christ as King. Their power becomes more evident when contrasted with the words of others at that moment. At Calvary, there are three other reactions to the Crucified One. They come from Dismas’s opposites and reveal the attitudes that always oppose Christ the King.
First, the rulers. [They] sneered at Jesus and said,“He saved others, let him save himselfif he is the chosen one, the Christ of God.” These are not pagans or unbelievers but Israel’s own religious leaders. These are the men who awaited their King, anticipated His coming, and desired His rule. But, as comes to be clear, they did so on their own terms. Jesus of Nazareth did not meet their requirements for kingship. He comes not on a warhorse to impose a kingdom, but humble, and mounted on an ass. (Mt 21:5) He comes not to judge but to seek and to save what was lost (Lk 19:10), to call not the righteous but sinners. (cf. Lk 5:32)
Second, the Roman soldiers. [They] jeered at him. As they approached to offer him wine they called out, “If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.” The great genius of the Romans was that they tolerated the religion of their subjects. Of course, that tolerance was cynical and lasted only as long as the people kept the gods in the proper place and their religion to themselves. Faith was tolerable only when kept private or confined to certain areas and spheres of life. It became intolerable when it made public claims. For Him to be executed, Jesus had to be presented as a political threat to Roman rule. Religion must be kept in its place.
Third, the bad thief: [O]ne of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us.” You would think that he would remain silent, if only to hedge his bets against impending judgment. But he is unrepentant. In the midst of his suffering, he lashes out at God rather than acknowledge his sins and ask forgiveness. Even in his agony, he prefers his own will to that of Christ the King.
These reactions do not remain solely in the past. We see them throughout history – in every rejection of revelation, persecution of the faithful, and refusal to repent. More to the point, they continue in us. Each rejection of Christ the King can be found, at one time or another, within us. * We at times resemble Israel’s religious leaders: we want God, but on our own terms. We long for His coming and cry out for His help. . . but then resent His intrusion and the challenges He presents. We want a king, to be sure. In fact, we know exactly how he should behave.
Intimations of eternity are rare in this life. I had one, about this time of the year, when I was in high school. I’m enough of a modern man to know how unreal the claim seems. But it’s true. I was walking with a few friends under autumn leaves. We’d just been reading Virgil together in Latin, during last period. From somewhere, there welled up in me an overwhelming sense of both geologic ages and the immense extent of human life. And something beyond even those. Years later, I came upon an Italian poem – L’infinito – that captures the experience. I had a similar experience this past Saturday morning. Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco celebrated an Extraordinary Form Latin “Mass of the Americas” at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, accompanied by the music of Frank La Rocca, whom the archbishop had commissioned for that purpose. You can watch it by clicking here. But listening to the recording and even watching the video can’t even begin to convey what the Mass was like in the Basilica. To underscore just one element, Archbishop Cordileone celebrated the Mass on the main altar under the baldacchino, way at the back of the church (instead of the new altar closer to the congregation). That had a marvelous effect. At least for me.
George Dunlap, August 29, 2019: I have followed Mary Eberstadt’s writings for several years. First starting with her book Adam and Eve after the Pill. She is a Catholic writer with great depth and passion. Her understanding of human nature and God have helped me understand our “Fallen Nature” and our need for Redemption. I trust if you take the time and patience you too will find Mary’s work a blessing.
Seen one way, the work leading up to this book began with a wisecrack. In the 1980s, right after graduating from college with majors in philosophy and government, I was hired as an assistant editor at The Public Interest magazine in New York. Its fabled editor was Irving Kristol, a formidable intellectual and wit with a first-rate, small-“c,” catholic mind. (He was also something of an imp – as his self-description of “neo-orthodox, non-observant Jew” might suggest.)
One day, as we were all sitting in the tiny smoke-filled office on East 53rd Street, Irving looked up from his newspaper and remarked, “One of the funniest things about the twentieth century is that if you were to read all of its documents and ask which one was the most prophetic about the world to come, it would be Humanae Vitae.”
The thought was unexpected and contrarian, as Irving’s bon mots usually were. The staff, myself included, duly laughed. But that heretical notion stuck. This was the first time I remember thinking that there might be something to the argument that the sexual revolution was upending the world – and that it wasn’t only the Catholic Church that could see it.
That small epiphany would go on to play a part in some of my work. My first book, Home-Alone America (2004), looked at the record of rising post-revolutionary damage in places that sociologists and others had been measuring for years – mainly, the ravaged home and its attendant problems, especially among children.
Adam and Eve after the Pill (2012) widened the lens to examine the revolution’s apparent effects on men, women, and the change in mores. Both books invoked evidence from across the cultural spectrum, including literature, popular culture, sociology, and first-hand reports from therapists and others on the front lines. These books also documented disturbing trends that would not become common knowledge until recently, such as rising rates of psychiatric trouble among the young.
The growing empirical record was greatly at odds with the dominant cultural insistence on the purported benefits of post-1960s liberation. How the West Really Lost God (2013) took the next logical step of examining the relationship between the new sexual order and the churches. Secularization, it concluded, has been widely misunderstood. It is not inevitable. History shows instead that religiosity waxes and wanes over time. It is as robust – or as weak – as the force through which it is largely transmitted: the family.
My new book,Primal Screams, is a capstone of sorts to these previous efforts. It examines the legacy of post-1960s change at one more macrocosmic level: politics. Primal Screams argues in part that the signature political movement of our time – identity politics – is rooted in the post-revolutionary erasure of self, brought on by the shrinkage and implosion of the family.
By: George Dunlap, August 26, 2019, The only power we as Christians have over evil is the Power of Truth from God, and that truth comes from rigorous study. Ignorance is not bless. The Aquinas 101 program is another great resource for our continuing search for truth and God’s Blessings.
It Matters What You Think By Robert Royal Monday, August 26, 2019
I wrote here recently about the Thomistic Institutes, an initiative of the Dominican House of Studies in Washington D.C., which organizes lectures and conferences by first-rate, orthodox Catholics at nearly fifty (and growing) of the most prestigious colleges and universities in America. And expansion to parts foreign is on the way. Many readers wrote to express their appreciation of this much-needed network – but also to ask: What to do if nothing of that sort is available nearby? There’s now an answer. Today, August 26, Aquinas 101 – a website created by the same Dominicans – goes live (click here, and prepare yourself for a bracing experience). The series will eventually consist of eighty-six brief lessons, carefully geared for study by anyone of normal capabilities and interest. Did I mention that the course is open to everyone – and free? This is an accessible, well-crafted introduction to the greatest of all Dominican thinkers, St. Thomas Aquinas, which will not only put you in touch with the man who has most shaped Catholic thought for centuries, but will help you see how that body of thought has great relevance to some of the most neuralgic questions we face. For example, a lot of people today, even Christians, even Catholics, have fallen into some basic confusions about the nature of Faith and Reason. As an early lecture in the series explains, this leads – on the one hand – to skepticism (we can’t really know anything about God), but also – on the other hand – to what has been termed “fideism,” that we just believe without knowing what we believe in. Both are natural reactions in a post-truth age, but a searching Catholic will not want to let his or her thinking remain stuck in our current social funk. There are better and “truer” ideas about truth, so to speak, that Aquinas and others provide us. You’ve probably seen the recent survey that shows how few people, even among practicing Catholics, believe in Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist. Many regard it as a mere “symbol.” Ultimately, the Eucharist is a deep mystery, but holy and gifted men like Aquinas have used the various tools of the tradition and of human reason to offer serious, rational approaches to what ultimately transcends us – and all Creation. Thomas Reese, a Jesuit priest, recently commented on the survey that he didn’t believe in the terms like substance, accident, matter, and form that Aquinas uses to explain the Eucharist because modern science has discredited them. In fact, science has not done so and cannot do so because the way the Scholastic thinkers use those terms is philosophical. It does not and cannot conflict with science – ancient, modern, postmodern, or anything to come, ever. But you would have to have studied what those terms mean and how Faith and Reason are related to know why.
By George Dunlap, May 20, 21019, Do we stand and watch or say “enough is enough”! As many of you know this is a topic very dear to my heart as a Catholic and Citzen of the World. We have the power and we must pray to God to bless us the mental strenght to Say NO! We must not wait for permission, but pray for action.
Something out of the ordinary happened this past week. On Saturday, over 10,000 people walked the streets of Rome in defense of children in the womb. Italian lay people have organized a march for nine years now, and it grows – despite no support from the Italian bishops – including the pope. On Friday, Francis did encourage members of the Catholic Medical Association to “defend life,” though so vaguely that you couldn’t tell whether he was talking about abortion, euthanasia, immigration, climate, poverty – or all of them (more of this below). But as usual no Italian bishops participated in the Marcia– they’ve been saying that they don’t want it to be seen as only “Catholic,” though why is not clear. And that they prefer to work through elected officials rather than public protest (though they seem to support other public demonstrations, e.g., on immigration and poverty, and don’t have any natural partners in government now that the Christian Democrats have splintered). Italian television, accordingly, didn’t even mention the march occurred. The lone Italian prelate in the past, Archbishop Viganò, was missing, for good reasons. None of this was out of the ordinary. And neither, basically, were the large pro-life marches in London last week and Ottawa. There are marches in many other countries in Europe and Latin America as well, though we rarely hear about them outside of the Catholic press, and not very much even there. No, the real novelty is that Alabama essentially banned abortion last week with a bill that was passed by the legislature and signed into law by governor Kay Ivey who, like large numbers of women, believes abortion is the taking of innocent human life.
April 17, 2019 Fr. James V. Schall S. J. died, my first read of one of Fr. Schall’s books was, Another Sort of Learning, on my quest to a deeper understanding of my Catholic faith and awareness of my lack of a solid Catholic education; I found direction, I looked for answers. During my journey I found many writings by Fr. Schall. I read and re-read Another Sort of Learning and like many others was hooked on Fr. Schall’s teachings. Below are a few of the articles about Fr. Schall, I trust you may find his life enlightening in our Lord Gods love. Pray for me.
My anti-abortion views solidified in 1976 when I bought a copy of Esquire magazine.
There was something in it by or about George Plimpton that I wanted to
read, but thumbing through the pages I came to an article titled “What I
Saw at the Abortion” by Richard Selzer, M.D.
I’d been a Catholic for about three years and knew what I was supposed to believe about abortion. I’d recently read Humane vitae for
the first time and been deeply impressed by its clarity: “all direct
abortion, even for therapeutic reasons, [is] to be absolutely excluded.”
But it was when I read Dr. Selzer’s article that my view was forever
What knocked me for a loop was Selzer’s reference to a “flick,” a resistance, the fetus defending itself against its murder. Read it for yourself (The Human Life Review has reprinted it here), but here’s the good doctor’s conclusion:
I am not trying to argue. I am only saying I’ve seen. The
flick. Whatever else may be said in abortion’s defense, the vision of
that other defense will not vanish from my eyes. What I saw I saw as
that: a defense, a motion from, an effort away. And it has happened that you cannot reason with me now. For what can language do against the truth of what I saw?
So, it seemed to me before I watched the new movie, Unplanned,
that the defining scene would have to be just such a moment, one in
which Abby Johnson (played by Ashley Bratcher) witnessed the abortion
that changed her life. (The film is based on her book of the same title.)
That moment is set up nicely in an earlier scene in which Abby, the
youngest clinic director at Planned Parenthood, banally counsels a young
woman not to worry: “The one thing that all experts agree on is that,
at this stage, the fetus can’t feel anything.”
But then she witnesses a “procedure” during which she sees (via
ultrasound) the child “twisting and fighting for its life” against the
abortionist’s cannula, which causes her to look anew at her
participation in the 22,000 abortions that happened during her tenure.
This begs the question of how one could ever not have known what the
hell was going on, but that’s life, I guess. We must suppress what we
believe we must not accept.
As the Psalmist says (34: 14-15), “Keep your
tongue from evil, your lips from speaking lies. Turn from evil and do
good; seek peace and pursue it.” And that’s what Abby Johnson did, a
change of heart and mind, however, made more difficult for her because
she’d had two abortions herself.
The scenes in which Ashley Bratcher acts through Abby Johnson’s
descent into abject misery and ascent into pro-life glory are very fine