Please imagine (I won’t show you the video, and you’re welcome) a so-called work of art depicting the Last Supper as a homosexual orgy. Not something highly symbolic and abstract, mind; no, I am talking of shocking realism here; with nude bodies, penises dangling around and all the rest you can, at least in part, imagine.
I can’t express with words the disgust that I prove for people who are able to even conceive such kind of blasphemy. The fact that I chose not to link to the video is, I believe, evidence enough that this is truly strong tobacco; but if any of you really, really want to see it, gloria.tv has the story and more than one video.
It turns out that the author of such (never word was more appropriate) entartete Kunst, or degenerate art, is Alfred Hrdlicka, a self-confessed (gloria tv again) “Atheist, Communist and Stalinist” but evidently friend of the Archbishop and/or some of his friends. Mr Hrdlicka, a true man of the Enemy, died some time ago without any public trace of repentance, so that it is rather reasonable – and in conformity to the user’s manual – to assume that the scenes of perversion he produced are much more real to him now than they were at the moment of his, erm, creative effort.
You would obviously assume that never would a believer even think of giving his own exhibition space to give publicity to such blasphemous excrements as the ones copiously produced by Mr Hrdlicka, as every consideration about the (assumed) artistic value of the work must certainly be completely wiped out by the obvious reflection that there can be no excuse whatsoever for blasphemy.
On the other hand, you would also – I think – conceive that in these disturbing days, when anti-Christian feelings are very much à la page, some atheists without any consideration for propriety and decency and without any fear of the Lord could well conceive of such vulgar display of blasphemous atheism as the one I did not show. Perhaps, someone like Stephen Fry would condone such vulgarity and aggressive atheism; but I’m not so sure that even Stephen Fry, an avowed enemy of Catholic values, would want to link his name to such overt attack to Christianity; to such vulgarity; to such outright indecency.
You would, I think, be right on both accounts.
And this is why the exhibition was organised by the Museum of the Cathedral of Vienna, which is very near the Cathedral itself. This is also why cardinal Schoenborn waited for the exhibition to become an international scandal (again, as reported by Gloria tv; there are several videos on the matter; they all show the “work”, though) before arranging for the removal of the blasphemous excrement.
When a Cathedral museum shows work of such blasphemy that just a couple of decades ago not even the most obdurate satanist would have dared to show in public; and when an Archbishop and Cardinal waits for the matter to become an international scandal before acting, one can certainly be forgiven for thinking that from many extremely wide openings (say: all windows, and all doors) the smoke of Satan has entered into the Archbishop’s offices and surrounding buildings, has made a barbecue, organised a bonfire, smoked the entire place pitch black, then proceeded to call Satan and invited him to make himself comfortable in the premises for as long as he wants, and to organise exhibitions in the nearby museum as he pleases.
Quo usque tandem…
From the CNA, some rather interesting news for Catholic readers.
1) Countries like Norway routinely put – through the United Nations – poor countries under pressure to legalise abortion. The idea is that if you don’t allow abortion, you are infringing the human rights of the women.
Babies have, of course, no human rights in Norway. They must have learnt that during the Nazi invasion.
2) Pressure from non better identified European Countries – always through the UN – has already achieved that Nicaragua had to (well, chose to) bow to the pressure and legalise abortion after being threatened with aid cuts.
3) Next chosen victim, apparently, Paraguay.
It is nice to know that the money of European taxpayers is used to force poorer countries to adopt the nazi agenda of our oh so liberal rulers; even nicer to realise that this is done not through the usual, old channels of covert bilateral pressure, but with the convenient excuse of the “human rights” defended by our so meritorious collection of bloody and corrupt dictatorship and pro-abortion liberal lobbies called United Nations. That Norway – one of the most atheist countries on earth – be in the first row of this genocidal movement is no surprise.
When a country forgets Christ, Hitler isn’t far away.
I’d like to know how Norway will react on the – possibly not very far away – day that the United States will seriously start to reverse the pendulum on abortion. Will they denounce the US to the UN, or give them their “recommendations”?
The Press office of the vatican has released a multilingual communiqué about the planned meeting in Assisi, in the meantime known as “Assisi III”. If you scroll here you’ll see the English text.
As expected, Pope Benedict will do things in a radically different manner than his soon-to-be-beatified predecessor. Among the positive aspects I would mention:
1) The express intention of avoiding the mess of the other times (particularly 1986). The statement says (emphasis mine):
Believers too are constantly journeying towards God: hence the possibility, indeed the necessity, of speaking and entering into dialogue with everyone, believers and unbelievers alike, without sacrificing one’s own identity or indulging in forms of syncretism.
No Buddhas on altars, and no mistake.
2) The express mention that there will be no common prayer. People of different faith will just – to say it poetically – shut up and everyone of them will pray individually as he can. The fact that everyone prays according to his own religion doesn’t make the act “ecumenical” (in the wrong sense) in the least. This is, it seems to me, not different from what happens in a stadium before the shooting of a penalty. I will eagerly await what conservative Catholic sites write about this, but I personally don’t see any need to be alarmed by the exercise in itself.
3) The event is very much low-key: a selected group of people starting a train journey from Rome to Assisi. Also, no multi-day kermesse but a rather sober programme beginning and ending on the same day. This is no mega-gathering, rather a day out.
As largely expected, scenes like these ones are not going to be repeated; rather, Pope Benedict chooses to emphasise beforehand that he is going to make it differently. Still, I think that this is not a good thing as he is, in a way, trying to repair Assisi like Gorbaciov tried to repair communism, but the first is every bit beyond repair as the second.
Some aspects of the gathering are, in my eyes, still questionable; not “JP II-questionable”, though; rather, questionable from a purely Catholic point of view:
1) I’d have thought that the Pope’s role is to convert those who are not Catholic, not to dialogue with them. I know that dialogue is so much “en vogue” nowadays, but everytime I read about “dialogue” I have the strange impression that here the message is broadcast that Catholicism and heresy – or Catholicism and Atheism – are positions which meet on a foot of equal dignity.
They don’t. Truth meets Lie, and Faith meets Unbelief. It may be that this will be the bearer of good fruits; still, the supremacy of the Truth should be stressed by none more than by the Pope himself. This here doesn’t help.
2) Assisi I is called “historic meeting”. Historic in shame, blasphemy and heresy, yes. But to extol such a goddamn mess as an example of virtue seems to me – even allowing for the explicit clarification that this time, things are going to be made in a radically different way – way out of the mark. Again, Pope Benedict tries to repair a toy already irreparably damaged in the eyes of orthodox Catholics and no amount of totschweigen und schoenreden of the unspeakable shame of 1986 will change an iota in this.
3) this time, atheists are also invited. They are invited on the ground that they “regard themselves as seekers of truth” and feel that they “share responsibility” for this planet. This sounds rather strange to me. I’d have thought that the gathering would have a religious aspect in that it shows people of different faiths but united by their belief in the supernatural. If you extend this to atheists, well why not to homo and lesbian organisations, or neonazis, or wiccans, or the like? They all “see themselves” as “seekers of truth”, let alone think that they “share responsibility”….
Next thing you know, Satanists will asked to be invited. Hey, let’s dialogue!
4) (Achtung! Pure Mundabor-esque point!) I don’t know about you, but I still have a slight impression of easy populism whenever I hear about a “peace” event. Peace is easily said and more universally liked than football, or chocolate. It doesn’t make any news that a religious leader promotes peace. Rather, it seems to me that peace is getting too big a place at the Christian table. In my eyes, it would be high time – for a change – to start re-instructing the faithful about the doctrine of war instead of feeding them the easy fare of cunning politicians and senseless dreamers. We can’t close our eyes in front of simple realities of the human condition just because it is more convenient or popular to do so. The Truth must, I think, be said whole, not only the convenient bits. Marches for “peace” are not very scarce; nor is the message controversial; nor is there any need to stress it.
All in all, one can – I think – safely say that the worst fears have been dissipated. But one can also – I’d say, with equal security – say that this initiative still reeks a bit of that easy populism that played such a massive role during the pontificate of the late JP II.
I still wished this had never been started.
I never cease to be amazed at that particular form of human stupidity expressing itself in people insisting that things be the contrary of what they are. Say, I am buddhist and I’d like to think that Jesus was Buddhist, therefore I persuade myself that Jesus was Buddhist.
The problem with that is that one can’t believe one thing and ts contrary. Unless he is outright stupid or deluded to the point of stupidity, of course. If you believe in Jesus you can’t believe that he was Buddhist and if you think that Jesus was Buddhist you don’t believe in Jesus, you believe in a self-made religion to which you conveniently attach what you and many other like in an attempt to make it credible.
The same happens here. You can’t believe that you are a Catholic and that Catholicism is wrong on doctrinal issues. You really can’t. It’s a contradiction in terms. Besides indicating the belonging to a group, being Catholic has a meaning, it signifies something. It is logically impossible to claim to belong to this group and at the same time to negate what the belonging means. You can’t say that you are an “Atheist for Allah”, because being an Atheist implies that you do not believe in any Allah and every claim of doing so lets one sink into total ridicule.
This is so unbelievably banal that it shouldn’t be necessary to explain this at all, not even to a chid. No child claims to be, say, a boy but also a girl because he knows that if you are a boy, you obviously can’t be a girl.
This wisdom is accessible to every five-years-old child, but is apparently beyond the grasp of a group calling itself, wait for this, “Catholics for Choice”.
As the Motley Monk blog reports, not only such an organisation exists (I am tempted now to google in order to see whether the “Atheists for Allah” also exist, seriously…), but it even has a “President”. This chap has – in a moment of boredom or drukenness or, more probably, in a desperate attempt to make himself important – released a statement about Bishop Olmsted’s decision to deprive a group of medical structures to call itself “Catholic” and about which I have already reported.
The statement, available in full on the above mentioned blog, is hilarious. I mean not hilarious for me, but hilarious for every five-years-old who has been properly instructed about what “Catholicism” is. The statement reeks of those home-made religions that aromatherapy-addicted old aunts invent after a longish sojourn in Thailand and reminds rather of the immortal Monthy Phyton sketch about the man who “wants to be a woman” .
Here the sublime humour of Monthy Phyton is not even approached, but a good effort is made when the “individual conscience” is presented – by people who call themselves “Catholic” – as the decisive criterium of what is good.
Also nice is that, very much in line with “liberal” thinking, the good conscience of the one who defends elementary Catholic values is put into question. Basically what the chap says is: “we go against the Teaching of the Church but we are in good conscience, so we are fine; you defend them, therefore are probably in bad faith”. Classic.
The substitution of praxis with Catholic value is also very funny: a lot of Catholics recur to abortion, therefore abortion is in line with Catholicism. I’d like to know the chap’s opinion about fornication, adultery, drunkenness, gluttony, & Co. No wait, better not…..
Enjoy the statement and add, if you can, a Hail Mary for the poor deluded chap who is in serious need of them.
The LA Times feels the need to tell us that, on average, atheists know more of religion than the faithful. What is not clear is why this should be surprising.
Firstly, it is apparent that an atheist has had to inform himself about why he doesn’t believe (thank God, we still live in times where you can’t go around for long saying “I’m atheist” without someone reacting, a vague form of Christianity is still mainstream) whilst a believer is never checked about how deep is his knowledge. Or can you tell me when it was last time that someone has said “I am a Christian” and someone else has challenged this belief. I mean, I do it at times with some people (particularly with the “but people”; “I am a Christian, but…”), but you are not likely to meet me very often. Also note that other religions do not fare much better.
This is rather normal: few people – when left to themselves – spend time in deepening what they already believe. I can’t give you a scientific demonstration that the earth rotates around the sun; I believe it and that’s all I need to know, end of story. On the other hand, if I were of the opinion that the sun rotates around the earth I’d have all the Ptolemaic knowledge at my immediate disposal.
Secondly, this is not a survey about the militant Christians, or the informed Christians. This is a survey about the generic Christians, those with a lick of Christian varnish, often several decades old and sometimes never applied at all; those who think that Jesus was a chap who came on earth to bring peace, or to tell us that we “shouldn’t judge”, or who believe that Jesus wouldn’t have had any disagreement whatsoever with Gandhi or with the Dalai Lama. Therefore, the conclusion of the LA Times that it would be better to ask an atheist than a Christian if you want to “know more about God” is not really intelligent. If you want to know about God, you ask someone who knows the Truth, because the truth is nothing to do with statistics.
Thirdly and as far as we Catholics are concerned, this ignorance is nothing else than the product of fifty years of terrifying catechesis. Considering this, it is in my eyes encouraging that 60% of the surveyed Catholics still get the transubstantiation right. I can imagine many Catholic priests and bishops saddened at the fact that there are still so many. This is the situation on the ground and this problem has been denounced for decades now by conservative Catholics. This is also what is permanently shouted from Catholic blogs all over the planet, so nothing new here.
What therefore the LA times achieves is to show how right conservative Catholics are. This newspaper article should be pinned at the door of every parish disgraced by a trendy priest who has fed his sheep with convenient bollocks all these years, letting many of them go away and keeping the others in abysmal ignorance of even the basics.
A last point I’d like to highlight is the issue of the “education”. The LA Times seems to consider an acquired truth (and I would like to read more data about that anyway) that better educated people tend to be more atheists than less educated people. Even if this were true, though, it would certainly not show that religion is a fantasy for the less educated, but purely that the wrong type of education lets people become haughty and endangers their souls.
I would vastly prefer to be an uneducated peasant living and dying with a simple but solid faith than a faithless sophisticated urban professional living a life of privilege and dying without Christ, because The former has the knowledge that really counts whilst the latter has a fake knowledge that blinds him and leads him to perdition. As Father Corapi would say the peasant knows much more than the educated professional, because he knows the Truth.
This is one reason more to insist that one’s offspring is educated in the proper way.
On the upper list of links of this page, under “Catholic vademecum”, you will find a more detailed explanation of Faith in the traditional understanding of the Church.
In times of discussion about “aggressive secularisation”, it is perhaps fitting to repeat a concept or two in reduced form.
The Faith required of every Christian is not a feeling. No atheist can excuse himself by saying that he is very sorry, but he just doesn’t feel the existence of any God; nor can he say that if an omnipotent God existed he could cause him to believe and that would be that, but alas…..
Faith is something we are expected to work towards. To do this, two things are necessary: will and intellect. Without the will to believe we’ll go along believing what we find comfortable to believe; without the intellect we will not be able to grasp the Truth.
God can be “known with certainty by the natural light of human reason” (Vatican I). By reason we discover 1) the historical truth of the existence of Jesus; 2) that this Jesus is, by a great number of prophecies realised in Him, beyond doubt the Messiah the Jews were waiting for; 3) that therefore his claim to be God must perforce be as authentic as His authentically being the Messiah.
The fundamental concept here is twofold:
1) God can be known with certainty, if one cares to do his homework;
2) no one is excused from doing this homework.
“Not believing” is neither here nor there. It is not about “believing” as in “feeling that there is a God”, it is about working on the historical and theological sources, reading the prophesies about the Messiah and register as a matter of pure facts the astonishing number of correspondences between what the Messiah was supposed to be, and what Jesus came to be. Faith is about realising 1) that the Christian Messiah was, uniquely, announced; 2) that when he came he showed that he was the One who had been announced, and that he was God.
Jesus is the only one who proved His identity, who proved that he was the one whom the world was waiting for. No amount of uninformed “but I do not believe in God, so I do not care” can ever go beyond this simple fact.
Faith (in this meaning) is not about angels visiting one and giving him assured proof of the existence of God, nor is it about explosive inner voices shouting until reason gets the message.
Faith is an assent to a truth believed because known from a source one has examined intellectually and has considered beyond doubt. If someone tells me that the Earth rotates around the sun, or that water is made out of hydrogen and oxygen, I believe this pretty much in the same way: I believe the authority on which the assertion rests, because this authority stands the exam of my intellect.
Faith is about doing one’s own homework. As it has to do with eternal salvation, there’s no work more important than this.
It is getting more than slightly pathetic to look how Christopher Hitchens, now rapidly approaching the day of the redde rationem, continues not only to ignore the fundamental issue his disease poses to everyone else’s attention, but is even peeved that people pray for his conversion.
Mr. Hitchens writes on the Washington Post:
the offer of prayer can only have two implications: either a wish for my recovery or a wish for a reconsideration of my atheism (or both). In the first instance, a get-well card – accompanied by a good book or a fine bottle – would be just as bracing if not indeed more so. (Also easier to check.) In the second one, a clear suggestion is present: surely now, at last, Hitchens, your fears will begin to vanquish your reason. What a thing to hope for!
This man’s logic is gravely flawed.
In the first instance, the invitation to send get-well cards and bottles of wine instead of prayers is, beside looking very tacky, utterly dismissive of the sincerity of those who pray for his recovery. Love is at work here, and the man doesn’t see it. By the way, this is in contrast with a previous interview of him, in which he had said he was fine with people praying for his recovery; apparently, it must now be wine instead.
In the second instance, Hitchens forgets a great truth, that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”. It is obvious that a faith solely based on fear is far away from the ideal of Christianity, but it cannot be denied that if fear can move this man (or any other man) towards the Truth, then fear is a welcome and powerful instrument for the salvation of souls.
All this escapes Hitchens. He is so much in love with his own love for himself that the idea of having to give away a bit of it seems repellent to him. “Better to slowly die in the terrifying conviction that I am right and complete annihilation awaits me than to bow to something greater than my love for myself”, goes his reasoning.
Mind, he still can’t escape the fear; he’ll just do his very best to refuse wisdom.
After this priceless pearl or arrogance, Hitchens proceeds to write a piece of so unbelievably massive tosh that one has to doubt his oh so often celebrated intelligence.
An intelligent man generally knows what he’s talking about and when Mr. Hitchens talks about Christianity he is supposed to know the first foundations of it; alas, this doesn’t seem to be the case.
Let us read what the man has to say:
“The deity whose intercession is being implored is claimed to be omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent. It is fully aware of the situation. It can make me a believer if it chooses, or wave away my carcinoma. Why should it be swayed by the entreaties of other sinners?”
The mental confusion here is astonishing, and not due to medicines. It is a basic tenet of mainstream Christianity (and one which Hitchens, who writes about it, is not authorised to ignore) that Hell is a choice God leaves to every individual.
It is a bit too easy to wilfully choose Hell (as Mr. Hitchens continues to do) and then to imply that an omniscient God would make of him a believer if he wanted. Yes he could; but he won’t, and that’s the entire matter.
Mr. Hitchens continue to dodge the fundamental point: it is his choice and his responsibility, and it will be his freely chosen Heaven or Hell. He has written books about God, but he still can’t grasp the basics.
The last part, the “why God would be swayed by prayer” one, is of such ice-cold cynicism that it could only come from a man whose mother has committed suicide. Still, such an affirmation goes to show the absolute nothingness of these “thinkers”, unable to even conceive the infinite power of love and the way Love decides everything, and can change everything.
Mr. Hitchens may have some extenuating circumstances. Still, the tragic occurrences of his life are no excuse for such appalling refusal of love and for such appalling spreading of scandal and perdition.
One may have doubts, and keep them for oneself. One may have hard tests and be unable to pass them. But the spreading of blasphemies on a planetary scale cannot be excused by any personal circumstance. His stance is, in the end, his choice and his responsibility. His brother was born of the same mother and suffered the same drama, but he reacted differently in the end. The one chose the redemption of love, the other the coldness of self-deification.
Mr. Hitchens is receiving the biggest grace of his life. On the wretched platform of his disgraceful existence the last train patiently awaits, the fruit of love utterly unmerited and still freely given.
This train will stay there for a long time, months or perhaps years, patiently wait for him to make the step that would save him. Alas, he seems resolute in refusing to board salvation and in wanting to lose souls with his last breath.
Apart from his insistence in not wanting to wear a tie in his “vortex” series, I must say this man does continue to make a wonderful job or saying what is uncomfortable in a way that can be – if good will is there – digested and accepted.
This time I would like to draw your attention on the video above, which forgetting for a moment the rather strong words used does point out to a common trait of both believers (not only Christians, I would say) and atheists: they do not fully draw the consequences of what they believe, and they do it because they do not really believe so strongly that there is (or that there isn’t) a God.
If they did, most Christians would make of salvation their absolute priority and would pursue this scope with grim determination, and most atheists would simply forget every trace of the Christian values of the society they live in and would fully abandon themselves to the absolute dominance of one’s own interests and desires a world without religious values must necessarily engender. In the end, neither of the two groups has thought his belief and its consequences to the end.
It is true that human weakness plays a big role in a faithful’s shortcomings, but I think that Voris here is deliberately avoiding the issue to concentrate on what seems to me his central message, the “quiet politeness” which does not translate an individual’s faith in a world changing (and self-changing) force. He notices that Catholics are the salt of the Earth, but a salt which, too often, loses his flavour. And in fact one billion Catholics could be a tremendous force for (I slowly hate the word) “change”, but they do not have the weight they should have because……. they do not have the faith they should have.
In the end, though, it is we Catholics who have the biggest responsibility, because we have received the biggest gift.