Saturday, January 11, 2003

Sign on a gas pump at a local station:

Please prepay in advance.

I wonder if you have to pay twice?

Headline in the National Catholic Register:

Miracle Clears Way to Mother Theresa’s Beatification

Gee, and all this time I thought she was pretty much a shoo-in.

Thursday, January 09, 2003

Alien Abduction?
Dr. John Mack is a psychiatrist and member of the faculty of the Harvard Medical School. Dr. Mack’s claim to fame is that he has a fairly substantial number of patients whom, he is convinced, have been abducted by aliens. How does he know this? Well, they woke up one morning and their pajamas were on backwards. Now, in my younger, wilder days, I can think of a number of occasions when, upon arriving home late in the evening I probably managed to get my pajamas on backwards, not really caring if they were on front wards, back wards or on at all. I can also state that it is likely that when I woke up the next morning I wasn’t all that sure that it was odd if they happened to be on backwards. Many of you have perhaps shared that experience and might be wondering, then, how one might come to the conclusion that they were the victims of alien abduction if they woke up with their pajamas on back wards.

It seems that, in the course of the alien abduction these folks underwent a fairly thorough medical exam conducted by the aliens. The aliens, upon completing their exam and not being familiar with pajamas screwed up and, in every case, managed to get the PJs on backwards. And this is how we know they were abducted by aliens.

Now, there are a couple of points that might be made about this theory. The first is that, is it not likely that we might question the credibility, at least a little bit, of someone seeking psychiatric care? Another point is that, in every case, the abduction victims describe their captors as possessing vastly superior intelligence to that of the human race. It seems to me that if that were the case, and given that the doctor claims there have been a fairly large number of abductions that have occurred in recent years, that these aliens would eventually be able to figure out how to put on a pair of pajamas and thus conceal the fact of the abduction. In fact, it seems that, the odds being 50-50 of getting the pajamas on right in the first place, just by sheer luck they might get it right and least some of the time. But no, these aliens, who possess the intelligence and equipment and skill to conduct extensive medical exams on human victims, not to mention travel vast distances through outer space to get here, are complete failures at getting their victims pajamas back on them in the proper order. It might be mentioned that, after an academic review by his colleagues at Harvard it was suggested that Dr. Mack get away from the office a bit more often and meet some folks off campus, vary his routine a bit, you know -- get a life.

Be that as it may, there is another interesting point about Dr. Mack and the way he views these abductions. In an interview for the PBS Television show Nova conducted a few years ago, he made the following statement:

“Now, the effect of that is -- or what seems to be going on there, in a number of abductees -- not just people I see, but the ones Budd Hopkins and other people see -- is to produce some kind of new species to bring us together to produce a hybrid species which -- the abductees are sometimes told -- will populate the earth or will be there to carry evolution forward, after the human race has completed what it is now doing, namely the destruction of the earth as a living system. So it's a kind of later form. It's an awkward coming together of a less embodied species than we are, and us, for this evolutionary purpose.

However, that might not be literally true. It might be that that this is a communication to us. That perhaps we need to change our ways. It may not be that these are literally our babies. It may be a kind of expression of images of babies; or it may be that these hybrids we're told is what will have to be. It's a kind of insurance policy if the earth continues to be subjected to the exploitation of its living environment to the point where it can't sustain human and other life as it's now occurring. But it may not be literally what is going to happen. So that's one area.

Another area is the whole visual environmental and informational aspect of this in which people are shown on television screens a huge variety of scenes of environmental destruction of the earth polluted; of a kind of post-apocalyptic scene in which even the spirits have been routed from their environment because they live in the same physical and spiritual environment that we do; and canyons are shown with trees destroyed; pieces of the earth are seen as breaking away -- portions of the East Coast or West Coast.”

This statement strikes me as a bit odd in a number of ways. The most obvious is that it sounds to me like these aliens who are doing the abducting have been reading the New York Times or Washington Post, or some other material written by some of the more liberal elements of the American Democratic Party. But there is another element. It sounds vaguely religious.

Note that what we have here is an, albeit half-baked, leftist version of the creation story – we are clones of aliens who are trying to create a superior human/alien species to populate the earth after the coming environmental apocalypse. (At least he thinks the West Coast might break away, if it hasn’t already.) Also, note the phrase “perhaps we need to change our ways”, sounds like a call to repentance. Now, perhaps I’m the one who needs to see a psychiatrist, but I think all of this goes to prove one or both of two points. The first, made by St. Augustine – our hearts are restless until they rest in God. The second by G. K. Chesterton – Those who do not believe in the Christian God will not believe in nothing, they will believe in anything.

Monday, January 06, 2003


Over the last few days both Steven Riddle at Flos Carmeli and Christopher Cuddy at The Directed Path have been writing about conversion and they made a couple of interesting points that may not be so obvious to a “cradle” Catholic.

The first point that both make, although in very different ways, is that for someone who has undergone the process of coming home to the Church, it is very apparent that the process is and must be very much at the direction of the Holy Spirit. In my own case, coming from a Scots/Calvinist/Presbyterian background, coming into the church is not anything I would have done on my own.

For many years I would have very little to do with “organized” religion (in my experience another one of the great oxymorons of all time, along with Microsoft Works) and it was only by a very strange set of circumstances that I was led to come back to my Presbyterian roots. And then an off hand remark by the pastor of the church I was attending led me, ultimately, to the Catholic Church. The remark was – “If you don’t know what you believe, how do you know you believe it?” I had to know what I believed. After 5 years or more of investigation I realized to my horror that what I believed was likely more consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church than with Presbyterianism.

When I began seriously looking into the Church I still didn’t know for sure that the Church was Christian, if the Pope was the anti-Christ, or what I was getting myself into. But I had to investigate in the name of seeking the Truth. Steven Riddle had a similar experience, his problem was with Mary, and he describes his approach to solving the problem in this way:

"An example from my life: I was raised a Baptist and entered the Catholic Church not fully in tune with all aspects of Catholic Doctrine. Most particularly, I was virulently anti-Marian. Through time, I came to be cooly neutral but said to myself, "This is not enough." So I took up the practice of praying to God to reveal to me what He would have me know of His Mother and I bowed before her statue with an "I salute you, even if I am unsure of you." Through time the "I salute you" became, "I love you." And, of course, the other half of the phrase vanished entirely. I did nothing myself to encourage that love, but now I have an image of Mary in nearly every room of my house and feel that those places lacking Marian presence are somehow empty. I went through the outward motions--obedience, after a fashion--and God did as He would with the interior. We must act on belief and pray for the interior change that makes that out action more real. We are finite--as much as we like to think we know it all, we do not--and there is no shame in not knowing. The shame comes from insisting upon our ignorance and acting upon it in such a way as to cause scandal and division."

In my case I didn’t now if anything the Church taught was true and it was only when I realized that the Church taught that the Bible was the foundation of all that it knew about God could I relax and really begin the journey home. I prayed for understanding since, if the Church taught what was in the Bible, then either I didn’t understand the Bible properly or I didn’t understand the Church’s teaching properly. In either case, the problem was mine, not the Church’s. I had to pray and hope that the Holy Spirit would enlighten my mind and heart if it was God’s will that I come into the Church.

Christopher Cuddy says much the same thing when he writes:
“Conversion is not a matter of “joining a team,” or of adding more names to a roster. It is not a popularity contest. Conversion is about following the Truth of God no matter where it leads or how much it costs. Conversion, as with all things, is ultimately about Christ—for it is only within the fraternal arms of our Lord and Savior that we can ever hope of finding true peace and joy.
Salvation is not a matter of faith in a doctrine—whether it be sola scriptura or the perpetual virginity of Mary. Salvation is about Christ. As St. Paul states in his letter to the Galatians, salvation is a matter of ‘faith working through love.’”

To come to this realization requires the work of the Holy Spirit. It is a work that anyone seriously contemplating the “Journey Home” into the Church finds him or herself allowing to go on in their lives.

Venerable Bede

Before the unavoidable journey there, no one becomes
wiser in thought than him who, by need,
ponders, before his going hence,
what good and evil within his soul,
after his day of death, will be judged.

The Venerable Bede


Christopher at The Directed Path has posted about as good an explanation of conversion as I have seen. This is right on the mark and most of us who have found ourselves coming into the Church know what he means.

Conversion is not a matter of “joining a team,” or of adding more names to a roster. It is not a popularity contest. Conversion is about following the Truth of God no matter where it leads or how much it costs. Conversion, as with all things, is ultimately about Christ—for it is only within the fraternal arms of our Lord and Savior that we can ever hope of finding true peace and joy.

Sunday, January 05, 2003

Winter Moonlight

Silver birches in the winter moonlight
Shining in their bark-armor bright.
Ghosts of soldiers who
Died in a Fall now so long ago.
Life is hidden here, unseen,
Yet present, nevertheless,
Awaiting the Resurrection of Spring.

Ron Moffat

Media Review

The latest issue of Crisis magazine has a 6 page article on a new book by one Daniel Joseph Goldhagen that rehashes all the old slanders about the role of the Church and especially Pope Pius XII in World War II. The most disturbing thing about the appearance of another book on this topic is that the truth about what Pius XII did to help the Jews is so well documented in the press and statements of Jews made during the war. The Chief Rabbi of Rome was so grateful for Pius XII activities that he converted to Catholicism. Yet there continues to be a steady stream of these books that manage to find a publisher. It seems to me that publishers have at least some responsibility to investigate the truth of claims made in books by prospective authors. It seems to me that it is part of a dangerous trend in our society that we no longer believe it is important to write, speak or seek the truth; the only important thing is what advantage can we gain by pursuing any particular course of action – “What’s in it for me?” Pretty soon we will lose sight of the truth entirely and we won’t be able to rely on any fact published in a book or newspaper, we’ll be forced to investigate facts for ourselves which, in most cases will be difficult or impossible.

I also have mixed feelings at the six-page spread given to this book by Crisis. On the one hand I know it is important to refute these things as forcefully as possible. On the other hand, could Daniel Joseph Goldhagen afford to buy six full-page ads in Crisis magazine? Could this rather extensive coverage have the perverse effect of increasing sales of a slanderous, malicious book by say 5-15 thousand copies? I’ve debated buying a copy of this book myself, just to be better able to understand and refute the lies it contains. But, on further reflection, I won’t.