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Friday, August 9, 2013

A Few Good Links (vol 5)/Seven Quick Takes Friday (vol 1)

I have another of my "few good links" posts, and it turns out it's a Friday, and there are seven links--so--what the heck. I can combine two types of post, right?
  1. First up, Jimmy Akin explains what "Judge not lest ye be judged" really means. The key is not moral relativism, it's not failing to admonish sinners, and it's certainly not to avoid making moral judgments. Rather, it's to temper these things with mercy, as an extension of the Golden Rule.
    "Obviously, God will judge us. He’s made that perfectly clear in the Bible, and in the teaching of Jesus in isn’t a question of escaping God’s judgment. It’s a question of how we will be judged...the Golden Rule has divine backing: If we treat others mercifully, God will be merciful to us. But if we treat others unmercifully, God will not be merciful to us...we should treat others the way we want God to treat us—because the way we treat others is how God will treat us."
  2. Yesterday was Saint Dominic's feast day, hence my post on Sts. Dominic and Francis. Here is a longer post on the same theme:
    "The Arians seemed to run the world, and yet Athanasius was willing to stand against the world and in favor of the universal creed. And thanks to the courage of St Athanasius and of a few other good men, we still say "consubstantial" in our creed on Sunday. Dominic--and his contemporary St Francis--faced a different crisis in their time. It was not so sophisticated, though it was widely popular and wildly practiced, this rejection of Truth. The Arians denied first Christ's divinity and only later His humanity; in St Dominic's time, the denial turned against men's humanity; and in today's synthesis of heresy, first it is Christ's divine nature, and then man's human nature."
  3. One significant problem with Liberation Theology is that it insists on political and economic revolution (including by the priests). Another (related) problem is that it places the welfare of the poor in the hands of this revolution, rather than demanding the harder sacrifice which comes with being truly poor in spirit: namely, actually caring for the poor and living among them, recognizing their dignity, and even serving them. Suffice it to say that while Pope Francis does care about 'social justice" issues, and does especially care for the poor, he does not actually endorse liberation theology, despite what the media will try to make us thing. Hence, his support for the "slum priests" of Argentina is not support for Liberation Theology, but rather for the Church's proper response to it. The slum priests are not proselytizing, but they are perhaps evangelizing--but don't expect the media or the world to appreciate the difference.
  4. On a related note, there's more to teaching than just the subject matter taught. This is especially true in Catholic education, in which the subject matter should be well-taught, but in which the goal is more than the conveyance of technical knowledge. A good Catholic education should involve good character development, from the inculcation of virtue to the instillment of a sense of wonder in the world which turns to awe in its Creator. We need something more than teachers: we need witnesses.
    "We have a dearth of educators witnessing to an authentically Christian life with fidelity, integrity, and zeal. We have far too many educators who simply have a job, or career, as a teacher or administrator at a Catholic school. Too many do not view themselves as evangelists to the young. The sisters, brothers, and priests did.  One need only examine the recent brouhaha with the Catholic educators in the flock of Bishop Vasa. Bishop Vasa, in an effort to ensure authentic Catholic education in his diocesan schools, asked all teachers to sign an oath of fidelity to the Church. There was such an outcry that Vasa was forced to relent.

    If these teachers were faithful witnesses to the gospel as taught by the Catholic Church they would have signed joyfully. We must reverse this by hiring educators who will enthusiastically and joyfully witness to the Gospel in word and in deed.  Pastors, especially, must have care to consider an administrator’s faith life, fidelity to truth, and zeal for evangelization, as more important than certificates and licenses bestowed by the state or about degrees granted by colleges, whether they be state schools or private."
  5. The TOF blog has another takedown of scientism. Some of the usual suspects (Coyne, Pinker) are involved in this one.
    "A thing is a union of matter and form, and it is the form that gives the thing its powers.  When we see a basketball, we do not see two things, a basketball and a sphere.  The sphere just is the form of the basketball.  Similarly, an atom of chlorine and an atom of sodium are made of the same matter, the same parts -- protons, neutrons, electrons.  What makes one a flammable metal and the other a poisonous gas is the number and arrangement of those parts.  The fact that non-physical stuff like number, arrangement, or pattern are crucial for doing natural science does not make them physical things themselves. It's actually the form of which we have knowledge, not the matter."
    And also (it's a long post)
    "The scientific method and the metal detector are instruments, one material the other immaterial, and the point is that an instrument can only detect what it is designed to detect. The trap of scientism is that the wonderful successes of using that particular instrument can fool the user (Science 'Works'!) into believing that there are no aspects of reality other than those which are detectable by his instrument and therefore his instrument is the go-to instrument for any and all 'real' problems."
  6. Speaking of scientism, Wesley J Smith asks why any mention of ethics in science is "anti-science" (except when it isn't). I don't agree entirely with the Intelligent Design crowd, but they do have my sympathy when this kind of thing pops up:
    I was involved in one of those heated internet dustups last week. It started when Hank Campbell, creator of the Science 2.0, accused me of being “anti-science” and “hating biology,” which he claimed I see as a “tool of Lucifer.”

    “Anti-science”? “Hate biology”? Lucifer? What had I done to spark such emotive language?

    I argued against the creation of “three-parent” IVF embryos on ethical and safety grounds. (The father of the child in three-parent IVF would be the man whose sperm fertilized a genetically modified egg containing substances from two women, who would both be biological mothers.)
    Arguments like this make Coyne and Pinker and the rest seem all the more disingenuous when they claim, in essence, that scientism is just  a"boo-word" or an ill-defined boogeyman and not a doctrine actually held by anyone.
  7. The Pessimist Blog (no relationship) has an entertaining piece up about how to be outraged on the internet. A lot of their Screwtape-like advice centers around the thought that we should be egocentric and prideful (also wrathful) in all of our online interactions, in particular in the comboxes.

Seven Quick Takes Friday is hosted by Jennifer Fulwiler.

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