Friday, December 28, 2007

I'm Dreaming...

of the White Christmas we got, unexpectedly, Christmas Day. It's fairly rare up here, once every nine years or so. And we're being snowed on again. Our green Winters may be a thing of the past. Last year was colder and whiter than those of recent memory.

How Do You Feel About That?

This, for me, sums up the modern catechesis in the RCIA program. (I was part of the team, not a catechumen.) So this article and others ring ever-so-true for me:

"Now do you understand what Rich meant?": "Susan/Eulogos, one of my most insightful commenters, took a look at the article on the Cincinnati RCIA conference about which I posted the other day.

She does not like what she saw.

There was not one word in this article about teaching the content of the Catholic faith. The Catechism was not mentioned. The creeds were not mentioned. Dealing with typical difficulties and objections was not mentioned. A question of minimum standards for knowledge was [not] mentioned. No discussion of how much content was necessary or appropriate for people of different educational backgrounds. No discussion of what people are actually agreeing to when they assent to 'everything the Church teaches.' (Or to saying that everything the Church teaches is revealed by God, which ought to be the same thing.) No sessions about how to guide those who can accept 'everything except Papal Infallibility' or 'everything except the Immaculate Conception' or 'everything except no contraception.' I would think that these sorts of subjects would need to be discussed by RCIA people. But instead, according to the article, it was all about what parts of the RCIA program 'mean to me.' Suggesting an echo of RCIA programs which are all about 'What being a Catholic means to me?' (You know, 'For me, it is all about being part of a big family' or 'Its all about the community.' etc etc.)

(Via Ten Reasons.)


Now I understand why I never took up French cooking:

Six injured by exploding fondue: "Three people are taken to hospital with serious burns after a gas-powered fondue set explodes."

(Via BBC News.)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

What Child is This?

I found myself humming this carol yesterday at work. So, this article seems an appropriate way to continue preparations for the coming celebrations:

Looking for Mary in Christmas Carols: "It’s Christmas, so we’re singing carols. OK, it’s not Christmas, it’s really Advent, and “carol” has a particular set of musicological meanings that don’t have anything to do with Christmas–but we call almost any tune we sing in December a “carol” (even that culinary chestnuts song) and the speaker at the stand where I pump [...]"

(Via FIRST THINGS: On the Square.)

Christmas Preparations

The tree is up and the Mrs. has the house fully decorated (not an easy task). So let's do some reading that will prepare us spiritually and intellectually:

The Magi and Their Scientific Discovery: ""

(Via New Advent World Watch.)

Friday, December 07, 2007


Maybe all that BMI stuff is oversold. There's at least some evidence that being "overweight" could be good for you.

Thanks to William E. on ROFTERS (more about them here).

A Day Late...

Shame on me for neglecting one of my favourite saints: belated Happy Nicholmas to all!

Thanks to Rachel Watkins at Heart Mind & Strength.

Up for Air

While Life hasn't been actually overwhelming, I have been trying to do some catching up in the Philosophy course. I have been frustrated by a deficient conceptual vocabulary (how's that for a mouthful?). So just before the second Mid-term I borrowed several books from the University Library.

I quickly finished John Finnis' Fundamentals of Ethics the weekend before the exam. I purchased it from Amazon(.com) and hope to have it in my library in January. First impression: it's a good primer in a modern version of Natural Law Ethics.

This family of ethical systems barely rated a mention in our course, and then simply as Command Law ethics. You know, God says it so we have to do it. The strong implication is that this a purely religiously based ethical system. Cicero would have been surprised.

Having seen Alasdair Macintyre mentioned around the web, and particularly in First Things, I had a go at After Virtue. That was a heavier slog, not a weekend skim, at all, at all. It's interesting that the authors of the course textbook, when discussing various modern proponents of Virtue Ethics (only a reading from Aristotle is given), don't mention Professor Macintyre. It makes me wonder if his (subsequent to the first edition of his magnum opus) conversion to Catholicism compromised their evaluation of his philosophical integrity. Does such bias exist in academia? Perish the thought!

And now I'm going through Gomez-Lobo's Morality and the Human Goods. It's sub-title is An Introduction to Natural Law Ethics. This book I can highly recommend for the interested, but philosophically challenged, reader. It has a good conversational style and keeps the reasoning clear and easy to follow. He shows awareness of all the modern ethical theories and appears to deal with them fairly. And he equips the attentive reader with the vocabulary to deal with some of major ethical problems we moderns have to deal with.

And my copy of Finnis' Natural Law and Natural Rights arrived about a week ago. I hope to get into that before my next Philosophy course starts, probably in January.

Now I have to get off philosophy (the final is in a little over a week from now) and read P.D. James' The Children of Men.

Good Reading!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

In the Interim

Here's some Bioethical material to consider while I get ready for work. I'll blog a bit tomorrow, first of four days off.

The Case Against Abortion: An Interview with Dr. Francis Beckwith: "

The Case Against Abortion: An Interview with Dr. Francis Beckwith, author of Defending Life | Carl E. Olson | December 5, 2007

Dr. Francis Beckwith (personal website), Associate Professor of Philosophy at Baylor University, made

news this past May when he publicly announced that he had returned to the
Catholic Church after spending over thirty years in
Evangelical Protestantism
But Dr. Beckwith has been receiving attention more recently for his latest
Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice
(Cambridge University Press, 2007), a thorough and
impressive work that engages and responds to the many arguments—both
popular and scholarly—given by abortion rights advocates.

Rev. Richard John Neuhaus of First Things stated of Defending Life:
'By a masterful marshalling of the pertinent arguments and a civil engagement
with the counter-arguments, Beckwith makes a convincing case for law and social
policy based on reason and natural rights rather than the will to power.' And
in a November 26, 2007, column in America magazine, noted bioethicist Fr. John F. Kavanaugh, S.J.,
professor of philosophy at St. Louis University, wrote that Dr. Beckwith 'charitably and
thoroughly engages those who oppose him. Defending Life is a model of how a pro-life position is effectively
mounted. One might hope that defenders of abortion would as thoughtfully engage
his arguments. I at least hope that our own bishops will take up this work and,
upon reading it, offer it to every parish library in the country. They might
also request that lay leaders, especially physicians, lawyers, teachers and
business persons, enlist such a book in their efforts not only to form their
own consciences, but also to inform and elevate the somewhat cheapened and
knee-jerk moral discourse over the issue of abortion.'

Carl E. Olson, editor of Ignatius Insight, recently interviewed Dr. Beckwith
and spoke with him about his book, the state of the pro-life movement, and how
those who oppose abortion can better take a stand against the culture of death.

Read the entire interview...


(Via Insight Scoop | The Ignatius Press Blog.)