Monday, June 14, 2004

Baby Burgy!

Baby Burgy was born yesterday, I'm happy to report (although everyone who knew she was coming probably already knows that she arrived).

Mom and the baby are fine, but continued prayers are more than welcome for their health.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Rest in peace...

The state funeral for Ronald Wilson Reagan is today. Take a moment and say a prayer for the repose of his soul.

One of the most powerful things I've read about him this week (and there's been plenty to read) is from this article at NRO, discussing Mother Theresa's visit to Reagan the June after the assassination attempt:
    The late Mother Teresa, who visited the White House that June, told Reagan, "You have suffered the passion of the cross and have received grace. There is a purpose to this. Because of your suffering and pain you will now understand the suffering and pain of the world. This has happened to you at this time because your country and the world needs you." Reagan was speechless. Nancy Reagan wept.
On a more mundane & political note, I think that what Regan had that Bush 43 lacks is the ability to clearly articulate his understanding of the world... I have little doubt that President Bush has a clear vision of things, but I don't think he's so good at articulating that vision, something which Reagan had no problem with. As someone (I think his biographer, Edmund Morris) said Wednesday, Reagan wasn't an intellectual, but he was intelligent. As his letters show (Reagan in His Own Hand), he had spent years working out his understanding of the world, especially by means of interacting with others via the numerous letters he composed.

As has been demonstrated even by those in the mainstream media this week, Reagan wasn't the simpleton his enemies made him out to be while in office.

And above all, he was a good man, as no one seems to dispute.

Requiescat in pace.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

CL-leaning blogs

I've done some work lately with the list of blogs, as you probably haven't noticed, and I want to point out two new links in particular:

Being! or Nothingness


The Tricostal Commission

Why do I highlight these two in particular? Because they are the only bloggers I know of who are actually involved in Communion and Liberation, one of the newer ecclesial movements in the Church. There are some bloggers who are familiar with CL, but these two are the only bloggers I know of who are involved in CL, and I think their blogs (especially Being!) reflect it.

Check 'em out!

Sunday, June 06, 2004

American Culture: Antithetical to the Gospel?

A couple of weeks ago I finished Tracey Rowland's book, Culture and the Thomist Tradition: After Vatican II.

This was one of the most exciting reads I've had in a few years. Rowland combines the philosophical analysis of modernity by Alasdair Macintyre with the theological analysis of the Communio school (deriving from Henri de Lubac, Hans Urs von Balthasar, and today, David Schindler in particular) along with others to argue that the culture referred to by the title of "modernity" (which includes modern American culture) is not as open to the Gospel as many think, but in fact is oriented away from Christianity. Unlike the Greco-Roman culture encountered by the early Church, the very structure of modernity is antithetical to the Gospel, meaning that the mileu in which Americans live is in a systemic way hostile to the Gospel.

What this means is that the problems the Church faces in evangelizing our culture are not due simply to the fallout of the sixties, but in fact go to the core of the American way of life, which in many ways is derived in its worldview from the Enlightenment.

Now, this isn't to say that there is nothing good in American culture for the Church to engage in... that's not what these scholars are saying. Their point is that out culture is not as open to the Gospel as many theologians have heretofor believed, and that we need to take a more discerning (critical) approach in how to reach those who live in this culture.

My interest in this line of thought goes back to my grad days in Rome, when I "discovered" the debate between David Schindler on one hand George Weigel, Fr. Richard Neuhaus, and Michael Novak on the other. That debate centered on the same question: how Christian is American culture, actually but more importantly, potentially? The discussion dated back to the mid-eighties, when Cardinal Ratzinger referred to American culture as bourgeois. Weigel denied the claim, Schindler countered with a defense of Ratzinger's reference, and they were off. The debate raged in particular over the next several years, and although it has cooled off since then, it has never completely faded, as Rowland's contribution indicates.

Rowland's book is definitely not written for the layman, but I would still recommend it if you're interested in anything I've stated here, which itself is woefully incomplete, but does the job for now.
Objective Disorder?

One of the more controversial of Catholic teachings today is its claim that homosexuality is an objective disorder. Many people argue that because homosexuality is not chosen (which seems to be the case, whether or not its origins are genetic, psychological, or a combination of the two), it's demeaning to claim that it's a disorder.

To better understand the theological underpinnings of this teaching, I'd recommend Msgr. Livio Melina's article, Homosexual Inclination as an "Objective Disorder": Reflections of Theological Anthropology. Be attentive and patient in your reading... it's weighty, but well worth it.

[Thanks for Fr. Bryce for the link.]
JPII's addresses to the U.S. bishops

Back in April I linked the first ad limina address by the pope to the U.S. bishops as they make their quinquennial pilgrimage and report to Rome.

The subsequent addresses can be found here:

To the Bishops of the ecclesiastical provinces of Baltimore and Washington

To the Bishops of the ecclesiastical provinces of Detroit and Cincinnati

To the Bishops of California, Nevada and Hawaii

To the Bishops from the ecclesiastical provinces of San Antonio and Oklahoma City

To the Bishops of the ecclesiastical provinces of Indianapolis, Chicago and Milwaukee

To the Bishops of the Church in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and western Texas

I should mention...

On Friday morning, I had a strange urge... to join the Democrat Party and reestablish its Humphrey wing. For some reason, I felt that the Democrat Party as it was, oh, fifty years ago was more open to the common good than the Republican Party of that era.

By about 11 am, the temptation passed.

Must have been something I ate.
One of the Greatest

Yesterday Ronald Wilson Reagan, passed away at the age of 93.

He was, undoubtedly, one of our greatest presidents, probably the greatest of the twentieth century (yes, better than FDR).

He reinvigurated the American spirit, and after Pope John Paul II, is the person most responsible for the (in the minds of many, early) collapse of communism in Europe.

The flag went up at the Burgwald residence yesterday in his honor, and remains up today in honor of -- as Reagan put it -- "the boys of Pointe du Hoc": the men who stormed the beaches of Normandy on June 6th, 1944, in what was the beginning of the end of World War II in Europe.

Our flag will remain up through Flag Day on the 14th, in honor of Reagan's death and the sacrifices made on the shores of France.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004


I found out recently that here in South Dakota, you can get a driver's license at the age of 14. 14! Now, in Minnesota there are farmer's permits, but not just anyone can get them.

Not, only that, but SD also doesn't make taking driver's ed course manditory! Driving with an adult for six months is sufficient to qualify for a license (with the test, of course)!

No wonder people here don't know how to use their $*#(!@% turn signals.
Challenging conventional wisdom

PZ Myers complains about those who deny the Big Bang. Now, I regard the evidence for the Big Bang as sufficient to merit my acknowledgement, but I also know that back when the theory was first proposed, the dominant view among cosmologists was that the universe in fact had no beginning, and hence they ridiculed the idea of the Big Bang.

Kind of like Dr. Myers does with the Intelligent Design school, no?

(He'll protest that unlike the original Big Bang theorists, ID proponents have no evidence to back them up, but I think the same thing was true with the Big Bang; scientists -- like the rest of us -- often have vested interests in their own pet theories, and hence it often takes some time for ideas which both challenge the dominant ideologies and happen to be true to take hold in the academy. So I think I'll wait awhile before passing judgment on the ID theory.)