Thursday, March 31, 2011

Monday, March 28, 2011

from the Archives: Famished Craving - Part 47

Religion is the opium of the people - Karl Marx

Sunday, March 27, 2011

"God is not a menace to society"

This is a YouTube video of the Pope's message (the text posted by Gil below) to the group of young people gathered at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris - referred to as the 'court of the gentiles'.

Agony in a Rocky Garden

On Randy's recommendation, Kathleen and I just saw "Of Gods and Men." It is an extraordinary film, a perfect entry into this year's Holy Week. It's Christian faith dramatized.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Pope Benedict XVI: The Court of the Gentiles

In inaugurating the "Court of the Gentiles," the deep faith and generous spirit of Benedict XVI is worthy of our notice. Here is what he said in his video message to those, mostly young people, gathered in front of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris:
Dear young people, dear friends!

I know that at the invitation of Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, the Archbishop of Paris, and of Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, the President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, you are gathered in great numbers in front of the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. I greet all of you, together with our brothers and friends from the Taizé Community. I am grateful to the Pontifical Council for having taken up and extended my invitation to open a number of "Courts of the Gentiles" within the Church. This image refers to the vast open space near the Temple of Jerusalem where all those who did not share the faith of Israel could approach the Temple and ask questions about religion. There they could meet the scribes, speak of faith and even pray to the unknown God. The Court was then an area of separation, since Gentiles did not have the right to enter the consecrated area, yet Jesus Christ came to "break down the dividing wall" between Jews and Gentiles, and to "reconcile both to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility in himself". In the words of Saint Paul, "He came and proclaimed peace..." (cf. Eph 2:14-17).

At the heart of the "City of Light", in front of the magnificent masterwork of French religious culture which is Notre Dame, a great court has been created in order to give fresh impetus to respectful and friendly encounter between people of differing convictions. You young people, believers and non-believers alike, have chosen to come together this evening, as you do in your daily lives, in order to meet one another and to discuss the great questions of human existence. Nowadays many people acknowledge that they are not part of any religion, yet they long for a new world, a world that is freer, more just and united, more peaceful and happy. In speaking to you tonight, I think of all the things you have to say to each other. Those of you who are non-believers challenge believers in a particular way to live in a way consistent with the faith they profess and by your rejection of any distortion of religion which would make it unworthy of man. Those of you who are believers long to tell your friends that the treasure dwelling within you is meant to be shared, it raises questions, it calls for reflection. The question of God is not a menace to society, it does not threaten a truly human life! The question of God must not be absent from the other great questions of our time.

Dear friends, you are challenged to build bridges between one another. Take advantage of this opportunity to discover, deep within your hearts and with serious arguments, the ways which lead to profound dialogue. You have so much to say to one another! Do not turn away from the challenges and issues before you!

I believe deeply that the encounter of faith and reason enables us to find ourselves. But all too often reason falters in the face of self-interest and the lure of profit, and is forced to regard the latter as the ultimate criterion. Striving for truth is not easy. But each of us is called to make a courageous decision to seek the truth, precisely because there can be no shortcut to the happiness and beauty of a life of genuine fulfilment. Jesus says as much in the Gospel: "The truth will make you free".

Dear young people, it is up to you, in your own countries and in Europe as a whole, to help believers and non-believers to rediscover the path of dialogue. Religions have nothing to hear from a just secularity, one that is open and allows individuals to live in accordance with what they believe in their own consciences. If we are to build a world of liberty, equality and fraternity, then believers and non-believers must feel free to be just that, equal in their right to live as individuals and in community in accord with their convictions; and fraternal in their relations with one another. One of the reasons for this Court of the Gentiles is to encourage such feelings of fraternity, over and above our individual convictions yet not denying our differences. And on an even deeper level, to recognize that God alone, in Christ, grants us inner freedom and the possibility of truly encountering one another as brothers and sisters.

Our first step, the first thing we can do together, is to respect, help and love each and every human being, because he or she is a creature of God and in some way the road that leads to God. As you carry on the experience of this evening, work to break down the barriers of fear of others, of strangers, of those who are different; this fear is often born of mutual ignorance, scepticism or indifference. Work to create bonds with other young people, without distinction and keeping in mind those who are poor or lonely, unemployed, ill or on the margins of society.

Dear young people, what you can share is not only your experience of life, but also your approach to prayer. Believers and non-believers, as you stand in this court of the Unknown, you are also invited to approach the sacred space, to pass through the magnificent portal of Notre Dame and to enter the cathedral for a moment of prayer. For some of you this will be a prayer to a God you already know by faith, but for others it may be a prayer to the Unknown God. Dear young friends who are non-believers, as you join those who pray in Notre Dame on this day of the Annunciation of the Lord, open your hearts to the sacred texts, let yourselves be challenged by the beauty of the music and, if you truly desire it, let your deepest feelings rise towards the Unknown God.

I am happy to have been able to speak to you this evening for the inauguration of the Court of the Gentiles. I hope you will be able to join me for the other events to which I have invited you, especially the World Youth Day to be held in Madrid this coming summer. The God whom believers learn to know invites you to discover him and to find ever greater life in him. Do not be afraid! As you walk together towards a new world, seek the Absolute, seek God, even if for you he is the Unknown God.

And may this God, who loves each and every one of you, bless you and keep you. He is counting on you to be concerned for others and for the future, and you can always count on him!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Islam is as Islam does.

Bloodstained Image of Christ
(Church of Saints in Alexandria, Egypt)
Click HERE to read George Marlin's summary
of how Christians are being treated
in Muslim majority cultures.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

from the Archives: Famished Craving - Part 45

Revival of the sacred...among the 'new generation' in 1995 Germany; the young people are reading Heidegger and Nietzsche. In America we skip the books and go straight to Dionysus...e.g.

(the article Gil references in this excerpt I do not believe is available on-line. For the adventurous - click on the image above to read an interview with one member of Crash Worship.)

”The mind that has fallen into the stable disequilibrium of a false rationality thereafter falls into the unstable disequilibrium that leads to delirium.” René Girard

Saturday, March 19, 2011

History as Apocalypse

Randy encouraged me to post an occasion excerpt from the manuscript on which I am now working. I cannot let him do all the work on the weblog after all. So here are a few sentences from the piece I have been tweaking today.
We could say that history – in a generic and straightforward sense – began when our most remote ancestors stumbled upon what René Girard has termed the surrogate victim mechanism, the late Paleolithic “discovery” which, over the course of time, our most ancient ancestors slowly learned to ritualize, thereby securing the cultural beachhead which could sustain the fragile order that the scapegoating violence first achieved. Another way of putting this is to say that history began with the discovery of the sacrificial procedures for warding off the apocalypse, the latter defined as violence for which there is no adequate arresting or quarantining mechanism. Subsequent ritual re-enactments of this procedure functioned to continually ward off or postpone the apocalypse thus understood. History in the rich biblical sense, on the other hand, begins -- on Mount Moria -- with the attenuation of these same cultural mechanisms for postponing the apocalypse. In this sense, the beginning of history in the biblical sense is the beginning of the apocalypse in the sense of uncontrollable violence.
"When sacrifice disappears," writes Girard, "all that remains is mimetic rivalry, and it escalates to extremes." Well, that's not all that remains. For the same Gospel that undermines the "sacrificial protections" that ward off and postpone the apocalypse brings about a conversion of the heart and a restoration of relationships distorted by sin. This is the leaven that works inconspicuously to fashion a new order of things, a culture of love based, not on sentimentality, but on truth.

from the Archives: Famished Craving - Part 44

Sunday, March 13, 2011

from the Archives: Famished Craving - Part 42

What is historiography?

The SF Examiner article referenced in this excerpt may be found HERE.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

from the Archives: Famished Craving - Part 41

Damascus - the locale of the conversion of Saul of Tarsus and in 1995, a Time magazine interview with Fathi Shakaki....

The Time magazine article/interview may be found HERE.

Monday, March 07, 2011

from the Archives: Famished Craving - Part 40

Gil references the following book in this excerpt:

Shahbaz Bhatti 1968 - 2011

'I only want a place at the feet of Jesus. I want my life, my character, my actions to speak for me and say that I am a follower of Jesus Christ'
No doubt most of those who come to this blog will already be aware of the recent murder of Shahbaz Bhatti. I had read the newspaper account and listened to NPR's story last week. However, I came across another blog over the weekend that contained some short videos of Mr. Bhatti that I felt would be appropriate to direct attention to.

The link to the blog Bangor to Bobbio is HERE

Resquiescat in pace

Friday, March 04, 2011

from the Archives: Famished Craving - Part 39

The conundrum of "Modernity"....what is it? And what follows 'post-modernity'?

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Jeff Hendrix

My old friend Jeff Hendrix was interviewed on the "Journey Home" program on EWTN earlier this week. It was a marvelous interview. Jeff is an extraordinary man and a model Catholic. He will be undergoing yet another surgery next week. Please keep him in your prayers.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

from the Archives: Famished Craving - Part 38

Continuing with 'the need for faith' in the Famished Craving series, the vine and branches discourse in John 15...