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Hilary White

The other day, someone wrote a Facebook post asking sincerely how to respond to the assertion of a relative that “dogma is bunk,” that in order to survive the Catholic Church needed to drop this mad insistence on her dogmatic assertions and learn to serve people’s needs “where they’re at.” Essentially, a summation of Pope Francis’ entire pontifical approach thus far.

I replied, “What use is dogma for getting to heaven? What use is math for building a bridge?” Dogmas are simply statements of objective reality regarding the nature of God, precisely as mathematical axioms are statements of objective reality regarding the nature of the material realm. Without math, the nature of material reality remains obscure; without Dogma, man makes errors regarding the nature of God. Both kinds of errors can be disastrous.

But the fact that the relative felt free to state his dogmatic opinion, without the slightest awareness of the irony, that “dogma is bunk,” as though it were an irrefutable axiom, was a product of bad philosophy, not bad theology. The inability of contemporary man to recognise a logical contradiction, (and the consequent deterioration of his sense of irony) are a direct result of the philosophical corruption of recent centuries. Descartes started that ball rolling when he said the only thing he knew for sure really exists was his own thought that he exists, and it’s been plunging down the hill every since.
Remember the Harry Potter craze? That was an odd phenomenon, wasn’t it? People went kind of insane, and then, when the movies had finished I guess, it just dropped off the radar. People made a few remarks about how sad it was that the cute Potter kids (the actors, that is) had to grow up and become the run-of-the-mill corrupt Hollywood elite types, and that was about the end of it. But when HP was at the height of its popularity, there was a very strange thing that would happen whenever anyone said something like, “I wouldn’t let my kids read it. It’s morally ambiguous and there is way better stuff for them out there.”

Whenever someone would say this in a commbox or on Facebook, one could hear a strange, distant high-pitched shrieking sound, as if from a long way off. Slowly, the sound would be accompanied by little distant black specks on the horizon and these would finally resolve into a vast flock of be-taloned harpies, their leathern wings strumming the air in time with a rhythmic chant in a harsh eldritch tongue, unheard since the forgotten elder days when men and monsters inhabited the earth. Scholars eventually translated these guttural croakings as, “But there’s Christian themes in Harry Potter, you Traddie freaks!”

Since my buddy Chris Ferrara has, perhaps before anyone else in the English speaking world, done a thorough examination of the pope’s environment encyclical, “Laudato Si,” I will confine myself here to some observations of a different sort and to proposing a few questions for consideration – to talking around it, so to speak.

A great many people, long before the document was issued yesterday, have been asking whether it should have been written at all. Is this appropriate for a pope? Why was it necessary? Why, of all the possible topics, did Pope Francis choose this one? Has he stepped outside the proper bounds of papal authority? Aren’t there more pressing matters for the head of the Catholic Church to think about? (Does anyone know how many Chaldean Catholics are still alive in Mosul, Iraq, for instance?)

 

Editor’s Note: Many thanks to my friend and colleague, Hilary White, for the following film review. I have not seen Calvary myself (nor do I intend to) but I have spoken about it with a close confidant who has, and who actually advised against reviewing the film, even though he appreciates its merits along the same lines put forth below. His concern (and mine) is that in the process of reviewing the film The Remnant may appear to be encouraging everyone to go see it. Such is not the case. In fact, it is my friend’s considered opinion that no one under 50 should see this film and that anyone who does see it must be morally and psychologically stable, as well as firmly grounded in the Faith. To cut to the chase, The Remnant DOES NOT RECOMMEND THIS FILM but does believe that offering Miss White's fine commentary on it is really most useful for the purposes of exposing the rise of blatant evil in the world today--an evil that has become so bold even the motion picture industry can neither ignore it nor pretend it is harmless. Modern society is firmly in the grasp of the demonic, and, as is made abundantly obvious in the lines below, we had better prepare ourselves for something very wicked that most of us have never even fathomed. MJM 


Why is sin bad?

Now there’s an odd question, you might think. And you’d think the answer was obvious, right? Because… well… sin, and well… errrmmm… evil and consequences and stuff… Um…

OK, gimme a second, I’ll look it up in Thomas.

I’m going to take a wild shot in the dark and say that most pro-life people, even the converts to the position, came from a home environment that included more than one other person. Most people, I have learned, come from this thing called a “family,” that involves a variety of other people, male and female, young and old, to whom one remains ontologically connected for the rest of one’s life. I have also learned, though this took somewhat longer, that most people regard these “families” as a good and useful thing, of positive benefit in their lives.

These ideas have taken some effort to get used to.

This presumption of familial security, common to most people operating in the pro-life world, is perhaps something of a handicap. It tends to make pro-lifers appear smug and self-satisfied and unable to understand the connotations of their message for those on the other side. And it quite possibly makes it impossible for them to understand the hatred and rage they, in all innocence, can engender when they suggest that abortion must be outlawed. I remember when I was younger seeing pro-life people holding signs of babies and advocating motherhood and thinking they were the worst people in the world. What kind of awful people would try to force a woman to destroy herself over a blob of cells?

ROME, March 12, 2013, www.RemnantNewspaper.com  – The waiting time is drawing to a close. This afternoon, the cardinals will have their first ballot. Starting last Wednesday, the cardinals agreed that their discussions will be continued under greater secrecy. This means that we are left to examine the evidence and facts we already know to piece together, if not the outcome of the conclave, then at least the issues looming in the minds of the cardinal electors.

On that day it was announced that the press conferences organised at the Pontifical North American College, up the hill from St. Peter’s, where US cardinals were giving politely evasive and non-specific non-information to US and British journalists, had been cancelled. It came out that the reason was that some Italian cardinals, whose interpretation of the oath of secrecy was a little more, shall we say, flexible, were giving Italian journalists what amounted to transcripts of the meetings.

And there we have in a nutshell a hint as to how the Vatican administration works at the highest levels: chaotically, with no very strong connections to reality.

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