Thursday, June 21, 2012

Decide: Life, or Death

This might be the first Kindle book I buy:
"...Published by Random House Digital, 'True Freedom' is available June 19 for 99 cents at"
(Benjamin Mann, CNA)
The only thing stopping me is that I don't have a Kindle reader. My wife does, though: I'll get back to that thought.

The Culture of Life, the Culture of Death

Contemporary America isn't the most serene era I can imagine. Still, there's something to be said for having fairly well-defined choices. Folks have had this sort of opportunity before:
" 'Now, therefore, fear the LORD and serve him completely and sincerely. Cast out the gods your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD.

"3 If it does not please you to serve the LORD, decide today whom you will serve, the gods your fathers served beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are dwelling. As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.' "
(Joshua 24:15-15)
A couple dozen or so centuries later, I think Americans have a similar decision to make. I've made up my mind: I serve my Lord, Jesus, who was killed but didn't stay dead. What you decide is up to you.

Here's what got me started:
"Cardinal Dolan contrasts true freedom, 'culture of death' in new eBook"
Benjamin Mann, CNA (Catholic News Agency) (June 19, 2012)

"Society faces a choice between true human dignity, and a false concept of freedom culminating in the 'culture of death,' New York's Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan explains in his new eBook.

"This inhumane culture springs from 'deeply rooted social, philosophical, and ethical tendencies that, unfortunately, often find their expression in our laws and in our attitudes toward others,' the cardinal writes in 'True Freedom: On Protecting Human Dignity and Religious Liberty,' released June 19.

" 'To this culture of death,' he writes, 'the Church boldly and joyfully promotes the culture of life.'..."
It looks like Cardinal Dolan packed a discussion of natural law, faith, and contemporary issues, into about 5,000 words.

Not surprisingly, Cardinal Dolan says that life is preferable to death, and that freedom is a good idea. What's counter-cultural about the Catholic approach that Dolan supports is that we're told to see all human beings as people. That's strongly counter-cultural.

So is the idea that "religious freedom" should include being allowed to act as if God matters.

Later: After Reading Dolan's Micro-Book

"True Freedom: On Protecting Human Dignity and Religious Liberty" [Kindle Edition] is a really short 'book.' It took me a little over an hour to read it, and a companion piece: and have time left over for exercise and a cup of coffee.

Dolan's eBook is on my wife's Kindle now, which is such an attractive piece of information technology that I'd get one myself: if family finances and common sense didn't dictate otherwise.

It's a good explanation of why the Catholic Church insists on saying that useless, sick, or inconvenient human beings are still people: and that the same goes for folks who haven't behaved themselves.

It's a radical point of view, but I grew up in the '60s: so bucking the system is nothing new for me.

An American Trinity

I particularly liked this description of a sort of secular trinity:
"...Pragmatism, of course, means that the only value is whether or not something works, if it is efficient and helps us achieve a goal.

"Utilitarianism means that the only value is whether or not something or someone is useful to me, serves my purposes.

"Consumerism posits value only in something's ability to fill a need, or satisfy an urge....
("True Freedom," Cardinal Dolan)
I'm an American, grew up in this culture, and on the whole would rather live here than anywhere else. That's a considered opinion, by the way: I've seriously considered moving out on more than one occasion.

I absorbed, and retain, my native culture. I tend to be 'pragmatic,' and value efficiency. I'm also annoyed when things don't work.

But I'm also a Catholic, so I know that people aren't things, and that efficiency isn't the highest good.

I Still Believe

In a companion piece, "A people of Hope," Archbishop Tim thy Dolan in Conversation with John L. Allen Jr. (Image Books), I found this:
"...Instead, with eyes wide open, they [Catholics] still believe the Catholic Church is their spiritual home. ... they see the Church not as a debating society or a multinational enterprise, but a family - with all the flaws and dysfunction, but also all the joy and life, of families everywhere...."
("A people of Hope," John L. Allen Jr.)
I became a Catholic because I found out who held the authority that my Lord gave Peter. (Matthew 16:13-19)

I was also impressed that for two millennia, while empires rose and fell, and despite occasionally-incompetent (and worse) leadership, the Catholic Church was still here, with an unbroken succession of Popes.

Human institutions simply don't last that long. Not intact, not 'under the same management.' I think the Church is still here because something's holding it up. Someone, more accurately And that's another topic.

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Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.