Saturday, October 30, 2010

God's Englishman

Peter Hitchens takes no prisoners. He is about the most uncompromising conservative you're likely to come across (a proper conservative as Splinty calls him - giving him the handle The Hitch, normally given to his brother, Christopher). The Rage Against God is a polemic-apologetic work giving an account of his upbringing, adoption of Trotskyist-atheism and conversion to (a very Anglican) Christianity. As a consequnce of a never-to-be-repeated debate with his famously atheist brother (the debate can be found online HERE) it is also a reflection and refutation of familiar arguments raised by atheists (especially familiar to those of us who haunt blogs) and his own account of his experience of the militant soviet communist form of atheism as a Moscow-based journalist.

It is a good read, but it is clearly the work of a journalist who likes his information in bite-sized, punchy pieces, rather than the ruminative style of an academic. There is a degree of affection and compassion for his brother but the passion that runs through the piece is recognisably driven by sibling rivalry. It is a useful book as his dismissal of the familiar arguments put up by militant atheists, especially on blogs, (Are conflicts fought in the name of religion conflicts about religion? Is it possible to determine what is right and what is wrong without God? Are atheist states not actually atheist?) are effectively and concisely dealt with. He loses his way a little in his description of the cult of Winston Churchill and the War Dead as a national substitute religion (I'd have said that's more likely to be the typical funeral amalgam of Dianaesque-sentimentality-Robbie-Williams-Angels-spirituality with a side-order of Raoul Moat/road accident-flower-laying).

His abrasive style may grate with some readers but I admire the fact that he is one of the few writers/journalists to stand up to the lazy assumptions that constitute the zeitgeist.

Well worth a read. My copy will go to whoever wants it. Preference given to priests or students. I'll pay postage. You might want to give a donation to Aid to the Church in Need in lieu. Email me: lepanto{at}hotmail{dot}co{dot}uk

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Monday, October 25, 2010

Yeah. Right.

Anne Rice, a multi-millionairess author of gothic, vampire and erotic fiction has been in and out of the Catholic Church like a dog in a butcher's doorway. In a delicious irony, The Guardian announces her fatwa on its front page: "The Church was flat-out immoral..." and - presumably unintentionally - juxtaposes the smug, armchair moralist with a nun of the Missionaries of Charity (at risk of cholera herself, no doubt) tending a patient in Haiti in the midst of the current epidemic.

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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Amateur psychology corner

One salient point that many commentators may have missed in all the brouhaha about Mgr Basil Loftus and his peculiarly extreme animus against the Extraordinary Form of Holy Mass and the hermeneutic-of-continuiy more generally, is the fact that his late father was a leading light in the early days of the Latin Mass Society.

Maybe the old Viennese Fraud was onto something after all....Or as the psychiatrist in an episode of Fawlty Towers put it: “There’s enough material here for an entire conference.”

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Currently reading...

In the early 1970s a friend of mine attended Mass in one of Philadelphia's grand old parishes, an immense pile of stone built to last for eternity. In the same pew right next to him was an elderly lady who energetically fingered her rosary beads all during mass. She stood sat and knelt with everyone else but her thoughts seemed to be far removed from the activity around her.

The time came for the Handshake of Peace, one of those "new things" which made everyone feel a bit silly. My friend turned to the elderly lady at this point and, holding out his hand in friendship said "May the peace of the Lord be with you.". The old lady scowled. She looked at the proffered hand as if it were diseased. "I don't believe in that shit", she replied and, without missing a breath, went back to the quiet mumbling of her rosary.

Before we start imaging that the old lady must have some been some charming fossil from another eon, let us remember that as late as 1963 nearly every Roman Catholic bishop in the United States, would have agreed with her. They didn't believe in "that shit", and neither did the majority of the faithful.

-Thomas Day,
Why Catholics Can't Sing: The Culture of Catholicism and the Triumph of Bad Taste

Friday, October 22, 2010

In the box

Two lessons from the confessional yesterday.

Sometimes God sends you just the right priest at the right time (even if it is one you are not desperately fond of) when you go to confession;

What he said:

"Satan is ready to knock you off your feet, once he's got you off your knees in prayer..... Pray the rosary more"

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Shame on you, Loftus, shame on you.

Mgr Basil Loftus, a retired priest who is a noted enthusiast for the changes brought about, if not by, then in the name of, the Second Vatican Council, has forced another retired priest to stop blogging - threatening him with legal action through the civil and ecclesiastical courts for implying he was a heretic. As has been pointed out elsewhere, the likelihood of a successful civil action was infinitessimally small (the courts do not like involving themselves in such matters).

To be honest, I think Fr Mildew should have told the old bully to get stuffed, in the nicest, most Christian way possible, of course. Far worse things have been written about him, but I doubt he will pursue those bloggers. He'd rather frighten old men of limited means into silence.

You might want to write to the editors of the periodicals Mgr Loftus writes in to express your disgust at Fr Mildew's treatment. Please note the calling of a boycott is unquestionably legal.

Strength in numbers and all that. I would urge fellow Catholic bloggers to blog about this (in non-litigious terms) with the above headline - pass it on:


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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Like a yo-yo

So having given my youngest his first, whopping great dose of steroids this morning - tears and snotters, etc, etc - his paediatrician rings to say the tests done on Monday were essentially back to normal and to stop the drugs. I don't know whether we're coming or going. Perhaps it is the power of prayer. If so, Deo gratias and thank you dear readers (and my family).

You'll think I'm The Boy Who Cried Wolf. I'm very confused. Bloody medicos. At least I know how my patients feel now....

Sunday, October 17, 2010

False dawns, deflation etc

Turns out my earlier optimism about my youngest was misplaced and he DOES have a chronic ailment requiring long-term treatment (steroids to start with). I'm anxious and it's a bit of a scunner. Prayers appreciated.


Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Interfaith dialogue ca.1172

My mother had the Oath of Maimonides framed for me when I qualified as a doctor. It came as something as a shock to discover the words he uses regarding Our Blessed Lord in the Epistle to Yemen:

You know that the Christians falsely ascribe marvelous powers to Jesus the Nazarene, may his bones be ground to dust, such as the resurrection of the dead and other miracles...

Remember that next time anyone brings up the Good Friday Prayers and "Oremus pro perfidis judaeis"