Archive for May, 2008

“The Ratzinger Proposal”, which then cardinal Ratzinger penned in 1987, in which he proposed a return to the understanding of the Roman primacy which prevailed before the Great Schism, and would not impose the formulas of the recent centuries (ie, Vatican I):


Daniel Nichols

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A Question

Recently we have had a long conversation here regarding the prospects for reunion with the Catholic and Orthodox churches.

One of the biggest obstacles, according to some, is the Orthodox praxis regarding marriage, which allows a second, nonsacramental union for the innocent party in a shattered marriage.
I understand the concern for the integrity of marriage, and the weight of Our Lord’s words about divorce and remarriage.
However, the reality of the situation, at least here in America, hit home this week when I received a wedding invitation to the marriage of an old friend.
He had left his first wife, the woman who had borne him five children, some time ago for another woman.
It is this woman he is marrying, in the Catholic Church.
He has obtained an annulment for his first marriage.
Now, I recognize that there are marriages in name only, where some essential element to marriage is lacking. I know a woman, a relative, who married a man who slept with another woman  the night before the wedding. And I have known many other “marriages” where one or both of the partners lacked some fundamental capacity to enter into Christian marriage.
Biut this couple were not kids.. Both were committed Catholics, serious and prayerful. They lived for years in a Catholic charismatic community. The man pursued graduate studies in theology, and for years served as a director of religious education in several parishes. I was a reader at his wedding, witnessing firsthand the seriousness with which they made their vows.
That the Church would bless the “marriage” of an adulterer and his partner is a scandal
If the See of Peter can maintain union with the American bishops, who have allowed such a state for the last 30 or 40 years, why again would it be such a threat to the sanctity of marriage to enter union with the Orthodox, whose canons would forbid this union?

Daniel Nichols

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Forgot to post this link earlier in the week:

A Sudden Case of Liturgical Indifference

Maclin Horton

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In no particular order, some things I’ve been thinking for a while. Most are serious, some are tongue-in-cheek. You try and figure out which is which.

1) John McCain will not be the Republican nominee.

After the Punch and Judy show is over, after Hillary Clinton has morphed into Ma Kettle and has been dragged kicking and screaming from the stage, spitting tobacco juice and swigging whisky and cussing, the nation will turn its relentless gaze upon the Son of Cain (which is what “McCain” means in Gaelic). He will wilt under the scrutiny of his personal history, withdraw in disgrace, and the Republican convention will be thrown wide open.

Whoever is nominated- Newtie? Mitt? Some lurking unknown?- will lose to Obama, who will weather an unprecedentedly negative campaign, not so much by the Republican nominee but by his surrogates in talk radio and the other media, solely by the force of his charm and by keeping his cool, which in this pitiful age will pass as gravitas. Selecting a vice president candidate who will appeal to, you know, hard working Americans, white Americans, will help as well. Jim Webb? Robert Casey Jr.? Mike Huckabee? I don’t know, but any other course would be stupid for him.

His election will be greeted by great good will and a huge sigh of relief from around the world. What he will do with this gift is anyone’s guess.

2) Bruce Springsteen will run for governor of New Jersey in 2010 and win. In 2016 he will run for president, displacing the by now unpopular veep, will win, and will be hailed as the Ronald Reagan of his generation. This not so much for his policies, (he will also be called “the new FDR”) but for his populist appeal and star power. President Springsteen will be the culmination of The Great Rethinking, when free market ideology and neoconservatism will be seen as failed ideologies. It will be a time when “neocon” becomes as dreaded a label as “liberal” is in our own age. For Catholics serious about the Church’s patrimony of social teaching, this will be a very mixed blessing.

3) There will be no change in the status of abortion, as there would not have been if the Republicans and neocons had remained in power.

4) Coming decades will see an explosion of conversions to Islam, particularly among frustrated evangelical Christians. Prominent converts will include Britney Spears, Madonna, Anne Rice, Harvey Cox, Rod Dreher, Bono, Frank Schaefer, Hank Hannegraff and Dennis Kusinich.

5) Another growing religious movement will be The Church of the Damned, consisting of Calvinists who have had the liberating experience of realizing that they are eternally destined by Almighty God to be lost. No longer strangled by the losing battle against temptation, and feeling themselves at last in the will of God, they will spread their Good News with great enthusiasm. One of the mottoes of the New Church (as it is called) is “Sin Joyfully! It is God’s will!”

6) Relations between the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Roman Pontiff will continue to improve and eventually result in intercommuinon. One great stumbling block, the Catholic prohibition of contraception, will be rendered moot by growing Orthodox alarm at the demographic crisis among their own, prompted by their low birth rate. They will return to the ancient teaching on procreation with greater zeal than ever exhibited by the Roman Catholic Church, banning contracepting couples from holy communion, to be readmitted only after a long canonical penitential fast.

The Russian Church will resist the reunion, isolating themselves from the rest of Christendom, though they will follow the other Orthodox Churches in reinstating the ban on birth control with great rigor.

In time, when the aged patriarch has gone to his eternal reward, attitudes will begin to soften. The new patriarch, moved by such Roman gestures as the return of the Mother of God of Kazan icon to Russia in 2003, and influenced by the thought of Vladimir Soloviev, accepts the very humble proposal of Rome, basically a return to the praxis of 1000 AD, with an acknowledgment of the primacy of Peter without all the autocratic and imperial dross.

A New Springtime of the Christian Church then begins.

However, when the Great Union occurs, a group of dissidents breaks away from the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, only recently reunited with the Patriarch of Moscow, calling themselves “The Russian Orthodox Church Outside the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia”.

7) As the American Empire continues its decline and fall, food and energy prices will continue to soar. This will result in much hardship, but will also bring many good things as well.

High prices for food will lead many to plant their yards in beans, potatoes, corn and other crops. City laws forbidding chickens and goats in city limits will be repealed. Many places which once seemed like sterile suburbs will be transformed into productive, small scale agricultural lands. Not quite the Shire, it is true, but a far cry from Levittstown.

People will begin riding bicycles for short commutes, and every city will have bicycle lanes. The horse and buggy will no longer be seen as a quaint Amish throwback, but as a practical transportation alternative.

And people will walk more.

Between the exercise expended in tending gardens, riding bikes, walking, and the consumption of more wholesome homegrown food, America’s obesity epidemic will first wane, then reverse itself.

8) The high price of fuel will also mean that it will be less and less profitable to transport food and other goods across great distances. Many big box chains will go bankrupt. Enterprising souls will construct more localized distribution networks. Small scale farms will again become profitable (this has already begun to happen). Local production of clothing, tools, and other goods will grow as people try to make a living in the new economy, the Age of Reduced Expectations. President Obama, who in his campaign decried American overconsumption, will be an inspiring leader, though cynics will note that the White House thermostat is set at 72 degrees.

9) In coming decades the Amish population will continue to grow through childbearing, as it has for some time (the average Amish family has 6 children). In addition, there will be a growing number of converts, aided by the phenomenon of a restored Amish evangelization effort, headed by young and zealous young Amish (many of them converts themselves). This will result in Amish majorities in several counties in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Indiana, and sizeable minorities in Wisconsin, Michigan, Missouri, Kentucky, Illinois, and Iowa. A particularly fervent group of Amish evangelists will establish themselves in New Jersey, which will bring in an unprecedented number of converts.

10) George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Pearle, and many other of the neoconservative architects of the Iraq disaster will be tried for treason, war crimes, and criminal negligence. They will be convicted and imprisoned. The smirk will finally vanish from George Bush’s face.

In his imprisonment he will experience true conversion, repenting of his sins, and being received into the Old Believer Russian Orthodox Church (which will have nothing to do with the reunion of the Churches). Emaciated from fasting, hair and beard uncut, he will become something of a starets from his prison cell. He will, after his death, be canonized as St George the Penitent.

Dick Cheney, on the other hand, will remain defiant. He will lapse into lunacy, and die after his fourth heart transplant, raving about Al Queda and the ghost of Saddam Hussein, who is pursuing him relentlessly, intent on dragging him into Hell.

11) Iraq itself, after the inevitable American withdrawal- when in history has an invader defeated a native insurgency? – will descend into civil war, and eventually split into two nations, Kurdistan and Sunnistan. The Shii’a section will be absorbed by Iran, which will become the major power in the Middle East, thanks to the American invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The law of unintended consequences and all that.

I welcome any thoughts on these musings, and any predictions you all might want to make…

Daniel Nichols

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Love and Prayer (a conjecture)

Maclin Horton

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Graduation Day

Maclin Horton

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[Ed. note: I ran into some technical difficulties with this document, blog posts not generally having niceties such as end notes, and Microsoft being the spawn of Satan. Any problems with formatting are probably a result of that process and will be corrected, if possible, when noted.–Maclin Horton]

About a year and a half ago there was a controversy on this blog on the occasion of Rod Dreher’s leaving the Catholic Church. As I recall, there was some difference of opinion about whether he had done anything wrong, or about whether he had left the Church, i.,e., presumably the one Church mentioned in the Creeds.

I was not satisfied by the debate and decided to do some research and write something on the matter. The following was published as an article in the March 2008 Homiletic & Pastoral Review, but is unfortunately not available online.

About the time the article was published Daniel announced his intention to visit Holy Trinity Orthodox Church, so after some back and forth consultation among Daniel, Maclin and me it seemed better to hold off on posting my article until Daniel had a chance to write about his visit. Thus I offer my article in response to his remarks about the question of the Church.

The only point I wish to add is that although clearly right worship of Almighty God is of the highest importance for the Church, and Daniel cannot deplore more than I do the ugly liturgy at St. Michael’s Church that he describes, still the juridical question of what is the Church of Jesus Christ and what are her limits seems to me more basic and important than where do we find good and fitting liturgy. Otherwise we are in danger of allowing a merely esthetic liking for good liturgy to be our criterion for discovering the Church, something that afflicted some Anglicans in the past. I’m not saying that there is no difference between a concern for right worship and a merely esthetic liking for good liturgy, nor am I accusing Daniel of being motivated by merely esthetic concerns. But I’m just arguing that even when the Church allows ugly and banal liturgies, she can still be the true Church and that a fitting liturgy is not necessarily a sign that one is within the one Church of Christ.

—Thomas Storck

— Click here to read the article

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Men, Women, Sex, and Reality

Maclin Horton

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