Reading Round the Net

Reading Round the Net


It’s been a long time since I’ve been moved to do more than just throw links up in my Google Shared widget; but for some reason today I feel moved to do a linky post. Just cuz.

1. First, there’s Pope Benedict’s historical address to Parliament in Westminster Hall. The Bookworm brought it to my attention.

As I speak to you in this historic setting, I think of the countless men and women down the centuries who have played their part in the momentous events that have taken place within these walls and have shaped the lives of many generations of Britons, and others besides. In particular, I recall the figure of Saint Thomas More, the great English scholar and statesman, who is admired by believers and non-believers alike for the integrity with which he followed his conscience, even at the cost of displeasing the sovereign whose �good servant� he was, because he chose to serve God first. The dilemma which faced More in those difficult times, the perennial question of the relationship between what is owed to Caesar and what is owed to God, allows me the opportunity to reflect with you briefly on the proper place of religious belief within the political process.

[. . .]

And yet the fundamental questions at stake in Thomas More�s trial continue to present themselves in ever-changing terms as new social conditions emerge. Each generation, as it seeks to advance the common good, must ask anew: what are the requirements that governments may reasonably impose upon citizens, and how far do they extend? By appeal to what authority can moral dilemmas be resolved? These questions take us directly to the ethical foundations of civil discourse. If the moral principles underpinning the democratic process are themselves determined by nothing more solid than social consensus, then the fragility of the process becomes all too evident – herein lies the real challenge for democracy.

[. . .]

The central question at issue, then, is this: where is the ethical foundation for political choices to be found? The Catholic tradition maintains that the objective norms governing right action are accessible to reason, prescinding from the content of revelation. According to this understanding, the role of religion in political debate is not so much to supply these norms, as if they could not be known by non-believers � still less to propose concrete political solutions, which would lie altogether outside the competence of religion � but rather to help purify and shed light upon the application of reason to the discovery of objective moral principles. This �corrective� role of religion vis-�-vis reason is not always welcomed, though, partly because distorted forms of religion, such as sectarianism and fundamentalism, can be seen to create serious social problems themselves. And in their turn, these distortions of religion arise when insufficient attention is given to the purifying and structuring role of reason within religion. It is a two-way process. Without the corrective supplied by religion, though, reason too can fall prey to distortions, as when it is manipulated by ideology, or applied in a partial way that fails to take full account of the dignity of the human person. Such misuse of reason, after all, was what gave rise to the slave trade in the first place and to many other social evils, not least the totalitarian ideologies of the twentieth century. This is why I would suggest that the world of reason and the world of faith � the world of secular rationality and the world of religious belief � need one another and should not be afraid to enter into a profound and ongoing dialogue, for the good of our civilization.

The full text is here.

2. Then there’s Fr Longenecker on “Reverence and Revolution”

Here is my main point: I think those who blame all the problems of the church on the Novus Ordo are simply missing the point. If there are things wrong with the Novus Ordo they are symptoms, not causes. The core problem in the church is not the Novus Ordo or the liturgical abuses or the bad hymns and liturgical dance and all that awful stuff. These things are symptoms of a disease, not the cause.

The cause is much deeper, and it did not start with Vatican II or with the introduction of the Novus Ordo. The cause of the malaise is a very deep departure from the ancient faith. The cause is modernism, and modernism is a complicated and many headed beast. The beast’s genealogy dates back five hundred years before the Second Vatican Council. The beast’s roots are in the Protestant Revolution and the other godless revolutions that followed. The malaise in the church has grown out of the philosophical and cultural shifts within Europe for the last five hundred years.

The result is a turn away from a supernatural understanding of the faith to a utilitarian and practical understanding. The faith shifted its center from God to people, from heaven to earth, from a focus on God’s redemptive work in the world to our good works in the world. In other words, we turned from looking to God for our salvation and turned to ourselves and our community for our salvation. The philosophical and cultural waves that swept over us undermined a supernatural and God-centered view of the Christian faith and left us with a mish mash of half baked psychology, social theory, political activism, sentimentality, utilitarianism and self help ideologies which we have made into a new religion.

3. An interesting discussion on tithing in the comments here.

4. Finally, this comment by suburban banshee  made my day as someone who also struggles with her temper.

Re: the pope�s gentleness�He wasn�t always and everywhere a sweet person. One of his autobiographical works talks about his struggles with his temper, and there are some side mentions that his family members also tended toward having a temper under certain situations. Part of his pre-pope legend was that, really, he could look remarkably torqued off and nasty-stern when annoyed by newspeople with cameras. (I remember seeing video of this happen, when approached in front of his apartment building, because I kept trying desperately to explain to my dad that really, Ratzinger was a good guy!) Realizing that he was bringing ill repute on the Church and the CDF, he worked hard to stop getting angry.

So let�s appreciate his unfailing good humor in public as the trophy of a hard-fought battle against himself. (And perhaps, try to emulate him.)

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  • Melanie,

    Don’t despair.  You will get one thing done.  Even if it’s just reading the kids a book.  But if the kids’ room is in fairly good shape, I’d start there (as a warm-up) and plan ONE other thing to do.  After reading your other posts, I’d make it the de-mothing.  If you can get those two things done today, you will have a nice room for the kids and an insect-free home.  And you will feel better.  And tomorrow will be another day.

    (And I am sympathetic because I usually make a to-do list for Monday that somehow seems reasonable but also takes me the whole week to do.)

    Good luck and God bless!

  • Hate those pantry moths.  Once they got into our woodwork after they had made webs in the stoneground pancake mix that no one but me liked, so they were glad to see it tossed, but not to smell the bleach I ended up spraying everywhere.

    On the other hand, love Alexander. Hope your dentist trip is better than his!

  • I am very sorry your day has started out so difficult. My morning prayer is almost always like that as Cecilia and Felicity almost always get up between 6 and 6:30. Sometimes earlier.

    One thing I will do when things get like that is just take on one room. The moth problem does sound like a big problem in itself and given the importance of having a moth-free pantry, I can understand that being a top priority. Otherwise, I would deal with one room at a time and if it took me all week to get through all of them, so be it. I like focusing on one room because it means that even if the other rooms aren’t there yet, I can see, feel, smell, the improvement in that one room. It gives me those concrete results to help me plug along to the other rooms.

    Of course, everyone is different. That is just me.

    Just try to remember that today is just a day. Even if you get none of those things done today, tomorrow is always another day and maybe without a dental appointment and a better start to the day, you would be more disposed to do more another day rather than today. You are caring for 4 children (as one still dealing with daily nausea, unborn definitely count!) and some days you just have to tell God that if he wants it done and if he isn’t going to do it himself, he need to help. My day began with a leaky pullup and wet bedding, followed by a drive to Virginia for an OB appt. If I can just get the laundry done and sheets back on the bed, I’ll go to sleep happy.

    Hope your day gets better!!!!!

  • Thanks, everyone. I didn’t get anything accomplished before we left for the dentist except prayer. But well, some days that is enough.

    Today’s reading:    2 Thessalonians 3:10-13
    Do not let anyone have any food if he refuses to do any work. Now we hear that there are some of you who are living in idleness, doing no work themselves but interfering with everyone else�s. In the Lord Jesus Christ, we order and call on people of this kind to go on quietly working and earning the food that they eat. My brothers, never grow tired of doing what is right.

    Yep some days the readings just hit me like that.

    We had a good trip to the dentist. Bella sang the entire time the hygienist was cleaning my teeth—much to her delight. Definitely better than Alexander. No cavities. Then we had lunch with Dom at his office. Always a treat for the kids.

    Now the plumber is here to deal with the clogged sink. He actually arrived before we did. Looks like it’s going to be expensive. Sigh.

    I did a quick straighten on the living room after I put Sophie and Ben down for naps. So embarrassing to have the plumber come in with everything in the complete disaster state. But it gave me an incentive to just tackle the living room and at least tidy if not vacuum.

    I’m not sure I can handle the pantry on my own, though that would surely be the most satisfying to get completed.  I need someone with a strong stomach in case I do turn up some bugs. Ick, I can’t stand the thought of finding more! I’m not really queasy anymore except for the hair-trigger gag reflex that always takes a few more weeks to settle down once the actual nausea is past.

    Katherine, I hope your nausea ends soon.

  • Thanks. I’m counting down to it’s end.

    But, just a reminder…… “Do not let anyone have any food if he refuses to do any work.” Growing a baby is NOT easy work. Even Paul couldn’t do it!

  • Oops, Sharon, I accidentally deleted your comment!

    From: Sharon

    We have lived in this house for thirty years and I saw my first pantry moth about five years ago. I had no idea what they were. It took me a while to work out that they came from the pasta, chick peas etc. As well as cleaning them out I put a Pantry Moth Trap on the top shelf of the pantry. It emits a smell which attracts the moths and they are become trapped on the sticky surface. There must be hundreds of moths on the traps during the season. I don’t really like trapping them but I like even less hundreds of moths flying around the kitchen. Because they only appeared about five years ago I can only think that something has changed about the way food is packaged and handled. Any thoughts?

    Re the cleaning – I found that if I just tidy a little it looks better and I get round to the actual cleaning when I have time.

    Sharon, We got some of those pheromone traps too. One web page I read said they trap only the males, which is helpful; but won’t completely eliminate the infestation. From what I can tell the best way to beat an infestation is to attack all the various stages of their life cycle.

    Basically what I’ve heard is that they lay their eggs in rice, beans, whole grains, etc. (the eggs are so small you can’t really see them) and get into your house on one or more of those ingredients. One friend told me her co-op told her that if you’re buying lots of whole grains and beans they’re almost inevitable. Did you start buying more beans or whole grains about five years ago? Even one new bag with some eggs in it might have been enough to start the cycle. Then the caterpillars hatch and eat the ready food source. They spin cocoons, hatch into adult moths, which is what you normally notice, and those moths lay more eggs in more packages like your pasta and flour. Even in sealed packages. We found them in unopened pasta. I’ve read that they can chew through cardboard and even plastic bags and some of the cheaper, thinner plastic containers. I found some in sealed ziploc bags and in plastic containers with tight lids. Yikes!

    You need airtight containers made of heavy-duty plastic so the adult moths can’t get in to lay their eggs. I’ve read that freezing likely vectors whole grains, beans, etc for 48 hours or 4-5 days (sources don’t agree) when you first bring them home will kill the eggs and prevent them from hatching and beginning the cycle. I’ve also read that you should clean everything off the shelves and wipe them down, perhaps even with bleach, searching for cocoons in cracks and crevices and destroying them when you find them. Supposedly they don’t like strong smells and scattering bay leaves or spraying peppermint oil (not the stuff you use for cooking but the pure oil) will also help to keep the adult moths from laying their eggs.