Thursday, February 26, 2009

Include me out

Greg Griffith has posted an excerpt from a "why can't we all just get along?" lament by a TECorp bishop, which deplores the base and primitive notion that we can set boundaries to what is acceptable in a church. This is the root of TECorp's most sacred mystery (now that they no longer have the pocket change to fund the formerly sacred MDGs) "inclusiveness".
Second, what we are saying is that the notion that there are no boundaries to "inclusiveness," that there is no belief that should not be welcome in the church, is false. We are saying that to be a Christian means to hold certain things as true, and that to open certain things to ambiguity or "multiple interpretation" on the grounds that "inclusiveness" is our highest calling, is to gut the Gospel of its meaning, and thus make Christianity incoherent.

The ACC is no slouch when it comes to inclusiveness, either. At the national synod two years ago, the theme was "Draw the circle wide; draw it wider still", and the explanation for this theme encapsulates the idea nicely:
“Draw the Circle Wide… Draw It Wider Still”, the theme for General Synod 2007, incorporates concepts of inclusivity: language, race, culture, theology and the dignity of all people. The circle, with Christ as its centre, can be infinitely wide and draws all to Christ. The circle, a symbol of creation and life, is significant to Indigenous people representing healing, sharing and teaching. The inner circle, the Medicine wheel, contains the words of patience, humility, hope and respect. The inner circle shows how we need to be with each other for the circle to be wider. The circle never blocks anyone out and we continue to learn as the circle goes round, ever widening. We hope that graphic representation of the theme can be an open circle, so that the Church is never seen as closed but open and inclusive of all.

This is an example of a woolly idea that falls apart upon examination. Chesterton once wrote a paragraph about windows, which covers the same territory and speaks to me personally, since Vatican II was often touted as an opportunity to "throw open the windows". The same illogical concept was at work, however. Chesterton wrote that nothing could seem more positive than a window - what's not to like? They let in light, air and beauty. Everyone must agree that a window is a wonderful thing. But the unbridled love of windows will lead a person to make a window larger and larger, until it is so large, the wall around it has completely disappeared. And then, coincidentally, so has the window. A window only exists when it is bordered and constrained; make it supreme, and it destroys itself through its own success.

A circle is the same thing. The idea behind this sentimentalism is easy to understand - a circle around a campfire is a nice, warm, cozy thing. The person outside it is cold and to be pitied. So make the circle bigger! More people are now in the cozy warmth, instead of outside in the cold - how wonderful! Don't stop, make it bigger still! Make it so big, it's infinite. And then you'll find that there's no circle anymore. A circle by definition must have an "outside". If it's "infinite", then not only is there no boundary to define it, there's no "center" either. The revisionist idea that they can manufacture a limitless "circle" is a doomed conceit; the only thing that contains everything is everything, which is another way of saying that they are constructing nothing.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ah, but he had to leave the country to say it!

Archbishop Chaput of Denver gave a speech in Toronto that must have had them scratching their heads at the 'Toronto Star':
Toronto, Canada, Feb 23, 2009 / 09:03 pm (CNA).- Canadians packed St. Basil’s Church in Toronto on Monday evening to hear Archbishop Charles Chaput speak about how Catholics should live out their faith in the public square. He warned that in the U.S., Catholics need to act on their faith and be on guard against "a spirit of adulation bordering on servility" that exists towards the Obama administration.
Skating on thin ice there. And he said these things before "an overflow crowd of more than 700 people"! Did anyone track crime statistics in Toronto over the following two days? This could be another 'Passion of the Christ' with hate-inflated conservative Catholics stampeding out the doors of St. Basil's to crush helpless blacks and liberals under their feet!
After giving a sketch of the basic principles in his New York Times Bestseller "Render Unto Caesar," the archbishop offered his insights on the need for an honest assessment of the situation of the Church in the public square.

"I like clarity, and there’s a reason why," began the archbishop. "I think modern life, including life in the Church, suffers from a phony unwillingness to offend that poses as prudence and good manners, but too often turns out to be cowardice. Human beings owe each other respect and appropriate courtesy. But we also owe each other the truth -- which means candor."
I'd say 'Take heed, Anglicans!' if only it weren't all much too late. That spirit of cowardice masquerading as respect and politeness has gone all the way up to the Primate level, judging by the Egypt conference.
According to the archbishop, the political situation for Catholics is difficult to discern because a "spirit of adulation bordering on servility already exists among some of the same Democratic-friendly Catholic writers, scholars, editors and activists who once accused pro-lifers of being too cozy with Republicans. It turns out that Caesar is an equal opportunity employer."

"The fourth and final thing to remember, and there’s no easy way to say it," remarked Archbishop Chaput, is that the "Church in the United States has done a poor job of forming the faith and conscience of Catholics for more than 40 years."

"And now we’re harvesting the results -- in the public square, in our families and in the confusion of our personal lives. I could name many good people and programs that seem to disprove what I just said. But I could name many more that do prove it, and some of them work in Washington."

American Catholics need to realize that many in the current generation haven’t just been "assimilated" into the American culture, but have in fact been "absorbed and bleached and digested by it," Archbishop Chaput asserted.

He's right, and the stresses and pressures of the current age are exposing the worn-out holes in the Catholic garment. It's no longer enough just to contemplate the census numbers of those who identify themselves as "Catholic"; it's time to face the fact that the number of real believing Catholics in the U.S. (and Canada) is much smaller than suspected. I think that it will take very few years to expose just how small that group of believers is.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Big deal

So, Obama is dropping in to Ottawa for a few hours tomorrow, his first foreign trip since taking power. The Ottawa Citizen is insisting that this is going to be Trudeaumania Redux, but I'm skeptical. There are always a few rubberneckers who go along to see anything that looks like it might be in the news, but we've all but been guaranteed that Obama will be The Invisible Man when it comes to the general populace.

The security is tight, of course, and he'll be driving down Colonel By Drive to get to Parliament Hill. Not surprising - it's the most picturesque route, and at a time of year when Ottawa is crusted from end to end with filthy, rotting piles of snow, I'm not surprised they're trying to find the prettiest scenery available to impress the guest. It's a residential street, though, and people have been instructed not to open their windows during the Grand Progress. As if anyone opens their windows in February! I tried over the weekend, and found the windows still frozen shut with ice.

The big news is that Obama is bringing his own wheels for the afternoon. I don't recall Bush bringing his own limo with him when he visited Canada, and I'm sure if he did, we'd have been treated to many hours of Canadian-accented sneers about the cowardly cowboy cringing behind his 5 inches of plate glass, along with indignant sniffs about the insult to Canada of assuming that we are incapable of handling security for a visit IN OUR OWN CAPITAL. I believe I heard such "who does he think he is?" griping every single time Bush came, and even in his absence, whenever it was suggested that his Secret Service men might like to bring their own guns with them. Why, we're a sovereign country, and we have our OWN very STRICT laws concerning firearms, and no mere President of the United States should think he's above them!

Oh well, let the baby have his toys. It seems to be the only thing on his mind at the moment, as Obama has been jetting to the grocery store on Air Force One since the inauguration. What I'd like to know is, is he bringing his own snowplough? Maybe he could make himself useful, as the snow has just started to fall, and we're expecting about a foot of snow between now and the end of Thursday, not to mention some possible freezing rain.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Any port in a storm

I don't usually post cute animal pictures, but this one, with the accompanying story is just too adorable:
Four tiny orpahned hedgehogs are snuggling up to the bristles of a cleaning brush - because they think it's their mother.

The four inch long creatures are being hand-reared by staff at the New Forest Otter, Owl and Wildlife Park in Ashurst, Hants.

Workers say Mary, Mungo, Midge and Slappy get comfort from playing with the centre's cleaning brush and enjoy rubbing against it.

The smells on the brush, which is used to sweep a yard, remind the hedgehogs of their natural habitat while the texture reminds them of their mother.

"Daft as a brush", is the caption. I think it's sweet that hedgehogs can take comfort from something so prosaic as a bristly brush.

(hat tip: Fuck You, Penguin)

Monday, February 09, 2009

Bad scare

I had such a scare today. The buses are back, but they're only operating at about 50% strength so far, so Dean's original plan to take the bus to work fell apart when it raced past him, full, and he couldn't wait another half hour for the next one. He came back home, and I got out the van to drive him. No big deal; Emma had a spare first period, so I wouldn't have to drive HER to school until about 10:15, so I had lots of time to get to External Affairs and back. The only problem was I was about to cook some porridge, but the water had not quite started to boil, so I took it off the stove, and resolved to make it when I got back.

Sure enough, I got home about 10:00, and about 10 minutes later, was back in the van driving Emma to school. By this time, I realized I was almost out of gas, so I headed to the gas station to fill up (80 cents a litre - the nerve of them, expecting us to pay these prices!). I'd also been meaning to check the tires, so I did and found them very low (always happens in the winter), so I filled them up with air as well. After filling up with gas, I decided the car was pretty dirty, so I'd take it through the car wash as well.

Things were going really well - it's quite cold out, but it's still a lovely sunny day, and it's supposed to get warmer over the next few days - and I was very relaxed, waiting for my turn through the car wash when a deadening thought crossed my mind: I'd put the pot of water back on to make the porridge when I got home from driving Dean. And I'd walked out of the house, leaving it there!

My ribcage felt like it was squeezing my heart. I was next in line for the carwash...I'd already entered the automatic code...oh, no, someone else has come into the line behind me! I had to go through with it - I had to go through the wash before I could get home and turn off the stove! As I watched the car in front of me, I was hoping they'd opted for the cheapo wash instead of the deluxe with wax and sealant. Then in I went, and the whole time I was thinking, "I put in 4 cups of water - how long would it take to boil dry? How long have I been gone? Thirty-five minutes. Would the pot be dry by now? What if the handle melts? What if it melts and drips on the burner and catches fire? Yin is alone in the house...oh, God..."

Fortunately, this time I had opted for a cheaper wash, so it didn't take too long to get through. The light came on, the door opened, and the sign advised me to advance slowly through the blowers. Naturally, I was out of there like a bat out of hell, steam rising from the undried water on the underside of the car. I raced the 1.5 km home at about 100km/hr - I was perfectly willing to pay a speeding ticket, if only the cop would follow me home and let me get to the kitchen first! I was scanning the sky all the way, looking for any rising smoke.

Bursting into the house and running to the stove, I found the pot was indeed dry, but had only begun to change colour, so it hadn't been dry for long. The handle had a slight crack in it from the heat, but it hadn't melted. Yin gave a little woof of surprise when I blasted past her, but nothing bad had happened. Whew! I've been shaken up about it all day. One thing I did, was I abandoned all thought of making porridge! Clearly there was a curse on it, after two failed attempts, and I was not meant to have porridge today.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Our vanishing language

The bus strike is over, but it will be weeks before we are back to normal. I was getting ready to drive Dean and Emma in today, grumbling about how hard it is to coordinate all the comings and goings.

Emma: "'Cause you're still the chauffeur, eh, Mom?"
Me: "Yes, yes, I'm still the beast of burden!"
Emma: "'re not a burden to us!"

Aaaarrrgghh! My own daughter doesn't know this simple figure of speech! I don't know which was worse, discovering this gap in her knowledge of English, or having to explain my punchline. Grousing isn't much fun if you have to explain your gripe to the audience!