Posted by Christopher Johnson | Thursday, April 21st, 2011 | Uncategorized | 47 Comments

Christmas and Easter have each developed the same longstanding tradition.  The run-up to these two holidays always produces television documentaries, magazine articles and learned treatises purporting to tell us what really happened at Bethlehem or on Golgotha and what it all means(since everyone has gotten it wrong up to now). 

I’ve already dealt with one example here while Dale Price elegantly destroys another one here(do not miss Dale’s take; when my man is on his game, there is nobody better in the world at whatever this stuff is).

Here’s another.  At the National Catholic Reporter, Jamie Manson doesn’t want to know what happened on Good Friday as much as she wants to know why it happened:

I’ve had more than one Catholic who grew up either before or on the cusp of Vatican II tell me horror stories of how they were taught that Jesus died because of their sins.

“Horror stories of how they were taught that Jesus died because of their sins.”  I think you already know where Ms. Manson is going with this.

This was a particularly heavy-handed way for priests and nuns to lay an even thicker coat of guilt on impressionable Catholic school children. Because they were sinners, Jesus had to suffer and die to redeem them. It was one rendering of the traditional theological interpretations of the crucifixion — that Jesus had to die to fulfill the Scriptures and that his death atoned for the sins of the world.

Get ready for the customary condescending pat on the head.

I know that countless people throughout the centuries have found profound, life-changing and even comforting meaning in this understanding of the Cross.

Since Ms. Manson has much more important fish to fry(see what I did there?), she’ll let the rest of you have your little legend.

But I’ve often felt that if we immerse ourselves in the accounts of Jesus’ arrest, passion, and death as told by the four Gospels, these texts can broaden and deepen our understanding of the crucifixion.

I don’t know how much deeper one needs to go than getting one’s sins taken care of so that one can go home to the Father.

It can help us make meaning of so much of the anguish that we witness in our world and in our church.

I stand corrected.  Jesus died the most horribly agonizing death that it is possible to imagine in order to “help us make meaning of so much of the anguish that we witness in our world and in our church.”  Got it.

Me, I’ve never ever been able to “make meaning” of diseases, wars, genocides, famines, earthquakes, tsunamis and other tragedies with their attendant human suffering.  I guess I’m not trying hard enough.

When I read the passion narratives of the Gospels, I don’t hear simply that Jesus suffered and died for our sins. Rather, I hear the four evangelists very clearly say that Jesus’ suffering and death was the will of those who conspired against him — those whose political systems he had undermined, those whose religious convictions he had offended.

Glad we’ve finally cleared that up.  Neither Romans nor Jews killed Christ.  It was the Republican Party and the religious Right.

Jesus’ death may have been the will of God, but it was also the will of both powerful people and ordinary people who preferred unquestioning loyalty to rigid, oppressive political and religious regimes to the profound challenges of God incarnate.

You thought I was kidding before, didn’t you?  But God incarnate?  Wow.  Does Jamie actually believe that Jesus was the incarnate Son of the Living God?  Not so much, no.

Jesus was the embodiment of all those things we should equate with God: love and justice, care and compassion, creation and creativity, transformation and wholeness.

God doesn’t merely display “love and justice, care and compassion, creation and creativity, transformation and wholeness,” He should be equated with them.  In other words, God is love.  And love is God. 

Jesus was the embodiment of all good and healing things that we experience in this life on this earth, and Jesus taught us the ways to experience this fullness [of] God’s presence more and more abundantly: by healing afflictions, by offering community to those banished by religions and societies, by inviting us to his table when no one else seemed to know we existed.

And that’s why they killed Him?  Simply because He hung out with lowlifes?

Unfortunately, Jesus’ convictions about the ways to bring God’s presence more fully into the world shattered traditional religious practices and cultural conventions.

Folks, we are getting into some deep Episcopalianism here.

Though some thought having the fullness of life meant having socio-economic power, Jesus — God-incarnate — said it meant sitting at the table with the dregs of society. Though some thought experiencing holiness meant being acceptable in the eyes of religious authorities, Jesus said it meant being constantly judged and ostracized by those in religious power. Though many were told that experiencing God meant obeying laws and practicing empty rituals, Jesus told them that encountering God happens when we feed those who hunger, welcome the estranged, shelter the vulnerable, and visit the lonely.

Granted.  But I don’t know whether you’ve noticed this or not, Jamie, but those are not the sorts of things that human beings naturally go out of their way to do. 

If there’s an atheist-sponsored food bank or homeless shelter in the world, I’m not aware of it.  Most Christians do all those things because of our gratitude to the One who loved us enough to die for our sins on the Cross.

Because that is who God is: love, justice, integrity, comfort, peace. Any time we experience these things, we experience God. And, therefore, any time these God-experiences are violated or snuffed out, we experience a death of God — a microcosmic manifestation of the crucifixion in our time.

And any time a bell rings, a NatCatRep writer gets his wings.  Where are you going with this, Jamie?

The crucifixion tells on a grand scale the smaller-scale deaths of God that occur every minute of every day throughout the world. In the Gospel stories, God, in the person of Jesus, is being wounded, abused, neglected, and killed. And this idea, I believe, couldn’t be more relevant and more meaningful to us today in a world ruptured by violence, poverty, and greed, and in a church beleaguered by self-alienation, intolerance, and excommunications.

The Crucifixion as performance art?  Jesus was scourged to within an inch of his life, had nails driven through his wrists and feet, spent hours slowly suffocating to death and eventually died merely so that people would be nicer to each other? 

Seems a little, oh, I don’t know…excessive?  I don’t see how you got from Point A to Point B but I don’t have a Master’s from Yale Divinity.  So there you are.

Whenever we harm ourselves or deny our own goodness, we wound God.

There goes the whole “dying for the sins of the world” business.   

Whenever we allow religious institutions to rob us of our dignity as unconditionally beloved children of God, God is put into a prison and degraded.

So stop saying that homosexual activity is a sin.  Ordain some women, misogynists!  And make a few of ’em bishops.  Chop, chop!!

Whenever we deny love or compassion to someone in need, or allow injustice to prosper, we deny God.

You getting all this down, Paul Ryan?

Whenever a creation of God suffers at the hands of greed, or the abuse of power, or hatred or fear, God is abused. Whenever a creation is killed, whether through our continued ravaging of the earth or through atrocities like genocide and war, God is crucified.

Up top there, Jamie said, “Jesus was the embodiment of all those things we should equate with God: love and justice, care and compassion, creation and creativity, transformation and wholeness.”

So I guess when she says that “God is wounded, degraded, denied, abused or killed, what she means is that every time we do one of these bad things, “love and justice, care and compassion, creation and creativity, transformation and wholeness” is wounded, degraded, denied, abused or killed.  And that doesn’t make a lick of sense.

For a brief time, God had a body on this earth in the person of Jesus.

Nice of you to admit that.  But to paraphrase Inigo Montoya, I don’t think that means what you think it means.

But that doesn’t mean that God’s body does not continue to work on this earth, seeking and yearning to bring God’s presence — love, justice, and compassion — more fully alive in all of creation in order to stop the crucifixions, the on-going and never-ending deaths of God.

Give it up for the Jesus-was-a-great-teacher-and-nothing-more pseudo-Gospel.  To Manson, God is a system of ethics, Jesus is this real cool philosophy professor you had at State and Christianity is one long college-level philosophy class with free snacks.

Look.  I’m not saying that all those things aren’t important.  I am saying that a system of ethics, no matter how exalted it might be, is not, by itself, going to move men and women to do much of anything noble.

Nobody ever read the Nicomachean Ethics, built a movement around it and swept all before them.  However, a small group of first-century Jews changed the whole world.  But they didn’t do it, couldn’t have done it, simply because Jesus’ preaching was so revolutionary and his ethics was so sublime.

They did it because of what they saw on Good Friday. 

And Who they saw on Easter.

Think of it this way.  Sacrificing something of yourself for the sake of others is hard.  But once you realize how infinitely much God sacrificed for your sake on the Cross, sacrificing for others becomes the easiest thing in the world.


Don Janousek
April 21, 2011

Typical leftist drivel. Christ was the original rebel! One can almost hear the Crystals from 1963 singing in the background “See the way he walks down the street, see the way he shuffles his feet…”

Also, really keen and swell how she works in religious, economic, cultural and political “elitism” and “rigidity” every few words. Obviously the Pharisees were the first Republicans, the Temple priests were the first Evangelicals, etc. ad infinitum.

Oh, and I was never taught that Christ died “because” of our sins – He died “for” them, in our place to redeem us. Much greater story than the one about the young Hebrew community organizer who liked to “hang” with the common folk.

A most joyous Pascha to one and all, BTW.

FW Ken
April 21, 2011

We don’t call it The National “Catholic” Distorter for nothing, although the sneer quotes are optional.

Actually, I rather like some of her points, because I get so caught up in the pressures of the daily grind that I am wont to forget Christ in my neighbor, the suffering around me, and that my calling is To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8). For me, however, it’s the rituals she seems to find empty that point me back to God, forcing me to look beyond the daily grind.

Also interesting is that if you read NCR regularly, you would think that most Catholics are religious liberals and reject the horrid, mean old Church’s classical teachings, In fact, a significant people reject the Church in favor of evangelicalism, where they will find a possibly stronger emphasis on substitutionary atonement.

I’m skipping over NCR this season in favor of our diocesan paper, the North Texas Catholic, the front page of which has a large, renaissance Resurrection painting and this text:

Easter celebrates the very foundation of our faith: Jesus risen from the dead, opening the door to eternal life with the Father, mending the broken bond between man and God, between heaven and earth, by his blood shed on the Cross.

From the bishop’s column in the same edition:

The fact that Jesus Christ, in the very early dawn on that first day of the week, arose from death and thus conquers sin and death forever, is the absolute reason for our faith and hope in Christ — no longer do we live under the chains of sin or the power of death — for Christ is indeed victorious! It is always amazing as well as disappointing that oftentimes, especially during this time of year, we seem to hear from some theologian or another who tries through what I like to call some “psuedo-intellectual” work, to deny the actual, real, and physical resurrection of Christ, and claim that the resurrection of Christ was only a “spiritual awakening” experienced by the disciples.

April 22, 2011

I think she has little concept of what holiness is. She appears to lack the imagination to comprehend that God is not an old guy with a beard; even Michelangelos’ depiction of Him at the moment of Adam’s promotion to “in Our image” greatly diminishes the truth – God is an Intelligence, a Power, an Artist, a Scientist, a Poet and a Master Storyteller of pure Spirit, who simply IS. (Can you imagine pure Spirit?) No beginning, no ending, just “I Am”, forever holy, pure, and undefiled: His goodness casts no shadow. (I doubt that even Michael and Gabriel are granted complete knowledge of their Creator.)

It being my firm conviction that God works through ordinary men still to bring about his purposes, and that a major one for the world’s more educated populations of our time is The Lord of the Rings, I feel that a few viewings and readings of are helpful for this sort of mind. Unfortunately, it’s often the very kind that is least attracted to Tolkien in anything but the most superficial way.

Lacking, apparently, even a deeper human insight into God’s Persons, this woman cannot understand how defiling evil is in His presence, anymore than Frodo could at the beginning understand the vileness inherent in the Ring.

Little of his life in the kindly Shire could have prepared him to confront the re-entry-grade impact of Sauron’s repellent life-force and stand against it: only his inherent innocence and goodness were of any use in that direction. We are most of us less innocent than Frodo, and yet many people succeed in maintaining a certain degree of removal from the darkest reaches of the human condition, even among the non-devout.

When Christ bore our sins, there was no remove. There was no polite hedging around things because of being ‘in mixed company.’ All of our sins, from petty avarice and “white lies” to the most depraved of violent crimes, came upon Him and Him alone and left Him lying before heaven in His blood and our unedited guilt.

As Galadriel said to Frodo: “You bring great evil here, Ringbearer.”

If she can’t understand that, how can she even begin to understand the need for redemption?

Donald R. McClarey
April 22, 2011

Great fisk Christopher. Fortunately the target audience for the National Catholic Distorter, as it is commonly called among Catholics in the US, uberlib clergy and laity from the Sixties, will soon be attempting to renew their subscriptions from the graveyard.

April 22, 2011

And that folks is the reason why we have a Magisterium,(Matthew 16, 13-20. verse 19 in particular) instead of a process of making your own personal interpretations and concoctions to fit your preconcieved ideas as to what Christianity means.

April 22, 2011

“Whenever we deny love or compassion to someone in need, or allow injustice to prosper, we deny God.”

Actually this one I do agree with. The Scriptures are pretty blunt about how we should treat people like the old, the poor, orphans, widows and the like. Whilst I don’t think we can ever fix the world ourselves and Jesus said that the poor shall always be with us, I do think we should be better at caring for people.

Faith without works is dead and Jesus told us that whenever we fed the hungry and clothed the naked we were doing it to him.

April 22, 2011

So, excommunications are just like killing God. Good to know.

Dale Matson
April 22, 2011

My overall impression of what she wrote is that the Kingdom of God is material. It is materializing the spiritual.

Truth Unites... and Divides
April 22, 2011

Wow. Conservatives sometimes wonder why so many Catholics vote for Liberals or voted for Obama. This article brings it into clearer focus as to why.

The author has an Ivy League pedigree:

Jamie L. Manson received her Master of Divinity degree from Yale Divinity School where she studied Catholic theology and sexual ethics. Her columns for the National Catholic Reporter earned her a first prize Catholic Press Association award for Best Column/Regular Commentary in 2010.

A writer based in New York, she is the former editor in chief of the Yale magazine Reflections. As a lay minister she has worked extensively with New York City’s homeless and poor populations. A frequent speaker and retreat leader, she is a regular homilist for the New York City chapter of DignityUSA, and has served on the board of the Women’s Ordination Conference.

April 22, 2011

This Very Important Woman needs to read the verse that said it pleased God to crush Jesus in order to outfox the devil and redeem and release His lost children from captivity to sin and death.

Crucifixion, circumcision, death to self and sinful desires are the hard truth that believers must also face and do.

‘Those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its sinful desires.’ (Galatians 5:24)

‘Those who have suffered the consequences and after-effects of sin are finally sick of sin and want to be done with and want no more to do with it and want to live the rest of their lives avoiding it like the plague!’ (my paraphrase of I Peter 4:1)

This woman is feeding dung to the people.

April 22, 2011

A flurry of consultations, unequivocal ultimatums and excommunications might clear out the stinking toxic fog that is obscuring the beauty and truth of the Lord in a lot of churches.

April 22, 2011

And I find it extremely ‘Freudian’ that Shori is always going on about emissions when she is the chief emittor of toxic fog.

And what does their obsession with emission say about the Greenies?

April 22, 2011

Well, maybe Spong is the chief emittor.

Martial Artist
April 22, 2011

@FW Ken,

As an alternative to The National “Catholic” Distorter, I am rather fond of Fr. John Zuhlsdorf’s moniker for it—The National Catholic Fishwrap, and for which he has created a photoshopped image of that paper in that use. It has the advantage of identifying one of the few appropriate uses to which the “paper” may be put.

Pax et bonum,
Keith Töpfer

Timothy Fountain
April 22, 2011

Looking at Jesus as some kind of therapeutic key to suffering is useless – unless he is exactly who the orthodox faith says he is. Take away the idea that God loves us enough to be confined in our finite, suffering flesh, and the inexpressible injustice of the Creator submitting to the cruelty of creatures, and what do you have?

I have people with cancer in my congregation – they’ve suffered longer and worse than Jesus on Earth.

I know people who’ve lost a child, and have to live with that screwing up their hearts for the remaining decades of their lives, not just a session of scourging and three hours on a cross.

My wife and I teeter daily on the edge of helplessness and despair dealing with our son’s autism. We have 17 years into that and who knows how much more to go.

If Jesus is just some symbol of “s**t happens,” no thanks. “If we have hoped in him for this life only, we are pathetic.”

Truth Unites... and Divides
April 22, 2011

LibProts are detestable.

Would be fine with me if liberal theology was confined to Protestantism.

It’s too bad theological liberalism is embedded within Catholicism.

April 22, 2011

In fact, the consensus of hymnbook and Good Friday poetry is unanimous against Ms. Manson’s theological position.

Scripture also stands against her, for without our sin and our helplessness to overcome it on our own, the crucifixion would never have taken place. Our sin was the reason for this ghastly event, called good forever because of its immutable redemptive effect.

April 22, 2011

I’m not all that smart, but this to me is a better approach to the day:

For us he was unto Thee both the Victor and the Victim,
and therefore Victor, because he was the Victim
for us he was unto Thee both the Priest and the Sacrifice,
and therefore the Priest, because he was the Sacrifice
…I meditate upon the price of my redemption

Confessions X, xliii

The Pilgrim
April 22, 2011

This morning at 9 AM I was in church for The Hours. At this PM, we will go back to take Christ down from the cross and place him in the tomb. We will start the vigil immediately after the service, one at a time we will read the book of psalms out loud until the Lamentation Service at 7, when the tomb will be processed outside around the church 3 times. The vigil will then proceed with people standing ag the southern end o the tomb, reading the Gospels in one hour shifts until Saturday Liturgy at 9 AM.

This woman has nothing to say to me. Her small god has nothing to say to me. She is a resounding gong.

Dale Price
April 22, 2011

Thanks for the hat tip and kind words!

Very nice work here. The thing is, it’s not the worst thing that’s flowed from her keyboard. But, yeah, her progressive pre-commitments and angry resistance to the idea of personal (as opposed to social or institutional) sin invariably sabotages her writing.

I’m beginning to think progressive Christianity is best described as a kind of vampire: not only does it need to feed on a living host to survive, it is terrified of the Cross.

It’s amazing that they never ponder how their inoffensive version of Jesus ever got himself killed by the Romans. Eating with undesirables may–may– conceivably have led to him being murdered by an outraged mob of hypersensitive Jews, but it’s impossible to imagine the Romans ever giving a rat’s fanny.

Outraged Pharisee/Saduccee: “But he eats with hookers and tax collectors!”

Roman: “Good for him!”

April 22, 2011

From the Pope’s Wednesday audience this week:

“The Letter to the Hebrews gives us a profound interpretation of this prayer of the Lord, of this drama of Gethsemane. It says: these tears of Jesus, this prayer, these cries of Jesus, this anguish – is not all this simply a concession to the weakness of the flesh, as could be said. But precisely in this way he realizes the task of High Priest, because the High Priest must lead the human being, with all his problems and sufferings, to the height of God. And the Letter to the Hebrews says: with all these cries, tears, sufferings, prayers, the Lord took our reality to God (cf. Hebrews 5:7ff). And it uses this Greek word “prosferein,” which is the technical term for what the High Priest must do to offer, to raise his hand on high. Precisely in this drama of Gethsemane, where it seems that God’s strength is no longer present, Jesus realizes the function of High Priest. And it says, moreover, that in this act of obedience, namely, of conformity of the natural human will to the will of God, he is perfected as priest. And it uses again the technical word to ordain a priest. Precisely in this way he becomes the High Priest of humanity and thus opens heaven and the door to resurrection.

“If we reflect on this drama of Gethsemane, we can also see the great contrast between Jesus, with his anguish, with his suffering, in comparison with the great philosopher Socrates, who remains peaceful, imperturbable in the face of death. And this seems to be the ideal.

We can admire this philosopher, but Jesus’ mission is another. His mission was not this total indifference and liberty; his mission was to bear in himself all the suffering, all the human drama. And because of this, precisely this humiliation of Gethsemane is essential for the mission of the Man-God. He bears in himself our suffering, our poverty and transforms them according to the will of God. And thus opens the doors of heaven, he opens heaven: This curtain of the Most Holy, which up to now man closed against God, is opened by his suffering and obedience.”

Bill (not IB)
April 22, 2011

I’d have to suggest that, as is the case with other piles of manure, Manson’s work simply be spread in the fields as fertilizer. It has the additional benefit of a high carbon dioxide content (which plants love!) from all the hot air……..

This type of reconstructed theology, where an agenda founded on current events and ideologies is interpreted into the words of the Bible, is utter nonsense. I’d have much more respect for such authors if they were to simply declare that they themselves are speaking on behalf of God – which is what they are actually trying to do with their revised version of the meaning of the Bible.

April 22, 2011

Timothy Fountain,

I am so very sorry for your suffering, your wife’s – and your son’s, too. The world must seem to him a frightening place. The life-long burdens are the worst, whether it is grief for the past or a burden that you see no end to in this life. My own experience has taught me that hope and quiet trust footed in Christ is our best and surest comfort. Even that can feel a little wobbly sometimes!

But for all who often struggle to see past armfuls of just plain misery, I’ll repost below an old poem from (I think) the Oxford Book of War Poetry. (My grandfather was a medic in WWI and since reading his diary, this touches more deeply than previously, I must say.)

April 22, 2011

The White Comrade
Robert Haven Schauffler

Under our curtain of fire,
Over the clotted clods,
We charged, to be withered, to reel
And despairingly wheel
When the bugles bade us retire
From the terrible odds.
As we ebbed with the battle-tide,
Fingers of red-hot steel
Suddenly closed on my side.
I fell, and began to pray.
I crawled on my hands and lay
Where a shallow crater yawned wide;
Then I swooned….

When I woke, it was yet day.
Fierce was the pain of my wound,
But I saw it was death to stir,
For fifty paces away
Their trenches were.
In torture I prayed for the dark
And the stealthy step of my friend
Who, stanch to the very end,
Would creep to the danger zone
And offer his life as a mark
To save my own.

Night fell. I heard his tread,
Not stealthy, but firm and serene,
As if my comrade’s head
Were lifted far from that scene
Of passion and pain and dread;
As if my comrade’s heart
In carnage took no part;
As if my comrade’s feet
Were set on some radiant street
Such as no darkness might haunt;
As if my comrade’s eyes,
No deluge of flame could surprise,
No death and destruction daunt,
No red-beaked bird dismay,
Nor sight of decay.

Then in the bursting shells’ dim light
I saw he was clad in white.
For a moment I thought that I saw the smock
Of a shepherd in search of his flock.
Alert were the enemy, too,
And their bullets flew
Straight at a mark no bullet could fail;
For the seeker was tall and his robe was bright;
But he did not flee nor quail.
Instead, with unhurrying stride
He came,
And gathering my tall frame,
Like a child, in his arms …

I slept,
And awoke
From a blissful dream
In a cave by a stream.
My silent comrade had bound my side.
No pain now was mine, but a wish that I spoke,—
A mastering wish to serve this man
Who had ventured through hell my doom to revoke,
As only the truest of comrades can.
I begged him to tell me how best I might aid him,
And urgently prayed him
Never to leave me, whatever betide;
When I saw he was hurt—
Shot through the hands that were clasped in prayer!
Then, as the dark drops gathered there
And fell in the dirt,
The wounds of my friend
Seemed to me such as no man might bear.
Those bullet-holes in the patient hands
Seemed to transcend
All horrors that ever these war-drenched lands
Had known or would know till the mad world’s end.
Then suddenly I was aware
That his feet had been wounded, too;
And, dimming the white of his side,
A dull stain grew.
“You are hurt, White Comrade!” I cried.
His words I already foreknew:
“These are old wounds,” said he,
“But of late they have troubled me.”

Paula Loughlin
April 22, 2011

Most people when confronted with a truth they can not face seek medical help. Granted drugs are not the answer for everyone but I have never known writing of fantastic drivel bordering on the galloping stupid to be of any therapautic value.

More likely it is just gonna encourage them in their delusions. Sad that.

Paula Loughlin
April 22, 2011

Timothy Fountain,

I add my amen to what Baillie wrote.

FW Ken
April 22, 2011

Father Fountain –

There is an old Catholic phrase you don’t hear much anymore: Offer it up. Which is to say that the sufferings of your family and the families in your pastoral care can be united with the suffering of Christ, the crosses you (we) bear, united with the one Cross of Christ. I suspect you do this anyway, but it’s an idea and practice I fine helpful when I think to practice it.

My youngest brother has mildly autistic behaviors (would probably carry an Asperger diagnosis today) with mild MR and some mental illness. I’ve watched Mother carry this burden for 45+ years, plus I did some work with fully autistic children back in the 70s, so yes, add my prayers and care to those stated above. The burden is heavy, but God carries it with you.

April 22, 2011

“I’ve had more than one Catholic who grew up either before or on the cusp of Vatican II tell me horror stories of how they were taught that Jesus died because of their sins.”

I’d be one of those, just around for the immediate after-effect of Vatican II when it was all starting to change. And yes, it did affect me very strongly: that I, by my sins, can hurt God. Think about it – here is the creator of the entire universe, the ultimate most powerful being beyond all imagining, and a mere snivelling worm of an eight year old who can’t even make her teacher go easy on her in maths class can grieve His heart by wounding its Love.

We should all have our minds blown by that.

“Whenever we harm ourselves or deny our own goodness, we wound God.”

And bingo! We have a winner! Look, there’s a good point here; the disciples were very busy telling those who weren’t part of the bunch to stop whatever it was they were doing, even when the disciples weren’t so great at getting it themselves – Mark 9:38

“38 “Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.”
39 “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, 40 for whoever is not against us is for us. 41 Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.”

And that’s important to remember for us denominational types, especially those of my bent, who have way too much Inner Pharisee driving us.

On the other hand, there is such a thing as sin. There is such a thing as personal guilt, personal fault, and the point of Good Friday is that someone telling me that I am a miserable sinner is not causing me to deny my own goodness, I’m being made aware by a doctor of what I’m doing to wreck my own health.

God have mercy on us all, and lead all of us – NCR reporters or not – to life everlasting.

Smurf Breath
April 22, 2011

Devious sophistry on the one hand, designed to sow doubt in the mind of a believer. On the other, mind numbing, cookie cutter, boilerplate same-old same-old from a liberal brain on autopilot.

Dale Matson
April 22, 2011

Dale Price,
“I’m beginning to think progressive Christianity is best described as a kind of vampire: not only does it need to feed on a living host to survive, it is terrified of the Cross.” Priceless!

Kathleen Lundquist
April 22, 2011

What Timothy Fountain and Baillie said – especially: “If Jesus is just some symbol of ‘s**t happens,’ no thanks. ‘If we have hoped in him for this life only, we are pathetic.’” – and that very cool poem. I too have a share in this sort of suffering, and I greatly appreciate knowing that, today of all days, I am not alone.

I think these proud liberal/progressive types go this weird abstract route in their thinking because they’ve never known real suffering – either they’ve avoided it in their own lives, or maybe even started there with the abstraction of human pain into “injustice” and human failings into “intolerance”. When you’re this detached from your own humanity, I guess you’d tend to do this sort of thing – overspiritualize what’s concrete, and materialize/rationalize the Mystery.

April 22, 2011

Horrid. But these sorts of giddy pronouncements remind me of myself in my fallen-away days. I would seek out cheering rationalizations, and whirl my mind like a dervish so I could not see what should have been so plain before me, to whit, that the Truth, after all my jackdaw chatter, remained the Truth. And there is still hope for the woman, as well I know.

FW Ken
April 22, 2011

Speaking of…

Anyone heard from the Jesus Seminar this year? I googled to no avail. It’s not Easter until they have come around and denied the Resurrection.

sybil marshall
April 22, 2011

SouthCoast– Me too. Thanks for speaking. Grace and peace to you and to all here on this day of sheer dumfounded awe…

April 22, 2011

An article about the aging hippies of the Jesus Seminar today. Their writings and seminars attract people of their generation, of whom Marcus Borg at 68 is the young whippersnapper. Spong apparently has a website and charges $9.95 every three months to read it. Hard to imagine who would pay.

April 22, 2011


Benedict seems to me to have an unusually sensitive degree of perception regarding suffering, love – agape – and the interface of these and ourselves and Christ; I’ve noticed this in other of his sayings. Not for nothing did he endure the Hitler Youth!

“If we reflect on this drama of Gethsemane, we can also see the great contrast between Jesus, with his anguish, with his suffering, in comparison with the great philosopher Socrates, who remains peaceful, imperturbable in the face of death. And this seems to be the ideal.

We can admire this philosopher, but Jesus’ mission is another. His mission was not this total indifference and liberty; his mission was to bear in himself all the suffering, all the human drama.”

Fully God and fully human.

Which brings me to another poem, (sorry, folks, but at least it’s short! :P) but my own this time, because this is the day for it and it echoes Benedict’s own words:

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

When did you understand?
Which breath drew knowing harshly in
And gave it flesh and bone and skin,
And sped your heart to beat in sudden
dread on ebon wings?

When did you first perceive?
Was it a thought, a waking sight?
Or telling dream come in the night
With ancient words that spoke to you of
dark and fearful things?

When did you see?

When did you bow your head?
And cup the truth in gentle hands
To drink like salt and desert sands,
And trade for cold black winter
all your summers and your springs.


CB c.’03

April 22, 2011

I KNOW I put that crocodile-mouth-P-crocodile mouth in front of the title AND the first line; I tried it at a test site. (My daughter teaches me with grade school sites. Possibly pre-school.) But is it there? Nooooh, it’s off to play with all the other little html rascals that have escaped me for some Tom Sawyer Matrix World.

And is it ever in some inconspicuous spot? Nooooh to that, too. Poor, poor vanity, all prickled by Attack-Hedgehogs!

But I daresay you’ve all lost some precious arrangement to the Dread Crocodile-Mouth Siren Call yourselves…

April 23, 2011

Quote: “Who his own self bore our sins in his body upon the tree: that we, being dead to sins, should live to justice: by whose stripes you were healed.” Peter 2:24

Quote: “But he was wounded for our iniquities, he was bruised for our sins: the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his bruises we are healed.” Isiah 53:5

Quote: “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.” 1Jonh 2:22

At the National Catholic Reporter, Jamie Manson doesn’t want to know what happened on Good Friday as much as she wants to know why it happened:

“I’ve had more than one Catholic who grew up either before or on the cusp of Vatican II tell me horror stories of how they were taught that Jesus died because of their sins.”

Vatican II changed nothing about this teaching. But those ersatz Catholics who have been imbued by the “Spirit of Vatican II” that now they have a right to an “individual” magisterium, which only leads to chaos. It all becomes about “lurve whihc means whatever makes you feel good and rocks your jollies”

Therese Z
April 23, 2011

I just looked up the circulation of both the National Catholic Reporter and the NC Register, hoping that the good second was outselling the evil first.

Not yet. Weekly circulation Reporter: 50,000. Weekly circulation Register: 30,000.

How soon, how soon shall these people, who have all the attention and waste it on this drivel, be converted?

April 23, 2011

My Easter is always enhanced by this poem which I initially saw years ago on T19 (props to them).

Seven Stanzas at Easter

Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules
reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
each soft Spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled
eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as His Flesh: ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes,
the same valved heart
that — pierced — died, withered, paused, and then
regathered out of enduring Might
new strength to enclose.
Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the
faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mache,
not a stone in a story,
but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow
grinding of time will eclipse for each of us
the wide light of day.

And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair,
opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen
spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are
embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.

–John Updike (1932-2009)

April 23, 2011

dwstroudmd – Right! And not a clone, either. HIM.

Geo. S. Southerly
April 24, 2011

“Come, see the place where the Lord lay,” with joy and gladness. He does not lie there now. Weep, when ye see the tomb of Christ, but rejoice because it is empty. Thy sin slew him, but his divinity raised him up. Thy guilt hath murdered him, but his righteousness hath restored him. Oh! he hath burst the bonds of death, he hath ungirt the cerements of the tomb, and hath come out more than conqueror, crushing death beneath his feet. Rejoice, O Christian, for he is not there—he is risen.

CH Spurgeon

Geo. S. Southerly
April 24, 2011

AMEN – dwstroud!!!! AMEN AND AMEN!!!


April 24, 2011

<I just looked up the circulation of both the <National Catholic Reporter and the NC Register, <hoping that the good second was outselling the evil <first.

<Not yet. Weekly circulation Reporter: 50,000. Weekly <circulation Register: 30,000.

<How soon, how soon shall these people, who have all <the attention and waste it on this drivel, be <converted?

I'd guess a good portion of the Reporter subscriptions are institutional. Madam, or Sr., semi-Catholic Librarian will keep the chancery, or the Peace and Justice office, or St. Whatshisname's College, well-stocked. Also, I've noticed that if secular libraries carry Catholic periodicals at all, they tend to carry less-than-orthodox ones.

Of course, some of the Register subscriptions are undoubtably similar, but I'd wager that it's a smaller percentage than for the Reporter.

[…] here to read the brilliant rest.  Then we have Father Z, the Master of the Fisk as I like to call him.  […]

William Tighe
April 26, 2011

“Of course, some of the Register subscriptions are undoubtably similar, but I’d wager that it’s a smaller percentage than for the Reporter.”

There is also the fact that the Register (IMO) is one of the most soporific Catholic publications that I have ever encountered, and also one which long ago rendered itself comic in my eyes by its resolute sticking to the conservative “middle ground” in American Catholicism. It was not that long ago that some of its writers left open the possibility of ordaining women to “the diaconate” in the Catholic Church, and (at least before 2005) it once seemed to coinsider those who thought that the pre-1969 Mass rite (aka the “Tridentine” Mass) more clearly enunciated the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist as sacrifice as well as sacrament as dangerous “extremists” (despite the fact that that was clearly the view of one Cardinal Ratzinger).

Give me *The Wanderer* any day, rather than either NCR; cf.:

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