Tuesday, July 28, 2015

First Thing: Is Maureen Full of Mullarkey?

Still on the tail of the dust-up over the New York Archdiocese's  Making All Things New campaign, we have First Things and National Review persisting with articles about good, bad and ugly parishes in New York City.  I hesitate even to cite the articles but, here, here and here, it's only fair that one reads and decides for oneself.

In these articles, everything from clashing ideologies to art history to bureaucratic politics is invoked to report on what reads like ad hominem attacks on Our Saviour's newest pastor and his very bad horrible decision to remove artist Ken Woo's icons from the Church of Our Saviour.  As a former parishioner at Our Saviour, I too signed the petition to save the icons and I too lamented the loss of Fr. Rutler as pastor.   I also lamented the loss of the religious education program.  (Oh, you didn't know about that?  Funny that neither First Things or National Review has picked up on the termination of the program--eighty kids, numerous loyal families and some 20 volunteer catechists and volunteer director summarily told by the new pastor, Good-bye!)

Fr. Robbins, or the mere idea of him, has managed to get the very blood of some so-called traditionalist New York Catholics boiling.  It's true that at Our Saviour, the air has changed, but Fr. Robbins hasn't yet replaced the wafer with Wonder Bread nor has he brought in liturgical dancers or a rock band. The Mass continues to be a rather reverential one.

What comes through in these articles is an ideologue's vitriolic disdain for that which challenges his ideology.  In this case, the target is the likes of a Fr. Robbins who, with his co-conspirator Cardinal Dolan, himself by now a satyr with tail and horns, dares to oppose a Fr. Rutler, definitely a heavenly cherub who can, by the way,  more than adequately defend himself if need be. It's predictable now if not comical to hear how suspect and disagreeable are all those who do not present as sufficiently traditionalist and orthodox to the traditionalist Catholic New Yorker who requires that others of us pass muster, we lesser ones being those who surely collude and conspire to deprive traditionalists of their priests, their parishes, their masses.

Where's the Catholic joy?  Who would want to be a part of this orthodox crowd when they whine and stamp their feet so miserably because their sensitivities are upset. 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

A Week of Saints

St. Kateri Tekakwitha, St. Bonaventure, St. Camillus de Lellis but we began the week with the Bavarian Holy Roman Emperor St. Henry II of Bamberg whose saintly wife Cunegunde is buried with him in the Dom in Bamberg, Germany.  I decline to post my plain photos of Bamberg except for the one below. Besides Henry and Cunegunde's Riemenschneider sarcophagus in the Dom and all the other sights of this Bavarian city, the Age of Faith lingers in modern-day Bamberg if you walk around a bit.
A crucifix at the end of a quiet street leading back to the Bahnhof in Bamberg

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Dr. Nucatola

Is Dr. Nucatola a good doctor?  She looks presentable, very normal actually, and she speaks well, self-assured and articulate.  She must be fairly well trained in her field.

She's talking about salvaging and selling the livers, lungs and hearts of aborted babies as she chats glibly in a restaurant over a glass of wine and some salad.  She's a professional, looks to be a young woman.  What is the culture that raised up a Deborah Nucatola we might ask.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Pillar To Post On Transgenderism

If you read Paul McHugh here and Fr. Robert Barron here ,you go from a medical to a theological perspective on the subject of transgenderism, and there's not much ground left on which to build any kind of rationale for what the Bruce Jenners of the world have done to themselves. Unless, of course, one persists with the kind of thinking described in this article.  Finally, enter a philosopher, here, to discuss gender identity.

McHugh, a psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins University which led the way in sex change operations, lays it out pretty clearly.  Sex change operations haven't been performed at Johns Hopkins since the 70s; no benefits have been shown and in fact the suicide rate and psychological problems increased among those who had undergone the operation.  Gender dysphoria, explains Dr. McHugh, is a psychological problem akin to anorexia nervosa   Using the Emperor-Has-No-Clothes approach, McHugh deftly explains the dishonesty and deception that leads anyone in our society (but most tragically young people who become persuaded to undergo transgender "treatments") to believe that changing their body will cure their dysphoria.  Dr. McHugh writes:  "Transgendered men do not become women, nor do transgendered women become men. All (including Bruce Jenner) become feminized men or masculinized women, counterfeits or impersonators of the sex with which they “identify.” In that lies their problematic future."

Enter Fr. Barron who refers us to Gnosticism, that heresy which says that matter is evil, that our physical bodies are an encumbrance, that a secret knowledge, gnosis, will set our souls free from the material world which imprisons us.  Fr. Barron points out the similarities to the transgender cry--I'm really a man (or woman) "trapped" inside a physical body which, if I change it, will set the man (or woman) inside me free.  Fr. Barron writes, .". . . the gnostic heresy has proven remarkably durable, reasserting itself across the centuries. Its most distinctive mark is precisely the denigration of matter and the tendency to set the spirit and the body in an antagonistic relationship. This is why many thinkers have identified the anthropology of RenĂ© Descartes, which has radically influenced modern and contemporary attitudes, as neo-gnostic. Descartes famously drove a wedge between spirit and matter, or in his language, between the res cogitans (thinking thing) and the res extensa (thing extended in space)."

He concludes, "Until we realize that the lionization of Caitlyn Jenner amounts to an embracing of Gnosticism, we haven’t grasped the nettle of the issue."

As for what the Church teaches, we are to believe in neither Cartesian dualism nor Gnostic heresies but in the body and soul as inseparable parts of our humanity.  Extrapolating from what Dr. McHugh says, science, that is, the natural world, and the Church bring us to the same spot.  We are created male and female and any unrest some individual may feel with his or her physical body doesn't mean that God made a mistake.  It means that individual needs some help.

It seemed to me this quartet of articles on gender and sexuality complemented one another and enlightened in a helpful way.  These thoughts are a mere skating on the surface of the topic.