Friday, August 27, 2010

Free Speech and Religion

A controversial pop music artist is facing trial for heresy and possible prison time for saying that the beliefs of the state religion in that country are not true. Is this Iran or Saudi Arabia? Nope - POLAND. Read all about it here.


Benedictine Chant

Some great chants from some Benedictine monks in Ireland.

The Credit Crisis Explained

This video is one of the best things I have seen to explain how we got to where we are in the American economy. Short Answer: It's called GREED!

The Crisis of Credit Visualized from Jonathan Jarvis on Vimeo.


Today, August 27, the Church honors Saint Monica the mother of Saint Augustine.


In trying to catch up on my reading, I just finished Graham Greene’s classic Brighton Rock first published in 1938. The Heart of the Matter left me unsettled, but I really don’t know what I think about this book.

The title refers to hard candy sold at the beach in the town of Brighton in England. Brighton Rock is the story of a teenage gangster named Pinkie Brown, his hapless girlfriend Rose, and a busybody named Ida Arnold. Sound like a bizarre plot? Well, Brighton Rock is a bizarre book.

The plot of Brighton Rock is readily available elsewhere on the internet so I won’t bother everyone with it here. What I want to focus on are the much heralded theological aspects of the novel. Brighton Rock is considered to be one of Greene’s “Catholic Novels,” the others of which are The Heart of the Matter, The End of the Affair, and The Power and the Glory. Although Greene habitually throws in some reference to the Church or Catholicism in his thrillers and “entertainments,” like the daughter who goes to Catholic school and says her rosary in Our Man in Havana.

Greene has said that when he started writing Brighton Rock he intended it to be a conventional thriller or detective story, hence the exciting opening chapter which describes a chase and a murder. The novel’s famous opening line sets the stage for what follows:

“Hale knew, before he had been in Brighton three hours, that they meant to murder him.”

Hale is indeed murdered. At Hale’s sparsely attended funeral, the Anglican priest mouths the platitudes of modern religion of the “I’m OK, You’re OK, God’s OK” type:

‘Our belief in heaven,’ the clergyman went on, ‘is not qualified by our disbelief in the old medieval hell. We believe,’ he said, glancing swiftly along the smooth polished slipway towards the New Art doors through which the coffin would be launched into the flames, ‘we believe that this our brother is already at one with the One.’ He stamped his words like little pats of butter with his personal mark. ‘He has attained unity. We do not know what that One is with whom (or with which) he is now at one. We do not retain the old medieval beliefs in glassy seas and golden crowns. Truth is beauty and there is more beauty for us, a truth-loving generation, in the certainty that our brother is at this moment re-absorbed in the universal spirit.’

It astounds me that Greene was already able to poke fun at New Age babble like this in the late 1930's. This kind of stuff sounds good but has no real content. This is not a religion that a person will give his life for.

Ida Arnold, who was a woman that Hale picked up in an attempt to avoid being killed, becomes obsessed with finding Hale’s killer and bringing him to justice. Ida represents the modern person. She has no religious beliefs to speak of, she just believes in “right and wrong.” However, Ida finds no fault in anything which brings her pleasure. Ida sees nothing wrong with casual sex, for instance. “It’s natural” she says, and there’s nothing wrong with it.

“She wasn’t religious. She didn’t believe in heaven or hell, only in ghosts, ouija boards, tables which rapped and little inept voices speaking plaintively of flowers.”

So while “the good guys” in this novel are not religious, “the bad guys” are very religious. Hale’s killer Pinkie was reared as a Roman Catholic, sings parts of the Mass to himself, and believes in all of the doctrines of the Church. Outside of the fact that Pinkie is also an evil psychopathic killer, he’s not a bad bloke.

Pinkie believes in Hell and knows that when he dies in a state of mortal sin that he will certainly go to it. In the back of his mind, Pinkie hopes that he’ll be able to make a confession and be granted absolution before his death. If Pinkie dies and goes to Hell in the meantime, well, as they said in The Godfather, it ain’t personal, it’s just business.

Pinkie kills Hale for being involved with the murder of the gang leader Kite. Then he kills a member of the gang named Spicer so that Spicer can’t talk. Pinkie seduces the hapless Rose, a 16 year old waitress in a greasy spoon who can give incriminating testimony against Pinkie, and convinces her to marry him.

Rose is also a Roman Catholic. Before their civil marriage ceremony, Rose goes off to confession but then realizes that marrying Pinkie in a civil ceremony outside the Church is a mortal sin so it doesn’t make any difference anyway. Rose and Pinkie are very moral in a bizarre kind of way. Rose knows that Pinkie is a murderer, but makes a conscious decision to go to Hell with him.

Although neither Pinkie or Rose believe that their civil marriage is valid in the eyes of God, they refrain from sex until they are married. In fact, Pinkie has a revulsion of the entire idea of sexual intimacy from listening to his parents make love through the thin walls of a poor tenement apartment. Pinkie says that listening to his parents in their bedroom disgusted him so much that he swore he would become a priest. However, when the time comes on the wedding night, Pinkie overcomes his disgust and does his duty.

Since Rose is convinced that she is going to Hell by living in sin with Pinkie anyway, she is ready to commit the ultimate mortal sin by taking her own life when Pinkie asks her to. Rose winds up throwing the gun she is supposed to kill herself with away and Pinkie accidentally splatters acid all over his face (in grim preview of where his soul is headed) before he plunges over a cliff and dies to avoid capture by the police.

If any of the above makes sense to you, then you may be either (1) a deranged lunatic, (2) a Graham Greene fan, (3) a Catholic, or (4) all of the above.

Greene seemed to be obsessed with mortal sin and damnation. This led George Orwell to famously opine that Greene apparently viewed Hell as an exclusive high class nightclub open only to Catholics.

I can’t really say that I enjoyed reading Brighton Rock, but it certainly provided much food for thought. Graham Greene was a one of a kind author. It may just be that Brighton Rock is a great work of literature.

Pinkie & Rose in a film version of Brighton Rock

Graham Greene

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Heathen Valley

Heathen Valley, first published in 1962 by the noted playwrite Romulus Linney, is a beautiful book which deserves a far wider readership than it has enjoyed.

The novel is the story of Episcopal Church Deacon William Starns who is sent by the Anglican-Catholic Bishop of North Carolina to establish a mission in the far reaches of the Appalachian Mountains.

The book traces Starns life from his early childhood until his death. Starns was born in poverty in the Mountains, becomes a drifter, kills a man, goes to prison and escapes, and finally is hired by the kindly Bishop as a janitor in the Cathedral Church in Raleigh. After being rescued from alcoholism by the Bishop, Starns undergoes a profound conversion experience. After an experienced Episcopal minister and his wife fail in establishing a Mission Station in the mountains, Starns is ordained as a Missionary Deacon to the mountain people. Eventually the Bishop attempts to found an Anglican Religious Order at the Mission Station.

There is much human drama in this novel which is well written and beautifully told. There are also many horrific episodes and some graphic depictions of sexuality. The descriptions of the Mountain culture and the natural beauty of the Appalachia are wonderful.

For Anglican groupies, the novel also deals with the Evangelical verses Anglican Catholic divide in the Episcopal Church. The novel is very loosely based upon the real story of North Carolina Episcopal Bishop Levi Stillman Ives who eventually left the Episcopal Church and converted to Catholicism. The character of Starns is based upon Deacon William West Skiles who established the Valle Crucis Mission Station in Western North Carolina in the 1850s.

Heathen Valley is a great work of literature which deserves to be read.

Factions Within Anglicanism

Anyone who has followed this blog for a while knows that, because of his former Protestant affiliations, the Bad Catholic is an aficionado of all things Anglican. Here's a fascinating post about the Anglo-Catholic vs. Evangelical divide in Anglicanism.

Saint John Eudes

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Real Agenda

Mark Shea has a great post about the real agenda behind the push for legalized gay marriage.

The World Is Turned Upside Down! Howard Dean is Making Sense!

I guess based on this interview Howard Dean is one of the people who oppose the mosque at Ground Zero that Nancy Pelosi wants investigated.

The Survivors of 9/11 on the Mosque

I guess that me and all of these people in this video are part of the opponents of the Ground Zero Mosque that Speaker Pelosi wants investigated.

It is absolutely incredible that the President of the United States, the Speaker of the House, and the Mayor of New York just don't care what these people and the majority of Americans think.

The other night I watched the movie "The Stoning of Soraya M." Everyone in this country should watch this movie and learn what it really means when the Iman says he wants America to be Sharia compliant. I suppose they can dig the stoning pit in Central Park.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Monday, August 9, 2010

Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

Edith Stein was born of Jewish parents in 1891, becoming an influential philosopher following her extensive studies at major German universities. Following her conversion to Catholicism she became a major force in German intellectual life, entering the Discalced Carmelites in 1933. Sister Teresa Benedicta was arrested by the Nazi regime on August 2, 1942, along with all Catholics of Jewish extraction, and transported by cattle train to the death camp of Auschwitz where she died in the gas chambers that same year.

PRAYER: Lord, God of our Fathers, You brought Saint Teresa Benedicta to the fullness of the science of the cross at the hour of her martyrdom. Fill us with that same knowledge; and, through her intercession, allow us always to seek after You, the supreme truth, and to remain faithful until death to the covenant of love ratified in the blood of Your Son for the salvation of all men and women. We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


For the last three months, I have actually managed to go to Confession once a month. I was going to write a post about it when I read this post by Elizabeth Esther and found that she had already said everything that I wanted to say about confession and said it much better than I could.

Response to Protestant Criticism of the Veneration of Our Lady and the Saints

The blog Young, Evangelical and Catholic has a great post about responding to Evangelical Protestant criticism of praying to Saints.

Militant Anti-Catholic Protestants

My friend JOE G. says this about militant Anti-Catholic Fundamentalist Evangelical Protestants: Arguing with people like this is like arguing with a person who has never seen the ocean and is convinced that the largest body of water in existence is a small pond. You come back from the ocean and tell them "LOOK, I'VE SEEN IT, IT'S HUGE!!! IT'S THOUSANDS OF TIMES THE SIZE OF YOUR SMALL POND!" And they say "oh sure," and are convinced that you're crazy.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Religious Liberty Under Attack

The Pope's New Book

Traditionalists Watch Out: Altar Servers Visit Rome and Girls Outnumber Boys

In a gathering of altar servers in Rome, the girls outnumber the boys.

Meanwhile in the Muslim World . . . .

While U.S. Federal Judges rule that rule that people have a "constitutional right" to sexual immorality, in Dubai a British woman has been arrested for not wearing enough clothes in public.

It strikes me as odd that the same people endorsing gay marriage, abortion on demand, etc. are the same people who will want to allow Sharia law to be imposed in this country based on respect for "cultural diversity" and "political correctness." (Witness the New Jersey Judge that ruled that it was OK for a Muslim man to beat and rape his wife, because under Islamic law he believed he was allowed to do it.)

What do they think will happen to them when the Islamic Religious Police take over?

Looking for a Miracle, Don't Use Your GPS

The Deacon's Bench has a great post about Pilgrim's to Lourdes being misdirected by GPS systems to a small village called "Lourde" about 57 miles away.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Clergy Under Stress

The New York Times reports that members of the clergy "suffer from obesity, hypertension and depression at rates higher than most Americans. In the last decade, their use of antidepressants has risen, while their life expectancy has fallen. Many would change jobs if they could."

Sounds like lawyers. Read the whole thing here.

Nancy Pelosi Refuses to Say that the Baby Jesus had the right to life.

Nancy Pelosi apparently thinks that the Blessed Mother had a "right" to abort the Word Made Flesh in her womb.
Great post on this at Creative Minority Report.

Disorderly Conduct Charges Dropped Against Student for Praying Outside Abortion Clinic in Chicago

The City of Chicago dropped Disorderly Conduct charges today against a college student who was arrested for praying the rosary on the sidewalk outside an abortion clinic. Read the full story from the Thomas More Law Center.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The War Against Christianity

Today I read two articles about the continuing legal war by secular society to abolish Christianity.

Christianity Today has an article about the 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court decision which upholds the decision of Hastings Law School to ban the Christian Legal Society from campus because of its "discriminatory policies" of only allowing members that share its statement of faith.

"In his dissent, Justice Samuel Alito castigated the majority opinion as political correctness run amok.

'The proudest boast of our free speech jurisprudence is that we protect the freedom to express 'the thought that we hate,' he wrote. 'Today's decision rests on a very different principle: no freedom for expression that offends prevailing standards of political correctness in our country's institution's of higher learning. . . . Brushing aside inconvenient precedent, the Court arms public educational institutions with a handy weapon for suppressing the speech of unpopular groups - groups to which, as Hastings candidly puts it, these institutions 'do not wish to . . . lend their names(s).' . . . I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that today's decision is a serious setback for freedom of expression in this country."

Justice John Paul Stevens' concurring opinion leaves no doubt where the secular left categorizes those of us holding orthodox Christian beliefs on sin: "The harshest criticism came from Stevens, who compared CLS's requirements - which include a bar against 'unrepentant homosexual conduct' - with groups that 'may exclude or mistreat Jews, blacks, and women - or those who do not share their contempt for Jews, blacks, and women. A free society must tolerate such groups. It need not subsidize them, give them its official imprimatur, or grant them equal access to law school facilities."

The Bad Catholic can only assume that Justice Stevens, Ginsberg, Kennedy, et. al., would characterize the Roman Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention, the Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Mormon Church and other religious groups that believe that homosexual acts are sinful are "hate groups" that society must "tolerate." Obviously, such people should be ostracized from society. People who hold beliefs like this should not be allowed to hold law licenses anyway. They definitely should be banned from the law schools.

The other article of interest was in L'Osservatore Romano and concerned the case of Lautsi v. Italy in which the European Union's Court of Human Rights ruled that the display of the crucifix in Italian schools violated human rights.

The Vatican's official paper has no illusions as to the ultimate goal of the secularists:

" . . . in reality, religious liberty is gradually being reduced to merely freedom of faith, that is, the freedom to believe in something or not and this only in your own personal life. It is a mistake, however, to believe that faith is independent of religion. One is internal and the other is external, making the two complementary. To limit religious freedom (because religion would have no social legitimacy) in order to protect freedom of faith (as pure expression of human transcendence) would mean, for example, that prayers and family catechism would be forbidden within the family unit itself because of the invasion on the autonomy of the religious conscience of the child. If this were the standard, parents would have very few chances to transmit their faith to their own children. The same goes for society. If religion is removed from society, faith will be removed from the hearts of generations."

The article quotes Russian Orthodox Bishop Hilarion who minces no words:

"Militant secularism, quickly gaining in numbers in modern Europe, is also a pseudo-religion with its own solid doctrinal tenants and moral norms, its own cult and symbols. As with 2oth century Russian Communism, it also lays claims to a monopoly on world views and remains intolerant of competition. This is why leaders of contemporary secularism react uncomfortably to religious symbols and wince when God is mentioned. . . . Contemporary militant secularism, like Russian Bolshevism, views itself as a Weltanschauung destined to replace Christianity. Hence, it is neither neutral nor indifferent toward Christianity; rather it is openly hostile to it."

We must pray deeply.