Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Hey, how about this?

I just discovered this Sam Brownback fellow. Looks good.

Friday, February 23, 2007

A little charity covers a lot of theology.

This is my new slogan. Yep, I'm replacing "I did not create myself" and all of its variants (although 'notselfcreated' will still be my Instant Messenger handle) with this. But it bears a little explaining, just because it sounds a little cute and my long-time readers know me too well to suspect any vapid sentimentalism from this blog.

Charity - love - caritas - mercy is one of the names of God. And something I wish Christians would make more clear is that, when we say "God is love," this is not just good marketing. It's rock solid systematic theology. But to be sure, it would be false to believe that the love of God rests on a bedrock of rationalism; the truth is the reverse. Everything; and by that I mean everything, is a necessary and fitting deduction from this simple fact: that God is love.

Even the Incarnation is a deduction of this fact, but by this I don't mean to imply that Israel could have found it out with the precision of an atomic clock, if only their syllogisms had been refined enough. Because the "logic" of God is not a deterministic logic but a liberative logic. It's the logic of sin which is deterministic. In the Inferno, Satan is encased in ice.

But anyway, preliminaries aside, to be authentically spiritual; that is, to have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, to have found perfection of charity, is already to be a master theologian; is already to contain the very heart of the analogia entis, buried in one's soul in a way that the saint becomes a immanent hot spring of the ever explosive and expansive truths of the queen of the sciences. Doctorate schmoctorate. All saints, on and off of the canon, living and deceased, perfect and imperfect, inasmuch as they are saints, are doctores ecclesia.

This somewhat obvious truth came to me in the form of a young lady I've recently met. Alas, I fear that my seminarian and monastic friends will groan, "Oh God, we've lost him to a woman." Now hold on, my pious ecclesiastical friends. I'm not going to be proposing to anyone tomorrow. But I don't believe anyone will deny me the prerogative of exploring what I've been missing all these years. But nevermind such biographical details. This young lady perhaps couldn't recite the definition of the transcendental aesthetic or defend the illative sense or evaluate Balthasar's flirtation with apokatastatis. But when she was twelve, her mother started taking her to Eucharistic Adoration on account that 'God shouldn't be lonely'. And to this day it remains one of her favorite things to do; to tell the Lord about her day; to ask him questions; or just to say 'hi'. The rest of her time is spent interpreting class lessons for deaf students for whom she feels a personal love, and being a nanny for other children. And in just this sort of arcane discipline--of piety and merciful works--she is my new professor.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Resume Time!

Here's the most important one: the teaching resume. Here, the education is emphasized, but the "Other Experience and Skills" is meant to be very sweet icing on the cake--especially the speech and debate thing, since such things are great boons to high schools that have none. The margins are .79", which for some odd reason is the default on my Open Office, but it worked out splendidly.

Here's the wage labor resume. All those parish internships came in handy for marketable work experience. "I am the incarnation of customer service! Ask and you will receive." Sad thing is that I don't have contacts for any of the non-church jobs, as those businesses have either closed or changed management.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Shifting opinions...

Traditional Catholic


New Catholic


Radical Catholic


Neo-Conservative Catholic


Evangelical Catholic


Liberal Catholic


Lukewarm Catholic


Yep. A year ago, when I took this test, I was placed firmly in the "New Catholic" category. Being crammed in a liberal parish for a year changed that real fast.

Monday, February 12, 2007

More ruminating about the future...

So I'm a free man... and, as one would expect, I am scared. Scared, as the expression goes, so as to lack all remaining excretory matter. Let me enumerate the various sources of my anxiety.

The last few days have seen me sleeping a superhuman length of time. I'm not even really a "night owl" anymore; but a midnight bedtime still leaves me rolling out of bed at 11 in the morning. Seeing as how that's not healthy in itself, I'm going to put an extra effort into stopping that right away.

I need money. Not like the little bi-weekly $250 paychecks I got in high school to pay for gas and video games. Now I have, at the very least, health and car insurance to cover, and the immediate goal of making enough to move out of Mom and Dad's house in two months time, max. Then there's groceries, clothes, taxes, car repairs, and sustenance for time off for travel.

That means work. I've already got $500 a month in the bag (plus gas bills, ~$100/mo) working at the parish for minimum wage until I finish the important projects. My goal is to find a second job which pays at least $8/hr, where I can work more hours once the parish gig ends or compliment with another job.

That means job hunting. Steps? Oh yes.
  1. Rule out what I absolutely don't want.
    1. Nothing for less than $8/hr
    2. No programming. Other computer-related positions OK.
    3. No advertising. I find the whole industry repugnant. Incl. telemarketing.
    4. Nowhere out of the city.
    5. Nowhere where the employees don't like each other.
  2. Make resumes
    1. One for generic customer service/retail jobs
    2. One for computer-related jobs (Maybe spring for the A+ certification?)
    3. One for teaching position (see below)
  3. Do a whirlwind application tour, starting at the employment office, hitting everyone I can find.
  4. (Possibly) take two jobs; one for immediate employment, and another that starts later, for when I quit the parish job.
As soon as I can establish a minimum $1000/mo income, I'll search for an apartment. Some people have suggested that I house-sit, but I really really want a place that I can live in indefinitely. Somebody recently informed me of some apartments in town that are $550 a month including utilities; barring a better deal elsewhere, I'll spring for those. But the same friends inform me: don't make friends with the neighbors.

Now, for discernment practicalities. For a couple of months at least, I was talking about the monastery as if it was almost a sure thing. However, there are some kinks.
  • I'll admit it: I really like the idea of dating a little bit. I can only imagine the sadness my seminarian conferes might have at the image of me getting swallowed up in the great mass of married life. But now that I've been let loose on the world, that expansive mystery that is women stretches out before me like the banquet scene in Pan's Labyrinth. Now that celibacy has suddenly become optional, the weight of singlehood seems to have mysteriously grown. The thought of bearing it indefinitely whilst exploring the possibility--and not even the certainty--of religious life seems a painful thought at least.
  • Relative to the Diocesan life, the monastery did not seem like so much a sacrifice; indeed, it seemed almost indulgent by comparison. "Give to the Lord your autonomy; in exchange, you will receive everything else." But by that very fact, I perceive something incomplete in my discernment, since the most exciting things about the monastery seem to be its worldly procurements--beautiful liturgy, spiritual community, and a life of virtually boundless academia. It is not that I don't see how these things can be loved, as St. Augustine teaches, in Christ Jesus; it's that I know myself too well to believe that I am already in a state to "prefer nothing to Christ." It's not that I demand such perfection of myself here and now; but I would want my reasons for entering the monastery to be a little more pure than they are.
  • The upshot of this is that my selfish gene has kicked in since leaving the seminary, and the sense in which monastic life is a sacrifice had suddenly become startlingly clear. I understand that these feelings are partially a symptom of my strange situation; maybe when the difficulty of lay life kicks in, the allure of the monastery will come back (whether it will be part of an authentic discernment remains to be seen).
  • Practically speaking, this means that I'm more inclined to exploring the possibilities of ordinary lay life right now than religious life. I still want to travel this summer and visit some monasteries; but I don't think I will be going on any specialized "discerner's retreats" like the one I went to for St. Meinrad.
What does this mean? Well, it partially means that I should plan to dig my heels into lay life for a year or two at least. Coincidentally that's what the bishop also recommended. *grumble*

If I go that route, I should check out the local Catholic high schools right away and find out what my options are. I would probably prefer to go to a school out of town that paid better, but I think that may be a needlessly difficult option. Once I am settled into a salaried job, I can plan my future better from there.

But that is all assuming that what I've just written is the best way. It hasn't even been a week since I've left; I'm still pretty confused. So for now I'll just focus on the short term goals.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Well, that's it.

Dear friends,

After a couple years of battling off the inevitable, I have now officially left seminary formation. I am an ordinary, rank-and-file Catholic again, after five and a half years.

It has happened so suddenly and unexpectedly that I am almost too confused to say more. Right now I am moving out of the rectory and looking for work. The bishop is strongly encouraging me to take a position teaching theology at one of the local Catholic high schools.

In the last two months I have strongly contemplated entering religious life. This is still a big part of my current discernment. However, decisions that I must make soon (virtually right now) will determine whether that is a possible within the year, or whether I will live and work as a layman for a year.

The latter seems more attractive at this point because of the flexibility afforded by lay life, and the possibility of dating. Not that I have forgotten about the monastery. But coming fresh off of a "dysfunctional 5 year relationship," my desire to jump back into a specialized vocation is rather weak. This is an opportunity for me to try to do something I have never done before: live on my own.

But as yet, I do not know what I will do. I ask for your prayers.

God bless,


Monday, February 05, 2007

A secular rationalist's argument for God.

This comes from someone going by the moniker "I'm Unemployed" in the Megatokyo forums, posted three years ago (and still extant!)

"Yes there is. It can be reached by following these steps (to specify, "God" is defined as a necessary, non-physical entity in the following argument and "universe" is specified as the total sum of all physical existence [everything us mortals know and are capable of observing]). Also note that when I say "utter nothingness" I am talking about a nothingness spanning any and all planes of existence:

1) It is logically unsound to believe that the universe is a perpetually existing object since all we know of our plane of existence is comprised only of contingent substances, beings and objects. To refute this would nullify any arguments you have about there not being evidence supporting God, since both are complete unknowns and your decisions are being based upon what you know of the situation.

2) Thus, the universe must have a definite beginning.

3) If the universe has a definite beginning, then you will reach one of two ultimate conclusions: there was once utter nothingness, or God created the universe. Even if you believe in the Big Bang, that small collection of matter had to have been given rise by something else, since nothing physical is necessary. Also note that outside the collection of matter would, technically, be nothingness, so nothing could exist outside of the collection of matter (no matter, no physical phenomena, etc).

4) It is logically unsound to believe in utter nothingness, since it is impossible for something to be created by nothing. From nothing, nothing comes. If there were once utter nothingness, then nothingness would still exist.

5) Thus, it is logical to believe that a necessary, non-physical entity exists."

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Words words words.

Little ten-minute post here.

I would like there to be some better agreement among the general masses about the meanings of certain words. In particular, "religion", "faith", and "spirituality". Among the unbelieving folks, the words "religion" and "faith" are rarely uttered without an expression akin to swallowing rancid milk--although, surprise surprise, I think the word "faith" gets the worst of it. Although I don't think people are very reflective on the precise meanings of these words, there is an implicit difference which is operative in their use, and when I have more time I would like to dive into that issue.

But before I do that, I would like to point something out: the belief that God exists is not an object of faith, any more than "theism" is the name of a religion. This is part of the doctrine of the First Vatican Council. Interestingly, that means that it is part of the object of Faith that the belief in God's existence is not an object of Faith, i.e., that it is knowable by natural reason working rightly.

Bertrand Russel might have mocked the idea, but there are infidels who agree with this premise. I will quote one I debated years ago when I get more time.