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Archive for the ‘YouTube Interlude’ Category

Wake up and smell the miracles, Rip Van Winkle!  Are you a Catholic sitting on the witness stand with the prosecutor ripping into you, demanding answers about how you can believe the things you believe without having a firm, scientific foundation to support it?  Are they grilling you like you’re Joan of Arc, insisting you come clean and admit the truth.  (Joan of Arc’s last words, by the way, were, “Excuse me, I believe I asked to be seated in the non-smoking section, thanks.”)

You should look the prosecutor in the eye, pull a Jack Nicholson, and shout out, “You can’t handle the truth!”  (If you’re into clichés.)  The truth is science is a Catholic’s best friend and we’d really be hung out to dry half the time, if we didn’t have science to back up our seemingly outrageous claims.  You should really change seats with this presumptuous prosecutor and make him answer some questions.  For instance, why is it that skeptics and nonbelievers throw the Big Bang theory at Catholics as a supposed proof AGAINST our creation assertions when it was a Catholic Monsignor, Georges Lemaitre, who proposed the theory in the first place?

Atheism: the belief that there was nothing and nothing happened to nothing and then nothing magically exploded for no reason, creating everything and then a bunch of everything magically rearranged itself for no reason whatsoever into self-replicating bits which then turned into dinosaurs.  Makes perfect sense.”

Eggheads sit around college classrooms pooh-poohing the simpleminded, superstitious religious rubes of history, but it was the Jesuits who pretty much constructed the entire academic system as we know it today.  For some other generous Jesuit contributions:

pendulum clocks, pantographs, barometers, reflecting telescopes and microscopes, to scientific fields as various as magnetism, optics and electricity. They observed, in some cases before anyone else, the colored bands on Jupiter’s surface, the Andromeda nebula and Saturn’s rings. They theorized about the circulation of the blood (independently of Harvey), the theoretical possibility of flight, the way the moon effected the tides, and the wave-like nature of light. Star maps of the southern hemisphere, symbolic logic, flood-control measures on the Po and Adige rivers, introducing plus and minus signs into Italian mathematics – all were typical Jesuit achievements, and scientists as influential as Fermat, Huygens, Leibniz and Newton were not alone in counting Jesuits among their most prized correspondents.  — from Jonathan Wright’s “God’s Soldiers”

Science, who’s your daddy?!

OK, so Christians pretty much built the civilized world and then explained the science behind it to a mind-blowing extent, but then these same scientific, rational, reasonable geniuses continued to accept and persist in insisting on the reality of the miraculous; the unexplainable mysteries.  And that’s where they lose a lot of their bandwagon followers.  If you can’t see it, and measure it, it’s not there — right?  Well, radio waves were present throughout history, but they weren’t discovered until 1865.  Electromagnetic radiation was always with us, but Napoleon’s army didn’t have any night-vision infrared goggles, much to his chagrin.  (I just wanted to say ‘chagrin’ today.)

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”  William Shakespeare

The Unexplained
Lucy, ‘splain to me the Shroud of Turin, the historical artifact that many believe to be the ancient burial cloth of our Lord.  His image was somehow manifested unto this 14.3 x 3.7 ft strip of fabric, and though it’s been scrutinized and experimented on by scientists of every make and model since the 14th century, they have absolutely no idea how the outline of this naked and battered body was superimposed onto the cloth, but have eliminated just about every method known to man so far.  The majority of scientists who began their work examining the shroud went into it intending to debunk the ridiculous notion that it’s Christ’s burial cloth, and many end up as true believers and what one might call religious zealots.

The Catholic Church, by the way, has neither formally endorsed nor rejected the shroud, which should make peoples jaws scrape the pavement, since they could really — really — insist the fabric is undoubtably divine.  However, despite popular opinion, the Church takes the business of the miraculous very very seriously, so don’t buy the propaganda.

Prop-culture leads you to believe that the Church jumps on every whacked-out far-fetched Jesus and Mary sighting that’s presented to them.  You’ll be watching a late-night talk show where they’re mocking some poor, fourth-world farmer who discovered the image of God on a sheet of two ply toilet paper while doing his business, and everybody will have a good laugh, but the not-so-subtle implication is that these religious fanatics are all so gullible.  Meanwhile, the Pope is probably watching and laughing just as hard as anyone else.  And, contrary to popular opinion, the Holy Father doesn’t canonize Saints on a whim either.  He doesn’t hear a secondhand account of somebody’s Aunt Flo in Walla Walla Washington turning water into vodka and exercising obese demons and then say, “By the power vested in me, I declare thee St. Flo Walla Walla.”

If anything, the Vatican’s investigative division is more thorough and nitpicky than any investigative unit out there.  There is a lot at stake, and a lot of these miracle-workers were burned at the stake, so, please no mistakes.

For every grilled-cheese sandwich with the face of the Virgin Mary on it, there are many more legitimate, unexplainable apparitions that go unaddressed by satirists.  The sandwich-worshipers and their yeast inflection get all the ink and laughs, while the uppercrust Marian mysteries receive little to no fanfare by our cynical secular overlords.

In February of 1858, young Bernadette Soubirous — an illiterate peasant girl from Lourdes, France — received all kinds of attention after claiming to speak with Our Lady, leading to crowds of onlookers watching in disgust as she, in a trancelike state, began scooping up grass and dirt and eating it.  After coming out of her trance, those who stuck around asked the girl with the dirty mouth why she did that, and Bernadette explained that the Lady told her to “drink at the spring and wash in it” only there was no spring there — yet.  Of course, everybody knows this eventual body of water became a healing pool, and thousands of people make the pilgrimage to Lourdes yearly.  There are many documented healings that took place after a dip in these waters.  Other noteworthy things are how Bernadette, while in her trance, many witnesses saw her hand go astray and end up resting in the flame of the candle she was holding.  One of these witnesses was a physician, who said that he examined her hand thoroughly after Bernadette came out of her trance, and he was astonished to find that, after about an hour of her hand being submerged in the flame, there wasn’t even a mark.

Another thing: Bernadette was a 14-year-old who couldn’t really read or write, but, when she asked the Lady who she was, the apparition referred to herself as “the Immaculate Conception”, and there’s no way the young girl could’ve had any knowledge of such terminology, since the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception hadn’t even been established yet.  The concept would have been foreign to your average clergymen back then, nevermind an illiterate peasant girl.  Everyone knows that term now, and most people know about Our Lady of Lourdes, but in my next entry, I want to get into some of the other science-baffling phenomena that you may not be as familiar with.  Please check out the video below for a tasty tease.

Miracles are not contrary to nature, but only contrary to what we know about nature.”
Saint Augustine

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I’ve been looking forward to The Catholicism Project for a long time now and it’s finally going to be airing — just apparently not in my area.  I’m a big fan of Fr. Robert Barron and his “Word On Fire” video monologues on YouTube.  It’s hard to find someone who appreciates the wisdom of both Thomas Aquinas and Bob Dylan, but Fr. Barron speaks passionately about both of these freewheeling Christian philosophers, and does so with a thoughtful and articulate approach that’s appealing to religious and secular audiences alike.

The Catholicism Project is a series (I think twelve parts) which is going to be shown on various PBS affiliates throughout the country, with the notable exception of Massachusetts.  I’m trying not to be skeptical about it being on PBS, but it’s difficult, because the Public Broadcast Service is not exactly known for its conservative viewpoints.  Their politics generally lean to the left, and that’s putting it “conservatively.”  First the Red Sox’s epic collapse and now this.

Anyway, I’ll be hoping to catch it somewhere on TV (if not on the Internet), and I suggest you check it out in the early days of October, too, if you get the opportunity.  I never knew how addicted I could be to learning Church history, and of course world history in general.  Trying to learn world history without Catholic history is like trying to go swimming without getting wet.

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While I’m finishing up the second part of “The Mother of Perfection” I thought I’d share this brilliant young poet with you.  I guess he goes by the name Propaganda, but I don’t know anything else about him.  However, I certainly cosign his message.  The Good News.

Enjoy!

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Dr. Peter Kreeft quickly became one of my favorite writers after I’d become aware of him on YouTube, where he is in heavy rotation.  He’s a professor of philosophy at Boston College — of all places — and he’s what we locals would call wicked smaht.  The video below is the first in a five-part compilation (a little under 50 minutes all together I think) where Dr. Kreeft examines the subject of Evil by using J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings and its blatantly Christian themes.

Obviously, somebody not associated with Peter Kreeft put together the video with images on top of a lecture Kreeft had given, and they did a pretty good job, (with a couple possible exceptions some people might find some of the images objectionable).  I found it to be very entertaining and enlightening.

This is also a way for me to post something on my blog, while I work on something else for tomorrow.  I get by with a little help from my friends.

(FYI: at the end of every video, they’ll have links to the other parts of the same lecture; the very next one will be most prominently featured in the upper right.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0PJKBgUyViQ&list=PL093B042B6E7049F3&index=60

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