Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Michael D. O'Brien

The following are some Michael O'Brien links and quotes that may be useful for indirect literary apologetics. I will be updating this log as I come across more information and insight.


Catholic Educator's on O'Brien



(On Sacrifice
Rose tugged on Grandma’s sleeve and asked, “What is a sacrifice?”

“A sacrifice”. Oldmary whispered, “is when you take a heavy load on your back, like a hurt or a not-fairness. You give it to God and he puts it on the Gross of Jesus, the Big Sacrifice, and the Mass whish is also the Big Sacrifice. Then you have a part in it.”

“What kind of part?” Rose whispered.

“Part of mending.”

“Like sewing?”

“Yes. Sewing the ripped hide. Sewing the cut flesh. Stopping the blood that is pouring out too fast.”

“That is sacrifice?”

“That is sacrifice.”

“Does it hurt?”


(A Cry of Stone, Michael O'Brien)


Tuesday, August 30, 2005

St. Padre Pio... a Jedi?

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Mr. Incredible and Jesus

It could be my imagination but Mr. Incredible reminds me a lot of Jesus. For example, Mr. Incredible is captured with his arms held out wide and his legs together in the form of a cross (see the picture above). Mr. Incredible believes that his family has died and they are his life and because of this, in a way, he dies. Mr. Syndrome dares him to repay evil for evil but Mr. Incredible chooses not to do this. Later, Mr. Incredible finds out that his family is not dead and through this situation the family gains new life and they concur evil. Now it is not totally the same but there are many similarities…coincidence? I think not.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Why, Mr. Anderson, Why?

why, mr. Anderson, why? why, why do you do it? why, why get up? why keep fighting? do you believe you're fighting for something, for more than your survival? can you tell me what it is, do you even know? is it freedom or truth, perhaps peace - could it be for love? illusions, mr. Anderson, vagaries of perception. temporary constructs of a feeble human intellect trying desperately to justify an existence that is without meaning or purpose. and all of them as artificial as the matrix itself. although, only a human mind could invent something as insipid as love. you must be able to see it, mr. Anderson, you must know it by now! you can't win, it's pointless to keep fighting! why, mr. Anderson, why, why do you persist? -agent Smith, Matrix Revolutions

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Apologetic Distortions

A danger with apologetics is that it can distort the faith. So much is focused on the controversial and supposed weakness that the center tenants of the faith get ignored. After awhile those from the outside start to believe that the controversial is central to the faith and the essentials become secondary. What’s worse is that apologetics themselves start to fall into this same trap.

Only way to correct these distortions is to focus more time on the central tenants than on the controversial. Apologetics must become secondary, while spirituality and theology become primary. This is indirect approach at its best. Reaping the fruit of the central tenants will spill over into the secondary making a more congruent and comprehensive defense. Maybe the indirect approach to apologetics is a straighter line to the truth when it goes unexpectedly through the central tenants first to finally address the controversial. The trick is being creative enough to lead them on this path without loosing them.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Drawing Of Christ, St. John of the cross

The authentic image of God in the world is the image of crucified love -- nothing else. All the profusion of imagery in the Spiritual Canticle can only be explained and justified as the deployment of the 'hidden treasures' of this one image.

John carved crucifixes, but more than that, he drew a little oval sketch in Indian ink, about five. centimeters in diameter, to explain to one of his brethren the vision he had of the crucified in the chapel gallery. The sketch shows the hanging body with such staggering foreshortening that the technique alone 'presupposes long practice'.

The image only becomes comprehensible if we picture the body to ourselves hanging not vertically (as it usually does in representations of the cross) but downward by its hands and feet, with the crossbeams lying horizontally, downward into the darkness of God's night, the night of the world and the night of Hell.

It is in full downward flight that Christ appears to John; a stupendous vertical movement hurls him down, like a rock, the head first and straining the chest behind it, the neck vertical, the nape of the neck bent over, the arms distended and dislocated, the shoulder blades arched. The face is hidden, only the nape of the neck, the hair falling down in front of his face, the cranium, the upper part of the back, the hip, are visible. The lighting is violent, cast from above. A certain brutality produces this effect, while the lines of the drawing are supple and soft.

The work has two main features: the first appears to be imposed upon the artist, the other is his own contribution. What is imposed is the soaring vision, the apparition hurtling madly downward in the light, the divine body with specks of shadow, made of nerves rather than bones. What is imposed is to be seen in the arms composed of wounded, painfully swollen tissue, the suppleness of the narrow chest, which appears to be in flight from the unyielding wood, to be trying to detach itself and throw itself onto the ground. Under the force gravity the left wrist has been torn, and the nail has been reinserted into the swollen soft hand.

The heart bleeds in a long blackish stream on to the rigid chest ... John's own personal contribution is the sovereign allure of this vibrant sketch, full of intensity and at the same time almost relaxed, so delicately and with such quickness of touch has the artist worked. Artistic effectiveness is completely subordinated to the significance of the event. The impression almost of cruelty is revealed in an uncompromising anatomical representation (we must not forget that the young Juan de Yepes, at the age of twenty, was an orderly at the hospital ... of Medina del Campo). (Florisoone)

Florisoone reflects on the opportunities John might have had, at the time the sketch was drawn (1572-1577 in Avila), of seeing imitations of Italian originals in vertical perspective: Michelangelo's Last Judgment, which was imitated by Spanish artists, the early works of Tintoretto (El Greco only appears later). Elements of pictures, or of their copies, that John had seen may well have entered into his vision and its depiction, for 'God speaks the language of time and place'; 'yet in power of dramatic expression and in technical skill St John of the Cross surpassed the innovations of Michelangelo, Correggio, Tintoretto and El Greco, remarkable enough though they are'. (Florisoone)

Old School Christians

This is from a conversation from a forum that I am on and I think it's funny:

From me:

For all my brothers from the to your bathrooms and set a mirror up next to this buddy icon. You will then understand what I mean. I'm speaking Orthodox flip mode.

From a Adventist:
I dont quite understand the Othodox Flip mode as of yet!
From me:

Catholics from the west side make the sign of the cross touching the left shoulder and then the right shoulder. Those from the east side make the sign of the cross touching their right shoulder and then their left. Its kinda like gangster signs for old school Christians to know what set your claiming. (hehehe) So with a mirror I would be showing an eastern sign of the cross flip mode. Capeesh?

From an Orthodox Christian:

I'm with that

Look at Jesus throw up this "East Side" sign


And just look at this bling

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Dante's Inferno

The following is from First Things:

Nothing is more difficult for one who teaches this poem to students than to convince them that all of the damned souls, no matter how attractively they present their own cases, are to be seen as justly damned. The poem creates some of its drama from the tension that exists between the narrator’s view of events (in Inferno often represented by Virgil’s interpretive remarks) and that of the protagonist. What makes our task as readers difficult is that at some pivotal moments neither the narrator nor Virgil offers clear moral judgments. Instead, Dante uses irony to undercut the alluring words of sinners who present themselves as victims rather than as perpetrators of outrage in the eyes of God. Guido da Pisa’s gloss (to Inf. XX, 28–30) puts the matter succinctly: "But the suffering of the damned should move no one to compassion, as the Bible attests. And the reason for this is that the time for mercy is here in this world, while in the world to come there is time only for justice."

If it was John Milton’s task in Paradise Lost to "justify the ways of God to men," Dante before him had taken on the responsibility of showing that all that is found in this world and in the next is measured by justice. Everything in God is just; only in the mortal world of sin and death do we find injustice. And it is small wonder that Dante believes there are only few living in his time who will find salvation (Par. XXXII, 25–27). Words for "justice" and "just" recur frequently in the poem, the noun some thirty–five times, the adjective some thirty–six. If one were asked to epitomize the central concern of the Comedy in a single word, "justice" might represent the best choice.

In the Inferno we see this insistence on God’s justness from the opening lines describing Hell proper, the inscription over the gate of Hell (III, 4): "Giustizia mosse il mio alto fattore" (Justice moved my maker on high). If God is just, there can be absolutely no question concerning the justness of his judgments. All who are condemned to Hell are justly condemned. Thus, when the protagonist feels pity for some of the damned, we are meant to realize that he is at fault for doing so. This is perhaps the most crucial test of us as readers that the poem offers. If we sympathize with the damned, we follow a bad example. In such a view, the protagonist’s at times harsh reaction to various sinners, e.g., Filippo Argenti (canto VIII), Pope Nicholas III (canto XIX), Bocca degli Abati (canto XXXII), is not (even if it seems so to some contemporary readers) a sign of his falling into sinful attitudes himself, but proof of his righteous indignation as he learns to hate sin.

If some readers think that the protagonist is occasionally too zealous in his reactions to sinners, far more are of the opinion that his sympathetic responses to others correspond to those that we ourselves may legitimately feel. To be sure, Francesca da Rimini (canto V) is portrayed more sympathetically than Thaïs (canto XVIII), Ulysses (canto XXVI) than Mosca dei Lamberti (canto XXVIII), etc. Yet it also seems to some readers that Dante’s treatment of Francesca, Ulysses, and others asks us to put the question of damnation to one side, leaving us to admire their most pleasing human traits in a moral vacuum, as it were.

It is probably better to understand that we are never authorized by the poem to embrace such a view. If we are struck by Francesca’s courteous speech, we note that she is also in the habit of blaming others for her own difficulties; if we admire Farinata’s magnanimity, we also note that his soul contains no room for God; if we are wrung by Pier delle Vigne’s piteous narrative, we also consider that he has totally abandoned his allegiance to God for his belief in the power of his emperor; if we are moved by Brunetto Latini’s devotion to his pupil, we become aware that his view of Dante’s earthly mission has little of religion in it; if we are swept up in enthusiasm for the noble vigor of Ulysses, we eventually understand that he is maniacally egotistical; if we weep for Ugolino’s piteous paternal feelings, we finally understand that he, too, was centrally (and damnably) concerned with himself, even at the expense of his children.

Dante’s innovative but risky technique was to trust us, his readers, with the responsibility for seizing upon the details in the narratives told by these sympathetic sinners in order to condemn them on the evidence that issues from their own mouths. It was indeed, as we can see from the many readers who fail to take note of this evidence, a perilous decision for him to have made. Yet we are given at least two clear indicators of the attitude that should be ours. Twice in Inferno figures from Heaven descend into Hell to further God’s purpose in sending Dante on his mission. Virgil tells of the coming of Beatrice to Limbo. She tells him, in no uncertain terms, that she feels nothing for the tribulations of the damned and cannot be harmed in any way by them or by the destructive agents of the place that contains them (Inf. II, 88–93). All she longs to do is to return to her seat in Paradise (Inf. II, 71). And when the angelic intercessor arrives to open the gates of Dis, slammed shut by the rebellious angels against Virgil, we are told that this benign presence has absolutely no interest in the situation of the damned or even of the living Dante. All he desires is to complete his mission and be done with such things (Inf. IX, 88, 100–103).

Such indicators should point us in the right direction. It is a continuing monument, both to the complexity of Dante’s poem and to some readers’ desire to turn it into a less morally determined text than it ultimately is, that so many of us have such difficulty wrestling with its moral implications. This is not to say that the poem is less because of its complexity, but precisely the opposite. Its greatness is reflected in its rich and full realization of the complicated nature of human behavior and of the difficulty of moral judgment for living mortals. It asks us to learn, as does the protagonist, as we proceed.


Tuesday, August 09, 2005

‘Michelangelo Code’

Michelangelo. The Creation of Adam (detail, Sistine Chapel). 1510. Fresco. Sistine Chapel, Vatican, Rome.

Some believe that the shape behind God the father represents a cross section of the human brain. Here is a comparison;

If it is a brain I would think that Michelangelo is saying that we are made in the image of God. Our ability to reason and love makes us like God and the human brain signifies this ability.

There are also other human anatomy parts that are in other sections of the Sistine Chapel. Here is one example;

To read more on this please go to the following links.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

A Gospel in Stone

The following is from This Rock Magazine.
In contrast to most other buildings, the successful church is so constructed that the vertical element dominates the horizontal. The soaring heights of its spaces speak to us of reaching toward heaven, of transcendence—bringing the heavenly Jerusalem down to us through the medium of the church building. It’s no coincidence that the text the Church reads in the liturgy for the dedication of a church is taken from John’s vision of the celestial Jerusalem:

"And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold the dwelling of God with men" (Rev. 21:2–4).

According to John’s words, the interior spaces of the church ought to be characterized by a dramatic sense of height—in a word, verticality. It’s a fact of human experience that verticality, the massing of volumes upward, most readily creates an atmosphere of transcendence and in turn enables man to create a building that expresses a sense of the spiritual and the heavenly. It’s this transcendence that makes sacred architecture at all possible.

The building’s architectural elements—such as windows, columns, buttresses, and sacred art—should reinforce this heavenward aspiration. Likewise, the articulation of the ceiling should further create a sense of reaching toward the heavenly Jerusalem through the use of mosaics, murals, and coffering, as well as by incorporating the mysterious play of natural light into the body of the church.

Consider also that the early Christians, prior to the Constantinian era, solemnized the holy sacrifice of the Mass in inconspicuous places—most likely in homes and sometimes in the catacombs—that had no recourse to an emphasized verticality. Yet once Constantine legalized public Christian worship, the Christians quickly adopted the basilica form, in which spaces were emphatically vertical and conspicuous. Not only did the soaring spaces of such structures lend themselves to symbolizing the reaching toward God and toward things heavenly, it also represented a kingly nobility, for the basilica was the Roman "House of the King," fittingly adapted as the House of the King of Kings.

It is difficult to visualize the kind of spaces that would be created if the ceilings in such grand churches as Notre Dame, St. Peter’s Basilica, or Constantinople’s Hagia Sophia were lowered to, say, twelve feet—or even thirty feet. Despite the exemplary iconography and permanence of these structures, they would fall drastically short—literally—as sacred places, as houses of God, if their building’s proportions were reduced to reflect an emphasis on the horizontal rather than on the vertical.

This need to emphasize the reaching toward the heavens was primarily what inspired Gothic builders to develop a structural system that allowed for even greater soaring spaces. The Gothic architect knew that without an emphasized verticality, the church is emasculated, its
raison d’être subverted.

The Magic Eye and Grace

The following is from Envoy Magazine;
Well…you basically see an interesting design — nice to look at, maybe a bit eye-catching, but nothing you’d want to look at for more than a minute or so. Then, you completely relax and let your eyes go out of focus. It helps to hold it a couple inches from your face, where it’s automatically blurred, and then pull it away slowly, keeping your focus blurred. If you’re patient, a three-dimensional image will come into the foreground, with the original design staying in the background. It’s pretty amazing. I don’t know how they do it, but it’s great!

It sure is, and it really is a fantastic analogy for Christianity — for the very heart and soul of Christianity, which is the experience of God’s own Trinitarian life dwelling right within us. Think about it for a minute. The reality of grace indwelling within a person is not something immediately visible, is not part of what is “natural” to a person. If you see a human being walking down the street, and even see that person do a good deed for someone, you don’t see grace at work. You see the individual’s physical nature, and then you see a morally good act. You see someone following natural physical laws and natural moral laws, but you don’t know from that whether or not sanctifying grace indwells a person.

In fact, if you did know that grace existed in that person, and tried to explain it to someone who didn’t understand it, it would be very difficult — just like explaining the magic eye to someone who had no clue about it!

Aha! You’ve picked up the analogy perfectly! Note that once you’ve experienced grace, you realize that it is more real than the natural world, and that the natural world is really just the surface of reality. Nothing against the natural world; it’s truly good and beautiful in its own right. But a whole new adventure awaits each of us beneath the surface of the natural world, and that’s the dynamic adventure of the life of grace, the adventure of living one’s entire life in the presence of and in light of that mystery.

Storm on the Sea Galilee

The Storm on the Sea Galilee, 1633, Rembrandt Van Rijn

I think that this picture has a lot to say to Catholics today. The picture depicts the following Bible passage;

And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. A windstorm arose on the sea, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him up, saying, "Lord, save us! We are perishing!" And he said to them, "Why are you afraid, you of little faith?" Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm. They were amazed, saying, "What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?" (Matt 8:23-27)

The picture is cool because the people who are closer to Christ in the picture seem more peaceful while the people further way are in peril. The Church right now is a lot like this picture. It is getting beat up and tossed around. But what we have to remember is to keep faith and call on Jesus. If we trust in him he will get us to our destination safely. God bless

Martyrdom of St. Peter

Click here to see Painting

Jesus prophesied about Peter’s death when he said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go." He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, "Follow me." (John 21:18) Tradition says that St. Peter requested to be crucified up side down because he did not feel worthy to be crucified in the same way Jesus was. What I like about this painting is that the Christians look to be still moving towards their mission that Christ gave them while Peter is being crucified.

Some make the claim that Peter did not have a successor. This is odd when one of the first things that Peter did in Acts was to find a successor for Judas. (Acts 1:15-26) If Judas’ office needed a successor how much more would Peter’s Bishoprick need a successor? Peter also makes a promise in his second epistle when he wrote, “I shall also make every effort to enable you always to remember these things after my departure.” (2 Peter 1:15) From the historical record of the successors of Peter it is reasonable that one of the efforts that Peter planed for was a successor for himself.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

A Clown for Christ

"Anyone who tries today to talk about the question of Christian faith in the presence of people who are not thoroughly at home with ecclesiastical language and thought (whether by vocation or by convention) soon comes to sense the alien — and alienating — nature of such an enterprise. He will probably soon have the feeling that his position is only too well summed up in Kierkegaard’s famous story of the clown and the burning village, an allegory taken up again recently by Harvey Cox in his book The Secular City. According to this story, a traveling circus in Denmark caught fire. The manager thereupon sent the clown, who was already dressed and made up for the performance, into the neighboring village to fetch help, especially as there was a danger that the fire would spread across the fields of dry stubble and engulf the viallage itself. The clown hurried into the village and requested the inhabitants to come as quickly as possible to the blazing circus and help to put the fire out. But the villagers took the clown’s shouts simply for an excellent piece of advertising, meant to attract as many people as possible to the performance; they applauded the clown and laughed thill they cried. The clown felt more like weeping than laughing; he tried in vain to get people to be serious, to make it clear to them that this was no stunt, that he was not pretending but was in bitter earnest, that there really was a fire. His supplications only increased the laughter; people thought he was playing his part splendidly — until finally the fire did engulf the village; it was too late for help, and both circus and village were burned to the ground.” (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI Introduction to Christianity)

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Discerning Foes from Allies

I made this private message to an Orthodox Christian on a Protestant Web site.
Please do not bring up issues between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church on the 123 Christian forum. Example; The Filioque, Papism, The Great SchismFrom my point of view we are practically brothers in faith. Now brothers can have disagreements but you don’t air your dirty laundry with mixed company. It’s just bad form. I believe that it is to our advantage if we have a unified front. Now I am just asking. But just to let you know, I will not be responding to the issues that our faiths have with one another on this forum no matter what you decide.

Your separated brother in faith,

Austin Cartwright

He made this response;

In agree, Cure- I think that we shall see communion between East and West, perhaps in our lifetime. And I agree that bringing up those issues on this board is bad form- my apologies.

When I wrote down those issues, I was actually thinking about the error on both parts. I see the Filioque as a misunderstanding that need not have went further than it did (and we now have agreement on this issue), the Schism as being a mutual failure...only Papism in strict form do I see as a Western error. But the way that JP II described his position, and described the Vicarship, I would not describe as Papism. These issues are being ironed out by our (West and East)Bishops/hierarchs- may God guide them together. Anyway, I love my Catholic brethren, and meant and mean no offense. Comment well taken and taken to heart

Yours in Christ

In battle it is important discerning foes from allies. This interaction I had is true ecumenism. We were not compromising our beliefs but we are wise enough to know when to team up. If I am on an Atheist website I do not discuss differences with Protestants and when I am on a Protestant website I do not discuss difference with those of the Orthodox faith. There is a time and place for these types of things. One thing is for sure I made an ally.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Christ Our Bridge

Indirect apologetics is a battle to find truth and if we are to come together in truth there must be an edge of truth that is present on both sides which the cross of Christ can bridge. We must have fairness and see the truth in others if we are to bring them from the truth that they possess to a fuller truth in Christ. To discern Christ in our enemies is a supernatural task that is only possible by saints who are able to perceive the edge of truth and not fall into heresy.