Tag Archives: Defense Against the Dark Arts

Avatar Jesus

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Relatively recently, I was at a college Catholic Center for Mass.  The homily was rather long and I must confess that my eyes glazed over somewhere in the middle and instead of paying attention, I found myself staring at the painting on the wall.  It was really, really ugly.  The friends I was with agree that it was probably donated.  Finding an image online loses some of the “depth” of the painting–the random shadows and rocky crags.  I suspect it was supposed to be an image of the Transfiguration?  But I’m not entirely sure.

(This isn’t meant as a slam on the Catholic Center or its university.  If you know where it is please don’t call it out.)

Observe the strange, ugly painting in its austere natural habitat.  Notice the unique composition.  Is it bringing anything to mind?  It did to me.

Yes, fellow children of the 90’s.  This IS from the very first episode of Avatar: the Last Airbender.  This is, indeed, Avatar Aang stuck in an iceberg.  And this is the reason for my nickname for the above Ugly Jesus Painting (and the title of this post).

To the painter of Avatar Jesus: in the words of Crescat, you make Baby Jesus cry. (I wanted to link back to her “Bad Art” tag, but since she left Blogspot for Patheos, it doesn’t exist any more…)

The Impudence of Modern Thought

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I’ve noticed something as I sit in my architecture courses… every time the role of religion-in-the-city-throughout-history is mentioned, it is somewhat glossed over.  It makes me laugh and cringe at the same time.  The Church has played an enormous role throughout the past two millennia.  Glossing over this fact just makes you look like… well, a rather ignorant modernist.  Sometimes beyond ignorant, if you decide to outright deny it.  For example, we were discussing the 19th century urban re-design of Paris.  Amongst the many coloured lines were two big, bold, red lines.  The legend, when explaining these red lines, read “Big Cross” (in a language which resembled French but wasn’t quite).   My professor then proceeded to tell us that he’s pretty sure it’s not religious.  I was about to break into hysterical laughter–of COURSE it’s probably religious.  It’s PARIS.  Paris tries to think it’s Rome.

Speaking of Rome, that came up in the same lecture–the urban re-design of Rome in the 16th century.  Of COURSE there are churches on every corner.  Of COURSE the Pope wanted to build more churches or try to bring the focus back to them.  Rome is the seat of the Church… but somehow this point is constantly missed and glossed over.

The Catholic Church exists, and it is alive today, and it was extremely prominent in Western culture.  Those who deny Her blatant and heavy influence on history and today’s society are doing something more than simply being “politically correct”–they are truncating history down to the “culturally friendly” parts and ignoring the honest and sometimes ugly truth: the Church is powerful.

Yes, I said it.  Powerful.  And while power corrupts, the Church is not a human institution–oh, but we threw that idea out in the trash along with our morals and our children.  The big bad Catholic Church ought to be ignored and left alone–She’ll die out in time.  Have you SEEN how old those Massgoers are?  Especially at those Traditional Latin Masses!  And oh, those Marchers for Life are even worse!  (My favourite is hearing that the Marchers for Life are “all old men.”  Giggle, snort.)  The result of this horrific “ignore it and it’ll go away” mindset is that so much of history has been edited down to ignore the Church–or, if there’s something you can’t ignore (like the Crusades, the favourite Church-basher’s argument) to pitch the Catholic Church in a horrendous light.  (I may do another post on the Crusades.  Comment if you think that’s a good idea or not.)

Long story short: we are living in a culture so hedonistic it has attempted to erase the Good out of itself–and out of its past.  Congratulations, Western civilization.  You’re throwing away the Truth and replacing it with Ego.  Looks like it’s all over and Ayn Rand has won.

Related Link: Wherin We Discuss Art

Covering All Bases

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Surfing the internet while waiting for the glue on some models to dry, I stumbled across a post on a very well-known Catholic blog which tackled a sensitive subject.  The comments were absolutely vitriolic and the article found itself re-posted all over the internet, covered in hate-speech for the woman who wrote it.  It disgusted me, as they went so far as to attack her children, wish physical harm upon her, and threaten her death.  This is unacceptable behaviour for anyone old enough to speak to another person.

Quill and I are going to be covering some controversial topics (at least I definitely will, and hopefully he will weigh in) in the relatively near future (near future on college time) and I would like to establish this right now, before that can of worms is opened.  Hatred and personal attacks are not accepted here, anywhere.  Opinions are fine, but instigation is unacceptable.  If Quill or I spot any of those, your comment will be deleted.  If  you feel it is an unfair deletion, e-mail one or both of us with a rational argument as to why you believe it should be re-posted.  If you rage at us in those emails, you will be ignored.   If bad behaviour continues, I will enable comment moderation, which will make me very cranky and also will mean that comments could take a LONG TIME to be checked and accepted.

Working definitions so there is no bickering (from the Oxford English Dictionary):

bigoted (adj): having or revealing an obstinate belief in the superiority of one’s own opinions and a prejudiced intolerance of the opinions of others

hate mail (n): hostile and sometimes threatening letters sent, usually anonymously, to an individual or group

compassion(n): sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others

tolerance (n): the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with

These are, effectively, our “House Rules.”  Follow them, and we’ll all be friends.  Break them, and I might have to put you in time-out.  Happy reading!

“Does God exist?”

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More depends on the answer to this question than any other. What a pity, then, that it remains so rarely discussed! I mean, of course, the reality of God, to which all Catholics must bear witness. Ours is a time which is in such desperate need of recovering intimacy with the God of Love. That makes it all the more sad to think that so often, when the topic is broached, it becomes an occasion for animosty and antagonism rather than for the truth of the Gospel to be depicted with clarity and charity.

The story of God and His Love needs telling. Hopefully, the following thoughts will help somehow in that.

“Does God exist?”
It can be easy, because the question continues to be debated generation after generation, with so many on either side and with so many different arguments and counter-arguments, to lay the question aside, or else to throw up our hands like Socrates at the end of a dialogue and say, “I guess we can’t know after all.” Perhaps it starts to look like a court case, and the “evidence” just doesn’t seem worthy of conviction. Perhaps the apparent futility of the whole back-and-forth leaves us thinking the question isn’t worth pursuing.

But this question is worth pursuing, like no other. Let’s take a step back here. The living God we proclaim is not a kind of superman, basically like us but a spiritual being of much greater power and intelligence. The question “Does God exist?” does not work the same way “Does Superman exist?” or “Does Zeus exist?” We work with some idea of Superman or Zeus– their essence, what makes Zeus Zeus and not, say, my neighbor’s dog. Then we try to figure out whether Zeus exists or not– he may or may not, and the difference is whether this one property, the property of existing, happens to be true of him or not.

When we ask the question “Does God exist?” it’s dangerous to imagine the answer comes the same way. “Existence” is not some one property we can ascribe to God in the same way we ascribe it to ourselves, or a dog, or a rock, any more than we can say that an author exists in the same way as his characters. The living God is Himself the fullness of Being, whereas our existence is merely participation in God, in the free gift He makes of His Being. It can be helpful, perhaps, to think of it along the same lines as the relation between light and window. A window has no inherent tendency of its own to illuminate or be illuminated, much the same way that we have no inherent tendency of our own, independent and self-contained, to come into or remain in existence. When the light shines on a window, however, the window is filled with light which passes on into the room. The window is illuminated, and the window, in a certain sense, illuminates the room, but the light itself suffers no diminution because the window “participates” in it. In much the same way, when we participate in God thanks to His loving act of creation, God suffers no diminution– or else we would not be talking about God, but some imperfect, imagined image of Him.

This brief consideration can serve as a first step in considering what thinking about the existence of God really entails. To purge our thinking about God of all that is unworthy of Him is a task as important as it is difficult– in fact a task impossible to succeed in altogether, as a consequence of the Fall, but that should not dissuade us from doing the best we can, realistically. God is not one specially powerful being among others but Being Himself, the non-contingent ground of all beings, the creative Reason that imparts His intelligibility upon all His creatures.
We can use this as a starting point, to prevent a kind of idolatry when thinking about God; that is, by ascribing something to Him that is altogether unworthy of Him or by neglecting to ascribe something to Him which must be true. On its own, however, this isn’t likely to produce a new conviction about God’s existence in someone. In future posts, we’ll take a closer look together at why recognizing God’s existence should be so difficult, what the proper attitude of assent to God’s existence consists in, and what some arguments for God’s existence look like.

What’s with the veil?

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Ever asked that question, or heard it asked?  I’ve done both–as well as quite a bit of research on the topic in order to find the answer.  I’ll try to condense it here in bite-sized pieces and a Q&A format.

So, really.  What’s with the veil at Mass?

My standard short answer: because I am in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.  Implication: God is truly present in the Eucharist and deserves every respect.  By veiling my head, I humble myself before Him, as is appropriate.


Doesn’t that make you feel inferior?  Men don’t cover their heads.  They take their hats off.  Why shouldn’t they cover their heads too?

Excellent question, albeit a little common.  It does not make me feel inferior–I’m simply fulfilling my role as a member of Christ’s Body, the Church: the Bride of Christ.  Men, while also part of the Church, are more like Christ by their very nature (that nifty little genetic thing called “XY”).  This does not mean that men are inherently any holier than women, or more faithful, or anything of the sort–simply that, by nature of being male, they are more like Christ.  Because Christ is the Head of the Church, men leave their heads bare.  Women, on the other hand, are representations of both Mary and the Church–the Holy of Holies.  This gives them a degree of sanctity which men do not have, since women–like Mary, the Mother of God–are female.  They are inherently mysterious creatures (ask any man and I can guarantee he will vouch for this–even if it is phrased as, “well, I don’t understand them, if that’s what you mean” because that is EXACTLY what I mean) and that which is  mysterious is hidden.  Hence why women hide themselves before their Almighty God: the veil is an external sign of an inherent and transcendent truth.  The veiling of a woman’s head is a profound representation of the unique femininity and sanctity which they possess.

But men and women are equal.

Equal–but different.  Now I don’t mean “separate but equal” (I know you’re thinking that, history-buffs.  I swear there should be a Godwin’s Law for slavery.) but, quite literally, “equal but different.”  I am completely equal to Quill in dignity (I have a soul, so does he; I was created by God in His own image, he was too) but absolutely different (think physical, chemical, genetic, spiritual, emotive, etc).  You cannot expect men and women to be exactly the same–they simply are not created for that.  (Plus, the world would be a much more boring place, if you think about it.)

If men are like Christ, and women are only like the Church, doesn’t that still make women lesser?  Christ is GOD.

Yes, and the Church is the Bride of Christ.  In matrimony, the spouses are equal in dignity.  Because Jesus IS God, and the Church is His Bride, and the components of the Church (all of us) were made in His Image, we share in His profound dignity.  I am not saying that the Church is equal to Christ –not remotely.  But Jesus condescended to us and became human, and all humans, as God’s creatures, made in His Image, are equal in dignity.  Therefore, the Church and Jesus are equal in dignity and this does not make women lesser.

So you don’t cover your head in the presence of men, and you don’t cover all your hair.  Right?

Right.  Those specific veiling requirements are both associated with Islam, not Catholicism.  Sadly, however, the practice of veiling is often solely associated with Islam and rarely (if never) comes to mind when referring to the post-conciliar period of Catholicism.  Some women opt for what my family affectionately refers to as “doilies”–small circular veils pinned atop the head.  I frequently wear a simple hat instead of a veil at many churches because veils are so infrequently seen that I do not wish to distract my fellow Mass-goers.

Where do I get one?

Catholic stores, online… some bloggers make them and sell them.  I’m hoping to create a list of Catholic artists and post them into a separate page on the site, so if you make veils or rosaries or artwork, send me a link and I will make sure you are represented!

Why Good Catechism Matters

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I went through Catholic elementary, middle, and high school–it was something important to my family.  It still is.  But even within the Catholic school system, you would be AMAZED at how frequently I was asked “why?”

The secular media has painted an imaginary picture on the Cave wall in front of everyone (apologies to anyone sick of Cave references, I can’t help myself) of a tyrannical, oppressive, and “behind-the-times” Church.  This is the mockery of a face which has been put upon the Catholic Church.

It is the responsibility of all Catholics to defend our Church.  This includes all teachings of the magisterium.  All of them.  Often citations will be needed to support these teachings–they exist.  Just know where to look.  And this is where catechism comes into play.

Every Catholic ought to be armed with the tools to defend the Church by (at the absolute latest) the time he is going off to college.  The groundwork for this must have been laid long before, and high school simply a refining of those principles into a solid apology in defense of Catholicism.  Nothing else.  Questioning “why” is completely valid, but it must be answered thoroughly, prayerfully, and with a lot of research.  Off-the-top-of-one’s-head answers (unless they have been memorized previously) do not work against deep, complicated questions.

Hopefully, this will turn into a series of posts, each outlining a different important point which is either central to Catholicism or is frequently challenged by non-Catholics–or both.