Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Bear For One Welcomes Our New Climate Change Overlords

On July 25, 1968, Pope Paul VI issued his encyclical Humanae Vitae. Many had already decided to oppose it, and a well-orchestrated campaign against it was launched the same day it came out.

Someday soon, Pope Francis will issue his encyclical on climate change, or sustainability or global warming, or whatever he ends up calling it. Many have already decided to oppose it, and, indeed, are taking to the blogs to criticize the whole idea, sight unseen.

Now, the Bear thinks the encyclical is likely to be the same bunk we've been seeing for it seems like forever from the Left. But this time, it isn't coming from the secular Left. It is coming from Pope Francis, Bishop of Rome. And that, friends, makes a difference.

But no, it doesn't, some may reply. Encyclicals are not infallible!

It is true that encyclicals are not infallible per se. They might as well be, in some cases, however. Humanae Vitae was a virtual restatement of the Church's continual teaching on the matters it touched. It was built on prior infallible teachings.

But more to the point, infallible or not, Catholics are not free to mock, dispute and disregard an encyclical. In fact, we're required to get on board with it. The Catechism of the Catholic Church 892 says this:
Divine assistance is also given to the successors of the apostles, teaching in communion with the successor of Peter, and, in a particular way, to the bishop of Rome, pastor of the whole Church, when, without arriving at an infallible definition and without pronouncing in a “definitive manner,” they propose in the exercise of the ordinary Magisterium a teaching that leads to better understanding of Revelation in matters of faith and morals. To this ordinary teaching the faithful “are to adhere to it with religious assent” which, though distinct from the assent of faith, is nonetheless an extension of it.

Catholic Church. (2000). Catechism of the Catholic Church (2nd Ed., p. 236). Washington, DC: United States Catholic Conference.

In other words, the Pope is given divine assistance to so exercise his ordinary magisterium in such a way so as to help the faithful understand issues of faith and morals.

So, what does this "religious assent" look like? The Vatican II document Lumen Gentium shows the answer:
This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will. His mind and will in the matter may be known either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking.

Lumen Gentium 25.

Now, any scientific claims need not be adopted, since they are not matters of faith or morals. But what about moral conclusions flowing from bogus scientific conclusions? They may not be infallible, but they deserve the reverence of religious assent.

Until we actually have a chance to study the document, we don't know how it is framed. These comments are provisional. Faithful Catholics are going to have to be very careful. Of course, it does not help that, on his part, Pope Francis has undermined the trust of a large minority of Catholics through his mishandling of the Synod on the Family, his eccentricities, and his insults. "Religious assent" may be hard to come by.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Ingrievous News

The Bear first met Gary Owens in 1968. Who could forget the brief, absurd turns as the straight arrow announcer on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In? ("Beautiful downtown Burbank," intoned by Owens' rich baritone, was one of the show's many memorable catch phrases.) If you saw him on Laugh-In, you will remember his hand-to-ear delivery. He was also the voice of Space Ghost, not that anyone knew it.

Owens was a true broadcaster who made a career of bending the medium of radio around itself until it not only carried the joke, it was the joke. (The hand-to-ear delivery was legitimate, though. As the Bear learned in his own career as an announcer, that's how we would hear what we were sounding like, without headphones.)

Owens appeared in the pilot of Sesame Street. (That may seem odd, but the children's show was a kiddie version of Laugh-In. Somebody noticed that kids loved Laugh-In. Laugh-in was mostly lots of rapid-fire takes featuring recurring characters. Sesame Street catered to children's short attention spans.)

Owens died at the age of 80 on February 12, 2015. He left behind his wife of 47 years. 

As for "ingrievous," look that up in your Funk and Wagnalls.


Birth of a (Queer) Nation

The Bear is coming out of the closet. He is tired of hiding and putting up with the intolerance and hate. Hate and intolerance, with hate, too. The Gay Klansmen are a-riding ho.


Gay Klansmen Parade

He is tired of their hatred of anything normal, of their offensive parades, with their bizarre outfits. He is tired of their sham marriages. Nearly every day we read of innocent business people who face a judicial lynching. He is tired of acting like the most disgusting behavior imaginable is somehow "cute," because television shows will sell perversity. He is tired of their attacks on the Church, both from within and outside.

So the Bear is coming out of his speak-no-evil, safe, little closet of the tacit approval of homosexuality and what it is doing to our country.  He is saddened by Pope Francis' position. (Don't worry, though, he's got imaginary climate change covered, because the press eats that up.)

The Bear is done with the Rainbow Klansmen, and that especially includes those who are not themselves homosexual. ("Who, having known the justice of God, did not understand that they who do such things, are worthy of death; and not only they that do them, but they also that consent to them that do them." Rom 1:32)

If you keep quiet, are you consenting to their sinful behavior? Do you have an obligation to somehow give witness to people who will someday face judgment? That's your call.

The Rainbow Klansmen are bullies. They've got the courts, the media, and public opinion in their back pocket. (If the Bear should ever go dark here, you will be able to find him at www.usccb.us .) But you know what? We're still allowed to have an opinion.

Why single homosexuals out? Easy. Because no other group has mobilized a campaign to change the morality of this country for the worse. Homosexuality is proving to be the thin edge of the wedge to crack our institutions right open and bring them down.

And that, visitors and woodland creatures is the Bear's opinion. And God's.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Bumblefoot

Here at Zoar the Bear's morning begins with surveying his goat herd from the back upstairs window. Sometimes the shepherdess can be seen playing fetch with Beau, our Aussie. We also have laying hens and a rooster: Buff Orpingtons. "Buffies" are lovely chickens, the color of an antique gold pocket watch. Ours have a gentle disposition. Their satisfying cackles throughout the day signal the arrival of fresh eggs.

Our rooster Hermes has a smooth "Cadillac" crow.

One of them has bumblefoot, though. It is not uncommon in poultry. It is a bacterial infection characterized by swollen lesions on the foot. If she's not better tomorrow, we'll check in with the vet.

When the stress and controversies of blogging grow too great, sometimes a Bear needs to relax by bringing his favorite hen in and giving her a bubble bath. (Don't worry, everything gets scrubbed down with bleach afterwards.) And there's nothing a hen loves more after a bath than a nice, warm hairdrier.

Aren't these pretty girls?

Pampered chickens make better layers.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Michael Voris: How to Get Into Heaven

This is a good followup to yesterday's discussion on Pope Francis and his martyrdom of ecumenism. Michael Voris of Church Militant TV devoted a Vortex episode to the issue of what is necessary to get into Heaven. His argument is simple.

  • what is necessary is to die in a state of grace, and not in mortal sin
  • the Church provides the normal means for staying in a state of grace, i.e. confession
  • without confession (available only to Catholics) one is stuck in one's sins barring some extraordinary avenue, such as a perfect act of contrition
  • therefore, while being Catholic is not required to get into Heaven, as a practical matter it is extremely unlikely for a non-Catholic to die in a state of grace

Raising the hypothetical question of the good Protestant's salvation, it is "moot," as far as the Church goes. It is not whether he died outside or inside the Church, but whether he died in a state of grace. He closed by saying salvation comes "through" the Church, which is quite different from saying one must be "in" the Church.

Now, Mr. Voris may be correct, and probably is, as far as he goes. It seems to the Bear, however, to be a bit legalistic, and ignores the dimension of "belonging:" belonging to the body of Christ; attachment to the true, nourishing vine.

It also skirts the dogma of extra ecclesiam nulla salus (EENS) -- there is no salvation outside the Church. Popes and councils have declared this, and the Fathers have taught it. To raise it today is to be accused of Feenyism. Yet the historical fact of these infallible teachings is a big, embarrassing, stumbling block. They are not couched in Mr. Voris' terms of practical benefit, but of being in, of belonging.

Now the Bear doesn't know what to think because no one will face up to the facts. He suspects EENS can neither be swallowed nor spat out. It cannot be swallowed because it is incompatible with ecumenism and interfaith activity. It is contrary to the whole drift of the age. It cannot be spat out because that would be admitting the Church was wrong about an infallible dogma.

So the whole matter is safely left to the occasional Bear with an interest in historical curiosities.

Mr. Voris's argument is appealing and easy to follow, but is it the whole story?

This is one of the the hardest questions Catholics ponder. For converts, especially, it can be very painful, for if it is necessary to be in the Catholic Church to be saved, what is there to say about dear relatives who rejected, whether out of prejudice or laziness, our invitations to investigate the Church?

This would not be a profitable topic for discussion but for its practical impact. To the extent we believe the Church is not necessary for salvation, we slide into indifferentism and universalism. The evangelical spirit has been all but snuffed on account of these twin heresies. Getting people inside the Church matters.

The Bear is not accusing Mr. Voris of being wrong. Perhaps the Bear is drawing a distinction without a difference. We both acknowledge that, one way or another,  the Catholic Church is the ordinary means of salvation. It is hard enough for us to be saved with all the assistance of the Church. May God have mercy on the souls of those who perish outside of it.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Church of Everybody -- But You


The natural response to the killings by by Muslim terrorists is sympathy for the victims. No one of the victims is more or less valuable than another. Even so, what are we, as Catholics, to make of Pope Francis making no distinction between Catholics and non-Catholics in his "ecumenism of blood?" Granted, drawing fine distinctions would be awkward in a sympathy message, but, as Pope Francis surely realizes by now, he always speaks as the Pope. His words mean something.

Aside from the natural sentimentality these killings generate, what is the truth? God either cares whether you die a Catholic or not, right? The Church has had some pretty strong opinions on that topic in the past. Are we permitted to slide right by those teachings without formalities? (Why, of course non-Catholic victims don't get treated any differently!)

When the doctrine of extra ecclesiam nulla salus was being pronounced, when the Church grappled with heretics in desperate combat across the known world, when it sent missionaries to a new, and unknown world: were these things all a waste of time? Was the Church wrong in its exclusivity of membership and possession of truth?

If everyone were wrong in those days, at least they were clear in their error. Today we must interpret the Delphic utterances of Pope Francis every day or so to get some sense for what the Church now teaches. There seems to be a super-dogma of inclusiveness that is quietly erasing all differences. It is becoming the perfect 21st century religion. Nice. Open-armed without reservation. Tame. In firm solidarity with the one world vision. No polite lie is too big to swallow. Allah? Why, what do you know, we worship him, too!

In Lumen Gentium, Vatican II showed the way. Every group -- except lapsed Catholics -- had its own exception into Heaven, even atheists. A mania for ecumenism and interfaith activity illustrated the awful Sunday songs about all of us being pilgrims, traveling hand-in-hand to the Promised Land. Fast-forward fifty years, and who can now even question whether non-Catholics are saved? Not because any doctrine was changed, but, well, just because.

The super-dogma of inclusiveness was not invented by Pope Francis, but he has made it his trademark. Communion for the divorced and remarried? If you get a phone call from the Pope, no problem. Homosexuals? Who am I to judge? Protestants? There's no need for them to convert. Perhaps "there is a reasonable hope that all may be saved," as the new apostles of universalism coyly suggest. The ultimate inclusiveness: everybody goes to Heaven.

The thing that most bothers the Bear is the way they're just sneaking all this by under the cover of novel assumptions. There is no debate, or, when there is, as we saw in the Synod on the Family, it is a bully-and-fake job.

So do you need to be Catholic to be saved? It doesn't look like it, but the Bear isn't sure.

And what an astonishing admission for a Catholic to have to make.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Earth Day 2015: Green Bartholomew, Green Francis

Nobody carries a bigger moral stick on the world stage than Pope Francis. (Take that, Dalai Lama!)
And he's going to give climate change a fig leaf of moral legitimacy to make up for its lack of scientific persuasiveness.

But before Francis, and his soon-to-be-released ecocyclical, there was His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of the Orthodox Church, the "Green Patriarch." The Patriarchate has been stirring the complex witch's brew of environmentalism since the mid-80s. Since his election in 1991, Bartholomew has made a name for himself as a globe-trotting apostle of green.

In 1995, at a symposium called by Bartholomew and Prince Phillip, Bartholomew, after quoting the book of Revelation, said this: "The Earth has been hurt. Conscious of the threat of nuclear destruction and environmental pollution, we shall move toward one world, or none."

In 2002, the fourth in the series of symposia was held under Bartholomew and the President of the European Commission focusing on the Adriatic Sea. (The Commission is the executive body of the European Union.) At its conclusion, Bartholomew and Pope John Paul II co-signed "The Venice Declaration" on environmental ethics.

In 2009 a symposium on the Mississippi River concluded the man-made changes to the river threatened not only human and natural consequences, but democracy itself.

In November, 1997, at Santa Barbara, Bartholomew declared: "To commit a crime against the natural world is a sin." According to an article on the official website of the Patriarch, his approach to the environment is marked by humility. "He recognizes that he is standing before something greater than himself, the world before which he must kneel."

"That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth." Philippians 2:10. Also John 16:11. "And of judgment: because the prince of this world is already judged." (Just a reminder.)

Now pay attention to how the green movement spreads as fast as kudzu to cover familiar leftist territory. This is what the Green movement is really about.

Finally, the Ecumenical Patriarch is aware that environmental issues are intimately connected to and dependent on numerous other social justice issues of our times including war and peace, justice and human rights, poverty and unemployment. It is not by chance that the term "eco-justice" has been used in religious circles to describe this interconnection between creation and creatures, between the world and its inhabitants. We have, in recent years, become increasingly aware of the effects of environmental degradation on people, and especially the poor.

Surely someone can work gun control into eco-justice! The Green movement is more ambitious than just curbing pollution and saving the rainforests.

Here's a theory; you can take it for what it's worth. The less relevant Christianity becomes, the more major Christian institutions will align themselves with worldly causes. The world realizes it can use the moral weight of a Pope Francis. And is it possible a pope might realize he needs the world to give the Church a purpose? A seat at the table, if you will? After all, the Church is through with its old mission of evangelization. But there is plenty of work to be done hand in green hand with Caesar.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Happy Earth Day

Happy Earth Day, April 22, 2015!

The story of its self-proclaimed founder is one you may not have heard. It is not one of the Bear's tall tales.

Ira Einhorn called himself "Unicorn," and went about in typical hippie fashion, with a beard and tie-dyed shirt. He was for free love and against the Vietnam War. On April 22, 1970, he was the master of ceremonies at the first Earth Day rally, in Philadelphia. Although others have since distanced the day from Einhorn (for reasons which will soon become apparent), Einhorn has always maintained that he is the founder of Earth Day.

Seven years after the first event, Einhorn's girlfriend disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Einhorn maintained she had gone to the neighborhood coop to buy some bean sprouts and tofu and never come back. When his downstairs neighbors reported a foul-smelling liquid dripping from their ceiling, police obtained a warrant, and discovered the partially mummified (some reports say "composted") remains of Einhorn's girlfriend in his apartment.

He bounced around Europe for 23 years before being brought to justice, eventually offering the defense at trial that he had been framed by the CIA because he knew too much about the agency's paranormal programs.

Usually green apostles sound like they think human beings are the problem. While it only makes sense to do what we reasonably can to protect the the outdoors that is important for many reasons, it's crazy to view humans as the enemy. And remember, this is coming from a bear.

Friday, April 17, 2015

It Is a Strange Thing to See the Bride Run From the Groom

What should be our cue to finally enter into schism? Before the Bear answers that question, he would like to make an observation. The Church was rife with error of all sorts before Pope Francis came upon the scene. If you want to find a rejection of Christ's very teachings, you do not have to wait for the Synod Part II and the blessing of unholy unions. Before adulterers and homosexuals are blessed by the Church for their adultery and homosexuality, the divine commission to evangelize the world was rejected.

True, Pope Francis has gone further and made "proselytizing" a sin, but a Bear wonders how anyone can keep a straight face when talking about the "New Evangelization." It is new not to evangelize, it is true. Old Evangelization was sacrificed on the altar of Ecumenism, chief of many strange, effeminate gods that find shelter beneath St. Peter's dome in our age.

So the the Church has ceased to spread the Word, and angels weep in amazement. But there is more. The "Gay Lobby" must remain in the realm of speculation, so the Bear does not mean that, although it is certain many homosexual predators were tolerated for a long time. No, the Bear speaks of the forgetfulness of Hell and the general expectation that most, if not all, persons will go to heaven. Not one in a thousand priests is brave enough to earnestly preach the Last Things.

Of course, it has been some time that being Catholic had anything to do with one's eternal destination. The dogma of extra ecclesiam nulla salus -- no salvation outside the Church -- has fallen into desuetude and thereby been silently annulled. That was never the Bear's favorite dogma, but we don't put these things to a vote on a generation-by-generation basis.

Or do we? We have, most of us, grown up in the Church of New. The giddy generation that gave us what would eventually become the Franciscan Church, is now going to its grave, leaving us to pick up the pieces. And they'll do much more damage before the last one is dead, and they will leave many sons and daughters following.. You will not live to see the Church mended.

The point is, we are putting so much weight on a potential change about remarried persons taking communion that we are forgetting this is not the first non-negotiable issue that the Church has abandoned. The Church hasn't been herself in a long time. It is a mystery, but we know that God is in control and has His reasons for allowing His Church to be wrecked. And no other word may be used: wrecked. When things are eventually set straight, it will not be a housecleaning, but a rebuilding. Brick by brick indeed.

As for when do we finally throw up our hands and give up on our Church, the answer is, of course, never. When one's spouse is sick, you don't get mad and run off with the neighbor's wife. Each of us is important. Even if we do just one positive thing for the Church in these dark days. That's why the Bear always says, "nail your foot to the floor in front of your favorite pew and die there."

It is a strange thing to see the Bride run from the Groom. These are strange times. Strange and doleful.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

One Year Ago Today


The Book of Nevermind, the Council of Didn't Happen

In today's Mass, Pope Francis called the wrath of God down upon homosexuals and adulterers. Sorry, the Bear appears to have made a typo. Quoting from the Book of Nevermind and the Council of Didn't Happen, Pope Francis trained his big papal guns on the real threat to the Church and salvation: teachers who don't dialogue with their students.
"... let us pray for the teachers, for the doctors, for those who teach the people of God, that they would not be closed in on themselves, that they would dialogue, and so save themselves from the wrath of God, which, if they do not change their attitude, will remain upon them."
The "faithful" have feelings about things, and stuff. It would be astonishing if these teachers and doctors were passing on sound doctrine in the first place, and just as astonishing if the students were proposing it. The ideal, therefore, is modernist teachers and catechists hashing out Church doctrines with ill-formed Catholics (and, for all we know, Seventh Day Adventists) in a rap session.

Actually, the Pope's advice might be good. During the Bear's brief foray into a master's program in theology, he attempted to dialogue many times with his instructors. They quickly made it clear that they weren't interested in that sort of dialogue and identified the Bear as a danger to his classmates. Halfway through the semester they shot him with a tranquilizer dart (who knew they even had those on campus?) and that was the end of the Bear's aspirations to higher education.

Not the right kind of dialogue.

Whenever the Bear hears the word "dialogue" he releases the safety catch on his Browning. The sole purpose of today's dialogue is to make the participants feel so good about themselves they rush to issue a news release boasting of having accomplished absolutely nothing. No, the Bear takes that back. There is a purpose and that is to distract Catholics from the task Christ actually gave them: spreading the Good News and the Church's unique role in salvation.

The Bear searched for the word "dialogue" in several Bibles and did not find it once -- not even in the New American Bible, Revised Edition. It's pure hokum, and anyone peddling it runs the risk of appearing to be a humbug. It tells instructors, "No, you do not have the truths of the Church in neat packages to give trusting students. Their lived experience is just as valid. You must be quiet and learn from them."

Friday, April 10, 2015

Mad Poets

Epitaph on a Hare
by William Cowper (d. April 25, 1800)

Here lies, whom hound did ne'er pursue,
Nor swifter greyhound follow,
Whose foot ne'er tainted morning dew,
Nor ear heard huntsman's hallo',

Old Tiney, surliest of his kind,
Who nursed with tender care,
And to domestic bounds confined,
Was still a wild jack-hare.

Though duly from my hand he took
His pittance every night,
He did it with a jealous look,
And, when he could, would bite.

His diet was of wheaten bread,
And milk and oats, and straw,
Thistles, or lettuces instead,
With sand to scour his maw.

On twigs of hawthorn he regaled,
On pippins' russet peel,
And when his juicy salads failed,
Sliced carrot pleased him well.

His frisking was at evening hours,
for then he lost his fear;
But most before approaching showers,
Or when a storm drew near.

Eight years and five round-rolling moons
He thus saw steal away,
Dozing out all his idle noons,
And every night at play.

I kept him for his humor's sake,
For he would oft beguile,
My heart of thoughts that made it ache,
And force me to a smile.

But now, beneath his walnut-shade
he finds his long, last home,
And waits in snug concealment laid,
Till Gentler Puss shall come.

He, still more aged, feels the shocks
From which no care can save,
And, partner once of Tiney's box,
Must soon partake his grave.

Cowper, who penned the above, oddly affecting, lines, was a mad poet. His more famous lines are:

God works in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform.
He plants his footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

Cowper spent much of his life in a madhouse. In or out, he received the attentive care another famous English hymnist, who was moreover a former captain of slave ships, John Newton. Newton wrote perhaps the most well-known hymn of all, Amazing Grace.

Cowper's sad illness manifested itself in the conviction that he was damned to Hell. He was thus tormented to his last breath.

Old Tiney reminds the Bear of his smallest Yorkie, Dahlia, who is so ill-tempered as to beg for a helping hand to the couch only to repay the kindness by biting the very hand.

As readers will know, the Bear announced his lack of attention to his blog through Lent. And he believes he received some benefit thereby, and at little loss to Catholic journalism. It is to be hoped by one beast, at least (that being the author) that this blog will soon be again a lively place of camaraderie and overall bearishness.

Your Friend,
The Bear

Featured Post

Judging Angels Chapter 1 Read by Author

Quick commercial for free, no-strings-attached gift of a professionally produced audio book of Judging Angels, Chapter 1: Last Things, read...