Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Dominican Prayer Day 20 and 21

Busy with work to some degree but last night I had a mini-epiphany.  Since Ignitum Today Thursday is coming up tomorrow I will defer though as I'm going to write about it there.  So sorry for the delay but stayed tuned.

Special announcement

Behold:  Youtube!

For the first time I have published a video.  Is it awesome?  No!  Is it of high quality?  Not even!

But it is my first video.  And no matter how ugly it is, the first always has a place in your heart.

Enough nonsense!  Here is the video:

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Interesting comment about opposition to gay "marriage"

From Mark Shea's talk about Leah Libresco's position on civil unions.


That’s always been my concern, too. The people storming the barricades to block same sex civil unions/”marriages” just don’t appear to be as concerned about, e.g., the rampant, un-Catholic divorce culture. Britney Spears was married to that one guy for, what, a week? The fact that such a mockery of marriage has been possible under our civil law for decades is a grave scandal in itself. Now, many of the people concerned about gay civil unions/”marriages” probably ARE doing great work against the divorce culture, too. But just like how those in the pro-life movement who are also deeply involved in social justice issues get ignored by the media, the media certainly makes it *appear* that all SSM opponents care about is “ick, teh gay,” instead of *all* the assaults on marriage embodied in our civil law. So whether we’re dealing with real hypocrisy, the media-fueled appearance of hypocrisy, or some combination, the fact remains that it makes us look anti-gay folks rather than pro-marriage to non-Catholic observers. Which has got to be hurtful in the extreme for gay observers, Catholic or not. That’s a staggeringly important problem.

Incidentally, I diagnose a lot of this problem, both in terms of our own thinking and much more in terms of the optics of Catholic opposition to SSM, as coming from the common political front in the culture wars forged (and rightly so) with our Protestant brethren as part of the politics of abortion. Because Protestants don’t generally have a problem with either divorce or contraception since the great disastrous Lambeth apostasy, their non-natural law-based, supposedly “Biblical,” fideist opposition to abortion and SSM really is rather abitrary, since it is divorced (ahem) from the necessary context of Sacred Tradition.
Catholic opposition to SSM *and* divorce is part of a “seamless garment” on marriage issues rooted in natural law; it doesn’t unduly emphasize same sex attraction issues. Protestant opposition, to the contrary, really does often seem to have an arbitrary “ick, teh gay” aspect that is open to snark about not obeying all the rules in Leviticus or whatever, because they don’t have any good grounding in Tradition for taking some parts of the Bible literally (e.g., St. Paul on sodomy) and others not (e.g., St. Paul on speaking in church)–they’re just winging it. I think there’s a lot of good voices in St. Blog’s trying to distance the Catholic, natural law arguments about SSM from the fideistic “culture war” arguments of our Protestant brethren. May such efforts flourish.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Dominican Prayer Day 18 and Day 19

So another combination as the last combo because it is more of the same.  I have tried to find ways to "help" meditation, such as lying on the floor for contemplating death.  This has produced mixed results.  But overall I feel like I'm actually praying during the first two ways (I do all three during prayer), only to lose my way and get frustrated with myself during this one.

I'll need to experiment some more.  The contemplation of one's death accompanied by some sort of self-mortification is not an accident.  And the fasting that the book recommends is too disconnected to me to suffice for that self-mortification.

I've honestly been frustrated, and this frustration seems to affect the other ways as well.  I find myself rushing through the first two to try the third again, which cheapens the whole thing.

Tonight I'm going to try the Third Way in isolation.  To really attempt to do it right.  Otherwise I will have to find some small self mortification way or give up this way entirely.  I feel like it can offer real benefits but contemplation alone is not my strong suit.  And without something for my body to do I see this as doomed to failure.

Now don't assume I'm down on the project.  I'm not.  This is the first real obstacle I've encountered.  And as it is my personality to obsess over a problem until it is solved, this kink in the works has my full attention.  But overall my prayer life has improved dramatically, and in small pieces my life and discipline are improving.  The fruits are already apparent. 

Dominican Prayer Day 16 and 17

So I'm combining these two days because I experienced the same thing both days.  That and I'm lazy and did not post about Thursday night on Friday.

I've really struggled with the Third Way.  Or at least the books recommendation.  At first I thought it was simply because it wasn't tough enough like the mortification that St. Dominic did during the Way.

But now I realize that there really is something more to my struggles.  I've come to realize that the reason why that I've struggled with this wWay is because of the book’s recommend Way to do it.  Basically the book’s version is purely contemplation.

This is problematic for me.  The first two ways involve the body in a very real way.  The bowing in the First Way and the prostration in the Second Way get the body involved.  With those two ways I feel I am involved in mind, body and spirit.

Contemplation has always been difficult for me.  It is quite ironic that I am in charge of my social groups’ Rosary.  I'm terrible at meditation.  If I can concentrate for five seconds that is a major victory.

I'm going to have to find a way to deal with this.  I need to find some way to involve my body in this Way or else this will fall on my “optional” to-do list.  Where all tasks go to die.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Biometrics and guns

Mark Shea has a post about his reactions to reactions about a proposed solution to add biometrics as a safety to guns.  I find this proposal problematic for a number of reasons but will confine myself to technical issues as I have some experience with them.

I respect Mark Shea a lot.  He's been instrumental in my thinking about the Bush administrations torture policies and the Iraq War.  And major props to him for being virtually alone on our side of the political aisle in calling out Catholics who ignored or attempted to justify such evils (me being one of them).  I owe him a huge debt.

So when I say he's wrong on this issue I say it with the understanding that I've been on the wrong side of an issue before with him.  Having said that I have some background in tech stuff so I think I'm on more solid ground this time around.  :-).

So here are my concerns:

The current state of biometrics - When I say current I mean as of the moment I'm writing this post.  High end biometric readers are fine, but expensive.  But the mass market manufacture still has a long way to go before I would trust my life to them.  Which brings us to the second point.

Life or death software -  Software is in two states right now I would say and will be for the foreseeable future.  There is your general business software such as Google that if it fails you lose something "trivial."  Search results, your last order, etc.

Life or death software is a whole different ballgame.  If it breaks, people die.  Therefore it cannot break. Or if it does, have some kind of backup. Biometrics on guns falls into this category.  Which leads me to....

What happens when it fails? - Notice the bold.  "When."  Software/hardware is guaranteed to fail.  Period.  It is simply a question of time.  What happens when the biometrics encounter an error?  Does the gun lock up?  Or does it release?  In either case, the biometrics would have to be checked at regular intervals.  The same is true for a gun, but the number of times increases quite a bit.

These are the concerns off the top of my head.  There are plenty more that have to do with actual design issues relating to the mechanics of the gun and failure conditions.  But just this list alone has me concerned about a digital anything that interferes with the mechanics of the firing of a gun.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Dominican Prayer Day 15

Finally I get back on track with this experiment.  For the record I did not mean to skip any days.  But there has been some difficulty in attempting this next method of prayer.

Recall in my last entry that fasting is involved in the Third Way.  That is somewhat true.  At least that is what the book recommends.  St. Dominic would beat himself with a chain in the Third Way while meditating on his death.  The book assumes that moderns are doughy and soft and therefore our skin starts to bleed at the thought of self-mortification.  And so recommends fasting.

Unfortunately my mind would not cooperate and I kept forgetting to fast this week.  A good day of light intake of food ended in a reckless and gluttonous consumption for dinner.  Or breakfast would be light only to have a smashingly huge lunch.  Time and again I would forget that I was attempting to fast.

So finally decided last night to do the prayer anyway.  I was kinda hungry, so I figured that it counted.

Anyway, the main point of the Third Way is to meditate on the fact that we are going to die.  Far from being morbid however it is actually an attempt to get one to focus on preparing one's soul in this life.  The book offers several questions like

"Imagine yourself on your deathbed."
"Who is with you?"
"What are they saying?"

Some interesting thoughts about that.  My other research says that the mortification was the main means of the Third Way.  But this should only be done under the direction of a spiritual director or confessor due to concerns of the sin of pride.

I have mixed feelings about this.  One the one hand, the book has so far not deviated from what other research I've found on the subject.  This is the first time that we have taken a real sharp turn.

On the other, I know all too well that mortification of the flesh without guidance is quite dangerous both physically and spiritually.  So if I can't even remember to fast I'm pretty sure I shouldn't be whipping myself until I get better control over my senses.

Enough meta.  I'll post my thoughts about the actual way I'm practicing next time.


Friday, January 18, 2013

Obama continues his assault on religious liberty

Losing the first round the admin fires back.  If the HHS mandate is allowed to stand it will mean the death of religious liberty.

Dominican Prayer Day 14

So we come to a close on the Second Way.  By far it was one of the more interesting experiences I've had with prayer.  Attempting to reconcile the reality of my sinfulness without lurching into scrupulosity has been challenging to some degree.

Perhaps the best thing however is the motions of the prayer types.  The bowing during the First Way.  The prostration on the floor for the Second Way.  I feel like this kind of prayer is more my speed.  I've always been a doer rather than a meditat---er (I don't know).

One good thing I didn't expect was to pick up writing fiction again.  I'm into the second novella and aside from missing two days I'm on a good pace.  Look forward to finishing the trilogy this year hopefully.

I'm also a little more disciplined.  But I have been falling away from it after the initial enthusiasm.

I peeked ahead last night to the Third Way.  One of the things they recommend is to fast on the day doing it. Since I forgot today and had quite a big meal, I will probably wait on starting the Third Way and related post until Monday.

So in the meantime have a great long weekend if you got it.    

Thursday, January 17, 2013

About the second amendment

this is more of a response to my friend Rob Johnson's post about his thoughts regarding rules that could be passed to curb gun related violence.  If the rules will or will not have any effect is up for debate.

I do however have some issues with the way the debate is framed.  The first quote:
First I would like to point out that the second amendment was not intended to apply to an individual person.
Such a broad and sweeping statement begs for proof before the framing can be taken seriously.  As it is, the Second Amendment, both in word and in context, enumerates an individual right.
  A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Two things about this:

The right to bear arms is taken for granted in the Amendment.  The first clause of the amendment simply states that the state is as dependent on this right as the individual.

The Bill of Rights contextually enumerates the rights of "citizens."  The First enumerates the so-called "First Freedoms".  The rest enumerate specific rights that corroborate with abuses suffered during colonial days at the hands of the British.  As such there is no reason to assume that the Second Amendment is different than any other right enumerated.

 Secondly, there is this:
The United States Supreme Court has decided that this amendment, however, does apply to an individual person just like someone now has a “right to privacy.”
Where the "right to privacy" is "inferred" (through very dubious means) the Second Amendment states plainly the right to bear arms of the citizen.  What Mr. Johnson "infers" actually is that the Amendment applies only to the state.  Thus this is a false equivalency.

I don't own a gun nor intend to in the near future.  But I do have an issue with undefended premises.  Especially when the entire framework hinges on a dubious and easily challenged premise.

So I was evil...

...and did not do the Second Way last night.  Due to circumstances way beyond my control last night ran way too late and I had no time to do the prayer.  I didn't even have time to play video games.  And when that doesn't happen, you KNOW that I had no control over the time.

So Day 14 is postponed till tomorrow.  Try to manage your disappointment.

Take care,
The Management  

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Dominican Prayer Day 13

One thing I've noticed over the last few days is my enthusiasm waning for this prayer style.  I'm not entirely sure why that is.

It's a weird thing really.  When I actually do it, I'm enthralled (mostly).  But the last few days I'm finding that I'm rushing into it.  It doesn't seem to provide the awareness or reverence the First Way did in isolation.

One reason for this could be that I seem to become more aware of my own faults.  Overall this is a good thing but it is rather depressing.  It's like I haven't made any progress at all.

I've heard that new converts go through the same thing.  First they start off on fire for God.  Then they begin to feel like the worst person on earth.  But that's just an awakening to the realization that we have so far to go.

I feel like I'm starting over to some degree, even if I have seen progress in my life over the years spiritually.  I still feel like I'm beginning again.

Which I suppose is a good thing.  But I do find it disheartening that this cycle seems to play out over and over again.  Just when I feel like I'm turning the corner in my life of Faith the next revelation that I'm still a jerk comes to light.  Hopefully I'm less of a jerk.

I don't want to leave anyone with the impression that I'm down on this.  I'm not.  But it is clear that the "honeymoon" portion of this project is over (far quicker than I'd hoped) and the "work" phase now beings.  I'm experienced to know that such is progress in faith.  But I'm still going to grouse about it.

Anyway, tonight is the last day for the Second Way, and tomorrow night I begin the Third Way.  I'll have a recap tomorrow hopefully about what I've learned while praying the Second Way.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Dominican Prayer Day 12

Honestly I had trouble concentrating last night so prayer was a bit of a wash.  Let's be honest.  Not every night is going to be filled with insight.  More tomorrow!

Civilizations have two choices

Civilizations have two choices.  They can either sacrifice for the future or they can sacrifice the future.  There is no middle ground.

A healthy civilization is one that embraces children for the future.  Children are an investment in the future.  A civilization pours its hopes and dreams into their children.  When a civilization focuses on its kids, the civilization shows that it wants to continue into the future.  A civilization that prides itself on its children is a civilization with a future.

A healthy civilization knows its neighbors.  It builds communities and creates personal networks that work toward the common future.  It holds the natural rights of others as something to be pursued and cherished.    

Civilizations are healthy when they plan for the future of their children.  They live within their means attempting to put their children into a more stable future.  They impart morals to their children to direct them to focus on their children's future.  They teach discipline, virtue, and prudence.

A healthy civilization is one that values personal and community responsibility.  It recognizes the need to participate in the needs of their fellow man in a personal way.  It recognizes the direct responsibility of each and every citizen and respects that responsibility rather than relegating it to a few empowered individuals.

A civilization that is not healthy sacrifices its future for short term gratification.  It does not impart the values of self-sacrifice but calls for others to sacrifice on its behalf.  It attempts to avoid responsibility whenever possible.

An unhealthy civilization aborts its children, or attempts to avoid having them entirely.  It regards children as a token of self fulfillment at best and a disease and plague at worst.  It attempts to euthanize the old, to avoid having to adhere to the wisdom of the past and to avoid the reminder that all things in this life are transient.

An unhealthy civilization does not live within its means.  It racks up huge amounts of personal and public debt to live a life at the expense of the future.  It abandons the virtues and sense of personal responsibility or outsources it to charities or the state.    

An unhealthy society fears its neighbors.  It does not know the person down the street and mistrusts anyone who disagrees with them.  It seeks to deprive the natural rights of others out of fear that the neighbor will misuse them.  In turn, the neighbor who works to deprive such rights are distrusted.

Which kind of civilization are we?  The question is left as an exercise to the reader.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Dominican Prayer Day 11

I'll confess I've had some anxiety over the last two days.  Not during the Second Way, but after.

As I mentioned last time I have a susceptibility toward scruples.  And for a long time have had to train my mind to avoid such.  This in turn I have felt has led to some growth in some areas but not in others.

So now I am attempting to incorporate how unworthy I am to receive Christ back into my psyche.  To really embrace it and at the same time to integrate that with the knowledge that God loves all of us.  God loves me.   And ultimately my salvation is up to Him.  I simply have to say yes.

This realization is hard for me to internalize.  I understand it intellectually.  But internally I still rely on my own power to correct my behavior.  It's all about the control, yo!  Also there is my usual "If I'm not stressing about it I don't care enough!!" mentality.

I know ultimately the devil tries to cause us to despair.  He uses the truth that we are fallen to cause us to doubt God.  Thus my anxiousness is a result of his attacks on me.  Trying to cause me to fall back into the depression that I once suffered from.

This time is different however.  I feel God's presence more and more.  Little by little I have found my awareness increase.  My decisions are slightly different.  I find myself a little more disciplined every day.  Hope continues to me more justified rather than just blind.

Here's hoping for victory.

Dominican Prayer Day 10

With another day passing I find myself pondering some new things that seem to have come into my life.  I'm pretty sure that it is a result of these prayers.  While I am hopeful I am also concerned.

First the concern.  I am susceptible to scruples.  My sins, bad as they are, would lead to more guilt than was healthy.  And in turn this would lead to stress. Which led to more sin.  At one point a poor priest had to break me out of the sin/confession cycle by banning me from Reconciliation for a month.  This turned out to be the best advice I could have gotten at the time given my circumstances.

Keep that in mind when I say I have become more aware of my sins.  One the one hand, it is a blessing to see how far I have to go.  On the other hand, this awareness can turn into a preoccupation/obsession very quickly.

Having said this I truly am finding a growing awareness of not only where I can improve, but also places in my life where my discipline is improving.  I'm more aware of the clock when I should go to bed, and acting on that rather than ignoring it.  I've done some small cleaning in our apartment.  Tiny changes but noticeable.

I'm also finding that I am more aware of God’s presence outside of prayer and Mass.  Usually in tiny moments but my mind seems to be more reflective and aware each day.

Tonight (Sunday) will hopefully be more of the same.  Though I have concern that I may get into some bad habits of scruples again.  This I will continue to monitor.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Dominican Prayer Day 9

I sit down to write this before Saturday night’s prayer.  Technically this is after the Friday prayer and I'm writing about Friday night.  So it's all good.  Yup.  No “letter of the law against the spirit” going on here.

Anyway,  I'm learning that lying on the floor in the dust is a metaphor in many ways.  Remember how I said that I would run a vacuum on the floor before I prayed Friday’s prayer.  Well that didn't happen.  And it won't happen tonight either.

It is true that the sins we commit can be the result of some unresolved issues we have.  Sometimes it is a force of habit.  But then like the dust on the floor, sometimes we are just lazy.

Yes, I am lazy.  There are things I should do that I don't.  My prayer life is no exception.  Sometimes I try my best and fall short.  But sometimes I simply don't try, and these failures are harder to take.

Tomorrow is the Lord’s Day.  Hopefully I will find the motivation to work on disciplining the soul.  Or at the very least vacuum.

Friday, January 11, 2013

A minor tip for struggling would-be authors

Not that I have much experience in the matter but I realized that my mistake after my first novella was that I set a way too aggressive writing schedule.  I subsequently dropped that work.  But now I've picked up Bill Dodd's excellent "How to Write your novel in Nine Weeks."  I can't recommend this enough.  It's like a mini-journal/coach to help you motivate to get through those pesky word counts.

I've started up my second novella, a sequel to the first (which was planned when I penned the first).  I'm finding it much easier this time around to stick to his schedule.

Dominican Prayer Day 8

Yay!  The Second Way is now a go!  Here are some initial thoughts.

First, my floor is really dusty.  I know this because I got up close and personal with it when performing the second way.  We are called to prostrate ourselves on the ground and express sorrow for our sins.

As with the First Way my focus was far more on the technique than the actual prayer sadly.  Trying to read the book while prostrate is difficult.  Even more so when your eyes and nostrils are filled with dust and God-knows-what.

Most interesting is the quasi-mantra during the prayer.  The Jesus Prayer.  Not the one the Evangelicals tell us that is more or less a magical formula for salvation.  But the prayer of the Penitent Tax Collector.

(breathe in) Lord Jesus, Son of God
(breathe out) have mercy on me, a sinner.

No spoken words.  Just mediation on those phrases and concentrating on breathing.

As before, I did notice a change in my attitude after this prayer.  I honestly felt like I prayed.  And I prayed in a way that I usually don't.  I truly involved my body.  It is a very unique experience.

I know that we can offer our work and our daily tasks as prayer.  But I never realized until yesterday that rarely do my actions and my prayer intersect.  They are often very distinct.  And clearly this is a bad thing.  How can I expect to live my Faith with such a rift between what I do and what I say?

Tune in tomorrow for the next post.  By that time my floor will have been vacuumed.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Dominican Prayer page

The First Way:
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6
Day 7

The Second Way:
Day 8
Day 9
Day 10
Day 11
Day 12
Day 13
Day 14

The Third Way:
Day 15
Day 16 and Day 17
Day 18 and Day 19
Day 20 and Day 21
Ignitum Today post

The moral law ain't arbitrary

One of the clubs that the secular folks try to beat on us with is this notion that God is a petulant child who doesn't like it when people don't do what He says.  And because He is all powerful, He gets to be a big bully and torture people for eternity for not bowing to His arbitrary wishes.

This infantile view of God and morality is reinforced when well meaning but misguided Christians that lack a proper grounding in philosophy and theology (mostly because the non-denominations have jettisoned anything resembling theology) appeal to how society should be ordered "because it is God' will".  What they don't realize is that this plays right into the arbitrary feel of God's will.

The annoying part is that this whole line of thinking is a non-starter.  Morality is not simply a list of rules to live by.  Morality goes to the very heart of who we are as humans, and our relationship to God.  The very nature of morality ultimately goes to not just our own benefit, but our true destiny.

All good, joy, and happiness leads to God.  God is literally good.  The Divine Attributes and the Divine Essence are one and the same.  When we chase good, we are chasing God.

An atheist will protest this on the grounds that they can be good without God.  But this is begging the question.  And aside from this, we are talking about the consistency of the Theistic viewpoint.

If God is good, separation from Him leads to misery.  Torture at the loss of Joy Itself.  A life without Joy, or even the hope of Joy, is an existence too terrible to comprehend.  Yet this is precisely the existence that we choose if we cast God out of our lives.

In my own experience I first started to follow the moral law because I feared Hell.  This is not uncommon.
But as my faith grew I realized that I should follow these rules because they are good for me.  They conform to our true nature.  And we grow in a relationship with the One whom we love.

Like a small child we obey our parents not out of some pure love for them but because we don't want to get punished.  As we grow we may at times disobey them and are punished for it.  As we get older and their influence wanes, we may strike out on our own and reject their advice.  And the world smacks us for it.  In those moments we realize that our parents were teaching us "rules" because they loved us and wanted us to be the most we could be.  And what they taught us was how life works, and what we must do.

God's will is even more important because the moral law goes right to our very nature.  It describes who we are, and what we are meant to be.  Ultimately it is oriented toward God, and how we are to treat one another.  What it ultimately reveals is that we are meant to be beings of Love, as God is.  When we reject his will we turn inward, and in doing so cut ourselves off from Love.

We are meant to be followers of the moral law because it is who we are.  The "rules" point to our true human nature.  This is why the Psalmist proclaims that we find joy in His law.  We owe it to ourselves, our fellow man, and most importantly to God to discover His will and to follow.  Only then can we find the Joy we all seek.

Dominican Prayer Day 7

Last night of the First Way.  Quite eager to see what tonight brings with the Second Way.  Yay!

Actually I'm a little too eager.  Had a lot of trouble focusing on the prayer last night and guilty of "looking ahead" to tonight's prayer.  I'm a little concerned that when the "newness" of the prayers recedes I will lose focus.

Having said that it is very clear to me that the First Way is little more than a prep for going into another Way.  It's emphasis on approaching the altar in humility is designed to put one in the proper state of mind.  It strips away our pride and calls us to contemplate our souls in relation to Christ.

I have seen a marked improvement on my prayer life as a whole.  Very small but noticeable.  After I perform the way I feel more focused, more relaxed, and I don't feel as rushed as I have before.

Part of this I think is that before this I did not really prepare myself for prayer like I should.  It was always a last minute thing right before bed or on the way to work.  If I tried to interact with my wife in the same manner I'd be kicked out of the house.

I know part of this new focus comes from my renewed attempt to revive my prayer life.  I've been pleased with sticking to it for a week even if a few of these days were a close call.    Obviously when I devote enough time to pray I don't feel like I'm rushing through it.  Not a stunning breakthrough I know but there it is.

And as you can see there isn't much else to say that I haven't already said.  The First Way is very short.  When I am in my most focused attempt it still doesn't take five minutes.  Clearly the First Way is a preparatory way.  And to keep typing would be to belabor that point.

As for me, I am encouraged that this is a good beginning.  I hope to continue with this and not lose focus.  Also the timing is good as Lent starts Feb. 13.  So I should be well into the book right around the time that my video game pledge kicks in.  Gotta have something to do right?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Dominican Prayer Day 6

Sorry for no real post.  Busy with work.  But tomorrow night will start the Second Way.  Exciting.

I will post a reflection about my first week tomorrow. Bye for now.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

"I'm offended" and other feelings

I find it rather very depressing when, after going through a long and painstaking post about very fine points of philosophy and theology, the response to the challenge is "I'm offended."  That's it.  No rebuttal.  No reason why I'm wrong.  Just a blurb of emotion, usually followed by an insult.

This to the other side seems to be a proper counter and the feeling of offense provides justification for disregarding another's opinion.  This projection occurs way too often in our society.  The rush of emotion that validates a person's view that the other is wrong, simply by being offended.

Another is the dubious evidence claim.  Claims that because homosexuals pair up and pretend to be wed somehow validates the notion of same-sex "marriage".  When pointed out that this "evidence" is nothing of the kind, the "I'm offended" non-argument followed by an insult is usually trotted out, with the same effect as before.

Then there is the "That person wrestled with it for a long time".  "It" being some horrible crime such as abortion.  Apparently torturing oneself before performing some heinous act turns the act from evil to good.  It doesn't seem to occur to people that the opposite is in fact true.

Feelings are important, but they are not an argument.  Emotions help to drive our ability to live our life according to reason.  But they are not a substitute for reason.  The inability of most it seems to realize that "I'm offended" does not mean that offense is valid is suffocating our ability to exchange ideas.  Just because one feels offended does not mean you have a right to be offended.

We live in a strange time where reason is confused for emotion and we are proclaimed to be the "Age of Reason."  From what I can tell we excel in being offended and angry.  We excel in feeling that our ideas are worthwhile simply because we feel like they are worthwhile.

Dominican Prayer Day 5

More of less of the same.  I'm realizing though that I should not jump right into the First Way after video games or some other electronic activity (like watching the snoozer of a NCAA football championship last night.  Yeesh.)

One thing that has happened though is that I've become more aware of how dependent I am on God to get out of my sinful habits.  I was aware of this to some degree already.  But perhaps meditating on the state of my soul in relation to Christ has helped to see not only contrast, but clarity.

As I thought about how frustrating it is to keep falling into the same traps, my sorrow increased as the horror of sin began to creep on my mind.  I hated the sins I done.  I hated the fact that I can't seem to stop myself at times.  I've begun to understand the despair of the saints with regard to their sins, trivial as they may be to our eyes.

There was hope in it as well.  After my horror I found that my mind was meditating on the phrase: "Either you will stop praying or you will stop sinning."  My hope began to increase in that I am a work in progress.  And that work is God's, not mine.

Now mind you these were not strong emotions or thoughts.  I was not in agony or ecstasy.  These things were small thoughts on my mind and heart.  But what is different is that they are new in a way.  Things I thought I'd always known, yet fresh.


Monday, January 7, 2013

Dominican Prayer Day 4

So I was somewhat rushed with prayer for Sunday, so I felt bad about not being able to devote the time that I should.  But given I have no idea how much time I should devote to the first way, I feel a bit better.  But then again because I am so obsessed with metrics and because of this I become a little frustrated that I don't seem to be doing better with the First Way.

Confused yet?   Well, so am I.  I guess my initial frustration comes from that I do not feel satisfied.  The feeling of something like "I'm totally getting holy now" or some such.  I mean I wasn't expecting some Road to Damascus moment but I do think that my disappointment stems from some expectation not being met.

I will say what is interesting though.  After praying with the first way I find that there is some mark on my thoughts.  I am more conscious of my prayer and find that my attitude is different.  It's very subtle.  At first I didn't even notice that it was there until the first night where I said my usual prayers after praying the First Way.  More conscious.  More reflective.  I took my time to pray and found my ability to focus was enhanced in some subtle way.

I take comfort in the fact that this first Way was used for preparation.  To me this seems fitting as I feel like when I'm done with the Way I'm ready to really start praying.  But since the book tells us to become more familiar with each Way I feel somewhat restricted.  But then again I see that could be more pride than anything.

On Thursday I begin the Second Way.  Very interested.

Dominican Prayer Day 3

Just some quick notes from Saturday night:

I'm not sure if I've improved on this first way.  Still feel like I'm not sure what I'm doing.  I feel my approach may be wrong.  Or perhaps I need more physical space.

I see my mind already racing for the next way.  I am distracted to some degree.  I am impatient.  The book says to take at least a week to fully understand and pray each way properly.  I'm not sure what one can learn since this first way seems so short but I do what I can.

I'm writing this after Sunday night’s prayer.  Still feel the same, but will expand a bit when I write sunday’s after some reflection and a night’s sleep.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Dominican Prayer Day 2

A brief illustration of the First Way:

  • Approach the altar in a spirit of humility (I use my dresser with a crucifix on it)
  • Meditate on Christ in the spirit of humility
  • Consider the state of your soul in comparison to Christ
There are some scripture verses associated with this.  Apparently this First Form was used in preparation for other forms.

It makes sense.  Even my small prayers seem more reverent and I pay more attention after doing this first form.  My mind is calmer afterwards.

I find it interesting that the very first thing that is practiced is humility.  Pride, even in small doses, appears to make it much harder to pray and come lose to God.  Such a small way, it only takes 5 min.  Yet it is quite powerful.

Anyone can find these ways online. But the book I'm using is helpful.  Here is the link.  

Friday, January 4, 2013

Dominican Prayer Day 1

So I finally managed to start the Nine Prayers of St. Dominic last night.  And the book that I'm using says I should keep a journal detailing my experience with praying the ways to chart spiritual growth.

I'll post the way tomorrow as I do not have the book in front of me.  But I'll take a minute to write about some initial thoughts of my first experience.

Basically the first way is a preparation for other ways.  It calls us to be humble when approaching God and to dwell on the person of Christ.

I finally managed to stop goofing off and remember to at least attempt to pray this way last night.  I opened up the book and began to follow the steps.  Here is what I found.

First off the first way is short.  The steps we are given are open ended and do not specify a time or any specific meditations.  Just the theme of humility and our relationship to Christ.  My metric loving brain became frustrated with this lack of specificity.

Secondly because it was so short I had no idea if I was "doing it right."  Again, metrics.  So I was a little let down by the fact that I only took about five minutes.

So I still did my "Our Father/Hail Mary/Glory Be/I'm sorry I don't pray more" routine that I do.  But I did notice a change.  I prayed these common prayers more slowly.  More reverently.  I found myself at more peace than I had the past few nights.

So my first experience was a bit of a mixed bag.  My obsession with "getting it right" I have found is my pride getting in the way.  Can't look foolish in front of the Lord Almighty and all.  But even that small investment improved my prayer life a tiny bit.  Which is the whole point of this.

So we shall see about tonight.

DIY abortions

desired by the pro-choice crowd.  When I hear whining about passing laws to limit abortion the laws themselves are less restrictive than plastic surgery.  Abortion is the most under-regulated medical procedure in this country.

Natural Law without God

One of the strategies employed in apologetics is the attempt to work from premises that the opponent holds. This makes sense from a tactical standpoint.  If the opponent doesn't believe that the Bible is not the inspired Word of God, appealing to the Bible's authority is a moot point.

Sometimes however in an attempt to do this Catholic apologists commit a different fallacy.  Oftentimes with atheists we attempt to argue about issues using Natural Law.  One can see this with the debate surrounding marriage.

One of the fallacies I've noticed (and am guilty of myself) is the attempt to employ Natural Law without the existence of God as a premise.  This I have concluded to be faulty, and causes unnecessary confusion.

It makes sense at first.  One can note the directed nature of entities in existence (i.e. final causes) without necessarily noting that such "directedness" only makes sense with a "Director".  Thus since atheists reject the notion of God one can at first appear to argue Natural Law without invoking God.

For the record, this is not "God" in the sense of how the Catholic Church views Him (though there are a lot of similarities.)  This is the God of the Greeks, or the God of "classical theism."  The God whose attributes are discovered through human reason.

There is however one huge problem with ignoring the existence of God.  It is worthwhile to note the intended nature of things given their directed nature.  But without God the question remains, "Assuming such things as final causes exist, why conform to them?"  It is the same question we pose to atheists, "Why be good?"

Natural Law at its heart is the study of entities and their directed nature.  Natural Law states that entities are directed to an end.  That end is intended by that which directed it, i.e. God.  Since God is pure Good, the natural end of entities are in fact good.  And it is good to work toward those natural ends, and evil to frustrate them.

Without God the whole reason for acting toward the intended end of an entity goes out the window.  The fact that an entity might be oriented toward a particular end is nice and all.  But God is what makes the system moral.  Otherwise we have entities of a directed nature that while interesting in principle have no justification for following them.

Both the material atheist and the Natural Law philosopher say that morality can be determined by observation and reason.  But without God the atheist is in a pickle as to why this morality should be followed beyond self-centered reasons.  When we as apologists try to exclude God from the conversation we run into the same problem.

Clearly a better understanding of Natural Law and how it relates to classical Theism as a whole is necessary.  The Catholic laity is undergoing a revival of these long neglected yet timely principles.  But we'd best be careful not to cherry pick.  Like the doctrines of the Faith, Natural Law philosophy has a lot of pieces and they are there for a reason.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

An interesting article on "conversion therapy"

Can be found here.  Melinda Selmys blogs over at Sexual Authenticity.

IGNITUM TODAY post is up!

Check it out!


is delayed due to server issues with the site.  But fear not!  Tito Edwards the site admin added much needed techno machoness to the server and the site is back up.  Now my article is being reviewed.  Check back later.