The Synod on the Family and the Developing World

Frater Bovious:

Robert J. Delahunty brings up a very good point – and a very pointed challenge.



First World Problems?

Not long after his election, the new Pope explained why he had taken the name “Francis”: “Ah, how I would like a church,” he said, “that is poor and is for the poor.” It was refreshing: the Pope was going to change the basic terms of the conversation between the Church and the world. Instead of waging a grinding “culture war” against a secular West, the Church would instead speak to the most urgent concerns of the global East and South. The first Pope to come from beyond Europe and the Mediterranean basin promised to be the champion of those who lived in the parts of the earth where hunger, injustice and persecution abounded. Places like the Philippines, Mexico, and Nigeria had already become the true center of gravity of a global Church, displacing Quebec, Chicago, Milan and Vienna. The new Pope would speak for the…

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Mutual Participation – Now there’s a concept


So, what you're saying is, if I decide, by my actions, that I am not part of a group - then, I'm not part of the group?

So, what you’re saying is, if I decide, by my actions, that I am not part of a group – then, I’m not part of the group?

(CARROLLTON, TX – Cradle of Civilization) The upcoming Synod on the Family – heard of it? Know what it is about? Yeah, me neither. Because if you read the press, and I am sad to say I mean all press, including Catholic Press, it would seem this is the upcoming synod on where the Church gets with the times and lets divorced people* receive Communion because that’s all pastoral and stuff, unless of course you have bought into the “Oh my GAWD Pope Francis is the Anti-Christ!” meme, in which case it’s the Synod on where the Church finally and completely apostasizes and lets divorced people receive Communion because that’s what Churches do when they are in league with the Devil.

Or, it’s the upcoming Synod on the proper definition of marriage as an institution that has no definition unless of course it is the Synod on the proper definition of marriage as it’s all about love, love between anything and everything as defined in the moment and for precisely as long as it stays in that moment.

However, I have the persistent suspicion that the upcoming synod on the Family will be about Family. And this would be the right place to start because until you get the idea of family correct, it will be difficult to talk about either of the two topics above.

BUT – I will hazard that the focus of such a Synod probably should be the one thing that is common to all of the above – the concept of Chastity. Until the beachhead of a proper understanding of Chastity is established, it will be meaningless to discuss much else. Family properly springs from Chastity.

Chastity shares a Latin root with Caste – which, in its early usage, included meanings such as cut off, separated, pure. I would like to point out that some of the same meaning is applied to the word Holy. As in set aside for a special purpose. And I would remind that one of the Standards around which to rally coming out of Vatican II was the universal call to holiness.

Meaning, bluntly, that if we are called to be holy, then we are called to be chaste. which, among other things, would entail honesty and fidelity.

And what has all this to do with Communion and Marriage? Please think about it, both broadly and deeply. If you are married, you ought to love your wife and cleave to her, forsaking all others. You can’t dabble with other women, other men, other beings of any kind. There is a sacredness in the holiness, in the chasteness of the marital relationship.

Abrupt shift: Please note the phenomena of Church Shopping. One dabbles here, one dabbles there, not really committed, partaking in the sacraments of first this, church, this ecclesiology, this communion, then that one over there – is this not a sort of fornication? A betrayal? Is this not a relationship of all take and no give? Is this not a one-sided relationship? Where is the mutual participation? Sure, you are showing up, but why?  Looking to be fed, to be energized, to be validated, to “feel the holy spirit?” Is that mutual participation?

Let’s examine the concept of “open marriage” where the usual rules don’t apply. You can go out, break all your marriage vows, then come home for Sunday dinner and sit at the table as if you are truly married. And everyone sits there and pretends things are just ducky. Is this not what happens when people come to Communion “unprepared” (a particularly saccharine way of saying “in a state of mortal sin) and receive communion because that’s what Jesus would want? Really? As if Jesus would say, “I don’t really care what you do on your own time, whom you sleep with, how you spend your money on other men or women, just be home in time for dinner.”

Yeah, no.

There has till now been no need to define the family – everyone knew what the constituent elements of a family are. The loss of the virtue of chastity has caused this crisis in the understanding of family – and the ripple effects are to be seen in the lack of understanding regarding Communion and Marriage and the fundamentally indissoluble nature of both.

There are many images of Church – Christ is the Head, we are the Body. Christ is the Bridegroom, we are the Bride. The Church is our Mother. We are family. When someone walks away from the family, they walk away! Yes, as the Prodigal Son, they can come back. But, the Prodigal Son came back changed. Ready to be family. Wanting to be family. Willing to “sin no more.” Ready, in other words, to be chaste, to be holy, to fully participate in the family, not just be the recipient of its goods – that is to say, no longer willing to just take.

Final related note: Pope Paul the VI was under tremendous pressure to “approve” contraception. It was enlightened, it was with the times, it was what the people wanted. However, he knew that he could not approve this lie. His decision was tremendously unpopular. It was not in practice upheld – when the lay faithful came to their shepherds for guidance, the were led astray and fell into sin.

But Pope Paul was also correct. If you read the document, you will note the logical explication of what will happen if contraception becomes commonplace. Everything he said came true. Everything. Let us pray for Chastity and Holiness, and let us remember, if you want to be part of the Church, then you have to be part of it.

Holy Family, ora pro nobis.


* (editor’s note: should have read as “civilly divorced and civilly remarried” with the presumption of a sacramental marriage)

Apologetics 101

# 8 in a series


"Take no prisoners"

“Take no prisoners”

… continuing from last week, we have this example of a cordial exchange between Thomas More and Martin Luther regarding certain comments that Luther made about Henry VIII:

Martin Luther then attacked Henry VIII in print, calling him a “pig, dolt, and liar”.[10]:227 At the king’s request, More composed a rebuttal: the Responsio ad Lutherum was published at the end of 1523. In the Responsio, More defended papal supremacy, the sacraments, and other Church traditions. More’s language, like Luther’s, was virulent: he branded Luther an “ape”, a “drunkard”, and a “lousy little friar” amongst other insults.[10]:230 Writing as Rosseus, More offers to “throw back into your paternity’s shitty mouth, truly the shit-pool of all shit, all the muck and shit which your damnable rottenness has vomited up”.[20]

I think the lesson is clear enough. On to the next topic…

The Truth and All That

How Simply Being Positive Is Simply Being Foolish


If you have the words, they are useless if you don't use them correctly.

If you have the words, they are useless if you don’t use them correctly.

I found the attached video on Seth’s Blog. It actually makes a point that applies to my previous 2Cellos post, and factors in to what will be the follow-up to that post.

While the circumstances depicted in this meeting are exaggerated – I have been in this meeting. Please Watch.

This, to me, is an example of a certain mind ailment – a weakness of thought – which is a result of Political Correctness (which is another word for Indoctrination) and the very loose way words are used for style rather than for substance.

I think consideration of what happens in this meeting will apply to the discussion of Friendship and Love, and then eventually tie back to my post on Identity Politics.

2Cellos, Love, Language

Friendship And Love and sorting it all out


If you don't have the words, you may not know what you are talking about.

If you don’t have the words, you may not know what you are talking about.

(CARROLLTON, TX – Cradle of Civilization) So, I have a few friends that come over, sometimes two at once, but typically one at a time, and so far never all three at the same time, but sometimes in the same week.

With Don I smoke cigars and drink Pyrat rum. With Gary I smoke cigars and drink scotch. With Frater Cowculus I smoke cigars or a Missouri Meerschaum pipe and drink whiskey. Often it is rye whiskey. Gary and Don have their doubts as to the actual existence of Frater Cowculus. They have their reasons. We meet in the Parthenon when the weather is fine, and in the Theological Armory when it is not. Generally I have one or the other over about once a week. My son-in-law would be the fourth musketeer, but he does not live as close and he is trying to get into medical school, so we don’t talk often enough. But there are the cigars and the strong spirits. And the talking. About Stuff.

Last time Don was over we were talking about Friendship and Homosexuality while we were smoking cigars. Freud would have had a field day. Ok, so really, we were talking about the nature of true friendship and Aristotle’s definition of the friend as your other self, and the idea that without such a friend life is not worth living, and that he defined friendship as two friends contemplating Truth.

Here, I have a diagram:

friend diagramSo, here we have two friends talking to each other and contemplating Truth. Lest the general light tone of this post lead you astray, this idea of two people fundamentally attempting to come to grips with Reality and their place in it is seen as possibly the highest endeavor to which one can devote their energies. It is critical to note that Aristotle contends that one cannot contemplate truth satisfactorily by oneself. There is a Proverb: “As iron sharpens iron, so man sharpens his fellow man.” (Proverbs 21:17). Aquinas would go on to point out that the Truth is God, so true friends help each other on their way to their voluntarily joining their wills with the Will of God. (That’s my synopsis of Aquinas’ thought.)

Anyway, Aristotle has a very high opinion of friends and friendship, and Don and I were discussing how many people have true friends, close friends, with which they can talk about things besides the game or cars or what have you. And I had a thought which I tried to express. I noted that in older movies, it was not uncommon to see men walking with an  arm draped on his friend’s shoulder, or some such other contact which seems very rare today and has been viewed with suspicion of the sort that is expressed as “What are you, gay or something?”

I wondered aloud about the fact that we have this dichotomy – on the one hand if you were too friendly or too touchy then you might be viewed as “gay” and most manly men want to distance themselves from any appearance of being gay; on the other hand, being “gay” is now almost a virtue and certainly not anything that can be viewed in any light other than acceptance. My half-formed wondering did not quite come out this way in our conversation, but basically I wondered if this artificial dichotomy created a situation that excluded the authentic middle, where two people can be very close friends, spend time in rather intimate discussion about things that matter, and then not feel any need or desire to “take it to the next level” and strip down and get after it. But, my thoughts/hypotheses were not well-formed and it was difficult to say what I was wondering about. Basically, if I can dignify it with the term, my hypothesis was that some folks may very well enter into a same-sex relationship because it just seems that they have to – because the option of just being really close friends without physical intimacy seems unavailable in our sex-obsessed culture. This, I think can be recognized, is not limited to same-sex relationships, I think it plays out in heterosexual situations as well. “Well, we’ve been on three dates, it must be time for the sex.” (I will also note that all gay friends are not sexually active with each other, at least I don’t think so. Just like a guy and a girl can be friends without getting naked. No really.)

Later I saw a video from Elton John regarding these two guys that play the cello. He said something that caught my attention and helped me to think this through a bit more. So, I have provided the video below. Watch the whole thing, because it’s basically worth it because of the awesomeness of the cello playing. But, at about 2:26 Sir Elton begins a series of interesting comments about the way these two guys play. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

So, if you just skipped, then I’ll have to just say it. He says at one point, “it is a most beautiful homo-erotic way they play together.” So, if you skipped it, then go back so you can get it in context because the context matters. Plus, they really play a mean set of cellos…

Got it? OK.

It seems to me that Sir Elton is using the vocabulary that he has available to him, and consequently relating something that he sees in the only way available to him, but he clearly knows his description doesn’t really capture what he is seeing. But one thing I think anyone watching them can agree upon is here is an example of friends who are for each other “their other self” as Aristotle put it. And, are they not contemplating the truth of their cello playing? I would wager that if you asked them if either of them would play the way they do had they never met, the answer would be a unanimous “No.”

So, what does Sir Elton mean by their playing having a homoerotic quality? I think he lacks the vocabulary to accurately describe what he is seeing. In English, we have a narrow definition of eros. If you look it up, you will usually see it associated with erotic, i.e., physical love. Keep looking and you will see it described as a certain losing of control. Terms like “I want to fall madly in love” come to mind.

Pope Benedict the XVI wrote a piece called Deus Caritas Est. He has a discussion about this eros, and the other Greek words, agape, and filia, which are the three most common Greek words that come into play when attempting to define the word “love.” But I want to focus on his discussion of Eros. In the next post.


State Religion

How We Get One by Default

BY Frater Bovious

It's either something, or is nothing.

It’s either something, or it is nothing.


The curtailment and violation of religious freedom are in contrast with  man’s dignity and his objective rights…It is therefore difficult, even from a “purely human” point of view, to accept a position that gives only atheism the right of citizenship in public and social life…

Redemptor hominus, JPII

The current excesses of the principle of separation of Church and State, wherein one’s religion is becoming restricted from the public square and relegated behind the closed doors of church and home (making of religion essentially a private hobby) have the de facto effect of raising atheism to the status of state religion, or at least state philosophy.

Just a little something to think about during Lent.


Saul Alinsky’s 12 Rules for Radicals

Accumulating a Power Base that Will Implode

BY Frater Bovious

Power Base Politics Have No End, Only Means

Power Base Politics Have No End, Only Means

Saul Alinsky was a Community Organizer, or as some have styled it, a Rabble Rouser. Basically, Alinsky recognized that, for example, a bunch of folks living in a tenement house owned by a distant slum lord had no power. The reasons for lack of power are beyond the scope of this post. However, the basic physics principle involved in the difference between a grain of sand and a dump truck full of sand grains was not lost on Alinsky. There is an inherent power in numbers.

But, how do you get a bunch of disinterested and despairing individual people who feel powerless and unconnected to operate as a unit for the common good? Alinsky figured out how to create a power base from almost nothing by uniting folks against a common enemy.

If you read the below rules I think you will begin to see how these rules have become the handbook for American Politics today. You can see the tactics in the debates, in the news headlines, in soundbites and bumper stickers. It clearly works. There is however a problem inherent in these tactics. Read and see if you can identify the core issue. (I don’t believe the parenthetical statements are  part of the original rules. They seem to be editorial comments by, I think, Glen Beck.)

* RULE 1: “Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have.” Power is derived from 2 main sources – money and people. “Have-Nots” must build power from flesh and blood. (These are two things of which there is a plentiful supply. Government and corporations always have a difficult time appealing to people, and usually do so almost exclusively with economic arguments.)
* RULE 2: “Never go outside the expertise of your people.” It results in confusion, fear and retreat. Feeling secure adds to the backbone of anyone. (Organizations under attack wonder why radicals don’t address the “real” issues. This is why. They avoid things with which they have no knowledge.)
* RULE 3: “Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy.” Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty. (This happens all the time. Watch how many organizations under attack are blind-sided by seemingly irrelevant arguments that they are then forced to address.)
* RULE 4: “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.” If the rule is that every letter gets a reply, send 30,000 letters. You can kill them with this because no one can possibly obey all of their own rules. (This is a serious rule. The besieged entity’s very credibility and reputation is at stake, because if activists catch it lying or not living up to its commitments, they can continue to chip away at the damage.)
* RULE 5: “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” There is no defense. It’s irrational. It’s infuriating. It also works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into concessions. (Pretty crude, rude and mean, huh? They want to create anger and fear.)
* RULE 6: “A good tactic is one your people enjoy.” They’ll keep doing it without urging and come back to do more. They’re doing their thing, and will even suggest better ones. (Radical activists, in this sense, are no different that any other human being. We all avoid “un-fun” activities, and but we revel at and enjoy the ones that work and bring results.)
* RULE 7: “A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.” Don’t become old news. (Even radical activists get bored. So to keep them excited and involved, organizers are constantly coming up with new tactics.)
* RULE 8: “Keep the pressure on. Never let up.” Keep trying new things to keep the opposition off-balance. As the opposition masters one approach, hit them from the flank with something new. (Attack, attack, attack from all sides, never giving the reeling organization a chance to rest, regroup, recover and re-strategize.)
* RULE 9: “The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.” Imagination and ego can dream up many more consequences than any activist. (Perception is reality. Large organizations always prepare a worst-case scenario, something that may be furthest from the activists’ minds. The upshot is that the organization will expend enormous time and energy, creating in its own collective mind the direst of conclusions. The possibilities can easily poison the mind and result in demoralization.)
* RULE 10: “If you push a negative hard enough, it will push through and become a positive.” Violence from the other side can win the public to your side because the public sympathizes with the underdog. (Unions used this tactic. Peaceful [albeit loud] demonstrations during the heyday of unions in the early to mid-20th Century incurred management’s wrath, often in the form of violence that eventually brought public sympathy to their side.)
* RULE 11: “The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.” Never let the enemy score points because you’re caught without a solution to the problem. (Old saw: If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. Activist organizations have an agenda, and their strategy is to hold a place at the table, to be given a forum to wield their power. So, they have to have a compromise solution.)
* RULE 12: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. (This is cruel, but very effective. Direct, personalized criticism and ridicule works.)

One problem that I see with the tactics is they don’t create a self-sustaining organization based on recognition of the innate dignity of all humans. To the contrary, the rules specifically require demonizing your opponent, and making the participants feel good about it. This is basically bullying.

The other problem is that once you have toppled a bastion of power, such as a landlord, or maybe a political opponent, you become the new power and you are subject to the same tactics. When you make of your opponent the rabble, and you have become the establishment, the cycle simply repeats. Meaning there is no long-term progress resulting from this method of gaining power. And that’s because whatever the point of trying to gain power was, it has been lost in the overarching need to be in power, and then to defend being in power. Nothing is left for actually doing whatever you wanted to do.

The solution is to be found first in recognizing the inestimable worth of every single human being, from womb to tomb, and resting in that reality. From there, dialogue between persons of equal dignity can happen. It’s not as quick or as flashy, and will at times seem like you planted a seed and nothing is happening – but that is how real growth and development always transpire. (cf Mark 4:26-28)

Rules for Radicals give false and temporary power – something worth considering this Lent as we contemplate our ultimate end.