Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘The Church in America’ Category

So…the research blog for the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University has posted a blog entry on its research that purports to show that interest in Catholicism is dramatically down.   The author comes to this conclusion by virtue of CARA’s research which shows that Google searches for the word “Catholic” are down not only domestically, but internationally.  The headline, “Is Interest in Catholicism Falling Online?” sounds alarming and I’m sure it is meant to be.  It certainly rattled me when I saw it linked over at NewAdvent.  I can only conclude that our reaction is supposed to be

Oh, woe is us!  The sky is falling on our New Evangelization! 

to which I can only respond

Poppycock

You heard me.  The Henny Penny headline is only part of the problem I have with the article.  I looked over this “research” and no one should be drawing ANY conclusions from it…except to say that people aren’t looking up the word “Catholic” on Google.  Big deal. That hardly means a lack on interest in Catholic things on the internet.

I know this both intellectually and personally.  Intellectually, the gaps between this “research” and the author’s  “conclusion” are very wide, so wide that we can dismiss his conclusion.  In other words, I am saying that the data–while it does not negate the author’s conclusion — by no means answers the author’s question, posed in his sensationalized headline, “Is Interest in Catholicism falling online?”, a question which the author answers affirmatively.  The author, Mark Gray writes, “the data shown… indicates that people may be less likely to be looking for Catholic content now than in the past.”  Hmmm. 

In his assertions, Mr. Gray is guilty of several reasoning errors known as Fallacious Generalizations:

Overgeneralization / Sweeping generalization –  The author takes the research of Google and concludes that fewer people are using Google to look up the word “Catholic” therefore interest in Catholicism has waned.  However, even a person with a most rudimentary exposure to research techniques can immediately notice the limited nature of the underlying research.  Google, while the most popular search engine, is by no means the only search engine.  Furthermore, there are thousands and thousands of searches that can involve Catholic doctrine, theology, history, worship, prayer, culture, teachings, arts and news that do not use the word “Catholic”.  Examples?

  • “Pro-life resources”
  • “Pope in Croatia”
  • “Theology of the Body”
  • “Saints and martyrs”
  • “How to say the Rosary”
  • “What is the Assumption”
  • “Refute sola scriptura”
  • “counter Reformation”
  • “beatification of John Paul”

Argumentum a silentio “You do not Google, therefore you are not.”    It did not show up in the limited research, therefore, it must not be.

Fallacy of Division – “Since “Catholic” is a less popular search term today, the trend shows people are not interested in Catholic things.” (Substituting a part for a whole).  See examples listed above.

Finally, I can see absolutely from personal experience that folks out reading Catholic websites, blogs and resources are most likely NOT ‘googling’ them to get there and certainly not by typing in “Catholic” in the search bar.  I get almost no visitors using the term “Catholic”.  One of my top posts of all times is the one I did on the myth of unlimited Vatican wealth.  How do those folks find it?  by typing in

How wealthy is the Vatican?”

I kid you not.  I get 20 visitors a month from that search alone.   Seems people really, really want to know how wealthy the Vatican is and that search does not show up in the CARA data.   Nor does “how to pray the Rosary”, “Christian persecution”, and “little popes” all of which send me handfuls of visitors every month.  Searches on “beauty”, “late have I loved thee”, and “kneeling in church” also send me a significant amount of traffic.  I could go on, but you get my point.

I don’t Google “Catholic Vatican website”, do you?  I’d search Vatican website (on Yahoo! btw)– if I didn’t already know that the site is vatican.va.  If I want to know about a particular topic, I will most likely go straight to NewAdvent.org, USSCB.org, or Catholic Answers.  My browser knows to bring up First Things, The National Catholic Register, Zenit, and the Catholic News Agency.  I don’t ever Google those and I doubt you do.  That is why we have Favorites on our browsers, not to mention Feeds.

In other words, the use of the Internet is an ever-changing, dynamic thing and our society gets more sophisticated in its use all the time.  So fewer people are googling the “Catholic” word now than in years past.  That is a trend for Google to ponder, not necessarily one for Catholics in the new media to obsess over.   Plus heck, some of us think that Google is evilEvil like Disney

In conclusion, dear Reader, (and not a fallacious conclusion either)…however you got here to my webblog, I appreciate your taking the time to read this.  I hope you have taken a big breath and sighed a sigh of relief and remember:  the sky is not falling.  You can google it.

(on a side note, a big “Boo” to NewAdvent for posting the ad hominem research piece under the even more Henny Penny-ish title, “When you crunch the numbers, there’s no escaping it: Interest in Catholicism is falling online“.  Sheesh, people get a hold of yourselves.)

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

An evangelical worship leader visits his brother, the seminarian and writes of what he found at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary.  Read it here:  A Visit to Heaven.

Interestingly, Mount St. Mary’s undergraduate college was recently the topic of on of Msg. Pope‘s articles in the ADW blog, which I commented on when it was posted.

Just a reminder to pray for vocations, for our priests, seminarians and religious.  Also, pray for Christian unity.

Read Full Post »

Well, so you’ve probably heard that the largest body of Presbyterians in the U.S. have voted to allow gay clergy.    I’m not actually going to delve into that here because it is clear to me that mainline Protestantism is busy destroying itself from within.   The situation reminds me of the book of Judges which tells us what happens to the people when they have no king, and each man decides for himself:

In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what he thought best.  Judges 21:25

Now, the really funny thing about this quote and why it matches the situation with the Presbyterians so well is that it comes immediately after, and by way of explaining, the previous chapters concerning the tribe of Benjamin.  If you haven’t read it before, I won’t ruin it for you.  Suffice it to say that the chapters concern homosexuality, licentiousness, abuse, rape, murder, more murder, lies, cover-ups, chaos, mayhem and evil. 

In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what he thought best.

So…this is what the great reformation has wrought.  Everyone, every denomination doing what he thinks is best, and moral relativism’s grip gets tighter.

Oh, but I said I wasn’t going to discuss the Presbyterian Church situation, per se.  Right.  Okay, back to the point of this post.  What I want to talk about is the response to the Presbyterian Church situation, at least insofar as other more orthodox Protestants view it.  Which brings me to today’s article in Christianity Today, the magazine of Evangelical Christians.  In an article entitled, The Road to Gay Ordination in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), a Reformed Presbyterian theologian by the name of Dr. S. Donald Fortson III addresses the voted change to that denomination’s constitution.  Dr. Fortson is a Professor of Church History and Practical Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary—Charlotte. He is an ordained minister in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, which (I learned from reading his article) broke away from the main body of the Presbyterian Church in anticipation that it was only a matter of time until the main body fell to “a pro-gay agenda relentlessly pressed until at length Presbyterians officially landed in the gay ordination camp”.   

The article itself is brilliant in its linguistic and theological acrobatics to say how wrong this decision by the PC(USA) is, how unbiblical and outside of tradition…without of course, admitting that the entire Protestant Reformation was…<ahem>…unbiblical and outside of tradition.  And of course, to make his point, this Reformed Presbyterian relies on the Church Fathers of the Catholic Church to make his case.  It’s a brilliant use of equivocation.**  Really, it’s brilliant

Here are some examples of Dr. Fortson’s theological heroics:

And church history is crystal clear: Homosexual practice has been affirmed nowhere, never, by no one in the history of Christianity. The church fathers insisted that doctrine and practice must be tested by Holy Scripture. In addition to careful exegesis, another test was catholicity, that is, what has been the universally accepted scriptural interpretation passed down in the church. (emphasis mine)

To what church is he referring?  the Presbyterian Church?  Or that other one

I kinda think he means this one

He continues–

When novel teachings were shown to fail both the careful scrutiny of Scripture and the consensus of the orthodox Fathers, heretical ideas were doubly condemned.

Um, gosh, could the ‘novel teachings’ he refers to be something like, I dunno…sola fidesola scriptura?  If you remember your history, they both failed the careful scrutiny of Scripture and the consensus of orthodox Fathers, not a one of whom supported either.  The reformers were the ones who championed these novel teachings.

He goes on to quote SAINT Vincent of Lerins (without “Saint” naturally) —

… if anyone wishes, to detect the deceits of heretics that arise and to avoid their snares and to keep healthy and sound in a healthy faith, we ought, with the Lord’s help, to fortify our faith in a twofold manner, firstly that is, by the authority of God’s Law [Scripture], then by the tradition of the Catholic [universal] Church. …[W]e take the greatest care to hold that which has been believed everywhere, always, and by all.'”

Um, Dr. Fortson, I know you are a scholar and like a teacher of kids as well as an actual historian so I’m sure you realize that (this is embarrassing) but uh, you do realize that you misquoted a church father, right?  I am sure that you did not mean to suggest that St. Vincent, the Catholic monk said, “the univeral church” because of course, he didn’t.  He said, the Catholic Church.  Changing the name of the church would seem sorta like you are hiding or obfuscating facts and of course as a Professor of Reformed Theology…I know you wouldn’t do that.  I mean, it’s not like he was just some presbyter schmoo.  He was a monk.  So I’ll just correct it for you.  Here, let me correct your mistake.

‘… if anyone wishes, to detect the deceits of heretics that arise and to avoid their snares and to keep healthy and sound in a healthy faith, we ought, with the Lord’s help, to fortify our faith in a twofold manner, firstly that is, by the authority of God’s Law [Scripture], then by the tradition of the Catholic Church. …[W]e take the greatest care to hold that which has been believed everywhere, always, and by all.'”

Yes, yes!  ‘the greatest care to hold that which has been believed everywhere’…yes, the Presbyterian Church has been taking great care to hold onto that which has been believed since the time…er…well, since the time that it formed itself in defiance of that which was believed everywhere, always, and by all.  But I will take your word for it that since the time of their rejection of the universal beliefs of the universal church, they have been really really good at holding onto that which has been believed everywhere.  (So that is, what?  1541 or so?)

Dr. Fortson, now on a roll, heads toward his conclusion–

Christianity is a tradition; it is a faith with a particular ethos, set of beliefs and practices handed on from generation to generation. The Christian tradition may be understood as the history of what God’s people have believed and how they have lived based upon the Word of God. This tradition is not only a collection of accepted doctrines but also a set of lifestyle expectations for a follower of Christ. One of the primary things handed down in the Christian church over the centuries is a consistent set of …

I’m sorry!  I need to take a break.  Laughing too hard.  BRB!

kk, sorry, where were we?  oh yes…haha, we were talking about the Christian tradition, some of us more seriously than others.   Dr. Fortson now makes his dramatic and unintentionally Catholic and/or seriously hilarious conclusion regarding the matter at hand–

Revisionist biblical interpretations that purport to support homosexual practice are typically rooted in novel hermeneutical principles applied to Scripture, which produce bizarre interpretations of the Bible held nowhere, never, by no one. (emphasis mine)

So there you have it.  Typical Reformed Protestant absconds with Patristic Fathers, rewrites what they say to make them agree with his Protestant theology, and equivocates his way into agreeing completely with the position of the Holy Mother Church circa 1520 all the while still assuring himself and his wayward, defiant Protestant flock that while it is meet and right to condemn homosexuality via the tradition of the Holy Catholic Church, because, well, you know, those Papists got it right on that one, but hey, don’t come waving your authority in my face!

Hahahahahaha.   I wish I had an nth of the intellect and scholarship of someone like Dr. Michael Barber who I know would see layers here that I do not.  Nevertheless, I  find this whole article ripe for satire and abuse.  I wonder if these earnest Sophists ever realize how absurd and hilarious they are!  God bless ’em. ***

**a quick lookup of the word “equivocation” reveals that its synonyms are misrepresentation, deceit and doublespeak.  To be charitable to Dr. Fortson, we are only using the definition of equivocation in the philosophical use, meaning a fallacy.

***and my original response via the comment section may not have been as charitable.  Mea culpa.

Read Full Post »

Jimmy Akin,

This is personal to you alone.

Do you ever wish you could ban people from the comment box?  Oh, say…someone who routinely hijacks other Christian apologists’/writers’/bloggers’ comment boxes and deftly turn attention to themselves? who seem almost pathological in their ability to confrontationalize (new word!), controversialize, and monopolize *any* conversation?

You know who I’m talking about.  :-P   You don’t have to answer.

Keep your head down and have a blessed day! 

Luce

Read Full Post »

Back by popular demand, Cory Heimann‘s This Easter video, featuring the music of Catholic artist Rich Dittus. Cory is the fabulously talented young Catholic designer and videographer.  Support his work!

Enjoy!

Read Full Post »

I saw this hilariously sad (or sadly hilarious) video linked over at Bad Vestments.  BV writes that this video explains why he started his blog (which is dedicated to bad vestments, naturally).

Anyway, by the time I got to “Skull Mass”, I spewed out my nose.  Ouch!

There is a Part 2, as well.

Read Full Post »

We have been at our parish since we moved to the state.  From the start, we knew we were blessed to have such a loving community be our parish home.  But one Sunday, perhaps a couple months after moving here, I was surprised and upset that the Prayer of the Faithful was hijacked by someone whose intent was to lecture us on how we should vote.  I do not now recall the exact prayer but it went beyond the usual prayer for our leaders, and prayer for social justice and veered off into something about “taxes being used to ensure the equitable distribution of wealth” sort of thing.  My husband and I exchanged shocked glances at the blatant attempt to editorialize the prayer.  So after Mass, I approached Fr. Tom, who didn’t know me from Adam, and told him that I really hoped that this was the last time that the Prayer of the Faithful was politicized.  He looked very surprised, I remember.  I still don’t know if I did the right thing, or the right thing in the right way, but that was the last time we ever heard ideology mixed into our Prayer of the Faithful.

I thought of that time when I came across this article on the purpose for a Prayer of the Faithful, and how it should be done.  Deacon Frank Agnoli, the Director of Liturgy for the Diocese of Davenport writes up a guiding reflection on this underappreciated part of the Mass.  No mini-homilies or political rants, please!

Prayer of the Faithful
And, together, we raise our voices in prayer. Baptized into Jesus Christ, we share in his priestly office of offering praise and thanksgiving to the Father, and of interceding on behalf of the world.

It is important to keep in mind how the Prayer of the Faithful is structured. The presider first addresses the people, inviting them to prayer.

Next, the deacon (or, in his absence, another minister) announces the intentions.  We call these “general” intercessions because they ought to be petitions that the assembly can, by and large, agree on, and because they do not focus on the needs of any one individual.

This is not the time for a “mini-homily,” the place to make a particular point; or to tell God how to answer our prayers. It is neither the time to pray for an unknown “special intention” (to which the assembly cannot assent) nor to offer prayers of thanksgiving (the Eucharistic Prayer makes that part of its structure and focus).

Rather, we are called to imagine the reign of God as proclaimed in the Scriptures and give voice to what we see: a world of justice, a world where the hungry are fed and the sick made whole, a world where death and tears are no more.  Finally, the presider closes the intercessions by addressing God the Father, through Christ — the one through whom all prayer is made.

Entering the Mystery
Do I really believe what I say I believe? What have I done to learn more about this faith that I profess, about being a Christian?

Do I hear in the Prayer of the Faithful not a list of demands that we make on God, but instead a call to action?  If I dare pray for justice, for healing, for the drying of tears — what am I doing, filled with God’s grace, to make those things come to pass?

The Ars Celebrandi
As one who leads prayer, do I let my body reflect what I am doing? Here, as well as throughout the liturgy, do I look at the people when I am addressing them? Where is my gaze when I am addressing God?

As a deacon, does my liturgical role of being the one who announces the intercessions truly reflect my ministry of charity outside the liturgy — that I am the one who knows the cares of the community so well that I can give voice to those needs before God? Or is there a disconnect between what I do within the walls of the church and outside them?

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »