Month: June 2006

Three Stages

From a section dealing with E.F. Schumacher in Robert Inchausti’s Subversive Orthodoxy:

In his 1957 talk “The Insufficiency of Liberalism,” Schumacher argued that there were three stages of human development: first was primitive religiosity, and then scientific realism. The third stage, which we are now entering, is the realization that there is something beyond fact and science. The problem, he explained, is that stage one and stage three look the same to those in stage two. Consequently, those in stage three are seen as having relapsed into magical thinking when, in reality, they have actually seen through the limitations of rationalism.

Schumacher was a brilliant man (his Guide for the Perplexed was one of the most formative books of my young adult years). The observation above is novel, but I don’t think he was correct to refer to stages of human development as if they were stages in societal development. Perhaps he could refer to them as developments in an individual, but as societal intellectual dispositions? I don’t think so. The historical chronology seems crammed to fit his theory.

From what I can tell, he was saying that the first 6,600 years of history (5,000 BC to about 1600 AD) were sunk in primitive religiosity (magic). That strikes me as an insult to St. Thomas, Augustine, and Christ Himself. And what about spiritual eruptions prior to Christ? Was the awakening of the sixth century BC just more magic: Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Malachi, Zoroaster (c. 660-583 BC), the Mahavira, the Buddha, Lao-tze, Confucius, and Pythagoras?

And if the magical era really did last for 6,600 years, why did our culture start to emerge from scientific … Read the rest


A few random thoughts during this week of light blogging:

*We exist in time and space. Prayer involves communication with that which transcends both. No wonder it’s difficult.

*Prayer, existing outside time and space, resists both. It might be a good idea to create a space in your house for prayer, thus cutting the resistance in half.

*During my summer travels, I’ve concluded that too many religious music directors can’t discern the difference between saccharine and reverent music. And if they could, they’d opt for saccharine.

*If I honestly believe God is in the Eucharist, why aren’t I going to Mass every day?

*You know a newspaper story is going to be bad when it contains any of the following:

“A former Jesuit says . . .”.
Related: “Garry Wills says . . .”.
“The religious right is angry . . .”.
“In the Dark Ages before the Enlightenment . . .”… Read the rest

Youth League Coaches

As my kids hit sports with a full stride, I’m noticing a problem that is as old as little league itself: coaches who favor their own children.

In the past, it seems the problem existed, but it was more of an unintentional thing: the coach either didn’t know he was favoring his kid or honestly thought his kid was better. I’m now running into a bold kind of favoritism: “I’m spending the time out here, so my kid gets the benefits.”

Despicable, yes, but what exactly is the problem with this kind of attitude?

The fundamental problem is, when a man agrees to coach, he is taking on a responsibility to all the children. He’s “coach,” not “dad,” and he needs to behave like a coach.

To put it in legal terms, a coach has a fiduciary responsibility to treat all the kids fairly, and if one or two kids are getting preferred treatment, at least one or two other kids are getting poor treatment. If he wants to wear the “dad hat” while he coaches, he shouldn’t take the title of “coach.” He should take the title of dictator or tyrant, because that is the essence of tyranny: taking a thing of trust and appropriating it for personal gain. Moreover, he’s not acting as a “coach,” so why call himself one?

Such an approach to coaching is also impractical. My town’s little league is an incorporated 501(c)(3) organization that is registered with the Michigan Attorney General. It must also deal with small legal issues almost every year. How did it get incorporated? I did it, though I charged them. How did the league obtain … Read the rest

The Big 5

The feature article in the current issue of Touchstone is worth checking out. My time is still limited this week, so I can’t comment much, but give it a click:

There may be political explanations for the attractiveness of Catholic justices, but I think three Catholic doctrines—natural law, subsidiarity, and religious freedom—help to explain why a majority of the justices are now Catholic. My argument is not that citizens who support, presidents who appoint, and senators who confirm these justices consciously do so because they want Catholic religious beliefs on the Court, but that these doctrines yield habits of thinking that make Catholics attractive candidates to the broad range of the American people.

I write as an Evangelical, but one who has come to share a commitment to the Catholic doctrines that I will mention.

Read the rest

42% by Pius

According to this blog, Popes named Pius declared 42% of the Church Doctors.

St. Athanasius (296-373)- Declared Doctor in 1568 by St. Pius V
St. Hilary of Poitiers (315-367)- 1851 by Bl. Pius IX
St. Gregory of Nasianzus (325-389)- 1568 by St. Pius V
St. Basil the Great (329-379)- 1568 by St. Pius V
St. John Chrysostom (347-407)- 1568 by St. Pius V
St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153)- 1830 by Pius VIII
St. Anthony of Padua (1195-1231)- 1946 by Ven. Pius XII
St. Albert the Great (1206-1280)- 1931 by Pius XI
The Doctor of the Church (1226-1274)- 1567 by St. Pius V
St. Peter Canisius (1521-1597)- 1925 by Pius XI
St. John of the Cross (1542-1591)- 1926 by Pius XI
St. Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621)- 1931 by Pius XI
St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622)- 1871 by Bl. Pius IX
St. Alphonsis Ligori (1696-1787)- 1871 by Bl. Pius IX… Read the rest

Cash Lyrics

Since I quoted from his autobiography, I thought I’d reproduce a few of JR’s better lyrics.

From one of my favorite late (1978) Cash songs, “Without Love”:

Without love I am half human without love I’m all machine
Without love there’s nothing doin’ I will die without love
Without love I am an island all by myself in a heartbreak sea
Without love there’s no denyin’ I am dyin’ without love
For there is nowhere I can run and there is no hiding place
Sticking out like a sore thumb by that gloomy look upon my face
Without love I’m incomplete without love I am not whole
Without love I’m barely on my feet I am dyin’ without love.

Another great set of lyrics from his late works (this song was a re-make):

Ghost Riders in the Sky

An old cowboy went ridin’ out one dark and windy day
Upon a ridge he rested as he went along his way
When all at once a mighty herd of red eyed cows he saw
Ploughin’ through the ragged skies and up a cloudy draw
Their brands were still on fire and their hooves were made of steel
Their horns were black and shiny and their hot breath he could feel
A bolt of fear went through him as they thundered through the sky
For he saw the riders coming hard and he heard their mournful cry
Yi pi yi o yi pi yi ay ghost riders in the sky
[ guitar ]
Their faces gaunt their eyes were blurred their shirts all soaked with sweat
He’s ridin’ hard to catch that herd but he

Read the rest

Cash Auto

My wife bought me Johnny Cash’s autobiography as a Father’s Day present. I’ve been flipping through it. I was hoping for more information about his first wife, Vivian, but she supposedly asked Johnny to keep her out of his public life, and he honored the request. I get the impression he never got over the guilt of what he did to her.

In any event, I ran across the following passage recounting an episode from his wild days in the late 1950s (which extended into the late 1960s):

When that Caddy hit the tree, the flames shot up a hundred feet or more and burned until the whole propane tank was empty. The valve had been wide open, knocked loose when the tank started rolling around in the trunk.

I was okay: bruised and cut and scraped and burned–my skin looked like an alligator’s–but basically sound. They covered my face with vitamins A and E and I healed up nicely, with no scarring at all.

I looked terrible at first, though–so bad that when a friend of mine visited me in the hospital with his pregnant wife, she got very upset, and later that evening she miscarried.

You might have been thinking my wrecks were pretty amazing in a live-fast, die-young, hell-bent kind of way. What I think is that the life inside that woman was too young to die. I also think it’s a good idea to dwell on the literal meaning of ‘hell-bent.’

Pro-life and devil-fearing. Not bad for a man who took more drugs than a beatnik. He’s a puzzle. … Read the rest