Tuesday, March 30, 2004

More About Me Than I Cared to Know

Courtesy of the quiz list at Quenta Narwenion:

William Faulkner wrote you. Yes, you're a genius, you drunken old coot.
Which Author's Fiction are You? (Brought to you by Quizilla).

You are Lord Marchmain. You're a bon vivant and an elegant fatalist, but it's all a pose. What Brideshead Revisited character are you? (Brought to you by Quizilla)

My #1 result for the SelectSmart.com selector, Medieval Figure Selector, is Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar (El Cid)

I am "avoidant," according to Which Personality Disorder Do You Have?
(Brought to you by Quizilla)

You are a GRAMMAR GOD! If your mission in life is not already to
preserve the English tongue, it should be. Congratulations and thank you! How grammatically sound are you? (Brought to you by Quizilla).

Friday, March 19, 2004

Why the Modern World Makes Me Puke

Via Fr. Sibley's Saintly Salmagundi we learn the story of a newspaper delivery man who was fired because he refused to deliver a newspaper whose art, he thought, mocked his religion. You can see the cover and the story here. There are at least three things here that make me sick.

1. Any abuse of my religion for commercial purposes makes me puke, and boring unimaginative abuse makes me puke harder. The age is preoccupied with boring abuse of my religion. Pictures of Jesus holding basketballs coupled with derisive use of the Scriptures, all to giggle about how seriously the locals take the game? That's about as shocking and avant garde as the next drip from a broken faucet. There's a reason that kind of pseudo-witty twaddle is called "sophomoric," and the reason's not intended to compliment sophomores.

2. Stupid cant makes me puke. Like John Yarmouth, the suit who publishes Leo, explaining, "It was certainly not meant in anyway to mock religion. It was an attempt to mock the passion devoted to basketball in this community." Sure, John, sure. It'll be like when I post a cover of Leo on my blog that shows how you work for Larry Flynt to print the American Association of Pedophiles' daily journal. See, my intention won't be to mock Leo, it will only be an attempt to mock how Larry Flynt pretends to be a journalist and how pedophiles want to mainstream their perversion.

3. Self-divinizing cant also makes me puke. Again, from Hustler executive John Yarmouth: "Yarmouth say he respects [the carrier's] opinion, but says it's not his job to give one. ‘You can't just do business when you allow a supplier or a vendor to essentially censor what you're publishing.'" Yeah, John, sure. You "respect" your employee so much you fired him. If Yarmouth were a man who at least had pretensions to civility, kindness, and decency, he would have just kept David Wine on, and paid someone else extra to do a double route. Or even -- gasp! -- deliver the paper himself. It's not like Wine's motives were unworthy, or that Wine's decided to exercise editorical control over every issue of the paper. A family's sustenance is worth something, and it's not to be lightly tossed away by a single misstep.

But in Yarmouth's world only other people make missteps; he certainly has no duty to react with charity or kindness to even the slightest glitch in his own plans. That David Wine refused to deliver the paper for what is, at bottom, the kind of worthy reasons our culture is supposed to praise -- "commitment," "character," "integrity" and the like -- is irrelevant. For Yarmouth, the Incarnation of charity and kindness is just a punch-line, and anyone who acts as though it were something more deserves whatever he gets.

Like all those puffed-up personages who Oliver Goldsmith called "Little Great Men," Yarmouth contemplates himself as a puissant prince of propriety. The carrier's insubordination was Censorship, pure and simple. It was a brutal and dire attack on the right of every man to be free, to quest for what is true, good, and beautiful -- the sacred human patrimony which can be kept alive only by purchasing copies of Leo magazine. Only a man of vision, a man of true guts, could repulse this minimum-wage earner's attempt to overthrow human civilization by depriving Kentuckians of one day's worth of Leo's wisdom. Stories like "Hello Norma Jean -- Did You Know that Marilyn Monroe Was Named After a Louisvillian?" put people in touch with the vital center of the human condition. Probing and thoughtful essays such as, "The Langford Files: WHAS weather gambit, other tacks put WAVE GM in the spotlight," are all that stands between Louisville and gibbering barbarity. To interfere with that is to trifle with the fate of mankind. When David Wine refused to deliver one single issue of Leo the lamps were going out all over Louisville, and we feared that we may not have seen them relit in our lifetime. Fortunately we had a Little Great Man like John Yarmouth to play the martinet plunge into the breach, to enforce his will by fear and punishment risk himself in the struggle for civilization by firing the only guy at Leo with principles worth acting on protecting Leo from the enemies of man. Yes, small people are going to get crushed in Yarmouth's Noble Struggle. But you can't call yourself the publisher of a trendy and eccentric magazine in a medium-sized city without breaking a few eggs . . . .

Of course, Yarmouth has graciously promised a Covenant with his recalcitrant creature. Wine can have his job back just as long as he promises to deliver every mocking, offensive, and ridiculous caricature of his own life which Leo might choose to publish. It's the kind of deal one expects a suit to offer, especially if the suit's made the same Faustian bargain himself, resolving in his heart to do and say anything to maintain his income. It's the kind of deal a man will refuse. Thank God David Wine is a man.

All this goes to show that people who make God into a cute tag-line haven't ridden themselves of the need to worship. They've just opened the list of candidates for divine honors. So we see that David Wine shouldn't respect Christ's rights. He should respect Leo's rights. Who does Wine say John Yarmouth is? Is John Yarmouth just employer, a man like any other man, or is He someone else? David Wine should obey Leo rather than man, you know, and what was it someone once said? Ah yes, "For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat." 2 Thess. 3:10 (KJV). Let no one say David Wine was fired for worshiping God. He was fired for worshiping the wrong god. In former days that god was something terrible, titanic, world-shattering. Like Hitler, or the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. Now it's just anybody. Like some suit named John Yarmouth and his little magazine.

To some extent this is a tempest in a teapot. Neither Yarmouth nor his magazine are important. They don't employ thousands. And this was a part-time job for Wine, and one hopes that the income he got from Leo will be quickly replaced. David Wine can do work around my house any time he wants the money. I know he's not going to declare himself to be God with the right to take or damage my property, or tell me I have to be happy with a disappointing performance. (Whereas Leo, apparently, discriminates against "ontologically-challenged" people who think other things are bigger than they are).

But I spend time on this story because it indicates what I think is a rising tide of hypocritical, self-divinizing cant in the United States, one which will ultimately be directed in hostility at every Christian who wants to live his faith. I think that -- especially during Lent -- we ought to praise David Wine and think about when and how we'll go about making the same choice he did. David Wine. What a name for our model in this regard -- Old and New Testaments, Christ and His kingly prefiguration, refusing to go along to get along, declining to sell his birthright for a mess of Leo's minimum-wage pottage. Let no one say God doesn't pay attention to little things.
Embarassing Quiz Results

Via Fr. Jim Tucker's Dappled Things, I find out just how trite my artistic tastes are:

which art movement are you?

"Founded by a bunch of Englishmen in 1848, "The group popularized a theatrically romantic style, marked by great beauty, an intricate realism, and a fondness for Arthurian legend." (artcyclopedia.com.) Creative license is taken here; not all Pre-Raphaelite art was dark, mediaeval, and deathly serious, like you are. But there were a lot of drowned maidens, and you'd like that. Famous Pre-Raphaelites: Waterhouse, Millais, Rossetti, and You."

Yeah, and it's trite art. But I really do like it a lot. I remember in college when I put a poster of The Lady of Shallot on my wall. If it hadn't been a postmodern, UN-flag flying sort of place, there'd have been rumors. As it was, I just got accused of liking art that "sucks."

Trite. Yeah, so what? You got a problem with that?
A Great Place!!

We learn that the Magnificent MaryH has begun a message board here. It's called St. Blog's Parish Hall, and the format is like the old Catholic Convert's Message Board. What was the old CCMB like, and what might St. Blog's Parish Hall be like? It was like Pancho's Happy Bottom Riding Club in The Right Stuff, a place where strong people gathered to be with the best without frills, frippery or glitzy hullabaloo. It was like Rick's Cafe in Casablanca, where refugees from a godless tyranny gathered to plan the resistance and dream of freedom. It was a great place, until they turned it into a glittery, spanky-clean and processed Planet Hollywood. Yeah, I said it at the time, and few agreed, but changing CCMB's format changed the place for the worse, so I left and ain't been back.

The main thing is the outline format, which isn't like the EZ-Board "rub your nose in everything right now" design. At St. Blog's Parish Hall the posts are organized this way:
Question about purgatory -- is it real? -- Seeker
Of Course it's real, just ask St. Paul! -- Catholic Momma
It's an ungodly invention!!! -- LutherFan
How can God invent something ungodly? -- Catholic Momma
You see, you can follow the discussion generally without being required to scroll through every single thought everyone wants to squeak out on the subject. You can pick and choose without being forced to wade through all the emoticons, personal graphics, stock 350-word quotes from some Church Father or Great Reformer, and so on. It seems like a little thing, but it's the little things that add character and enjoyment to life.

Go and post at St. Blog's Parish Hall. I hope enough good people go there to make all the discussions interesting and informative.

Thursday, March 18, 2004


Are the Spanish train bombings of March 11 a test-run for attacks in the United States, perhaps on September 11, 2004 (the anniversary of the WTC bombings, and a Saturday) in time to influence U.S. opinion before the November 2, 2004 presidential election?

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Hoo, Boy!

Just subscribed to The National Catholic Reporter and The Wanderer. That's 44 weeks of absolute schizophrenia. I can't wait!

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Why Criminals Can't Be Rehabilitated

From the court transcript of one of my clients:
I made a rational decision to not to use drugs any more. I know that's hard for counselors . . . to conceive [but] that's just, that's just the decision I decided to make. It was rational, it was right, it was the thing I needed to do in my life and that's what I done.
Hmmm . . . I know my counselors can't understand it, but I made a rational decision to leave off drugs. Here's a man with a high-school education who knows more about human nature than counselors who have MSWs and PhDs. I wonder how many criminals can't be rehabilitated because, in their own ways, they're natural-born Thomists thrown into a criminal-justice system designed by Fruedians?


Wednesday, March 10, 2004

On Justice Scalia and the Death Penalty

I got myself tangled into a discussion about Justice Scalia and Evangelium Vitae over at Fr. Sibley's Blog. That's what comes from "creatively interpreting" one's Lenten resolutions -- posting on comment boxes isn't really blogging, is it? Anyhow, this is a larger reply than I can put on the comment boxes and so I'm going to put it up here before my guardian angel notices and whacks me on the head again. This subject is, by the way, something I'm going to blog on after lent. So without further ado, my reply to "David" (who is not "David Kubiak" in the thread at Fr. Sibley's). It may not make any sense, unless you read the thread, but here it is:



I've already emailed you this privately, but since you also commented on Fr. Sibley's blog to the same effect, I'll reproduce my reply here. As I told you in my letter, I don't need to "add" Dulles; there is no list, and "contempt" is something being interjected into the debate by you and not me. I'd recommend you read Cardinal Dulles' comments and response to questions, which can be found here. Nowhere does Cardinal Dulles undertake to determine whether Evangelium Vitae is an ex cathedra pronouncement. The reason for that is simple. Evangelium Vitae, like Humanae Vitae or any other encyclical you can name, is not an ex cathedra pronouncement. As you may know, the First Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of Christ issued by the First Vatican Council recognizes several characteristics of an ex cathedra pronouncement:
[W]e teach and define as a divinely revealed dogma that when the Roman Pontiff speaks EX CATHEDRA, that is, when, in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole Church, he possesses, by the divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter, that infallibility which the divine Redeemer willed his Church to enjoy in defining doctrine concerning faith or morals. First Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of Christ, Chapter 4, ¶ 9 (1870).
While encyclicals like Evangelium Vitae are issued by the Pope in virtue of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, the document does not contain any of the usual hallmarks by which an infallible pronouncement is recognized; there is appeal to John Paul II's supreme apostolic authority (usually done by an explicit reference and mention of the authority of Blessed Peter and, sometimes, also the Apostle Paul); no use of traditional formulae such as "we declare, define and pronounce" (another feature of ex cathedra pronouncements such as Ineffabilis Deus); nor does it warn the faithful that disobedience or dissent is tantamount to a repudiation of the Catholic faith.

There is a misconception among American Catholics, Justice Scalia apparently being one of them, to the effect that only ex cathedra pronouncements require the religious submission of the Catholic faithful. This is false. The First Vatican Council explained that, in addition to the absolute moral certainty which the faithful must give to dogmatic pronouncements made with the charism of infallibility (ex cathedra), the authority of the Roman Pontiff to bind Catholic consciences extends to matters which are not taught ex cathedra but which are, nonetheless, taught by him. Again, the First Vatican Council:
Wherefore we teach and declare that, by divine ordinance, the Roman Church possesses a pre-eminence of ordinary power over every other Church, and that this jurisdictional power of the Roman Pontiff is both episcopal and immediate. Both clergy and faithful, of whatever rite and dignity, both singly and collectively, are bound to submit to this power by the duty of hierarchical subordination and true obedience, and this not only in matters concerning faith and morals, but also in those which regard the discipline and government of the Church throughout the world. First Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of Christ, Chapter 3, ¶ 2 (1870).
Thus, a Catholic layman who is addressed by a papal encyclical must, whether or not it contains an "ex cathedra" definition of dogma, recognize that the document is issued by the immediate jurisdictional power of the Roman Pontiff and that he is bound to submit to it whether it discusses matters of faith and morals or matters of lesser import. Catholics for a Free Choice make the same mistake as Justice Scalia when they (rightly) argue that Humanae Vitae doesn't qualify as an "ex cathedra statement" and then (wrongly) conclude that the encyclical can therefore be ignored by Catholics whose respectful and thoughtful consideration leaves them with a favorable private opinion about the morality of contraception or abortion.

The authority of the Roman Pontiff is granted from eternity (Matthew 16:18) and it has never changed. So in Humani Generis, Pope Pius XII explained the Catholic understanding of the authority of the ordinary (i.e., "non-ex cathedra") magisterium:
Nor must it be thought that what is expounded in Encyclical Letters does not of itself demand consent, since in writing such Letters the Popes do not exercise the supreme power of their Teaching Authority. For these matters are taught with the ordinary teaching authority, of which it is true to say: "He who hears you, hears me"; [Luke 10:16] and generally what is expounded and inculcated in Encyclical Letters already for other reasons appertains to Catholic doctrine. But if the Supreme Pontiffs in their official documents purposely pass judgment on a matter up to that time under dispute, it is obvious that that matter, according to the mind and will of the Pontiffs, cannot be any longer considered a question open to discussion among theologians. Humani Generis, ¶ 20 (1950)
Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution of the Church issued by the Second Vatican Council, repeated the teaching:
Bishops, teaching in communion with the Roman Pontiff, are to be respected by all as witnesses to divine and Catholic truth. In matters of faith and morals, the bishops speak in the name of Christ and the faithful are to accept their teaching and adhere to it with a religious assent. This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will. His mind and will in the matter may be known either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking. Lumen Gentium, ¶ 25 (1964).
Again, even though the Pope does not speak ex cathedra the Catholic faithful (including Justice Scalia) must sincerely adhere to the Pontiff's judgments. Not just "respect," not just "listen to," but "sincerely adhere." This is more than Justice Scalia is willing to do -- he believes that papal statement like Evangelium Vitae which does not qualify as an ex cathedra pronouncement can be openly repudiated by any Catholic who believes his own "thoughtful and respectful consideration" to be a superior guide to the teaching of Christ. This is "private judgment" in its purest form. It is one of the worst features of fundamentalist Protestantism which is, with unsurprising irony, directly condemned by Scripture itself: "No prophecy of the scripture is made by private interpretation." 2 Peter 1:20 (DRV). Only the Church, acting in and through her Bishops, can rightly understand and guide the faithful according to God's word.

I do see, however, that I may have been too harsh on the "canonical experts" with whom Justice Scalia has consulted. In his First Things article, Justice Scalia was more vague on the nature of his consultation with these authorities. His comments at the Pew Forum indicate that he may only asked them whether Evangelium Vitae is an ex cathedra pronouncement, and received the accurate response that it isn't; it may not have been their opinions, but Scalia's own deviant understanding of Catholicism, which has produced his schismatic perspective on the authority of the Church with respect to the infliction of the death penalty.

For that matter, it's possible that he may never have had an adequate understanding of the Church's teaching authority. One of the most interesting things about his commentary on Evangelium Vitae is that it's so plagued by false and inaccurate statements that he appears not to have even read it. As I said on Fr. Sibley's blog, I don't undertake to say whether Justice Scalia is sinning, I only maintain that his views are schismatic. Justice Scalia's ignorance is, though a likely mitigating factor in an inquiry into the objective state of his soul (which I do not undertake), is nonetheless intolerable because (i) for a variety of reasons he has no earthly excuse for not knowing better, and (ii) he's publicly misleading the faithful and the non-Catholic world about the teaching of the Church, not only with respect to the death penalty, but with respect to a host of other matters connected to his disobedience. As I've indicated above, Scalia's warped theory about the magisterium is not limitable to the death penalty -- it justifies disobedience to, and disavowal of, any teaching of the Church so long as a plausible argument can be made that the teaching we dislike isn't "ex cathedra." If the Church is to rebuke Catholics who take this approach to Humanae Vitae, the Church must rebuke Catholics who take this approach to any other magisterial teaching.

Now back to Lent, and David may have the last word. OWWWW! . . . . .

Sunday, March 07, 2004

I'm OK with this

  • My #1 result for the SelectSmart.com selector, What Civil War General are you like?, is Lt. Gen. James Longstreet (Confederate): A pre-war friend of Grant, Longstreet was Lee's most trusted general. After the war, his reputation fell in the South as he first became a Republican, then wrote his memoirs, which criticized Gen. Lee.

    OWW . . . .

  • Saturday, March 06, 2004

    This is too funny!!!

    I gotta love this, from the Southern Appeal blog: Separated at Birth? Gee, Feddie, why not put in a picture of Tony Robbins and call ‘em triplets?

    Owwww!!! OK, OK already . . . . .

    Monday, March 01, 2004

    OK, my Guardian Angel Said I Could Do This

    The Wonderful MaryH's Ever New blogspot is back online. I'm going to read it every day during Lent. You should, too. One of the things I really like about her blog is . . OW!!!! . . . .. Allright, allright!!!! . . . OWWWW......

    OK, Back to Lent

    My guardian angel is reminding me that I said I wouldn't blog a lot during Lent. OWW! Hey, I'm just explaining . . . OWWW! Boy, can angels twist earlobes or what! . . . . Anyhow, I'm returning to my Lenten intention. All critics of The Passion and/or this blog shall have the last word . . . . . OK, OK, I'm logging off!!!
    Jim Cork Replies

    To my criticism of his take on the soon-to-be-infamous Crow Episode in The Passion. You can read Jim's reply here. Let me reply as follows. First off, I haven't taken Jim to task for "not liking" the movie. "Not liking the movie" is fine with me, although reasons why it's not liked matter to me and I can disagree with them, as I did with Jim's criticism of the Crow Episode and his inaccurate summary of how the film ends. There are some people who're deciding whether to go see the film, and so I think comments like Jim's might deserve a response from someone who's inclined to defend The Passion, which I am. Of course I didn't call Jim demonic, or a heathen -- although it's indicative to me that Jim thinks I could well have done so given my liking of the film. More on that below, as I turn to Jim's more specific comments.

    Umm... well, for starters, the Book of Job is sacred scripture. Mel Gibson's movie is a work of art, and people should be able to critique it as a work of art without being subjected to the Spanish Inquisition.

    But the Book of Job is also literature, as is Sophocles' play which I also mentioned. Both of them depict physical suffering imposed by divine will, and the latter specifically uses blindness to symbolize disregard for the moral order. Given that, dismissing the Crow Episode as "just lame" doesn't do the film justice. Nor, frankly, does it do the idea of divine vengeance (which is an artistic, and not only theological, idea) much justice -- it's impossible to distinguish the criticism I've read of the Crow Episode by Bill or Jim Cork from criticism which claims that good Christian drama cannot show God wreaking painful havoc on the life of a sinner. Now, if someone had wanted to advance an argument about how the Crow Episode, inasmuch as it lacks a recognizable depiction of Gesmas' culpable rejection of Jesus' divinity, clumsily drops the ball on the idea of extra ecclesiam nulla salus I'd be all ears. I could even tolerate a little speculation about the connection between that and the way so many Traditionalists drop the same ball. But no one wants to make criticisms like that, preferring instead to pitch fits about the very suggestion that God can be vengeful or that sin can make men blind.

    They also, regrettably, prefer to deplore the faithfulness of people who find The Passion edifying. That happens in the patronizing conclusion to Michael Coren's review, which Jim had also quoted: "If the movie works for you, I am happy. For me, it is prayer, Bible and a dwelling in a God-given imagination that this hyped Hollywood product can never rival." Mr. Coren is apparently edified by prayer, the Bible and a God-given imagination, but us stomachs who admire The Passion can only be enlivened by "hyped Hollywood product." It continues to amaze me that such disdainful sentiments can be regularly shoved in our faces by writers who can, whenever a detailed and (if I do say so myself) articulate objection to their own fuzzy criticisms has been given, instantly complain that their faith's being maligned by the moral equivalent of "the Spanish Inquisition." More on that below.

    Nobody was fisking me when I complained about our parish singing "Ashes" or "All Are Welcome."

    OK. Was someone supposed to? I don't get this point.

    When the Los Angeles Cathedral was completed, many Catholic bloggers criticized it without restraint.

    Yeah, it's as ugly as a goat's butt. Looks like a set from Conquest of the Planet of the Apes.

    And yet the LA Cathedral contains, in its Tabernacle, not fake movie blood and torn plastic flesh, but the actual Body and Blood of Christ. If people can criticize the architecture of a cathedral containing the Real Presence, why can't people criticize a movie in which an actor pretends to be Jesus?

    Ah, I see it now. This is a very good argument. But if Jim could point out where I said Catholics aren't allowed to criticize The Passion I'd be grateful for the opportunity to understand why this complaint is being voiced about my comments. Lots of people are criticizing The Passion, and I've made it clear why I think their criticisms are generally unfounded, sometimes downright silly, and (in Bill Cork's case) not a little motivated by a kind of pious anxiety about people who live Catholicism differently than he does. I don't believe I've ever said people have no right to criticize the film, or that criticism shows a lack of Catholic faith (or, in the case of non-Catholic, and/or non-Christian critics, the lack of whatever faith they hold). That, unfortunately, isn't something we can say for some critics' perspectives on people who they're disagreeing with.

    Bill and Jim are presently taking the view that attempts to refute criticisms of The Passion are motivated by a false understanding of Christianity that replaces the Evangelists with Mel Gibson and the Magisterium with Icon Productions. (That's the gist of Mr. Coren's snotty review as well, that while real Christians rely on God, fake ones who like The Passion are disgracing their religion with hyped Hollywood product). I suppose that makes a kind of sense once we've dogmatically concluded that The Passion -- whether as just a film, or a broader cultural phenomenon -- is irreconcilable with an authentic Christian conscience. If one thinks that, then religious arguments for appreciating the film can no longer be voiced from a common tradition but from an antithetical one which venerates "St. Mel" and believes on his "Gospel" -- however that Gospel ends up being described by conflating it with the delusions of UFO-fantasists, Hutton Gibson, and people who think Tenochtitlan ought to be the capital of California. That's how, I think, we end up with Bill's repeated suggestion that Catholics who like The Passion are rejecting Catholicism in favor of anti-Semitism, schismatic theologies, and belief in little green men; Mr. Coren's suggestion that Christians who like The Passion might want to try prayer, God, and the Bible; and Jim's suggestion that people who defend The Passion against criticism can be analogized to "other" inauthentic exemplars of Catholicism like Torquemada.

    From what I can tell, the vast majority of people who are trying to declare viewpoints on The Passion "out of bounds" are the film's critics, who generally insist that Christian orthodoxy demands that we think the film sinful or a universal occasion of sin. That's the corner they painted themselves into at the start; rather than tightly focus their criticism on the film's failure to live up to itself, they launched an all-out attack on the film's compatibility with any wholesome understanding of Christianity. With respect to some critics, I think that's because of a belief that Christianity is a toxic religion that can be tolerated only after its central narrative has been sanitized and made to conform with a superior revelation. With respect to other critics, I think that's because of the dominant intellectual failing of our times -- ignorance of the fact that while all sin is error, not all error is sinful. No, I will not name names. I shall let any critic who think he or she's described by these words claim the distinction on their own.

    Barb Nicolosi's comments about the "demonic" nature of the criticism can also qualify as examples, as do some of Mel Gibson's own comments about opposition and controversy surrounding the film. I'm sure devils are trying to keep people from seeing the movie, if they've concluded that it might arouse their "patients" to an ardent love of Jesus. I'm sure devils are trying to get people to see the movie, if they've concluded that they can use it to arouse their "patients" to anti-Semitism or paranoid fantasies about the possession of everyone who doesn't think "right." I use Jim's argument here, although the point is more apt with response to Bill's campaign against the film: If someone can praise Scripture even though Satan himself quotes it, why can't someone praise The Passion even though the devil can make use of that as well? If you'll forgive my ambitions toward being a Thomist, I'd prefer we spent our time finding good and bad arguments rather than good and bad souls; the former is something we can do, the latter is something for which God is better qualified.

    The bottom line is that I admire The Passion and I've read very few criticisms of it that even qualify as serious, and the few I have read don't end up holding water for a number of reasons which I've talked about at length. I think I can say that -- not only say it, but (if I do say so myself) make a pretty good case for it -- without joining the Spanish Inquisition, venerating "St. Mel," or believing in a different Gospel.