Sunday, October 30, 2005

Symbols of the City

The Gateway Arch has been the symbol of the City of Saint Louis since its completion forty years ago last Friday.




The monument is an impressive engineering and construction accomplishment. Its design is strikingly minimalistic: monochromatic stainless steel construction of triangular cross section, with a modified catenary geometric shape. Its sign value is also minimalistic: a portal to the West of the United States, showcasing the nation's wealth and technical ability.

Its architect, Finnish-born Eero Saarinen, was until recently the most-hated architect in academic circles. He was considered to be insufficiently Modernist in his designs, and ironically was criticized as being too Modernist, being the architect of the Establishment. Also, he lacked a signature style, and so was uncategorizable; instead of being an egotistical "artist", he worked with the clients to determine their specific needs instead of imposing his "vision". His designs for Protestant churches had sign value, and were recognizably churches.

The culture war of the 1960s was won by the Radicals who rejected even the minimal symbolism of Saarinen's work. Subsequent architecture got worse: sign value went to zero, with the style of "Brutalism", which seemed to be made only for the purpose of crushing souls, then it went to playing jokes on the client in "Postmoderism". And now, sign value in architecture has become less than zero: an as-yet-unnamed trend where negative symbols are substituted for positive ones, a prominent example being the new Cathedral in Los Angeles, where the Blessed Virgin Mary is replaced by a pagan goddess, and pantheist images replace Catholic catechesis on the bronze doors.

Saarinen's Arch is a product of its age, and it has aged gracefully.




Previous to the construction of the Gateway Arch, this statue, the "Apotheosis of Saint Louis", was the symbol of the City. Originally designed by Charles H.Niehaus for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, it was recast in bronze in 1906 and sits in front of the Saint Louis Art Museum. It is a statue of the Crusader King of France, Louis IX, and Saint of the Church.

Saint Louis defended Christendom against the Infidel, built churches, schools, universities, hospitals, and orphanages, and reformed the legal system of France to use the same Natural Law basis as used in our country until the 1970s. He is a symbol of Christianity and of good government.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Vigil To Be Held at Cathedral Basilica in Saint Louis

A vigil will be held at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis on Friday, October 28th, 2005, starting at 9:00 p.m., and extending through the night until 6:00 a.m. Mass will be held at 10:00 p.m. Friday night and again at 5:00 a.m. Saturday morning. The theme of the vigil is on the Year of the Eucharist.

What Type of (Catholic) Pharisee Are You? - A Quiz

You scored as Fearful Pharisee. The Pharisees were a group of ancient Israelites who believed that the Faith had to be lived out in normal everyday life, and was not just restricted to the rites of the Temple. The Pharisees were leaders in the community, and kept Israel together against seemingly impossible odds. Ancient sources tell us about seven types of Pharisees; several are foolish, and others are good, like Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea. Your type of Pharisee is like Job, who is overwhelmed before the Majesty of God. "Fear" here means standing in awe and reverence, as well as seeking to avoid God's wrath.

Fearful Pharisee

88%

Hunchbacked Pharisee

75%

Loving Pharisee

63%

Bruised Pharisee

25%

Delaying Pharisee

19%

Sadducee

13%

Superficial Pharisee

13%

Calculating Pharisee

0%

What type of (Catholic) Pharisee are you?
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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Photos of the Carmelite Monastery, Saint Louis

This is the chapel of the Discalced Carmelite Nuns, an enclosed, contemplative religious order, located in Saint Louis. The monastery has an annual outdoor novena to Our Lady of Mount Carmel.



The chapel is open to the public and has daily mass and benediction.



Mary, Queen of Heaven.

Address:
9150 Clayton Road
Saint Louis, Missouri 63124

Photos of Interior of Saint Francis de Sales Oratory, Saint Louis

Here are some photos of the interior of Saint Francis de Sales Oratory, Saint Louis home of the Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest, and one of three chapels in the area that offer the Traditional Latin Mass with episcopal approval.

See the article Archbishop Raymond Burke makes his first official visitation to St. Francis de Sales Oratory for Confirmation



The main altar. Little has changed in this church in the Post-Concilliar era, the interior remains magnificent. However, some repairs are needed.



The Bapistry.



Window of Saint Agatha.


Address:
2653 Ohio Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63118


Schedule:
Mass : Sundays 8:00 am (Low Mass), 10:00 am (High Mass), Mondays – Saturdays 8:00 am (Low Mass)
Confessions: Sundays at 7:30 am & 9:00 am
Holy Hour: Thursdays at 7:00 pm

Photo of Saint Francis Xavier Church at Night


Here is Saint Francis Xavier Church at night. It is the college church for Saint Louis University. For a daytime photo, see this. The church is operated by the Society of Jesus.

Address:

3628 Lindell Boulevard
St. Louis, MO 63108-3394


Mass times:
In Chapel of Our Lady:
Weekday: 7:15 a.m., 12:00 Noon and 5:15 p.m.
Saturday: 7:15 a.m., 12:00 Noon
In upper church:
Saturday (Vigil): 5:15 p.m.
Sunday: 8:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 4:30 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. (when St. Louis University is in session)

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Ancient or Modern View on Sex? - A quiz

You scored as Ancient View of Sex. Your attitude about the sexes is shared in most all places and times. You think that men and women are different in kind, but not in value, like the difference between dogs and oranges. You may suspect that masculinity and femininity are not just biological categories of living things, but may even have a deeper spiritual or even cosmic meaning. Sex is what you 'are' and not what you 'do'. You think that traditional sex roles should be promoted for the good of society, and that both sexes should sacrifice their selfish desires to uphold these roles; for example women should nurture children and hold together a home, while men should protect and support the family.

Ancient View of Sex

92%

Modern View on Gender

17%

Sex: Are You Modern or Ancient in Attitude?
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Thursday, October 20, 2005

Photos of Black Madonna Shrine

The Black Madonna Shrine and Grottos is located in rural Jefferson County, Missouri, about 35 highway miles or 45 minutes southwest of downtown Saint Louis.

The shrine is operated by the Franciscan Missionary Brothers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, who operate Saint Joseph's Hill infirmary on the same site. The brothers follow the Rule of Third Order Regular of Saint Francis; they are a lay and not a clerical or monastic order.

Black Madonna Shrine, in Eureka, Missouri, USA - outdoor chapel
Here is the altar in the open-air "Chapel of the Hills", dating from the 1960s. Behind the altar is a copy of the famous Our Lady of Czestochowa painting; it is also known as the "Black Madonna": Mary's olive compexion as painted was further darkened by centuries of candle smoke, incense, and soot from a major building fire. According to ancient legend, Mary sat for this portrait by Saint Luke the Evangelist at the request of the faithful, and is the prototype Byzantine icon. Notice that the painting has been richly "overdressed", and only the original face and hands are showing.

The mosaics behind the altar include icons of Saint Helena, who brought the painting to Constantinople, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and Saint Luke; an Infant Jesus is over the tabernacle.

Black Madonna Shrine, in Eureka, Missouri, USA - way of the cross
The Stations of the Cross, outside of the chapel.

Black Madonna Shrine, in Eureka, Missouri, USA - station of the cross
A close-up of a Station. You can see some of the stone grottoes behind the cross.

Black Madonna Shrine, in Eureka, Missouri, USA - grotto 1
The grotto of Saint Francis of Assisi. These stone grottoes were made by hand by Franciscan Brother Bronislaus Luszc of Poland, over the course of decades ending in 1960. They are made from tiff-rock, mined in Potosi, Missouri. The rock is crystaline, and these photos do not give justice to these shrines. This particular grotto has decorative statues of birds and animals, which were much loved by Saint Francis. Click on any photo for a larger image.

Black Madonna Shrine, in Eureka, Missouri, USA - Saint Francis
Saint Francis.

Black Madonna Shrine, in Eureka, Missouri, USA - grotto detail 1

Black Madonna Shrine, in Eureka, Missouri, USA - grotto detail 2
A detail from the Saint Francis grotto, showing a little bird.

Black Madonna Shrine, in Eureka, Missouri, USA - grotto of Saint Joseph
Saint Joseph.

Black Madonna Shrine, in Eureka, Missouri, USA - crucifix
Agony in the Garden and Golgatha. The cross is visible for large distances during the winter, and was used as a landmark by lost hikers.

Black Madonna Shrine, in Eureka, Missouri, USA - sign
Below the main shrine is a chapel in the woods, rediscovered in 1995. A long trail through the woods leads to the chapel, and many spiritual warning signs such as this are shown. The sign reads: "BEWARE THE PLACE YOU ARE ENTERING IS HOLY".

This forest chapel is very much in the Franciscan tradition, embracing extreme poverty, under the trees, and amid the sounds of forest birds and animals. Most everything in the forest chapel is made from bits and scraps of discarded objects.

Black Madonna Shrine, in Eureka, Missouri, USA - forest shrine
Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Black Madonna Shrine, in Eureka, Missouri, USA - narrow gate
The chapel gate. The sign reads: "ENTER THROUGH THE NARROW GATE". I had to turn sideways to enter.

Black Madonna Shrine, in Eureka, Missouri, USA - forest chapel
The forest chapel. The altar is to the right, and a spring is to the left; both are covered with green fiberglass awnings.

Black Madonna Shrine, in Eureka, Missouri, USA - forest altar
A close-up of the altar, with the Divine Mercy in the background. The flowers on the altar were fresh.

Black Madonna Shrine, in Eureka, Missouri, USA - forest chapel spring
The spring.

Black Madonna Shrine, in Eureka, Missouri, USA - nursing home
The corporal works of mercy of the brothers is done here, at Saint Joseph's Hill, a nursing home for elderly men, and also nearby in Eureka, Missouri, at Price Memorial nursing home.

A chapel here has public Mass at 10:00 a.m. Sundays and Holidays.

Black Madonna Shrine
100 Saint Joseph's Hill Road
Pacific, Missouri 63069


Brothers: http://www.franciscancaring.org
Shrine: http://www.blackmadonnashrine.org

A beautiful reflection on October...

...from Recta Ratio.

"It is the dying time of the year, with the harvest almost all in now, and even the green leaves of summer suddenly blazing into brilliant color and then dropping to the ground."

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Most Influential Filmmakers

Forbes magazine has a list of the top ten Hollywood film directors.

Included on the list are several lapsed Catholics; a director who filmed the greatest of Catholic fantasy novels; and a director of a film series where the good guys belong to a military order of a dogmatic religion that has a celibate male priesthood with a strict moral code.

Hollywood's all-time greatest or most notable recent film directors have been overwhelmingly Catholic—lapsed, cultural, or practicing: Robert Altman, Frank Capra, Francis Ford Coppolla, Cameron Crowe, Robert De Niro, Brian De Palma, Federico Fellini, John Ford, Jodie Foster, Alfred Hitchcock, Mel Gibson, Werner Herzog, Louis Malle, Garry Marshall, Michael Moore, Sean Penn, Robert Rodriguez, Ken Russell, Martin Scorcese, and Martin Sheen. The main exceptions to the list of greatest American film directors come typically from an Orthodox Jewish tradition, plus some Orthodox and Anglican Christians; these share much or most of the Catholic world view. Catholics are surprisingly overrepresented relative to total population in the upper reaches of the American film industry. The very greatest films, either left-wing or conservative, were usually the products of Catholic vision. Of course Hollywood is usually virulently anti-Christian, but the worst offending films are not great films.

Europe's film industry is quite different because much of their output comes from state-sponsored studios, which emphasize an "art for art's sake" viewpoint, and has a strong political control from the Social Democratic parties. Catholics, even merely lapsed, are not welcome in European studios. As a result, Continental European films tend to be 'artsy' or dull and have very little popular appeal. In contrast, in the old Soviet Union, some of the greatest directors were practicing Orthodox Christians, who had to fight with the party apparatchik to get their films made.

Why are the best American films so Catholic?

EMPHASIS ON TRUTH: Film is a mass medium. It must have great popular appeal, or it will die. If a film lacks realism, if it is not true on some level, it will fail, because audiences reject falsehood, their "suspension of disbelief" has its limits. Political propaganda, as seen in contemporary European films or 1950s "B-grade" patriotic fluff, is usually rejected, due to this lack of realism; the same goes for many 'art' films that are 'creative' and not meaningful. We want to be entertained, but not lied to, nor do we want to be barraged with meaninglessness. Catholics place a great emphasis on reason to find truth, because they live in a world of disbelievers, who will not listen to Bible quotes. Some religions deny reason, and so therefore deny much truth: Islam declined after Averroës, and Christianity declined after the Reformation. Catholics believe that faith and reason cannot contradict; a 'difficult' fact should not be ignored, but should instead be understood fully. To the Catholic mind for example, the theory of Evolution cannot be simply rejected (like the Fundamentalists often do) but must be understood properly and modified accordingly. Also, they believe in intellectually honesty, like Socrates arguing with the Sophists, as a matter of moral imperative. Atheists can and do make good films, but these are primarily documentaries, which conform strictly to the material world, and tend to ignore the inner landscape of our souls, reducing it to mere sets of opinion, psychology, and political correctness. So these films are incomplete.

GOOD ART. Practicing Protestants of any denomination are rare in Hollywood, with the exception of some Anglicans, who may consider themselves to be Anglo-Catholic. This may be due to plain discrimination, but the arts are rare among most denominations. Baptists have one work of fine art in their canon, Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress: and that's it. Perhaps this is due to the circumstances of the Reformation itself: the Catholic Church became secularized during the so-called Renaissance, and pagan art became common in churches, which led to the iconoclasm of the Reformation. I suspect that many Reformation-era denominations are quite suspicious of art; and anyway, their religions tend to be quite spiritual, sometimes even becoming somewhat Manichean, considering the world of matter to be almost evil. Most Protestant churches are plain and unadorned, and sometimes emphasize ephemeral popular art styles in music and performance; this is not a good environment for the upbringing of a director who will make excellent films. Perhaps they reject the whole film industry, but this just proves the proposition that they see the material world as bad. A film can be simple, but not plain. If it is to be great, it should be sumptuous and filled with all forms of high art, like a good traditional Catholic church.

HIERARCHY OF VALUE. To Catholics, the world was created by the perfect God and is very good, but fallen, due to the fallen human nature. The world, and all in it, has an innate dignity and value, sanctified by the Incarnation. Since Christ is God and He became man, matter itself can become sacred. That some places and things in the world can be more sacred than others can lead to hierarchy of material value in a Catholic film, avoiding the bland uniformity of a Liberal Christian or pantheist who sees all things as equally sacred, or to a Monist—atheist or religious—who sees all material things as equally worthless. Catholic hierarchy extends to persons; some of whom have more moral responsibility than others: a ruler has far more moral responsibility than a peasant, yet ironically, has equal moral value, which is quite unlike modern theories.

MORAL COMPLEXITY. Traditional Catholic moral theology is quite complex, and is affected by each individual's circumstances and state of mind. So the calculus of Good versus Evil and Reason versus Emotion within a soul can be very involved; in film, this can lead to great character development. Catholics know that all men are morally some shade of grey, not black or white, but they are not an indifferent uniform gray as the moral relativists would have us believe. Some men are morally better than others, all men can be saved, and all men can fall. Also, Catholics know that knowing right from wrong is easier than doing what is right, and they know that sometimes heroic virtue is required. Catholics reject the idea of the 'Great Man' who shapes history, and instead proposes that a moral society can only happen if its individuals are moral. Typical Protestant salvation theology tends to be more black and white and thus less interesting, and more suited to 'B'-grade films. Purely irreligious films tend to merely go for graphic sex and violence or just meaningless 'art', and therefore cannot be great.

Great films are true, filled with art, display a wide range of values, and have complex characterizations. Bad films are stupid, lack art or are too 'artsy', lack meaning and value, and have weak characterization. If a film director's core philosophy, religion, or education lacks any of these main elements, then perhaps he will be ill-suited for making a great film.

Comments on new trends in architecture

See this post on Mansions on a hill? (http://www.getreligion.org/?p=1115) on the huge new homes being built in older neighborhoods. I've seen the same phenomena in Saint Louis.

Partly this is due to fashion, and due to rising real estate prices that lead people to believe that they can make more profit on larger homes. Until of course the real estate bubble pops.

A core problem is that people, largely lacking faith, or even a solid philosophy, may be using large homes as an idol of their financial success. And too many can't really afford it, so they are idols of other people's perception of their success. The main opposition to this trend comes from left-leaning folks who prefer to live in older historic homes; but they do so based on a sense of Existentialist "authenticity", so it ends up being the same type of idolatry, just expressed in a slightly different manner. It's been said that every person, without regard to their political leanings, lives in the most expensive home that they can afford.

The New Traditionalism movement may end up being a fusion of these two ideas: a large, expensive, showy home set up as an idol to both Success and Authenticity. This movement isn't making big expensive tacky houses, but big expensive tasteful houses.




A.J. Downing, the man perhaps most responsible for creating the Victorian style of architecture in the United States in the mid-19th century, said that a home must reflect or image truth about its inhabitants, which is quite different from authenticity, which is merely conformity to a style. A man may live in a castle, but "unless there is something of the castle in the man", it will dwarf him and reduce his stature. Perhaps the only true thing that we can infer about these large new homes is the existence of a large amount of debt. Similarly, I am reminded of the large historic Saint Louis mansions, designed for hosting great costume balls with a hundred guests, that now only house childless couples who only entertain small groups of intimate friends.

Downing's book The Architecture of Country Houses,is poetic, beautiful, yet very practical, in a way that was common in centuries past yet is missing today. He was a democrat to the core, but still knew that society was hierarchical and that our homes need to reflect that. He thought that a wealthy man should have a grand villa, while a working man should have a modest cottage, but that neither should be relatively expensive, and that both should be objectively beautiful.

Dowling accepted that there was a relativity of taste, and he used the term 'picturesque' to describe quirky taste. However, he believed in aesthetic rationalism, as did the ancient philosophers, the Church (until recent decades) and like the great world civilizations of ages past. He, like Aristotle and Aquinas, believes that beauty is objective, and is based on proportion, symmetry, variety, harmony, and unity. And all of these elements must take into account scale; his philosophy of architecture is based on anthropology, so the human scale is critical for deciding what a building should look like. Besides these rational means of making beauty, he also recognized the need for refinement, which is the slight alteration of these rational forms based on experience. Modern architecture tends to strongly deemphasize these elements, since it considers beauty to be absolutely relative; experience is rejected, and human scale almost ignored.

Beauty in the classical sense is influenced by these objective criteria and by its context and subjective state of mind, so it is objective, but not absolutist.

The new architecture has two schools of thought, although they aren't completely distinct, but are indeed complementary. The New Traditionalist movement strives to greater authenticity by using traditional local styles in new construction, while the New Classicist movement believes in rational beauty as found in Western classical architecture of the Greek and Roman tradition. Both schools reject Modernism, with its ugly arbitrary taste, love of novelty, and lack of human scale; and I find these new works far more satisfying. But atheistic Existentialism and the raw power of Empire are perhaps two troubling strains of thought in these new schools of architecture.

Traditionalism, the philosophy that truth can only be found in the ways of the past, is of course a heresy, since it denies the virtue of Science. Scientism, the philosophy that only science can discover truth, is also a heresy, since we believe that truth has been handed down over the centuries, which Science could never hope to discover on its own. We can only have right reasoning, or orthodoxy, in architecture if we take both tradition and science into consideration.

Besides a new home or other building being true and beautiful, it must also be good. These new architectural trends are going a long way towards truth and beauty, but they ignore the Good, which is a moral attribute, perhaps inseparable from the other two. Renaissance art is known for being true to form and having great beauty, but it often lacks goodness due to pagan or profane themes. It is for this reason that I think that an architect of a Catholic Church needs to be a practicing Catholic and needs to live a moral life. We can perhaps learn a bit from Eastern Christianity, where holy monks make the artwork for churches.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Links to some traditional architecture websites

Here are some links to traditional church architecture and to the general classical architecture movement:

The number of links that I was able to find was quite small, but momentum is building.

Classicism is not always appropriate for Church architecture, and most of these web sites tend to ignore the Gothic, but it is a good start.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

A Comparison of the Old and New Catholic Apologetics

Apologetics is the art of giving reasons for faith. An apology, in the Christian sense, doesn't mean "I'm sorry", but instead means "I can prove that I am right". Many religions do not employ apologetics, though; those that are tied specifically to a ethnicity or nationality have no desire to convert outsiders: those who intermarry into this kind of group are just expected to convert.

Catholics, and many other Christians, claim that Faith and Reason do not contradict each other, for God is the author of both. Interestingly, some religions reject reason, and these are the religions that tend to "convert at the point of a sword". And many Christian denominations reject faith: their reason is purely secular and their religion seems to be just a respectable window dressing. But for most Christians, apologetics has an importance greater than elsewhere in the world.

Here is a table of comparisons between the apologetics used by the Catholic Church before and after the Second Vatican Council. These changes have not only affected the Church, but has influenced Protestants and society as a whole, with great consequence. The old apologetics emphasizes reason in the tradition of Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas, while the new apologetics emphasizes the personalism and subjectivism of the whole modern project, which started with Descartes.





A comparison of the Old and New Catholic Apologetics.

Old ApologeticsNew Apologetics

ProConProCon
PhilosophyReason based on objective truth.Impersonal and abstract.Personalistic, appeal to individuals. Theology of the Body.Could lead to subjectivism and relativism.
Reason vs. feelingsIntelligent and respects reason.Can be rationalistic.Appeals to the heart.Could separate heart and reason; emotionalism.
TeachersConcrete, authoritative teachings.Could lead to authoritarianism; priority of authority over reason.Universalistic, lay-run apologetics.Could lead to antinomianism, or to the "cult of the new".
EmphasisSupernaturalistic. Does not dumb-down the faith.Could be seen as irrelevant or not related to the human condition.Holistic, grace perfects nature.Naturalism, secularism.
InstitutionDistinctively Catholic.Arrogance and triumphalism.Humble and ecumenical. Indifferentism, syncretism.
FidelityTrue to the Faith without compromise.Legalism.A growing and living Faith.Dissent (heresy); tends to view others as reactionaries.
TrinitarianismTheocentric. God Centered.Ignores man.Christocentric.Emphasis on man, perhaps even opposed to God.


The structure of this table is derived from lectures given by Peter Kreeft.

It seems that many of our contemporary problems in the Church can be blamed directly on this New Apologetics: emotion and feelings ruling action, widespread heresy, the thought that all religions are the same, the loss of morality, pantheism, Gnosticism, and an endless stream of error all seem to derive from this change. And it seems to have emptied our churches, rectories, monasteries, and convents, in favor of Fundamentalism, the numerous "nondenominational" big-box churches, and various New-Age cults. And mainly, many former Catholics now live secular, immoral lives.

However, there is another another trend that comes from the New Apologetics: mainstream liturgical churches, such as Methodists, Anglicans, and Lutherans, and even some Pentecostals, are quickly converging back into the Catholic fold, rediscovering tradition and catholicity. The use of the Rosary by Protestants is remarkable and until recently, unthinkable. The people that are coming back are of good will, have solid faith, and recognize their roots. For many, the Church is no longer the enemy, but is seen as the only major institution that still stands for faith and virtue. This type of solid ecumenism was unheard of in the past. Even some Orthodox are reconsidering the need for formal unity. The Church has made common cause with other religions, particularly those who value morality and a society that is good. This has been done by reference to the rationality of the Old Apologetics, but with the New Apologetic style.

We live in remarkable times. The alliances in the war are shifting.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

I watched the film again...

You scored as Gandalf. You are Gandalf! This wise, old mage is loyal and brave. He is known for his counsel and advice to his friends and allies during tough times.
"All you have to do is decide what to do with the time that is given to you."

Aragorn


63%

Gandalf


63%

Samwise


50%

Faramir


44%

Eowyn


38%

Pippin


38%

Frodo


31%

Arwen


31%

Gollum


25%

Which LOTR character are you?
created with QuizFarm.com

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Quick Guide to Good Church Architecture

I propose that good church architecture is doable today, is easy to do, and ought to be done for the sake of the faithful.

The argument that we can't do good church architecture anymore is bunk. If we don't have enough skilled artisans to build a beautiful church, than we can train them. If we don't have enough money to build a decent church, then we will raise it, or even better, get donations in kind.

Good church architecture is easy to do. Old, beautiful churches are in great supply, and old or ancient architecture manuals describe needed techniques in great detail. We just need to actually do it right, by first changing our way of thinking.

Modern churches do little extra for the faithful besides being comfortable meeting-houses for performance of the liturgy. Instead, a Church needs to be a sacred Temple of God, an Ark of the Covenant, elevating the mind to Heavenly things. A good church can inspire the faithful to greater things, and could cause conversion of heathens, and the world.

Here are some general rules for good church architecture:

  • Your local Ordinary is always right. Be obedient, without regard to the rest of these rules.

  • Form Follows Function. Not in the modern sense, but in this way: you are building a Catholic church. It needs to promote Catholicism. It needs to be suitable for Catholic worship. It must be iconic, and has to scream "Catholicism" to any passerby, and it can't be mistaken for any other structure or worship facility of any denomination. It can't look like a gymnasium, office, warehouse, residence, or hanger. Your Catholic church, under the best circumstances, may be confused for a High Anglican church, but the plain stone floors and hard wooden pews of a Catholic church should eventually dispel any confusion.

  • Put the church on a good site. Traditionally, it goes on a hill, or surrounded by enough open space so as to be visible from long distances. Pilgrims, seeking your church, should be able to scan the horizon and be able to identify it as a Catholic church, without a doubt.

  • Put in obvious Catholic symbols, not just vague symbols. A round simplified greek cross window may be a Catholic symbol, but it is also a Gnostic symbol. Put in a good, Gothic rose window instead. Images of Saints should always include standard attributes that make identification possible; don't put in a statue of Mary that may also be a pagan goddess, like the Mary in the new Los Angeles Cathedral.

  • It's not about you. It is about the worship of God and the salvation of souls. "Creativity" is an overused term. Don't be afraid to copy the best of the past, and by the best I'm not referring to Corbusier's Ronchamp church or Philip Johnson's Crystal Cathedral; instead, I refer to the great Gothic, Romanesque, and Baroque churches predating the 20th century, back when folks had the Catholic Faith. Look at the great pilgrimage churches, places where the faithful actually worship, and not the structures that have won major architectural awards. Lose yourself in the work, and be inspired.

  • The church needs to be vertical. "A city set on a hill cannot be hid." Yes, I know that contemporary theological cosmology no longer places Heaven in the upper stratosphere, but vertically has great appeal. We need to "lift" spirits upward. We won't see Christ in each other until we can contemplate the Father in Heaven. A spire is a finger pointed up to Heaven and is not another part of the anatomy.

  • A church needs to be permanent. It needs to last for centuries, for the Faith will last longer, until the end of the world. Infidels with sledgehammers and torches should find it difficult to do anything but superficial damage to your church. They should only be able to just smash the statuary, tear down the crucifix, and plaster over the mosaics and then move on. Eventually, a few centuries down the road, Catholics will be able to move back in and restore it to its former glory with little difficulty. If you think that future heretics will use bulldozers or rockets to destroy your church, then use thick reinforced concrete at its core (as did the Romans) to make their enterprise very difficult. A good blast-hardened crypt deep under your church could even survive a nuke attack. Plan accordingly.

  • Your church will eventually decay into dust. It is not a monument to your artistic greatness. Seek your reward in Heaven instead.

  • The landscape and area surrounding your church must conform to the church, and not the other way around. The site must be subordinate to the church itself. A church in a suburban area is not to be confused for a suburban strip mall or office park. Its site must be bold and visible from all neighboring roads.

  • Make your church beautiful. Think like an ancient, not a modern, when determining beauty. Beauty is objective, and is based on proportion, scale, and harmony.

  • Use simple geometric elements in your design. Make generous use of right angles, circles, and triangles. Make your church simple, but not plain. These aren't plain circles, angles, and triangles. The geometry should not be severe, either, but have a feminine softness to it. Ecclesia is a feminine word, and a masculine church ends up being merely a secular social-service or political action organization and not the Bride of Christ. Avoid odd angles and surfaces like the Bilbao Guggenheim museum: it's not about creativity, remember.

  • Have no concern for resale value thirty years from now. It is to be a Catholic church, always, and forever.

  • Make your church design interesting everywhere on all scales, from one eighth of an inch to the entire building. Even the raw materials need to be beautiful, so emphasize the veins in marble or grain in wood. Especially emphasize detail on a human scale, unlike the Moderns who concern themselves only with large masses of humanity. A church needs to speak to each worshipper on a personal scale.

  • Attractive ratios between elements like the length, width, and spacing of columns have been determined a long time ago. Avoid elongated or stubby elements for the purpose of creativity or ironical effect.

  • Make your church smaller than what you think is actually needed. A crowded church does far more for the Faith and community than does a large, beautiful, but largely empty space. But have plenty of space around the periphery for standing room; standing up for long periods and kneeling on hard stone contributes greatly to the faith of the overflow crowd. Aren't pews a Protestant invention anyway?

  • The entire church needs to be an icon, and needs to be filled with icons. The church needs to be a sermon and a catechism. It should have so much detail that an art student could spend days or weeks there in study. It must teach the faith.

  • Do not assume that electricity, natural gas, and other modern conveniences will be available for the lifetime of the church. History tells us that our comfortable life will always be subject to change. Allow for natural lighting, and make the building massive enough to moderate the temperature inside of it. High ceilings will reduce the need for artificial cooling. While I approve of the use of advanced modern materials, be sure that routine maintenance can be done with natural materials and simple hand tools.

  • A church is not an auditorium or a theater. Don't make it look like one. The classic basilica design has better acoustics for church music, anyway. All worshipers, facing the same way towards the crucifix, has great sign value, and is less distracting.

  • A church is not designed for feeding egos. Don't feed the egos of the worshipers, like Frank Lloyd Wright's Unity Temple, that makes men the equal to God. Don't feed the ego of the presider, with a great Presider's Chair in the center of the action; even a Bishop's Cathedra should be off to the side. The priest or decon needs to be heard clearly during the readings and homily, and that's it. Don't feed the egos of the musicians; they should be heard and not seen. Don't feed the egos of Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist either; put in an altar rail, instead. Communion in the hand is a passing fad, anyway. And most of all, don't feed the egos of Liturgical Dancers; make no room for them whatsoever (unless you happen to be making an Ethiopian Coptic church). It's not about us, but about Christ.

  • For the spiritual safety and education of the faithful, a church should be designed by a member of the faith, committed to remain in a state of grace and faithful to Christ, His Church, and His Magisterium.

Photos of the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows

The National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows, in Belleville, Illinois, is about nine highway miles southeast of downtown Saint Louis. It is one of the largest outdoor shrines in North America. The shrine includes a restaurant, hotel, apartment complex, and a large gift shop. During Advent and Christmas, the shrine hosts the "Way of Lights", a large outdoor light display.

The shrine name refers to the basilica of Saint Mary Major on the Esquiline Hill in Rome, where legend says that snow fell in the summertime. The shrine is operated by the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, which is one of the Church's largest religious orders with 4,500 priests and brothers serving the poor in 71 countries.



Here is the outdoor chapel, located at the bottom of a large grass bowl, and is the site of the shrine's annual Healing Novena and Christian music festival. This chapel was constructed in 1960, and is an example of Modern design that is pretty and has iconographic value. Thin concrete shell construction, as used here, was a popular technique for making fanciful structures; other local buildings include the Lambert-St. Louis International Airport terminal, the Saint Anselm Parish church in Creve Coeur, Missouri, and the soon-to-be-destroyed Busch Stadium. In the Post-Concilliar era, church architecture quickly became ugly, so this may be one of the last attempts of reconciling Modernity and Catholicism.




Here is a close-up view of the outdoor altar.




Underneath the outdoor chapel is Christ the King Chapel, which is well-decorated with mosaics in the style of the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis.




Resurrection mosaic near the underground Chapel.




Mosaic of Finding the Child Jesus in the Temple, near the underground chapel.




The Millennium Spire. Underneath are thousands of candles burning.




A drive-through Station of the Cross. This is an obvious example of American enculturation! In addition to this path, there are several devotional trails throughout the shrine.




This is Our Lady of the Snows Church, constructed in 1990. It is based on the USCCB statement of 1978, "Environment and Art in Catholic Worship". It is too Modern for me. Note the red and white tower in the background; the rock station WMRY broadcast from here in the 1980s. Yes, MRY stands for "Mary". The Shrine operates a radio ministry for the deaf and nursing homes.




The Lourdes Grotto, with the inscription "Que soy era Immaculada Councepciou".




The Annunciation Garden, one of many rose gardens at the Shrine. The rose, beautiful and fragrant, yet with painful thorns, is a natural Marian symbol.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Photo of Holy Family Log Church in Cahokia, Illinois




Here is a photo of Holy Family Log Church, in Cahokia, Illinois, about five highway miles south of downtown Saint Louis. It is the oldest continuously operating parish in the United States. It is in the Diocese of Belleville and is home to the Traditional Latin Mass. This particular church was built in 1799, and has the unusual French colonial vertical log construction that can be seen in several other buildings in the Saint Louis area.

Mass is Sunday at 9:00 am.

History of the church, from Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam: http://slatts.blogspot.com/TheOldLogChurch.htm

Monday, October 10, 2005

Six Cathedrals in Six Hours - Photos

Or more precisely, three Catholic cathedrals, and three former cathedrals. And it would have taken me a much shorter time than six hours to visit all of them if I were in a hurry. The photos are listed in order of my visit; click on them for a larger version.


Here is Saint Francis de Sales Oratory, "The Cathedral of the Southside", home of the Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest, one of the Latin Mass communities of Saint Louis. This was once the home of one of the auxiliary Bishops of the Archdiocese of Saint Louis, and had cathedral status.

Mass schedule: Sundays 8:00 am (Low Mass), 10:00 am (High Mass); Daily 8:00 am (Low Mass); First Fridays and Holy Days of Obligation 7:00 p.m.
Confessions: Sundays at 7:30 am & 9:00 am (lines are long, arrive early!)
Holy Hour: Thursdays at 7:00 pm



Saint Raymond's Maronite Cathedral, of the Eparchy of of Our Lady of Lebanon of Los Angeles, is the Cathedral church of Maronite Catholics of 34 midwestern, southern, and western states. The cathedral complex includes The Cedars, a banquet center that has a Lebanese buffet on Wednesday, and a gift shop that sells, among other things, fascinating and beautiful books on Maronite saints. The Cathedral is located on the southern edge of downtown Saint Louis.

Divine Liturgy: Saturday 5:00 pm; Sunday 9:00 am, 11:00 am; Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday: 12 noon; Wednesday and Friday 9:00 am



Saint John Apostle and Evangelist Church, built in 1860. The parish was established in 1847 on what was then the outskirts of the city. During the late 19th century, the St. Louis waterfront was a dangerous district, and the population was moving westward, so Archbishop Peter Kenrick resided in this pro-cathedral, nearer his flock. It is twelve blocks west of the Old Cathedral.

Mass schedule: Saturday (vigil) 5:00 pm; Sunday 7:30 am, 9:00 am, 10:30 am; Weekday 7:10 am, 12:10 am; Saturday 12:10 pm.

Confession: Monday-Saturday: 11:00 am-12:00 pm



The Basilica of Saint Louis, King of France, or the "Old Cathedral". This is the oldest operating Catholic church in St. Louis, and once served as the Cathedral for half of the United States. The church was consecrated in 1834.

Mass schedule: Saturday 5:30 pm (vigil); Sunday 8:00 am, 10:30 am, 12:00 noon and 5:00 pm; weekday 7:00 am and 12:10 pm; Saturday: 7:00 am; Holy Day 7:00 am, 11:15 am, 12:10 pm, 5:10 pm; Holy Days Vigil 5:10 pm



Saint Peter's Cathedral, built in 1842 and later expanded, of the Diocese of Belleville, Illinois, located 16 highway miles southeast of downtown Saint Louis. Some criticize Catholics for building large churches like this, saying that they should instead give their money to charity. This Cathedral is across the street from Saint Elizabeth's Hospital, operated by the religious community of the Hospital Sisters of the Third Order of Saint Francis. That hospital costs real money, and wouldn't exist without the cathedral.

Mass schedule: Saturday 5:00 pm (vigil); Sunday 8:00 am, 10:30 am; weekday 6:45 am; Holy Days 6:30 am, 8:00 am, 12:10 pm; Holy Day Vigil 7:00 pm

Confession: 3:30 pm-4:30 pm

Benediction: Tuesday 7:00 pm



The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, of the Archdiocese of Saint Louis, consecrated in 1917. It has a Byzantine interior with the largest collection of mosaics in the world. A museum, crypt, and gift shop are in the cathedral.

Mass schedule: Saturday (vigil) 5:00 pm; Sunday 8:00 am, 10:00 am, 12:00 noon, 5:00 pm; weekday 7:00 am, 8:00 am, 12:05 am; Saturday 8:00 am

Monday - Friday: 7:00 a.m., 8:00 a.m. & 12:05 p.m.
Saturday: 8:00 a.m.
Saturday (Vigil): 5:00 p.m.
Sunday: 8:00 a.m., 10:00 a.m., 12:00 noon & 5:00 p.m.

Open 9:00 am-5:00 pm

NOTE: Had I known it at the time, I would have photographed Saints Peter and Paul, in nearby Alton, Illinois, which was once the cathedral for the Diocese of Alton, now called the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

What is your style of American Catholicism? - A quiz.


You scored as Traditional Catholic. You look at the great piety and holiness of the Church before the Second Vatican Council and the decay of belief and practice since then, and see that much of the decline is due to failed reforms based on the "Spirit of the Council". You regret the loss of vast numbers of Religious and Ordained clergy and the widely diverging celebrations of the Mass of Pope Paul VI, which often don't even seem to be Catholic anymore. You are helping to rebuild this past culture in one of the many new Traditional Latin Mass communities or attend Eastern Catholic Divine Liturgy. You seek refuge from the world of pornography, recreational drugs, violence, and materialism. You are an articulate, confident, committed, and intelligent Catholic.

But do you support legitimate reform of the Church, and are you willing to submit to the directives of the Second Vatican Council? Will you cooperate responsibly with others who are not part of the Traditional community?

Traditional Catholic


90%

New Catholic


57%

Neo-Conservative Catholic


41%

Lukewarm Catholic


38%

Evangelical Catholic


29%

Radical Catholic


14%

Liberal Catholic


10%

What is your style of American Catholicism?
created with QuizFarm.com





But perhaps this result is more accurate:


You scored as Lukewarm Catholic. You are Catholic in name only.

You either live your life just for yourself, or, if you've done that for too many years, you may feel hopeless and that your life has no meaning.

Remember, God made you in His image and likeness to share eternal glory with Him. While you still live, it is never too late to repent from past mistakes. The most important things are to love God with all of your heart, mind, and spirit, and to love your neighbor as yourself.

If going to church does nothing for you, perhaps you should find a different parish that emphasizes holiness and service to others in need. Spend time with friends who are trying to live a good life and who have a love for other people. And try to pray. Start out by asking God for help.

Lukewarm Catholic


74%

Traditional Catholic


71%

New Catholic


45%

Neo-Conservative Catholic


40%

Liberal Catholic


19%

Evangelical Catholic


14%

Radical Catholic


2%

What is your style of American Catholicism?
created with QuizFarm.com



These categories of American Catholics are from Avery Robert Cardinal Dulles and Deacon Owen F. Cummings, except for the Lukewarm category, which I think is particularly relevant today, especially for myself!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Spanish Flu, reborn

See this article by Ian Sample, Security fears as flu virus that killed 50 million is recreated (http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/story/0,3605,1585977,00.html). The virus that caused the Spanish Flu has been recreated by the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. The Spanish Flu appeared during the First World War, and caused far more deaths than that brutal war itself. This flu strain is said to be "extremely effective".

From the article: "The genetic sequence is also being made available to scientists online, a move which some fear adds a further risk of the virus being created in other labs."

Coincidentally, I posted this 5 days ago, regarding some folks who want to eliminate vaccination.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Group Marriage in the Netherlands

See this article by Paul Belien, First Trio "Married" in The Netherlands (http://www.brusselsjournal.com/node/301) in the Brussels Journal

And they said it wouldn't happen, that civil unions were just for loving couples. Were they stupid, or did they just think that we were? The people in the "marriage" above say that they won't add a fourth person to the group. Do we believe that, too?

History is no longer taught, being considered irrelevant to contemporary young minds, or that history is just "written by the victors", and so it is hopelessly biased, and not worthy of study. But we claim that human nature has not changed over the millennia. And we claim as evidence the writings of the Prophets, who were not victors, but instead were those who gave warning to those in power. And Pontius Pilate seemed to "win'", but he left no books extolling his victory.

An ignorance of history may lead us to forget that nearly all cultures throughout time and place recognize a marriage of one man and one woman; with any dalliances outside of marriage recognized for what they are: yielding to the temptation of desire, and not creating any permanent, legal bond. And history tells us of those times and places where this natural marital bond has been corrupted.

The most beloved philosopher of our Postmodern, agnostic age is Friedrich Nietzsche, the man who said "God is dead" because he could not bear someone being greater than he. His Übermensch or "overman" or "superman" rejects Christian morality and creates his own, new, moral ideals. Nietzsche had a great admiration of the dictators of history, and dreamed of a unified, authoritarian Europe. It seems that he got his way. Europeans have the liberty of unrestricted sexual behavior, while everything else is tightly controlled from the top.

Suppose a new "superman" rises, and decides to take dozens, or hundreds, or thousands of women as "partners" in a civil union? It has happened before, many times. Just read history. One Chinese Emperor had fifty thousand concubines, and even Solomon of blessed memory regrettably had many. Will our Liberal, Progressive, Nietzsche-admirers support this? Or Neo-Conservative supporters of unrestricted economic liberty?

And what if designer abortions gain popularity, or infanticide, or birth restrictions becomes commonplace? In China today, boy babies are more highly prized than girls, and due to these practices, an imbalance between the sexes is now quite noticeable. Now imagine a Great Man who collects women like a philatelist collects postage stamps. Obviously, something that is rare will become much more valuable, and therefore more collectable, like fine wines. Our Hero will probably never even get to lie with the majority of these women. Too bad the mass of men will be unable to marry, but the Overman does not care about the herd.

It's happened before, and the seeds of it happening again have been sown. China is undergoing changes and only God knows what will happen next in this nation with so many men who cannot find wives.

Large numbers of alienated young men will lead to social problems, including a vast increase of prostitution and social unrest. The large number of women who will practice this profession - something so valuable won't be free - will reduce the pool of marriageable women even more, increasing the social unrest. If we do find ourselves in this predicament, perhaps I could suggest a possible alternative. Large, male religious orders could reduce immorality and restore stability to these mens' lives and to society in general. The type of order most appealing to masses of young men would be, of course, a military order. This is just a suggestion!

It's strange how the word "justice" now means giving pepole what they want, instead of giving what rightly belongs to them. It is not just that a man have more than one woman, even if the women seem to agree to the contract. For this reason we have much anxiety and debate about Supreme Court nominees. The bad redefinition of justice in the past several decades makes these decisions critical.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Pope Benedict's Prayer Intentions for October

From Catholic News Agency, tough, new prayer intentions from Pope Benedict.

October prayer intentions, Pope seeks strength for Christians in hostile society, building up of world missionaries

Vatican City, Sep. 30, 2005 (CNA) - This morning, the Vatican announced Pope Benedict's prayer intentions for the upcoming month of October. In them, the Holy Father focuses his attention on asking God to strengthen Christians in the face of an increasingly hostile secular society.

The Pope's general prayer intention for the month is, "That Christians may not be discouraged by the attacks of secularized society, but with complete trust, may bear witness to their faith and hope."

Likewise, his mission intention is, "That the faithful may join to their fundamental duty of prayer the support also of economic contributions to the missionary works."

"Tough prayer intentions" is not a phrase I've ever thought of writing before. The standard prayer intentions in the Mass, and particularly in the Liturgy of the Hours, seem to me, to be weak, or soft.

You don't see prayer intentions for the "Conversion of China", "Return of Schismatics", or "Repentance of Sinners", instead they tend to be vague and subjective. I've been told that prayers should be specific; indeed, prayer needs to conform us to God's Will, so objectivity is needed.

Certain members of the Church seem to be quite open to the movements of the Holy Spirit, and are willing to dialogue with God on many subjects that I had thought have been settled already. But I don't think that I have those graces, and instead, look to the concrete teachings of the Church as a rule to conform myself to Christ. Good, specific prayer intentions can help.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Abuse and Reform

Most readers are aware of liturgical abuse of recent decades, but this is hardly new. During the Renaissance, we are told that scholars wanted to recover 'classical purity' in the Latin language. But what exactly did this mean?

Some wanted to retranslate the liturgy into Ciceronian Latin. But how about this abuse: Begetting of the Word was to be "Minerva Jovis capite orta"; the Holy Spirit was "Aura Zephyri coelestis"; the Trinity, "Triforme Numen Olympi"; and "Natus Eumolpho Lyricenque Sappho . . . Thracius Orpheus", referring to the Blessed Virgin Mary. All classical, and all thoroughly pagan.

Art became more classical during the Renaissance. Insofar as it encouraged high technique and classical realism, it was good, but when scenes from pagan mythology started appearing in Catholic churches, it went way too far. The iconoclasm of the Protestant rebellion is probably directly related to this Renaissance trend.

We are living in what is perhaps the tail end of another era of liturgical abuse, with more pagan influence in our liturgy and art. And this current paganization has emptied Catholic churches and has filled the halls of the Pentecostals and Fundamentalists.

The Renaissance ended with a sweeping resacralization of liturgy, which lasted nearly 400 years. Perhaps Pope Benedict could do the same.

Between 150 and 500 People

The cultural chaos of the late 1960s and 1970s produced many strange trends, which I couldn't understand at the time. But the fruit of these trends is becoming apparent, and I can't help but ask if these results were planned. One strange trend, that of adopted children seeking their birth parents, has borne ugly fruit: parents facing unwanted pregnancies will often reject adoption, fearing scandal in the future, and instead are choosing abortion. In the United Kingdom, which unsealed all confidential adoption records, the adoption rate plummeted and the abortion rate soared. Another strange trend was that of patients demanding the right of more control of their health care.

The folks who were seeking their birth parents and those who demanded more control in their health-care decisions were the typical Marxist-style activists that were common in that era. Even as a kid, the style of these activists was easy to spot: angry demonstrators, Feminists wearing T-shirts with leftist slogans and other counterculture clothing, yelling shrill accusations, making harsh demands, being very unpleasant with their opponents, with no spirit whatsoever of compromise. And they took their cases to court, and many eventually won. The adoptees seeking their birth parents appealed to society's liberality, and stated that they needed to know what type of genetic diseases their parents may have. Also, they appealed to feelings, saying that they needed to bond with the women who gave them birth. The first argument has much merit, while the second has less, but it still has great emotional appeal. But it seems apparent that the real motivation for this was to eliminate adoption and instead promote abortion. Few on the left seem to have any interest at all in adoption, as far as I can tell. Adoptive parents in the U.S. are typically Christian and traditional. But why abortion? Clearly, the argument for abortion, that it would eliminate poverty, was swallowed whole by society, but poverty is greater now than 35 years ago. I suspect that the actual desire for abortion is to reduce population. This is consistent with much of the Environmentalist rhetoric that started during that era.

See this article by Catherine Seipp: Dangerous Witchdoctoring, describing a health-care activist mother who has HIV, breastfeeds her children, and had a daughter who died of an AIDS-related disease. This woman is associated with "Medical Justice" activists who oppose vaccination and deny the link between HIV and AIDS.

When the left-activist health care movement started, they originally said that patients need to take more control of their own health care, and not just rely on physicians' judgment. This seemed reasonable: Sometime during the 20th century the Hippocratic Oath was changed from "doing what was good for the patient" to "doing what was good for society", and we ended up with horrible medical experiments, in the name of society, causing great suffering to patients. The German concentration camp and Tuskeegee experiments were the most notorious examples of this new type of medicine "for the good of society". The activists also wanted access to alternative medicine, such as herbal remedies and acupuncture; this was less reasonable, but tolerable; aspirin, after all, was developed from the ancient willow-bark herbal cure. But this health-activist movement seems mainly unassociated with the traditional labor-union desire for universal state-sponsored health care, and instead seems to be linked to Environmentalism.

Our most progressive state, California, has lax vaccination laws due to these activists. Clearly, vaccination has some ethical problems: for example, do you use a vaccine that will directly and certainly kill a number of patients, if it will protect many others from death due to disease? And some vaccines may have long-term serious side-effects. But certainly, many horrible diseases have been eliminated or greatly reduced due to mandatory vaccination, and development has make vaccines that are safe. Older people who remember the horrors of polio and other childhood diseases are strongly pro-vaccine, while many youths think that these diseases are permanently in the past.

But why would environmentalist activists want to limit vaccination, or deny the link between HIV and AIDS? Ultimately, they warn that our planet has too many people, and that we could destroy life on Earth if we do not sharply reduce our population. Global population is about 6 billion, and some propose that we need to reduce that number to somewhere between 500 million and 2 billion, and that this population reduction needs to take place sometime between a pessimistic 35 years or an optimistic 200 years. These numbers are generated by computer models, the most famous of which was the 1972 Club of Rome report "Limits to Growth" But what are their proposals for limiting population?

Actually, they are telling us how they plan to do it. More abortions, universal birth control, no vaccines, useless medicines, and no treatment for HIV. That is a definite, if coldly rational, way of causing huge numbers of deaths in the near future. HIV is still on the upswing, and sexual libertinism will increase it greatly; while legal abortion has already killed off a third of the current generation. Birth control is limiting the population of the industrial world. Diseases like cancer will be treated with worthless cures. And another influenza pandemic like that in 1918, untreated, will wipe out hundreds of millions or more.

The same people who generate the computer models guessing the maximum desirable population of the planet also say that the minimum number of humans to ensure survival is somewhere between 150 and 500 people, a number large enough for survival yet small enough to prevent environmental damage for millennia to come. Some take this proposal seriously.


Will excess population cause environmental collapse? Certainly, although the population limit is probably quite large. Are we approaching global environmental collapse? Probably not, but we ought to be careful. Do the ends justify the means? Never.

I dislike the dishonesty of many activists on the left, pushing agendas while keeping motives hidden. Obviously, the same goes for many on the political right also: you may recall proposals for "population wars" in the third world. Obviously, if these folks just came out and said that they want to kill off as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time—using only natural means, of course—then they wouldn't get much of a hearing.

Traditional Christian thinking emphasizes chastity for all, celibacy for some, the spirit of poverty with universal charity, and a respect for nature as a part of Creation. It is the Way, and says yes to life.