Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Whether Art is Clearly Defined?

(Done in the style of articles in the Summa Theologica of Saint Thomas Aquinas. Objections mainly come from the Multi-Headed Beast, also known as Wikipedia.)

Article 1. Whether Art is Clearly Defined?

Objection 1. It would seem that it is self-evident that nothing concerning art is self-evident anymore.

Objection 2. Further, art is whatever artists, museums, and art schools say it is.

Objection 3. Further, it is a mistake to define either art or beauty, since they have no essence.

Objection 4. Further, something is art only if an audience perceives it to be art.

Objection 5. Further, a work is art only where it functions in an æsthetic context.

Objection 6. Further, art is the property of the wealthy classes, and is a class prejudice against labor and utility.

Objection 7. Further, the purpose of art is to shock and enrage the bourgeois, or to show the plight of modern man in urban society.

Objection 8. Further, art is the self-expression of the feelings and creativity of the artist.

Objection 9. Further, art is made purely for art's sake.

On the contrary, The Angelic Doctor says that art is right reason with regard to external productions (recta ratio factibilium); the things made with this right method are called objects of art.

I answer that, everything made with reason is art, and the artistic virtue of an artist is reflected in the goodness of his objects of art. The virtue of art is the good habit of an artist, which is developed with education and extensive practice, and is affected by the natural inclinations of the artist and divine inspiration. Restricting the definition of art to the merely æsthetic is mistaken because beauty is dependent on goodness; according to the Anglo-Catholic, beauty is a Second Thing, which must not be placed before the First Thing of goodness, or else the artist risks losing beauty as well as goodness.

Reply to Objection 1. This confusion only occurs because art is placed above the higher things of goodness and truth.

Reply to Objection 2. As a physician is the best judge of the art of medicine, then experts in painting, sculpture, literature, etc., are the best judges of those individual arts, but not art in general.

Reply to Objection 3. Objects of art are things made by the virtue of art. Beauty is that which when seen, pleases.

Reply to Objection 4. An object of art is a concrete thing, and does not depend on how it is perceived.

Reply to Objection 5. If the final cause of object of art is æsthetic, then it is called 'fine art'. However, all objects of art are æsthetic, whether intended or not by the artist. The virtue of art must always consider æsthetics.

Reply to Objection 6. This is only true when particular objects of art are expensive. Oftentimes this is due to greed, vanity, and worldliness in general.

Reply to Objection 7. This is too narrow a definition. Art was far better before there was a bourgeois to shock. Art is made even in rural societies.

Reply to Objection 8. Art is primarily a product of the intellect, and not feelings. Properly speaking, God creates, while an artist can only sub-create, either reflecting or perverting creation.

Reply to Objection 9. Art for art's sake is idolatry. Thou shalt not have strange gods before me. (Exodus 20:3)

(The various objections above are modern theories about art; and the answer is basically that of Aristotle and Saint Thomas Aquinas. In the olden days, art was not self-important, nor was it something that was restricted to art galleries and the homes of wealthy collectors. Modern societies that reject this classical theory of art are very bland, with ugly buildings, clothing, and music, even if these societies are quite wealthy and could afford better. On the contrary, traditional societies will agree with the classical definition of art, and tend to have bright and vibrant cultures.)

Monday, January 29, 2007


If it weren't a Sunday, January 28th would have been the Feast of Saint Thomas Aquinas. The Pope made this comment on Saint Thomas a few days ago:
"St. Thomas Aquinas managed to establish a fruitful confrontation with the Arab and Jewish thought of his time, such that he is still considered as a valid master of dialogue with other cultures and religions. He created that magnificent Christian synthesis between reason and faith, which is a precious heritage for Western civilization and from which, even today, we can draw in order to maintain an effective dialogue with the great cultural and religious traditions of the East and South of the world."
Saint Thomas lived during the 13th century, the High Middle Ages, which was arguably the pinnacle of Christian civilization and was also the era of the Crusades. However, there was a fruitful theological and philosophical dialog among Christians, Jews, and Muslims during this time.

True ecumenical dialog requires total honesty and religious commitment on all sides of the debate. The Great Medieval Synthesis was brought about by hard-nosed, uncompromising, and even possibly hostile Jews, Christians and Muslims who nevertheless were honest in their pursuit of the truth. This kind of honesty let to a common ground among the religions: they clearly defined what they held in common and what their differences were. Modern science is one fruit of this environment of the Medieval universities: free debate about objective truth in spiritual matters was practiced along with free debate about objective truth in the natural world.

Modern 'dialog' is tolerant and compromising, being interested in good relationships rather than the truth. During the days of extremely compromising ecumenism in the spirit of Vatican II, it often seemed that dialog was merely a disguise for Marxism: a Catholic and a Protestant in "dialog" would both agree to discard their religions in favor of pursuing a socialistic state. Likewise, the modern world has limitations on free debate, calling it "hate speech". In the old days you could freely dissent from clear objective theories; nowadays, you are prohibited from debating against fuzzy subjective theories.

As is often said, "Only Nixon can go to China", and so true ecumenical dialog can only be done by those totally committed to the Faith. It is ironic that Thomism is nowadays considered reactionary, considering that it in fact did more for ecumenism than anything in the Modern era.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Photos of Saint John the Baptist Church, in Saint Louis, Missouri

Here are photos of Saint John the Baptist Church, in Saint Louis, Missouri, located about six road miles southwest of downtown Saint Louis, Missouri.

This Italianate church was dedicated in 1925.

The parish has both an elementary and a high school.

Mosaic over the front door.

The nave.

According to the 2006 parish census, this church has approximately 2,457 parishoners.

The door into the narthex was open, but the door to the nave remained locked. These are photos taken through the plate-glass door.

Note: since this photo was taken, the nave has been restored to its original design. I hope to provide photos later!

Main altar.

The church is just down the block from the Bevo Mill, a restaurant which opened in 1917.

Since this posting, the church has undergone renovations:  click for newer photos.

4200 Delor Street
Saint Louis, Missouri 63116

Separation of Church and State

In a letter dated January 1st, 1802, to the Danbury Baptist Association, U.S. President Thomas Jefferson wrote:
... Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man & his god, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;" thus building a wall of eternal separation between Church & State....
President Jefferson quotes the United States Constitution, which states that the legislature cannot establish religion nor can it prohibit the free exercise thereof.

The "wall of eternal separation between Church & State" is not however, official doctrine, but just the late President's personal opinion. But since this phrase is so often used, let's take a look at what it actually means in practice.

In general, Church and State are not at all separated.

The State does not impose religious doctrine. That is clearly of supreme importance, and is what most people think what "separation" means. However, man is more than spirit, and religion goes far beyond mere doctrine, unless you are a kind of gnostic.

The State does not create or recognize any official religion. This is also good, considering the state of American religious schizophrenia. However, the State may be doing this sort of thing anyway, as we will consider later.

The State will not oppose the free development of religious doctrine. This at first seems well and good, but in effect it has led to the denial of proper church authority and self-regulation, especially regarding break-away congregations. It has become judicial policy to allow, or even encourage this kind of division.

Church property and income is not taxed. Taxation would indeed be an interference by the State: the power to tax is the power to destroy. However, this lack of taxation is often seen by the State to be merely a goodwill gesture, and not a freedom that the Church is owed. Also, expanded use of eminent domain is being used to take over tax-free property, including churches. Loss of tax-exempt status is threatened if the Church attempts to practice its right to political speech.

The Church must register as a corporation or not-for-profit organization and be granted charters from the State in order to legally operate. The Church existed before the State and will last far after the State is forgotten. This is not Separation between Church and State, for in fact it makes the Church a State corporation.

Church-owned institutions such as hospitals and adoption agencies are regulated in ways that are repugnant to the Church. Conscience exemptions are being eliminated, and the scope of the freedom of religion is being unilaterally changed by the State.

In some places, the Church cannot choose its own clergy. This is seen in recently where an atheist was allowed to keep his pastorate after he sued under the State's employment laws. A State interferes in the ordaining of priests in one U.S. Diocese, under a court order.

The State does not recognize Church Canon Law regarding organization and ownership of parishes. This has led to difficult problems, especially regarding church closings. Canon Law existed long before U.S. Law, and it even is a general principle of much American law that custom and tradition should be recognized and accepted by the State as binding.

The State holds clergy liable under criminal and civil law, even though the Church has a well-developed internal judiciary and legal system. Again, here is a case where Church and State are not separated, since the Church is not allowed to regulate its own members.

The State regulates church properties regarding building and environmental codes. If the Church is not free to regulate its own properties, then Church and State are not separated. I recall one incident where the State, wanting to remove a religious order from a particularly valuable tax-exempt building, demanded that they install an elevator in their monastery, which they could not afford. Environmental laws in the U.S. are particularly pernicious, since they theoretically do not need any guilt of a party for an imposition of liability.

Agnostic materialistic monism is officially taught in the public schools. Although arguably this is a philosophy and not religion, it overlaps considerably with religion in the normal understanding. If the State must not impose religion, it certainly should not impose a metaphysics which interferes with the practice of religion.

If the Church and State were truly separated, then the Church and State would cooperate as equals. The Church indeed may allow the State to regulate things such as building codes, but this would be a free, negotiated agreement between the local Bishop and the civil authorities.

The "wall of eternal separation between Church & State" is built by the State according to its own design, located where the State decides, and is purely for the benefit of the State. The Church has absolutely no influence whatsoever in the matter. If two neighbors build a wall separating their properties, then we say "good fences make good neighbors"; but an unbreachable wall unilaterally built around someone else is called a prison.

However, religious demoniationalism complicates matters thoroughly, since denominations come and go like the breeze. It should be noted that this kind of propagation and splintering of the denominations is almost a governmental policy, as a kind of divide-and-conquer strategy.

"France no longer a Catholic country"

SEE THE ARTICLE: France 'no longer a Catholic country':
Barely half the French population describe themselves as Catholic, according to a poll released yesterday, sparking a leading religious publication to declare France "no longer a Catholic country".

A poll published in Le Monde des Religions yesterday showed the number of self-declared French Catholics had dropped from 80 per cent in the early 1990s and 67 per cent in 2000 and to 51 per cent today.

The number of atheists has risen sharply to 31 per cent from 23 per cent in 1994.
The 'Eldest Daughter of the Church' has had problems with her Faith for centuries, though, with numerous problems within and without the Church.

The heresy of Gallicanism — the control of the Church in France by the government — appeared in that country as a logical outgrowth of Absolutism, where the French monarch centralized control of the State over his nobility. Bishops were drawn primarily from the aristocracy, appointed mainly for political and not religious reasons, and acted poorly because of this. Likewise the State would appoint titular abbots for the many large religious orders: these would get to keep the income generated by the monastery, while the actual monks would have to live off of what little money was left. Another common heresy in France — closely related to the others — was Jansenism, which is excessively rigorist and often downplays God's mercy and forgiveness; shades of Jansenism were still common into the 20th century and even exists in some areas today.

France generally did not handle the Reformation well, had massive heresy, and did not attempt true reform until it was too late. That the Protestant Huguenot problem was solved with the vinegar of massacre rather than with the honey of preaching the Gospel, did not do any good for the faith, and many became Catholic in name only. This should be contrasted with Spain, which reformed itself early and never had a Reformation, nor any need for a Counter-Reformation. The French monarchy's support of the Protestants during the Wars of the Reformation (for reasons of the State) harmed Christendom immensely.

Enlightenment thinking greatly affected France, which culminated in the complete takeover and elimination of the Church during the French Revolution. This included the murder of thousands of priests and religious, and the military elimination of the resisting Faithful, along with the creation of a new 'church of reason'. The restoration of the Church during the 19th century had mixed success, with both great holiness and also with a return to Jansenistic thinking in some quarters. The Liberal State again persecuted the Church, especially after 1905, and even today the State interferes much in the inner workings of the Church. The State-run schools are controlled by the socialists, as are many Church schools, so it is no surprise that children are never learning the Faith.

The hierarchy of the Church in France, for the most part, readily embraced the novelties promoted in the spirit of Vatican II, causing a devastation in the practice of the Faith. This "new way of doing church", with a horizontal emphasis on worldly works and a denial of sin, fits in quite well with France's socialistic governance. So as it happens, France's churches are nearly empty and have congregations of mainly old women (although this trend may have bottomed out). France's Bishops mainly oppose the revival of the traditional Latin Mass, which ironically attracts many of the young faithful, and have hinted at schism if a wider allowance of the traditional liturgy is granted by Rome.

Clearly, the Church in France needs greater freedom from the interference of the State, and it needs to promote the unity of the Church and to go back to the Gospel imperatives of serving God and loving neighbors.

Saint King Louis IX, pray for France!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Sing to Your Computer

THE NEW MIDOMI website searches for songs: all you have to do is sing or hum into your computer's microphone to come up with a list of guesses of the song title.

It failed miserably on all the Latin hymns I hummed, giving me long lists of wildly wrong songs: for example, I hummed Pange lingua gloriosi and it gave me Sting's Roxanne! But it did extremely well on some newer vernacular hymns: giving me the precise song on the first guess.

It probably has a small database of tunes so far, so I would expect it to get better with time.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum

CONSPIRACY THEORISTS LIKE TO tell tales of dangerous cabals who secretly take over society.

However, in our day, the worldly powers-that-be conspire openly. And it is televised.

The Annual meeting of the World Economic Forum is going on now in Davos, Switzerland. Politicians, businessmen, and celebrities from the very highest levels of society attend this elite conference, to discuss — and shape — the future of the world.

Now, prudence and justice demand that leaders responsibly cooperate with each other, so meetings such as these are in principle good and desirable. However, these global leaders perhaps don't think like we do, and they apparently don't share our view of the greatest good of man.

We tend to politically separate these powers into "conservatives" and "socialists": the former being pro-business and the latter being pro-government; however, at the rarefied heights of society, as represented by the Davos conference, there is little difference between the two. Power, after all, is power, no matter how you get it. Close cooperation between business and government — which as a matter of justice is morally required and good — can be perverted into extortionate money-making schemes backed up the power and force of the State. Likewise, governments can milk business to pay for immoral activities. Most likely, all involved must think of this as just a coordinated get-rich-quick, power-grabbing scheme.

The great majority of leaders at Davos may be called most correctly "Liberals", in the classical sense, despite what political labels they may claim. Enlightenment Liberalism in general tends to likes both big impersonal business and big impersonal government, as well as moral subjectivism. This Liberalism is also quite influenced by the religion of the Reformation, especially Calvinism: this is the view of an elite, who are free and saved, who must rule over the masses who are necessarily servile and damned. This is not good.

Compare this with the traditional Catholic model of society, where things are small, local, political relationships are personal, and everything is guided by tradition and the moral law. Clearly, you can't get really rich in this type of society; even kings had to beg from their nobility. Even though the tradition had its elites, they had real responsibilities to maintain their position as well as restrictions to their power.

A major issue being discussed at Davos is global warming, and this particular conference is notable in that global warming doubters do not have a voice. Global warming is assumed to be a fact and big business and government will coordinate with each other to deal with this supposed problem. It will be very, very expensive, and many people will get rich and more powerful over the supposed solution to global warming. Now if global warming actually does exist, then clearly it is these same players who are responsible for it. Sadly, a common ploy is to create some problem with technology, which forces even greater spending and new technologies to combat the problems created earlier; its good for the economy. Or rather more accurately, these groups try to create the perception of problems, whether real or not. Even war is considered by these folks to be good for the same reason: blow things up, and then you have to spend (and make) money fixing them.

Another issue at Davos is globalization. The participants see this as absolutely necessary and non-negotiable, and even if it causes problems, since this creates an opportunity to fix these problems. Now of course goods and people, within reason, ought to be able to freely move across borders; but globalization encourages, or rather even demands that goods (and people) must flow between countries, whether we like it or not. There is a huge difference between allowing and demanding.

Multiculturalism is another non-negotiable idea at Davos. Now their definition of 'multicultural' is not a polyglot mix of peoples with radically different customs and cultures, but rather a mix of people of various races and countries who agree with Davos that power must be centralized at as high of a level as possible.

Davos is notorious for being highly elitist, but Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are also prominent. Among the NGOs are some Catholic groups, but these are mainly of the heterodox, socialistic variety that are Catholic in name only. In general, the NGOs support the novel policies being discussed at Davos: albeit in an extremist, noisy, rabble-rousing fashion. The NGOs give the appearance of the "voice of the people" at Davos, but it should be noted that many of these groups get grants and government support from the very people they are purportedly opposing. You don't have pro-life traditional "throne and altar" conservative Catholic NGOs at Davos! The global leaders at Davos can have it both ways: they can appear to support the "people" as represented by the NGOs, but they can also appear to be forces of moderation and reason, by rejecting the NGO's extremism.

"Moscow's Assault on the Vatican" - How the Soviet Union Manufactured "Hitler's Pope"

SEE THE ARTICLE Moscow’s Assault on the Vatican
In February 1960, Nikita Khrushchev approved a super-secret plan for destroying the Vatican’s moral authority in Western Europe. The idea was the brainchild of KGB chairman Aleksandr Shelepin and Aleksey Kirichenko, the Soviet Politburo member responsible for international policies. Up until that time, the KGB had fought its “mortal enemy” in Eastern Europe, where the Holy See had been crudely attacked as a cesspool of espionage in the pay of American imperialism, and its representatives had been summarily jailed as spies. Now Moscow wanted the Vatican discredited by its own priests, on its home territory, as a bastion of Nazism.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Gateway Arch at Sunset

Photo taken from the Eads Bridge.

Chavez to be Made Dictator

See the article: Throngs in Venezuela protest Chavez plan
CARACAS, Venezuela - Blowing whistles and waving flags, hundreds of Venezuelans protested Tuesday against a congressional measure that would grant President Hugo Chavez the power to pass laws by decree in areas from the economy to defense.
This is not the first time that a dictator has been the darling of the western news media.

State Lottery Up for Sale

See the article: Illinois Is Putting Lottery on Block for Quick Payoff
The state of Illinois yesterday took the first steps in selling its state lottery system, hoping to attract as much as $10 billion from investors who, in return, would own a monopoly that could turn out to be the biggest jackpot yet...

Under the proposed sale, Illinois would receive a multibillion-dollar one-time payment, and the lottery’s new owners would receive all revenue and profit for 75 years.
I can hardly imagine that the State of Illinois will parse out this money over that 75 years. It will most certainly be spent and used to line politicians' pockets very quickly. And then they will be left with an aggressively-marketed private lottery, increasing poverty and spreading misery.
Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich of Illinois, a Democrat, first floated the idea of privatizing the state’s lottery while seeking re-election last May. At the time, Mr. Blagojevich estimated that the sale’s proceeds would finance a four-year building and education plan for schools. Under the proposal, $6 billion would be set aside to provide the schools with $650 million a year for the next 18 years, slightly more than what they received last year in lottery income.
Of course the money will be spent quickly. What will Illinois then do to replace this tax revenue?

If the Governor were really compassionate about school children, he would close down the lottery.

Feast of Saint Francis de Sales

Saint Francis de Sales (1567-1622) was Bishop of Geneva and is a Doctor of the Church.

From the breviary:
He was born near Annecy, in Savoy, studied the law, and was ordained to the priesthood despite the opposition of his father. His first mission was to re-evangelize the people of his home district (the Chablais), who had gone over to Calvinism. Always in danger of his life from hostile Calvinists, he preached with such effectiveness that after four years most of the people had returned to the Church. He was then appointed bishop of Geneva, and spent the rest of his life reforming and reorganising the diocese, and in caring for the souls of his people by preaching and spiritual guidance.

St. Francis taught that we can all attain a devout and spiritual life, whatever our position in society: holiness is not reserved for monks and hermits alone. His wrote that “religious devotion does not destroy: it perfects”, and his spiritual counsel is dedicated to making people more holy by making them more themselves. In his preaching against Calvinism he was driven by love rather than a desire to win: so much so, that it was a Calvinist minister who said “if we honoured anyone as a saint, I know of no-one since the days of the Apostles more worthy of it than this man”.

St. Francis is the patron saint of writers and journalists, who would do well to imitate his love and his moderation: as he said, “whoever wants to preach effectively must preach with love”.
He was beatified in 1661, canonized in 1665, and proclaimed Doctor of the Universal Church in 1877.

His feast is celebrated on the 29th in the Tridentine calendar, and on the 24th in the modern calendar.

Books by Saint Francis de Sales:
Introduction to the Devout Life
The Catholic Controversy
Treatise on the Love of God
Spiritual Conferences
The Mystical Exposition of the Canticle of Canticles
The Spiritual Directory
Sermons on Prayer

On Sunday, January 28th, at 10:00 a.m. the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest in Saint Louis, Missouri, will celebrate the External Solemnity of Saint Francis de Sales, followed by a conference and dinner. The very Rev. Msgr. R. Michael Schmitz, Vicar General and Provincial Superior of the Institute will be the homilist and lecturer. Dinner tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for adolescents 12—17, and children are free.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

34 Years

On January 22nd, 1973, the United States Supreme Court handed down two decisions, Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, that invented a Constitutional right to abortion, and removed nearly all restrictions on abortion, sweeping aside all federal, state, and local laws regulating it.

This was never a popular decision, and is notable for violating tradition and custom, natural law, most religious teaching, and the democratic process. And it has led to the deaths of thousands of pre-born infants per day in the United States, as well as more intangible, spiritual difficulties.

The Pro-life cause cannot simply hope to merely reverse this Supreme Court decision. Ultimately it is a spiritual problem. We need to overcome the fears of abortion advocates and the greed of all those who profit from having women work at paid jobs instead of raising their own children. Also, we need to counter the crude hedonism of our culture.

The abortion issue is framed by its proponents merely as a question of individual rights and liberties, and has become the model for all sorts of newly claimed rights. (Be prepared! A right to bestiality and lowering the age of consent are next on the agenda.) The idea of promoting rights, although it has its roots in the medieval Church Canon Law, is overwhelmingly a child of the Enlightenment. But promoting unlimited rights is absurd: suppose everyone is given the right to kill whomever offends them; then, the victim's friends have the same right, and so we end up with barbaric blood feuds. This is hardly progress. So in practice, we have to choose which rights to promote, and thereby eliminate much blather about unlimited freedom. Even those rights which are seemingly private can have great effects on society. This "rights talk" seems to be designed merely to please certain groups and cannot have universal applicability.

As is well known, the philosophical foundation for allowing abortion is shaky and easily refuted, but abortion proponents aren't interested in the truth, but rather in power instead. It is strange how a philosophy of skepticism leads to a quest for power!

This quest for power can affect all levels of society. Business and government both get more revenue by having women work full time, instead of raising children. Individual women can buy more things for themselves if they don't have kids. And any shortfall in population can be made up with vastly increased immigration, as we now see. Unfortunately, fear of a bad economy or poverty are two strong defenses for the status quo of promoting abortion.

Abortion is primarily popular with feminists. This movement comes from Marxism, and is seen as a struggle of an oppressed class, with the goal of creating a godless Utopia. But aspects of this movement are also popular among highly-educated women, who forsake potentially loveless marriages for a possibly lucrative career. Once a revolutionary cause, feminism is now the norm in our society, according to our laws and our popular media.

While some feminists are red-diaper babies born into socialist families, many are made later in life. Too many women, having been impregnated, abandoned, and impoverished, can be very bitter over misplaced trust in a man. Likewise are many victims of rape and incest. Their desire for abortion, while not justifiable, is in some respects understandable. Overcoming these attitudes is one of the greatest challenges ultimately facing the pro-life cause.

Some of the most virulent pro-aborts come from church-going, outwardly-devout Christian families. Often we hear rumors of pregnant girls from Christian families who are taken off to the abortionist to avoid scandal. Of course, hypocrisy is common among those of us who adhere to the Faith, myself included, due to human weakness. Then there are girls who end up being completely stigmatized by their families and churches, with no chance whatsoever for forgiveness. Overreaction by clergy and religious can also force a girl out of the Church and into its active opposition. (We tend to think of scandal as something shameful that becomes public, however, it comes from the Greek word skandalon, which is a hunter's snare or trap. This is the sense in which the word scandal is used in the Bible. Someone gives scandal if they lead others to sin, and so is a grave sin in itself. A pregnant unmarried daughter may or may not cause scandal, depending on how this is handled: it isn't a scandal just because you don't like it. We should remember that taking scandal is also a sin. The parent who covers up the scandal of an unwed daughter's pregnancy takes scandal when they force her to get an abortion; while the person who loses faith due to this kind of hypocrisy also sins by taking scandal. When dealing with such scandals, we are often between the Scylla of hatred of sinners and the Charybdis of ignoring sin, and so the orthodox solution is the difficult and narrow way between them.)

At one time, it was relatively easy to give up a child for adoption, with complete confidentiality. However, it should be noted that abortion advocates do not like adoption, instead wishing children to be dead, and so have pushed for laws that unseal adoption records, voiding any promises of privacy. In places where this is the law, adoption rates plummet, and unwanted children are instead killed.

The earliest organized proponents of abortion were prostitutes, and a strain of modern feminism descends from 19th century prostitute groups in large cities such as New York. While the crude practice of this profession has declined with the advent of the sexual revolution, there are now major industries that usually only hire promiscuous women for their sales forces. This Cosmo lifestyle is a a sophisticated form of prostitution, and they can't make money if the girls are carrying a child to term.

While we have seen that the motivation for abortion can be greed or shame, eugenics is now becoming a popular cause. Neonatal testing can detect Down's Syndrome and an increasing number of genetic defects, and so many abortions are now performed for eugenic purposes. Proponents of eugenic abortion usually state that they merely want to reduce suffering. The reality is probably that children are often seen as luxury goods, and many parents want their children to be as perfect as a new Lexus. This is also understandable, if not justifiable.

The first supporters of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution promoted eugenics as a means of weeding out the weaker races, and abortion became a major tool in this struggle for the "survival of the fittest". The founder of Planned Parenthood explicitly promoted abortion as a means to eliminate the inferior races of the blacks, Jews, and Catholics. This theory only became unfashionable with the defeat of Nazism in 1945, which vigorously promoted eugenics. However, that didn't mean that eugenic race theory went away, it just became more hidden, while still being practiced in various guises.

The Environmentalist movment also promotes abortion, as a means to depopulate the earth for the sake of other life forms. We should note that the earliest part of the movement, in the 1960s, was still enamored of eugenic race theory, and wanted to eliminate population in Africa and Catholic countries. Nowadays environmentalism has been taken over by socialists who have a political agenda, by businesses that can profit from it, and by pantheists: but all still strongly support abortion. Ironically, poor, but happy, large families cause far less environmental damage than wealthy and bored couples without children.

There are many parents who made mistakes in the past, and so do not correct the same mistakes made by their children, so as to avoid hypocrisy. However, they forget about repentance and their special duties as parents. Also, there are large number of abortion proponents who deeply regret their own abortions in the past, and who think that their own sin is unforgivable: so they give up the faith and harden their hearts. But forgiveness is easy to receive: you just have to seek it out.

Eliminating abortion in our culture is not ultimately a matter of politics and the law, but involves instead changing the hearts of our fellow countrymen. The battle is ultimately spiritual.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Photos of Saint Mary's Church, in Alton, Illinois

Here are photos of Saint Mary's (Immaculate Conception) Catholic Church, in Alton, Illinois, of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois. The church is about 22 road miles north of downtown Saint Louis, Missouri.

The church's cornerstone is dated 1893.

The brown exterior stone is a type I've never seen in nature or in buildings within a hundred miles of here. It is coarse, almost sandstone-looking, but very tough, in contrast to the light-colored and crumbly sandstone found hereabouts. Most dimension stone used in construction in the Saint Louis area tends to be either limestone or red granite, both of which are quarried locally. Since Alton is a major port on the Mississippi River, stone can obviously be cheaply shipped here.

According to its website, the parish is staffed by three priests and two brothers of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary. The Venerable Bruno Lanteri founded the congregation in Italy; it gained Papal approval in 1827. The Congregation has only been in the United States since 1976, but now has numerous Houses and a seminary.

Steps rise inside of the entry narthex. I've only seen one other church in the area which has this feature. Actually, there is another large, level narthex just inside of these doors; which appears to be a later modification, made by partitioning the nave.

The tall nave.

According to the diocesan website, this parish has 3848 parishioners in 1625 families. There are two other parishes in the city, as well as a number of major Catholic institutions. Alton was the cathedral city of southern Illinois from 1857 to 1923, a period of tremendous growth.

The reredos behind the altar.

The tabernacle.

The crucifix.

Gates can close off the sanctuary. A correspondent tells us "That altar screen was only added in 1995, prior to that the Sancturary was not at large as it is now, the altar rail was intact and used every Mass."

Altars of Mary and Joseph flank the main altar.

The ambry in Saint Joseph's altar contains the Holy Oils

One of the consecration crosses of the church.

XIVth Station of the Cross

Window behind the choir loft.

Above the door of the school reads "Immaculate Conception Convent". It is staffed by the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George, and laymen.

The view behind the school, at dusk, with the Clark Bridge in the background.

Geographically, Alton is probably the hilliest city in the region; its steep brick streets rising up from the banks of the Mississippi River are treacherous in wintertime. The view from the top of the river bluffs is stunning, and so it is the location of many gracious mansions.

Just downstream from here is the Melvin Price Lock and Dam: it creates a large slackwater pool behind it, called locally "Alton Lake", and is excellent for pleasure boating; a large new marina is located at the foot of the bridge.

The construction of the massive Clark Bridge to Saint Charles County, Missouri, was featured in the NOVA science television program "Super Bridge".

Alton was once wealthy and prosperous from trade and manufacturing, first serving the steamboats and later the railroads; its economy collapsed in the 1970s with the loss of manufacturing jobs overseas. Due to its large collection of beautiful 19th century architecture, Alton is now a tourist destination and bedroom community of Saint Louis.

Mass times:
Daily: 6:30, 8:00 a.m.
8:15 a.m. (Tuesday, Friday, during school year)
Saturday evening: 5:15 p.m.
Sunday: 6:30 a.m., 8:00 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 11:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.
Eve of Holy Days: 5:15 p.m.
Holy Days: 6:30, 8:00 a.m., 12:00 noon, 5:15 p.m.
First Friday: 5:15 p.m.

First Fridays: 4:00-5:00 p.m.
Saturdays: 4:00-5:00 p.m. & 7:00-8:00 p.m.

519 East 4th Street
Alton, Illinois 62002

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Feast of Saint Antony of the Desert, Abbot

Today is the Feast of Saint Antony, the founder of monasticism. His biography, Vita S. Antoni, was written by Saint Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, Egypt. This remarkable book gives us the principles of spiritual warfare, and tells us that prudence and hospitality are greater than ascetical practices.

Quoting from that book, we find Saint Antony disputing with Greek philosophers:
And Antony also was exceeding prudent, and the wonder was that although he had not learned letters, he was a ready-witted and sagacious man. At all events two Greek philosophers once came, thinking they could try their skill on Antony; and he was in the outer mountain, and having recognised who they were from their appearance, he came to them and said to them by means of an interpreter, 'Why, philosophers, did ye trouble yourselves so much to come to a foolish man?' And when they said that he was not a foolish man, but exceedingly prudent, he said to them, 'If you came to a foolish man, your labour is superfluous; but if you think me prudent become as I am, for we ought to imitate what is good. And if I had come to you I should have imitated you; but if you to me, become as I am, for I am a Christian.' But they departed with wonder, for they saw that even demons feared Antony.

And again others such as these met him in the outer mountain and thought to mock him because he had not learned letters. And Antony said to them, 'What say ye? which is first, mind or letters? And which is the cause of which—mind of letters or letters of mind?' And when they answered mind is first and the inventor of letters, Antony said, 'Whoever, therefore, has a sound mind has not need of letters.' This answer amazed both the bystanders and the philosophers, and they departed marvelling that they had seen so much understanding in an ignorant man. For his manners were not rough as though he had been reared in the mountain and there grown old, but graceful and polite, and his speech was seasoned with the divine salt, so that no one was envious, but rather all rejoiced over him who visited him.

After this again certain others came; and these were men who were deemed wise among the Greeks, and they asked him a reason for our faith in Christ. But when they attempted to dispute concerning the preaching of the divine Cross and meant to mock, Antony stopped for a little, and first pitying their ignorance, said, through an interpreter, who could skilfully interpret his words, 'Which is more beautiful, to confess the Cross or to attribute to those whom you call gods adultery and the seduction of boys? For that which is chosen by us is a sign of courage and a sure token of the contempt of death, while yours are the passions of licentiousness. Next, which is better, to say that the Word of God was not changed, but, being the same, He took a human body for the salvation and well-being of man, that having shared in human birth He might make man partake in the divine and spiritual nature; or to liken the divine to senseless animals and consequently to worship four-footed beasts, creeping things and the likenesses of men? For these things, are the objects of reverence of you wise men. But how do you dare to mock us, who say that Christ has appeared as man, seeing that you, bringing the soul from heaven, assert that it has strayed and fallen from the vault of the sky into body? And would that you had said that it had fallen into human body alone, and not asserted that it passes and changes into four-footed beasts and creeping things. For our faith declares that the coming of Christ was for the salvation of men. But you err because you speak of soul as not generated. And we, considering the power and loving-kindness of Providence, think that the coming of Christ in the flesh was not impossible with God. But you, although calling the soul the likeness of Mind, connect it with falls and feign in your myths that it is changeable, and consequently introduce the idea that Mind itself is changeable by reason of the soul. For whatever is the nature of a likeness, such necessarily is the nature of that of which it is a likeness. But whenever you think such a thought concerning Mind, remember that you blaspheme even the Father of Mind Himself.

But concerning the Cross, which would you say to be the better, to bear it, when a plot is brought about by wicked men, nor to be in fear of death brought about under any form whatever; or to prate about the wanderings of Osiris and Isis, the plots of Typhon, the flight of Cronos, his eating his children and the slaughter of his father. For this is your wisdom. But how, if you mock the Cross, do you not marvel at the resurrection? For the same men who told us of the latter wrote the former. Or why when you make mention of the Cross are you silent about the dead who were raised, the blind who received their sight, the paralytics who were healed, the lepers who were cleansed, the walking upon the sea, and the rest of the signs and wonders, which show that Christ is no longer a man but God? To me you seem to do yourselves much injustice and not to have carefully read our Scriptures. But read and see that the deeds of Christ prove Him to be God come upon earth for the salvation of men.

But do you tell us your religious beliefs. What can you say of senseless creatures except senselessness and ferocity? But if, as I hear, you wish to say that these things are spoken of by you as legends, and you allegorize the rape of the maiden Persephone of the earth; the lameness of Hephæstus of fire; and allegorize the air as Hera, the sun as Apollo, the moon as Artemis, and the sea as Poseidon; none the less, you do not worship God Himself, but serve the creature rather than God who created all things. For if because creation is beautiful you composed such legends, still it was fitting that you should stop short at admiration and not make gods of the things created; so that you should not give the honour of the Creator to that which is created. Since, if you do, it is time for you to divert the honour of the master builder to the house built by him; and of the general to the soldier. What then can you reply to these things, that we may know whether the Cross has anything worthy of mockery?'

But when they were at a loss, turning hither and thither, Antony smiled and said—again through an interpreter—'Sight itself carries the conviction of these things. But as you prefer to lean upon demonstrative arguments, and as you, having this art, wish us also not to worship God, until after such proof, do you tell first how things in general and specially the recognition of God are accurately known. Is it through demonstrative argument or the working of faith? And which is better, faith which comes through the inworking (of God) or demonstration by arguments?' And when they answered that faith which comes through the inworking was better and was accurate knowledge, Antony said, 'You have answered well, for faith arises from disposition of soul, but dialectic from the skill of its inventors. Wherefore to those who have the inworking through faith, demonstrative argument is needless, or even superfluous. For what we know through faith this you attempt to prove through words, and often you are not even able to express what we understand. So the inworking through faith is better and stronger than your professional arguments.'

'We Christians therefore hold the mystery not in the wisdom of Greek arguments, but in the power of faith richly supplied to us by God through Jesus Christ. And to show that this statement is true, behold now, without having learned letters, we believe in God, knowing through His works His providence over all things. And to show that our faith is effective, so now we are supported by faith in Christ, but you by professional logomachies. The portents of the idols among you are being done away, but our faith is extending everywhere. You by your arguments and quibbles have converted none from Christianity to Paganism. We, teaching the faith on Christ, expose your superstition, since all recognise that Christ is God and the Son of God. You by your eloquence do not hinder the teaching of Christ. But we by the mention of Christ crucified put all demons to flight, whom you fear as if they were gods. Where the sign of the Cross is, magic is weak and witchcraft has no strength.

'Tell us therefore where your oracles are now? Where are the charms of the Egyptians? Where the delusions of the magicians? When did all these things cease and grow weak except when the Cross of Christ arose? Is It then a fit subject for mockery, and not rather the things brought to nought by it, and convicted of weakness? For this is a marvellous thing, that your religion was never persecuted, but even was honoured by men in every city, while the followers of Christ are persecuted, and still our side flourishes and multiplies over yours. What is yours, though praised and honoured, perishes, while the faith and teaching of Christ, though mocked by you and often persecuted by kings, has filled the world. For when has the knowledge of God so shone forth? or when has self-control and the excellence of virginity appeared as now? or when has death been so despised except when the Cross of Christ has appeared? And this no one doubts when he sees the martyr despising death for the sake of Christ, when he sees for Christ's sake the virgins of the Church keeping themselves pure and undefiled.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Tolkien on Faërie

J.R.R. TOLKIEN'S FAMOUS ESSAY, On Fairy Stories, is online. It is also available in print in the book Tree and Leaf,which includes the story Leaf by Niggle.

His essay is not about “supernatural beings of diminutive size, in popular belief supposed to possess magical powers and to have great influence for good or evil over the affairs of man,” stories which Tolkien detested, nor is it about the modern vulgar usurpation of the word, but rather it is ultimately about myth and what Tolkien calls Sub-Creation. This essay explores the formal, efficient, and final causes of these kinds of stories, and how it ties in with the Christian imagination.

I highly recommend reading the essay. It is both a strong defense for a kind of literature, and also an attack against short-sighted modern folklorist scholarship. The essay is particularly recommended to fans of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, especially those who feel themselves strangely moved by the story, but know not why.

Tolkien points out that we cannot create: the world we live in already has a Creator, and so we can only sub-create: by Art we may either echo or pervert Creation.

As Tolkien wrote to his then-atheist friend C.S. Lewis:
Although now long estranged,
Man is not wholly lost nor wholly changed.
Dis-graced he may be, yet is not de-throned,
and keeps the rags of lordship once he owned:
Man, Sub-creator, the refracted Light
through whom is splintered from a single White
to many hues, and endlessly combined
in living shapes that move from mind to mind.
Though all the crannies of the world we filled
with Elves and Goblins, though we dared to build
Gods and their houses out of dark and light,
and sowed the seed of dragons—'twas our right
(used or misused). That right has not decayed:
we make still by the law in which we're made.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Walnut and Tweed Computers

Hilary questions the æsthetics of modern technology.

Why can't technology be housed in fine walnut cabinets, with gold-inlay and detailed carving? Shouldn't these gadgets be quality products, something that you would want to pass down the generations? Certainly, it is fairly easy to replace the electronic insides of these products, if you are concerned with obsolescence.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

"New shrine’s architect considers beauty essential"

See the article: New shrine’s architect considers beauty essential
Beauty is one of the most important things for us to rediscover. We have lived for a long time with people telling us, even architects telling us, what’s important is to have a building that’s functional, that’s liturgical, that expresses something, that seats enough people, that doesn’t cost too much — all these things. They hardly ever talk about beauty.

For a Catholic, and for a Catholic building, beauty is essential, because first of all, God’s middle name is Beauty. And he, being in his creation, created great works of beauty that we are able to be stewards of. So, in our own way, we’re asked to imitate the creator in also creating beauty. So that’s the most important reason that we should build beautiful buildings — that it’s for God, it’s for his glory and it’s an imitation of him.
found at the Society of St. Barbara

Friday, January 12, 2007

Very Puzzling

Here is an elaborate online puzzle game:, it is a promotion for Microsoft. I don't have to patience to try it myself, but it looks intriguing.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Photos of Pope Saint Pius V Church, in Saint Louis, Missouri

FOLLOWING ARE PHOTOS of Pope Saint Pius V Church, located in south Saint Louis, Missouri, about four miles southwest of downtown.

This photo above was taken in July, 2006. The following photos were taken on January 7th, 2007.

Above the door are milestones and achievements of Pope St. Pius V:
Born Michael Ghisleri 1504
Ordained to Holy Priesthood 1528
Consecrated Cardinal 1557
Elected Pope 1566
Died 1572
Canonized 1712

The Keys to Heaven
Valiantly Defended the Faith Against Heresies and Schisms
Organized Defense Against the Saracens
Commemorates the Divine Intercession in the Battle of Lepanto
Added to Litany of Our Lady "Help of Christians"
Organized the Propagation of the Faith - Sent First Missionaries to the New World
Instituted the Feast of the Most Holy Rosary 1571
Freed 15,000 Christian Slaves

Nave of the church.

Main altar, decorated for the Christmas season, with tabernacle and crucifix, flanked by the Greek letters, Alpha and Omega.

Detail of mosaics above the altar.

Baptismal font in sanctuary.

Saint Joseph's altar.

View to side of nave.

Stained glass window of the Annunciation. The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary, "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee."


Shrine to the holy souls.

Whose Sins You Shall Forgive, They Are Forgiven Them.
...and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained. Click here for a good science fiction story about a priest who inadvertently retained sins.

The confessional is a Catholic church's spiritual sewer treatment plant.

IXth Station of the Cross—Jesus Falls the Third Time

Consider how Jesus Christ fell for the third time. He was extremely weak and the cruelty of His executioners was excessive; they tried to hasten His steps though He hardly had strength to move.

Pipe organ.

Old baptistery.

View of the old school building.

SUNDAY NOV. 5, 1916

Mass times.

Church history, from the parish website:
St. Pius V began humbly a century ago as an Irish immigrant church, but by World War II had grown to be one of the largest, most prestigious parishes in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. The post-war baby boom swelled its membership and school enrollment, and prompted expansion and improvements of the church and grounds by the mid-1950s.

But by the 1970s, south St. Louis' ethnic makeup was beginning to change again as middle-class whites fled for the suburbs. Blacks, and Asian and African immigrants and refugees took their place in the 1980s. The dramatic demographic shift during the 1980s and '90s created social tension and demanded a response. In the '90s, parishioners were mobilized to advocate for social change, a value still held today.

If St. Pius' members are fewer today, they are more diverse - a mix of old, young, refugee, immigrant, longtime neighborhood residents and suburbanites. In the '90s, the 10 a.m. liturgy became more vital with warmer hospitality, livelier music and more dynamic preaching. St. Pius' ministries to the elderly, homebound, immigrant and poor grew. Parish finances were stabilized; stewardship was emphasized.

As St. Pius neared its centennial, it took the painful step of closing its school and merging with another in 2003 to form St. Frances Cabrini Academy. In late 2004, St. Pius learned it would close as part of a realignment of south-side parishes. The parish strenuously defended its viability and purpose and the archbishop allowed it to remain open.

A century after its founding, St. Pius V finds itself at a crossroads. It must grow in numbers and continue proving its purpose, or risk being shuttered. It remains one of the smallest territorial parishes in south St. Louis and made only a small net gain in membership from the recent parish consolidations. St. Pius must seize the opportunity to demonstrate it was the right choice for staying open and attract new members from the city and suburbs.
3310 S. Grand Boulevard
St. Louis, MO 63118

Monday, January 08, 2007

Kant's Æsthetics: A Critique of "The Critique of Judgement"; Or, Why Modern Art is So Ugly

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) is one of the most influential philosophers in the modern era, and his three critiques on pure reason, practical reason, and judgement are part of the foundation of modern ideas about faith, morality, and art. Long influential in the secular western world, Kant's theories blew into the Church through the windows opened during the era of the Second Vatican Council. Kant is perhaps most famous for formulating a precise definition of the Golden Rule, in his "Categorical Imperative'", but his view of God is agnostic to an extreme degree and is nearly synonymous with modern liberal religionism. Likewise, contemporary institutional art worldwide is a direct product of Kant's ideas about æsthetics, which is found in "The Critique of Judgment".

Kant begins:

"If we wish to discern whether anything is beautiful or not, we do not refer the representation of it to the Object by means of understanding with a view to cognition, but by means of the imagination (acting perhaps in conjunction with understanding) we refer the representation to the Subject and its feeling of pleasure or displeasure."

Kant immediately starts with his theory of beauty. He makes the distinction between the art object itself, and the subject: which here means you, the viewer of the art object. Kant also makes the distinction between cognition (the gaining of knowledge) and imagination (mental visualization). Beauty, or its lack, says Kant, comes from the imagination and is not knowledge.

He continues:

The judgment of taste, therefore, is not a cognitive judgment, and so not logical, but is æsthetic — which means that it is one whose determining ground cannot be other than subjective.

This is modern art theory in a nutshell. Beauty, they say, is in the eye of the beholder, and what is beautiful for me necessarily isn't beautiful for you. And this shows the modern narrowing of reason: æsthetics and logic are kept separated and do not interact.

And then Kant restates his thesis:

Every reference of representations is capable of being objective, even that of sensations (in which case it signifies the real in an empirical representation). The one exception to this is the feeling of pleasure or displeasure. This denotes nothing in the object, but is a feeling which the Subject has of itself and of the manner in which it is affected by the representation.

Kant tells us that everything about art — except beauty or ugliness — is objective. This idea has enormous consequences for art: we are told that we should just keep our mouth shut about beauty, it isn't even open to discussion. Those of us with a classical conception of beauty, who often find modern art ugly, are told that this feeling is irrelevant. And if we keep insisting on beauty, we are sneered at, since we obviously are ignorant of modern art theory. This is why modern art is so ugly. A modern work of art may be universally praised by the art critics even though everyone may find it ugly and repulsive.

Suppose that an artist intentionally makes an ugly artwork, completely out of a spirit of spite and hatred, and places this ugly artwork in a very public place, where it causes universal nausea. Kant's theory of art cannot and will not explain this action, and it completely exonerates the artist from any responsibility of its effect on its viewers.

Practically, this theory removes the discussion of beauty from philosophy; beauty is merely changing opinion, which makes it only interesting to sociologists and marketers and not to art critics. And so, society's conditioners attempt to socially-construct mass opinion of beauty: which film starlet or popular singer has the fashionable look these days? And these opinions of beauty are typically divorced from anything objectively real.

Traditionally, beauty is transcendental, that is, having universal significance and reality, while Kant's theory denies this. Catholic theology tells us that beauty goes all the way up, to God, and that beauty extends throughout Creation.

Like so much of modern philosophy, Kant's theories stop at subjective feelings and don't look beyond them into objective reality. The classical theory of beauty attempts to discover why something looks beautiful. Kant's theory, which is very highly elaborated beyond what I've shown, attempts to have it both ways, but seems to end up with just tastemakers imposing their arbitrary views on everyone else: which is exactly the situation we are experiencing today.

I am willing to agree that emotional response to art has much ambiguity, and some people's taste is very difficult to explain. But if we follow Kant's theory, then art becomes boring and uninteresting, since if we don't pursue beauty, then we most certainly won't get it. Furthermore, Kant says:

If anyone asks me whether I consider that the palace I see before me is beautiful, I may, perhaps, reply that I do not care for things of that sort that are merely made to be gaped at.

Perhaps I am taking Kant's quote out of context, or perhaps it is translated poorly, or maybe I just don't understand what he means; however, it seems to me that Kant doesn't like beauty at all. Could it be possible that this major philosopher, and even perhaps his modern followers, could possibly reject beauty, or have a hatred of it?

Perhaps this theory is part of the reason why so much of modern life is so ugly.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

National Council of Churches Under Secularist Influence?

I received this note from an Evangelical friend:
The Institute on Religion and Democracy

January 5, 2007

Contact: Loralei Coyle (lcoyle {at} ird-renew [dot] org)

Upcoming IRD Press Conference
On Controversial National Council of Churches Funding

“The National Council of Churches, a body founded to pursue Christian unity, is no longer supported principally by its member churches. Secular left-leaning foundations have stepped in to save the council, thus artificially amplifying the voice of the declining religious left.”
-Alan Wisdom, IRD Vice President

WHO: Report Authors and Church Renewal Movement Leaders:

• Alan Wisdom, author
• John Lomperis, author
• The Rev. Parker Williamson, editor emeritus, The Presbyterian Layman
• Fr. John Reeves, Orthodox Church in America priest
• The Rev. Keith Almond, United Methodist pastor

WHAT: Release of new IRD report “Strange Yokefellows: The National Council of Churches and Its Growing Non-Church Constituency.”

WHEN: 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, January 10th (Duration Approximately 45 minutes)

WHERE: Murrow Room of the National Press Club, 529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor - Washington, DC

The Institute on Religion and Democracy, founded in 1981, is an ecumenical alliance of U.S. Christians working to reform their churches’ social witness, in accord with biblical and historic Christian teachings, thereby contributing to the renewal of democratic society at home and abroad.

The National Council of Churches was founded in 1950, and is made up of numerous mainline Protestant denominations and Orthodox Churches, and has been most notable for its lack of Catholic participation. Nominally an ecumenical organization, it is instead most known for pursuing socialist policies, including the funding of Marxist guerrillas. The NCC is also criticized for not denouncing Communist countries that persecute Christians. Membership in the NCC's mainline denominations have been sharply declining over recent decades due to their loss of faith in Christ, instead, the group now gets much of its funding from organizations such as the Ford Foundation. Orthodox members have never been comfortable with the NCC, and some are leaving the group; some say that an alliance is instead needed with the Catholic Church.