Friday, August 31, 2007

Our Lady of America

Basilica of Saint Louis, King of France, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title of Our Lady of AmericaQuae est ista quae progreditur quasi aurora consurgens pulchra ut luna electa ut sol terribilis ut acies ordinata
Who is she that cometh forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in array?
Canticle of Canticles 6:9

This is a new statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, under her title Our Lady of America, patroness of the United States, temporarily on display at the Basilica of Saint Louis, King of France, in downtown Saint Louis, Missouri. The statue will travel next to Manhattan, and will be on display at the Church of Saint Peter and at Saint Patrick Cathedral on September 11th. This statue was first publicly unveiled at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops meeting in November, 2006, where it was blessed by Archbishop Burke.

"It is the United States that is to lead the world to peace, the peace of Christ, the peace that He brought with Him from heaven"

Thursday, August 30, 2007


Massive storm cloud looms over midtown Saint Louis.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Easy Way to Reduce Poverty

SUPPOSE YOUR POLITICAL party wishes to demonize its opponents by proving that poverty has increased dramatically: the easiest way to do this is to redefine the term 'poor'; you can then claim a 100% increase in the poverty rate.

Suppose your political party gains power, and you promised that you would reduce poverty. An easy way to eliminate poverty is to kill the poor. Thanks to Dawn.

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

HERE ARE PHOTOS of Saint John the Baptist Church, in the unincorporated community of Gildehaus, in Franklin County, Missouri. The church is about 46 highway miles west of downtown Saint Louis.

Photos of Saint John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church, in Gildehaus, Missouri, USA - exterior front

According to the parish website, this was originally a Jesuit mission dating from 1839. This church is often called Saint John 'Gildehaus', in honor of the Gildehaus family who donated land for this parish in 1848 and 1865. The first church was a log structure.

Photos of Saint John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church, in Gildehaus, Missouri, USA - church and Marian shrine

A shrine to the Blessed Virgin Mary in front of the church.

Photos of Saint John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church, in Gildehaus, Missouri, USA - Marian shrine


Photos of Saint John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church, in Gildehaus, Missouri, USA - tower

These photos were taken with three separate cameras on two different occasions. I was unable to take photos of the interior. This church deserves better photos.

Photos of Saint John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church, in Gildehaus, Missouri, USA - cornerstone
A.D. 1863.

Photos of Saint John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church, in Gildehaus, Missouri, USA - cemetery

Photos of Saint John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church, in Gildehaus, Missouri, USA - monument to the unborn

Photos of Saint John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church, in Gildehaus, Missouri, USA - tiny chapel

There are several tiny shrines on the parish grounds.

Photos of Saint John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church, in Gildehaus, Missouri, USA - chapel interior

An altar inside of the chapel, taken through a window.

Photos of Saint John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church, in Gildehaus, Missouri, USA - convent

Convent building between the cemetery and school.

5567 Gildehaus Road
Villa Ridge, Missouri 63089

Note: this address as flagged in Google Maps is incorrect, but the map is centered on the actual church. At the time I generated this link, the map showed two identical churches side-by-side! Two separate satellite photos of the church were improperly stitched together.

"California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger Says Marriage Could be Eliminated in Future"

SEE THE ARTICLE California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger Says Marriage Could be Eliminated in Future, over at LifeSite News:
In legal briefs submitted to the California Supreme Court, which is considering whether to license "same-sex marriages" next year, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown both stated that a future Legislature could abolish marriage and yank marriage rights from a married husband and wife.
This possible eventuality has long been suspected to be one of the unstated goals of the push for allowing same-sex unions. If everything is considered marriage, then nothing is. This of course will be a horrible precedent, and as California goes, so goes the rest of the United States.

We need to rid ourselves of the notion that the State defines marriage, and instead rediscover what marriage actually is, and where it can be found.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Books for sale: Catholic, art, science, and humor.
I took these photos yesterday, on the margins of a bottomland hardwood forest on the banks of the Meramec River near Arnold, Missouri. Because of recent heavy rains, this area will likely be inundated by flood water later this week.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Catholic Art at the Museum, Part II

I RECENTLY VISITED the Saint Louis Art Museum, in Forest Park, in the City of Saint Louis, Missouri, to look at its extensive Catholic art collection. Enjoy the photos. Click here to see Part I.

Click any photo for a larger version.

Saint Francis of Assisi.

Saint Paul.

Blessed Virgin Mary and the Christ Child.

Saint Luke the Evangelist.

"Suffer the little children to come unto me."

From a holy oil ambry.

Saint Mary Magdalene.

Madonna and Child.

Madonna and Child.


Ecce Agnus Dei — Behold the Lamb of God.

Ecce Homo — Behold the Man.

Holy water font.

Jesus driving the moneychangers from the Temple.


The Annunciation.

A book of hours.

A Cardinal.

Corpus from a crucifix.

Byzantine-style crucifix.

Science Contradicts Naturalism

I RECENTLY STUMBLED UPON an article, The Incompatibility of Naturalism and Scientific Realism, from 1998, by Dr. Robert C. Koons, a philosopher and recent convert to the Church.

The two schools of thought, realism and naturalism, date back to antiquity. Naturalism, the currently accepted school among most of the liberal establishment (especially in education) states that we ought not believe anything outside of the accepted scientific world view, and that there are no causes outside of what we find in space and time. This view not only rejects religion, but also rejects most philosophy: for philosophy is the love of wisdom, and according to Naturalism, there are no such things as either 'love' or 'wisdom'.

The philosophy of Realism dates from the writings of Plato in the West; it accepts the possibility of truths that go beyond space and time. This philosophy is generally accepted by the orthodox Western monotheistic religions, and also by many nonreligious humanists.

Naturalism claims that modern science is the only acceptable guide to reality, however, this is not what practicing scientists actually believe. Dr. Koons points out that the accepted scientific world view does not support Naturalism:
This defense of naturalism presupposes a version of scientific realism: unless science provides us with objective truth about reality, it has no authority to dictate to us the form which our philosophical ontology and metaphysics must take... In this essay, I will argue, somewhat paradoxically, that scientific realism can provide no support to philosophical naturalism. In fact, the situation is precisely the reverse: naturalism and scientific realism are incompatible.
Koons defines scientific realism as thus:
1. Our scientific theories and models are theories and models of the real world.

2. Scientific methods tend, in the long run, to increase our stock of real knowledge.
Clearly, these are implied by Naturalism: but these definitions violate the assumptions of that philosophy, and instead presuppose Realism.

Having gotten my degree in physics at Caltech, I understand that progress in the hard sciences is had by a rigorous and uncompromising Realism. Logic and mathematics are presumed to be true: they are really real, ontologically absolute, and are a sure guide to finding truth about reality. Experiment and observation is in fact rarely needed, and is only significant on very rare occasions, where it points out the need to develop the theories. And some of the most exciting parts of modern physics, such as the meaning of relativity and the various quantum theories are actually questions of metaphysics.

Mathematics does not exist for the rigorous Naturalist; indeed, the most progressive of educators will not teach this field as developed by dead, white, European males (although, ironically, we use Arabic numerals, which originally came from India). But this is not how real science actually progresses.

Modern science actually has higher criteria for judging the truthfulness of theories:
Philosophers and historians of science have long recognized that quasi-aesthetic considerations, such as simplicity, symmetry, and elegance, have played a pervasive and indispensable role in theory choice. For instance, Copernicus's heliocentric model replaced the Ptolemaic system long before it had achieved a better fit with the data because of its far greater simplicity. Similarly, Newton's and Einstein's theories of gravitation won early acceptance due to their extraordinary degree of symmetry and elegance. In his recent book, Dreams of a Final Theory, physicist Steven Weinberg included a chapter entitled "Beautiful Theories", in which he detailed the indispensable role of simplicity in the recent history of physics. According to Weinberg, physicists use aesthetic qualities both as a way of suggesting theories and, even more importantly, as a sine qua non of viable theories.
Although Dr. Koons calls simplicity, symmetry, and elegance 'quasi-aesthetic', we ought to remember that these are traditionally considered to be some of the objective factors of beauty, and so there is nothing 'quasi' about them.
Behind the blurrin' and buzzin' confusion of data, we have discovered a consistent aesthetic behind the various fundamental laws.
The author concludes:
Philosophical naturalism, then, can draw no legitimate support from the deliverances of natural science, realistically construed, since scientific realism entails the falsity of naturalism... In fact, the more successes natural science accumulates, the less plausible philosophical naturalism becomes....

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Catholic Art at the Museum

I RECENTLY VISITED the Saint Louis Art Museum, in Forest Park, in the City of Saint Louis, Missouri, to look at its extensive Catholic art collection. This is a comprehensive art museum, and so has a wide variety of art of many eras and places, but Catholic art makes up a good fraction of the permanent collection on display in the main galleries.

Click here for more photos.

The words 'museum', 'music', 'mosaic', and 'amusement' all derive their names from the Muses, the nine spirits of the arts in ancient Greek mythology, who inspired (breathed in) divine graces on the artist.

We still recognize that every artist is totally dependent on grace, and so the Muses are just false names for Christ, the Logos or Word of God thorough whom the world was created "All things were made by him: and without him was made nothing that was made," (John 1).

'Muse' may derive from an Indo-European word meaning 'to direct one's mind to something', and that is appropriate, for in its loftiest sense, making or contemplating art ought to direct your mind to higher, intellectual, spiritual, and divine things.

The modern museum is a child of the Enlightenment, designed to elevate the minds of the new wage-laboring urban masses created by the Industrial Revolution. A Catholic peasant of ages past had no need for museums: just going on pilgrimage to Compostela, Rome, or Jerusalem (on foot!) exposed him to an extraordinary variety of culture and arts, and as a farmer, he was very close to nature. Ultimately, the great cathedrals and shrines are far better places for inspiration. However, I still enjoy visiting this excellent museum!

Click any photo for a larger version.

Painting of Saint Lawrence distributing material wealth to the poor, who are the the true wealth of the Church.

Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. This painting has been a favorite of mine since childhood.

Gothic stained glass window of the Crucifixion.

Romanesque column capital depicting lions. In this era, much of the art in churches did not have iconic value, but was merely decorative.

Head of Christ, crowned with thorns; "the Man of Sorrows".

The marriage of Joseph and Mary.

A wax model.

Ecce Homo — Behold the Man

Ivory diptych.

A reliquary, in the shape of an arm; we may hope that it no longer contains a relic of a saint.

Judith slaying Holofernes

Adoration of the Magi

Aquinas defeats Averroës

A Cardinal.

A corpus from a crucifix.

These photos were taken without a tripod or flash, under harsh nighttime lighting conditions: most of these galleries have much better indirect natural daytime lighting.