Truth will out…

“We Christians should embrace with affection and respect Muslim immigrants to our countries in the same way that we hope and ask to be received and respected in countries of Islamic tradition. I ask and I humbly entreat those countries to grant Christians freedom to worship and to practice their faith, in light of the freedom which followers of Islam enjoy in Western countries! Faced with disconcerting episodes of violent fundamentalism, our respect for true followers of Islam should lead us to avoid hateful generalisations, for authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence.” — Evangelii Gaudium §253

I suspect that this musty old definition does not include the ability to determine non-Christian doctrine, but what do I know? #dialogorrhea

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Possessed by the devil, they did not understand anything…

The Fathers of the Second Council of Constantinople, that is.

“As we said earlier, I repeat once more: If anyone preaches to you a gospel contrary to what you have received, let him be accursed. Since the Lord declares that the person is judged already, and the Apostle curses even the angels if they instruct in anything different from what we have preached, how is it possible even for the most presumptuous to assert that these condemnations apply only to those who are still alive? Are they unaware, or rather pretending to be unaware, that to be judged anathematized is just the same as to be separated from God?

The heretic, even though he has not been condemned formally by any individual, in reality brings anathema on himself, having cut himself off from the way of truth by his heresy. What reply can such people make to the Apostle when he writes: ‘As for someone who is factious, after admonishing him once or twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is perverted and sinful; he is self-condemned.’

“It was in the spirit of this text that Cyril of holy memory, in the books which he wrote against Theodore, declared as follows: ‘Whether or not they are alive, we ought to keep clear of those who are in the grip of such dreadful errors. It is necessary always to avoid what is harmful, and not to be worried about public opinion but rather to consider what is pleasing to God’.”

What a bunch of blowhards, eh?

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PSA: Stowaway Comments Have Been Liberated!

Just now I was tending to my spam folder–a monthly-or-so ritual–and I noticed that a few comments had been blocked on this post from last week. I don’t know why they got filtered, but I think since I tightened my general filters to deal with The Shadow around New Year’s, things can get a bit screwy with automatic comment moderation.

Now, given the nature of the topic, and the contestants involved, I am ruefully aware that this will look like proof of some fascist conspiracy on my part, but please be assured that I have nothing to hide.

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Welllll, then!

“Some say that allowing priests to get married would keep them far away from sexual abuse.”

MESSORI: Yes, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has discussed this matter at length. With the disconcerting data we have, it would not be obvious that having married priests would prevent sexual abuse.. Nearly all of the cases of sexual abuse that have been investigated as having been committed by those in consecrated life were not committed on prepubescent children but on adolescents. All of these were male. This means three things: that the problem is not pedophilia but ebophilia; this is the direct result of pederasty; therefore if we are dealing with pederasty I do not see how having a wife would have had an effect. The problem is not celibacy. The problem is that liberal spirit that reigned in the ‘80s among the clergy, and threw wide open the doors of the seminaries to more or less explicit homosexuals. The results were seen in the successive decade: scandals dealing with abuse and pedophilia. All of this has a basis in homoeroticism. It is a datum of fact, not a prejudice.”

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On how not to be a creationist…

A: That’s quite a cute baby you’ve got there, buddy.

B: Thanks, man. What can I say? We’re really blessed.

A: Oh, look at the creationist here. Every good gift….

B: Ha-ha. Creationist, huh? Would the Darwinist in the house prefer I say that we enjoy our randomly spawned blob of humanoid tissue?

A: Whoa, I’m not a “Darwinist.” Darwinism is just shorthand for a theory that I believe is true. I just like science.

B: Me, too, but in that case, I’m not a “creationist.” I accept scientific evidence; I just don’t inflate any of it into an overarching worldview.

A: But at the very least you should include the theory of natural selection in your worldview. Otherwise, you’re a creationist, no?

B: Within its proper limits, any theory can find its place in my view of things. But to hear you talk, “Darwinism” is an intellectually binding universal truth–which is why I call you a Darwinist. Nothing makes sense without Darwin, right?

A: Okay, I see your point, but I’m not treating Darwin like a mystical guru. I just think that any modern understanding of the world requires embracing his fundamental discovery–

B: The theory of descent by modification.

A: Yes. Like it or not, that’s just a given for rational people these days.

B: Be that as it may, here’s my litmus test for overblown Darwinism: Do you agree that everything makes sense after Darwin and nothing makes sense before him?

A: Well… that’s a pretty strong position–

B: Which I call Darwinism.

A: Okay, but I’m not that kind of Darwinist, no. I just think that Darwin’s findings provide an essential theoretical insight which all future science–and public policy, among other things–just has to take into account.

B: Right, and in that sense, I’m a creationist!

A: How do you mean?

B: I believe that the fundamental insight of theism–and Christianity, specifically–provides an essential insight which all metaphysics, morality, politics, and even science must take into account.

A: Hmmm… go on.

B: I mean, holding to theism–and being a Christian–doesn’t mean that the best scientific (or empirical) explanation of, say, my son’s conception and birth is simply, “God did it.” But it does mean that the most intelligible and complete explanation of it derives from the fundamental truth that God’s existence and creative power grounds conditions for whatever the scientific explanation of birth turns out to be–including the way in which natural selection throws light on it. It’s called a “layered explanation“–

A: Slow down, what?

B: A layered explanation. Okay, well, here’s an example, I don’t know if it will help. How do you answer the question why a fire is burning in the backyard?

A: Science!

B: Yes and no. For a physicist, the answer is to describe, at the molecular level, the processes of combustion and heat convection.

A: Science again! Heh.

B: No doubt, but a more common–and perhaps even a more reasonable–explanation is to say how the wood got there and caught fire to begin with: “I gathered and lit the wood to toast marshmallows to eat.”

A: So… one layer of explanation doesn’t necessarily exclude another, deeper one, you’re saying?

B: Right. Here’s another example: When a king declares war on a rival nation, he utters a number of syntactically and phonetically complex signs, which a linguist, or even a physicist, could analyze to the minutest detail, without ever invoking the king’s psychology, much less God–

A: Okay…

B: And yet, no one in the rival nation, or in the king’s nation, for that matter, would consider those “scientific” analyses an adequate explanation of “what just happened.” The lower-level, reductionist explanations not only presuppose a higher, formal unity–the king’s expressed intent as an entire intelligible act–but also an order of finality–or orderly causation–which mysteriously motivates entire armies and thousands of death in a way that merely random sound waves could never do.

A: So… you’re saying that God is like the king, and humans are like the linguists?

B: More or less, yes–only, God is, you might say, waging war on chaos and indeterminacy by ordering the potential variability of matter and energy into a universally intelligible formal order, which scientists like to call “the laws of nature.”

A: Science wins again!

B: The way things work, as far as our low-level, bit-by-bit analysis shows us–just like the way the king’s decree works in the world–presupposes a higher unity and depends on God’s holding together the law-like relationship between causes and effects.

A: Uhhmm, kind of lost me, dude, but I think I get it.

B: It’s not exactly rocket science, you know.

A: What a relief. Anyway, to turn the tables: As a creationist–

B: Mm-hmm…

A: –you’d say that nothing makes sense without, or “before,” God and everything makes sense “after” believing in God?

B: In a way, yes–simply because the fundamental “theory,” if you will, of a theistic universe, grounds my further belief that there is a coherent world that can be made sense of by humans in the first place.

A: Whoa.

B: Remember, because the layers of explanation do not necessarily clash, I can simultaneously say that my son is a creation directly from the hand of God, and that such and such biological processes were involved in God’s handiwork.

A: Layered explanation.

B: Bingo. The people in that nation I made up can both say that “the king declared war, full stop” and that “the king uttered such and such sounds, generating such and such amounts of energy, etc.,” because the latter explanation is just a more precise explanation of the first explanation. However, if that latter, reductionist explanation is limited strictly to itself, it becomes unintelligible, cut off from the larger intelligible order in which we live and breath, since it only makes sense as an analysis of something logically prior to and metaphysically “bigger than” the contingent scientific details.

A: A bit of a mouthful, no?

B: My bad. I don’t get to have conversations like these so often in a house of babies.

A: I feel your pain.

B: I’m just trying to clarify my–well, let me try again.

A: Be my guest.

B: The decree rolling off the king’s tongue can be analyzed as minutely as you like, from a scientific, empirical perspective, just as my belief that my son, so to speak, “rolled out of the hand of God” can be analyzed as minutely and empirically as you like. The details are just the way in which the larger act happened. No amount of detailed reductive analysis will ever do away with the larger, antecedent reality of the intelligible and personal act itself.

A: So no matter how well we understand the nuts and bolts the cosmos, it never negates the fact that there is a larger, intelligible order in which those nuts and bolt fit into. That ultimate order is supposed to be the sign of God’s power, right?

B: I couldn’t have said it better myself.

A: And it would make no sense to say that the minute analysis did away with or “refuted” the larger “event” of creation, since the details presuppose the larger order, which can only be known by an act of metaphysical, um, faith in an intelligible, humanly accessible cosmos–or something, right?

B: Right! And yet… there’s more.

A: Oh, great. I think I need another PBR.

B: Well, see, if my son’s existence is just as randomly evolved as everything in the universe–which is a possibility Darwinism, as a supposedly total account of nature, must admit–then I must also admit that even the (Darwinian) laws explaining his existence are just as random and just as mutable, and therefore just as unreliable as absolute, ultimate explanations of the cosmos.

A: Ohhhhkayyy…

B: And all the while, I must blindly believe that those laws truly reflect the cosmos, which can never fit under any empirical tool, and can never be reduced to a perfect logical equation.

A: Whoa, too deep for being next to a baby crib on a Saturday afternoon. Let’s just say I was right, and that you are a creationist, okay?

B: In the right sense, of course!

A: Still… at least I can respect your explanation of it. It’s interesting, I’ll give you that much.

B: I don’t get a lot of sleep. Now let me get you that PBR.

A: Awesome. And while you’re at it, get help, quick–it looks like something not so random just evolved into your son’s diaper.

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Poor students make for poor teachers…

Francis Speaks, Scalfari Transcribes, Brandmüller Shreds

As a Church historian, the German cardinal refutes the notion according to which clerical celibacy was an invention of the 10th century. No, he objects: its origin is with Jesus and the apostles. And he explains why

by Sandro Magister

… Fr. Lombardi cast doubt on the notion that the pope had proclaimed, with regard to the celibacy of the clergy, “I will find the solutions.”

But he made no objection to the other highly reckless words put into the pope’s mouth, according to which “celibacy was established in the 10th century, 900 years after the death of our Lord.”

A Church historian no less authoritative than German cardinal Walter Brandmüller, for more than twenty years the president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, in fact felt himself duty-bound to demonstrate the lack of foundation for this idea. …

Scalfari’s previous interview with Francis, which appeared in “La Repubblica” of October 1, 2013, also raised doubts about its reliability. So much so that the following November 15 it was taken down from the official website of the Vatican, where it had been placed among the pope’s discourses and afterward inexplicably reappeared, translated into five languages, only to disappear once again a few days ago.

Scalfari himself admitted that he had accompanied the preliminary draft of that first conversation that he sent to the pope – which did not raise any objections and was published without revision – with a note in which he wrote:

“Keep in mind that some of the things you said to me are not written down here. And that some of the things I attribute to you, you did not say. But I have put them there so that the reader may understand who you are.”

Months later, a second conversation between Scalfari and Francis did not undergo any journalistic “translation,” at the prudential request of the Vatican.

But after the third conversation, which took place last July 10, this time as well without a recording, the pope again gave Scalfari the go-ahead to include his changes, with the results that can be seen.

Please follow the link to the Chiesa website if you wish to read Brandmüller’s letter to Scalfari.

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Getting paid to have fun?

“If I want to sell you something, we speak English. If you want to sell me something, dann sprechen wir Deutsch.” – Willy Brandt, German Chancellor

Johnson: What is a foreign language worth? — Mar 11th 2014, 17:11 by R.L.G. | BERLIN

… The pros [of knowing at least one foreign language] are that working in a foreign language can [help] people make better decisions … and that bilingualism helps with executive function in children and dementia in older people…. The cons: one study finds that the earnings bonus for an American who learns a foreign language is just 2%. If you make $30,000 a year, sniffs Mr Dubner, that’s just $600.

But for the sake of provocation, Mr Dubner seems to have low-balled this. He should know the power of lifetime earnings and compound interest. First, instead of $30,000, assume a university graduate, who in America is likelier to use a foreign language than someone without university. The average starting salary is almost $45,000. Imagine that our graduate saves her “language bonus”. Compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe (a statement dubiously attributed to Einstein, but nonetheless worth committing to memory). Assuming just a 1% real salary increase per year and a 2% average real return over 40 years, a 2% language bonus turns into an extra $67,000 (at 2014 value) in your retirement account. Not bad for a few years of “où est la plume de ma tante?

Economist - accumulated language bonusSecond, Albert Saiz, the MIT economist who calculated the 2% premium, found quite different premiums for different languages: just 1.5% for Spanish, 2.3% for French and 3.8% for German. This translates into big differences in the language account: your Spanish is worth $51,000, but French, $77,000, and German, $128,000. Humans are famously bad at weighting the future against the present, but if you dangled even a post-dated $128,000 cheque in front of the average 14-year-old, Goethe and Schiller would be hotter than Facebook.

Why do the languages offer such different returns? It has nothing to do with the inherent qualities of Spanish, of course. The obvious answer is the interplay of supply and demand. This chart reckons that Spanish-speakers account for a bit more of world GDP than German-speakers do. But an important factor is economic openness. Germany is a trade powerhouse, so its language will be more economically valuable for an outsider than the language of a relatively more closed economy.

But in American context (the one Mr Saiz studied), the more important factor is probably supply, not demand, of speakers of a given language. Non-Latino Americans might study Spanish because they hear and see so much of it spoken in their country. But that might be the best reason not to study the language, from a purely economic point of view. A non-native learner of Spanish will have a hard time competing with a fluent native bilingual for a job requiring both languages. Indeed, Mr Saiz found worse returns for Spanish study in states with a larger share of Hispanics. Better to learn a language in high demand, but short supply—one reason, no doubt, ambitious American parents are steering their children towards Mandarin. The drop-off in recent years in the American study of German might be another reason for young people to hit the Bücher.

Back to the salt mines, I go!

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