There's a Reason the Catholic Tradition is Suspicious of Usury

12/13/2010 Comments (103)

Ecoland - Bubble story from Denis van Waerebeke on Vimeo.

English Major Alert:  The following remarks contain dangerously high levels of pedantry and trivia.

One of the interesting and unexpected connections Dante makes in his Inferno is that he links the sin of sodomy with the sin of usury.  Don’t see the connection?  That’s understandable.  You live in a civilization that no longer has a big problem with either.  However, Dante’s thinking is this: He regards human activity as oriented toward fruitfulness that must spring from only two sources: Nature and Art. So, for Dante, a man is legitimately wealthy if he, say, grows a crop and sells it or makes a hat (or a poem) and sells them. ...READ MORE

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Peg Noonan…

12/10/2010 Comments (44)

channels and articulates the enormous pool of anxiety and fear upon which our civilization precariously sits.

A culture of death is a culture of fear.  And as long as it is impenitent, it will persist in attempting to stick more and ever more band-aids on the thousand open and running sores instead of repenting being a culture of death.  That’s why we are so rapidly morphing into a security state.  We hope that technology, regulation, and force will save us.  The narrative of this world is that trusting God is pollyanna nonsense.  As long as we embrace that folly and keep trusting in money, sex, and power we will continue to sink into fear.

This Advent: repent!  It’s the only way....READ MORE

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Why Actors Need Scripts

12/08/2010 Comments (33)

When you let them say things that professional writers have not prepared for them, they wind up blathering stuff like this:

C. S. Lewis was clear that the character of Aslan in his Chronicles of Narnia is based on Christ.

But actor Liam Neeson, who voices the lion in the latest Narnia film, has prompted a row after claiming his character is also based on other religious leaders such as Mohammed and Buddha.

Actors are people who have a knack for a) memorizing things and b) presenting a simulacrum of human emotion so that you believe them when they say the things other people prepare for them to recite.  Sometimes they are able to do other things as well.  But when they go off script, do...READ MORE

Filed under at the movies

Materialism vs. Commercialism

12/06/2010 Comments (25)

In the spirit of yearly handwringing about materialism, I give you the following obligatory wring of the hands:

Having discharged that duty, I also note that, strictly speaking, the problem with Christmas is not materialism, but commercialism.  The reason materialism is not the problem is that Christmas is the Feast in which we celebrate God becoming material.  Accordingly, we do what the wise men did and give gifts as a pale reflection of the Gift God made of his son.

As a Chestertonian, I like that.  Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, once said that, for Christmas, she sent her friends “good thoughts”.  Chesterton, being a solid incarnationalist, retorted that he would...READ MORE

Filed under christmas vs. xmas

Eating Our Young, Or Just Harvesting Them for Corporate Profit?

12/03/2010 Comments (21)

In the ongoing descent of our culture into hi-tech savagery, I note the following:

Is it Real, Or Is it Senomyx? How New Flavor Technology Tinkers with Our Tastebuds

Ever wonder what flavor technology companies really do? Well you should because this time, they’ve decided to trick our tastebuds, and in turn our brains, into tasting something that isn’t necessarily there.

Sounds pretty perky, eh?  Another fun science article about those amazing wizards who make it possible for gluttonous Americans to have all the sensations of eating tasty goodness while not actually having to gain weight.  What’s their special secret?

UPDATE:  According to Lynn Stratton at Healthy Holistic Living:...READ MORE

Filed under it out-herod's herod

Godliness is Darwinian

12/01/2010 Comments (13)

A reader writes:

This is a thought-provoking, excellent article from Philip Longman, a liberal atheist featured in the documentary “Demographic Winter” about the decline of global fertility, and author of the book “The Empty Cradle” about the same phenomenon, both of which are worth taking a look at.

Here Longman presents the thesis that the future may belong to the most religious people due to the fact that fertility rates are highest among the most religious and not many of their children leave the faith they were raised in.

The book by Eric Kaufman mentioned in the article coming out in the U.S.A. this spring merits reading I think too!

Babies are the most beautiful thing in the...READ MORE

Filed under babies are good

A reader writes…

11/29/2010 Comments (3)

I just stumbled on this article and thought of you (well - thought you might find it interesting anyway).

It discusses how much of a disadvantage children have in these “fragile families”.  When I read it, it struck me that much of the study is focused on avoiding children in the first place and if that fails trying making the single parent situation less fragile.  There really is not much on how to create stable marriages before having children. 

(.....Is it just possible the Pope was right about getting married before having children - and then staying married? .....)

Heh!  So true!  Again and again, our culture (especially we members of Generation Narcissus) keep discovering the...READ MORE

Filed under fambly, mailbag, water found to be wet

Reader Julianne Wiley writes…

11/26/2010 Comments (6)

I just gave a talk on Elizabeth Anscombe to my parish Council of Catholic Women, and it was a big success!  I am so excited!  None of these women had ever heard of her before, and going into it I had my doubts that I could win them over, since the ones on the Right accept the Bomb, and the ones on the Left accept Abortion (you know the problem) and none have much use for academic philosophy.

BUT!  I tried to craft the talk so EA would capture their interest and sympathy before I detonated the stuff that would blow their minds—- and I think it worked!  I think they all ended up “on her side,” and wanting to know lots more about her and her tremendous ethical judgments so important for our...READ MORE

Filed under mailbag

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About Mark Shea

Mark Shea
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Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.