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My Latest on Lapido — Mother Teresa

Wednesday, September 7th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — writing about Mother Teresa as a balancing act ]
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My latest post on LapidoMedia, Mother Teresa: the making of a saint, opens thus:

‘MOST blessed Father, Holy Mother Church, beseeches your Holiness to enroll the Blessed Teresa of Calcutta among the saints, that she may be invoked as such by all the Christian faithful.’

With these words, Cardinal Angelo Amato, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints petitioned Pope Francis to declare Mother Teresa of Calcutta a saint.

There are five stages in the Catholic Church’s ‘canonization’ – the declaration that a saint is in heaven, and that their name may be included in the roll of the names of saints.

In my article I write, “As with many people considered especially holy, Teresa’s life has often been discussed in terms of hushed veneration – and also harshly criticised by the unimpressed.” I’m not too convinced either by the hagiography with which the Church tends to surround her, nor with the vituperatuve criticism with which Christopher Hitchens, her chief detractor, attacks her.

I have tried to write Teresa up in a way which balances the two. In my own quiet way, and reading it somewhat between the lines, my article attempts to bridge the two by suggesting that her specific “charism” or gift — the “wavelength” of love of which she is, for the Church, the examplar — was explicitly to bring spiritual, not medical, love to the dying, and that she accomplished this task, while her failure to accompany it with sound, even basic medical care — her clinics, for instance, commonly reused needles without sterilizing them — was the cause of much of Hitchens’ criticism, and has indeed been remedied by her order of nuns since her death.

Christian theological discussion often distinguishes between the Historical Jesus and the Christ of Faith. It may well be that the historical Teresa will stand as a warning to missionaries to be adequately prepared for the proper medical treatment of those to whom they minister, while the Teresa of faith can be a beacon of hope and love in the lives of many. We can hope that the order of nuns she founded, the Missionaries of Charity, will take note of her work at both levels.

Read the whole piece here on the Lapido site.

Gülen a secret cardinal of the Catholic Church? [UPDATED]

Monday, September 5th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — a case of Catholic taqiyya? srsly? you jest! ]
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This tweet about Fethullah Gülen is just too rich in ironies to relegate to the comment section of my earlier posts, Turkey — keeping an eye out for Gülen and its follow-up, Turkey Tweeted, continued:

H/t Bryan Alexander.

I may write this one up for LapidoMedia, in which case I’ll report back here…

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Update:

Apparently LapidoMedia won’t be covering this, since they already have two pieces from me for this week & next.

Here’s the gist:

The suggestion has recently been made in at least two Turkish media that the Turkish Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen, now resident in the US, is a secret Catholic, not a Muslim, and that when he met Pope John Paul II in 1988, the latter made him a cardinal “in pectore”.

The Turkish Minute article Indictment claims Gülen secretly made cardinal by John Paul II reports the claim as having been made in a court case, and explains:

The indictment said “in pectore” is a term meaning “in the heart” and that it refers “a person who keeps his religious beliefs secret in their country.”

Shia, under the doctrine of taqiyya, have the right to say that they are Sunni if questioned in a sectarian life-and-death situation, and the Turkish indictment apparently conflated this idea with the authentic Catholic poractice of a Pope making a cardinal “in pectore” — where the secret of the appointment is kept, not because the cardinal keeps his religion a secret, let alone that he claims to be a Muslim cleric while in fact being a high-ranking Catholic — but because the news that the person had been raised to the College of Cardinals might draw unwanted attention to him as a public figure in an area where this might have dire consequences.

So the two ideas have their similarities — but are in fact different.

Add in the fact of the amazing image of Gülen wearing a bishop’s miter and the pallium — an item worn only by major archbishops and the Pope — and you have quite a multitude of ironies in play.

Loading up for Survival, Church and State

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — Merkel’s under attack for recommending Germans keep a two-week supply of food ]
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Mormon faithful are exhorted by the First Presidency of their Church in a pamphlet titled All is safely gathered in “to prepare for adversity in life by having a basic supply of food and water and some money in savings.” Specific recommendations follow:

THREE-MONTH SUPPLY

Build a small supply of food that is part of your normal, daily diet. One way to do this is to purchase a few extra items each week to build a one-week supply of food. Then you can gradually increase your supply until it is sufficient for three months. These items should be rotated regularly to avoid spoilage.

DRINKING WATER

Store drinking water for circumstances in which the water supply may be polluted or disrupted. If water comes directly from a good, pretreated source then no additional purification is needed; otherwise, pretreat water before use. Store water in sturdy, leak-proof, breakage-resistant containers. Consider using plastic bottles commonly used for
juices and soda. Keep water containers away from heat sources and direct sunlight.

FINANCIAL RESERVE

Establish a financial reserve by saving a little money each week and gradually increasing it to a reasonable amount (see All Is Safely Gathered In: Family Finances guide).

LONGER-TERM SUPPLY

For longer-term needs, and where permitted, gradually build a supply of food that will last a long time and that you can use to stay alive, such as wheat, white rice, and beans. These items can last 30 years or more when properly packaged and stored in a cool, dry place. A portion of these items may be rotated in your three-month supply.

That’s a pretty comprehensive survival plan, and while it allows for those who are just starting to prepare themselves to begin incrementally, it’s first real target is three months’ preparedness and longer-term vision extends out to thirty years.

Note that the motivation here is to live in accordance with the divine will as it may be applicable to human circumstance.

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Compare that with what the secular state of Germany is currently proposing. Deutsche Welle, under the heading What emergency supplies do you need? reports the following:

Germany’s government is mulling a plan requiring citizens to stock up on food and supplies in case of a natural disaster or armed attack. So what should you have in your pantry? Here’s our comprehensive checklist.

The stockpile plan outlined in the government’s “Concept for Civil Defense” paper obligates Germans to store 10 days’ worth of food and five days’ worth of drinking water. The idea is for people to have enough supplies – including cash and medicine – on hand to get them through an emergency situation before government assistance kicks in.

The level of preparedness proposed in the paper hasn’t been seen since the end of the Cold War. The strategy was originally commissioned by a parliamentary committee in 2012, but its release now comes amid a raft of new security measures and heightened terror concerns. Still, its contents aren’t new – German authorities have long urged households to store two weeks’ worth of emergency supplies.

The Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance, for example, has published a checklist online with recommended supplies for a 14-day period. The most important thing on the list is water – 28 liters per person for a fortnight, or around two liters per day. People can survive a few weeks without food, but only four days without liquid.

The Ministry of Food even has an online “calculator” to help you work out what kind of food – and how much – to stock up on. It recommends 4.9 kilograms of cereal-based products like rice, bread and noodles per person per fortnight. It also suggests 5.6kg of veggies, 3.7kg each of milk products and fruit and nuts, and 2.1kg of fish and meat. All food should be able to last without refrigeration.

The government also advises keeping a medicine cabinet stocked with supplies in case it’s not possible to get to a hospital. That means, among other things, a first aid kit, the necessary personal prescription drugs, cold medicine, painkillers, anti-diarrhea and nausea medicine, electrolytes, a thermometer and disinfectant.

Here the anticipated survival time is two weeks, or fourteen days.

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I don’t know what the prophets, seers, and revelators of the First Presidency have been shown, what ISIS may be plotting, what German intelligence suspects, nor what the future has in mind for us. I do know that Matthew 6.34 counsels:

Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

and that this is generally considered sufficient precaution for the lilies of the field, but that readers of John Robb may well find it insufficiently flexible — if taken literally — to survive encounters with a succession of inbound black swans. And as is often the case with scripture, preparedness too has its place, as indicated by the “kingdom” parable of the wise and foolish virgins of Matthew 25.1-13.

I note here that the spiritual claims of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints affords the First Presidency the opportunity to call for far more extensive planning than the German Chancellor can ask of her citizens without considerable brouhaha.

Hence:

Three months (minimally) to two weeks (suggested) is the recommended preparedness ratio between the (Mormon) Church and (German) State.

Whence does authority derive?

The positively Abrahamic game of Chess

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — interfaith rivalry on the checkered board ]
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Many of you will be familiar with the Christian and Muslim playing chess in this illustration from El Libro de los Juegos or Book of Games of Alfonso X of Castile:

— but let’s not forget that Andalusia was also home to learned Jews, including the great Maimonides. In this illustration to the same work, we see a match-up between Muslim and Jew:

Divinely appointed killing in Gita and Summa

Saturday, August 20th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — two focal texts for Landmines in the Garden plus the matters of just war / peace ]
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Herewith two quotes, one (upper oanel) from the Bhagavad Gita, the other from the Summa Theologica of Thomas Aquinas — each of which expemplifies the notion that someone, in the first case Arjuna, in the second, Abraham — has divine authorization to kill:

SPEC DQ Summa and Gita

It is noteworthy that Arjuna does in fact kill those he has been ordered to kill, and that in contrast Abraham is reprieved from the necessity of killing his son by the same divine authority which had first demanded that extraordinary sacrifice — but God (the Father) in the Christian narrative goes on to kill his own Son in what is both the perfection and completion of sacrifice..

And from the perspective of military chaplains blessing members of the armed forces on their way into battle in a just war, the same divine approval presumably holds.

But are wars ever just?

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Further Readings:

  • Foreign Policy, What Happens When You Replace a Just War With a Just Peace?
  • National Catholic Repoorter, Pope considering global peace as topic of next Synod of Bishops
  • Rome Conference, An Appeal to the Catholic Church to Re-Commit to the Centrality of Gospel Nonviolence
  • United States Institute of Peace, Abrahamic Alternatives to War
  • It is worth noting that a sometime commenter on this blog, William Benzon of New Savanna, has a new, small & handy book out:

  • Bill Benzon, We Need a Department of Peace: Everybody’s Business, Nobody’s Job

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