27 August 2010

I Really Mean It

Who ever said that Inferno is the best part of the Divine Comedy? You won't after reading the Cranky Professor. He, like the Comedia, keeps getting better!

25 August 2010

Stop Everything!

Stop everything, and go read the Cranky Professor on Purgatorio, canto II! You will be hooked on Dante for good!

24 August 2010


2 Cor 1:17b-20

Do I make my plans like a worldly man, ready to say Yes and No at once?

As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been Yes and No.

For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we preached among you, Timothy and Silvanus and I, was not Yes and No,


For all the promises of God find their Yes in Him. That is why we utter the Amen through Him, to the glory of God.

21 August 2010

Welcome to Vanderbilt!

Well, it is time to begin again! Welcome everybody!

Thank God for Bishop Choby!

Well, perhaps the latest melodrama of dissent is over. Bishop Choby has once again gently but firmly led his flock, and we are grateful. This is leadership. No drama. Pray for the bishop.

The father of our family in the Diocese of Nashville has brought us back together after a tantrum. I thank him for restoring peace in the family.

16 August 2010


Fr. Joe Pat Breen and his followers are citing the primacy of conscience in moral decision making. I am not enough of a theologian to argue the point academically, although others can (see Dr. Janet Smith below). I do want to speak from one area in which I am an expert: my own experience. I have to say that the biggest mistakes and even sins that I have committed have come as a result of my following what my conscience was telling me in contrast to the guidance of legitimate authorities: my parents, my Church, my friends, good old common sense, etc. I know that I cite my conscience as authority for things that I want to do when I can't get approval any other way. My conscience is useful in this way. It is much more susceptible to my own reasoning and justification than outside authorities. Citing conscience makes me feel righteous about fundamentally selfish decisions. I put everybody else in the wrong when I cite my conscience. I become a hero for doing my own thing. I fall for the allure of doing what I want to do and being self-righteous about it.

The problem arises when I come back to reality and see what my conscience has led me into. Even though my conscience can change my perceptions, it can't change reality. I think to myself: "What was I thinking?" I see an abyss opening right in front of me. Time and time again, I catch hold of an authority outside of my own reasoning and pull myself back from the abyss. As a Catholic, I generally find that anchor of authority in Confession. It is humiliating to admit that I can be so blind. It has usually been my conscience that has blinded me. After a number of these humiliations, my conscience slowly learns obedience and becomes a better guide.

15 August 2010

A New Twist

OK -- I am alive. Since returning from Italy, I feel like I have been in perpetual motion. Among other things, we have been making some plans for the blog so stay tuned.

Anticipating the changes, I will include more provocative links than we have heretofore highlighted. A goal this year is to promote intellectual formation. Here goes:

The best thing in the blogsphere: The Cranky Professor on Dante. He's back at it!

Here is some orthodox push-back on a local heresy flap gone viral: Janet Smith on conscience and inspiration for priests to invite lapsed Catholics to come home.