Thursday, September 21, 2006

Caleb Bernacchio Memories # 1

Founding Parousian Caleb Bernacchio will be leaving our little Harvard on the Mississippi to finish his undergraduate career at the Angelicum in Rome. In preparation for the farewell roast, we will be posting some of our favorite Caleb stories.

This first entry comes from founding Parousian Tobias Danna:

"On the night before Caleb flew out for his Pentecost pilgrimage to Rome, Caleb, Philip de Mahy and I got into a long philosophical discussion around 1 in the morning. Out of nowhere, Caleb tells us he doesn't really want to go on the trip. It cost too much money, and he could be at home reading the Summa Theologica all the way through . . . again. I reminded him that he already knew how it ended, and that even he could not possibly have a bad time in Rome. In a reply soaked in the enthusiasm typified by Ben Stein's comedic delivery, he assured us he really was excited about the trip. Sure enough, Caleb came back with good stories from Rome, all told with a smile - not a hint of deadpan. Still, he will never escape the rep that comes when you say you'd rather read Aquinas than go to Rome."

Pope Yes

Fastfood Conspiracy.

Founding Parousian Paul Cat may be onto something.

Update on Beth Reed

Our friend Beth Reed will have a brain tumor removed this Monday. Her husband Joey says she is strongly keeping the faith, often praying at length clutching a crucifix or a picture of JPII. Please remember her in your prayers, offering them up through the intercession of John Paul II.

Invitation to Theology of the Body Talk

From Angela Miceli: This Sunday the 24th -- St. Agnes is hosting Deacon Peter Walsh who is coming to give a talk from 2-5 on JPII's Theology of the Body (there will be 2 hour and a half sessions). I know the Parousians have something going on this Sunday, but I thought some people might like to know about it. It will be held in the cafeteria.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Archbishop Alfred Hughes: "Misleading to Call God's Love Unconditional"

"Fundamentals in moral education"

The Archbishop of New Orleans calls for straightforward moral teaching.

Archbishop Charles Chaput on the Meaning of Education

"Catholic faith should be the spine of every other field of study"

What Archbishop Chaput speaks about Catholic schools is the perspective each Parousian attempts to bring into the university, be it Catholic, public, or private. The Archbishop certainly wins us over by quoting Alasdair MacIntyre in the first sentence.

Archbishop Jose Gomez on Personal Conversion and Social Change

"Catholic 'up to our shoes'"

Bishop Robert Finn on Defending the Right to Life

"Time for us all to stand up for human life."

Father Jason Labbe's Special Presentation to the Parousians

Father Jason Labbe will come up from Paincourtville to offer the Parousians a presentation on "A Vision of Man Seen Through the Sacraments." The meeting will be on Tuesday, 9/26, 6 pm at Ryan Hallford's house (4463 Tupello St). All Parousians are asked to bring a guest for this special event.

Emily Byers on the Pope, Islam, and Secularism

"Christians, Muslims must open dialogue."

Parousian Emily Byers analyzes the controversy over the Pope's lecture and the problem of secularists attempting to understand jihadists.

Founding Parousian Caleb Bernacchio's Farewell Celebration

Another one of the originals is leaving. Founding Parousian and resident straitjacket Thomist Caleb Bernacchio passed on his senior year in LSU's philosophy department, opting to finish his degree at the Angelicum in Rome. On Sunday, October 1st, the Parousians will leave the LSU Law School parking lot promptly at 9:30 am to participate in the 11 am mass at St. Joseph Church in Parks, LA where Father Bryce Sibley will be celebrating. At 1 pm, we will gather at Le Grand Fromage & Tubby’s Pub in Henderson, LA for the best pizza known to civilized humanity. At Le Grand Fromage, Caleb will be roasted by founding Parousians Tobias Danna and Ryan Hallford, among others.

Magister: Less Diplomacy, More Gospel from Benedict XVI

"Islam’s Unreasonable War Against Benedict XVI."

Much akin to the Parousian insistence that the God who is Love is also the God who is Truth.

Pope Repeats Clarification of Views, JPII's Would-Be Assassin Warns Pope Not to Come to Turkey

"Pope says anti-Islam quotes not his own views."

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Forgiving Her Own Killers

"Catholic nun forgave killers as she lay dying."

Papal Address at University of Regensburg

"Three Stages in the Program of De-Hellenization"

While nobody will be turned away from Sunday night's meeting if they have not read the Pope's lecture, it will give greater context to Sunday night's presentation from Caleb Bernacchio. Thanks to Paul Cat for providing the link.

Presentation Tonight on Stem Cell Research, Human Cloning and Theology of the Body

From Julie Orr:

Hi Philip,

Thank you for keeping me informed about The Parousians. You are doing great work at educating and encouraging young adults in the Catholic faith.

Would you please let everyone know that tonight at 7:00 p.m. at Walk-On's near LSU, Dr. Rob Chasuk will be giving a presentation on Stem Cell Research, Human Cloning and Theology of the Body - it should be excellent! Please encourage everyone to come.

Thank you!

God bless,

Julie M. Orr
Respect Life Coordinator
Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge
Christian Formation Secretariat
Marriage and Family Life Dept.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Caleb Bernacchio Presents on Faith, Reason, and Jihad

This Sunday Caleb Bernacchio will give his last presentation before he leaves for the Angelicum in Rome. He will be discussing the themes of Pope Benedict's recent lecture in Regensburg concerning Islam and the role of faith and reason in religion. We will be meeting at Ryan Hallford's house at 8:00, all are welcome.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Paul Cat's New Blog

Alive and Young

Founding Parousian Paul Cat has graduated, and is now serving as Director of Religious Education Apprentice at The Parish of the Resurrection in Wilmington, Delaware. His new blog promises to be a favorite stop for Parousians everywhere.

"Alive and Young is a site dedicated to discussing the topics of sex, religion, and politics. My chief qualificaion for starting such a blog is that I have no qualifications to discuss such topics as sex, religion, and politics."

F-Bomb Nietzsche: Blah Blah Blah

Founding Parousian Paul Catalanotto offers this original piece to the Parousians blog:

In Joyful Wisdom, Friedrich Nietzsche has a mad man running about town asking and proclaiming “Where is God? … I will tell you, we have killed Him, you and I! We are all His murderers! … God is dead! God will remain dead! And we have killed Him!” and says in more statement than question “Must not ourselves become Gods” (Nietzsche, JW 167-8). It is appropriate because not only does he kill God in his own life, but he is also driven mad by syphilis and signs his last letter “the Crucified One,” making his madman seem more prophetic of himself than of the society about which he wrote (Kreeft, Unbelief).

Although he does not become clinically mad till the later stage of his life, it is clear from a number of his writings that madness ran deep in his veins for many years (Hollingdale 25). Some might call it genius, while others just plain madness. The difference from madness and genius might only be a small step apart but still they are separate from one another and should not be confused. A genius is a person who is a master of a particular field and knows the spirit of the rules and the exceptions to the rules, while a mad person thinks the rules are the exceptions and he or she confuses fantasy with a reality.

There is a danger in living in a fantasy such as Nietzsche did. When I speak of fantasy, I do not mean imagination. Imagination by nature is something necessary for a healthy mind: it helps to produce something outside of a person’s self – like a poem or prayer. Where as fantasy turns the individual inward to the ego: it is a delusion and foolery to the self. Dorothy Sayers writes in Mind of the Maker that the “imagination works outward steadily increasing the gap between the visioned and the actual … Few writers of crime-stories become murders – if any do, it is not a result of identifying themselves with their murderous heroes” (Sayers 144), while fantasy to Sayers is the “blurring [of] the boundary between the visioned and the actual … so that the child who has fantasized himself a murderer ends by becoming a Loeb or a Leopole” (Sayers 143-4). Sayers argues that an individual cannot live in the imagination; however, the individual may spend a life time living a fantasy and not know it because their fantasy has become real and has to be played out to the last possible end: insanity. So, imagination is the product of the sane mind and to live always in a fantasy, as did Nietzsche, is the product of the insane mind.

How is it known that Nietzsche in fact was living in fantasy and not merely playing with his imagination? Simply put, when people are playing with their imagination, they know they are using it, and if they are not readily conscience of their using it then it becomes apparent after they have stopped imagining (day dreaming). With fantasy, it is the opposite. The person living in a fantasy does not know he or she is living a fantasy and usually does something drastic to prove that his or her fantasy is the state of the world. David Koresh did not merely imagine himself to be Christ come again; he really believed himself to be Christ in his fantasy. Tolkien did not think himself to be Frodo. As stated earlier, those who are mad think the rules are the exception, and Nietzsche thought himself to be the exception to reality.

Yet, Nietzsche did not have any choice but to play out his fantasy to its absolute end, so his end – regardless of health – would have resulted in the same: insanity. He removed God from his life then followed by the removal of friends and family, the only thing he had left was his mind, which he eventually lost also (Lichtenberger Chapter 1.). His call for radical individualism left him with nothingness and madness, which left him stuck at the crossroads, unable to go down any road for each road had already been traveled, and being, by default, unable to choose left his mind and will useless and frozen. “Madness may be defined as using mental activity so as to reach mental helplessness; and [Nietzsche had] nearly reached it” on his own: it was only his health that finished it for him (Chesterton 43).

Strengths, Weaknesses, and Dangers

Any person who casually reads Nietzsche might find him or herself being both repelled and drawn to his writings simultaneously. On the first level, the reader would be repelled because they know better and can see what Nietzsche is trying to say and may even experience a physiological repulsion at what Nietzsche is saying. On the other hand, the casual reader is drawn to Nietzsche for several reasons. First, he writes with a passion found in few writers since Augustine of Hippo and Pascal. All three writers display a bold honesty in their writings, which speaks not only to the reader’s mind but also to the reader’s heart. Each writer is able to capture the restlessness and wretchedness of the human person; however, Augustine and Pascal find rest and greatness for humanity in God, while Nietzsche is only able to capture the restlessness and wretchedness of the human soul and is unable to find it rest.

A second strength in Nietzsche’s writings is found in not what he says, but how he says it. In this area he is reminiscent of the sirens in Greek mythology from Homer’s Odyssey. The sirens sought to lore boats to crash upon the rocks using their song; like wise, Nietzsche lures his readers into his fantasy by a writing style consisting of strong lyrical prose bordering poetry. The best example of his writing style is found in Thus Spoke Zarathustra, where his character Zarathustra delivers powerful speeches in a poetical form to the public.

Nietzsche’s use of metaphors and images further strengthen his arguments. With the use of images and metaphors it allows, according to Dr. Peter Kreeft, the contemplative imagination to be used. The contemplative imagination is what Kreeft describes an “intuitive understanding;” it allows ideas and thoughts to enter into the mind and heart without being censored; this is one explanation of the power of music, art, and poetry (Kreeft Imagination). That is, the imagination gives meaning before reason.

Moreover, Alasdair MacIntyre argues that the Weberian, Marxist, and Nietzschen “vision of the world cannot be rationally sustained; it disguises and conceals rather than illuminates and it depends for its power on its success at disguise and concealment” (MacIntyre 109). Nietzsche’s writing style can be very dangerous because he hides his arguments well. When each of his strengths are combined it hides his arguments in a way that is not at first noticeable to the casual reader, and tied together with his other natural tendencies of deliberate contradiction and not adhering to any logical form, it can easily leave the reader confused and unsure about much of what Nietzsche says.

One example of many contradictions found in Twilight of the Idols is how Nietzsche addresses reason; he says, “’Reason’ is the cause of our falsification of the evidence of the sense” (Nietzsche TWI 46). Then in the following section he says that scientific-knowledge is to be trusted; however, scientific-knowledge is only trustable because it has been deduced and found reasonable and trustworthy by means of reason. If Nietzsche’s logic is to be followed, science itself is nothing more than the “falsification of the evidence of the sense[s]” and should not be trusted (Nietzsche TWI 46). Still his confusion speaks to the heart and mind and might produce a confused heart and confused mind in the reader, which would leave life nothing more than “sound and fury symbolizing nothing” (Shakespeare 92).

Nietzsche’s biggest weakness lies in his arguments, if what he writes can be called arguments. Leila Haaparanta writes, “Few arguments can be found in Fredrich Nietzsche’s philosophical work” (Haaparanta pg 490). He argues less and makes bold accusations and claims averaging what seems nearly every page. Sadly, it is not certain if Nietzsche’s claims are true or not from his texts, because he fails to support most of his claims with proof. For example, in The Anti-Christ he says, “Wherever the influence of the theologian extends value judgment is stood on its head, the concepts ‘true’ and ‘false’ are necessarily reversed” (Nietzsche AC. 132), while in Twilight of the Idols he claims that the present morality of humanity is not what it has always been. He claims that man was at a time amoral and better for being without morality. However, Nietzsche cannot support either of these claims. He cannot say that truth has been otherwise and that man has been anything other than moral. It is erroneous to speak of the morality of prehistoric society when there is no evidence of prehistoric morality. Sadly, Nietzsche’s arguments are based solely on assumptions, and any elementary logic student knows that an argument based solely on assumption and claims can hardly be called an argument, and the conclusion can only be called an assumption derived from assumptions.

In the end, Nietzsche is more rightly called a composer of claims and not an ethicist. The claims he makes are addressed at the society in which he lived and can reveal a good deal about protestant Germany, and his writings can easily be used more as social commentary than as ethics books and are more of a wakeup call for those who call themselves Christian.


Chesterton, Gilbert K. Orthodoxy. Garden City: Image Books, 1959.

Haaparanta, Leila. “A Note on Nietzsche’s Argument.” The Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 38, No. 153. (Oct., 1988), pp. 490-495 .

Hollingdale, R.J. Twilight of the Idols and The Anti Christ. By Friedrich Nietzsche. Trans. R.J. Hollingdale. London: the Penguin Group, 1990.

Kreeft, Peter. “The Imagination.” Keble College, Oxford. 1991 .

Kreeft, Peter. “Pillars of Unbelief – Nietzsche.” National Catholic Register. (Jan-Feb., 1988) .

Lichtenberger, Henri. The Gospel of Superman: The Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. Trans. J.M Kennedy. Edinburgh: Morrison & Gibb Limited, 1910.

MacIntyre, Alasdair. After Virtue. 2nd ed. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1984.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. Joyful Wisdom. Trans. Thomas Common. New York: Fredrick Ungar Publishing Co. 1960.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. Twilight of the Idols and The Anti Christ. Trans. R.J. Hollingdale. London: the Penguin Group, 1990

Sayers, Dorthy L. The Mind of the Maker. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1941.

Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. The Pelican Shakespeare. Ed. Stephen Orgel. New York: the Penguin Group, 2000.

Parousians Recognized on Bill Cork's Built on a Rock

Bill Cork's Built on a Rock plugs Parousians

Bill Cork, the Director of Young Adult & Campus Ministry for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, welcomed the Parousians to the blogosphere last Wednesday. We apologize for the late notice, and encourage everyone to check out this incredibly thorough Catholic blog.

He writes:

"The Parousia has arrived ... er, no, the Parousians.

The Parousian Post--LSU students, including at least one who heard me give an impromptu talk about Cajun history at a Compass gathering in Lafayette. Welcome to the blogosphere, Toby and Co.!"