Saturday, March 31, 2007

Palm Sunday

Today is Palm Sunday. A day in which we begin Holy Week in preparation for the end of Lent, the meal of Holy Thursday, the great trials of Good Friday, and the tremendous joy of Easter.

That doesn't matter right now though. For this Palm Sunday is also April's Fools Day. So what would happen to the Parousians in a crazy world. A world in which up is down and down is up. I wonder...

Calls for Action

Philip DeMahy has lost his body. Philip, who often loses things like cell phones, keys, books, and small children, has misplaced his corporeal self.

Spiritual Philip, speaking to the Parousian Post, explained that he was trying to write a paper late at night when he went to type something only to discover that he had no hands with which to write. He has floated around asking people to help. However, as Philip explains, “most of my friends are really into philosophy. When I first told them, their first reaction was to figure out whether this fit into a Manichean Dualism conception of body and soul. They’re still talking about it. I told them I would go look up in MacIntrye what he said about it until I realized I couldn’t turn the pages of the book... and that I had lost the book.”

Philip however is keeping in good spirits. Or maybe just a good spirit. As he says, “It could have been worse. Usually with stuff I have they explode. I don’t think my body has exploded yet.”

So Philip needs your help in the search. Here’s a picture of Philip to remind you of what he looks like. Remember, he’s a baron and a member of the landed aristocracy, so finding his body will entitle you to a rich reward and a position. Note that Philip’s body may have found itself into a Catholic school girl skirt so do not be deceived!

Sadly, Philip is not the only Parousian is need of assistance. Michael Denton as we all know is an avid NASCAR fan. However, this obsession has led to some irregularities in our friend.

“I can only turn left now. I don’t believe in turning right; it’s unnatural. I can get wherever I want to go by traveling in a circle.” Perhaps this would be harmless in and of itself, but Michael has brought the techniques of NASCAR into every facet of transportation. He explains that “people started to tell me that I drove like a NASCAR driver. So I started thinking, ‘why don’t I do everything like a NASCAR driver?’ So I have.”

This has particularly shown itself as Michael walks around campus. When stuck behind slower pedestrians, usually Greeks, Michael has taken to “bump drafting” them. This technique, normally applied at plate races, requires the person behind to physically push the person further ahead. Michael explains, “well, I get behind them but they’re going slow. I figure, we gotta go for the win, baby! So I slam ‘em. Nothing too hard, just about the same power as Dale Jr. uses when he bump drafts. We usually get pretty far before they can’t take it and peel off, giving me the lead.”

Sometimes they don’t however, necessitating a move called “the bump and run” which apparently is nothing more than Michael pushing the person out of the way. “Sometimes they whine about it. So does Jeff Gordon. Don’t act like Jeff Gordon.”

Specialist Dr. Carl Joseph Giffin was asked about how to fix this. While hesitating to call Michael’s condition a “disease” he did say that NASCAR fixation was a critical thing driving Michael. As Dr. Giffin states, “a love of NASCAR is all pervasive. If not satisfied or interfered with by victories by worthless people like Kyle Busch, then higher dosages of NASCAR must be applied. That is, Michael should go see a NASCAR race and everyone around him should constantly discuss NASCAR so that he does not feel the need to evangelize about NASCAR to the campus community. I myself will volunteer to take Michael to a NASCAR event, but y’all have to do the rest.”
So we need you to keep Dr. Giffin and Michael in your prayers as they go to a NASCAR race in order to help with Michael’s condition. Meanwhile, we need everyone to become a NASCAR fan so that Michael can be constantly exposed to NASCAR. It’s the Christian thing to do.

New Form of Liturgical Dance Created by Parousians

Parousians Ryan Hallford and Mary-Grace have shown many of us how to salsa and tango among other forms of sophisticated dance. Now they have taken those skills and applied them towards worship, creating a liturgical dance in the ballroom dancing style.

Asked how he was inspired, Ryan Hallford said, “Over the past year, Mary-Grace and I have really come to enjoy dancing. With our tremendous involvement in the faith, it was inevitable that these two passions should be become merged. However, the liturgical dances that were out there didn’t fit our style.” Here Mary-Grace chimed in, “They do more ballet styles. That would require Ryan to wear tights.” Ryan then explained that being seen in tights would jeopardize his standing as keeper of the Sacred Heart Rectory.

Ryan and Mary-Grace hope to display their new dance soon but gave the Parousian Post a sneak preview with some of their better moves. Among them the “Losing your head in Christ” move

And the “sinful split.”

When Ryan and Mary-Grace do put on a public performance, The Parousian Post will notify everyone.

Parousians Make a Full Conversion to the Catholic Church

As you all know, conversion is a life long process. This means that we constantly find new ways to commit ourselves to Christ and find new ways in which we are hindered from fully knowing and following Christ. For the latter, these vestiges have to be taken off and the Parousians considers it a noble task to help its members in accomplishing that.

This is why I am proud to announce that Liz Johnson and Angela Miceli have done that by renouncing the ways of Satan. Specifically, they have renounced the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Bears respectively.

Explaining her decision, Ms. Johnson pointed to the scandals that have rocked the St. Louis ballhouse. “Well, we all know that Albert Pujols does steroids. No one can hit a Brad Lidge ball for a homer run in the NLCS without the use of extreme steroids. After he hit that home run, I began to feel uncomfortable about the Cardinals but I tried to hold faith in Tony LaRussa. Yet in the past few weeks, we’ve been reading Aquinas and the Cardinal Virtues. It occurred to me that the virtues Aquinas was describing was anything but ‘Cardinal,’ at least ‘St. Louis Cardinal.’ I tried to resist that thought, but when Tony LaRussa was caught in a state of drunkenness, I knew I had to reject them.”

Taking Aquinas’s advice that to see good find the opposite of evil, Liz journeyed across Major League Baseball until she found the rivals of the Cardinals, the Houston Astros. Ms. Johnson is very happy with her team, commenting on Roy Oswalt that “it’s so nice to have a pitcher who doesn’t look like a mole.”

Ms. Miceli had a different struggle. She has always been very dedicated to the lives of the saints, and so when the Bears in obvious violations of the rules defeated the Saints in January, she too was troubled. “I’ve always really liked the Saints and the Bears but I’ve never had to choose. When the two faced off in the playoffs, I went with my hometown team. But when I saw the way the fans really were and when I saw that my team, my team had given Rex Grossman a job at quarterback, I knew things were wrong. I’ve come to love Louisiana and so I decided to become a Saints fan. Since I did, it’s been fabulous! Reggie Bush and Drew Brees are awesome, and I really look fabulous in black and gold!”

We encourage you to approach either Ms. Miceli or Ms. Johnson and ask them to testify about the greatness of their new teams.

Emily Byers to Run for President in 2008!

Disappointed by the lack of strong conservative candidates so far in the primary, our very own Emily Byers has decided to run for the White House in 2008.

On making her announcement, Ms. Byers declared, “The positions on policy are important to me but really I think it’s about time we had a woman president. The presidency, when examined closely, is really a job for women and only women.”

In the rest of her speech, Ms. Byers outlined the platform she will be taking. We all know that Ms. Byers is strongly pro-life and that will be a major part of her platform. However, Ms. Byers has also identified what she perceives as “weak” stances on immigration. She is proposing an electric fence across the entire border, a ban on new immigration, and English as the sole national language because Spanish “is pretty lame.”

Ms. Byers has already made waves in the presidential race by beating the other candidates in naming her running mate. She will be running with another Parousian, Kim Monteleone. When asked why she joined the ticket, Ms. Monteleone responded: “I like babies.” Ms. Monteleone and campaign manager Amanda Pendleton made their first campaign stop in front of the White House, where they prophesied a victory for Byers/Monteleone 2008 and showed the reporters at the scene the celebration that would occur next November.

We do however fear that this campaign could get dirty with this entry, as Ms. Pendleton has already formally accused Rudy Guiliani of being in the mafia.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Passion Play Tonight At Christ the King

Tonight (Tuesday) at 7 PM and again tomorrow night (Wednesday) Christ the King will be hosting the Passion Play. Many Parousians will be acting in the play. Admission is free and a reception follows. So basically, there's every reason to come and none to miss! So come out and support your fellow Parousians and Christ the King.

Screwtape Letter #12: Willful Separation from God

The patient is in trouble. His new acquaintances and attitudes have slowly but surely eaten away at his newfound Christianity. He still goes to church, which is surely bad for Screwtape, right? Screwtape, while preferring not going to church, thinks this isn’t bad for the cause. He writes,

“he can still be made to think of himself as one who has adopted a few new friends and amusements but whose spiritual state is much the same as it was six weeks ago. And while he thinks that, we do not have to contend with the explicit repentance of a definite fully, recognized, sin, but only with his vague, though uneasy feeling that he hasn’t been doing very lately.”

What’s happened to the patient then is very simple. He wasn’t watchful enough. Perhaps he was too concerned with the outward signs. The motions were the same and so he didn’t notice. As Mad-Eye Moody would say “CONSTANT VIGILANCE!” We need to be constantly checking ourselves and making sure we don’t slip. Just because our Mass attendance is the same, just because we say the daily prayers and do everything else that we normally do in our spiritual lives doesn’t mean that our spiritual lives aren’t changing. The roller coaster is constantly moving and will drop if we’re not careful.

When we get to the place that something’s wrong but we’re not fully aware of it, Screwtape has a very easy job. We have a tendency to not want to know what’s wrong. Instead,

“…you will find him opening his arms to you and almost begging you to distract his purpose and benumb his heart. He will want his prayers to be unreal, for he will dread nothing so much as effective contact with the Enemy. His aim will be to let sleeping worms lie.”

We never want to confront the full reality of sin. We don’t want to admit everyone is hurt by it and that we’re responsible. We certainly don’t want to admit that we’ve sinned against God. Yet that is what we have to admit if we are going to be cured. This is precisely why in the sacrament of Reconciliation we have to go to a priest. When we go face to face with another person, there is no doubt that the community is involved. We can’t just wish it away with “unreal prayers.” Instead, we have to say “Forgive me for I have sinned” and then say in the act of contrition “I have offended you my God.” This confrontation is necessary so that we fully die to our sinful selves. With this death, we can live again.

The other option is not very comforting:

“(In the patient’s attempts to avoid his guilt) You can make him do nothing at all for long periods. You can keep him up late at night, not roistering, but staring at a dead fire in a cold room. All the healthy and outgoing activities we want him to avoid can be inhibited and nothing given in return…The Christians describe the Enemy as ‘one without whom Nothing is strong.’ And Nothing is very strong: strong enough to steal away a man’s best years not in sweet sins but in a dreary flickering of the mind over it knows not what and knows not why…the only thing that matters is the extent to which you separate the man from the Enemy. It does not matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and into the Nothing. Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick. Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one-the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”

We need to keep our eyes on the road to make sure we’re not traveling down Screwtape’s road to hell.

Monday, March 26, 2007

#11 Screwtape Letter: Humor

It turns out that the couple the patient befriended in letter #10 enjoys laughter and Wormwood is curious as to how to utilize this to ensnare the patient. Screwtape explains to Wormwood that there are different causes of human laughter, and only some of them are really beneficial to their cause.

‘I divide the causes into human laugher into Joy, Fun, the Joke Proper, and Flippancy. You will see the first among friends and lover reunited on the eve of a holiday. Among adults some pretext in the way of jokes is usually provided, but hr facility with which the smallest witticisms produce laughter at such a time shows that they are not the real cause…the phenomenon is of itself disgusting and a direct insult to the realism, dignity, and austerity of Hell.”

So Joy is of little use. Fun too is difficult to utilize other than as diversion from more important things, Screwtape tells Wormwood. The third and fourth however are more promising. The Joke Proper is defined by Screwtape as a joke “which turns on sudden perception of incongruity.” The main area that Screwtape goes for with this type of comedy is the bawdy joke. Lewis argues that only if the joke incites the listener to lust and not only to humor is the joke helpful to Screwtape. This is an area which I think Lewis is skating too fine a line if he’s not plain wrong. Sexuality is of a nature that is so sacred and so private that I think it’s very difficult to imagine a situation in which jesting about sex does not in some way diminish the importance of the act itself. This diminishing can hurt our ability to respect and utilize it for the ends that God intended it (namely an expression of love). So while I’ll agree with Lewis that a joke about sex is far more serious if it incites lust, all sexual jokes run the risk of doing damage regardless of the feelings they incur.

Before discussing Flippancy, Lewis chooses to digress to talk about a dangerous aspect of humor. That is, its ability to justify the unjustifiable. Screwtape explains:

“(Humor) is an invaluable as a means of destroying shame. If a man simply lets others pay for him, he is ‘mean’; if he boasts of it in a jocular manner and twits his fellows with having been scored off, he is no longer ‘mean’ but a comical fellow…Cruelty is shameful-unless the cruel man can represent it as a practical joke. A thousand bawdy, or even blasphemous, jokes do not help towards a man’s damnation so much as his discovery that almost anything he wants to do can be done, not only without the disapproval but with the admiration of his fellows, if only it can get itself treated as a joke.”

It is important for us to recognize that harm done in jest is still harm and as such should be avoided. This part however has the extra danger of convincing ourselves that we are in fact doing no wrong. Being sinful and being unaware of its consequences is a two-edged sword with which we ought not to play.

Finally, Screwtape discusses Flippancy. The danger in Flippancy is quite simply an inability to take seriously what we need to take seriously. Flippancy promotes an idea that there is nothing grave and this is problematic when trying to deal with weighty matters of the soul. In these cases we need to be serious and to accept the horrifyingly real consequences of the decisions we make. If everything is a joke, if the demons are funny little men with pitchforks and the angels little women with shiny circles floating above our head, then how are we supposed to quiet ourselves to listen to good and to make firm difficult decisions, particularly about sacrificing ourselves. As Screwtape says, “If prolonged, the habit of Flippancy builds up around a man the finest armour-plating against the Enemy that I know, and it is quite free from the dangers inherent in other sources of laughter.”

So laugh. Laughter is good. But be careful about what you’re laughing about so that when the time to laugh passes you can cease laughing and start listening.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Screwtape #10: The Company We Keep

First of all, sorry for the delay between these. It’s been a busy few weeks, and even now I’m squeezing time to crank this one. Still, I hope to make these regular again.

Recall that Screwtape and Wormwood have the patient in a dry spell in his faith. In this letter, the two discuss a new set of friends that patient has made. This delights the devils, as the pair is

“just the sort of people we want him to know-rich, smart, superficially intellectual, and brightly skeptical about everything in the world. I gather they are even vaguely pacifist, not on moral grounds but from an ingrained habit of belittling anything that concerns the great mass of their fellow men and from a dash of purely fashionable and literary communism.”

This sound familiar? Is this not the type of people we are surrounded by at the university? Replace “communism” with “postmodernism” and it’s a nearly perfect fit for many we meet and interact it with. So as university students, if the people we associate most with make dangerous friends, we need to be on watch. But for what? Are we not supposed to engage these people in the New Evangelization? Yes, but we have to be very careful. In order to make friends we have to be “nice” and “nice” can mean sacrificing part of our responsibility as Catholics.

“He will be silent when he ought to speak and laugh when he ought to be silent. He will assume, at first only by his manner, but presently by his words, all sorts of cynical and skeptical attitudes which are not really his. But if you play him well, they may become his. All mortals tend to turn into the thing they are pretending to be.”

That is, if in engaging these people we do not hold a firm grasp on our Catholicism and are not careful for the slips through which the presumptions of the devil can sneak into, we can easily be swept away by the tide. We have to recognize that even though all new friends are pleasures, they can also be temptations.

In these type of friendships there is also a danger of pride arising. Lewis explains:

“He can be made to take a positive pleasure in the perception that the two sides of his life are inconsistent. This is done by exploiting his vanity. He can be taught to enjoy kneeling beside the grocer on Sunday just because he remembers that the grocer could not possibly understand the urbane and mocking world which he inhabited Saturday evening; and contrariwise, to enjoy the bawdy and blasphemy over coffee with these admirable friends all the more because he is aware of a ‘deeper,’ ‘spiritual’ world within him which they cannot understand.”

That is, in dealing with several different groups of people we are tempted to think that our associations with others make us better than everyone else. This can even be true within different Catholic groups; going to the orthodox church while the liturgical dance class could be an example. The important thing is trust first of all in Jesus for our faith and to watch as our beliefs shift with the tide to make sure they’re shifting closer to Christ. Second, it’s to remain humble despite the many people we have the privilege of knowing and becoming friends with. Then we’ll frustrate Screwtape.