For some weeks now, I've been away from doing any blogging of my own. Nagging at me was a writing project I really had to get done before I spent time writing here, and of course it took a lot longer than I'd hoped it would. I also went away to Edmonton for a few days, and when I came back, I came down with a bad cold.
But it's time to get back to blogging. It's not as if I haven't continued to read like crazy in the meantime. I've come across Traditional Catholic Reflections & Reports and finally checked out Godspy, which has kept crossing my field of vision. In particular I was impressed by an account of the conversion of E. F. "Small Is Beautiful" Schumacher. In Edmonton my friend Troy, a fellow convert whom I met at the Oratory Summer School, had a copy of Joseph Pearce's Literary Converts, a book he said had my name written all over it, and from which the Schumacher account is excerpted. I started to read and was hooked--I'll have to get a copy of my own.
This week I had long conversations about Catholicism with a number of friends who are Protestant. Of course we've also just had the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, during which we've seen Pope Benedict's first encyclical. If this is setting the tone for the rest of his papacy, I'm hopeful: I've seen a couple of observers warmly surprised by what he says. Over in Amy's combox the characteristically insightful Tom Haessler pointed out,
The response to the Tablet article along careful partisan lines misses something. In quarters usually not very sympathetic, the Holy Father has managed to generate, well, almost enthusiasm! In the real world, growth is not always associated with dramatic submissions which punctuate a life of perfect continuity. Benedict XVI has a remarkable talent for ENGAGING his opposition, a gift less evident among those impatient with the irremovable messiness of ecclesial life.
Meanwhile in Thursday's Globe and Mail, religion writer Michael Valpy reported, "Few Catholic contacted scholars yesterday had read the encyclical or planned to do so." I'd like to think the explanation lies in the tilt towards heterodoxy in Mr Valpy's rolodex, but even so, the assessment was remarkably positive and allowed the pope's words to speak for themselves.
Benedict says sexual love is rooted in every human being. He acknowledges that Christianity in the past was often criticized for being "opposed to the body," and he says: "It is quite true that tendencies of this sort have always existed.
"Yet the contemporary way of exalting the body is deceptive. Eros, reduced to pure sex, has become a commodity, a mere 'thing' to be bought and sold, or rather, man himself becomes a commodity. This is hardly man's great 'yes' to the body."
A pity, then, that the Globe's editorialists persisted in their fantasy that Stephen Harper, now our prime minister-elect, might cast his own vote in favour of same-sex marriage. "Imagine if he stood up in the Commons and said that despite his personal beliefs, he now holds the office of prime minister of all Canadians and therefore feels the need to vote in favour of equal rights for all." For the obvious cost of alienating some social conservatives, he would make further inroads into Toronto and Montreal, where the Conservative Party was shut out, and into the rest of socially progressive Quebec. "And, of course, it's the right thing to do." Sorry, guys, but that's wrong on so many counts. Take another look at that Junius in your masthead: "The subject who is truly loyal to the Chief Magistrate will neither advise nor submit to arbitrary measures."
Back to Edmonton for a moment. I had the great pleasure of meeting Felix Hominum, whose blog I peeked at during the summer and sadly failed to explore more fully until recently. It's full of little gems, such as his commentary on Stephen Harper's "God bless Canada" locution and his entire "small living icons" category. To accompany a beautiful picture of "Sarah Joy, 4 year old amateur gardener, person with Down Syndrome," he writes,
On the be not afraid website there are dozens of stories from parents who faced a decision upon learning of discouraging medical news. It is simply encouragement for prospective parents who have been given a difficult prenatal diagnosis, and are thinking about abortion. Our family's story is in there somewhere.
Joe doesn't give the exact link, though, so I read this and this and this and this and this, and I could have gone on all day. On another site there's also this. Heartbreaking stories, some of them, but all so incredibly uplifting. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us.
So this post marks the inauguration of my category "Culture of Life." Finally, I'll be saying more soon about Tories and Crunchy Cons, and about sweet little Ginger. I hope to link here to new posts on these topics within a couple of days.