David Ancell's Virtual Home

Journalism Fiasco

  /   Tuesday, April 25, 2006   /   Comments(0)

I’ve not read this personally, but I’ve been told by a few friends that some journalists are saying that the Church wants to allow married couples to use condoms when one partner has HIV. Well, no, the Vatican is going to clarify the Church teaching we already have. I must admit that I thought that this was a settled issue.

The argument, as I understand it, of those who favor the practice is that it serves the purpose of preventing a disease rather than contraception. Some may view it as a “double-effect.” Others have said that the “lesser evil” applies when looking at using a condom vs. getting HIV.

Well, there’s a problem. The possibility of refraining from intercourse exists, so we don’t have a choice between condom use or getting HIV. I don’t see how one can apply double effect since the contraception is what causes the reduction of risk of infection.

As a pharmacist, I cannot help but think that condom use, especially when one partner is known to be infective, is medically unsound reasoning. The condom is not 100% effective. If one were to say the condom “prevents” infection instead of saying it “reduces the risk” of infection, they are making an inaccurate statement. Even then, it has to be used correctly an consistently. As a pharmacist, I could not count the number of times I’ve spoken to people who haven’t been taking their medicine. By the way, I would offer the same argument towards a married couple for whom pregnancy would be dangerous. Even if we put aside the intrinsic evil of contraception, we still have to deal with the medical problem.

Also, the “lesser evil” most certainly can’t apply. Getting HIV is a physical evil that happens to someone. The use of contraception is a moral evil that one commits. A moral evil is always greater than a physical evil. This may sound cruel, but my point is that abstinance is really the only way to go in this issue.

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Divine Mercy Sunday

  /   Sunday, April 23, 2006   /   Comments(0)

Well, today is Divine Mercy Sunday. I planned to do the Divine Mercy Novena, but I forgot about it until I was a day late, and then I skipped a day or two. I’m never good about keeping up with a novena. Oh well, I’m going to keep going and at least say the prayers.

Right now, though, I need to get my podcast up on Divine Mercy. In my first podcast, I said that they were as much for me as everyone else as I need to heed my own message. Well, this is so true today that I can hardly write about Divine Mercy. My mind is just so messed up because of what has gone on. I can’t share it here, but please pray for me. Hopefully, I can get out a decent message. I don’t know a lot about Divine Mercy, but I love what I do know. I pray the chaplet during the 3 PM hour on Saturday for those going to Confession (which usually includes myself) and on Sunday for conversion of souls. One good priest once told me that the chaplet tends to be more effective when prayed for something else.

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The Joys of Working for a Corporation

  /   Thursday, April 20, 2006   /   Comments(0)

This morning, we had a very strong thunderstorm. There was more lightning than I can remember seeing in the past year. In the middle of it all, we got this e-mail:

Facilities has asked that employees limit or postpone walking between buildings until the thunder storm passes due to severe lightening. Please be careful!

Darn it! I was going to go swim in a puddle in the parking lot wearing copper underwear and flying a kite with a lightning rod in it. I’ve always said that I might like being plugged into an electric socket.

Seriously, though, our facilities people are quite good. So, I wonder what someone did to get them to feel the need to say this. Then again, I probably don’t want to know.

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What is the Deal?

  /   Wednesday, April 19, 2006   /   Comments(0)

Last night, I was looking around Barnes and Noble for some books to help me research and learn the actual facts that are distorted by the Da Vinci Code. I didn’t find what I wanted, and I bought some stuff I didn’t intend to buy. It looks like it’s good stuff, though.

However, I couldn’t help but notice a shelf full of Gnostic gospels, books on the “cover-up” by the Church on St. Mary Magdalene, and other strange ideas. Of course, there were plenty of copies of Holy Blood, Holy Grail lying around as well. I’d probably have to devote years to reading all of this stuff if I were really interested.

However, I’m not interested. In fact, I can’t understand why anyone would be. I find it hard to believe that anyone can rationally believe that the Church has covered up facts about St. Mary Magdalene. She hasn’t been so good at covering up history as far as I can tell. Further, the whole idea of there being this “secret knowledge” available to only a few smacks of some kind of brainwashing technique.

The thing that puzzles me most is the feminist interest in the Gospel of Thomas. Supposedly, it has Jesus saying that a woman is saved by being changed into a man. Then again, that’s pretty much what feminists try to do. They are the enemy of authentic femininity. I think I’ll just stick with the Church’s understanding that man and woman are both equal in dignity and created in the image and likeness of God, but they are both unique. A woman shouldn’t have to change into a man, but she should be respected, no, revered, as she is. Besides, they are much better looking than men.

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Reading the Compendium

  /   Monday, April 17, 2006   /   Comments(0)

I recently read Jimmy Akin’s comments on the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I bought a copy not too long ago myself, and I have had a little while to read parts of it. Here’s what I think:

I guess you could say that I like some parts of the Catechism (not the Compendium) and dislike others. I’m not talking about the doctrinal content but rather its clarity or lack thereof. It was and still is a badly needed book.

When someone tries to tell you, for example, that the Church now permits contraception, you could show this person any number of books. However, he is likely to reply that whatever you show him is just someone’s opinion, and then he will show you a book that says the contrary. The Catechism is an official reference, and the case can be settled definitively, even if one party doesn’t admit it.

There are things that are explained beautifully in the Catechism. For example, the reason for the existence of Heaven and Hell are very clear in the Catechism. There is a lot of good writing in the area of prayer and morality. However, turn to some parts on the Trinity, and it is difficult to discern just what was the point was.

Now, here comes the Compendium with its question and answer format and concise answers to the questions. It is easy to read and to the point. In a number of the answers that I read, the answer is simple enough for easy memorization, but there is enough explanation for you to gain an understanding. The one exception that I noted was in some of the sections on morality. Some of the difficult teachings were mentioned in a list of sins, but there was no explanation. For example, the only thing that the Compendium says on homosexual acts is that they are sinful. Yes, I know it is intended to be a simpler work, but there are some sources of confusion in our society that need at least some explanation even in a work like this.

Nevertheless, the Compendium is excellent. I hope to see it in wider use. It will definitely not replace the full Catechism, but it will supplement it nicely. Maybe people can read the Compendium first and then go on to the Catechism.

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He is Risen

  /   Monday, April 17, 2006   /   Comments(0)

After the forty days of Lent come the fifty days of Easter. After we prepare by remembering the death of Our Lord, let us not forget that he has been raised from the dead, and, he will never die again. Every day this week is celebrated as a solemnity in honor of the Resurrection. We will celebrate up until June in the Easter season. While many look at the importance of Christmas, let us not forget that Christmas would not be worth even walking across the street for if not for Easter.

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McDonald’s Call Center

  /   Thursday, April 13, 2006   /   Comments(0)

Interesting . . . very interesting . . . McDonald’s is experimenting with a centralized call center in its drive through windows. Well, lots of places use call centers, I’m sure. However, I can hardly understand how this is going to help McDonald’s unless they can have fewer people in the call center than in their individual stores. Then, if they get too few people, people will be waiting at the drive-through in a similar fashion to those waiting on hold at a call center. Can you imagine this at a drive-through “All representatives are busy. Please hold, and your order will be taken in the order of arrival.” I might just drive off.

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  /   Monday, April 10, 2006   /   Comments(0)

After months of delay, the USCCB has finally published the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I have long awaited this. Unfortunately, the hardcover version has been delayed. I went ahead and bought a paperback so that I’d have it.

My first impression from the parts I’ve read is that this is an excellent resource. It isn’t particularly in-depth due to its smaller size, but I’ve found the concise answers to the questions to be very understandable. For some reason, I tend to find the question-and-answer format to be ideal for finding clear, easy to grasp information. I recommend this book to anyone wanting to learn more about the Catholic Faith, especially those who might have found the full Cathechism intimidating.

Oh, and I see that the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults is about to be published as well. I’m waiting to see what this is like.

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Gospel of Judas

  /   Sunday, April 09, 2006   /   Comments(0)

This morning, when I got my e-mail, I read in the New York Times online that a “Gospel of Judas” has surfaced. I guess there’s always the possibility of fraud, but it does seem to be an old manuscript. However, from the article, it appears that the contents are yet another form of Gnosticism. Supposedly Jesus asked Judas to betray him so that he could get out of this body he had. The manuscript says that Judas will “exceed” the other apostles by doing so. No doubt that anyone who is familiar with Gnosticism will recognize this as the Gnostic belief that the body is bad and the spirit is good.

I find this op-ed by Elaine Pagels, a professor of religion at Princeton, to be even more confusing. She claims that this manuscript “opens up new perspectives” on the Gospel stories. However, Gnosticism is hardly a new perspective. The “secret revelation” to Judas (which he must have written very quickly, just before he hanged himself) is nothing more than another take on the idea that we need to get our good spirit out of this bad body.

Further, Pagels claims that the discovery of the Gnostic gospels are “exploding the myth of a monolithic Christianity and showing how diverse and fascinating the early Christian movement really was.” Well, I hate to rain on her parade, but I already knew that there were people claiming to be Christians who had these kinds of beliefs. The fact that people had different beliefs like this does not make those beliefs legitimate. Sure, the people who used these “gospels” thought that they had the advanced, private teaching of Jesus Christ, but the fact that they believed they had it does not mean that they in fact did.

The Gnostics believed that it was their secret knowledge that was bringing whatever they regarded as salvation. Naturally, their writings would claim that they contained the “secret teaching” of Jesus Christ. Interestingly enough, this “secret teaching” that suggests the Gnostic principle that we need to escape our bodies is in direct contradiction to what Jesus taught. In the Gospel of John, we see that Jesus explicitly mentions the resurrection of the body. The Gnostics would view this as wrong in light of their beliefs.

So, what’s the bottom line here? Pagels, in an effort to open her mind to these “new perspectives in Christianty,” doesn’t take into account that the reason that St. Irenaeus dencounced the Gnostic writings was that they were wrong. Any movement that spread like Christianity is prone to have someone out there spreading misleading information. Further, the study of Christianity is not just some historical-critical “scholarly” pursuit, but the understanding of God’s loving revelation to us. Christ promised to guard his Church, and he will do so.

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Choose Life in Your Business

  /   Sunday, April 09, 2006   /   Comments(0)

I got an e-mail yesterday telling me about these businessmen who put the “choose life” license plates on their company vehicles. It’s nice to know that there are people willing to stand like this even in their business.

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