The Annual John Henry Newman Lecture

Philosophy & the Modern World

Presented by Chad Engelland, Ph.D.,

Chairman of the Philosophy Department 
University of Dallas

Saturday, August 31, at Noon

Church of the Holy Cross,
4052 Herschel Ave in Dallas, 75219

A box lunch will be served.

Box Lunch, and Good Learning, 

You can reserve your Box Lunch or lets us know you are coming here

$25 if convenient, all welcome.

Annual John Henry Newman Lecture 2019

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Dr. Engelland is 2019 Michael A. Haggar Fellow and Associate Professor of Philosophy at University of Dallas. He is a graduate of The Catholic University of America, where he earned the Ph.D. in philosophy (2006) and the M.A. in philosophy (2002), and of Xavier University, where he earned the B.A. in philosophy (1999).

When he was named the 2019 Michael A. Haggar Fellow, it was said of Dr. Engelland: “It would be difficult to find anyone at UD—indeed, anyone anywhere—who has accomplished more in the first five years of teaching, research, and service at an institution. The department and the University as a whole are blessed to have this person as a faculty member. Student buzz makes it clear that this professor is thoroughly practiced and skilled in adapting difficult subject matter to his students. He seems to have a knack for pulling his students into difficult ideas while appealing to both their ordinary experience and higher aspirations. He does an especially good job of blending a concern with contemporary thought together with the wisdom of the ancient, medieval and early modern classics.”

Before his appointment at UD in 2014, Dr. Engelland for nine years taught philosophy at Borromeo Seminary and John Carroll University in Cleveland. He takes a phenomenological approach to the history of philosophy and to systematic questions concerning mind, language, metaphysics, and the human person. 

Dr. Engelland has three books published, a fourth under contract, and is editing a volume of essays. He has more than a dozen articles in top-tier journals. In 2016 he published an accessible and engaging introduction to philosophy, entitled, The Way to Philosophy, which captures his classroom approach.

The Annual Thomas More Lecture

The Present Confusion

Presented by Prof. Joseph Wood, Institute of World Politics

Saturday, March 23, at Noon

Church of the Holy Cross,
4052 Herschel Ave in Dallas, 75219

A box lunch will be served.

Box Lunch, and Good Learning, 

$30 if convenient

Annual Thomas More Lecture – Prof. Joseph Wood

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Professor Wood is a member of the faculty at the Institute of World Politics, a graduate school of national security and international affairs in Washington DC. His courses focus on classical moral and political thought, and the distinctions between ancient and modern thinking. His books on related topics include one on the political philosophy of Plato and Aristotle.

Professor Wood is a retired Air Force colonel whose career included operational and command fighter assignments (A-10 and F-15E); faculty duty at the Air Force Academy where he taught U.S. foreign and defense policy; and service at the Pentagon.  After leaving the Air Force, he worked with NASA, the Rand Corporation, and was a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the U.S. From 2005 until 2008 he was Deputy National Security Advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney, responsible for all policy involving Europe, Eurasia, Africa, and defense issues.

Night At The Movies

 

The Lewis Tolkien Society & St. Mary the Virgin Present

Night at the Movies
 Saturday, February 16 at 6:30 PM

Hobson’s Choice

At:
 St Mary the Virgin Catholic Church
1408 N. Davis Drive
Arlington, TX 76012

A “Hobson’s Choice,” as any slang expert will tell you, is no choice at all. And this hilarious and classic 1954 comedy, which stars Charles Laughton and John Mills, is the definitive illustration of this kind of choice. Mills is the boot maker to domineering boot-shop owner Charles Laughton, who lords it over his employees and three daughters by day, then indulges his taste for whiskey at night. Laughton’s “old-maid” daughter Brenda DeBanzie breaks free of her father’s tyranny, marries Mills, and together with her new husband sets up a rival boot shop when Laughton refuses her a dowry. Father rants and raves, but finally agrees to a merger with his daughter that will assure Mills a large measure of freedom over managing things. The winner of the British Film Institute “Best Film” award of 1954, Hobson’s Choice chalked up another international success for director David Lean and actors Charles Laughton and John Mills.


 Doors open at 6:30. The movie (102 minutes) will start at 7:00.
 
We’ll have popcorn, chips, water, iced tea, soft drinks AND PIZZA!!

 
Directions to St Mary the Virgin Catholic Church
Take Interstate 30 West from Dallas or East from Ft Worth to the Cooper Street ExitStay in the right hand lane of the exit to the Cooper Street traffic lightAt the light turn right (south) and go one block on Cooper St to a traffic lightAt that light, turn right (west) onto Road to Six Flags to the next traffic lightAt this light turn left (south) onto Davis Dr for a few hundred feetThe Church will be on your rightTurn into the parking lot and the movie will be shown in the Parish Hall

 

Lewis Tolkien Dinner 2018

7:30 pm Friday November 09, 2018

Christ the King Church, Parish Hall
8017 Preston Rd. Dallas, TX 75225

The Thirty-Seventh Annual Lewis & Tolkien Dinner

Join us for an evening with Justin Dyer 
7:30 pm Friday November 09, 2018

Topic: 
“C. S. Lewis, Politics, and Natural Law”

Speaker: Justin Dyer 
Director of the Kinder Institute at the University of Missouri
Professor of American History

Justin Dyer is professor of political science and
director of the Kinder Institute on Constitutional
Democracy. His research interests span the Felds of
American political development, political philosophy,
and constitutional law, with a particular interest
in the perennial philosophy of natural law

Tickets are $125 / person

Make your reservation now

* you may choose to pay by credit card now or at the door

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Join the Lewis & Tolkien Society on

Saturday, September 8th, at noon for

The Shroud of Turin:  Ancient History: New Research

The Shroud of Turin is a length of linen cloth bearing the negative image of a man whom many Christians for many centuries have believed to Our Lord Jesus Christ.  In recent years it has been kept in the royal chapel of the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in TurinPiedmont, northern Italy, where It has become an object of popular devotion since in 1898 an Italian photographer Secundo Pia created a negative image that clearly shows a crucified man.   The shroud has repeatedly been declared a forgery, but attempts to discover pigment on the fabric have consistently failed.  The Church has never declared its authenticity.  Blessed John Paul II called the Shroud of Turin “a mirror of the Gospel.”  

         Dr. Cheryl White, who teaches history at LSU-Shreveport, has devoted part of her scholarly career to discovering the pre-medieval history of the Shroud and researching its origin.   Join the Society on Saturday September 8h at noon to hear Dr. White and see her excellent presentation.

Champagne, Box Lunch, and Good Learning 
$28 if convenient

       For reservations visit www.lewistolkiensociety.org, or call 214-350-2669 or 214 350-0039. 

Shroud of Turin Lecture

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Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The week has been full of Church news, centering  on the publicity surrounding Cardinal McCarrick, whose fate should evoke sympathy, fill our hearts with pity and cause prayers for his soul’s good.   Cardinal McCarrick is the most notorious.  Nine Bishops have resigned, not when church authorities challenged their behavior but when civil authorities intervened.   But I am not turned aside from writing about the Scriptures to record disappointment over McCarrick, but to look deeper.   The history of the Church is full of collapsed clerics; they are all by nature sinners like the rest of us.   The clergy, good and bad, deserve our persistent prayers; in a profound sense, they are us.     

But the Cardinal represents something different and frightening.  A noxious underground stream flowing through the foundation of the holy Church culminating in the present engineered pontifical confusion.   Who can isolate its source?  The serpent in the Garden?  The French Revolution?   Modernism as condemned by Pius X?   Certainly, something very like modernism became endemic in the wake of the second Vatican Council.    I say in the wake because it is not clear that the bishops wanted the results they achieved.    The typical institution, say General Motors or perhaps CNN, should they suddenly lose half their customers would stop to re-evaluate.   The episcopal body has felt it right to insist that the results of the council were positive and fruitful, ignoring the fact that when you change the language you subtly change the meaning.   Of course, in a way the post-conciliar collapse was to be anticipated.   It is not unusual that after a great council there is a kind of confusion as the decisions taken are established in the fabric of the Church.   But what occurred was not the result of any conciliar decision but was a widespread blurring of the moral lines, conveyed through a thousand clues, that separated a life pleasing to God from one that encompasses a psychology of self-fulfillment.    The charter of holiness as even righteous pagans knew is , ‘Deny yourself.’      The subtle post-Vatican II message was, “Fulfill yourself; God wants you to be happy.”   

          The crisis point was the publication and almost simultaneous practical repudiation of Humane Vitae, which hit the sixties in their weak spot, for it proposed, in deference to God’s good plan for man and nature, restraint, just at the point when the invention of the pill made restraint seem unnecessary.    The Belgian bishops repudiated Humanae Vitae in solemn assembly, and now Belgium is a spiritual waste land.   The Dutch assembled in solemn convocation to declare their freedom from it.   Another waste land.  Canada?  And western civilization began the long march toward making sexual pleasure the sovereign right.    If human sexual relations are just about pleasure, not about procreation to which sexual pleasure is providentially linked—God has a way of rewarding what he wants done― it will be found that humans, having set aside the sometimes-onerous relation between pleasure and child-bearing and rearing, historically have discovered, or rather fallen back into,  numerous means to pleasure, some casually and extravagantly carnal, some solipsistic, some baroque, some bizarre, some cruel, all set violently against God’s design that, having made them male and female, they should multiply and replenish the earth.  If pleasure is the justifying end, contraception is the means; if that fails, conception being an unwanted burden, abortion, the solemn act that establishes man’s ownership of himself, or, as the saying goes, that a woman’s body, including the child within,  is her own property—a proposition specifically denied by St, Paul in Ephesians 5―is the solution.  Nor is homosexuality unrelated, for once the justifying purpose of sexual relationships is pleasure, it will be found that weak humanity will find diverse ways to obtain pleasure.  

          In the wake of Paul VI’s defense of life there followed two great popes who understood that abortion and homosexuality represented the failure of the fulfillment of the human vocation.   But now come those who believe not that these things are right,  but that on a certain day they can be done.   In the United States the point man for this new paradigm is the Cardinal Archbishop of Chicago, who goes about urging, in coded but sufficiently obvious language, benign acceptance of communion for the twice married, the possible goods of homosexuality.   I, in my place, as a would-be-faithful Catholic, a sinner sometimes forgiven, have a message for the Cardinal.   He has his constituency.   They are there, some of the clergy, perhaps especially those victims of the seventies and eighties; they are there in the chanceries, that class of professional religious who push the buttons and turn the cranks of the bureaucracy and who by nature dislike the sharp lines that Catholic teaching draws and perhaps harbor as well as a distaste for the history of which they were not part; in the professional societies, whose members seem always prone to  value their insights above the common teaching of the Church; and of course they are there among those who find justification for their sins in weak or ambiguous teaching.  

My message for Cardinal Cupich is that he will fail; he will not be able to convince those priests who carry in their hearts the faith of the apostles, nor will he be able to convince the typical weekly-mass-going Catholic, that these things are good and right.  What, on the other hand, he may be able to do is to convince some mass-goers that such behavior while not right is not wrong, which is different but no less debilitating.  The cardinal vice of modernity is sentimentality, and that which we cannot condemn we somehow condone.  Who after all would want to cause pain?   And this brings me to the point of this week’s thoughts.  The text for the second lesson was taken from Ephesians chapter 2.  It expresses  Paul’s anxiety about the relations between the Old Israel and the New, his teaching that Christ’s death has broken down the wall of separation, creating in Himself one new man in Christ, neither Jew nor Greek, in place of two.   This is at least complicated; good luck to the homilist!  It will surely cause no pain.

In choosing this text the lectionary passed over the preceding verses, which are not complicated: 

And you he made alive, through the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience.  Among these we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of body and mind, and so we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.  But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive through Christ (by grace you have been saved).  

And one final request, your Eminence, do not accompany us, for the tendency of weak and fallen sheep is to head straight for the weeds.  So instead of accompanying us, raise the standards of truth and holiness, which require faith and above all restraint; ‘Deny Yourself.’     It’s the human thing to do, and divine.               

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

For His Glory

In Him we were also chosen,
destined in accord with the purpose of the One
who accomplishes all things according to the intention of His will,
so that we might exist for the praise of His glory.

Ephesians 1:11-12

 

There is an idea, a very old idea, that Aristotle named final causality.  It existed before Aristotle gave it a name, and it is different from efficient causality.  That the car starts when you turn the key in the ignition switch illustrates efficient causality; that you turn the switch so that the car will start so that you can go to your office is final causality of a not very important kind; final causality being that for the sake of which an action is undertaken.  And our lives are like that.  We do countless small and expedient things on behalf of larger purposes, and in the end the answer to what is my life for is its final causality.

          Unhappily, post modernity runs shy of final causality, or at the least engages it with confusion.  In my favorite movie, Isabel Colgate’s The Shooting Party, the master of the house proposes that we are here to leave the world a better place than we found it.  The most sympathetic character, a servant wounded in the shoot as he dies, half-shouts the faith of many nineteenth-century Britons: “God save the British Empire!”  These, variously vague and trivial as they may be, exude nobility in comparison with what an alien observer might deduce from the common culture of twentieth century America, where reigns the philosophy of Epicurus, the first to say that the purpose of life was to enjoy as much pleasure as might reasonably be possible and to avoid pain, inventing therewith, in the sixth century before Christ, the culture of pleasure and comfort.  Epicurus’ idea of the purpose of life was denounced by Aristotelians, Platonists, Academics, and Stoics, but Epicurus had discovered a truth that will endure while time lasts:  Pleasure is a good of a kind, and when nothing lifts the eye of the soul above the world of the immediate, pleasure will be the default position of mankind.  His principle was that men should seek pleasure reasonably.  As it worked out, in the contest between reason and pleasure, it was all too often pleasure six, reason zero.  Continue reading “Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time”

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

God did not make death,
Nor does He rejoice in the destruction of the living.
For He fashioned all things that they might have being.
                                                            Wisdom, 1:13–15

In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
                                                              John 1:4

 

Jesus is about life. “I have come that you might have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)  Christianity does not teach the immortality of the soul in the way that theosophists and New Agers teach it.  It does teach this truth: that at the moment of conception God creates in time a person whose name he had known from the foundations of the world, a person with a determinate destiny, with a future that is forever, a person who will know the Father and His Son Jesus Christ in this life and who will then pass through the door marked death to enjoy the vision of God and to sing with the saints the praise and glory of the Creator. 

This is what seen from a human point of view might be considered Plan B, for in the beginning God had intended that the creatures made in His image should live blessedly in the Garden and should answer when He called their names.   What supervened was the serpent, disobedience, and death.  And this is the part of the story we know best, for we live amidst the ruins of rebellion, and in the daily presence of death.  “Who,” said Saint Paul, “will deliver us from this body which is consigned to death? (Romans 7:24)  And the answer is, “Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ”. 

Jesus is the person in whom life is victorious over death, who commanded the prophet John to write: “I am the alpha and the omega, the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive for evermore, and I have the keys to death and hades.” (Revelation 1:18)  And at the end of John’s vision he sees that death and hades are thrown into the lake of fire (20:14), with those who have chosen death by joining Satan’s rebellion.  For by our creation we are ordained to live forever.  That any should be lost forever is a dark mystery founded in the inexpressible value of every soul, the reality of freedom, and the providence of God.  But His will is life and His mercy more powerful than Satan’s wrath and deceit, The center of the New Creation is not a Constitution or a Declaration of Rights but a person, Jesus Christ, whose name is Emmanuel, God with us, who will wipe the tears of life from our eyes so that we can behold the light of God’s glory, and the lamp is the Lamb. (Revelation 21:3–4, 23) 

The Christian religion as defining of reality is distinctive in that, while it is framed around certain beliefs expressed in the great creeds to which believers adhere through the gift of faith, it is even more fundamentally about a life lived in, with, and through the divine-human person who was born of Mary and the Holy Spirit in the reign of Augustus, who is the meaning of history because beyond the ambiguities of present experience and the wreckage of time, He lives. His disciples did not believe the truth that He is the Messiah until He spoke to them and they knew that He was alive. He is person writ large as the living meaning of time.  As Christian thought unfolded it became clear that this person was more than a person in that He was not only the person whose death on the cross the Johannine witness remembered, not only the teacher who had perfected the Law to make it a thing of the new heart, but the Word through whom all things were made, who as Word filled the cosmos, so that Paul could say that in Him all things were created, in heaven and earth, visible and invisible; even the highest choirs of angels, thrones, dominions, and powers were created through Him and for Him. (Colossians 1:15–20)   And it is His high desire that all should not only have life by believing in Him, for this is the will of the Father, but that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.  The purpose of belief is life; “that believing you may have life in His name,” and  beyond belief, it is the will of Christ that those who believe should share in His life by partaking of His very person.  I am, Jesus said, living bread; bread that is and gives life, one may eat of this bread and live forever. (John 6:51)  And in this famous passage from John 6, Jesus identifies the body that will be given for the life of the world on the cross with the living bread that comes down from heaven.  The pathway to life is sharing in Christ’s body and blood.  “As He said to everyman: have life; eat my flesh and drink my blood; otherwise you have no life in you. (John 6:52) These are astonishing words.   If there was one principle in Israel it was the prohibition against drinking the blood of any creature, for the blood was the life, with life understood as analogous to the Greek soul, the very principle of existence, which as such might be offered to God, but which no man could claim as his own.  In the book of Acts, that Christians should refrain from blood was an apostolic concession to Jewish tradition and sensibilities (Acts 15:20).  Body and blood are the Hebrew anthropology, analogous to body and soul in things Gentile, Greek and Roman.  Since Christ is the sacrifice, sharing in His sacrifice as life giving is no more remarkable than the sharing of the sacrifice at Mount Sinai or the sharing of the Passover Lamb.   But the command to share in the divine life by drinking the blood of the Son of Man is an especially compelling command that believers share in the very life of Christ.

The sixth chapter of the Gospel of John was written in a community in which the sacrifice commanded by Jesus in Matthew, Mark, and Luke was certainly celebrated, and it is perhaps characteristic of the Johannine author to elaborate the theology of the thing while assuming that the pattern of the celebration is too well known to require reiteration.  It was surely celebrated to realize the promise Jesus teaches in John 6:  “Abide in me, and I in you;” that He may dwell in us and we in Him.  The language of the New Testament is quite unaccountable except on the thesis that the gift of faith and the sacraments of baptism and the Eucharist effected union with Christ who lives throughout time because time is His creature.  For Paul, simply, to live is Christ; believers are to have the mind of Christ.   Surely this union is effected by faith, but it is realized and fed by the Great Thanksgiving through which Jesus is present, offering His body and blood.  The baptized says Paul in Galatians “have put on Christ.” “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20)   

 It is difficult to convey the freshness with which the apostolic mission engaged the world, for while there were words to be believed there was so much more to be lived.  And so it remains.  The answer to the claims of Jurassic park, to the argument that He will not appear to have His existence verified by analytic philosophy, to the undoubted fact of the pain of the world must always begin with the impressive intellectual arguments put forward by the Christian mind, but to the  eternal frustration of the Adversary, the irrefutable claim will always be, “I know Him.” 

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Life Means a Person

 

If the blood of goats and bulls 
And the sprinkling of a heifer’s ashes 
Can sanctify those who are defiled
So that their flesh in cleansed, 
How much more will the blood of Christ. 
Who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself unblemished to God, 
To worship the living God.

 

Hebrews 9:13-15

 

For Greeks a person was body and soul.   For Hebrews a person was body and blood, with the understanding that the blood is the life.  Without the shedding of blood, there could be no effective communication with the gods or with God, –remission of sins, a truth held not only by Jews and Christians, but by Greeks and Romans, for whom sacrifices, personal and as participation in civic liturgy, were part of daily life.  In the superscript the author of Hebrews is drawing a comparison between the sacrifices of the Temple and the once-offered sacrifice of the Messiah.  He does not deprecate the sacrifices of the Temple, which had been commanded by God to atone for sins, but points out that “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sin” (Hebrews 10:4).  The Sacrifice of Jesus makes new creatures because His Holy Spirit renovates the human heart, not forestalling God’s just punishment, but “taking away sin,” putting God’s law in their hearts and writing it on their minds (Hebrews 10:16–-17).  And from the beginning there was this great difference.  Romans would sacrifice to gain favorable treatment and bring good fortune.  Christians sacrificed, inspired by love, in order to fulfill the Lord’s command given on the night He was betrayed, but also in order to share in the very life of Him who is God and man for knowledge of whom the soul longs.

          That blessed ability to know God in the person of Jesus, is the consummation of a long education through long ages during which God became ever nearer to the people who had rejected Him in the garden.  His drawing near has from the beginning been a bloody business, effected first by the sacrifice of all clean animals when He made the first covenant with Noah, promising the stability of the heavens and the earth (Genesis 8:20–22).  The passage of Israel out of Egypt was secured by the offering and eating of the Paschal Lamb, whose blood would warn way the angel of death (Exodus 12:1–36).  The covenant at Sinai was sealed by the sacrifice of young bulls, whose blood, scattered on altar and people made peace with God, at which time the elders saw God and ate and drank in His presence (Exodus 23).  These are the ante-types.  Each secures a great promise.  For Noah the stability of the heavens and the earth, sealed by the rainbow; for Israel at Sinai the gift of moral form with the ten commandments, sealed by the presence of God with Israel in the tabernacle. Continue reading “The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ”