St. Matthew’s Cathedral, DC

No posts lately. Went to Mexico for a week, came back, got sick, had tons of work to try to catch up on, then left for DC, where I am now and will be for the week. Lots to catch up on.

Let’s start with a pretty church:

Was blessed to attend the 5:30 Mass there this afternoon – it’s about a mile from where I’m staying. Lovely short (as appropriate for a weekday afternoon) liturgy. About 50 people were there, and it looked like the U.N., only with more age differentiation – everything from college kids to people ‘cramming for the final exam’ as they say. Plus, they are praying a novena for increased devotion to the Eucharist. Nice.

It’s probably just me, but I find having St. Matthew as the patron of ‘civil servants’ hilarious – he was a tax collector for the Romans, pretty much a Quisling, until he gave it up for Jesus. Soooo – what’s the message we’re trying to get across here? That civil servants should be able to identify with St. Matthew because they are basically traitors to the people they ‘serve’? Or what? That they should give it all up and follow Jesus?

I mean, St Thomas More, sure – honorable man doing honorable service for his country. But Matthew? Wouldn’t you think you’d want a patron who had a little success as the Church counts success at your profession rather than a patron whose only virtuous act was leaving it?  Is this like making Mary Magdalene patroness of hookers, as a way of saying ‘Stop!”?

Weird.

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To Be Perfectly Clear…

Had we been able to attend the Vigil Mass at the Los Angeles Cathedral last night, I’m sure we would have had a wonderful experience – all those faithful Catholics joined in celebration of Easter would far, far outweigh mere bad architecture.

Early Christians celebrated Mass in holes in the ground while trying to avoid being thrown to the lions – so, yea, things could be a LITTLE worse.

Whiny little sissy signing off.

HAPPY, HOLY AND BLESSED EASTER!

well I’m speechless

Due to a confluence of forces beyond my control, my two children who are coming with me to Mexico and I are unable to attend Easter Vigil Mass at the Los Angles Cathedral as hoped.

We did get to walk by.

– a guard would not let us inside – in fact, he would not even allow us to get close enough to the doors to admire the flowered Cross or look inside through the glass. Because???
– the enormous (in every sense) building night make a decent modern art museum. Perhaps grotesque installations representing the bloated egos of the people  who, uninhibited by taste and deaf to the sensibilities of the people, wasted a couple 100 million on this  monument to self glorificatiion could be displayed there – if they could fit.
– nice to see the gift shop and the grill  were open to cater to the can’t get into the cathedral crowd. 

so I guess I’m not quite speechless. appalled, horrified, sickened, sure.

my mantra  –  sacraments work by working. grace abounds.

Galileo and the Debate Over Copernicus

From the always interesting Mike Flynn, background information on the debates surrounding the Copernican model championed by Galileo.

A brief snippet:

“Given the available scientific knowledge in 1651, a geo-heliocentric hypothesis clearly had real strength, but Riccioli presents it as merely the “least absurd” available model – perhaps comparable to the Standard Model in particle physics today – and not as a fully coherent theory.”

These kinds of things are rarely surprising to anyone with a toehold in the land of real history, but remain mysteriously unknown to the Galileo-as-victim-of-religious-stupidity crowd.

Group Selection versus Kin Selection: Evolutionary Biologist Bar Fight

Over at First Things, this blog post links to this article,  in which pretty much the entire profession of evolutionary biology comes down hard on one its brightest stars, E. O. Wilson, for insisting that the actual evidence and the math that purports to explain it do not support the theory of kin selection. What makes this more interesting is that Wilson himself is chiefly responsible for the prevalence of kin selection – he read a paper by a student that proposed it, and then spent years promoting and expounding on the theory.

Kin selection won out in large part because it logically falls out from gene selection. The danger here is that, given a good theory, the evidence tends to get found that supports it, while any evidence that confounds it tends to get explained away or ignored. That being said, I personally can’t see how group selection is supposed to work in the real world, or how, fundamentally, it differs from kin selection in practice if it did in fact work – breeding practices being what they are, your group is pretty much coextensive with your kin. But, not being a biologist or a mathematician (although I do often play one at work), I don’t have the chops to look at the actual evidence or math.

Funnier still – would Wilson call this consilience? – this issue comes to my attention just as I’m finishing reading The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Kuhn, in which he lays out the why and how of Normal Science’s reaction to anything that threatens it.

Anyway, my sympathies are with Wilson (read several of his books, he’s a sharp man) even though, logically, I can’t see how he could be right, because his opponents (including, of course, Dawkins – I’ve read several of his books, too – he’s very very bright) are snarling a bit more than is civil.

Gotta love cool, logical science in action!