Arrogance or Authority?

Arrogance or Authority?

If pride is strong enough to bring down a third of the angels, what chance do we lowly mortals have against it? Every Christian knows that pride sits at the head of the deadly sins, the fount from which almost all other sins flow. I suppose you could nitpick and say that pride and arrogance are not the same thing, but they’re close enough for government work. When presenting an argument (or simply when making a statement with which someone else disagrees), it is easy to slip into a pride or arrogance that presumes we are better than our opponent. “I’m right; I know the truth which you, because of your ignorance, illogically reject.” Faithful Catholics who defend the Church usually get labeled as arrogant. Non-Catholic Christians seem to bristle at the presumption that the Catholic’s (not Catholic) position is somehow more authoritative than their own. “Why are your opinions any better than mine?” It can seem to be yet another example of Catholic hypocrisy: “they claim to be Christian but commit the sin of pride in thinking they are right and everyone else is wrong.” Every non-Catholic Christian is essentially his own Pope, determining what is right or wrong, even at the same time recognizing his own fallibility and possibility of error. Thus, to the non-Catholic, with the possible exception of explicit Biblical teaching, skepticism reigns because who can know the truth? A Catholic claiming to speak the truth doesn’t have the skeptic membership card, and thus is branded as arrogant or prideful. I’m not a philosopher, and you can correct me in the comments, but the problem seems to...
Red Light, Green Light – Discernment and the Urge to Get Ahead

Red Light, Green Light – Discernment and the Urge to Get Ahead

The streets in my town are frustrating. Coming from Omaha, Nebraska, I’m used to most everything being laid out in nice square-mile sections carved from the carefully acquired farms of Douglas County, each lined with a major road. When I moved to Shreveport, Louisiana, I discovered an entirely different world: only two major roads running through town, each lined with red light after red light. Stop-and-go traffic. Car exhaust pouring in my truck windows (Louisiana in the summer with no A/C in the car). I feel a migraine coming on just talking about it. To preserve my sanity on the morning commute, I decided to find the smoothest path possible. I observed the red lights and figured out exactly what speeds to go when in order to maximize the green lights. One particular stretch of road requires that, from the moment the upcoming light turns red, I go exactly 30 mph. Unfortunately, the speed limit is 45 mph. That grandpa in the 4-banger pickup in front of you? Yep, that’s me. I like to live on the wild side – I go dangerously slow. Every morning on this commute, I watch in bewilderment as other commuters – presumably as familiar with this route as I am – pass me at high speed only to get trapped by the same red light I was going slowly to avoid. Creeping up on them at my snail’s pace, I hit the gas and zip past at 45 mph just in time for the light to turn green. Slow and steady wins the race. This practice has become a bit of a routine...
The 5 Rules of Fame

The 5 Rules of Fame

  I’m gonna live forever. / I’m gonna learn how to fly / high! I feel it coming together. / People will see me and cry! / Fame! I’m gonna make it to heaven. / Light up the sky like a flame! / Fame! I’m gonna live forever. / Baby remember my name! I have a confession to make: I check the stats for this blog everyday. Now, the official reason for this is that I’m the webmaster and part of my job is to analyze traffic. There’s another reason, though: I like seeing that lots of people are reading the blog, and not always for the noble, selfless intention of wanting people to have access to quality Catholic insight. I can be pretty vain sometimes (let’s stick with the topic of fame, though, so I can spare you the Carly Simon lyrics). I like seeing that we’re becoming well-known in the Catholic blogosphere. Then I get a day like yesterday. After a whole day of ripping carpet in my home, I whipped out my iPad and checked the logs to discover a total of 441 hits for the day. That’s abysmally low, but it’s actually quite common for us when our posts attract a natural audience. By natural audience, I mean an audience not prompted to visit us by the great chroniclers of Catholic New Media, Kevin Knight of New Advent and Tito Edwards of ThePulp.it/National Catholic Register. These two have given us tens of thousands of hits, and for that, we’re grateful, but it does go to show the first rule of fame. You owe most of...

The Christ Child Didn’t Read Comic Books

by Micah Murphy Ask anyone in my family and they will tell you that when I was a child, I wanted to grow up to be Superman. Who didn’t? Throughout my younger years, I wanted to be a number of things. I dreamed of one day becoming an architect, a lawyer, a teacher, a physicist, an astronomer, but I just kept coming back to Superman. He could fly! Stop looking at me like that. I remember praying to become a superhero. SuperMicah (I wasn’t a very imaginative child) would fly through the air and rescue people in need. He would be a man of undying virtue, but self-sacrificing even to his own death. I used to bargain with God when I would pray to be that man. “God, please give me superpowers, so I can save people’s lives and stuff. You know me, you know I’m not a bad kid. I won’t become a villain. I just want to help people. Surely you can give me some superpowers so I can do that? You want to help people, right? Send me!” Now that I’m grown up, I realize the great wisdom in God’s adamant refusal. He wasn’t turning a deaf ear, He was turning a wise one. He knew I would falter and fail in many ways. He knew I wasn’t superhero material. He knew I asked out of pride and not humility. As I remembered back to my childhood fantasies the other day, I was struck by a realization: the Christ Child must not have read comic books. Jesus had infinite power, even as a child, and yet...

Taming the Beast Within

by Micah Murphy My family and I went yesterday to the cinematic re-release of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. As I remembered back to the first time I saw it in a now defunct theater in Omaha, Nebraska, I recalled that my father and I had conveniently missed most of the opening on account of our dire need for concessions. This time, I saw the ornate stained-glass motif and couldn’t miss the meaningful Latin phrase, what I assume was the family motto of the beast’s own kin: vincit qui se vincit – he conquers who conquers himself. It was too late for the movie. The gears in my mind were turning and there was no looking back. What does our faith have to say about this motto? The Catechism has a fair amount on the topic of self-mastery in regard to chastity. From there, we can extrapolate general Christian attitudes about the topic: “Chastity includes an apprenticeship in self-mastery which is a training in human freedom. The alternative is clear: either man governs his passions and finds peace, or he lets himself be dominated by them and becomes unhappy.” -Catechism of the Catholic Church 2339 Throughout Beauty and the Beast, the Beast is told to control his anger. The passions, which include anger, are emotional urges all men must put up with. The Christian response is simple: rule or be ruled. “‘Man’s dignity therefore requires him to act out of conscious and free choice, as moved and drawn in a personal way from within, and not by blind impulses in himself or by mere external constraint. Man gains such...