Well, it's my turn to host the illustrious Catholic Carnival, and I must say, considering I'm a no-name blogger, a surprisingly large number of respondents sent in submissions. Without further ado and in no particular order:
Past readers know I have a bit of a beef with Richard Dawkins. I saw recently while visiting my local bookstore that the "esteemed" Dr. Dawkins has a new book out. Now, ordinarily, before casting stones I prefer to read my opponent's writings, so as to better steel myself for the coming battle. But when I saw the title of Dawkins' latest screed, The God Delusion, I realized that it would be a complete waste of my time. Fortunately, John Bambenek has written a rather scathing review at his blog Part-Time Pundit. Thanks, John, for taking a bullet for the rest of us.
Catholic education is of course a goal of any blog which titles itself Theological Calculus, so here's a link courtesy of Allan Wallace to his new carnival on school choice.
The redoubtable Professor Bainbridge continues to expound on Andrew Sullivan's use of the term "christianist", calling Sullivan a Whig Inclusivist. Frankly, I consider Sullivan to be a self-important pretentious blowhard, so any post that punctures his "mystique" is a good thing by me.
It's important to remember that as Catholics we should above all be concerned with spiritual concerns, so here's Sarah R at Just Another Day of Catholic Pondering with a timely update on that perennial debate -- the old church vs the new church.
SFO Mom has some thoughts about how to increase the length of Christmas from one day to eight. Hey, if the Jews can do it, why not us?
Christine at Domestic Vocation makes the seemingly bizarre yet quite profound comparison of God with potted plants. I've never thought to consider God as a ficus, but she makes some interesting points. Read for yourself. (And there was that one bush...)
Like SFO Mom, John Gedbaw wants us to remember that Christmas is not just a single day, but a whole season. Sometimes I think modern society has lost touch that religion is not merely about an hour on Sundays, but should inform one's whole life. In line with that, the Church has helpfully layed out seasons of spiritual thought. As we head into the Christmas Season, we pass through the Season of Anticipation into the Season of Rejoice, as Christ enters the world anew.
Jay at Living Catholicism discusses a painting he saw on the wall of his local Spaghetti Factory (we have them in Seattle too!) and how all things serve God, whether we intend them to or not.
I'm not entirely sure whether these are different Jays, but Jay at Deo Omnis Gloria discusses the Lutheran doctrine of "faith alone" and counterpoints it with faith and works. To be honest, I've never understood the distinction. If you're a man of faith, won't you perforce do good works? At any rate, Jay gets a good post out of it.
Moneybags at A Catholic Life reviews "The Nativity Story". I'm always leery of religious films, in part because in attempting to reach a broader audience they often water down the most essential parts of the dogma. I have to give kudos to Mel Gibson for not falling into this trap. I like to see the religious interacting with secular culture, but I'll probably wait until "The Nativity Story" comes out on video.
I've often compared today's secular culture with nihilism, so I don't know how sympathetic I am to comparisons of liberalism with gnosticism, which at least acknowledges there is such a thing as truth, even if the truth is hidden. But Madcap at Global Conservative makes just such a comparison. I'll leave it up to you to determine whether he's right or not. Hey--I write, you decide.
I find Jared Diamond's arguments about the development of human cultures to be persuasive--to a degree. I don't necessarily believe that the development of nations is a biodiversity crapshoot, and I definitely don't believe that Papua New Guineans are more intelligent than modern people (Okay, some modern people), as Diamond claims. But here's SWP at CatholicLand! (His exclamation point, not mine) with a discussion on how God may have utilized the oh-so-convenient placement of Israel to further his message.
Kevin Miller of Heart Mind & Strength discusses the meaning of this week's Lenten reading, namely the importance of rejoicing that Christ will come to us to baptize us and give us the hope of salvation. He reminds us that salvation is only possible when combined with judgment. No one can be saved if no one is judged. Yet Christ loves us, and gives us all the chance to repent, so that when we are judged, we may pass through the fire unburned.
There are times when we feel as though there is little we can do to save ourselves--that life is just too hard. Joel at On the Other Foot makes the excellent point that even in those black times, the Church gives us the motions we must perform. Man floats in a great black ocean, but it makes a world of difference for his survival if he floats alone or if he has a piece of wreckage, no matter how feeble, to cling to.
Elena LaVictoire gives us more on the Faith vs. Works debate, as she follows bickering over at a Protestant blog (Oh, those wacky Protestants!) on whether Christ's sacrifice constitutes full payment of our debt to God, or merely squares away some of the principal.
Our lives are fraught with moral dilemmas, so fortunately we have good Catholic bloggers like Penitens at A Penitent Blogger to point out that others have gone the road before us: namely, St. Joseph, God's foster father. What would you do if your fiancee came home and informed you that she was pregnant and it was another man's? A good question, one I think a lot of people would struggle with. Fortunately for us Christians, Joseph made the right choice.
Finally, let's close out with a nice (if rather dark) prayer from Owen at Luminous Miseries, in which he prays for those stuck in Purgatory at the moment.
(What, you're still here? It's over. Go home!)