I added tons of functionality to my Wunderground radar viewer
Monday, May 18, 2009
If you click on the radar on the right you can get to the radar viewer. You can also get to it from any radar image on the "Storms Overview" page on this blog. The radar serves several purposes, the biggest of which is to give you every view necessary to get quick information about storms in your area.
It comes up in a default loop of SIX images in time (30 minutes). The most recent additions to the radar include navigational buttons. The large navigational button pans in the direction 3.5*zoomfactor degrees in longitude and latitude. I may change that as it moves WAY too far with full zoom out. The small navigational buttons move 0.1 latitude or longitude. That equates to a few miles.
Also added is a search box that will go to locations in the United States. Try the following to see how it works: DISNEY WORLD BEEF <-- I kid you not, apparently its a known road in middle of nowhere Utah HOUSTON, TX 71272 LOUISIANA TECH
Anyway, with the search you can get anywhere fairly quickly in the US. You can also move all over the place with the navigational tools.
I also added a vertical radar scan indicator when you are looking at scans higher than 0.05 degrees. They light up moving upwards as the radar images move up. To see that try N+R. Keep in mind you are moving up in the sky. You can get a good idea in your mind what is going on at different levels that way.
Also included is a text string translating the latitude/logitude into a string that makes as least a half a lick of sense to people. In the pictured example we have 16 SW BORON, CA (the number is in miles). Try locations you are familiar with to see what you get.
The next thing I plan to add is a list of relevant warnings in the radar scope (or close enough at least) ...
Please pray for a 2-yo little girl who fell in a pool a few days ago. Her brain is swelling and imaging is indicating that her brain is dying. From everything I can tell short of a miracle her brain will continue to swell and she will die.
I am asking for prayers for a miracle.
Please God be with this little sweetheart and her family ...
Creative Minority Report has been doing something I love to see. He is taking the "objective" media to the woodshed. In this case it happens to be about Benedict XVI. Ever since the days of his election the press has repeatedly mentioned that he was in Hitler Youth. The statement is usually left bare giving the reader some idea that the pope is a Nazi sympathizer (or was). For those unwise to the rebuttal, Hitler Youth was a mandatory service. That would make B16 a typical German male of his generation.
This reminds me. What is your favorite REALLY bad argument / conspiracy theory about the Catholic Church?
As part of an ongoing tornado research project, by means of the Site Assessment of Tornado Threat (SATT) 3.0 software, and based on National Weather Service data from 1950 through 2006, the VorTek staff have determined the most tornado-prone point in Louisiana, originally identified in February 2007, remains at latitude 32o 30’ N, longitude 93o 33’ W, which corresponds to a point inside Barksdale AFB, 0.48 mile south of East Gate Road, 0.96 mile west of the East Fence of Barksdale AFB. During the 57-year period noted, 95 tornado track segments have touched down or passed within 20 miles of this point. This includes five F0 tornadoes, forty-nine F1, sixteen F2, nineteen F3, and six F4. If the total land area disturbed by these tornadoes is divided by the land area within the 20-mile circle, on an annual basis the average fraction of land disturbed (or Annual Coverage Fraction) equals 9.1671 x 10-4 or 0.091671%, which is the largest value for any point within Louisiana.
In fact very recently I tracked a supercell through that area on radar which dropped a tornado in Shreveport. The tornado eventually went through Barksdale. Below are the Storm Relative Velocity images from that night before it made it into the city. Its hard to appreciate how incredible these images are and how fortunate Shreveport was in avoiding a significant night-time disaster. Thank God for that!
Apr 9, 2009 9:54 PM
Apr 9, 2009 9:59 PM
Apr 9, 2009 10:04 PM
Apr 9, 2009 Shreveport hook echo
Apr 9, 2009 Shreveport velocity couplet
It was part of a small outbreak that saw 12 tornadoes in the ArkLaTex area.
Lets say I grant that something like waterboarding may or may not be torture. To me the onus is clearly on the person attempting to justify a questionably moral act as NOT evil before condoning its use -- especially in the case of intrinsically evil acts.
For example, very religiously liberal Catholics love to cite Aquinas in their support of life not beginning at conception - this despite the fact he clearly opposes abortion. This gives them license to ask the question "What is life?" and conclude that before a certain point the pregnancy is not life and thus abortion allowable. Should their doubt drive policy on such an important question?
In America we typically take it for granted that a man is innocent until proven guilty. Its the safest course -- the high road so to speak. When we are arguing with the confused on abortion we ask them to consider a baby alive until proven otherwise. It again is the high road. With interrogation I further submit that we consider these methods torture until proven otherwise. To me the fact that their end is to break the will makes it by definition torture. This is basically what The Public Discourse was getting at ... and (1)
I think this is why you have so many Catholics who are indignant and speaking with seeming dogmatic clarity on the issue. Torture is evil. On this there is no wiggle room.
Enter the statement: "Enhanced interrogation" is torture.
Its on this point that people of good-will in the Catholic world seem to disagree. I make no pretenses about the fact that some non-Catholics might support torture. The difference is, in my experience, they call it that. To me that is telling. Its even more telling that the secular world is brow-beating the faith over this failure to see the obvious. Prudence is in order, at a minimum, to avoid further scandal. That's why even if I thought it questionable (vs. immoral), our support in terms of legal vs. not should be even clearer.
** (1) For notes -- pulled this from Policraticus comment on Vox Nova:
The Church has provided us with the essential features of torture (i.e., its form) which we use to identify specific acts of torture (the documents are Veritatis Splendor 80 and Gaudium et spes 27). However, the Church defines torture formally (i.e., what makes an action torture):
1. violation of human dignity in the form of 2. intentional mental and/or physical harm in order to 3. use a human person as a means (or instrument) for some producible end 4. against that person’s will.
That’s the form of torture, and any material action that bears that form is intrinsically evil, plain and simple.
Contemplating the possible loss of a child in the face of the unknown
Thursday, May 7, 2009
When you are sitting there thinking that your son is going to be taken from you it puts you face to face with the reality of whose child you have been entrusted to care. In early March our son was diagnosed with a brain tumor and successive doctors labelled it "serious" and "an 80 percent chance of cancer that was likely inoperable". Over time we realized that the chances of it not being malignat were higher. Eventually we found out it was benign.
Over the course of the month I was weary in my spirit but strong in my faith. That was made possible, I believe, by the prayers and support of family and friends. I could pray little but of higher things I thought quite a bit. Other people bridged the gap when I couldn't tell noon from midnight or Monday from Saturday. They did the praying while I did what God was asking me to do for Peter and for my wife. That just happens when you are in the moment and HAVING to let God do the leading. He was faithful though in letting me know He was there. He used several other things to point out His hand in the matter.
The first is a long standing way God has spoken to my wife and I. Its no mistake that each of our children entered with world during a moment that has an uncanny resemblance to their personality or life; Our first came into the world with a sea of joy, our second with calmness and peace, our third with jollity and laughter. Peter came into the world in seriousness but ultimately with tremendous triumph. Each child has lived out the moments of their birth in great fullness. This episode proved that Peter's birth was no exception.
Other things that normally wouldn't have been seen by me if they hadn't been made so obvious by my dependence came to light.
It's no mistake that the story of Abraham and Issac was the OT reading for the Sunday following his surgery. It's no mistake that the mysteries of the rosary the night before his surgery were the sorrowful mysteries (essentially His Passion). It's no mistake that the mysteries of the rosary the day AFTER his surgery were the joyful mysteries (focusing on the birth of Christ, his childhood and family life). It's no mistake that we entered the hospital on some of the coldest days of winter in Louisiana and left in the full swing of spring. It's no mistake that this past lent is one that gave me the deepest understanding of sacrifice that I have ever had the blessing to know.
It seems odd to consider it a blessing but on this side of it how can I not? At one time I felt like God had asked me to give Peter up. I felt like the apostles in John 6 when St. Peter said "Master, to whom shall we go?" I realized again, it's no mistake Peter is the name of our son. We went through a similar journey with our own Peter.
God was prepared to bring an "Easter Sunday" event into our lives. As Peter is today its almost like we gained another child. We didn't know our son before and we do now.
To trust that His will is perfect and yours is not is difficult. The days I spent in contemplation of that reality that I could, and some families do, lose dear loved ones was a moment God used to draw me closer to Him. My wife summarized it by posting the text of a fictional speech that she read while we were in the hospital
Fr. Felice's Speech to the survivors of the Plague leaving the Lazaretto in Alessandro Manzoni's "The Betrothed"
`Let us remember for a moment the thousands and thousands who have gone forth thither;` and raising his finger above his shoulder, he pointed behind him towards the gate which led to the cemetery of San Gregorio, the whole of which was then, we might say, one immense grave: `let us cast an eye around upon the thousands and thousands who are still left here, uncertain, alas! by which way they will go forth; let us look at ourselves, so few in number, who are about to go forth restored. Blessed be the Lord! Blessed be He in His justice, blessed in His mercy! blessed in death, and blessed in life! blessed in the choice He has been pleased to make of us! Oh! why has He so pleased, my brethren, if not to preserve to Himself a little remnant, corrected by affliction, and warmed with gratitude? if not in order that, feeling more vividly than ever how life is His gift, we may esteem it as a gift from His hands deserves, and employ it in such works as we may dare to offer Him? if not in order that the remembrance of our own sufferings may make us compassionate towards others, and ever ready to relieve them? In the mean while, let those in whose company we have suffered, hoped, and feared; among whom we are leaving friends and relatives, and who are all, besides, our brethren; let those among them who will see us pass through the midst of them, not only derive some relief from the thought that others are going out hence in health, but also be edified by our behaviour. God forbid that they should behold in us a clamorous festivity, a carnal joy, at having escaped that death against which they are still struggling. Let them see that we depart in thanksgivings for ourselves and prayers for them; and let them be able to say, "Even beyond these walls they will not forget us, they will continue to pray for us poor creatures!: Let us begin from this time, from the first steps we are about to take, a life wholly made up of love. Let those who have regained their former vigour lend a brotherly arm to the feeble; young men, sustain the aged; you who are left without children, look around you how many children are left without parents! be such to them! And this charity, covering the multitude of sins, will also alleviate your own sorrows.`
I want to make clear my position on torture based on my reading of the months of discourse on St. Blogs regarding the topic. Before all of this came up Mark Shea was very correct in assuming my mindset on the topic.
Most Catholics never give the question of torture a thought, I'll wager, so their easy assumption that "It's probably okay sometimes: you know, to save New York and stuff" (source)
From a Catholic perspective the papal encyclical Veritas Splendor provides the key text in discussing this issue.
These are the acts which, in the Church's moral tradition, have been termed "intrinsically evil" (intrinsece malum): they are such always and per se, in other words, on account of their very object, and quite apart from the ulterior intentions of the one acting and the circumstances. Consequently, without in the least denying the influence on morality exercised by circumstances and especially by intentions, the Church teaches that "there exist acts which per se and in themselves, independently of circumstances, are always seriously wrong by reason of their object".131 The Second Vatican Council itself, in discussing the respect due to the human person, gives a number of examples of such acts: "Whatever is hostile to life itself, such as any kind of homicide, genocide, abortion, euthanasia and voluntary suicide; whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, physical and mental torture and attempts to coerce the spirit; whatever is offensive to human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution and trafficking in women and children; degrading conditions of work which treat labourers as mere instruments of profit, and not as free responsible persons: all these and the like are a disgrace, and so long as they infect human civilization they contaminate those who inflict them more than those who suffer injustice, and they are a negation of the honour due to the Creator"
The quote from Vatican II is from Gaudium et Spes.
Also CCC 2297
Torture which uses physical or moral violence to extract confessions, punish the guilty, frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity.(source)
Jeff Miller over at the Curt Jester summarized well in a comment on the CMR blog
The heavy lifting on this subject has been done by Mark Shea, Zippy, and Tom at Disputations. The short take is torture is an intrinsic evil and we can never do evil to do good. It is certainly the case the the magisterium and the papal magisterium in particular is teaching this as evidenced by the Catechsim and Vertitatis Splendor.
Too often torture apologists start by imitating Pontius Pilot and saying "What is torture" and then go to a specific situation such as the ticking bomb scenario. Using this scenario to make torture sound reasonable does not address the morality of torture. (source)
I firmly side with the stance that the question "What is torture?" is a sideshow to the real issue.
So lets review: In Romans 3:8 St. Paul clearly states that those who argue "let us do evil that good may result" deserve condemnation. Torture is intrinsically evil.
But still, people insist on the definition of torture. To me the definition of torture is self evident but a satisfying take was published by The Public Discourse in an essay "Torture, What it is, and Why it is Wrong."
Its conclusion was as follows:
Yet taken en masse, the range of enhanced interrogation techniques looks very much like a strategy for breaking down hardened characters bit by bit; standing naked, shackled, deprived of sleep, kept awake with cold water and loud noise, prevented from cleaning oneself after defecation, and subject to painful (though not physically damaging) slaps and disorienting smacks against a wall—and then subject to repeated waterboarding over a course of weeks or months: this looks like precisely the sort of choice described by Lee and myself (though I do not, of course, speak for Lee in drawing my conclusions), viz., the choice to disrupt an agent’s capacities for personal integrity by disrupting his control over his emotions, choices, self-awareness and self-image, connection to other human beings, and judgments.
If so, then neither legal distinctions between this and the infliction of severe pain and suffering, nor consequentialist judgments about national security, nor even reasonable awareness that these terrorists were bad people, and that the US was in a very difficult situation, making hard choices under considerable stress with, in most cases, the good of the country in view, should obscure the judgment that these approaches involved torture. This judgment should especially guide us in going forward: we should repudiate such techniques across all intelligence gathering operations, as was done in the Army Field Manual for Human Intelligence Collector Operations and resolve to hold such operations to the highest moral standards. But we should hope that such a resolve is possible without descent into the politicizing and partisanship that threatens to knock any effort at serious moral self-criticism off course.
The problem is, I suspect, is that the partisanship is really what stands in the way.
I find it very difficult to understand the reasoning that calling torture a rose makes it any less torture. "Let us do evil that good may result". Feel free to tread there. But do so at the risk St. Paul mentioned.
All of you commenters here who keep bringing up torture and going on and on about it:
You all are such simplistic one-issue voters on this torture issue. You're in such lockstep with the Vatican and the hierarchy that it's clear you have abandoned free thinking entirely.
I’m personally opposed to torture, but I don’t think I could ever impose that view on somebody else.
I’d rather see us have a President who works to reduce the need for torture. We need to get at the deeper issues here – it’s not just as black and white as you religious-types always say. We should work with torturers to support them, not criminalize them.
Your belief that torture is “wrong” is just that – a religious belief. Well, what about all of the people who don’t share that belief? We live in a diverse, pluralistic society. Get with the program.
How can you take what is a matter of faith for you and impose it upon another person who might not share that faith?
Did you know that the amount of torturing in this country actually went up during the Clinton presidency? It was lower under Republican presidencies.
Torture is a difficult issue, and people of good will can disagree about it. Ultimately, I think the torturer should be free to make that choice in consultation with his attending doctors, his field agents, and his God.
Besides, even if we made torture illegal, guess what? - there would still be people out there torturing. And they wouldn’t have access to all the sophisticated equipment that we have in modern torture chambers. They’d use whatever they could find – sticks, broken glass, even coat hangers.
Is that what you want? You want us to go back to the days of back-alley torturing with coat hangers?
A truly enlightened society would keep torture safe, legal, and rare.
Is our faith formed by our politics or our politics by our faith?
Friday, May 1, 2009
Since I haven't blogged in ages I figured I would start things back by posing the above question.
I have noticed that a majority of conservative Catholic bloggers are quick to hold on to the moral teachings of the Catholic faith very strongly. They defend against the evil of abortion. They expound heartily on why gay marriage is dangerous to the family. They tend to attack Catholics of a more liberal bent who they say just don't get the simple and plain meanings of the moral teachings of the Church. They often times try to form their opinions of controversial doctrines into the mold of conservative ideology.
I have also noticed that a majority of liberal Catholics tend to demonstrate the same tendency towards emphasis. They are quick to identify with Catholic social doctrine often eloquently defending the dignity of the poor and downtrodden. They rush to explain the churches defense of the dignity of persons with same sex attractions. They tend to attack conservatives who they say fail to appreciate the subtle nuances of Church teaching on social doctrine. They often times try to form their opinions of controversial doctrines into the mold of liberal ideology.
So my question is which comes first, our political ideology to which we try to shoehorn our faith ... or our faith? Are liberals attracted to the Church because of its social doctrine and try to confine their Catholicism within that box? Are conservatives attracted to the moral teachings of the Church and try to confine their faith within that box? Or are we trying to be Catholics whose political allegiance deserves to be earned and not pandered to in part based on our own tendency to identify more strongly with doctrines that happen to be more in agreement with the whole of mainstream (insert ideology here). I'm just askin'
OK, I have decided to cheat. I wrote a small program that farms GIF URL's out of Weather Underground radar pages. You see, I figured out how to get the radar page to the appropriate place and scale to the storm appropriately. With the GIFs Weather Underground does some voodoo magic. I was too lazy to figure it out when a simple lookup would give me the information I need. Thus I pulled the trigger and as a result the severe weather page has three new features.
1. Tornado warnings now show Storm Relative velocity images (YAY!) recolored to (red/green) opposites. For example:
2. Both sets of warnings now show a radar image zoomed in to the place where the warning is.
The bad news is that it is slower ... it may be TOO slow for use with the main site. I may have to do something about that.
Finally, if you are slick enough to use the RSS feeds I use you can specify whether the radar images return as standard or Storm Relative. The "type" parameter is optional. For example:
I wanted to let everyone know who has been with us during this last month that Peter is home and doing better. We spent a grand total of 29 days in the hospital. In the upcoming weeks I am sure to post a lot about it as it has changed me profoundly.
Thanks to all who have prayed for our son and all who have offered support. Here is Peter just moments after coming home.
OK, I got tired of looking at Weather Undergrounds velocity colors. So I decided to do something about it -- and it fortunately did not take long :)
Here is an example of the effort. Soon I will include recolored images with all tornado warnings on my Storms Overview page ... also I will need to deal with the new radar types Weather Underground is adding. BEFORE (Weather Underground native colors)
AFTER (the more traditional colors)
FWIW this storm did drop a tornado about 30 miles ENE of where the velocity couplet is located on this image. (Norman Park, GA)
Peter spiked a fever of 104.8 earlier today and his temp has not dropped below 102.1 today despite using Tylenol to control it. This happened within hours of our supposed release. They have started the battery of antibiotics and cultures on everything (blood, stool, urine, nose, throat -- you name it) ... honestly I want it to be identified as a bacteria or something treatable in short order. Otherwise we would have two sets of fever without explanation during this time frame. The high-grade nature of this fever has me very concerned.
Just as for the last 22 days, I do very much desire your prayers for Peter. Also, please pray for my wife and I, that we will not grow weary and that we can persevere in the face of this continued series of setbacks.
Peter had a 2 inch "juvenile pilocytic astrocytoma" (JPA) removed from his brain on Wed Mar 4th. JPA's are brain tumors but they are fortunately not malignant. Post surgery he developed "superior sagittal sinus thrombosis" which is a blood clot in the brain. All of this has kept him in the PICU for the entire month of March. In recent hours a CT scan revealed that he has pressure on the brain that requires a second surgery. The surgery is scheduled starting at some time between 2-3 pm CST today (Mar 16). The surgery is to place two nickel sized holes in the skull (but under the skin) to relieve the pressure.
Here is an MRI scan of the tumor that was removed:
I am posting more regular and thorough updates on Facebook (click the Facebook image in the header with the picture of Peter and me).
The surgery yesterday was a success. The tumor was most likely completely removed. My wife wrote this update this morning:
Ct scan this morning looked very good according to Dr. Joseph- our neurosurgeon. MRI is at 2:30. We can't hold him until then, and he is sedated because he has a breathing tube in. We're holding his hand and singing and talking to him. He seems to know what we're saying. The resident who was present at the surgery came in this morning and talked to us about the surgery She said it went very well and that once they got to the tumor, it came out very easily. There was also much less fluid than they expected to find. Several of the doctors and nurses here have said they would pray for him too. It is your prayers and your support that have carried us through and God has graciously given us this good result. We have been so very blessed by your prayers and your love and support. We have felt carried through this, as shocking as it has been, from the first day we were here and heard you all were praying for us. We have seen and felt God's grace in breathtaking ways throughout this process.
I am doing more frequent updates via Facebook. If you decide to add me then let me know you did so through the blog ...
Does Pius IX Syllabus of Errors condemn our modern day application of public schools?
Saturday, January 31, 2009
bump ... originally posted Aug 1, 2008
I am asking .... Keep in mind that these propositions were condemned
45. The entire government of public schools in which the youth- of a Christian state is educated, except (to a certain extent) in the case of episcopal seminaries, may and ought to appertain to the civil power, and belong to it so far that no other authority whatsoever shall be recognized as having any right to interfere in the discipline of the schools, the arrangement of the studies, the conferring of degrees, in the choice or approval of the teachers. -- Allocutions "Quibus luctuosissimis," Sept. 5, 1851, and "In consistoriali," Nov. 1, 1850.
46. Moreover, even in ecclesiastical seminaries, the method of studies to be adopted is subject to the civil authority. -- Allocution "Nunquam fore," Dec. 15, 1856.
47. The best theory of civil society requires that popular schools open to children of every class of the people, and, generally, all public institutes intended for instruction in letters and philosophical sciences and for carrying on the education of youth, should be freed from all ecclesiastical authority, control and interference, and should be fully subjected to the civil and political power at the pleasure of the rulers, and according to the standard of the prevalent opinions of the age. -- Epistle to the Archbishop of Freiburg, "Cum non sine," July 14, 1864.
48. Catholics may approve of the system of educating youth unconnected with Catholic faith and the power of the Church, and which regards the knowledge of merely natural things, and only, or at least primarily, the ends of earthly social life. -- Ibid. (source)
As an exercise for the reader, try and come up with a public school system outside of these parameters. Feel free to post suggestions in the comments.
My younger brother lives in Anchorage. Prayers would be appreciated... I am linking to the Twitter feed of the Alaska Volcano Observatory. You will not get any more up to date than this (at least within a minute or two) ...
I wrote this to someone who is going through the last phase of Chestertons three phases (see post before this one) ...
First off, its a normal part of the process for many of us -- especially those of us who take our time and rake the Church over the coals. G. K. Chesterton spelled out the phases of conversion quite well (if you have some time, please read -- if you are short for time start with the sentence "It is my experience that the convert commonly passes through three stages or states of mind." and go from there).
There is an exciting part where we are discovering the TRUTH and just how deep and beautiful this faith we call Catholicism is. We all love that. Then at some point we are staring blankly into the ether and we realize what it will cost to do this. At that point we are looking for reasons not to. We are afraid -- nary -- terrified of what might come of it. With me I made a HUGE fuss over the veneration of relics and incorrupt saints. I told myself "That's creepy stuff ... devil stuff". That I was indignant was an understatement. I wanted so bad to see the Church as a house of cards because it was going to cost me friends, comfort and possibly family. I wanted to stay where I was. Veneration of relics was my reason not to convert ... except that I found a flaw with it. I had already accepted sacramental theology and I found it difficult to ignore the Martyrdom of Polycarp which was VERY early account of veneration of relics . Who was I do determine how God worked through physical things? Who was I to let my inner gnostic pull me away from what I was terrified was true? The problem was that my brain had solved all my objections. It was my emotion and FEAR that was pulling me the other way.
At some point you realize it would be disobedience to Christ to NOT convert. If and when you reach that point I am confident you will find the courage to follow your conscience. Keep praying and Christ be with you.
G. K. Chesterton on the three stages of conversion
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
It is my experience that the convert commonly passes through three stages or states of mind. The first is when he imagines himself to be entirely detached, or even to be entirely indifferent, but in the old sense of the term, as when the Prayer Book talks of judges who will truly and indifferently administer justice. Some flippant modern person would probably agree that our judges administer justice very indifferently. But the older meaning was legitimate and even logical and it is that which is applicable here. The first phase is that of the young philosopher who feels that he ought to be fair to the Church of Rome. He wishes to do it justice; but chiefly because he sees that it suffers injustice. I remember that when I was first on the Daily News, the great Liberal organ of the Nonconformists, I took the trouble to draw up a list of fifteen falsehoods which I found out, by my own personal knowledge, in a denunciation of Rome by Messrs. Horton and Hocking. I noted, for instance, that it was nonsense to say that the Covenanters fought for religious liberty when the Covenant denounced religious toleration; that it was false to say the Church only asked for orthodoxy and was indifferent to morality, since, if this was true of anybody, it was obviously true of the supporters of salvation by faith and not of salvation by works; that it was absurd to say that Catholics introduced a horrible sophistry of saying that a man might sometimes tell a lie, since every sane man knows he would tell a lie to save a child from Chinese torturers; that it missed the whole point, in this connection, to quote Ward's phrase, "Make up your mind that you are justified in lying and then lie like a trooper," for Ward's argument was against equivocation or what people call Jesuitry. He meant, "When the child really is hiding in the cupboard and the Chinese torturers really are chasing him with red-hot pincers, then (and then only) be sure that you are right to deceive and do not hesitate to lie; but do not stoop to equivocate. Do not bother yourself to say, "The child is in a wooden house not far from here," meaning the cupboard; but say the child is in Chiswick or Chimbora zoo, or anywhere you choose." I find I made elaborate notes of all these arguments all that long time ago, merely for the logical pleasure of disentangling an intellectual injustice. I had no more idea of becoming a Catholic than of becoming a cannibal. I imagined that I was merely pointing out that justice should be done even to cannibals. I imagined that I was noting certain fallacies partly for the fun of the thing and partly for a certain feeling of loyalty to the truth of things. But as a matter of fact, looking back on these notes (which I never published), it seems to me that I took a tremendous amount of trouble about it if I really regarded it as a trifle; and taking trouble has certainly never been a particular weakness of mine. It seems to me that something was already working subconsciously to keep me more interested in fallacies about this particular topic than in fallacies about Free Trade or Female Suffrage or the House of Lords. Anyhow, that is the first stage in my own case and I think in many other cases: the stage of simply wishing to protect Papists from slander and oppression, not (consciously at least) because they hold any particular truth, but because they suffer from a particular accumulation of falsehood. The second stage is that in which the convert begins to be conscious not only of the falsehood but the truth and is enormously excited to find that there is far more of it than he would ever have expected. This is not so much a stage as a progress; and it goes on pretty rapidly but often for a long time. It consists in discovering what a very large number of lively and interesting ideas there are in the Catholic philosophy, that a great many of them commend themselves at once to his sympathies, and that even those which he would not accept have something to be said for them justifying their acceptance. This process, which may be called discovering the Catholic Church, is perhaps the most pleasant and straightforward part of the business easier than joining the Catholic Church and much easier than trying to live the Catholic life. It is like discovering a new continent full of strange flowers and fantastic animals, which is at once wild and hospitable. To give anything like a full account of that process would simply be to discuss about half a hundred Catholic ideas and institutions in turn. I might remark that much of it consists of the act of translation; of discovering the real meaning of words, which the Church uses rightly and the world uses wrongly. For instance, the convert discovers that "scandal" does not mean "gossip"; and the sin of causing it does not mean that it is always wicked to set silly old women wagging their tongues. Scandal means scandal, what it originally meant in Greek and Latin: the tripping up of somebody else when he is trying to be good. Or he will discover that phrases like "counsel of perfection" or "venial sin," which mean nothing at all in the newspapers, mean something quite intelligent and interesting in the manuals of moral theology. He begins to realise that it is the secular world that spoils the sense of words; and he catches an exciting glimpse of the real case for the iron immortality of the Latin Mass. It is not a question between a dead language and a living language, in the sense of an everlasting language. It is a question between a dead language and a dying language; an inevitably degenerating language. It is these numberless glimpses of great ideas, that have been hidden from the convert by the prejudices of his provincial culture, that constitute the adventurous and varied second stage of the conversion. It is, broadly speaking, the stage in which the man is unconsciously trying to be converted. And the third stage is perhaps the truest and the most terrible. It is that in which the man is trying not to be converted.
He has come too near to the truth, and has forgotten that truth is a magnet, with the powers of attraction and repulsion. He is filled with a sort of fear, which makes him feel like a fool who has been patronising "Popery" when he ought to have been awakening to the reality of Rome. He discovers a strange and alarming fact, which is perhaps implied in Newman's interesting lecture on Blanco White and the two ways of attacking Catholicism. Anyhow, it is a truth that Newman and every other convert has probably found in one form or another. It is impossible to be just to the Catholic Church. The moment men cease to pull against it they feel a tug towards it. The moment they cease to shout it down they begin to listen to it with pleasure. The moment they try to be fair to it they begin to be fond of it. But when that affection has passed a certain point it begins to take on the tragic and menacing grandeur of a great love affair. The man has exactly the same sense of having committed or compromised himself; of having been in a sense entrapped, even if he is glad to be entrapped. But for a considerable time he is not so much glad as simply terrified. It may be that this real psychological experience has been misunderstood by stupider people and is responsible for all that remains of the legend that Rome is a mere trap. But that legend misses the whole point of the psychology. It is not the Pope who has set the trap or the priests who have baited it. The whole point of the position is that the trap is simply the truth. The whole point is that the man himself has made his way towards the trap of truth, and not the trap that has run after the man. All steps except the last step he has taken eagerly on his own account, out of interest in the truth; and even the last step, or the last stage, only alarms him because it is so very true. If I may refer once more to a personal experience, I may say that I for one was never less troubled by doubts than in the last phase, when I was troubled by fears. Before that final delay I had been detached and ready to regard all sorts of doctrines with an open mind. Since that delay has ended in decision, I have had all sorts of changes in mere mood; and I think I sympathise with doubts and difficulties more than I did before. But I had no doubts or difficulties just before. I had only fears; fears of something that had the finality and simplicity of suicide. But the more I thrust the thing into the back of my mind, the more certain I grew of what Thing it was. And by a paradox that does not frighten me now in the least, it may be that I shall never again have such absolute assurance that the thing is true as I had when I made my last effort to deny it. (source)
This is a "fresh" blogroll. It tends to list blogs most frequently updated at the top. It will also drop blogs not updated for a few days. Never fear though, if you post, it will show back up. If you are interested in how I did it see this post.