Of Rice and Men

I’m starting to grow weary of the “girl’s communion revoked” story, but it’s just hit secular press, so it’ll be around for a while yet. Any story that reflects badly on the Church, or could be twisted to do so, is likely to hold media attention for some time.

Anyhow, here’s an article about a response from Australia’s National Liturgical Commission to the stoppage of wheat-free host production.

Also, the net’s coolest Anglican, Pontificator, has tossed in his two cents about the first communion controversy.

Comments 10

  1. Jerry Nora wrote:

    Hi Theomorph. You may also wish to recall that much of astronomy, including the Big Bang hypothesis, medicine, mathematics, and Mendelian genetics were all developed by priests, to say nothing of countless projects completed under the auspices of the Church.

    And before you even think Galileo, please take a look at Heilbron’s “The Sun in the Church” for a balanced, yet critical look at science in the Church. I’d love to discuss it with you. 🙂

    The Church supports much scientific work, and John Paul II was noted for paying close attention to scientists even before his pontificate. However, science is not morality. You implied in your above post that the Church was in the wrong for condemning (embryonic) stem cell research while people saw that as their only hope (wrongly, in fact). Ergo, it seems that you would argue that science should be useful to people. Heck, with no God, what other standard is there for you besides usefulness to people? Could there be another one? I’m curious if there is.

    The Church likewise states that science should be for the benefit of the human person. Ergo, research that destroys humans (embryonic research) is bad for the same reason that Nazi “research” in the death camps and the Japanese “research” in Manchurian camps were bad. I would say that your real difference with the Church is probably that you disagree on the personhood of the embryo.

    And how outmoded is that notion of helping others? Do you regularly kill, rape, or steal? Why truck with those ancient precepts, even older that the Catholic Church? 🙂 What bit of research or modern enlightenment made those obsolete?

    Posted 24 Aug 2004 at 3:19 am
  2. Sean wrote:

    I also disapprove of basing arguments on tradition. Being old dosen’t make something right. I can come up with reasons not to kill, rape or steal. If you have arguments to support a tradition then by all means use them, but tradition itself should not be an argument.

    Posted 25 Aug 2004 at 8:20 am
  3. Funky Dung wrote:

    It’s basically a matter of obedience. It’s not a coctail. God instructs us to do something a certain way (or leads by example), so that’s how we do it. Think of it as a parent saying, “I have something good to give you, but you have to ask nicely and do as I say.” Parents have reasons for why they tell kids to behave a certain, and they’re usually in the best interest of the child.

    Posted 21 Aug 2004 at 5:28 pm
  4. theomorph wrote:

    Okay, you’re a Catholic. Explain to me why wheat needs to be in the host. Is that an essential ingredient for transubstantiation or something? Seems to me like it wouldn’t matter what the host is made of, if God is just going to turn it into Jesus anyway.

    Posted 21 Aug 2004 at 4:13 pm
  5. Funky Dung wrote:

    Perhaps I’ll go into the whole spiel one of these days, but for now be content with this. I’m not In A.I. because it’s the bleeding edge. I’m not out to play God, either. Like any responsible member of the scientific community, I want my work to benefit mankind. For instance, some of my current research involves trying to find predictive signals in mass spectrometry data for ALS. Other research I’m involved in relates to protein crystallization, which is a rate-limiting step in drug discovery. However “bleeding edge” this work may be, I do it all with an eye to the past. I look to ethical researchers of the past. I look to Scripture. I look to Sacred Tradition. I look to the Church. Keeping my work ethically sound and on the right side of God’s law is important to me. If I thought that something I was doing was contrary to natural law, sound bioethics, or my conscience I would cease doing it. Religion and science are not in competition with each other. Tradition and Scripture inform my conscience. Science speaks of “what” and religion speaks of “why”.

    Posted 21 Aug 2004 at 8:04 pm
  6. theomorph wrote:

    Ugh. I am thoroughly tired of the God-as-Parent metaphor. What kind of parent tells you that if you don’t do it his way, he’s going to kill you? What kind of parent arbitrarily tells you that you have to have wheat in your eucharist hosts while knowing full well that the gluten in the wheat would kill some people? If God is like a parent, he’s like the worst parent I can imagine.

    Posted 21 Aug 2004 at 6:14 pm
  7. Funky Dung wrote:

    Well, I’m not going to get into the whole God-as-parent issue, but I’ll address the gluten.

    1) The mother had a viable alternative to the wheaten host – wine. She rejected the Precious Blood as an option for her child.

    2) There was a second alternative – low-gluten hosts (which wouldn’t kill the child or even liekly make her ill). That wasn’t good enough, either, it seems.

    3) She went behind the Church’s back, so to speak. If wheaten hosts are evil, fine. Make a stink. Start a grassroots campaign. Write your bishop. Whatever. Just don’t go sneaking around like you know better than 2000 years of Tradition. Maybe you’re right. Maybe not. That’s not to be determined on a whim or “in the shadows”.

    Posted 21 Aug 2004 at 6:34 pm
  8. Funky Dung wrote:

    Well, to be quite honest, I haven’t found dogmatic or doctrinal support for that yet. There are reasons for restricting the materials in general, though.

    1) The change does not occur because we will it, but because we ask for it. The sacraments are conduits of grace that have visible signs. As such, they are gifts from God. He instituted the Eucharist during His earthly ministry. We are to follow Christ’s example, so we imitate the Last Supper with the confection and distribution of the Eucharist.

    2) The Eucharist is based on the Last Supper, which was a Passover meal. The Old Testament specifies the required materials for Passover. While we don’t replicate a Passover meal in every detail, a strong resemblence is there. Thus we have unleavened bread and wine.

    3) There is a practical reason for restricting materials – avoidance of sacrilege. We don’t want people trying to consecrate doritos and Coke.

    4) In general, Canon Law is slightly more restrictive than might be needed in order to avoid potential problems. To prevent abuses, the bar was set pretty high. The bread must be wheat flour and water only (no Wonder bread, for instance) and the wine must be of fermented grapes (no unfermented juices or other alcoholic beverages).

    Posted 21 Aug 2004 at 4:46 pm
  9. theomorph wrote:

    What makes tradition so authoritative? This is a big deal to Catholic and Orthodox folks. Why does it matter that X has been done by such-and-such method for 2,000 years?

    I mean, not that I want to get too personal, but it seems pretty weird to me that you are working in artificial intelligence (which is pretty darned bleeding edge) and then defending 2,000 year-old-religious practices as authoritative. Why bother with A.I. when God has laid everything down that you need to know? Why innovate with computer science that scares the hell out of a whole lot of people, then preach against stem-cell research, which a whole lot of people see as their only hope, all while decrying the rapid advance of science and claiming that stuff God allegedly said 2,000 years ago trumps anything else? Just seems weird to me. How do you rationalize all that?

    Sorry if I’m overstepping, but all this just sorta struck me a minute ago, and now I’m wondering.

    Posted 21 Aug 2004 at 7:01 pm
  10. theomorph wrote:

    Why not consecrate Doritos, though? I mean, something so lowly as Doritos would certainly benefit from consecration, right? 😉

    Still seems silly to me. If God can’t become present unless the cooks follow the correct recipe, what is the difference between this and good old fashioned potion-mixing paganism?

    Posted 21 Aug 2004 at 5:15 pm

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