Snowblasted

  

The front of the cathedral, snowblasted during the night.  

The combination of snow, wind and freezing temperatures made being outside a chore this morning. The attendance at Mass was subsequently lower than usual and the walk towards the cathedral something like an obstacle course. Still, it was very much doable, although I wouldn’t want to have been outside the city, where motorways saw moving snowdunes and stalled cars. Decidedly un-Dutch circumstances.  

  

NASA’s Terra sattellite shows that december really was colder in the northern hemisphere than usual, compared to the average temperatures between 2000 and 2008. The culprit is apparently something called the Arctic Oscillation. That has to do with the pressure difference between the mid-latitudes (temperate areas such as southern Canada and central Europe) and the Arctic which is smaller than usual, allowing cold air to creep southward and warmer air north.  

The image also counters the thoughtless suggestion that one cold winter proves that there is no global climate change: the Greenland ice cap is quite a lot warmer than normal. Fun things may ensue if that melts.  

NASA Earth Observatory image by Kevin Ward, based on data provided by the NASA Earth Observations (NEO) Project.

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Translation available

The Dutch translation of Msgr. Marini’s lecture on the liturgy is now available here.

Edit: I’ve just realised I accidentally left out the fourth chapter of the lecture, about active participation. An important topic, and integral to a discussion of the liturgy of the Mass. That section should be added later this afternoon.

Edit 2: The missing paragraph has been added.

Considered discussion

Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster commented yesterday on the debate between secularists and believers. He said that the former are “just as dogmatic as the worst religious believer and sometimes more stridently so”.

“Public life is not a neutral place. Everybody comes with their set of values and religion has just as much right to be there as anybody else.

“A secularist is just as dogmatic as the worst religious believer and sometime they are more stridently so.”

The archbishop emphasised the importance of constructive dialogue.

“That means getting away from the sound-bites and getting away from the discussion that is always centered around oppositional conflict.”

Words that seem very logical, but too rarely put into practice. Mudslinging is always easier, of course, because constructive dialogue requires well-thought out arguments and the possibility of having to reconsider one’s ideas. And there are some situations where the parties and the points of view are so opposed to one another that common ground is very hard to find indeed, thus limiting the possibility for dialogue.

Personally, I would think that this may be one such instance, at least when the parties – secular and religious – are both rigid in their points. But I also think that a sensible approach to this can be found in the Catholic Church, which approaches, for example, science and faith – another much-discussed topic – from the angles dedicated by their respective fields of expertise. But that does not mean that within the Church dialogue is abundant and fruitful. On the contrary: Catholics are people too and may often find mudslinging easier and more attractive than considered dialogue. And I can’t exclude myself from that group.

But I hope to be able to remedy that with my blog’s new focus, and walk the fine line between criticism and negativity, with a firm eye set on a hopeful future.