Friday Quick Takes (Vol. 1)

— 1 —

Next Friday will see the long-anticipated release of Joss Whedon’s The Avengers, and from what I have been reading, the reality will not fall short of the hype. Christian Toto over at Breitbart.com reports on the strength of the ensemble superhero flick in pre-ticket sales, noting that it “has already sold more tickets at this point in its release cycle than “Iron Man,” “Iron Man 2,” “Thor” and “Captain America: The First Avenger” in their respective cycles combined”. Meanwhile, Matt Patterson over at National Review Online was able to attend the film’s red-carpet premiere some two weeks ago, and his review is nothing short of gushing: “The Avengers is a blast from start to finish, that rare summer film that is both funny and touching, and both tender and thrilling. In short, The Avengers is everything we hope our summer blockbusters will be, and know that they can be, but so often find them not to be.” Given that The Avengers is the film to which I have been most looking forward this year (yes, even more than Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and The Dark Knight Rises), my inner fanboy is going to have a very long week to wait out.

— 2 —

Speaking of comic book heroes, I am champing at the bit to pay a visit to my local comics shop and pick up my last two weeks worth of pulls. When I do make it in, it’ll be for a sizeable and diverse haul: Angel & Faith #9, Aquaman #8, I, Vampire #8, Justice League Dark #8, and Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi #3. Tomorrow the shop opens at 10 AM instead of noon, which will be perfect timing for me to swing by on my way home from work. Patience, young Padawan…

— 3 —

This Sunday, April 29, marks the 49th World Day of Prayer for Vocations. Please offer your prayers that God will open the hearts and minds of our young men and women to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and bring about a vast increase in vocations to the priesthood and religious life. Without guidance and leadership, the flock will surely scatter, so let us pray with fervor and trust that Our Lord will send us shepherds. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has this downloadable prayer card to assist us in our petition (PDF warning): “God the Father, we thank you for calling men and women to serve in your Son’s Kingdom as priests, deacons, religious, and consecrated persons. Send your Holy Spirit to help us respond generously and courageously to your call. May our community of faith support vocations of sacrificial love in our youth. We ask this through our Lord Jesus, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.”

— 4 —

Since we are speaking of prayers, any that you could offer up for me would be greatly appreciated. I’m about a month away from the start of classes at my local community college, after a year and a half of not being in school. I’m hopeful and optimistic about progressing forward in my personal and professional development, and excited about my program of study (Associates in Information System Technology), but after a few start-and-stop efforts at higher education over the past six years, I’m definitely a little jittery. Pax.

— 5 —

I was pleased yesterday evening to come across this “Open Letter To Our Politicians and Fellow Citizens”, written by the Community of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, who are standing in support of the US Catholic bishops and religious liberty in the face of the Obama administration’s Health and Human Services mandate for employer-provided contraception. The CFR, a Franciscan order founded a mere twenty-five years ago, is not know for doing things by half-measure, and their letter pulls no punches: “The recent H.H.S. Mandate attacks and undermines this fundamental principle of our American way of life. Therefore, the Community of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal stands shoulder to shoulder with our Bishops and all those who defend our American values.  Our founding Fathers sacrificed for what they believed in and left us a powerful legacy.  Following their courageous example, we will peacefully and steadfastly resist any infringement upon our religious liberties and our deep-seated beliefs.” Given the hue-and-cry this past week over the Vatican’s planned reform of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, it is refreshing to see such a public display of unity between the bishops and one of our nation’s religious orders on one of the most pressing issues of our time.

— 6 —

Speaking of hue-and-cry, the Catholic Left has been raising all manner of noise over Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) proposed budget. Ryan, a practicing Catholic, fiscal conservative, and chairman of the House Budget Committee, has decided not to cede the moral high ground to those preach that “caring for the poor” necessarily translates to “imposing a confiscatory tax rate on American individuals and businesses and expanding the size and scope of the federal government ad infinitum“. Instead, he has come out swinging, linking the conservative principles of federalism and limited government to the Catholic social principles of subsidiarity. Hysterically (and predictably), his opponents have declined to engage Ryan on the merits of his arguments, and are instead denouncing him as a heretical disciple of Ayn Rand (hat-tip to Joshua Mercer at CatholicVote.org). Rep. Ryan has handled these accusations with humor and poise, and by his example, is laying the foundations for conservatives everywhere, and of every faith, to effectively counter liberal accusations that an agenda of fiscal sanity and political and economic liberty is harmful to the poorest and the most vulnerable members of our society.

— 7 —

Finally, on the subject of Ayn Rand, it has long saddened me that many conservatives, even some devout Catholics I know, are enamored of that detestable woman’s atheistic, materialist philosophy of Objectivism. Though Rand is as anti-Communist as they come, sometime the enemy of my enemy is still my enemy. With the spectre of Objectivism raised in a futile attempt to clobber Rep. Paul Ryan into submission, John Barnes at CatholicVote.org did us all a service by linking to and excerpting Whittaker Chambers’ classic 1957 review (and demolition of) Rand’s seminal novel Atlas Shrugged. Chambers, that former devoted Communist and Soviet agent who saw the light, was no stranger to the pitfalls and perils of the kind of utopian materialism that Rand preached (if not her specific brand), and his brick-by-brick refutation is as thorough as it is masterful. I’ve been a fan of this piece by Chambers since I read it reprinted in National Review years ago, so I am quite happy to see it make a reappearance on the blogging scene.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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