Friday, July 29, 2011

Is Dinesh D'Souza a "High Profile" Fallen-Away Catholic? (vs. Steve Hays)

Anti-Catholic Reformed Protestant polemicist Steve Hays thought that he scored a big zinger against Catholics. He wrote:

Catholics like to hype high-profile conversions or reversions to Rome. But someone traffic [sic] in the opposite direction doesn't get quite the same press.

(Turning from Rome, 7-29-11)

He then cited an article D'Souza wrote (dated 8-31-10), explaining that he was not a Catholic. The trouble is the definition of "high profile." I agree that D'Souza is a prominent conservative writer and general Christian apologist. But a "high profile conversion or reversion" is generally regarded as a person who was solidly in the Protestant or Catholic camp and then moved to another. If a person was never truly a zealous partisan of his or her former communion, I fail to see how this is a "high profile" deconversion, no matter how prominent the person may otherwise be, because the key factor is not the successes of their career or how great their occupational fame, but rather, the religious and theological factors in particular.

Thus, Hays' point is fundamentally flawed. Here I am writing about a person he thinks represents some hugely significant "victory" for evangelical Protestantism over against Catholicism (whereas he thinks Catholics don't and won't do so). He's wrong about that. Nor is this the first time I have (as an apologist and convert myself, and student of such things) treated deconversion. I wrote about Bill Cork (Adventist-to-Catholic-to Adventist) two times (one / two). I showed there that he hadn't really firmly grounded himself in Catholicism.

Our task as Catholic apologists is to show (in these instances) that inadequate reasoning was brought to bear in forsaking of the Catholic Church, or that there was no firm commitment to begin with. I think I did that in Cork's case, and shall do so in D'Souza's in a moment. I've also critiqued many stories of atheist deconversion out of Christianity in general, showing each time, I believe, that the reasons were inadequate or fallacious.

And I have responded to ridiculous attacks on Catholic converts (such as Francis Beckwith or former Anglican, Fr. Al Kimel), that try to run down the person involved and attack their integrity and/or their previous knowledge. I've been the recipient of many such attacks, myself (uniformly wrongheaded and usually weighed-down by the most ludicrous errors of simple fact, or absurd attempts at mind- and heart-reading).

But back to D'Souza. Why would I deny that he was a "high profile Catholic"? I do so based on his own report in the very article that Hays sent his readers to. He was never firmly in the Catholic camp to begin with (thus his departure is of no very large significance at all, in terms of an anti-Catholic or contra-Catholic apologetic or confirmation). No one need take my word for it. He says it plainly himself, after protesting that the very inquiries about his religious status constituted a "bizarre question" and a "strange business." Near the end of the article, he describes it as "largely a non-issue."

Well, I think devoted partisans of either side think it is a very important question and business and issue (as Francis Beckwith himself noted in a critique article of D'Souza). The fact that D'Souza does not, plausibly gives some indication, I think, of his less than total commitment to theological maters of great importance. Otherwise, why speak in those denigratory terms? He wasn't even "fully committed" to his newfound evangelicalism until after seven years attending church with his wife (suggesting that his prior Catholic commitment was not all that profound, either). Here are his words (my bolding):

. . . he quoted from a profile on me that Rosey Grier did in his book All-American Heroes: Multicultural Success Stories. Greer [sic] quoted me as saying that I was a Catholic but not a very good one. What the Chronicle writer failed to notice is that the Greer quotation was from the late 1980s—long before I became a born-again Christian.. . .

I was raised Catholic in India. That’s because I come from Goa, where the Portuguese missionaries arrived starting in the sixteenth century. My ancestors converted to Catholicism. My family was conventionally Catholic, but not very devout. Later in his life, my father became a charismatic Catholic. I also attended Jesuit school in Mumbai and was exposed to the Catholic intellectual tradition. While I was lukewarm in my Catholic practice, I continued to draw on this tradition in my early career as a writer. The vast majority of my work, however, has been secular.

Why, then, would Hays, in his infinite wisdom, think that this case has any bearing on relative truth claims one way or the other? It is simply another example, out of millions, of a Catholic who neither fully practiced nor understood his faith, going somewhere else (from the looks of it, mainly due to his wife). D'Souza said it himself.

Moreover, on his own More About Dinesh D'Souza page (from Rosey Grier's book of 1992), he stated that he was a "believing Catholic but a poorly practicing one." That was three years before he started regularly attending evangelical churches. This is no exemplar of Catholic orthodoxy or practice.  Yet I am to believe that he is a "high profile" Catholic? He was not at all. I can't find any indication whatever (by his own report) that he was.

In a 2009 interview by Stan Guthrie (BreakPoint, November 12 and 19, 2009), D'Souza verifies yet again what is seen above (my bolding again):

I was raised Catholic in Bombay, India. The Portuguese missionaries came to India starting in the 16th century. Somewhere along the line, they seem to have located one of my ancestors and brought him to Christianity, possibly by whopping him over the head. It was the age of the Portuguese Inquisition. Hey, I'm glad it happened, although I'm not sure my hapless ancestor would agree. Even so I sometimes say I was raised with "crayon Christianity."

This is a simplified Christianity, and too many of us learn this from our parents and never outgrow it. We never develop a mature Christianity that can withstand the assaults of secular culture. I married an evangelical Christian in 1992, and after our daughter was born in 1995, we started attending a nondenominational church in the Washington D.C. area. But my faith remained lukewarm, wounded, you might say, by the influences of secular culture. Only when we moved to California did we start attending a Calvary Chapel church, and I found people who took their Christianity very seriously and whose faith shaped their whole life. This also began to happen with me. Basically I went from being a crayon Christian and a lukewarm Christian to being a mature and passionate Christian.

I rest my case. Now we can all be entertained by Hay's inevitable sophistical spin. Somehow under his magical abilities of obscurantism D'Souza shall be transformed into (formerly) a devout, fully observant Catholic, and one who should trouble us, as if his departure casts doubt on Catholic truth claims in any way, shape, or form.


We can be fairly sure that Hays will put up some sort of mocking nonsense sometime soon, as "revenge". Here is the sort of "argument" he has been making these days against me. What a waste of a mind . . . For my part, I will stick to rational Catholic, biblical argument, thank you. He did eventually (very typically) come up with some sophistry and obfuscation to try to wiggle his way out. He didn't succeed, and entirely missed the very essence of my argument. Same old same old there . . .

Here's one representative example (among many) of Hay's spinning sophistry and deliberate dishonesty of presentation (if the two things are any different). I plainly contended that D'Souza was not a "high profile" Catholic, echoing Hays' own language in his post that I critiqued. If he isn't high profile, then his leaving the Catholic Church has very little implication for our truth claims, since he was nominal at best: by his own repeated admission. It's a non sequitur, in other words.

That was my point: and one Hays has made many times in the opposite direction. He will argue, for example, that I am a "hybrid" Catholic, still half evangelical (which is nonsense). Now, watch how he distorts my argument and turns it into something very different (my bolding and italics):

The issue is how Armstrong set the bar to be a real Catholic. By his criteria, a number of popes (e.g. some of the Renaissance popes) weren’t even Catholic. That’s the dilemma he backed himself into. If, on the one hand, you raise the bar so high that you exclude D’Souza, then you also exclude a number of impious popes.

(comment of 8-1-11

See what he did there? The discussion suddenly cleverly shifted at his instigation from the definition of a "high profile" Catholic or conversion / deconversion, to the definition of a card-carrying Catholic, period. The second category is exponentially larger than the first. I wasn't talking about that at all. D'Souza was a Catholic in the nominal sense; so were the whoring, corrupt popes back whenever (though anyone in mortal sin is out of God's grace and gravely endangering their souls).

Hence, Hays fundamentally distorts my argument beyond all recognition. But this is what sophists and special-pleading obscurantist polemicists do. And Hays is all of those things . . . His readers don't even see it because they blindly follow whatever he writes, especially if it is attacking me: the wicked "arch-enemy": as these sad specimens of fundamentalist, anti-Catholic Christianity view me.

To top off the irony and double standard hypocrisy, one of Hays' co-bloggers, Patrick Chan, made the exact same "ignorance / nominalism" argument that I made about D'Souza, but the other way around:

I take it the main point is your admitted poor grounding in theology would seem to be correlated with why you left evangelicalism and embraced Catholicism. Yet your story isn't a total surprise or anything. In fact, many evangelicals who embrace Catholicism do so out of weaker theological backgrounds too. (7-31-11)

The strong insinuation is that such conversions have no import or significance, due to ignorance. If we switch the direction of the move, the same thing would apply quite nicely to D'Souza. His conversion was insignificant in precisely the same sense, and is anything but a scenario of being a "high-profile" Catholic. He was not. He's only a high-profile politically conservative commentator. Yet Hays manages to overlook all of these obvious considerations and to play games, engaging in his usual juvenile spin and sophistry. No Catholic can ever be correct if they disagree with him, and he will spin more than all the planets in the universe to vainly "prove" that any Catholic with whom he spars is wrong, and is Attila the Hun, etc. As usual, it is a pathetically failed attempt. He ought to give it up.


The Latest Hays tactic / ruse, is to cynically try to turn my words back upon me. He entitles his new post, "Split-personality narcissist" (that's me, of course, folks!), and keeps the childish insults flowing, as usual, with "bipolar solipsist" added for good measure (in the past he has called me "evil" and "schizophrenic" in complete seriousness). He cites his friend TAO (The Anonymous One), who in turn noted an article of mine dated 8 July 2008; where I described Dinesh D'Souza as a "well-known political conservative and devout Catholic." Because I stated that, then, it is proof positive in Hays' eyes that I am a split personality, etc., and viciously self-contradictory.

This is not rocket science, folks.  At that time, I had not looked into D'Souza's Catholicism in any depth. I understood that he was a Catholic (and that was all that was relevant to my particular argument in that paper). I didn't know that he was not actually a "devout" one, and so that constituted my momentous, earth-shaking mistake (an unverified description). I'm not perfect. I can admit when I am wrong; I have no problem with that. This is not Chicken Little: my description of someone as a "devout Catholic" when in fact he was not (as he himself makes clear in more recent clarifications). But Hays seems to have the greatest difficulty admitting any error on his part (as in the present case and his view of D'Souza).

His point fails, in any event, because this was not some momentous contradiction, in the sense that he is conveying, but simply a matter of lack of knowledge, followed by looking into the matter further and discovering D'Souza's self-report of his nominal Catholicism; requiring a change of opinion based on the latest relevant information. I didn't know that about him in 2008; now I do, as a result of Hays claiming that D'Souza was a high-profile Catholic, and my looking into the matter further. We learn things as we go through life: the more we learn, the more we are responsible for accuracy, given our new or increased knowledge. I didn't call him a "high-profile Catholic" even in 2008 (which was actually the matter in dispute presently). I highlighted the political conservative aspect, because that is how he is best known.

Therefore, with the knowledge we now have of D'Souza's Catholicism, solely from his own words, we know he was nominal at best. A person who never fully observed a religious faith in the first place and then left it, is no disproof of its truth claims. This is how Hays and his cronies argue when people leave Protestantism for Catholicism. They invariably question the genuineness of the person's former allegiance to Protestantism. Thus, Hays' buddy James White, in his first exchange with me (his letter dated 6 April 1995), stated, "you were not truly a Protestant to begin with."

He was wrong about me; I certainly was a Protestant: and a very devoted one indeed: an apologist and full-time campus missionary and cult researcher and pro-life activist. But I was not a Calvinist; so in his eyes, I was not ever a "true" Protestant, since he thinks only Calvinists are that; otherwise he couldn't have stated such a ridiculous thing: as if there is no such animal as a non-Calvinist Protestant. The problem wasn't my lack of true Protestantism, but rather, his ignorance, lack of charity, and hopeless confusion of category (as with all anti-Catholics, when closely scrutinized).D'Souza, on the other hand, was not a serious Catholic, because he has told us himself that this was the case, and we have no reason to doubt a man who is discussing his own life and former opinions.

The difference between Hays and myself is attention to facts, and squarely admitting them or refusing to do same. He wants to play games and pretend that D'Souza was something he was not: a "high-profile Catholic" or a consistently practicing one. He knows the relevant facts of the matter (because I pointed them out to him) but he couldn't care less about them, because it is all about bashing Catholicism and defenders of the Catholic Church, like myself. He used spin to try to dismiss the facts and distort what I had argued, as I showed above, in Addendum #1. That is his goal: facts be damned if they get in the way of it!

My outlook is very different. I obtained new knowledge of  D'Souza and incorporated it into my understanding. I was wrong about him being "devout" before. I learned of my mistake and now admit it, but Hays is now being a sophist and making a mountain out of a molehill.

No biggie. My point in this paper stands, just as it always has: sophistry, obscurantism, name-calling, and obfuscation have not diminished it in the least. It has only been demonstrated once again that Hays is a deliberately dishonest sophist (by his own straightforward demonstration) and that anything goes when he attacks Catholicism and Catholics.

* * *

Hays, undaunted in his sophistical confusion and frantic spinning, keeps up his silly antics in yet another "reply"-post. It's already been amply answered in every particular above, so we need not waste further valuable time on it. An "argument" doesn't become stronger by mere repetition (sorry to be the one to break that news to Hays). But that and mockery is all Hays has in his arsenal, so he utilizes them. In his fertile, logically troubled mind, somehow the D'Souza saga makes irrelevant all Catholic convert stories.  What a joke . . .

No one who understands logic at all is swayed by it. But at least he avoids the childish name-calling (confining himself to his semi-regular standby "poor [sometimes, "dear"] ol' Dave"), so by his low standards of discourse, that is a vast improvement, for which we can be thankful (for his sake).

* * *

Oops; almost missed yet another installment of the ongoing Hays absurdities, complete with even more ludicrous nonsense in the two comments below, as of writing. Nothing relevant here, either. Carry on, folks.

Typical "Science vs. Catholicism" Criticisms (and Myths) from an Agnostic Scientist Refuted
Antoine Lavoisier: the Father of Chemistry (1743-1794). Here is the real "martyr for science": not Galileo or the rank heretic Bruno. Galileo was sentenced to comfortable house arrest by a Catholic tribunal. Lavoisier was not nearly so lucky: he got his head cut off by the "enlightened" atheist French revolutionaries (five other scientists were killed as well). Why, then, do we never hear about that?

I have received permission to post the words (but not the name) of an agnostic scientist who is a friend of a friend of mine.  He wrote:

Please do not post with my name. I did not put any time into this, and was not intending to get into a scholarly debate with your friend. So would not want it to be considered as my "scholarly work" since it is not my area and I do not have time to read his book. Your friend obviously has a lot more time for this than I do. I am a scientist, not a philosopher of science (even though I have a doctor of philosophy). Rather than debate me, he should be debating someone who does research in this area. . . .

He can post [my words] if he wants without a name, but in my view he should not present me as some expert on the philosophy or history of science. I'm not. I'm a scientist with some opinions. If he is a scholar on the subject and wants scholarly debate, he should be engaging someone like Richard Dawkins.

Our mutual friend sent me a link to a video forwarded by the scientist, called Science Saved My Soul. That about summed up the situation for me, before I saw any particular objections. This is the error known as "scientism." Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman described it as follows:

I am not denying, I am granting, I am assuming, that there is reason and truth in the "leading ideas," as they are called, and "large views" of scientific men; I only say that, though they speak truth, they do not speak the whole truth; that they speak a narrow truth, and think it a broad truth; that their deductions must be compared with other truths, which are acknowledged to be truths, in order to verify, complete, and correct them. They say what is true, exceptis excipiendis; what is true, but requires guarding; true, but must not be ridden too hard, or made what is called a hobby; true, but not the measure of all things; true, but if thus inordinately, extravagantly, ruinously carried out, in spite of other sciences, in spite of Theology, sure to become but a great bubble, and to burst.

(The Idea of a University, Part I, Discourse 4: “Bearing of Other Branches of Knowledge on Theology,” 1852)

They scorn any process of inquiry not founded on experiment; the Mathematics indeed they endure, because that science deals with ideas, not with facts, and leads to conclusions hypothetical rather than real; "Metaphysics" they even use as a by-word of reproach; and Ethics they admit only on condition that it gives up conscience as its scientific ground, and bases itself on tangible utility: but as to Theology, they cannot deal with it, they cannot master it, and so they simply outlaw it and ignore it.

(The Idea of a University, Part I, Discourse 9: “Duties of the Church Towards Knowledge,” 1852)

But science is not possible without theistic premises. Hence, I sent our scientist friend my book (as a PDF): Science and Christianity: Close Partners or Mortal Enemies? I also recommended many related articles on my Philosophy, Science, and Christianity and Atheism, Agnosticism, and Secularism web pages. This led to the following reply (a few typos corrected):

So I've skimmed. I get the message that science is strongly rooted in religion. I don't argue this at all. In the past, everything was done in the church, it's where education and research was carried out. Plus everyone at least pretended to be christian for fear of being burned at the stake or flogged. But history is full of examples where science progressed "despite" religion. Recall the Dark Ages for example. Galileo was sentenced to life in prison for establishing the truth using the scientific method. The Catholic church stood behind the biggest failed hypothesis of all time for 13 centuries. Ptolomy's view of the solar system established in the 1st century AD had the Earth at the center of the solar system. The church refused to question this because it was in total agreement with the bible which said the Earth was stationary (which of course is incorrect). 13 centuries later Copernicus finally challenged this theory and put the sun at the center and and the Earth orbiting the sun. Several of Coperincus' supporters were burned at the stake by the Catholic church (Copernicus died of natural causes before he himself could be burned at the stake) for getting behind what was eventually shown to be absolutely correct. So yeah, religion helped get science going, but has been holding it back.

I responded in turn: not in extreme depth or supreme, but merely with a "fired-off" reply (as I was busy today doing other things) [additional material added presently in brackets]:

* * *

Obviously, your friend hasn't read my book yet.

I've never heard of Copernicus' supporters being burned at the stake. I demand (please convey to him) to see documentation of this. I don't believe it.

[Possibly, our friend is referring to Giordano Bruno (1548-1600), but the problem is that he was not condemned primarily, or even remotely (if at all), for heliocentrism, but rather, for a host of heresies, including  pantheism (all is God), erroneous opinions about the Trinity, Christ's divinity, and His incarnation, denial of transubstantiation, the perpetual virginity of Mary, creation, and the last judgment, and belief in metempsychosis and in the transmigration of the human soul into non-humans, along with various forms of magic and divination. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy ("Nicolaus Copernicus") concurs:

Pope Clement VII (r. 1523–1534) had reacted favorably to a talk about Copernicus's theories, rewarding the speaker with a rare manuscript. There is no indication of how Pope Paul III, to whom On the Revolutions was dedicated reacted; however, a trusted advisor, Bartolomeo Spina of Pisa (1474–1546) intended to condemn it but fell ill and died before his plan was carried out (see Rosen, 1975). Thus, in 1600 there was no official Catholic position on the Copernican system, and it was certainly not a heresy. When Giordano Bruno (1548–1600) was burned at the stake as a heretic, it had nothing to do with his writings in support of Copernican cosmology, and this is clearly shown in Finocchiaro's reconstruction of the accusations against Bruno (see also Blumenberg's part 3, chapter 5, titled “Not a Martyr for Copernicanism: Giordano Bruno”).

Blumenberg, H., 1987, The Genesis of the Copernican World, trans. R.M. Wallace, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Finocchiaro, M.A., 2002, “Philosophy versus Religion and Science versus Religion: the Trials of Bruno and Galileo,” [pp.] 51–96 in [Hilary] Gatti (ed.), 2002, Giordano Bruno: Philosopher of theRenaissance, Aldershot: Ashgate.

Likewise, The Catholic Encyclopedia (1908), in its article on Bruno, states:

Bruno was not condemned for his defence of the Copernican system of astronomy, nor for his doctrine of the plurality of inhabited worlds, but for his theological errors, among which were the following: that Christ was not God but merely an unusually skillful magician, that the Holy Ghost is the soul of the world, that the Devil will be saved, etc.

But our agnostic scientist friend wrote:

That he is not aware of the persecution of Copernicus supporters is interesting. I will help him by looking up the reference. It was in a text book I used for a class once - which doesn't in itself make it right, but better than internet as a source.

Fine; if he refers to Bruno, it is now shown that it is a mistaken inference to say he was killed because of Copernicanism.  But he maintained (my italics) that "Several of Coperincus' [sic] supporters were burned at the stake by the Catholic church." Very well, then, bring on these other unfortunate candidates. I am not saying no one was ever burned, but I am unaware of their being burned for heliocentrism or Copernicanism. If they were, they were, but it has to be documented. Blumenberg and Finocchiaro are scholars familiar with the specific subject matter. That is solid substantiation: at least for Bruno.]

Secondly, the relation of science and religion is not just "past" but extends to the current time, with a sizable percentage of scientists still professing belief in God, and great scientists right up to our time professed theists or otherwise religious.

[as I showed in my book: listing 31 scientists from 1900-1950 who were theists (e.g., Planck, Eddington, and Lemaître) or otherwise religious and not materialists (e.g., Einstein) ].

Galileo was not sentenced to life in prison, but to an extremely mild house arrest: most of the time living in houses that were palaces of high officials.

[I have noted (first draft for a portion -- pp. 30-31 -- of my book, The One-Minute Apologist):

In 1633 Galileo was "incarcerated" in the palace of Niccolini, the ambassador to the Vatican from Tuscany, who admired Galileo, spent five months with Archbishop Piccolomini in Siena, and then lived in comfortable environments with friends for the rest of his life (though technically under "house arrest"). No evidence exists to prove that he was ever actually subjected to torture or deliberately blinded (he lost his sight in 1637). ]

His polemical use of "dark ages" is the usual agnostic misunderstanding. It is not synonymous with the "middle ages" but for historians, the period of the late first millennium when the barbarians were in the ascendancy and classical learning was in danger. It was precisely the Church that preserved classical literature and culture, over against these non-Christian barbarians. Yet modern secularists have managed to perpetuate a myth that it was the very opposite of that. Gross ignorance there . . .

[see, e.g.,  Encyclopaedia Brittanica online ("Dark Ages"):
the early medieval period of western European history. Specifically, the term refers to the time (476–800) when there was no Roman (or Holy Roman) emperor in the West; or, more generally, to the period between about 500 and 1000, which was marked by frequent warfare and a virtual disappearance of urban life. It is now rarely used by historians because of the value judgment it implies.]

Anyone can make mistakes in science. That is not exclusive to Catholics in the Middle Ages or earlier. Galileo, Kepler, Newton and other scientists were neck-deep in astrology and the occult. Galileo made several errors in his cosmology and notions of scientific hypothesis; in some cases being corrected by St. Robert Bellarmine.

If we want persecution of scientists, as late as the late 18th century, I would recommend that your friend study up on the so-called French "Enlightenment" and particularly the case of the great chemist Lavoisier, who was (along with several other prominent scientists) murdered (head lopped off, of course) by the state (far beyond anything that happened to Galileo).

[These other scientist-martyrs to the "goddess of reason" were: Philippe-Frédéric de Dietrich (1748-1793), Nicolas de Condorcet (1743-1794), Jean Baptiste Gaspard Bochart de Saron (1730-1794), Guillaume-Chrétien de Lamoignon de Malesherbes (1721-1794), and Félix Vicq d’Azyr (1746-1794) ]

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Oslo Massacre and the Irrationally Subjective Application of "Symbolic" Evil Acts in Order to Draw Unwarranted and Unjust Conclusions

 I wrote the following in a personal letter today; thought I'd share it with you (with a few little additions, as I read it over):

What frosts me about things like this is the fundamental irrationality of taking one act as if it supposedly "proves" something about huge groups of people. Obviously it doesn't at all. Such a mentality exhibits the classic sweeping, stereotypical hallmark of prejudicial or bigoted thought. We live in an age of subjectivism and opposition to solid logical, coherent thought. So now Christians are to be characterized as mass murderers because of Oslo fanatic Anders Behring Breivik (just like Hitler was supposedly a good Catholic and Stalin, Eastern Orthodox)? The guy is a neo-Nazi fascist!

Likewise,  there were attempts to characterize Christians or particularly politically conservative ones, as terrorists, after Timothy McVeigh and that lunatic in Arizona (Jared Loughner). It doesn't work. None of these evil murderers remotely fit into the objective profile of the groups that are lambasted as a result of them. Even if they did, it would prove exactly nothing, as to whole groups, anyway. It simply doesn't follow. Sheer evil of such a profound level is sui generis ("one of a kind") anyway. It makes little sense to try to place a heartless, soul-dead monster like that within any larger human group of more or less "normal" people (fallen though we all are).

So many people, despite these rather obvious considerations, base opinions on famous and notorious "public" acts that become highly "symbolic" to them. Hence, when Rev. Martin Luther King was murdered in 1968 (I visited the spot where it happened, in 2009, along with several other notable King sites: his house, church, the place of his last speech), it was taken as proof that America remained fundamentally racist at its core; even institutionally or "systemically" so. It proved no such thing; all it "proved" was the fact that one racist who hated Dr. King managed to kill him. There are always some racists around. The dispute is how many they are and whether it is the norm and consensus in any given society.

But the entire civil rights movement came to a halt for several years; even the great soul music out of Memphis died a quick death, as a result. Steve Cropper, the white guitarist at Stax studios in Memphis, who had played on and written and produced so many of those songs, has noted how he was treated with hostility in the studio after King's murder, as if he had anything to do with it. One readily understands the overwhelming grief and despair, as a result of a great leader having been cut down (America had gone through JFK, after all), but there has to be some limit to applying the natural negative emotional reaction to those who were disconnected in every immediate sense except for the mere coincidence of a skin color.

Then when Obama was elected, America supposedly "proved" it wasn't racist anymore. I think his election did positively indicate less racism in our country, but racists and racism  had long since been rightly marginalized and demonized, according to any serious polling data for the previous 30 years at least. Yet the symbolic phenomenon of Obama's election supposedly "proved" a sudden sea change. Now that many are opposing his policies (not his skin color!), unfortunately we're back to the obligatory "groupthink" charges of racism again. To make a strong protest against any of his policies is to be a racist. I guess, then, the country still suffers from the annoying tendency of the race card being played at every opportunity, no matter how irrelevant it is. I am sick to death of it.

If we are truly colorblind, we criticize people of color precisely because race is no longer an issue, and they are treated the same: both in a positive sense and a negative sense of criticism of their governing policy or whatever else is the topic at hand. We (i.e., us white folks) don't -- or shouldn't -- treat African-Americans with kid gloves out of a perverse application of "corporate white guilt" when it is irrelevant. That is what is patronizing and condescending: as if they wouldn't be able to take criticism because of being so inferior and ill-equipped.

President Obama is a politician, period; thus open to critique like any other politician. If proof that white America has gotten past skin color was needed, it was amply provided in 2008: so much so that Jesse Jackson openly cried in Chicago on election night. It meant something very significant. But formerly widely racist white America hadn't changed overnight. It was a long process.

I've been an avid student of race relations as a native Detroiter and sociology major, for over 40 years: since the Detroit Riots of 1967.

The problem is this sort of thoroughly subjective thinking, which is detached from serious analytical, properly reflective thought. I posted on my Facebook page a link to a great article about the Norway massacre by Chuck Colson. He is rational, and shows that rejection of Christianity is no answer, and will exacerbate the problem, not resolve it. But people are sheep . . .All we can do is try to keep important societal conversations on a rational plane, influenced by our own Christian viewpoints. And it is not rational to make conclusions about groups of many millions of people, based on the evil acts of one psychopath.

Related Reading

The Character Assassination of Robert Spencer (David Horowitz)

Norway Attacks: 'Breivik Acted Alone' (BBC News Europe)

Spencer vs. Alan Colmes on Norway Smears (video clip)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Documentation of My Pre-Evangelical, Pre-Catholic Pagan, "Practical Atheist," Occultic, and Nature-Mystic Period (1967-1977)

 Yours truly: c. March 1976: senior in high school, about a year before my evangelical conversion (and the longest hair ever seen in any of my photos!)

Thank heavens for Google Search. I have almost 2600 papers on my blog. After thoroughly searching, I found all there is to find about my early life, on my website. To summarize, my life can be divided into four quite distinct periods:

1) Very nominal, ignorant, lax Methodist (United Methodist Church): 1958-1967 (up to age 9).
2) Pagan, Occult-Influenced, Nature-Worshiping, Textbook Secularized Liberal, Unchurched, "Practical Atheist": 1967-1977 (ages 10-18).

3) Evangelical Protestant period: 1977-1990 (ages 18-32).

4) Catholic period: 1990 to the present (ages 32-53).

This paper is a documentation of what I have written about (mostly) the second period above: 1967 or so to 1977 and my conversion to Christ as His disciple, and to evangelical Protestantism.

* * * * *

1) Romanticism, Wagner, C. S. Lewis, Christianity, and Me (my most extensive treatment of this period of my life and my nature mysticism and pagan / occultic influences or affinities; written in 1997)

2) My published (Catholic) conversion story (in the book, Surprised by Truth) includes a section describing my pre-evangelical childhood. On my site is my original draft, before it was edited (with some material added that I didn't even write). See the second through the tenth paragraphs. I wrote this in December 1990 and revised it slightly in July 1992.

3) A transcript of a radio interview from 8 September 1997 contains some comments on my early life in the first part.

4) An interview with Spanish journalist Itxu Diaz (March 2011) has a lot of information about my early days.

5) I wrote several paragraphs about this time in March 2008, in a paper about my evangelical background. I will paste it below for your convenience:
I sarcastically refer to [this] as the "Great Depression" period of my life (March-October 1977). . . .
God sometimes gives a person up to their sin (and to Satan) for a time, with the ultimate goal of causing them to repent by hitting bottom and waking up (rather than being lost).

I dare say that this happened in my own life. Being content, at age 18 (back in 1977), to live without God and pay Him very little notice at all, all of a sudden I found myself in a deep (very serious, clinical) depression and utter despair, that lasted six months. God knew what it would take in my case to wake me up. It worked. I soon cried out to Him (having nowhere else to go, and no hope). God in His tender mercy, accepts even this "default" / last resort discipleship. So I devoted my life to Him, as an evangelical Protestant. The depression didn't go away immediately, but the black despair did, and once the depression left after six months, it never returned (thank heavens).

I've always interpreted this as God, in effect, saying, "okay, Dave. You want to live without Me? Do you truly want to see what it would be like to live a life of no hope and meaning; a world without God? Alright; I'll let you do that." And I saw what a truly Godless, nihilistic universe would be like and wanted no part of that!

There are also times that a person rejects God utterly and so God "gives him up" because God honors the free will of man and will force no one to follow Him by compulsion. It's more a semi-sarcastic or ironic manner of biblical speech. Man chooses to rebel, but to phrase it as "God giving him up" conveys the sense of God's control of everything, or relinquishing control (of human free will) as the case may be.

In my case, obviously God knew (being omniscient) that I would soon cry out, so it was literally an act of mercy to give me totally over to my own corrupt desire of living a life of "practical atheism". Many atheists can play games and pretend as if a world without God still has meaning, but I was allowed the privilege of seeing what a consistent atheism leads and reduces to: black despair and meaninglessness.

6) Dialogue on Romanticism and Christianity, from 15 February 2004, has a great amount of reflection about the topic in the title, and my own specific romantic / mystical experiences, including a poem I wrote around April or May 1977, called The Dream, that is very important in my life story and initial conversion to fairly zealous discipleship as a follower of Jesus Christ.

7) Portion of Harry Potter Series: Literary Magic or Magical Mystery Sewer? (7-19-05):

Watching the films didn't harm my Christian faith in the slightest. On the other hand, at an earlier point in my life, when my faith was not yet strong or fully-formed (to put it mildly), the movies quite possibly could have helped lead me astray, since I did, in fact, get involved to a considerable degree in occultic pursuits. The supernatural held a strong fascination for me (thankfully channeled later on into Christian supernaturalism). C. S. Lewis himself was also seriously involved in the occult in the period just before his encounter with the music and romanticism of Richard Wagner and a mythological sort of contemplation which he described as "Northernness":

Now, for the first time, there burst upon me the idea that there might be real marvels all about us, that the visible world might only be a curtain to conceal huge realms uncharted by my very simple theology. And that started in me something with which, on and off, I have had plenty of trouble since -- the desire for the preternatural, simply as such, the passion for the Occult. Not everyone has this disease; those who have will know what I mean [I do, very well] . . . It is a spiritual lust; and like the lust of the body it has the fatal power of making everything else in the world seem uninteresting while it lasts.

(Surprised by Joy, New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1955, 60)
At times as I watched these movies, I must admit that for fleeting moments I felt precisely this "desire" that Lewis refers to. It's very difficult to describe without getting very heavy and mystical and philosophical, but it is a definite kind of coercion. I'm able to push it down because of strong Christian faith, but short of that, I can easily imagine (given my own background) someone with a similar bent being drawn into things which are harmful to their souls: true sorcery, witchcraft, Wicca, etc.: things which are definitely wrong and condemned in the Bible.

8) Portion of More Thoughts on the Morality of the Harry Potter Series (10-28-10):

Without the Christian grounding . . . it could quite possibly be spiritually dangerous for some kids with troubled backgrounds and lack of education in Christianity.

I did this myself (so I know, firsthand): without anywhere near proper knowledge of Christianity up to age 18, or commitment to Christ, I became involved in the occult and various questionable practices (telepathy, Ouija board, etc.). I had the spiritual imagination and curiosity and yearning, but because of lack of knowledge, it went in a wrong direction. Eventually, thank God, and by His grace, I channeled it towards the God of the Bible.

Since my kids do have that grounding, I have no worries whatever about Harry Potter or any of the other fantasies they watch (or now write about).

9) Portion of Dialogue With an Atheist on the Relationship of Christianity and Metaphysics to the Scientific Method (vs. Sue Strandberg) (3-18-05):

I used to try to do telepathy, ESP, the Ouiji Board, astral projection, all sorts of weird occultic stuff, back in the 70s. I was very serious about it. In a way, I see this in retrospect as an openness to possible supernatural realities, a form of open-mindedness, rather than pure gullibility (though it was partially that, too). I simply needed more information, upon which to make rational choices about what I would consider "spiritual realities."
But I would contend that it was post-Christian secular culture which influenced me to pursue these things in the first place. TV shows like The Outer Limits and One Step Beyond and The Twilight Zone - arguably - were means of propagating non-Christian supernaturalist worldviews among the populace. In a truly Christian society, much of this material would be frowned-upon, if not outright forbidden; considered harmful to souls.

10) Beautiful Irish Songs and the Longing of Sehnsucht (3-20-04) (expresses my personal feelings and opinions along these lines).

Non-Autobiographical but Thematically Relevant Materials

C. S. Lewis and the Romantic Poets on Longing, Sehnsucht, and Joy (the excerpts describe the experience or sense of Lewis' "Joy" that I and many others have experienced)

Myth-as-Truth, J. R. R. Tolkien, and the Conversion of C. S. Lewis (descriptions of the romantic paganism-to-Christianity spiritual journey)

The Relationship of Romanticism to Christianity and Catholicism in Particular

Brief Presentation of the Theistic Argument from Longing or Beauty

Romantic and Imaginative Theology: Inklings of the World Beyond (my extensive links web page)

Albert Einstein's "Cosmic Religion"

The Atheist's Boundless Faith in Deo-Atomism ("The Atom-as-God") (my sarcastic, but ultimately dead-serious treatment of atheist "worship" of matter almost as if it were God)

The Argument from Desire (Peter Kreeft)

A Baptism of Imagination: Conversation with Peter Kreeft (Ellen Haroutunian)

Aesthetic Arguments for the Existence of God (Peter Williams; Quodlibet Journal)

More on Romantic Theology (Keith Rickert, Jr.)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Setlist for Paul McCartney Concert: Comerica Park, Detroit (24 July 2011) / Video Links

 [ source ]

[found at]

38 total songs:

Beatles: 25
Wings: 8
Solo: 4
Cover: 1


Rusty Anderson (guitar, backing vocals)
Brian Ray (bass, guitar, backing vocals)
Abe Laboriel, Jr. (drums, percussion, backing vocals)
Paul Wickens (keyboards, backing vocals)

1. Hello, Goodbye (from Magical Mystery Tour, 1967)
[video from Yankee Stadium, 7-15-11]

2. Junior's Farm ( [Wings] single, 1974; Wingspan: Hits and History, 2001)
[video from Yankee Stadium, 7-15-11] [video of original single]

3. All My Loving (from With the Beatles, 1963)
[live video from São Paulo, Brazil, 11-21-10]  
[video from Comerica Park]:

4. Jet ( [Wings] from Band on the Run, 1973)
[video from Yankee Stadium, 7-15-11] [live video from 1976 "Wings Over America" tour]

5. Drive My Car (from Rubber Soul, 1965)
[video from Comerica Park]

6. Sing the Changes ( [solo] from Electric Arguments, 2008)
[video from CD/DVD "Good Evening New York City", 2009] [video from Rio de Janeiro, 5-22-11]

7. Hitch Hike (Marvin Gaye cover [1962], especially for the Detroit crowd)
[video from Comerica Park] [video from Apollo Theater, NYC, 12-13-10]

8. The Night Before (from Help!, 1965)
[video from Yankee Stadium, 7-15-11]

9. Let Me Roll It + Foxy Lady jamming excerpt (Jimi Hendrix) ( [Wings] from Band on the Run, 1973)
[video from Rome, 2003] [video from Rio de Janeiro, 5-22-11]

10. Paperback Writer (single, 1966; Past Masters, 2009)
[video from Rio de Janeiro, 5-22-11] [live video from Halifax, Nova Scotia, 7-11-09]

11. The Long and Winding Road (from Let it Be, 1969)
[video from Yankee Stadium, 7-15-11] [video from Rio de Janeiro, 5-22-11]

12. Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five ( [Wings] from Band on the Run, 1973)
[video from Yankee Stadium, 7-15-11]

13. Let 'em In ( [Wings] from Wings at the Speed of Sound, 1976)
[video from Yankee Stadium, 7-15-11]

14. Maybe I'm Amazed ( [solo] from McCartney, 1970)
[video from Yankee Stadium, 7-15-11]

15. I've Just Seen a Face (from Help!, 1965)
[video from Yankee Stadium, 7-15-11]

16. I Will (from The Beatles ["White Album"], 1968)
[video from Yankee Stadium, 7-15-11] [video with original song]

17. Blackbird (from The Beatles ["White Album"], 1968)

[live video from São Paulo, Brazil, 11-21-10
[video from Comerica Park]:

18. Here Today ( [solo] from Tug of War, 1982)
[video from Comerica Park]:

On You Tube many commenters said they cried during this song, and that many in the audience were. I sure did. This one always gets to me, anyway, because it is an extremely moving tribute to John Lennon (and I always think of my brother Gerry, too (who died of leukemia in 1998). In concert it was simply overwhelming. The cheering at the beginning was for John Lennon, after Paul mentioned his name.

19. Dance Tonight ( [solo] from Memory Almost Full, 2007)
[live video from São Paulo, Brazil, 11-21-10]

20. Mrs. Vandebilt ( [Wings] from Band on the Run, 1973)
[video from Rio de Janeiro, 5-22-11] [video with original song]

21. Eleanor Rigby (from Revolver, 1966)
[video from Yankee Stadium, 7-15-11]

22. Something (with ukulele intro) (from Abbey Road, 1969)
[video from Yankee Stadium, 7-15-11] [video from Rio de Janeiro, 5-22-11]

23. Band on the Run ( [Wings] from Band on the Run, 1973)
[video from Comerica Park] [video from Yankee Stadium, 7-15-11]
[live video from São Paulo, Brazil, 11-21-10]

24. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da (from The Beatles ["White Album"], 1968)
[video from Yankee Stadium, 7-15-11] [live video from São Paulo, Brazil, 11-21-10

25. Back In The USSR (from The Beatles ["White Album"], 1968)
[video from Comerica Park]

26. I've Got a Feeling (with "heavy" jamming ending) (from Let it Be, 1969)
[video from Rio de Janeiro, 5-22-11] [live from Hyde Park, London, 6-27-10]

27. A Day in the Life + chorus of  Give Peace a Chance (John Lennon) (from Sgt. Pepper, 1967)
[video from Yankee Stadium, 7-15-11] [video from Rio de Janeiro, 5-22-11]

28. Let It Be (from Let it Be, 1969)
[video from Rio de Janeiro, 5-22-11] [live video, Liverpool, 1 June 2008]

29. Live and Let Die ( [Wings] single, 1973; Wingspan: Hits and History, 2001)
[video from Comerica Park] [video from Yankee Stadium, 7-15-11]

30. Hey Jude (single, 1968; Past Masters, 2009)
[video from Yankee Stadium, 7-15-11]

Encore One:

31. Lady Madonna (single, 1968; Past Masters, 2009)
[video from Comerica Park]

32. Day Tripper (single, 1965; Past Masters, 2009)
[video from Comerica Park]

33. Get Back (from Let it Be, 1969)
[video from Comerica Park]

Encore Two:

34. Yesterday (from Help!, 1965)
[live video from São Paulo, Brazil, 11-21-10] [live video from 1965]

35. Helter Skelter (from The Beatles ["White Album"], 1968)
[video from Comerica Park] [video from Yankee Stadium, 7-15-11]
[live video from São Paulo, Brazil, 11-21-10]   

36. Golden Slumbers (from Abbey Road, 1969)
[video from Yankee Stadium, 7-15-11]

37. Carry That Weight (from Abbey Road, 1969)
[video from Yankee Stadium, 7-15-11]

38. The End (from Abbey Road, 1969)
[video from Yankee Stadium, 7-15-11]

*  *  *

I was curious what songs Paul did in his previous show, that he didn't do at this concert. They are as follows:

July 16: Yankee Stadium, New York City:

Magical Mystery Tour
I'm Looking Through You
I Saw Her Standing There

Saturday, July 23, 2011

My Favorite Classical Music Pieces (Judging by Multiple Recordings Owned)

Richard Wagner (1813-1883), c. 1868

As you can see, I'm very partial to 19th century orchestral, Romantic, and Germanic music (with lots of brass: I used to play trombone in a band and orchestra). I love the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra the most, and Decca / London recordings; also vinyl LPs from the late 50s and early 60s (and up through the early 80s). I first bought those ("bargain bin") in 1975 when I started collecting: from the legendary Hudson's store in downtown Detroit. Today I bought nine vinyl records of classical music at a sale (25% off used) and the total was $11.83 (!!). Thus, I paid less per record today ($1.31) than I did back in 1975 ($3.00-4.00), and even though they are used, they are in great shape (maybe played only a few times).

[R = vinyl record; all others are CDs; dates are for actual recording and album release, respectively]

1. Richard Wagner, Die Meistersinger, Prelude to Act I [16]

CLE/Szell R
COL/Walter R
PHI/Ormandy R
PSO/Steinberg R
VPO/Stein (1974) R
BPO/Kubelik (1963) / 1976 R
PHO/Boult 1972 R
CLE/Szell (1962) / 1992
VPO/Bohm (1979) / 1993 
VPO/Solti (1976) / 1994
CSO/Solti (9-95) / 1997
PHO/Klemperer (1960) / 1998 + R
CSO/Solti (1972) / 1999
PAR/Barenboim (1983) / 2001
NYP/Sinopoli (1986) / 2003
BPO/Karajan (1974) / 2005
LSO/Stokowski (1972) / 2005

2.  Richard Wagner, Tristan und Isolde, Prelude to Act I [14]
CLE/Szell R
PHI/Ormandy R 
VPO/Stein (1974) R 
BPO/Kubelik (1963) / 1976 R 
PHO/Boult 1972 R 
CLE/Szell (1962) / 1992 
BAY/Bohm (1966) / 1993 
VPO/Kempe (1958) / 1995 
PHO/Klemperer (1960) / 1998 
VPO/Solti (1961) / 1998 
PHO/Furtwangler (6-52) / 2001 [mono] 
CSO/Solti (1978) / 2003 
RPO/Stokowski (1974) / 2004 
BPO/Karajan (1974) / 2005 
BOU/Serebrier (6-06) / 2007 [arr. Stokowski] 
3.  Richard Wagner, Tristan und Isolde, Love-Death (Liebestod) [14]

CLE/Szell R
PHI/Ormandy R 
VPO/Stein (1974) R 
BPO/Kubelik (1963) / 1976 R 
CLE/Szell (1962) / 1992 
VPO/Bohm (1981) / 1993 
VPO/Kempe (1958) / 1995 
BPO/Karajan (1984) / 1996 
VPO/Solti (1960) / 1998 
PHO/Klemperer (1960) / 1998 
PHO/Furtwangler (6-52) / 2001 
CSO/Solti (1978) / 2003 
RPO/Stokowski (1974) / 2004 
BPO/Karajan 2005
BOU/Serebrier (6-06) / 2007 [arr. Stokowski]
4. Gustav Mahler, Symphony No. 1 [13] 

LPO/Boult (10-58) R  
LSO/Horenstein (9-69) R
RPO/Leinsdorf (4-71) / 1972 R 
CSO/Abbado (2-81) R 
COL/Walter (2-61) / 1994 + R 
IPO/Mehta (12-74) / 1994 [w “Blumine” original 2nd movement] 
BAV/Kubelik (10-67) / 1997 
LPO/Tennstedt (10-77) / 1998 
ATL/Levi 9-99 1999 [w “Blumine” original 2nd movement] 
CSO/Boulez (5-98) / 1999 
LSO/Solti (2-64) / 2001 
NYP/Bernstein (10-66) / 2001 
CON/Bernstein (10-87) / 2005
5.  Richard Wagner, Die Walkure, Ride of the Valkyries [13]

PHI/Ormandy R
CLE/Szell R
LSO/Stokowski (1966) / 1974 R
NSO/Dorati 1976 R
CLE/Szell (1968) / 1992

BPO/Karajan (1967) / 1993

PHO/Klemperer (1963) / 1998

VPO/Solti (1965) / 1998

VPO/Solti (1982) / 1998
 + R
BPO/Tennstedt (1983) / 2001

MET/Levine (1997) / 2003

SOA/Stokowski (1974) / 2004

LSO/Stokowski (1966) / 2005 
BOU/Serebrier (6-06) / 2007 [arr. Stokowski]
RPO/Handley (1998) / 2009
6.  Richard Wagner, The Flying Dutchman Overture [13]
CLE/Szell R 
COL/Walter R 
VPO/Solti 1962 R 
VPO/Stein (1974) R
LCP/Norrington ["original version"] 1990 
BAY/Bohm (1971) / 1993 
PHO/Klemperer (1960) / 1998 + R 
VPO/Solti (1961) / 1998 
CSO/Solti (1977) / 1999 
PHO/Klemperer (1968) / 2000 
RPO/Beecham (4-16-54) / 2002 [mono] 
CSO/Solti (1962) / 2003 
BPO/Karajan (1974) / 2005
RPO/Handley (1998) / 2009

7.  Richard Wagner, Tannhauser Overture [12]

VPO/Solti 1962 R
CLE/Szell R
PHI/Ormandy R
PHO/Boult 1972 R
BOO/Gerdes (1969) / 1993

VPO/Solti (1962) / 1994 

PHO/Boult (1972) / 1995

PHO/Klemperer (1960) / 1998
+ R
CSO/Solti (1977) / 1998

BPO/Tennstedt (1983) / 2001

VPO/Solti (1970) / 2002

BPO/Karajan (1974) / 2005
RPO/Handley (1998) / 2009

8.  Igor Stravinsky, The Rite of Spring [11] 

ORF/Boulez (60s) R
COL (NYP) /Stravinsky R 
LAP/Mehta 1970 R
CSO/Solti 1974 R
PHI/Muti (10-78) / 1985
LPO/Haitink (1-73) / 1993
CLE/Maazel (5-80) / 1993
OSR/Ansermet (1957) / 1994
CLE/Boulez (7-69) / 1994
LSO/Abbado (2-75) / 1997

CSO/Ozawa (7-68) / 1999

9. Franz Schubert, Symphony No. 8 ("Unfinished") [11] 

CLE/Szell (1970) R 
BPO/Karajan 1978 R 
VPO/Maazel 1980 R 
BPO/Wand (3-95) / 1995 
DRE/Sawallisch (1967) / 1995 
VPO/Solti (1985) / 1996 
BPO/Karajan (1978) / 1996 
VPO/Muti 1999 
BAV/Klemperer 2000 
ASM/Marriner (8-83) / 2002 [“Finished” version] 
LPO/Stokowski (1969) / 2005 
BSO/Munch (1955) / 2007 

10. Johannes Brahms, Symphony No. 1 [11] 

CLE/Szell R 
COL/Walter R 
PHO/Klemperer (1961) R 
LSO/Horenstein (1-62) R 
CLE/Maazel (1976) R 
CSO/Solti (1-79) / 1991 
BPO/Karajan (2-78) / 1998 
VPO/Barbirolli (1968) / 2000 
PHI/Muti (9-89) / 2002 
VPO/Bernstein (1983) / 2004 
PHO/Klemperer (1961) / 2005 
LSO/Stokowski (1972) / 2005

11. Ludwig van Beethoven, Symphony No. 7 [11]

BPO/Karajan (1962) / 1978 
R NYP/Bernstein R 
CLE/Szell 1970 R 
BPO/Fricsay (1962) / 1991 
VPO/Kleiber (1976) / 1995 
CSO/Reiner (10-55) / 1998 
VPO/Karajan (1960) / 2001 
PHO/Klemperer (1955) / 2002 
PHO/Ashkenazy (1984) / 2003 
VPO/Bernstein (11-78) / 2004 
PHO/Stokowski (1975) / 2005  

12. Ludwig van Beethoven, Symphony No. 9 ("Choral") [10]

CLE/Szell 1963 / (1970) R
VPO/Schmidt-Isserstedt 1966 R
VPO/Bohm (1972) / 1992
CSO/Reiner (1961) / 1994
CSO/Solti (10-86) / 1995
BPO/Karajan (10-62) / 1996
BPO/Fricsay (1958) / 2001
CLE/Szell (1963) / 2002
BPO/Karajan (1-77) / 2003
VPO/Bernstein (9-79) / 2004
LSO/Stokowski (1967) / 2005

13. Franz Schubert, Symphony No. 9 ("Great") [10] 

CLE/Szell R [mono]
COL/Walter R
BPO/Wand (3-95) / 1995
DRE/Sawallisch (1967) / 1995
BPO/Karajan (’75-‘78) / 1996
VPO/Solti (1981) / 1996
VPO/Gardiner (8-97) / 1998

ASM/Marriner (1-84) / 2002
BPO/Rattle (6-05) / 2006
BSO/Munch (1958) / 2007

14. Ludwig van Beethoven, Symphony No. 5 [10]

VPO/Maazel 1980 R
CLE/Szell 1970 R
BPO/Fricsay (1960) / 1991
ORR/Gardiner (3-94) / 1994

VPO/Kleiber (1975) / 1995

CSO/Reiner (5-59) / 1998

PHO/Ashkenazy (1982) / 2003

BPO/Karajan (1-77) / 2003

VPO/Bernstein (9-77) / 2004

LPO/Stokowski (1969) / 2005

After this, the following pieces have the most versions in my collection:

15. Richard Wagner, Lohengrin, Prelude to Act I [10]
16. Richard Wagner, Lohengrin, Prelude to Act III [10]
17. Richard Wagner, Parsifal, Prelude to Act I [10]
18. Richard Wagner,  Gotterdammerung, Siegfried's Rhine Journey [9]
19. Richard Wagner,  Gotterdammerung, Siegfried's Death and Funeral Music [9]
20. Richard Wagner,  Die Walkure, Magic Fire Music [9]
21. Richard Wagner,  Das Rheingold, Entry of the Gods Into Valhalla [9]
22. Ludwig van Beethoven, Symphony No. 3 ("Eroica") [9]
23. Hector Berlioz, Symphonie Fantastique [9]
24. Anton Bruckner, Symphony No. 7 [9]
25. Anton Bruckner, Symphony No. 9 [9]
26. Gustav Mahler, Symphony No. 2 ("Resurrection") [9]
27. Johannes Brahms, Symphony No. 4 [9]
28. Ludwig van Beethoven, Egmont Overture [9]
29. Antonin Dvorak, Symphony No. 9 ("New World") [8]
30. Gustav Mahler, Symphony No. 5 [8]
31. Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Symphony No. 5 [8]
32. Johannes Brahms, Symphony No. 2 [8]
33. Richard Wagner, Die Meistersinger, Prelude to Act III [8]
33. Richard Wagner,  Rienzi Overture [8]