Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

Thursday, 31 December 2015

"You Better Get Right Over Here As Quick As You Ever Did Anything In Your Life and Apologize to Your Mother, Messiah Mister...."

I have to admit, I shared Eccles thoughts on this when I read it.
A pilgrimage does not end when we arrive at our destination, but when we return home and resume our everyday lives, putting into practice the spiritual fruits of our experience. We know what Jesus did on that occasion. Instead of returning home with his family, he stayed in Jerusalem, in the Temple, causing great distress to Mary and Joseph who were unable to find him. For this little “escapade”, Jesus probably had to beg forgiveness of his parents. The Gospel doesn’t say this, but I believe that we can presume it
Can we?
It is often a kind of passive-aggressive tack to apologize when one knows one has done nothing wrong and the person to whom one apologizes is aware that one knows it.
Is the Pope saying Jesus was being manipulative?
Or does he think He had something "wrong"? (i.e., "sinned.")
Or didn't do anything wrong but thought He had and so was mistaken in that?

Has Pope Francis been reading apocryphal infancy narratives with those Aw, Shucks, Boys'll Be Boys incidents of sinful odd behavior, like striking a playmate dead because the poor kid had bumped into Him, and blinding the neighbors who complained about it?
(As if, rather than Harry Potter being a Christ figure, Christ is a Harry Potter figure, Who hasn't yet learned the appropriate use of His powers, and that it's not nice to tease the poor, hapless muggles...)

Is it compatible with Christian belief to think that God sometimes owes his creatures apologies? that He screws up? that He from time to time needs to offer us, not the, Sorry if that bothered anyone, it wasn't my intention... that rolls off the tongues of celebrities and politicians so often and so easily, but a sincere mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa?

I'm sorry, I really do love him, but I wish Pope Francis would think through what he says a little bit more, before he says it.

The scenario he presented here feels as if it ought to end with Joseph telling the Virgin Mary to take care of it because, "He's not MY kid...."

finding in the temple-Joseph

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Speaking of the Infant Jesus and Infants in General....

I just find myself confused sometimes.
...We know little of the Child Jesus, but we can learn a lot from Him if we look at the lives of children. It is a good habit that parents, grandparents, have, to look at children, what they do. We find out, first of all, that children want our attention. They must be the focus, why? Because they are proud? No! Because they need to feel protected. And it is necessary for us to put Jesus at the center of our lives...
Children, finally, love to play. To play with a child, however, means abandoning our logic to enter theirs. If we want them to have fun, you need to understand what pleases them, and not be selfish and make them do things that we like. It is a teaching for us.
I have to admit, rather than turn my thoughts to higher things, all these words of the Holy Father did was remind me of an Onion article from a few years ago.
MINNEAPOLIS—A study published Monday in The Journal Of Child Psychology And Psychiatry has concluded that an estimated 98 percent of children under the age of 10 are remorseless sociopaths with little regard for anything other than their own egocentric interests and pleasures.
According to Dr. Leonard Mateo, a developmental psychologist at the University of Minnesota and lead author of the study, most adults are completely unaware that they could be living among callous monsters who would remorselessly exploit them to obtain something as insignificant as an ice cream cone or a new toy.
...According to the Hare Psychopathy Checklist, a clinical diagnostic tool, sociopaths often display superficial charm, pathological lying, manipulative behaviors, and a grandiose sense of self-importance. After observing 700 children engaged in everyday activities, Mateo and his colleagues found that 684 exhibited these behaviors at a severe or profound level.
The children studied also displayed many secondary hallmarks of antisocial personality disorder, most notably poor impulse control, an inability to plan ahead, and a proclivity for violence—often in the form of extended tantrums—when their needs were not immediately met.
...Because children are so skilled at mimicking normal human emotions and will say anything without consideration for accuracy or truth, Mateo said that people often don’t realize that they’ve been exploited until it is too late. Though he maintained that anyone can fall victim to a child’s egocentric behavior, Mateo warned that grandmothers were especially susceptible to the self- serving machinations of tiny little sociopaths.

Marianne Stokes

How is it that I never heard of the artist Marianne Stokes before?
In any case, much thanks to Rorate Caeli for using a striking Madonna and Child, (not the one below,) to illustrate a post.
The expression on the Christ Child's face is arresting, (and reminds me of my godchild who seemed to have been born with a permanent aspect that said, "What do yout think you're looking at?")
This one caught my eye because the Baby Jesus, with his skinny arm, and flushed cheek, genuinely looks like a new-born, and that is almost unique in my experience of religious art.

Monday, 28 December 2015

Holy Innocents, Pray For Us!

 From a Christmas homily given by a future Doctor of the Church, Josheph Ratzinger.
God’s sign is simplicity. God’s sign is the baby. God’s sign is that he makes himself small for us. This is how he reigns. He does not come with power and outward splendour. He comes as a baby – defenceless and in need of our help. He does not want to overwhelm us with his strength. He takes away our fear of his greatness. He asks for our love: so he makes himself a child. He wants nothing other from us than our love, through which we spontaneously learn to enter into his feelings, his thoughts and his will – we learn to live with him and to practise with him that humility of renunciation that belongs to the very essence of love. God made himself small so that we could understand him, welcome him, and love him.
I think the Church in the US has erred in making the anniversary of a terrible and dreadful court case the "big day" to make her pro-life stance noted.
The right day was already in the calendar.
You, abortionists, and your useful idiots,
...are threatened by the source of grace, so small, yet so great, who is lying in the manger. He is using you, all unaware of it, to work out his own purposes freeing souls from captivity to the devil. He has taken up the sons of the enemy into the ranks of God’s adopted children.
  The children die for Christ, though they do not know it. The parents mourn for the death of martyrs. The child makes of those as yet unable to speak fit witnesses to himself. See the kind of kingdom that is his, coming as he did in order to be this kind of king. See how the deliverer is already working deliverance, the saviour already working salvation. 
Image result for holy innocents slaughtered 

Image result for aborted babies

Thursday, 24 December 2015

God bless us, every one!

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Suffering in My Mixed Marriage

Making a mixed marriage work is almost always a little trickier around the holidays.
I like King's College Choir, he prefers Bing.

And let's not even discuss Robert Goulet, who seemed to want to bludgeon every song into submission with his voice...

Five Errors?

Oh, please.
I know online media is necessarily, (all God's children gotta pay the rent....) obsessed with clickbait. But why must religious writers be as egregious with their listicles, and "You've been doin' this wrong your whole life!" overstatement, and their solutions to problems you didn't know you had with with everyone finding your approach to something or other risible,  ("everyone laughed when he stepped out but when he began to.... their jaws dropped!")?
The danger of infusing spiritual rationales into cultural practices is also seen in some of the Christmas songs we sing at church during the month of December. The most flagrant violation might be “O Christmas Tree.” You have to search hard through the stanzas of this hymn to find anything related to Jesus. We should be uncomfortable singing this carol in a gathered group of Christians because it’s basically a song paying homage to a tree. 
I can sing Jingle Bells in public, too.
Not in Church, of course, (although Catholics who program it and the editors of Gather for printing it, should cringe that this piece of  borderline pantheistic drek ever sees the light of day.  I know, I know, I realize that the "poet" or translator probably intended all those "fors" to mean "because of" not "directed toward", but telling us to sing to the Creator,  but then in every verse enjoining "praise for" some non-sentient item of creation, is clumsy and open to too many, too widespread, manner of heretical idiocy in our theological and spiritually ignorant world.)
That's the difference.
There is plenty of room for secular Christmas songs, and even "in Church," just not "in worship,"
The carol sing lead-up to Midnight Mass? that's part of worship.
The carol sing on a Sunday afternoon, punch, fellowship and bars to follow?
Not so much.
The authors are Baptist, I think, so it's understandable that being of a non-liturgical bent they just don't "get" the Both/And quality of of most Christians' culture and praxis.
I can sing secular songs with other Christians, just as I can  drink Starbuck's in December.
And that leads me to a larger, (in my opinion,) problem.
If by, "some of the Christmas songs we sing at church during the month of December,"  they mean "during the last week of December," fine.
But otherwise, even so far removed from ancient practice as Baptists are, ADVENT, guys.
Stop having desert while you still need to be cooking.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

'A Charlie Brown Christmas' Teaches the True Meaning of Christmas

Never sure about this sort of thing, don't want to spread invective, but this does seem to have been said, and is truly.... would it be to un-PC to say, "lame"?
“For half a century, people of all ages have gathered around the TV to watch Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, and the rest of the gang, teach us the true meaning of Christmas.... They teach us that tiny trees just need a little love, and that on this holiday, we celebrate peace on earth and goodwill toward all. Because, as Linus knows, that’s what Christmas is all about.”
Gee, is that what you got out of it?
I've seen it, I dunno, maybe 25 times?
I thought there was something else there....

Monday, 21 December 2015

Rachel Lu in "Crisis" Magazine

I do not agree with her basic thesis, about whether women, (girls,) can profitably, (to the Body of Christ, not profit to tehmselves,) serve at the altar.
I believe it is more complex thn that, the presenc of females may indeed impede certain vocations, but that is not to say that some mens' vocations, or rather, the belief in such, might not well be impeded.
But this? say it, and say it again, shout it.
Beyond the vocations issue, we come to a more thorny problem.....When women claim a more central role [in charge of liturgy], we frequently see a slide into lower and more culturally idiosyncratic practices. It generally starts with campy banners and popular-style hymnody, but may end with synthesizers and scantily-clad liturgical dancers. These liturgies are not beautiful or uplifting. They’re more like a never-ending hug from a grasping, obsequious aunt.
I have sometimes heard this sort of liturgy referred to as “feminine” or “effeminate.” I don’t especially like that, because I don’t believe that bad liturgy is really representative of what women have to offer. I’m a woman, and I hate schlocky liturgy.
This, on t'other hand,
Still, there’s no doubt that women are more apt to produce bad liturgy. Perhaps we could say that it is “feminine” in the same way that pornography is “masculine”: it shows us some characteristic defects of one sex in particular.
Yes, there is, there is doubt.
We need to remember, women began to have even some small control over liturgical celebrations, (excepting those in communities of female monastics,) at the utter nadir of liturgical fastidiousness, of taste in popular expressions of cult culture, and of aesthetics generally

“Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the product of conception you have there. And how does this happen to me, that the person who may in the future be the mother of my Lord, but is not currently a mother of anything but merely the vessel for a blob of cells, should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the fetus in my womb, admittedly somewhat bigger than the embryo in yours, but still not a person, only a potential person, not a life or anything, leaped for joy!"

.... said Elizabeth never.

Image result for the visitation

"Well, no, it can't be so, because I would have heard of it otherwise... right?"

I can't be the only one who has been startled by something a friend or acquaintance says, and thought that he must be mistaken, he misheard, he mistook Eye of the Tiber or SNL for actual news; yeah, I know I was out of radio contact/insane busy/sick/obsessed with some nonsense for a couple weeks, but that shouldn't matter, I would have heard later, that would have had some traction, people would still be....

The Greater Horn-billed American News Cycle, however, is a skittish beast, and sometimes an item much like one that preceded it and another that succeeded it, both of which were hobby hoses ridden by the media for many days fails, inexplicably, to fascinate the chattering classes.

This is one of those how-did-I-miss-that horrors that I used to think, (and then I used to hope,) someone had fabricated.

There are people I know who have connections to the culpable institution, and to some of the principles, (and no, not the victims,) for whose sakes I would hope it was untrue, but when the bare facts are laid out, there's not much doubt.

But imagine any sort of concern or establishment, one of whose employees or members admitted to abusing 13- or 14-year old prostitutes overseas, another to drugging young victims who were in his care, another pretending to be interested in figurative art to have children disrobe, another who abused children and was merely removed as a dorm supervisor but allowed to continue as a teacher.... it goes on.Then imagine that organization issuing this statement regarding all those crimes and all those sins when they are forced to release files:
The files provided include those of [men] currently living [right here where many of their crimes took place] under safety plans. Their actions are limited and they are closely supervised. Files also include nine [men] who are deceased and two men who have left.... The allegations against these men involve incidents that occurred more than two decades ago; some of the incidents are 30 or 40 years old. 
There are documents in each file which may be quoted and framed in a lurid context. [YA THINK?!???] But the huge majority of the documents in each of these files acknowledges the very real failures of some [men] while showing each of the accused [men] as a fallible, relatable person. [which are, what? NOT so "lurid"?]
The files also show that [we] did not try to cover up allegations and did a reasonable job of managing the [man] and the problem.
That would do it for me, I guess. Everything's on the up-and-up, credibility restored, huh?

The New Normal, and Performing Acts of Mercy

A man sitting in church.

Not very well dressed, sloppily, even, but that is not uncommon in a vacation area approaching its peak of attractiveness to those who live elsewhere where the weather is other.
Wearing a hoodie. Okay, unusual, but there is no longer a canon law proscribing hats on men.
Reading before Mass.
Reading from an electronic device, not common, but not unheard of, either.
Reading aloud. Quite loudly, in fact.
Also, alas, not unheard of in this parish, where one man finally needed to be asked to stop proclaiming the Liturgy of the Hours deliberately seated in the midst of the regularly scheduled, daily, and noted-in-every-bulletin public recitation of the Rosary.

Reading about murder and massacres and gunshot wounds and blood and devastation. Aloud.

Now, it's strange.

One pew-sitter glances at him, and decides just to give the head usher, back in the sacristy, a heads up.

Several of us exit the sacristy and see the stranger exit his pew, stride up to the front of the nave, genuflect deeply, but instead of making the customary sign of the cross, he bows his head profoundly, and stretch out his arms, like the Crucified One, like a martyr.

This satisfies most of the ushers, who return to their pre-celebration tasks. One, however, exits the church by the same door, and sees the man make a circuit of the cloistered garden and duck in a back door. Alarmed, he gets the attention of another usher, an extremely large man, whether chosen by accident, or design, who knows?
They follow, and find the fellow in the wash room, albeit, not using the facilities.
Warily, they welcome him, ask him if he doesn't want to come in a find a seat, and tell him that Catholic men do not customarily cover their heads in Church.

Nervously, tensely, everyone finds himself a seat, and Mass begins.

Later, another usher tells us that she has seen him around, he is a schizophrenic in the neighborhood, she thinks he is harmless.
If a stranger dwell in your land, and abide among you, do not upbraid him: But let him be among you as one of the same country: and you shall love him as yourselves: for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Poor Sad Little Atheists.....

As Stuart says, when Sheldon complains that "more wrong" is an absurd phrase, as wrong is an absolute and therefore has no gradations.
No, it’s a little wrong to say a tomato is a vegetable, it’s very wrong to say it’s a suspension bridge
I heard someone say something like this: The believer may be like a child who thinks Saint Nicholas delivered presents, when they were really secretly placed under the tree by his parents - a little wrong; the atheist, like the child who thinks the gifts spontaneously generated, - is very wrong.
Our inability to comprehend, fully the nature of our Creator, is no refutation of His existence.

As almost always, Eccles is wittier than I could ever hope, in his kindly pity for the second sort of child and his irrationality.
1. And lo! Christmas was approaching once more, the season of peace on Earth to people of good will (and maybe some others, too)
2. But Richard was still in those days an unsaved person, and he spake forth, saying "Bah! Humbug!" Or sometimes (for a change) "Bah! Jellybaby!"  .....
3. And behold, he went on the attack with a brilliantly-crafted tweet, saying "There are people who believe Jesus turned water into wine. How do they hold down a job in the 21st century?"
4. For he reasoned that the butcher, the baker, the candlestick-maker, and the professor of biology could not do their jobs adequately if they believed in an omnipotent creator.
5. For would they not inevitably produce bad sausages, or bad bread, or bad candles, or bad lectures, if they were men of faith?
I will never understand the child who doesn't want to play with his comrades, no he does not

No I do not and don't ask me again, leave me alone, that's a stupid game anyway, I'm going to stand right here and keep telling you how stupid it is, oh, you're going over there, okay, I will too so I can keep telling you how much I don't want to play wi -- HEY, WAIT FOR ME, I CAN'T KEEP UP! okay, this is stupid, I don't want to play with -- hey, can you hear me? why aren't you paying attention to me?

Plugging Away at This Churchy, Faithy Thing

I hope I do no wrong when I tell my Sunday School kids that Advent is kinda like the Church's time to be Old Testament people, to know what it was like for the sons of Adam and daughters of Eve, B.(efore) C.(hrist)- waiting, longing, hoping, thirsting, begging for Him who was foretold to get here already!

I do enough complaining about it that I also need to praise, sometimes the lectionary, the choices made by its fabricators are incredibly powerful and perfect.

How many times have I read this, how many times have I PROCLAIMED the readings for this Sunday, and how have I never noticed this before?
He shall take His place as shepherd
by the strength of the Lord,
by the majestic name of the Lord, His God;
And they shall dwell securely, for now His greatness
shall reach to the ends of the earth:
He shall be peace.
Not, He will bring peace, or there will be peace in His time -- He will BE peace.

Peace Incarnate.
As He is Love incarnate, Mercy incarnate, and yes, Justice incarnate... PEACE INCARNATE.

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus

Friday, 18 December 2015

Dear King Richard III...

The New Yorker has a political advice column penned by the long dead but recently re-discovered, skeletally and genetically identified, and buried with fitting pomp and reverence albeit by protestants whom he would have had executed, non-nephew killing, much slandered monarch, Good King Richard.

Well done. (The handsome Duke of York was an early crush of mine, and the facial reconstruction proves he was quite as noble-visaged as I imagined him. So there..)
Image result for richard iii

Dear King Richard -
Have you ever seen someone dominate an election like this? I would have curb-stomped Reagan. I am more popular than Mussolini ever was. I am significantly taller than Jesus. I’ve made a huge amount of money, and I’m not going to apologize to anyone for that. China is scared of me. My question is: How are you?
Talking Loudly Inside Trump Towers

Thank you for writing. I am fine, though afflicted by a certain melancholy for, as I understand it, most of you think I am the ruthless caricature created by that cretinous ass William Shakespeare. Do you people really think I was in my mother’s womb for two years and born with fangs? That not only did I kill my own brother’s sweet sons but I also found time to kill Henry VI, his son Edward, and my own beloved brother George? That I murdered my wife so that I could marry my niece? Calumny. Oh, and Donald? You are like poison that screams its victim to death. You belong in a dungeon.
Royally Yours....

New, Improved, "GendrLite"? Not So Much, With a Rudolf to the Rescue Again

Not sure if the German Bishops' Conference had considered the catchy trademark, I think "GendrLite" would have attracted the yoof, 'cause, you know. Misspelling and missing vowels.

Doncha think? But a spoilsport in their midst has played the reality card.
A bishop, in bishop's clothing, as it were.
Celebrating the feast of St. Wolfgang, who was Bishop of Regensburg from 972 to 994, Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer taught in an Oct. 31 homily that gender theory – the idea of separating biological sex from gender – does not contribute to equality, and is ultimately a denial of nature and the goodness of creation. It puts at stake the essence of man and woman, denying their nature as potential fatherhood and motherhood.
A bishop's pastoral ministry, he said, “includes the duty and the responsibility to act as a guardian, to raise his voice, as necessary, to draw attention to discrepancies or errors, however convenient or inconvenient this may be.”
“Recently, just such a necessity has again arisen.”
Bishop Voderholzer noted that the German bishops' conference published a flyer in late October which “was written to declare these theories as being basically compatible with Catholic belief, in contrast to an extreme form of gender mainstream, and it claims to be formulating the Catholic position on this issue.”
“In my opinion, the former appears impossible – finally, there is no such thing as 'gender light'. The concept lowers the drawbridge and opens the gate to positions irreconcilable with the Christian faith. And the flyer not only fails to present the Catholic position, it leaves it out completely.”
The bishop also noted that the publication “was released in the name of the Conference of Bishops, of which I am a member, without my having previously seen its content, much less having approved it.”
Rudolf helping save Christmas Christian thought, (not to mention credibility.)

Praise be St Wolfgang, and St Rudolph. I'll have to look up who they are.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Do We Really Want To Give Such a Guy PR?

A fat sex offender with bad skin and a worse coiffure, who had been kicked out of his former kaffee klatsch of "satanists," announces that he is coming out of his room in his mom's basement long enough to perform a sacrilegious act in a small city in the middle of nowhere, in public.

Why would a Christian help him to publicize his activities?

Toddlers who learn foul words, or how to maximize the sound produced by passing gas are less interested in the obscenities or the noise than in the reaction they get from adults. (Don't ask me how I know...)

Pray, perform acts of reparation, but why fall for his ploy by giving this poor sod the attention he wants?

Okay, I LOOOOOVE Star Wars, But These Are Not the Ads I'm Looking For

I love Star Wars.
I love every single person involved with the original, I remember Kenneth Colley and Denis Lawson, I can see every line of Luke's Aunt Beru's face as if she was mine, I remember the eyes of the boy I first saw the movie with and how we thrilled to every frame of the film and note of the score, I remember the taste of the milkshake I had on the way to see it a second time with another young man, I saw and defended the weaker episodes, I bought sheet music to the music, I chewed gum I hated to get cards, I...
Okay, you get the idea.


(I have only paid to see HD broadcasts of operas in movie theatres in recent years.)

So you will understand than I am not a hater, I give anything Star Wars or Star Wars adjacent a lot of leeway, and I do not say this lightly:

I am sick of the commercial tie-ins and references to Star Wars!

Mascara? Sub-sandwiches? a waffle maker? (I know about that one because I'm in the market for a pizzelle iron this Christmass.) Crocs? Coffee creamer?

Stop it!!! Just stop it!

(Oh, but this one? It's okay.)

Image result for wookie loreal ad

Poor Little Lambs Who Have Lost Their Way

So, Borat, or someone, had no trouble gathering signatures to repeal the first amendment at Yale.
Trigger warning! This story and video may be unsuitable viewing for the “safe space” crowd.
Looking to understand just how controversial the debate over free speech on our college campuses really is, filmmaker and satirist Ami Horowitz recently traveled to Yale University, one of our nation’s most prestigious institutions of higher learning, to speak directly to students. 
“I decided to take this campus free speech debate to its logical conclusion,” said Horowitz, who asked students if they’d sign a petition calling for an outright repeal of the First Amendment. ...
In fact, Horowitz discovered a solid majority of the students asked willingly signed the petition, with several expressing their enthusiastic approval for his anti-First Amendment efforts.
I wonder if those who felt Sacha Baron Cohen's movie revealed not so much latent racism, anti-semitism, and general cluelessness of the American butts of his joke, as their excessive "hospitality and politesse," will similarly jump to the defense of these... butts, saying they were just being amenable and kindly.

(Well, not that particular apologist, he no longer being in the business of jumping to anything, r.i.p.)

The fact is, of course, that any cause, good or bad, is almost bound to have its share of supporters who are idiots, churls,  moral imbeciles - or just people who haven't thought their positions through to their "logical conclusions".

Trump isn't a thug because some of his supporters are thugs any more than Michael Brown was a petty criminal because some of his posthumous supporters are petty criminals. Abortion isn't wrong because some abortionists are callous money-grubbers.

And I don't think it improves anyone's chances of bringing those with opposing viewpoints over to one's side by trying to demonstrate that anyone who disagree must be a fool.

(Not that I always play by such rules...)

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

"Thank heaven, for little girls...."

When Himself undertook the Maurice Chevalier role in a revival of Gigi, there was talk about how the hit song from the musical would be impossible to introduce nowadays, and was barely acceptable in a revival; and how difficult was the task of performing it without being creepy or downright louche.
Much was made of how the musical, (not the Colette story,)  was the product of a more innocent time.
Any way, his charm was sufficient unto the task, he was avuncularly flirtatious, not Dirty Old Man, (although in my opinion, the director made a few errors increasing the challenge: the girl-child who inspires the song should come into Honore's presence, join him already seated on a park bench, not the other way 'round.)

Now that all seems quaint, that seems a more innocent time..

A grown man need not find a little girl to thank heaven for - he can just be one, (although I'm not at all certain the whole thing isn't a hoax): 
After 23 years of marriage and seven children, a transgender woman [disturbed man] is taking a chance on living her [his] truth [sick fantasy]— however controversial it might seem.
Stefonknee Wolscht began her transition [his play-acting] six years ago at age 46 and now she is living as a 6-year-old girl.
"Stop being trans wasn't something I could do; that's like telling me to stop being 6-foot-2 or leave,” Wolscht said of her [his long-suffering] wife's ultimatum in a clip.
Wolscht is the subject of a social video series ... which profiles transgender people in Canada.
As I said, could be the Onion's doing, but it's not as if society isn't full of enablers in media, academe and generally the chattering classes who would take this seriously, go along with it and pretend that the delusional fellow is what he says he is.

I'll retire to Bedlam....

Pondering the "Big Questions"

I thought philosophy and theology were supposed to help us with these, but so far I remain confused.
1. What is the meaning of life?
2. What does the Lord require of me?
3. What the #ell is a "lip kit"?
Image result for big wax lips

Monday, 14 December 2015

Haunted..., no, VISITED by a Liturgical Memory

Did you ever assist at a Mass that, for what ever reason, continued to occupy your thoughts and your feelings for long afterward?

I have been very fortunate, much superb preaching, much stirring music, much careful and precise prayer, much authentic emotion, much manifest "active love" in my lifetime, far more than liturgies that haunt one for the opposite reasons.

But the one that has all but obsessed me now for a week stands out for... well, for the reason that nothing about it "stands out," utter simplicity*, utter focus, utter simplicity, utter God-ward motion.

It was one single prayer offered to the Father by the Son in the Holy Spirit.

It was seamless.

I like gorgeousness, I like splendor. These are not the same as ostentation, but I have to remind myself at times that Beauty avails Herself of a broad range of aesthetics and styles, so that by the same token minimalism and simplicity are not the same as shabbiness or homeliness.

My tastes are naturally formed somewhat by good experience, nostalgia, fond associations - but I think I can be objective in my judgements, as well, and I think the plain fact is that some styles and aesthetics lend themselves more to liturgical use, are more powerfully able to accomplish the evanglization and catechesis that is required of them.

Any way, my Mass for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception just hit that sweet spot. I was travelling, for pete's sake, and it was almost pure chance!

Sometimes I think I'm just to lucky to live. (For LONG, Aunt Scelata! I can hear my squeaky voiced little niece reprimanding me for shortchanging an expression she likes, "2 lucky 2 live 4 long" is how it goes!)

I'll have to write a bit more of it when I can.
*"Noble simplicity" properly understood - This is as good a definition and concise a description as any: noble simplicity, at least as Winckelmann first defined it, properly refers to a unity of physical and spiritual elements in a work of art, and was used by him to refer to classical Greek sculpture, which is a world apart from the misshapen gnomes that populate OCP clip art. You could make the case that good Gothic, Baroque or Romanesque has the quality of noble simplicity.

"Well who the hell are WE to say people should be prevented from blowing thier brains out?!??" asks the New York Times

Or wait, they didn't.
Or actually came out in support of suicide prevention.
Except when they aren't.
But by "they", I don't mean "they" because there's the paper, (LOL! do they even have any readers of "paper" anymore?) and then there's the "Editorial Board."
Which speaks for the paper, right?
Although, of course, in the pages of the Op-Ed, they may give space to other viewpoints.
Except when they point blank refuse to.
Because a multiplicity of opinions can be countenanced, should actually be encouraged.
Except when it can't because anyone who disagrees is a poopyhead.

Got it?

If stricter gun control will help prevent suicides, than civilized people have no choice but to support it. ("But we should try to save as many people as possible.")
You know, because that's an absolute value, keeping distraught people from offing themselves.
Unless we approve of the means said distraught people have chosen.
Then we're in favor of it, (a "governor should sign into law a bill that would allow some terminally ill patients to hasten their death.")

One might be forgiven for suspecting that it's only guns to which the New York Times Editorial Board objects, that they hold guns to be objectively evil, but find suicide morally neutral.
At least, that's the only logical defense I can find for rationalizing the two different stances.

And I say this as a supporter of stricter gun control, who hates what the NRA, at least currently, stands for, and who despises the cowardice of its congressminions..

Sunday, 13 December 2015

The Rewards of Teaching Sunday School

Okay, so my ten-year-olds can't remember if they've ever received the sacrament of confession... or of reconciliation... or of penance... or of mercy.
And they cannot manage to learn the words o the Act of Contrition.

To ANY "Act of Contrition."

(Could you just say, "I'm sorry for my sins"? Five words...? Learn that? Please...? Too much?)

And they can't tell the difference between "confirmation" and "communion."

And it is impossible to get them not to write in the pages of their missals, and to write on the pages of their workbooks.
Or pick up paper off the floor.
Or not to taste the paste.
Or to keep their hands off my things.
Or to put down their phones.
Well, no matter.

Today one instigated, and the others kept going, with pertinent, insightful questions, a discussion of, I kid you not, chronos and kairos.

I love them. (Even the kid who tried to break a desk by pounding on it with his foot in a cast.)
I just love them

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Has There Ever Been a Biopic of La Bernhardt? And Is Mayam Bialik Too Busy?

Is it just me? or is there a resemblance here....

The great Cheryl Campbell played Bernhardt on television once, IIRC, and she doesn't look anything like Amy Farrah Fowle, and yet she also looked somehow exactly right.
I love faces.

Friday, 11 December 2015

Italian Archbishop on the Sin of Halitosis, and the Automatic Excommunication It Incurs

If he's not discussing bad breath so heinous as to knock another down, (or the unpleasantness attendant upon people who spit when they talk,) and this is not a translation problem,  I am hard pressed to know what in the world Archbishop Rino Fisichella means here:
“I would say that we need to understand well ‘physical violence,’ because sometimes words, too, are rocks and stones, and therefore I believe some of these sins, too, are far more widespread than we might think.”
"Physical," in common with many words, has an actual meaning, you know?
It means something.
Harsh words are "physical violence"?..."PHYSICAL VIOLENCE"?

Image result for sheldon cooper contempt
"'Literally'? .....'LITERALLY'?"

The Trombone is the Butchest of Instruments

Just a random thought whilst listening to Shostakovitch...

Thursday, 10 December 2015

"Ut duo sint"?

A Catholic/Jewish panel in Rome has issued a statement.

Par for the course from the Vatican nowadays, clear as mud and flexible enough to support 'most any position already held by anyone.

The secular press, (and, true, the portions of the Catholic media less given to precision in reportage than I might like,) ,) is therefore to be forgiven for stating flatly that "the Vatican says".. Catholics "should not try to convert" the Jewish people.

The document is far more equivocal and far less authoritative that NPR et al would have it be, but hard as any German bishop or rabbi might wish, it does not really say quite that.

Rather than actually proscriptively banning such evangelization, the doc, (which clear states of itself that it is "not a magisterial document or doctrinal teaching" of the Church, descriptively  says how things are at the present time, that the Church "neither conducts nor supports any specific institutional mission work directed towards Jews," and it "is not a matter of missionary efforts to convert Jews" which is "a very delicate and sensitive matter," and "must be presented correctly."
The Jewish people are unique, unlike any other non-Christians, occupying a special and privileged place.
BUT, the Church's members are "nonetheless called to bear witness to their faith in Jesus Christ also to Jews," since She believes in the "universality of salvation in Jesus Christ," She "cannot refrain from proclaiming Jesus as Lord and Messiah," and yeah, sure, the "figure of Jesus thus is and remains for Jews the ‘stumbling block’", and the Old Testament is meaningless for Christians unless interpreted through the "key" of Jesus Christ, who is the "cornerstone" of the faith.
"Jesus Christ is the universal mediator of salvation,...there is no other."

Oh, and yeah, forced conversions and violence and antisemitism are bad and soup kitchens are good.
What was that commission Christ gave his disciples? and how did He pray to the Father?

"Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, except the Jews, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching everyone, oh, but like I said before, leave the Jewish people out of it, to observe all that I have commanded you." 
"I pray that they may all be one, but, You know, with the usual exceptions, as You, Father, are in me and I in you... but now that I think of it, You and I are one but We're also kind of two, so yeah, like that, I pray that they all may be two...."
Image result for jesus giving the great commission
.... said Jesus NEVER. 

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

"What If We Just Said Wait" Mentality Rears Its Head

Seriously, four years on, priests are still whinging about the (no longer very,) "new" translation of the Missal?

And then to throw gratuitous quotes from Timothy Radcliffe into the stew?

Sunday, 22 November 2015

"In a nod to Pope Francis's humble style, alongside the figures from the story of Jesus's birth will be sculptures of ordinary people, including a man supporting an elderly person in need."

Right, because no Neapolitan presepio ever contained poor shepherds, or beggars, or boys on crutches, strangers, or slaves, or old people, or any cross-section of humanity until now.

(This is akin to the msm reports that Pope Benedict signalled his support of environmental causes by wearing green vestments...)

Well, Merry Charade.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

The Rites of Winter

Why didn't Stravinsky or Orff write something for us?
Image result for oldest woman in the world
Old people.
Shouldn't we have something vigorous and sensual and beautiful?
I digress.
Christmas approacheth, and being firmly in the lazy camp, I am happy to decry the glossing over of Advent in favor of the Buying Season. CHRISTMAS LASTS 40 DAYS AFTER CHRISTMAS DAY.

Image result for pee wee herman
.. and it's a big "but"...
... some things simply must be done ahead of time if they are to be done at all..

Thus, the Rites of (Late Autumn, but let's call if) Winter!
I shall be on the road when I should be pouring brandy and rum and deliciousness over a fruitcake, so I have baked one today and doused it with the only rich alcohol to hand, (except a birthday single malt scotch of Himself's, which tastes and smells like fabric softener to me and does not enter into the equation,) cream sherry.

I am very eager to see how it turns out.

You know, I always feel sorry for people who hate fruitcake - they never tasted my Mother's.
Her Christmas baking, and trying to reflect in some small measure, the same, - after Mass and Family, it is IT for me.

Coquamo, ergo sum (christiana.) 

I realized I need to make it tonight if it was to be done, so I used what was to hand - dried blueberries feature prominently, as do almonds, pecans would have been my choice, if I had more of them, and dang it!!!! no raisins!
Bu my Mother actually hated raisins, even golden ones, (my fave,) so it's more fitting that I used only dates.
And she hated coffee, but I use a bit of strong brew in the recipe I've settled on after a few years, so that can be a little tribute to my Father, who enjoyed a cup of joe.
And now that I think of it, he was a near-teetotaller, and twice a year, anniversary and New Year's Eve, sipped a half a glass of sherry, so there you are.

Lord Jesus, we approach Your coming as man -- Christmass, quickly come!

Doe God Hate Sin? Should We?

Honestly, I had no idea this was even a question, but I keep stumbling across people saying, more or less, that we are not to hate sin.

The cliche of "loving the sinner but hating the sin," is described as a mischaracterization, bastardization, an embarrassment, a sin and a total abomination.
It is damned as "flying in the face of everything Jesus said."
And most thrillingly, its usefulness is called into question -- because really, isn't process, utility, pragmatism the really meat and potatoes of our faith? -- as we are told that “the distinction between sin and sinner no longer works.”
(In all honesty, that link is to a quote of a translation of an overheard.... well, you get the idea.)

God hates, or so we're told, and I don't mean by vile wretches like the preacher from Westboro Baptist.

We're actually told in the Bible, that there are sins God hates.
Shouldn't we as well?

In all honesty, the anti-LTSHTS crowd seem fixated on certain sins. That claim that those who are pro-LTSHTS types are fixated on those same sins.

Maybe it's just me, but I have a sneaking suspicion the real source of division is that the antis don't really think those sins are sins.
(I was going to say "deep down," but their incredulity is pretty much bubbling up right there on the surface.)
Yeah, the conversations on "sin" always seem to end up dancing around what some call "pelvic issues."

There's a good reason for this, and it's not that the pros are obsessed with them, is that they're the only sins, if sins they be, that have people campaigning in favor of them!
Nobody presents for communion wearing a sash proclaiming his fealty to the Embezzlers' Agenda.
No one is seeking equal rights for Cannibals.

Fr Hunwicke had a good idea, that if you are trying to get down to brass tacks, to really see what your actual principles are, as opposed to warm-fuzzies, regarding sin, (you know, gradualism, use of the Internal Forum to resolve questions about whether you are in a state of grace, and here, whether you need to stop hating the sin if you really love that sinner,) substitute for whatever you pet sin is, "paedophilia."

We love the paedophiliac, must we therefore love the paedophilia?

I'm guessing not.

So in that case, what the anti-LTSHTS should admit, is that they are saying that they don't have to hate the sin because it's not a sin.

Come to think of it,what about people like the, (now defunct,) preacher from Westboro Baptist?

I think his campaign, his activities, his words, all were utterly, unquestionably sinful.
I try not to hate such cruel people, I try to hope he did not condemn himself to eternal separation from the Father in a hell of his own design and choice.

So, if I succeed, if I don't hate him...

Am I also not supposed to hate his sins?

Yeah, I didn't think so.

Ooh, wasn't that Dante guy a judgey sort?

In all honesty, I had never thought until now, it never occurred to me when reading Dante in school how antithetical the inferno of  the Comedìa is to the Catholic concept of hell, at least as it is expressed nowadays, when we never claim to be able to know who might be there.
It was a public high school, so the catholicity of its theology wasn't really on the radar.

In the middle ages did people so presume?

A Faithful Citizen had Two Sons, Second Draft

“What is your opinion?
A faithful citizen had two sons.
He came to the first and said, ‘Son, go out and work to respect the dignity and life of every human person from conception until natural death..’  He said in reply, ‘I will not,’ but afterwards he changed his mind and did in some ways, but was more interested in peripheral causes.
The man came to the other son and gave the same order. He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir,’ but when it came down to it, really, isn't burning fossil fuels as bad as dismembering babies in the womb? isn't  refusing to give a guy a job worse than giving him poison when he's going through depression?
For which of the two should his father vote?"

Human Resources Office at the Vatican

Who does the hiring? is there someone like this,

Image result for toby in the office
whom all the folk in every department hate because they are required to take sensitivity training, and answer on sexual harassment charges?

Or someone like this,
Image result for michael in the office
who is the reason everyone else is so required?

In any case, are we really surprised that this hire, (the mustachioed lady on the left,)

Image result for Chaouqui naked
proved not the best fit for working at the Vatican?
Well, I'm sure she'll land on her feet.

Image result for cardinal bertone happy
I'm not one of those wacky German Cardinals, but can I get in on some of that schadenfreude stuff? Maybe with a nice chianti....

Friday, 20 November 2015

A Faithful Citizen had Two Sons, First Draft

“What is your opinion?
A faithful citizen had two sons.
He came to the first and said, ‘Son, go out and work to respect the dignity and life of every human person from conception until natural death..’  He said in reply, ‘I will not,’ but afterwards he changed his mind and did in some ways, but was more interested in peripheral causes. The man came to the other son and gave the same order. He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir,’ but when he had the chance didn't do much so that he could keep that issue in play to fire up his base.
For which of the two should his father vote?"

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

You Know What's Shameful? BOTH Sides Trying to Score Political Points With the Survival of, the Very Lives of Refugees

The Democratic President and the Republican Presidential Candidates? quit you smarmy politicking and tell the truth and be human!
Last year the president of the USCCB quoted the late, great James, Cardinal Hickey, "we serve others not because they are Catholic, but because we are."
Don't we do the honorable, the decent thing for other people because we are Americans?

There are people, running campaigns and running states, flat out saying, No more Syrian refugees, not in my back yard.

Said President Obama,
"Slamming the door in their faces would be a betrayal of our values," he said. "Our nations can welcome refugees who are desperately seeking safety and ensure our own security. We can and must do both."
Good, so far.But then,
President Obama decried the calls from some to stop accepting Syrian refugees after the attacks in Paris, saying it would be "a betrayal of our values....And when I hear folks say that, well, maybe we should just admit the Christians but not the Muslims, when I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which person who's fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted, when some of those folks themselves come from families who benefited from protection when they were fleeing political persecution, that's shameful. That's not American. That’s not who we are."
Um, yeah it is. It IS who we are.
Refugees are prioritized, and religion IS one way our country does so.
We expect to admit some 1,600-1,800 Syrian refugees in FY 2015.
And that, prior to the current anguish and anger over security! That is a shamefully low number, (and the Republican presidential race doesn't bear the blame for that one.)
allocate admissions among refugees “of special humanitarian concern to the United States in accordance with a determination made by the President after appropriate consultation.”
• Priority 1 – Individual cases referred to the program by virtue of their circumstances and apparent need for resettlement;

• Priority 2 – Groups of cases designated as having access to the program by virtue of their circumstances and apparent need for resettlement;

• Priority 3 – Individual cases from designated nationalities granted access for purposes of reunification with family members already in the United States.

#2 includes
The open-access model for Priority 2 group referrals... has functioned well in the in-country programs, including the long-standing programs in X and the X, and in X. It was also used successfully for Xfor nearly thirty years (1980-2009), X refugees during the 1990s, and is now in use for Xian religious minorities, Xs with links to the United States, and minors from X, X, and Xs with lawfully present parents in the United States.
This Priority 2 designation applies to Jews, Evangelical Christians, and Ukrainian Catholic and Orthodox religious adherents identified in the Lautenberg Amendment...
Included in this Priority 2 program are human rights activists, members of persecuted religious minorities, former political prisoners, forced-labor conscripts, and persons deprived of their professional credentials or subjected to other disproportionately harsh or discriminatory treatment resulting from their perceived or actual political or religious beliefs.
So it's pretty dishonest to claim that there isn't already a "religious test," for expedited asylum procedures.
In fact, I have read that a finding that "genocide" is taking place is about to facilitate the admission of members of one Syrian religious minority to the US. (Whereas the attempted extermination of another Syrian religious minority, which just happens to be a majority in this country, is not being granted the status of genocide, and have thus far been pretty much shut out of relocation to the US, but that's another matter...)

And I don't think it's particularly honest to assert that lawmakers and governors who don't have complete trust in federal screening processes are only expressing concerns for partisan reasons.

That said, the politicians jumping all over this and demanding a "pause" in what is so far a pitiful show of welcoming the stranger at best seem to be having a knee-jerk reaction, in view of the time it takes for  screening now, and wouldn't it be nice if people looked into what they are talking about before the talked about it?