Friday, September 30, 2011


In Jesuit-owned and operated America magazine, an editorial laments the loss of altar girls at the Phoenix cathedral, wondering aloud if seeing the priesthood as an all-male clerical caste is really a good thing for the Church.

The Society of Jesus is an all-male clerical society. Unlike the older orders which have female branches, women may not join St. Ignatius Loyola's club. And men who join and are not destined for Holy Orders, the lay brothers, are never in line for any positions of authority. That is restricted to priests, a minority of whom are invited to take a fourth vow which then allows them to become important superiors.

Now what was that again about an all-male clerical caste?

Civilizing ourselves to death

I was watching an episode of Kenneth Clark's terrific 1969 series, Civilisation. About Western Europe. Although he is focusing very much on art, he frequently makes the point that civilization is fundamentally about self-confidence and energy. That isn't sufficient for a culture to create a civilization, but it is absolutely necessary. Once that self-confidence and lost, it's just a matter of time before all is lost.

With a hat tip to er, I was then informed by the UK Guardian (turn to the Left and bow deeply) that bullfighting has been banned in Catalonia and the last fight just took place in Barcelona. The situation is not quite a simple one because the Catalans, who speak their own Romance but not-Spanish language*, have long been restive and even violent in pursuit of their national autonomy. I spent Christmas Eve in Barcelona in 1973. I remember the bilingual Mass at the Cathedral, Spanish and Catalan, as well as the people in front of the building at night, doing their courtly national dance, the Jota.

Bullfighting is identified with the Spanish. So there is a nationalist motive along with the usual "barbaric cruelty to animals" motif. Spain still largely permits bullfighting, even though its popularity has fallen.

Nevertheless, I take two things from this story. One, which er pointed out, is the use to which closed bullrings are put. One has already turned into a shopping mall. This one has several proposals on the table: "an indoor market, a block of luxury apartments and a mosque financed by Dubai." What does it say about a civilization when a scene of ritualized conflict between man and beast becomes a market, houses for the rich, or another fortress for the Mohammedans to undo the Reconquista? Where is Santiago Matamoros when you need him?

And although bullfighting is a particularly Spanish taste, it is part of the repertoire of strong masculine symbols in Western culture which are now under attack and fading away. Whether it be the phallus of the lion rampant on a military shield, foxhunting in England, the very idea of carrying and using a gun, corporal punishment or the death penalty...everywhere the drift of liberal society, in the name of "civilization" is against masculine self-confidence and energy, in favor of a feminized pacifist vegetarian world full of neutered puppies consuming only sustainable green products from Fair Trade non-profits.

The only trouble is that the rest of the world is not like that. I recall a mid 60's movie about Genghis Khan** where the young Temujin finds himself at the court of the super-civilized Chinese emperor, who is overweight and cares only for poetry and court etiquette; very sophisticated and urbane, he sees the future Khan merely as an intemperate barbarian.  Which he was. Utterly lacking in self-doubt. Full of Lord Clark's self-confidence and energy. Temujin learned what he needed to, both about Chinese military strategy and Chinese corruption. Later in the film, of course, the old emperor and his exquisite taste gets obliterated. Omar Sharif vs Robert Morley. Guess who's gonna win?

And as shit-disturber Jack Donovan has pointed out in Androphilia, "A society dominated by women and effeminates cannot survive."

*If you know Spanish, you can sorta read Catalan (I had to use a Catalan article for an esoteric paper I once wrote about the history of Vespers!) but when spoken, it's as different from Spanish as Italian or Portuguese.

**It's a good flick, but no comparison with the epochal The Conqueror, with John Wayne as Genghis and Susan Hayward as Bortai.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Strange non-bedfellows

The Going-Under of the Evening Land

In line with the previous post --We have met the enemy and he is us.

Mark Steyn asserts that Europe is pretty much a lost cause for the following three reasons:

Demographic decline, financially unsustainable social-democratic states, and loss of civilizational will.*

And America, along with Canada and Australia, is not exempt from the future he predicts.

Not designed to brighten your day. But there is very little of what he says that I do not agree with.

I do take issue with his forlorn hope expressed here, but agree with his final conclusion.
I do think that unless you have real serious culture confidence
you should not have mass Muslim immigration. I say that with
regret because I would like to believe that all societies can bring
people there and create Americans, create Canadians, create
Englishmen, create Dutchmen.

But I do think that at some point we have to grasp the nettle of
mass immigration, which is always a sign of societal weakness

*Although er rejects Mr Steyn's analysis, I recall that it was er himself who quite poignantly wrote about the astonishing phenomenon of an entire civilization walking off a cliff based solely on the question, "Well, who's to say?"

Pretty true

My friend G, who is,  like all of us, wiser in regard to others than herself sometimes, once very helpfully pointed out to me the distinction between blaming yourself and taking responsibility for yourself. The former often leads to malaise, inaction and self-pity, the latter to movement. A lesson I often forget.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Heroes and sidekicks. Wonderful relationships.

Watching, again, the BBC's update of Sherlock Holmes. Very enjoyable.

Since I now have a ROKU, I have watched a series from my childhood, Cheyenne, starring one of the finest looking men God ever made,

Clint Walker, as Cheyenne Bodie and his sidekick Smitty, LG Jones.

Again, great stuff between them. Classical.

Archetypal, even.

I do like male bonding.

Stupid woman or stupid person?

I read the SF Chronicle this morning. Mistake.

Huge condescending and biased cover story on the anti-affirmative action bakesale (aka "stunt")  at UC Berkeley. For you uninitiated, to show the wrongness of affirmative action bias in favor of certain races, they sell cupcakes, but you are charged a different price depending on your color or ethnicity. Whites have to pay more than Peeps of Color. It enrages lefties because it is so clear.

And then there was a Letter to the Editor bemoaning the conviction of a dozen Muslim hecklers who tried to shout down the Israeli ambassador at a speech at UC.

This stupid woman, or stupid person, writes that she does not see why the Fred Phelps people can picket funerals but the poor little Mohammedans, who have something really useful (that is, something she agrees with) to say are punished by Amerika. Well, if Mo's rowdies were subject to the same strictures as the Phelps thugs, they'd have been 500 feet away and outside the hall. So that, stupid woman/person, is the reason.

I'll admit it: evil disturbs me. Stupidity really irks me. And moral umbrage combined with dumbness...well, that's enough to make me eat a donut.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Old head, new header

Thought I'd jazz up the image a little.

On the left, the US capitol building in cherry blossom spring time. An image rather more optimistic than I usually feel.

In the middle, a modern mesomorphic version of the god Eros; the usual "putti" style images of Cupid and his bow make him far far less mighty than he actually is.

And on the right, the ancient church of Holy Wisdom, once the largest in the world, in what was once Constantinople, now Istanbul. The Virgin in the apse is from the original, the Arabic shield on the lower right from its four+ centuries as a mosque. Since Ataturk, it has been a museum.

Iatre, therapeuson seauton

That's Greek. To me and to everyone else. Jesus, in Luke, quoting a proverb he knew, "Physician, heal thyself."

My friend jpnill, who wanders through realms even more arcane than ExCathedra, sent me a blog entry from a Jungian website. I will not bore you with the text or the link to this online "global community". It's a good example of why, despite my continuing appreciation of Jung, Jungians are another matter.

The piece was a discussion of enantiodromia, the process by which a thing, if unbalanced, turns into its opposite. The subject was Obama. And how he had captured the projections of America and the world as a "bearer of the transcendent function." That is a Jungian term for what reconciles opposites in new synthesis. 
Obama's own mixed heritage of Caucasian and African American, Christian with a Muslim background, Ivy league educated but upwardly mobile with humble roots made him a suitable figure to bear the transcendent function. Candidate Barack Hussein Obama was a lightning rod whose power arced through the electorate and through people across the planet in almost palpable ways.*
And it further pointed out how hope had turned to disappointment so that now, Obama was being scapegoated for the failures of the economy and the world scene.

(ExCathedra rolls his eyes here and sighs.)

Throughout the piece, there is no hint whatever that Obama's failures resulted in any way from his adult and presidential, much less masculine, agency. It is rather we, poor sinners with our unreal projections, who expected the impossible from him --he inherited an impossible situation--and now we wish to blame the Suffering Servant for our illusions. (Isaiah 53, anyone?)

3 He was despised and rejected by mankind,
   a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
   he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
 4 Surely he took up our pain
   and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
   stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
   he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
   and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
   each of us has turned to our own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
   the iniquity of us all
    and of the Evil One from Texas.

Or Numbers 21?
"Look ye upon the brazen snake-on-the-pole & ye shall be healed!"

As if the poor little mulatto fella did nothing himself to curry, kindle and fan those illusions. Remember the European tour with the Greek pillars, the seal and the speech about healing the fucking planet?

As regular readers may know, when it comes to anything to do with "racism", ExCathedra is waaay over it. Know wh'am sayin'?  But it is very interesting that all these very white people refuse to imagine that a halfBlack man may be in big trouble because of his own empowered, free, black and over 21 decisions, choices, actions, policies, etc. They never had any trouble at all demonizing a White male American Christian Texan capitalist pro-military president. He who left Obama the impossible inheritance which he currently carries up the hill of political Calvary. But now that their precious symbolic child of the opposites is floundering, he must be the scapegoat (Leviticus 16, btw) for our psychological transgressions and iniquities.

With false and formulaic humility, the blog entry mentions "the possible contributions, if any, of Analytical Psychology to the political process".

"If any".

As if.

*For some unfathomable reason, I was never thus palpably arced.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


On the BBC series Downton Abbey.

Lord Downton (Hugh Bonneville) to his mother, the Dowager (Maggie Smith)
about an interloper relative who is to inherit their estate and the money:

Lord Downton: But why do you act as if you like him? I know you don't like him.
The Dowager: What difference does that make? I have quite a few friends I don't like either.

Brotherly love in the Book of Hours

I am sure that people who have known me in the last twenty five years, my secular life, sometimes wonder about my continuing appreciation for Catholicism and my continuing affection for the Dominican Order, both of which I parted ways from. Some of it has to do with my character, an intuitive thinker. But parts of it are just personal, human, very individual.

I recently realized that I had forgotten a joke in my repertoire. I knew the punchline and the general idea, but could not recreate the narrative enough to make the ending funny. So I took a chance and used the internet to track down the Dominican professor of Scripture, a brilliant, witty and quirky Sicilian American, who had told it to me almost thirty years ago. He is retired now and living in Switzerland, soon to move to a priory in Vienna, where he expects to live out the rest of his years "holding off the Turks as in 1531 and 1683, dying as a soldier on the Ostfront".

He did re-tell the narrative for me, as well as catch me up on his travels and his opinions. But then he wrote this to me, an ex-friar he knew for a brief time and had no communication with for three decades:
In the English breviary*, there is a hymn from St. Columcille of Iona. It begins: "Alone with none but thee, my God, I journey on my way". I like it a lot. You told me once of when you had....and felt lost and falling,  and then you felt caught by the everlasting arms. Tom O. said something similar about when he was very sick in Africa. When we get to Psalms that speak about our being upheld by Him, I think of you two. That is how I have never forgotten you. You are in the breviary.
Were it not unmanly, that would bring tears to my eyes...

*The Breviary is the Book of Hours, containing the seven daily services of Vigils, Lauds, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline --psalms, antiphons, hymns, readings, prayers and blessings-- sung in choir and/or prayed in private by Dominicans, other religious and monastic orders, and Catholic priests and deacons. Laypeople and parishes are encouraged to celebrate morning Lauds and evening Vespers, but that's rare. The Anglicans, more successfully, and brilliantly, made Mattins and Evensong out of it. The heart of it is the chanting of the 150 Psalms over the course of each month. In the old days, over the course of a single week! (It was my favorite form of prayer; I liked it more than the Mass.)

Ouch, with responsory

After reading through a lot of the unpleasant things which evoked my previous post, I was trolling through the dials on the TV and bumped into "The A List." Sorta like making the case for Black equality and then tuning into a hip hop event in a prison. Or for women's suffrage, and then watching The View.

I was not arguing against the Catholic case on its own terms. As I've said, it is an inverted pyramid, if you will, and if you make an exception to the fundamental axiom, the whole thing will deconstruct.

But what has irked me  --yeah, I do get irked-- is the "don't let your disability define you" approach. In their wish to separate the sin from the sinner (necessary and fine in principle), they tell people of homosexual orientation not to make that a big part of their personal identity. Just consider "same sex attraction" an ancillary disordered desire, like gambling or drinking or stealing.  For example:
We do not doubt that many gays and lesbians-perhaps especially those who seek the blessing of our religious communities-believe that theirs is the only form of love, understood as affection and erotic satisfaction, of which they are capable. Nor do we doubt that they have found in such relationships something of great personal significance, since even a distorted love retains traces of love's grandeur. Where there is love in morally disordered relationships we do not censure the love. We censure the form in which that love seeks expression. To those who say that this disordered behavior is so much at the core of their being that the person cannot be (and should not be) distinguished from the behavior, we can only respond that we earnestly hope they are wrong.
But then, especially with JPII's "theology of the body", they tell normal men and women that their capacity for sacramental marital communion is their great vocation, that "opposite sex attraction" is constitutive not only of their personal identity as men, as women, --manhood and womanhood are classically defined, partly but significantly, out of their mutual desire for each other--but the necessary gendered material for their Catholic and Christian destiny. Celibates, of course, share in this pattern by offering this noble gift in sacrifice.

So what is it? Is the sexual drive basic to human identity or is it like a twitch? If you want to maximize hetero eros, its kinda hard to take you seriously when you want to minimize homo eros.

Now I have always known people who have a homosexual orientation who do not wish to identify as "gay", or even make their homoerotic life known to their family and friends. That's their own choice, for their own reasons, some of which Ex Cathedra understands and some of which he doesn't. But again, that is their own choice, not the "pastoral strategy" of people who consider homosexuality nothing but a deformity. There's a lot of room between being a drag-nun Sister of Perpetual Indulgence and a cringing penitent at a Courage meeting.

One of the complaints of straight people is that they don't make a big deal about being straight all the time, so why do gays have to be "coming out" and being so public? As I have said before, they are like fish in water, unconscious of how massively and constantly culture and society have broadcast heterosexuality, both as assumption and as model. And I have no beef with that at all. Sex is fundamental reality and heterosexuality is essential and normative. The oft-condescended to "Victorian prudery" was not a diminishment of sex, but its repression, which took enormous and constant energy. It was as present then by its absence as it is now in our culture by its abundance. In order not to think about sex all the time, you have to be thinking about not thinking about sex all the time all the time.

Which is why, for many people whose erotic drive is for their own sex, it is also a fundamental reality.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Desire and/or identity

My comment on an intellectual Catholic site:

Such a disheartening conversation. But predictably so.

After years of struggling with this issue for myself, I came to the conclusion that the Church could never condone homosexual action without unraveling the fundamental natural law axiom which holds together all of its sexual morals: only sexual intercourse between a married man and woman, open to procreation, accords with human nature. Everything else, be it outside or against nature, is sinful. Whether it was sex with a stranger or the friendly lovemaking of devoted longtime companions is virtually immaterial. End of story. Make one exception and the cloth unravels.

In an ideal Catholic world, there would only be two kinds of sexually virtuous people: married people and celibate people.

Speculation as to the origins of sexual orientation, (even its existence), its relative "pathology" according to current fields of study, its cultural forms, the sanity or insanity of "gay culture", the particulars of given relationship, whether homosexuality constitutes identity or is just one more disordered desire, the intentions of the or con...all these things are really not that important to the Catholic discussion.

As well, the job of the Church, IMHO, has been to safeguard and promote sacramental marriage-and-family. Again, nothing else on the human erotic horizon is of positive interest outside that role.

To Catholic "gay" people and those who would like the Church to be different, I would say this: Forget it. Not gonna happen. Either A. try to conform, in single chastity, B. ignore the rules, based on your own "conscience", and try to belong as best you can or C. say farewell and move on.

To the Church as Teacher, I would say this: I know that you cannot, are incapable of, approving of sex between men or between women. I get it and I understand the logic. But what you are asking people of homosexual orientation to do is not simply to constrain yet one more disordered desire like greed or envy, but to accept that if and when they come to love another human being (of their own sex), and as part of that love arises the desire for physical communion, then they must accept that their hunger for loving bodily connection is perverse, that a crucial part of their ability to love is defective and shameful. And that what they perceive as a gift is actually a form of violence.

This is quite unlike the message you give to men and women, whose combination of eros and friendship is for the other sex. The chastity you require of them is to channel something very much constitutive of their identity as people capable of enacting a Sacrament not only with heart, mind and vow, but with flesh. You never tell them to avoid being defined by their opposite-sex desire because it is an implied part of their divinely ordained manhood and womanhood, the stuff of the sacrament.

Whether your words are harsh and cruel, or whether they are kind and compassionate, the situation remains basically unchanged: to accept the teaching, a homosexual man or woman must accept that what is potentially sacramental in others, the sacredness of which moral rules protect, is in them a counterfeit perversion and disorder, which the same rules must repress.

It really will not do to make male-female sexual desire and activity a part of a sacramental vocation, a divine calling, and then suggest that same-sex desire and activity is merely an unfortunate hunger that ought not become part of personal identity, as if it were a tic or bad habit of speech. Especially if the oft-overpraised and under-valued phenomenon of personal experience is factored into the mix.

This will not change the Church's mind. It cannot. It is not the Church's job to accommodate human nature where both Nature and Sacrament combine against it. But perhaps it might let some of those who share the Church's mind get a glimpse as to why some of those who love "their own kind" took option C.

He are not amused

Pope Benedict XVI has put a great deal of energy into jettisoning his once-thespian predecessor's love for flashy and glitzy worship services. Tradition, dignity, continuity with the past, beauty....these are Papa Ratzinger's values. He has even gone so far as to give free rein to Catholics who want to celebrate the old rites as they were before the 1960's Vatican Council. So here he is in Germany, with lots of restless post-Christian Kraut problems on his hands to begin with, and during the opening incensation of the altar at Mass, they play the kind of music that lets you know that The Old Continent is beyond all hope.

Opening of Berlin Papal Mass from Rocco Palmo on Vimeo.

Benny's final pontifical glance, I suspect, includes the unspoken phrase "Europop trash", as well as regret that the Inquisition gave up using the rack and the stake.

Someone's head will roll.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Bad companions

Remembering my affection for an old Alan Watts book, I searched online and found several downloadable copies. Having done that, I started to "page" through it in Adobe Reader and landed on this page. Which was about the very same issue my posting was about...The True, the Beautiful and the (problem of) the Good.

This conception (of Satan), so marvelously peculiar and sinister, brings
into sharp contrast the Christian sense of the goodness of God.
For what the Christian consciousness sees in all the trappings
of glory, of shekinah, of the blinding radiance of the Trinity,
is not so much beauty, or even truth, as goodness. Beauty has
seemed a deceptive attribute, shared alike by God and Satan,
who also knows the truth and trembles. What belongs
essentially and exclusively to God is inflexible righteousness,
and historical Christianity simply has not tolerated any notion
of God as an Absolute "beyond good and evil" Thus the
Being of being, the Ultimate Reality, has for the Christian
mentality a definite character, a specific and particular will,
such that goodness does not exist merely in relation to evil
but is, from everlasting, the very essence of God. As we shall
see, this conception is as monstrous and sinister, in its own
way, as that of the Devil. It represents the crucial point at
which historical Christianity is "aberrant" among the great
traditional doctrines of the world, though the aberration is not
so much from any defect of the myth as from the minds of those
who have been its official interpreters.

Transcendentals 2, ExCathedra 1

In philosophy, the triad of  The True, The Beautiful and The Good are known as "The Transcendentals". Sounds like a singing group. And, I suppose they are. It means that each of these is a mode of unitary and harmonic Being: truth as Being rightly known, beauty as Being rightly admired, and good as Being rightly desired. Nice, huh?

Whether I have ever done them "rightly" or not, The True and the Beautiful have always drawn me. The Good...not so much. There was a line in the hymn for Confessor Saints in the old breviary which, when I was a novice, we used to twist around, with much hilarity. "He could have sinned but would not" became "He would have sinned but could not". Describes a good chunk of my life. Had I been braver and more energetic, I would have been badder and sooner.

When I was living in a very low-rent studio apartment in the 80's, slogging out my doctoral dissertation on my very advanced typewriter, with a correcting tape function (!), I remember one day finally understanding, really "getting", part of something Aquinas wrote. It was a kind of ecstasy for me. It was not just grasping that one idea, but almost being grasped by it; it seemed to portend entry into a larger realm of Truth. And to me, it was Beautiful. Such are the pleasures of the Intuitive Thinking Type! (My Sensate & Feeling functions were later to combine to take their revenge).

That is why I say that the strictly dogmatic and even (especially) the arcane and complex sacramental elements of Catholicism cause me little hesitation. The True and the Beautiful. It's the Good where I get stuck. (Hesitate is from the Latin to adhere to or to stick). Or do I drop to the ground in non-violent protest and refuse to move...?

Anyhow, in my cyberwanderings, I found this image from the contemporary English Dominicans, an update of a medieval tympanum, with the addition of the Order's "totem animal", the dog (black or black/white) with the torch in its mouth. Although the style is a bit on the Eric Gill sweet side, I found myself drawn to The True (which does not exclude The Clever) and The Beautiful in it.

Yesterday, while dusting off a bookcase, I found an old book I used to love: Myth and Ritual in Christianity by self-professed "genuine fake and philosophical entertainer" Alan Watts, from 1953. It is a mythological, Jung-influenced, sorta Sophia Perennis a la Watts style reading of the Christian "myth". I loved it. And it ever after influenced how I read The Faith. (For an incident of Jungian synchronicity, see this posting.)

In this image above, the True and the Beautiful. The Christ as Archetypal Man: his wounded hands and feet emblematic of human suffering, the cruciform halo the sign of divinity; his clothing is that of a priest, his position royal, with arms outstretched in a gesture both of power and invitation, and his face clearly masculine but benign (part of the playfulness of the whole image). The Christ figure sits in or emanates out of an oval-shaped light, the indefinite wholeness of the Divine as background to the definiteness of the Incarnation. The masculine Lord with the feminine oval/ovary. Or the prima materia out of which perhaps both God and Man were born.

Around him, the Four Living Creatures of Revelation 4. They stand for the Four Gospels: the Angel of Matthew, the Lion of Mark, the Bull of Luke and the Eagle of John. But also the Four Four-Faced Cherubim of Ezekiel 1's and the four fixed signs of the Zodiac*: Aquarius, Leo, Taurus and Scorpio. I loved layered stuff like this.

And, cleverly, the addition of the torch-bearing dogs, nicely placed to match the tympanum. Dominicans' Latin nickname (both pro and con) is Domini canes, the Lord's dogs. A legend says that St Dominic's mother, Juana de Aza, in good archetypal fashion, had a dream while she was pregnant with him that she would give birth to a dog who would set the world on fire. One Dominican website with hiphop orthography is called Godzdogz; another has this. The black and white of the whole ink drawing reflects the Dominican colors.

I love this kind of thing. The layering of information and poetic image is for me the draw of the true and beautiful. But also for me, as for Alan Watts, the good is not my natural home.

*If you can't read the capital letter "zee" , I did type it in, but somehow my computer, and maybe yours, has trouble showing Z's...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Unseasonable thoughts

Every once I a while, I wonder if I am a bad person. I think, "Huh. May be. More'n likely", and then I make lunch.

What possible good could have come out of uniting Northern Ireland with the South? Well, I suppose then the minority Catholics in the North would feel better. But the Republic would then be the eternal possessor of an angry, loathed and inimical minority, the Scots Presbyterian colonists, of its own.

I am grateful, too, that Benedict Arnold's attempt to conquer Quebec and bring the French into the Revolution failed. At least if the idea was to include them in a new American Republic. Can you imagine what that would have been like? As our Civil War proved, it was tough enough dealing with the differences among the English-speakers.

As unpleasant as the post-Civil War relations between races in the former Confederacy were, how could anyone be genuinely surprised at it? Did anyone really expect the Whites to suddenly take for buddies --under a militarily imposed regime--a people whom they had only ever experienced as deeply inferior? And who, as slaves, had very little chance to prove them wrong? And who often outnumbered them?

Reminds me of a story that when the Jesuits in Maryland sent to Rome for approval their blueprints for a big new seminary back in the day, it was returned rejected, with this simple Latin sentence: Suntne angeli? "Are they angels?" After renewed scrutiny, it seems that the reverends had neglected to include provision for bathrooms...

I remember a little saying about Northern vs Southern attitudes towards Blacks. "Northerners don't care how big blacks get, as long as they don't get too close; Southerners don't care how close blacks get, as long as they don't get too big." In the South, the issue was attitude and behavior; in the North it was spatial distance. As Tevye prayed, "May the Lord bless and keep the Czar...far away from us."

I wish the Catholic social justice crowd would consider the old Catholic category of "occasions of sin," which are
external circumstances--whether of things or persons--which either because of their special nature or because of the frailty common to humanity or peculiar to some individual, incite or entice one to sin.
A personal example. An elderly person I know needed home assistance and hired a friend of friend who needed a side job to make ends meet. This caretaker was then given a credit card to make purchases for the homebound senior. Who did not not check the monthly statement. It was only after many months that it became clear the employee was using the card for their own purchases. It was ugly and messy and eventually went to court. The employee should not have broken their employer's trust. But really, was it not an occasion of sin to put an unrestricted and unsupervised credit card in the hands of person under a lot of financial stress?

Back to the larger world. A lot of their liberal engineering schemes tax human nature predictably to violence. I recently critiqued a pious and utopian Dominican student for his unnuanced blame of all anti-immigrants in Scandinavia for the recent massacre by asking him what responsibility those governments held for creating a situation very likely to issue in all kinds of violence, in short, an occasion of sin. Do we take a group of Palestinians and move them next door to a Jewish neighborhood and expect nothing bad to happen? Isn't that what liberals love to call "irresponsible"?

A lot of liberalism includes a hatred of humanity as we actually are and a consequent reaction-formation stance that humans are, given the right conditions, perfectible. If only. (Liberal "patriotism" is very often a formal love of their idea of what America should be combined with loathing for the actual country and most of its history and people.) And a lot of what is condemned as narrow-minded bigotry is really a kinder recognition of human limits.

Liberals (as well as most conservatives) condemn the Victorians for their unreal demands for social probity, especially in matters of sex. So now those shackles have been sorta* removed. And then reapplied by unreal demands for social probity in matters of money and race.

I do not believe in universal suffrage. It is a kind of compulsive liberal fundamentalism, part of their great fetish about equality. Perhaps, perhaps, it may stand because of prudential grounds, that at this point anything less than universal suffrage for non-felon adult citizens would cause so much grief as to be cost/benefit imprudent. But I don't see anything wrong with the notion that the right to determine the affairs of a community must somehow be earned. The devil would be in the details, of course, as always, but universal suffrage as some kind of sacrosanct and obvious truth? Just spend an afternoon riding on the buses in San Francisco.

*The Victorian ideal of womanhood as especially vulnerable, liable to victimization and needing exquisite protection has been continued with a vengeance through feminist law and policy, although now a woman may present herself as a sexually free and uninhibited creature with the understanding that any unhappy consequences are always men's fault, never hers.

Time to make lunch.

Mixed signals

By design or by accident?

An eventually boring homoerotic film, Rag Tag, describes the relationship of two Nigerians born in London, their families, etc. I am sorry it was so slow moving and meandering because one blessing is that both of them are actual males and quite unfabulous, apparently uninitiated into the gay mysteries.

The mixed signals are about race. As anyone knows who knows any "people of color", disparaging remarks about and dim views of other races or ethnic groups within races are as common as air. Listen to Blacks talk about Asians, or Koreans about folks from Hong Kong. Etc. Anyone who thinks that "only whites can be racist" has anocranial syndrome.

So this flick reveals the inter-tribal tensions among Nigerians --Yoruba and Ibo are apparently unfriendly-- as well as the dim view of Nigerians by others of African descent. As well as of other non-white races. All seems perfectly believable to me. This is, after all, planet Earth, not a make-believe workshop in "anti-racism."

Included are honest, successful and hardworking folks in this ethnic group but there is also a fair level of criminality going on. Mostly theft and fencing. No attempt to hide or downplay it.

So when one of the characters, a young Black male in a track suit, hangs around outside a law office for over an hour, with no apparent reason for being there, the lawyers' security guy takes an interest. It turns out that the other main character was inside being interviewed for a job; he was waiting for his friend.

The interviewee takes umbrage at this. "Just because a young black male is hanging around, you think he is up to something?"

Well, duh. On the movies' own narrative premise, it's hardly unthinkable.

When the would-be lawyer is interviewed for a job with a family-law practice, he is asked point blank if he, as a black male, would be at all accepted or trusted by the practice's clients, most of whom are women who have been abandoned by black males. He answers forthrightly, but the question itself reflects yet another reality in the film.

So my question is this: is this conflict --Blacks doing their usual resentful thing at White attitudes while happily carrying on with their own version of it-- consciously included or are the filmmakers themselves blind to it? Don't know.

The same question arises for me in True Blood, where gay producer Alan Ball has the vampires ("coming out of the coffin") substitute the role of gays vs the intolerant angry bigoted Christians who oppose the bloodsuckers' civil rights. The Christians are always portrayed as idiots, thugs and/or hypocrites. But the truth is that they are absolutely right about the vampires.  In terms of the show's own narrative, the vamps are dangerous and deceitful and just playing the humans along with the PR of the oppressed minority group.

Does Ball know this? Is he aware of his mixed message? I really don't know.

Big Chill Not

Boot Camp. Incorrigible teens are sent to an island Tough Love program for re-training. Mila Kunis plays the lead. A sign of my age: she really needs to be sent to camp. The boss is a combo of Dr Phil, a drill sergeant, and Werner Erhart. Somehow the scriptwriter and producer wants to make this narcissistic, angry, bitch of a teenage girl into a hero. Then the inmates literally take over the asylum. I ain't buyin' it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

They all look alike

I have been a great fan of Granada TV's Sherlock Holmes series from the 80's, starring Jeremy Brett, who really is the Sherlock, IMHO.

Anyhow, I have watched every episode several times, perhaps even many times. But it was only within the last months when I realized, because my ex, T, informed me, that there were two different actors who had played Dr. Watson, David Burke and Edward Hardwicke.

I never noticed the difference...

A test, perhaps

to see how liberal or how conservative you are. Who's side are you on?

Canada can, uh, duh

Most of my posts about Canada, my other country, point out her foibles and failings. As do most of my posts here about everything...except for the naked guys.

But here's a conservative take on what The Dominion of Trudeaupia is doing right these days.

Fair is fair, after all. Very Canadian.

Were W the Prez

This pic, of Barry Hussein O gaffingly obliterating the face of the Mongolian prez in order to wave and grin, would be on the front pages, with embarrassed, secretly pleased and apologetic text about the village in Texas missing its idiot.

I'm waiting....

Even David Brooks, the house negro moderate-conservative at the NYT, who was transfixed by Obama's creased pant leg, is wondering about whether he's a sap or not.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Big Freeze

I have seen several derivatives of The Big Chill. Part of the scenario in each one is the revelation of secrets and a lot of buried interpersonal conflict and eros. It's practically a set script by now, almost a franchise.

The 2008 version is Pretty Ugly People, college friends reunited under false pretenses and then sorta force-marched for four days through the wood and mountains of Montana. Some of them are pretty and most of them are pretty ugly. The overcompensatingly macho closeted homo. The two married couples, both in crisis: A compulsively assimilated Black politician and his labile ghettofabulous lardass wife. A chubby mom and her cold judgmental husband. The centerpiece and catalyst is a former fat girl who is now a skinny hotty. There's only two decent people in the piece: an underachieving flight steward taken for gay, but who isn't. And the Jack Noseworthy character.
(He's the guy in profile on the right.)

Even though his character is a hiphop producer of a group called Motherfuckin' 3, hey, what could beautiful Jack do and not be appealing?*

The frame, that mug, the smile.

The epilogue is treacle.

The real star of the movie is the western Montana landscape.


*Yeah, I've liked him for a long time. Part of my boyishly handsome sexy B-movie actor thing, the Dan Futterman syndrome.

Venerable Yorghe

In The Name of the Rose, a great Umberto Eco book and one of my favorite films, one of the villains is a blind old monk, the Venerable Yorghe, who hides in the library the lost second volume of Aristotle's Poetics. Why? Because it encourages laughter. And laughter, VY believes, can eventually undo the sacred order of things.

He was not wrong.

Although I have always had a depressive region in my soul (see previous posting), I have also been blessed with a sense of humor. I love to laugh and I love people who make me laugh. As I grow older, though, I do become a bit more discriminating in the kinds of humor I appreciate. And being a conservative, there are actually a few things I would like to conserve (unlike my liberal brethren, who seem most attached to a few social programs and some recent legislation. Oh, and a boatload of bad ideas).

There is a kind of humor, appropriate or at least predictable in adolescents, which finds almost anything prior to or claiming priority over the adolescent's turbulent ego risible and contemptible. Been there. However, from the perspective of this grey-headed righty's perch, a lot of that has now become canonized and dominant because it is seen as edgy and transgressive is actually developmentally arrested teenagery.  Jon Stewart. And the execrable Bill Maher.

But there are some parts of the world that could use a bit of humor. To humanize them. I am thinking of the Religion of Peace. It takes itself so seriously that you will search a long time before you find Muslims joking about Islam. They might joke about themselves, but about their religion?  Hard to find any evidence. When to-me completely-unfunnyman Albert Brooks did a 2005 film called Looking for Comedy In the Muslim World, he had to shoot it entirely in India. No Muslim country found him funny, either.

Here's a Catholic joke, one of zillions, but mild and printable. In my twenty years in monkery, there was, believe me, no shortage of jokes, either dirty, religious, or both. If the Mohammadans ever start producing stuff like this, I might begin to believe that there is some hope for them. Till then, I'll keep praying to Our Lady of Lepanto and Santiago Matamoros.
An Irishman hesitatingly confesses adultery with his neighbor's wife. Priest asks, "Was it Mrs. Murphy?" "No.", "Mrs. O'Leary?" "No, father." "Mrs. Brennan?". "No." Priest gives up and completes the ritual. At the pub, a friend asks the guy, "Well, did you get your absolution?" He replies, "Yes I did, and a few new leads as well!"

Spengler on the Lee

Before dozing off last night, I watched a 1999 flick, The Last September. Set in 1920 Ireland, in the rural part of Cork --hence the River Lee above-- it is a tale of the ending of a world --hence the Spengler above.* Rural country houses seem to be the place for this kind of slow-motion genteel Götterdämerung, as in 1985's The Shooting Party.
Anyway, it's the Anglo Irish, the Ascendancy, as they were called, the families who had ruled Ireland and staffed its professions since the days of the imposed Reformation. They became strange creatures over time, feeling English in Ireland, and Irish in England. The natives, stubbornly Catholic, were often dispossessed and were for centuries forbidden the professions or higher education.

It is the last September of parties, games, dinners, etc. The rebels are about, along with the Black and Tans --whom my Irish-American grandmother taught me to hate even from the distance of time and America-- and the British army. A solid set of oft-seen Anglo actors holds it together, --Michael Gambone, Maggie Smith (who meet again at Hogwarts), Fiona Shaw (now playing a troublesome witch on True Blood) and one of Dr Who's latterly avatars, David Tennant--although the central character, Keeley Hawes as Lois, is more a set of shallow moody outbursts and disparate character fragments than a real young woman. I found her both unlikeable and unfocussed. But that may be part of the point.

In the movie, the denouement is sad but mostly interpersonally focussed. In the book, Wikipedia told me, the great house was burned to the ground.

Anyhoo, the film is great on period detail and social convention, as well as reminding us of how nasty was the long war of the Hibernians and the AngloSaxons. And it also depicted a long-standing social and political order on the verge of collapse. Reminding us of how swiftly that can happen. I did not sleep easily or dream pleasantly last night.

*Ex Cathedra selling point: where else can you get sentences with "hence" in them? Twice.

Monday, September 19, 2011

I hate Nazis

And not just because they were vicious totalitarians, like their far more evil cousins the Communists, but because, being White racists, they have allowed Western liberals to make them not only the worst but the sole significant example of evil in the world. All forms of White self-assertion are now simply feeders for the Nazi/racism trope.

Since the Left has succeeded in casting National Socialism as right-wing and therefore conservative, they can call every conservative a Nazi. Such a convenience.

And since the Nazis were not sacred and holy People of Color, but ultra-White Germans, there are no limits to how they can be denigrated*.

Both the Military and the History Channels are waaaaay overstocked with Nazi footage. But the 75 year reign of terror and horror by Communists is a sideline issue. So we all know that White Racism is the worst crime in all of history, but somehow Egalitarianism Gone Wrong's 100 million dead is a mere miscalculation not worth obsessing over. Good intentions derailed.

I recently caught a few moments of Inglourius Basterds, which shows a group of US Jews special forces who went behind lines to kill Nazis. By any means necessary, and in detail. We have brains bashed out with baseball bats, scalping, and the mass burning and shooting of a theatre full of Nazis and their wives.

Ask yourself what other group beside White Racists/Nazis would Hollywood allow to be portrayed and treated in this manner?


*When I worked in the hyper PC world of AIDS services in the 80's-90's, the word "denigrate" was forbidden, since it is a Latinate term which simply means "to blacken".  I got in trouble, even then, when I asked if we could still talk about our finances being "in the red" (as opposed to "in the black"!) because it would insult Native/FirstNations people.

While I'm at it, some historians make a mockery of the times in the Christian Roman world, back in the 4th and 5th centuries, when there was a serious and widespread debate over the right words, the orthodoxy, to be used to describe Christ's relationship to God the Father. In Greek, was he homo-ousios, of the same substance, or homoi-ousios, of a similar substance. All hung on a single letter, an iota. How silly. But of course we enlightened moderns would never quibble of lady vs woman, or undocumented vs illegal, or Negro vs African-American. Or Afro-American. Or anything like that. How quaint. And we are so advanced.

In memoriam

My Dad died two years ago today, after a very long and debilitating illness. In paradisum deducant te angeli.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

From the sublime

to the ridi-culo. But the funny.

Randy Alpha Male Silvio Berlusconi got caught on tape this summer referring to German Chancellor Angela Merkel as "an unfuckable lardass". Now that's a memorable phrase even in English.

Ever supportive of diverse cultures, I sought out the Italian original, and found it equally eloquent:

"una culona inchiavabile."

Oona kulona inkya-vabbilay

The English translation is terrific.

Irredeemable lech meets unfuckable lardass

For you other pointy-headed linguists, "culona" takes the slang "culo", meaning "ass" and adds the feminine form of the magnifier "-one". And the slang verb chiavare means to put in the key, to screw. So as "in-chiav-abile", she is "un-key/screw-able."

Here both the very AngloSaxon "unfuckable lardass" meets the very Romance "culona inchiavabile" in perfect harmony.

(Maybe I should have titled this post "From the Sublime to the ridi-culona...)

Who, after all, doesn't love a well-turned insult?

Update: Well, it turns out that the Germans seem not to.

I went looking for how "culona inchiavabile" would be translated in the German press and it was very difficult to find. Almost all the German media were periphrastic, talking around it. And the few who did try to translate it directly, did the German equivalent of writing "f**k".  But here, on Ex Cathedra, is the way the Krauts say it, in a sentence rather than a phrase: "Diesen fetten Arsch man kann nicht ficken."

[Spring 2013. For some reason, within the last couple of months, the number of hits on this posting has made it the most popular on my blog, surpassing the popularity of a one where I posted pictures of a tattooed porn star. I certainly attract an intellectual elite...]

They call it a classic

because whenever it was written, when you read it, whenever you are, you recognize yourselves.

Julius Caesar, Act 1, Scene II 
written in 1599
by Bill S.

Angel and Master
of the English Tongue and Human Soul,
who speaks things both hard dark
and sublime
in sweet craggy rhythms.

Gielgud and Mason

What means this shouting? I do fear, the people
Choose Caesar for their king.
Ay, do you fear it?
Then must I think you would not have it so.
I would not, Cassius; yet I love him well.
But wherefore do you hold me here so long?
What is it that you would impart to me?
If it be aught toward the general good,
Set honour in one eye and death i' the other,
And I will look on both indifferently,
For let the gods so speed me as I love
The name of honour more than I fear death.
I know that virtue to be in you, Brutus,
As well as I do know your outward favour.
Well, honour is the subject of my story.
I cannot tell what you and other men
Think of this life; but, for my single self,
I had as lief not be as live to be
In awe of such a thing as I myself.
I was born free as Caesar; so were you:
We both have fed as well, and we can both
Endure the winter's cold as well as he:
For once, upon a raw and gusty day,
The troubled Tiber chafing with her shores,
Caesar said to me 'Darest thou, Cassius, now
Leap in with me into this angry flood,
And swim to yonder point?' Upon the word,
Accoutred as I was, I plunged in
And bade him follow; so indeed he did.
The torrent roar'd, and we did buffet it
With lusty sinews, throwing it aside
And stemming it with hearts of controversy;
But ere we could arrive the point proposed,
Caesar cried 'Help me, Cassius, or I sink!'
I, as Aeneas, our great ancestor,
Did from the flames of Troy upon his shoulder
The old Anchises bear, so from the waves of Tiber
Did I the tired Caesar. And this man
Is now become a god, and Cassius is
A wretched creature and must bend his body,
If Caesar carelessly but nod on him.
He had a fever when he was in Spain,
And when the fit was on him, I did mark
How he did shake: 'tis true, this god did shake;
His coward lips did from their colour fly,
And that same eye whose bend doth awe the world
Did lose his lustre: I did hear him groan:
Ay, and that tongue of his that bade the Romans
Mark him and write his speeches in their books,
Alas, it cried 'Give me some drink, Titinius,'
As a sick girl. Ye gods, it doth amaze me
A man of such a feeble temper should
So get the start of the majestic world
And bear the palm alone.
Shout. Flourish
Another general shout!
I do believe that these applauses are
For some new honours that are heap'd on Caesar.
Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a Colossus, and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs and peep about
To find ourselves dishonourable graves.
Men at some time are masters of their fates:
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.
Brutus and Caesar: what should be in that 'Caesar'?
Why should that name be sounded more than yours?
Write them together, yours is as fair a name;
Sound them, it doth become the mouth as well;
Weigh them, it is as heavy; conjure with 'em,
Brutus will start a spirit as soon as Caesar.
Now, in the names of all the gods at once,
Upon what meat doth this our Caesar feed,
That he is grown so great? Age, thou art shamed!
Rome, thou hast lost the breed of noble bloods!
When went there by an age, since the great flood,
But it was famed with more than with one man?
When could they say till now, that talk'd of Rome,
That her wide walls encompass'd but one man?
Now is it Rome indeed and room enough,
When there is in it but one only man.
O, you and I have heard our fathers say,
There was a Brutus once that would have brook'd
The eternal devil to keep his state in Rome
As easily as a king.
That you do love me, I am nothing jealous;
What you would work me to, I have some aim:
How I have thought of this and of these times,
I shall recount hereafter; for this present,
I would not, so with love I might entreat you,
Be any further moved. What you have said
I will consider; what you have to say
I will with patience hear, and find a time
Both meet to hear and answer such high things.
Till then, my noble friend, chew upon this:
Brutus had rather be a villager
Than to repute himself a son of Rome
Under these hard conditions as this time
Is like to lay upon us.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Cyber bits and pieces

Paris has passed a law forbidding religious assemblies and prayers in the street. Because of the Muslims. But now, of course, Catholics can't have Corpus Christi processions and the Orthodox can't hold their Easter Vigil procession. One more benefit of Islamic immigration.

Reminds me of people in the gay marriage debate who decide that this a good reason to get the government out of the marriage business and return it to the private sphere...which was when? Anyway, an example of dismantling a mainstream traditional structure to either placate or alleviate some minority problem.

When I opined on a comments thread that the prominence of Jews in left and liberal movements --what I call the Noam Chomsky syndrome-- did not make me happy, "Son of Jacob" accused me of turning politics into an ethnic blame game and of course named me an anti-Semite.  He first faulted Gentile white men for dominating everyone else and then started crowing about Jews being in the forefront of progressive social change to undo this oppression...which, of course, is just an ethnic blame-and-praise game. Shows the complex nature of individuals and groups. Jews, as a group, a very high IQ people. This particular son of Jacob, not so much.

A beautiful warm, breezy, sunny Saturday morning made doing the dishes almost a pleasure.

B. communicated to me that no matter how I feel, and even if I don't know it, I am a happy man. Reassuring, no?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Feeling nostalgic today

Some parts of your life remain with you, sometimes moving into memory with more force, even as they become more distant in time.

Here is the annual pilgrimage of the Dominican friars in England to the shrine of the Virgin of Walsingham, led by a cross and carrying her statue on their shoulders...

It could have been any time, really, between the arrival of the friars in England in 1221 until Henry VIII disbanded them and also destroyed the ancient shrine and burned the image, both events in 1538. The shrine was rebuilt in 1897 and the pilgrimages of the Old Religion begun again.

Adam and Eve and Steve and Alice

Starting through a piece which proposes to answer my question about the compatibility of a historical Fall of Man and the evolutionary picture. A smart and charming Irishman whose writing style reminds me of my own when I am on a roll.

Best line so far:
If I want to know "what Christianity teaches," I would be inclined to ask the Orthodox or Catholic churches, as they have near 2000 years of noodling over it.  Yet when the Coynes* of the world want to tell us 'what Christians believe,' they agitate over the idiosyncratic beliefs of Bill and Ted's Excellent Bible Shack, whose teachings go back to last Tuesday.

*("Coyne" is the man to whom Flynn, the author, is responding.)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Hari non-Mata, harried

Lefty gay Brit (three strikes!) journalist (four!) Johann Hari is in hot water over his bad behavior: things like copying others' homework and lying, aka, plagiarism and misattribution, etc.

This image suggests that he may have even larger issues to face.

I had occasion to enjoy his quality work before, when he warned us of the imminent dangers of homo fascism.

You ropa

Just for the hell of it, I tried to remember all my trips to Europe.

1972-1973            Spent a year there, mostly in Rome, studying. On my way back home, I took a long several weeks driving thru France, plus a two-week sojourn in England, as well as a couple of weeks in Greece and Turkey and ten days in Spain.

1976                     A month: from Amsterdam, to France, to Italy, to Switzerland, to Germany and back home. A charter flight and living in hostels…door to door the total cost was $500!

1989                     A month: Amsterdam, France, Italy, Spain.

2000                     Two weeks in Tuscany.

By country: Italy, 4x; France 3x; Holland, 3x; Spain, 2x; Greece 1x; Turkey 1x; Switzerland 1x; Germany 1x.

Never been to Ireland or Israel. And turned down a chance for 6 months in Oxford in the 80's.

Wonder if I'll ever see the Old World again?

The ubiquity of drag

If "gayness" is about same-sex eros, and not about gender confusion, will someone please explain to me the ubiquity of drag in gay culture?

Please find me gay events --including superficially masculinist leather-and-muscle events-- where you do not find drag queens as a part of the program?

Black stats

Seventy percent of Black children are born to single-parent families, which means, of course, mother-led families without fathers. That fact alone contributes to the poverty and criminality which disproportionately infects* American Black communities. The most salient indicator of both being poor and winding up on the wrong side of the law is being raised in an unwed-mother home.

As I have noted, the current ikons of Black Manhood are thugs, "gangstas". This is arrested development, a stunted and adolescent form of maleness. Given the lack of fathering, who could be surprised? And what must the pain and rage be among Black men, the majority of whom know that their fathers did not give enough of a damn about them or their mothers to hang around and raise them?

And the women who continue to get pregnant without marriage partners, they, too, bear a huge responsibility.

This sad state also has a shadow element. I remember how shocked I was when I first discovered it: that Black women abort their offspring at a rate twice that of Whites. The piece mentioned here confirms that.

The Black community's big problem is not White Racism. It's what they do to one another.

Our big problem is that when they try to deflect from their failure by blaming us, far too many of us believe them.

*By using "infects", I implied that this was some alien disease that had attacked a healthy body. Bad metaphor. The disease is behavior and self-inflicted.

Elegiac eloquence

A commentor at another site gives this quote from Ronald Knox, famous 20th century English priest and translator, by himself, of the Bible into sonorous language. Here he ruminates on the hatred that the contemporary enlightened English had for the Catholics. It serves similarly for the hatred so many liberals have for their own Western culture:

…Anyone that will be absolute over a point of doctrine shall find himself a stranger here. And we above all, that will stick to the old religion, shall have no part with you. We shall be marked down for hatred; why, I know not, unless it be that men hate more where they have done wrong than where they have suffered it, as the philosopher says that he confers a benefit is afterward move loving than he who hath received it. It will not be aught we have done to you, whether the burnings in Queen Mary’s time or the plottings, if there be any, at the present, that will be food for your hatred; it will be as when a man loathes the sight of the mistress he hath cast off, you will wish us dead because we disturb you with a memory of what once you were… You in Oxford will be slow to strike in with new fashions, but evermore, though at a distance, you will follow them, and the old things will not return.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Dissolving States of America

Us and Them, as we know, is bad. Bad. We have to think of Everyone as Us. (Except for the Christian Right, Republicans and the Tea Party.) Be inclusive, sensitive, diverse. After all, doesn't the wonderful European Union represent the bright (though rapidly bankrupt) future, to say nothing of the sainted United Nations (even though most of its nations are run by thugs, thieves and tyrants)?

Several years ago I noticed the demise of the concept of "the foreigner" when applied to America, or the West. We are not supposed to call people that. It's unfriendly. Exclusionary. It creates Us and Them. Encourages bigotry. And one of the left's favorites, makes them Other.

Which, of course, being foreigners, they are. And which we, of course, indubitably are when we are on their turf. Make no mistake about that.

But the whole point of this change in lingo is to eradicate the Us-ness of US. If there is no Them, no Other --except the aforementioned White American Conservative Religious Bigots--, then there really is no Us worth talking about.

When my former workplace started a scholarship program for what they first referred to as Foreign Scholars, that quickly changed to "International". So much more embracing. After all, what's a foreigner but someone who hasn't moved to America yet? (And while enjoying America's benefits, maintains his roots with his home country, which we are bound to honor and celebrate...).

How many "Foreign Students" centers are left in America;s universities? The free high school for non-English speaking immigrants in San Francisco (who are encouraged to speak their native languages at school, too...) is not called "Newcomers" anymore, as it once was, but "International."

And now United Airlines tells us that the very notion is dissolving.

Ah, Global Utopia. Flyers Beyond Borders. Even Superman has renounced his American citizenship. How noble, to transcend the narrow borders of Yankee nationalism and Western colonialism. (Although everyone else's identities, cultures, boundaries and citizenships are sacrosanct.)

Utopia, as always, can't be far off.


No, this is not a post about adult diapers. Not yet, anyway.

I caught a few moment of lesbian comic Page Hurwitz at some gay comedian festival. Thought I'd never heard of her before until she started her car jokes. Then I remembered.

She got a hybrid, she announced, and wanted to use its silence to help her more easily run down a few people. After a celebrity or two, it started. Sarah Palin.  Then I remembered.

Several years ago, before she got her carbon footprint shrunk, she did a routine about wanting to drive her car down in the Red States and run over a lot of people there.

Audience, of course, laughs and applauds.

I actually wrote her a protest note back then and she told me to get a sense of humor.

Can you imagine me, Mr Gay Rightwinger, telling an audience about people I'd like to run over? Al Sharpton and Michael Moore and Nancy Pelosi?

Oh, the horror, the horror. I'd be contributing to the hateful climate that led to the shootings in Arizona. Another bigot.

But when a dyke Democrat does it in front of an audience of homos, it's cute.


Then I found out that Ms. Hurwitz has been chosen by the new Oprah network to be the producer of a daytime talk show. Hosted by Rosie O'Donnell.

Now, everything is illuminated.

Monday, September 12, 2011


The country music station yesterday was playing "songs of healing after the tragedy of 9/11".

It was not a tragedy. It was a declaration of war.

Healing is not what is needed, what is needed is self-confidence, vigilance and perseverance.

Ethos, ethics

Yesterday in Catholic churches, and in a large number of (dying) mainstream Protestant churches who adopted the same lectionary*, Jesus tells his disciples to forgive someone who has offended them, not seven times, "but seventy times seven times."

And it was also, of course, the tenth anniversary of the Muslim jihad attacks on the US.

I came across an opening line from a Presbyterian minister, which said with some smug satisfaction that he'd like to see how preachers handled this, especially after the last decade of post 9/11  "triumphalism and partisanship."

I had a distinct urge to find the guy and wring his neck, and while he was turning purple and choking, I'd ask him if he'd have taken the same attitude toward 12/7/1941. I tried to find his email to tell him so, but that was (blessedly for us both) unavailable.

As I said to a friend yesterday, I really have no particular problem with Catholic dogma: all the supposedly strange things like Three Persons in One God, Jesus being both divine and human and born of a virgin and rising bodily from death, the sacrament of the Mass as a real transformation of bread and wine into his body and blood, purgatory, etc. The whole thing.

But what I have a real problem with is Catholic and Christian morality. All the cheek turning and endless forgiving and being meek and humble of heart. It's even more irksome to me than that sexual morality, which I at least understand. And the captivity of Christianity to the liberal peace-and-justice culture which largely owns it makes it even worse. These holier than thou religious eggheads who likely applaud the ACLU's attempt to rid the US of all public vestiges of its Christian identity and then who want the Joint Chiefs to use the Sermon on the Mount as a policy document.

There were lots of great minds in Christian history who seemed able to navigate the dauntingly highminded ethics that Jesus proposed and still to function as men in this fallen world. But that is because, though Christian, they were in touch with reality.

*Lectionary is the annual pattern of Scripture readings prescribed for each day of the year.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Ten years ago today,
in the name of Islam, of its prophet and its god,
Muslim jihadis
attacked my American homeland and murdered three thousand people.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The perils of progress

I watched a 1970's BBC two-parter on Benjamin Disraeli. Not very good. At the end of a couple of hours, all I knew about his politics is that he loved the monarchy...

Anyway, he meets Bismarck at a party, before Bismarck was really Bismarck. And then later at a big international conference when Herr B has succeeded in unifying the many German princedoms, etc. into one country: Germany.

Hey, Europe, how'd that work out for ya'?

Germany under the Kaiser

It was probably inevitable, but after the two World Wars, hard to say it was a blessing.

Just wondering

How often, and where, has the Muslim population of a Muslim country been the origin of, or the popular or governmental engine behind, a movement to grant actual and enforced –as opposed to merely paper--equal status to non-Muslims and non-Muslim religions?

Excluded are countries where a Western colonial regime enforced a secular legal code still largely in effect.

A Domini canis

Found a blog by a Dominican friar (my old order) whose politics is rather like mine. Rare for a Catholic priest, given the "social justice" indoctrination of the last fifty years. He is a former liberal.

 (A generic friar, not him)

He is working on post-modernism, that bizarre combination of relativism and humanism that infects so much of the West. Someone asked him why he spent so much time on a philosophy so at odds with his faith. I liked his response. "I think of myself as the Hogwarts Professor of Defense Against the Dark Arts."

Friday, September 09, 2011

Negative retrojection

Years ago, during the worst of the AIDS years in North America, I was executive director of an AIDS nonprofit in Canada. As such, I was asked to give a talk at an international meeting, justifying the existence of NGO's in the array of responses to the epidemic. Since this was Canada, non-governmental involvement in mostly anything is something that is not taken for granted, but must be justified. One of the many unknown differences between Canadians and Americans who are not Democrats.

Anyhow, not being a statistician or having a lot of time, I just provided the official estimates of what each AIDS patient cost the (government) health care system, what it cost for them to fund NGO's, and what it saved them for any single person we succeeded in keeping uninfected or out of the hospital longer. My argument was that we were a bargain. And I used what I called --totally made up-- the method of "negative retrojection"*. Which mean, go back into the past and remove us from the equation and see what happens.

Almost three decades later, my views on many things have morphed into a condition that would truly horrify my compatriots back in those days. And, had I had a crystal ball, would have horrified me. But there I am. And one of those views is that not every individual and --and here's the real heresy-- not every group of people is equally valuable.

So one of the thoughts I have is to speculate about what the effect would be if various configurations of people were "negatively retrojected". Someone made a film a while back, called, I think, A Day Without A Mexican, where all the Mexicans in America suddenly disappeared in a kind of liberal-apocalyptic rapture. There was a crisis in the housecleaning, baby care, restaurant and landscaping industries. To say nothing of the bilingual signage and phone tree industries. "Press 1 for English" would be no more. The point of the film was to show us how lucky we are to have Montezuma's children, sometimes literally, all over our backyards.

What the film failed to mention, however, was that gangs would virtually disappear, crime would decrease, the prison population would have plummeted by 37% and costs to the healthcare system would likewise drop like a stone. (And if all the Mexicans in the US went home, that country would likely a) go bankrupt and b) implode in revolution.)

Hey, whats' good for the oca is good for the ganso. Or, dos can play at this juego.

Lots of other speculative movies can be made with all sorts of segments of the population. The results, likewise partly speculative, are interesting. They reveal what the contributions and the deductions are to American life, not from individuals, but from all kinds of groups in the country.

A Day Without:

The US Military.
White Anglo-Saxon Protestants.
University Humanities Faculties.
East Asians.
Blue or Red States
Straight White Men.
Graduates of the Ivy League.
The Boomer Generation
The Top Richest 10%
People with an IQ less than 85.
Blue Collar Men.
Women who vote Democrat.
Illegal immigrants.
Legal immigrants.

And of course you can break these and many others down and cross reference them, etc. to see what you think would be lost and might be gained by their absence. You can learn a lot about them and their group behaviors, as well as what you yourself value and don't.

There are some groups of people --and individuals-- who are a lot more trouble than they are worth.

*PS. I should have copyrighted the phrase. Even after all these years, if you Google "negative retrojection", only this blog comes up.

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