Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ironies of history

I believe that the European Union, with its single euro currency and its hyperByzantine bureaucracy in Brussels, was motivated in large part by fear of repeating the 20th century, with its two terrible German-inspired wars. Now it seems that the only hope for the EU is Germany.

For those cultural relativists who maintain the equality of all societies, it is interesting to note that the Big Players in Europe since 17th century have been the French and the English, the Russians and eventually the Germans...who got in late but sure made up for lost time. Southern Europe has been in the sidelines.

Something about Northern vs Mediterraneans cultures? (What to do with the Irish?)

Of course this is not an eternal set-up, and was once, of course, reversed. But when compared to the Northerners, who could really be shocked that Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal do not have their financial houses in order?

Monday, November 28, 2011

For some reason

this struck me funny.

Mass, 12.35pm

This is not part of the series of prayer services, because it is in a category of its own. It is the sacrament of the day, in which we offer ourselves to the Father with Jesus, and commune with Jesus himself. Lunch follows.

Testosteron, Trinity and triads

A rambling and too-long article about the feminization of Christianity. In feminist rhetoric, Christianity is an evil tool of The Patriarchy. On the ground, in most parishes and local churches, though, females dominate, not only in the pews but in the volunteer and paid staff, making churches an increasingly uncomfortable space for men.

A thought on the man-defining triad of power, courage and skill the distillation of our ancient hunter-gatherer script of fathering, fighting and feeding. Each one describes a contest with an archetypal opponent: with women, with other males, and with nature.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Ah, tell me how you REALLY feel

As I was watching the Republican debates with my 86 year old mom the other night, she asked me who I liked. I said that it was still early in the game, but that if I could transplant most of Newt Gingrich's brain into Rick Perry, I'd be satisfied.

"And you," I asked?

"It doesn't matter to me.
  I'd vote for Howdy Doody to get that man out of the White House."

Yup, We Sure Can 2012

Friday, November 25, 2011

Original 13 Colonies Thanksgiving LandSeaScapes

 Beach facing west

Beach facing East

L to R: shed, barn, house #2

We have met the enemy, part 6,347,922

On another site a woman of African descent --immigrant or American, I cannot tell-- complains of her inability to attract White men, despite her attractiveness and accomplishments. People --White, from all appearances-- jump in to help her.

In the process of responding to the comments, we find that her cybername is Diva. Ok. And that she identifies as African. Ok. And that comparisons between herself and beautiful women like Hallie Berry are useless because HB is bi-racial and Diva is in a different category, all Black, thank you very much*. And that if people don't like her big Afro hairdo, that's too bad, because that's who she is.

Are you gettin' the pikcha?

What man --White or Not-- wouldn't leap at the chance to date her?

*I wonder if she finds Prez Barry to be too bi-racial for her to consider him Black..

We're here, we're Other, don't "other" us

I found an article --don't ask me how; blame it on the Demon Hyperlink-- in which the Atlanta DEA was advertising for two...two...Ebonics interpreters.

It led me to a reflection, doubtless fueled by my racist White Male Privilege, on how many Americans of the Black persuasion both demand to be treated like everybody else (Whites) while at the same time insisting on, intensifying, inventing and ramping up all the possible cultural markers of Otherness that they can. The similarity to the behavior of adolescents vis a vis their parents is too obvious not to mention, making too many Blacks the problem children of the Republic.

Reminds me of a dictum a Black classmate once pronounced for the conducting of relationships between Whites and Blacks: If you want to be my friend, forget that I am Black. And never forget that I am Black. Who wouldn't sign up for a win-lose walking-on-eggshells game like that?

By contrast, the enormously oversuccessful Asian immigrant population seems to specialize in being The Archetype of the Middle Class: ordinary first names, dressed by LL Bean and Barneys, and speaking perfectly normal Standard American English. It's obvious when you meet someone of Asian descent that they are as they appear, but what you don't get --outside a small circle of Left-infected victim-activist types like Margaret Cho-- is a constant message of challenge. Aside from the physical racial marker, they look and sound like ordinary (White) Americans.

Could this be a part of their success?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Diagnosing Thanksgiving

One of the things I've learned by experience as a therapist is how we tend to focus our attention on special parts of our lives and magnify them, even if they appear to an outsider to be secondary or minor. Obsession can only be about specifics. Whether it be enthusiasms or despairs, it often feels from the inside as if this is simply reality, while to an outsider it can seem an odd way to focus all your energy.

Certainly the Zeitgeist is not sanguine. There is as much unease in the air as there was in the coldest days of the Cold War. (I leave out the turmoils of the 60s and early 70's because I was a young man then and the world did not seem as fragile as it does now to my older self). And my own focus --which feels like reality to me, of course-- is on loss and anxiety.

Yet, there is still very much to be thankful to God for.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

1 Corinthians 14:34

One of me most egregiously offensive and stupid women commentors at PrayTell, on this weekend's new translation of the Catholic Mass
Something tells me a *lot* of Catholics are going to find that the welcoming Eucharist of the Episcopalians, Methodists, UCC, and our other erstwhile ecumenical partners is far preferable to subjecting ourselves to the abuse of this new “translation.” Nobody is required to put herself in danger of violence. Many of us are literally afraid for ourselves this coming weekend.
 When asked in As Good As It Gets how he writes such realistic female characters, Jack Nicholson/Melvin replies, "I write them as men but remove all accountability and reason." This dame musta been one of his.

Who knew?

When I had cable, I used to watch Fox's Red Eye sometimes, their late-night conservative comic commentary show. Host is Greg Gutfeld. Now that I am visiting the little Red State coven known as Mom's house, I see him again.

But here is a younger Greg. Surprise.

I was unaware that he was on the staff of Men's Health for several years,
becoming editor in chief in 1999.

Gutfeld --often taken for Jewish, but a lifelong Catholic-- mentions that it was being around liberals which made him a conservative. (I can relate). But that being around conservatives has made him something of a libertarian. Apparently the moralism of the former(s) irks him.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Enough not too much

Six foot, one eighty, redhead...with poetic name of Trent Diesel.

Occupy Utopia...oops

The good stuff starts at 1:00. The fate of Utopia. The reporter was great. Very funny stuff! Like I said, Occupy is made up of 1. deluded morons, 2. chronic losers and 3. worthless trash.

I guess you can't have it all

A great build...

His BM profile reads:
Serious perfessional, looking to hang, no bullshit. Please have muscles if yu cantact me

and good spelling.

Definitions and generalizations and thinking

Not everyone appreciated my recent attempts to distinguish Mormons from Christians. I recently read a series on whether Anglicans are Protestants*. Undaunted, here's another question: is Chaz Bono a man?

Plus, as my FB friend Nathan helpfully reminded me, generalizations, not universalizations, are the usual forms of English sentences like "men are stronger than women" and "Chinese are smarter than Africans." It does not mean "every single man is stronger than every single woman", but that "most men by far are stronger than most women."

Without generalization, there's no thinking. When I make a generalization and someone attacks me for making a universalization, I lose interest in talking because I realize I am with someone not very bright. (That's a generalization.)

An implied but necessary part of a definition of anything includes what it is not. Otherwise, we wind up with Hegel's dark night in which all cows are black.

Categories have both strong and weak meanings, too, often depending on usage or detail. Mormons are non-Christians compared to the vast majority of other Christians, both in numbers and in history, but compared to Muslims, for example, they are Christians, in the weak sense.

Is America a Christian nation? Yes and no. Has it defined itself by legal code as a Christian nation? No. Is it a nation historically dominated, both numerically and culturally, by Christians? Of course it is. If it weren't, why would there be an ACLU?

*Yes. Read the Act of Succession. And the 39 Articles. Once you embrace sola scriptura, (whether you're a prescriptive Roundhead --unless it's in Scripture, we can't do it --or a permissive Cavalier--if Scripture doesn't forbid it, it's ok) you're a Protestant. Luther and Calvin disagree but both are Protestants.

From one cathedra to Another

Some advice to the Pope: stop talking so much.

Reuters, one of the many mouthpieces of Conventional Wisdom, reported on the Pope's visit to Benin and snippets of his speeches, etc. Sorrow over the crusades was mentioned. Since that stuff irks me, I went looking for the original text. And found it on the Vatican website...along with a ton of other speeches and homilies and letters and messages from this African trip.

God, so much blather.

The Popes of the Renaissance and Middle Ages were often criticized for aping the ways of other royal courts in Europe. Nothing has changed. Like all the other states of our world, the Vatican is a huge opinion-text producer, with tons of papal statements via either the Pope himself or the endless departments of the bureaucracy, holding forth on everything you can imagine. I'll bet that the collected works of the Latin Fathers of the Church in Migne wouldn't equal one year of combined pontifical pontificating.

Ex Cathedra Rome should take a lesson from Ex Cathedra San Francisco and limit himself to one or two pithy and insightful paragraphs a day...but he should probably skip the pictures of naked men.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


is falling down on the job.

Aside from leaving all those places with Christian, even Catholic, names untouched --San Francisco, St. Louis, Sacramento, Maryland--- it has failed to force the Liberty Bell, now on public land,  to be removed to a private site or have its embedded inscription removed, covered up or replaced with something Equal, like "Hope and Change".

Proclaim liberty throughout the land, and freedom to the inhabitants thereof.

Book of Leviticus 25:10.

Allowing this symbol of all Americans to be hijacked by sectarian scriptures is an outrage.

Reincarnation or ancestor?

This photo from 1910 shows a face that is so strikingly like mine, at an earlier age, that it could be a previous incarnation or my great grandfather.

Although it may be paranoid of me, my extreme differences of opinion from the other denizens of the Castro make me reticent to either name or show Ex Cathedra. So if you know me, you'll know who I mean. Otherwise, move on to a more interesting post.

How can these guys be funny

if they don't say "shit" and "motherfucker" all the time? Straights and gays have some things in common. 1:46 and 2:16ff... I have been on the receiving end of both!

HT to Kathy Shaidle.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Small comfort from Occupy

Boy, and I thought I had made some poor career moves! Get this, uh, girl a bailout!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Harry Potter: It is Finished

I watched Deathly Hallows 2 on my widescreen last night with my pal Bill (and Molly the WolfDog) via Amazon streaming. Second time around, having seen it in the theatre.

Though I slogged through volume 1 of the 8-book series and never continued reading, I have really loved the movies. Seen all of them at least a few times and often more.

My favorites are the first (Sorcerer's Stone), the third (Prisoner of Azkaban) and this last, the second part of The Deathly Hallows. It has been a pleasure watching Harry, Hermione and Ron grow up over these ten years.

Richard Harris' death was a big loss; Michael Gambon's Dumbledore never managed to match his gravitas.  But although species prejudice is a major theme in the story (magical vs muggle folk) and the cast is racially mixed, it never got into any pc boredom about either color or gender, a great relief.
I don't often notice these things, but Emma Watson has become a very beautiful young woman.

And speaking of women, the gender relationships and roles in the books represent an almost serene equality between the sexes, where males and females are distinctly themselves, with all the classical attractions, repulsions, crimes and gifts, but no one seems either to suffer for it or benefit from it to the other's detriment. No wonder it's a world of magic!

The plot of Part 2 is great, engaging, thrilling, visually arresting, full of surprises. In the finale, we get to see the backstory which makes Alan Rickman's Severus Snape so fascinating a character.

Ralph Fiennes' Voldemort was perfect (and major kudos to the make-up and clothing designers.) He was classically Augustinian: here the Dark Lord's powerful evil and Tom Riddel's depressive emptiness were never separate.

The epilog is genuinely moving and puts a simple but profound cap on the long story.

The technically stunning computer-graphics are gorgeous, even when they're depicting evil. Unlike Avatar, where they try to conceal a pathetically banal story and cartoon characters, here they make a great story and great characters even more gripping. The Battle of Hogwarts has real shock and awe. The score throughout, by all its composers, has come to seem inseparable from the story.

With a much more universal and humanly-grounded moral and dramatic vision (the series primary action is set in the years 1991-1998) this parallel British magical world is more satisfying and inspiring than the narrowly tendentious bad-humor of Pullman's His Dark Materials.

Some religious people have found the magic and wizardry threatening and although Rowling is a Christian, the series has never felt like a CS Lewis tale. If anything, more like the embedded but muted Catholicism of JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. Until the end, where Harry's confrontation with death in "King's Cross" shows open similarities with the ancient story of Jesus and his destruction of the powerful Elderwand echoes the Gospel stories of his Temptations.

The whole series is a great achievement of imagination on JK Rowling's part and the movies have lived up to her gift. I am sure I will watch them many more times.

All in all, it's been magical.

Talk about religious trivia

Can you guess what this picture is about?

It even outstripped my store of trivia, which is considerable.

In the 11th century, the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor tried to abolish the native Spanish form of the Mass, the Mozarabic rite, --the rite of the Visigoths who'd come under Arab rule--and replace it with the Roman rite. They held a trial by fire and threw both the Mozarabic and Roman missals in the flames. The Mozarabic book won. For a while. The plate is from a Mozarabic missal.

With my lifelong interest in oddities and lost causes, I am actually acquainted with the Mozarabic rite (and its sibling, the Gallican, which Charlemagne wiped out entirely in the 9th century). Both were/are Latin rites but with significant differences from the Roman way in the Mass, the other sacraments, the Office and architectural style and music

By modern times it had ceased to exist in Spain save for one side chapel in the cathedral in Toledo. It has been revived and "reformed" of its Roman accretions and now exists again, at least in the Toledo diocese. John Paul II celebrated the Mozarabic rite Mass in St Peter's in 1992.

(Because I can't help myself, the Latin in the plate reads, from top down: "Both books thrown into the fire" "The Roman one jumped out of the fire" "The Gothic (another name for the rite) one unharmed in the flames")

Just think. If you didn't read Ex Cathedra, you might never know this!


Unfortunately came across one of those mush-for-brains hit pieces on Republicans who take a strong stand on illegal immigration. It was "What Would Jesus Do?" by some female named Ananda Rose. Ananda Rose*. Says it all right there.

WWJD?  I'll tell you, he'd have every divorce law in the country changed so that the only ground was adultery. After all, that's what old Peace Love Forgiveness Jesus said. Mark


Oh, shut up.

*Turns out she has a Harvard Phd in "Religion and Society". Nail in coffin.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Which category?

Politics? Sex? Religion?


Who are YOU to say???IIIII

This is a rhetorical device used by stupid people, of which there are many. Many.

Intellectually, many people remain on the schoolyard at lunchtime in 8th grade.

My reply is, "Who are YOU to ask???!!!"

More stupid people tricks

I made the mistake of opining elsewhere that Roman Catholic Womenpriests was a silly name because the very act that made them "womenpriests" excommunicated them from the Roman Catholic church and that, in the RC church's eyes, they were not priests at all.

Well, did I get told.
"Wow. Being CATHOLIC has nothing to do with the Bishop of Rome!"

"WHO ARE YOU TO DECIDE when the Holy Spirit calls these women?"

"Pray to God to rid you of your bigotry and prejudice."

I'm like, ya know, wow, do I even have to reply to this stuff? Know what I'm sayin'?

Ancient ruins

The remains of this basilica from ancient times can still be seen

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Ins and outs

When I was doing my doctoral research, I was assigned a historical study on Martin Luther's attitude toward Islam, which was contained in his writings on the Turks, who, as the principal agents of  The Religion of Peace were again invading Europe. In the 1500's he interpreted the Muslims' religion as a form of Arian heresy, based on its teaching that Christ was a creature and not the eternally begotten Word of God.*

He did not consider Islam as a "non-Christian religion" because he had no category for that. In his time, religions were Christian (orthodox or heretical), Jewish, or pagan. That was it. Since the Muslims were monotheists, had a scripture that tried to relate itself to the Bible, and had a doctrine of Christ, however deformed, they could not be pagans. So they were heretics.

Which reminded me of St John of Damascus, the first Christian to write a polemic against new-born Islam, which he knew intimately and personally. As the Religion of Peace rolled its conquering armies through the Christian Middle East, it took Damascus by siege in 634, a mere two years after Muhammad's death. John was born 40 years later, into a Christian family that served the Caliphate as it had served the Byzantine Emperor. John listed Islam as "the heresy of the Ishmaelites" who, as Luther later would write, held unorthodox "Arian" views of Christ as a creature.

As one of the subjects of my doctorate, John Macquarrie, learned from the Germans, you cannot underestimate the effect on thinking which derives from which questions you ask (Fragestellung) and what kinds of categories you have to create your answers (Begrifflichkeit).

Back in the day, unlike now, it could not have become a question whether Mormons were Christians or not. Different Begrifflichkeit, different Fragestellung. But that assumption, that they were, would have been made almost mute by the far more important and damning judgment that they were, like the Muslims and the Cathars, heretics.

*Unlike a pious and angry lady who once broke down in tears when --in a classroom setting, I must add-- I corrected her statement that in the Gospel of John, "Jesus created the world", the orthodox tradition differentiates between the Person of Christ as the Second of the Trinity and his human nature, his human body and human soul, intellect and will, created and born in time of the Virgin Mary.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Should words have meanings?

 Ex Cathedra......;))))

PNWReader, who recently paid me the (highly undeserved) complement of making Jason Statham his avatar for me, did not find see what all the fuss was about in my discussing what religions are "Christian" or not. For him, "expressed religious veneration for Jesus Christ" seemed sufficient. He wondered who could have the legitimate claim to be making such decisions; it seemed it was just about self-affirmation and power. And he also wondered what difference it made.

Since I do not know PNWReader personally, I cannot say whether the issue I was discussing is unimportant to him because he has no interest in it, or because he has had bad experience with religious debates, or if he has a general philosophical aversion to strong definitions.

Well, without launching into a dissertation --yes, I know. Thank God!-- I will say that words need to have definitions because otherwise language cannot grasp or communicate ideas and because ideas have consequences.
Let's just take the two groups I was talking about: Mormons and Cathars. Both claim to be Christian. But imagine what kind of church and what kind of world would be promoted by each group, based on their ideas, based on the content of what the title Christian meant to them. Or who the person was whom they named as "Jesus Christ".  What, besides a bare name, gives them common ground in actual content and therefore meaning to their claim?

BTW, it would be hard to deny that both synchronically and diachronically, at least 95% of the Christians in the world hold to the foundational interconnected doctrines of Jesus as the God-Man, and of God as the Three-in-One, the Trinity. 

Are the Jews for Jesus Jews?

If you extrapolate to other fields, even if there is no a priori way to decide who has what kind of standing in a debate and the outcome will always be contested anyway-- and this is the case with almost every item of human interest and discussion --, is it still not important to attempt to give definite meaning to words such as "marriage", "natural", "human person", "citizen", "rights", "man*", "God", etc.?

Ex Cathedra?

Essential to any definition of any kind is exclusion.

*Is Chaz Bono a man?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Is Mormonism Christian, continued?

I continue to think that Mormons are to Christians as Christians are to Jews. It's a good shorthand.

But there was another group in Western history which lay claim to the title of Christians, a group which also departed crucially from the historic shape of Christian orthodoxy: the medieval Cathars.

Cathars making a convert away from the Catholic Franciscan friars.

And they, I would argue, were no more Christian than the Mormons, although, like the Mormons, they lay a passionate claim to the title and suffered gruesomely for it. My reflections on these matters are about doctrinal content, not about their personal morality or their undoubted sincerity and courage.

There are fascinating similarities between the two groups as well as deep differences. The Cathars (Greek for "pure ones"), or Albigensians (from their central stronghold, the southern French town of Albi) also denied the Trinity*, judged the historical Christian Church to be irredeemably corrupt, had a separate sacramental system and priesthood, a restricted canon as well as supplementary scriptures. They also rejected veneration of the cross. Cosmic dualists, they viewed Jesus as a pure created spirit sent in the guise of human flesh by the Good Father God, who was at war with the co-eternal Evil Satanic God who had created the world of matter and imprisoned their souls in bodies on the earth.

[The best book on the subject is Yuri Stoyanov's (2000) The Other God: Dualist Religions from Antiquity to the Cathar Heresy.

Incidentally, it was confrontation with this group which sparked St. Dominic to found his community of preachers. His first foundation was a monastery of nuns, all women whom he had converted from Catharism to Catholicism.]

What really separates Cathars from Mormons is religious dualism, a tradition shared by Zoroastrians, Gnostics, and Manicheans. While perfect Cathars dualists abstained from marriage (and considered escape from this world through starvation --the endura--the ultimate religious achievement), it is precisely through marriage for eternity and childbearing that the very non-dualist, practical and world-affirming Mormons achieve perfection.

Although their motives for rejecting orthodoxy are very different, the somewhat similar forms of distance from it that both Mormons and Cathars assert makes it impossible to include them within the Christian religion. To do so would empty the category of little meaning beyond "expressed religious veneration of Jesus Christ, regardless of doctrinal content."

That's hard to sell to a Five.

*The Mormons accept a trinity, but Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ and Holy Spirit are three separate gods united only in a harmony of purpose. Hence, they are polytheists, not Trinitarians.

Six two two ten and forty

My favorite flick

If only

Rick Perry had Newt Gingrich's brain and policies.


Pontifical Venn

Apparently the Original Ex Cathedra in Rome is seeing things more in line with this Ex Cathedra.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

A worker in the vineyard

"It's God's house, but He still sends me the electric bill."

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

And they're French!

The French satirical journal Charlie Hebdo got firebombed and its website taken over by angry Muslims for the crime of cartooning without a fatwa. Craven butthole Time journalist Bruce Crumley said that their Islamophobia deserved it.

They responded with a new issue:

Muhammad making gay snogging with the mag's editor.
Vive Le Charlie Hebdo!

Occupy SF

Out to dinner last night with B, who, inventive as always, wanted to include a visit to Occupy San Francisco before we ate. He arrived before I did and related to me the goings-on in the "general assembly", where protesters were encouraged to use non-sexist language, arranged for Spanish classes and a round of "flyering" in the Mission, and then reflected on the request of a "working group" to start a garden...although they lacked tools, seeds...or soil. There was a tent with a sign that said For Emotional Emergencies. It was empty.

For some unaccountable reason (unaccountable even to himself), B finds the Occupy phenomenon interesting, although supremely unfocussed. For my curmudgeonly rightwing self, I judged the folks down there --all of whom I had seen in the 1960's and 1970's in previous and exact incarnations, clothes, hairstyles, attitudes, nostrums and smells included-- were either a. deluded fools, b. chronic losers or c. worthless trash.

 A Bedouin encampment outside Mecca? Or Occupy SF by the Embarcadero.
Photo by RCI

After B-as-Virgil led me through the Dantean encampment,  he and I had a nice dinner at a local bistro: half-price night for burgers (very nice) and the Niman Ranch Pork Rib Blue Plate Special (excellent), with a coupla glasses of vino and a view of the Bay Bridge. Capitalism may in fact be the worst economic system, except for all the rest.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Matter and form

In the Catholic theology of the sacraments, what is required for validity, that is, sacramental reality, is the correct combination of matter and form, the right matching of something material and spoken words indicating intention. If the match is defective, the sacrament does not happen. People often react against this as legalistic and obsessive...which it can become. But even on my most Vatican II days, I recognized something very respectful in this way of thinking.

If I may stretch things a bit, when people say that the exact words are not important to God (Isn't that just superstitious magic?) or that the right kind of physical being is likewise not so important to him (times and cultures change, after all) as our hearts and our faith, first I roll my eyes. Inwardly if not outwardly. Then these thoughts occur to me.

We live in a culture which has recently decided that words, in the properly approved context, have the force of weapons. In most Western countries, you can be jailed or fine for speaking improperly. We call it "hate speech". And what is Political Correctness if not an obsessive concern with exactly the right words?

And we also live in a culture that, on the surface, adores Nature once again, desiring to let each creature be respected for itself rather than for our grubby speciesist human arrogance and greed. Did it never occur to the loosey-goosey bien-pensants that if God chose wine rather than milk for the Mass, that there might be something about wine itself, as a creature, which was fit, apt, congruent and uniquely eloquent? That because of what it is, it can mean things that milk cannot?

After I roll my eyes, I also think to myself that lack of care for powerful symbols and rituals --based on an adolescent ethical sensibility rooted in subjective intention and wilfulness-- is just egotism and confusion. Which is not a bad description of adolescence. No matter how old you are.

Anyhow, what got me thinking like this was having lunch last week with my friend BG from Canada, who makes her living in the Church and specifically in writing and teaching about the liturgy and the sacraments. The generational shift in the priesthood that she sees going on could be described in one way as a change from the groovy to the prissy. The cool and groovy liberal priests of the Vatican II generation are greying now and passing on (though not quietly), replaced by a new crop of young guys who too often, according to BG, confuse orthodoxy and tradition with a lot of lace vestments. She calls their ascendancy "the prissification of the priesthood."

Since I support the continuation of the all-male priesthood, her comments provoked me to wonder what it was about men which made them uniquely the right "matter" for the sacrament of Holy Orders. As I said to her, and continue to wonder, if Jesus and his Church only intended men to be the priesthood, what is it about the masculine which makes this a match?

Take Baptism, for instance. It is about washing, cleansing, rebirth...so you use water. The meaning and the matter match. Neither sand, confetti nor beer would have the natural voice to say and mean what the ritual wants to. The same goes for all of them: there is a natural vocabulary and syntax into which the sacrament settles.

So, if priesthood requires an adult male, vir, what is it about manhood that makes it the natural and non-replaceable material for that Catholic sacrament? And why might grooviness and prissiness both be misunderstandings of it?

It is astonishing how little thought and attention has been given to that question of late.

For millennia, I think it was largely (though not entirely) taken for granted because masculinity was not a contested and subverted issue*. But now in our feminist world, I suspect that fear of a shitstorm of angry women and their fembot male allies keeps even upholders of the male-only sacerdotium rather quiet about it*. Plus, I doubt they have reflected very deeply on it. As well as the likelihood that there are still many gay males in the pipeline, even among the orthodox traditionalists, and this is a threatening subject for them, too.

My intuitive speculation is that if you ordain women, you lose your ground for resisting same-sex marriage. What modern feminism really means is that men and women must be counted interchangeable, that gender difference itself (except when it benefits women and hobbles men) is an illusion. And that level of unreality cannot have good consequences.

But unless the Church can give more than a formal response (Jesus didn't do it so we can't) to feminist advocates of womenpriests, it will not only seem weak, but give tacit support to an all-male priesthood with too few men in it.

*At a traditional Lutheran blog, a traditional Anglican takes up the issue head on. And I recognize that Christianity itself constitutes a "contestation" of classical masculinity...which only makes the masculine priesthood more important.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Funny thought

My piece on Mormons led to discussions elsewhere. One Mormon asserted that LDS Church still practices polygamy because if an eternally sealed wife dies, her widowed husband may marry another wife in eternal sealing, which gives him two wives in the next world. Another Mormon said that all Churches practice polygamy then, since they all marry widows and widowers.

Well, no. Marriage in all other churches is for this life only. "Til death us do part" means that death ends the marriage. Which made me realize that there are only single people in heaven!

Queer Eye and Straight Guy

is a 2010 crime drama starring ubermale Jason Statham. A clever, vengeful, sadistic and psychopathic killer is murdering cops in London. Statham is in bad shape as it is --burnout and under investigation-- and is joined up with a poofter cop from a higher status station to solve the crime. To complete the PC lineup, we have a Black female cop in the mix, too. No romance, though. The primary energy is between the two guys and the murderer.

Statham is, of course, Beef a la Testosterone, with attitude and skills to go with it. Paddy Considine (above right) plays his new colleague. His intelligence, commitment, endurance and determination  compensate for his secondary physical role, his preference for classical music, healthy eating and minimalist furniture. It is not a PC relationship. Statham expressed respect for Considine's skills by saying he's a good cop "for a poofter". Mercifully, Considine is man enough to hear the respectful compliment and smile rather than file a complaint.

They do share a passion, but its for their work and that they bond over and trust each other over. Interesting pairing of two kinds of masculinity in tandem. It is not a buddy relationship, but the two of them work as a pair to bring the bad guy down and show that the men have a great deal more in common where it counts than first meets the eye.


I walked into my local supermarket and to my left, in the front fruit and veggie section, was an older Black man. He had a baseball cap, loose shirt and khakis on, his back turned to me. I could tell his race and age from the back of his neck and head.

As I walked past him, he farted. Loud. And long.

I swung around to get further into the store and looked back.

It was Danny Glover.

Glaring howlers

Some people have too much time on their hands.

The new translation of the Roman Mass is imperfect. As was the old. But for the folks at the PrayTell blog, this is apocalyptic catastrophe.

The Latin text remains the same:

Prosint nobis, quaesumus, Domine, frequentata mysteria,
quibus nos, inter praetereuntia ambulantes,
iam nunc instituis amare caelestia et inhaerere mansuris

The superceded kindergarten paraphrase of the 1970's:

may our communion
teach us to love heaven.
May its promise and hope guide our way on earth

The Latin hopes that by the celebration and reception of Communion the congregation would learn to prefer the eternal things of heaven as it journeys through the passing things of earth. The new translation ambiguously suggests that aquaintance with the passing things of earth will teach the congregation to prefer the eternal things of heaven.  

May these mysteries, O Lord,
in which we have participated,
profit us, we pray,
for even now, as we walk amid passing things,
you teach us by them* to love the things of heaven
and hold fast to what endures

*The sacramental "mysteries" or "passing things"?
IMHO, one's just as likely as the other to do the job!

Tragic ambiguity, no?

Frankly, if I recollect, what percentage of the congregation will actually pay enough attention to that prayer to be irked by this "glaring howler"? One of the faults of liturgists is that they think other people pay as close (obsessive?) attention to the services as they do.

From the comments --125 of them-- you'd think that the first verse of Genesis had been erased.


Saturday, November 05, 2011

Are Mormons Christians?

Or better put, is the religion of the Latter Day Saints church a Christian religion?

My short answer is that Mormonism is to Christianity as Christianity is to Judaism. In a word, it is not Christian, but something built on Christianity that moved out of it so significantly as to be no longer recognizable as Christian. Just as the Jesus movement moved out of Judaism into something new.

The actual Ex Cathedra in Rome agrees with the blogging Ex Cathedra here. The Vatican officially declared that Mormon baptism --even though it is performed with the traditional words--- is invalid, of no sacramental effect.  Any Mormon who became Catholic --unlike a Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist, etc.-- would first have to be baptised.  Mormons are considered unbaptized, not Christian, because the content of their religion is so far outside the bounds of even heretical (Protestant) Christianity. Consequently, there is an invalidating defect of intention.

But it's a funny question. For this reason: In Mormon eyes --or at least in the eyes of their prophet, Joseph Smith, they are the only Christians. And all the other churches are not. Mormons, by the way, do not recognize any baptism as valid but Mormon baptism, since only they hold the restored priesthood authorized to perform the rite. All baptized Christians joining their church are re-baptized.

When Smith was asking God which of the many denominations to join, he was told that they were all false, that the church of Christ has ceased to exist since The Great Apostasy, which was complete long before the close of the First Century and that God was going to re-establish his Church through Smith. The Apostles Peter, James and John appeared and ordained him directly in 1829, re-establishing the long-lost Christian priesthood, which had long ceased to exist on earth after the last Apostle died. Smith did not seek to reform the existing religion or bodies of "Christians" because he did not recognize them as such. Everyone coming into the new faith was baptized into it. Previous Christian sacraments received were considered null.* Brigham Young explicitly named Catholic Baptism and Eucharist as empty and invalid forms and in 2001 Rome returned the favor. Mormonism is restoration of something utterly lost, not the reformation of a continuity which has made mistakes.

It is an irony of public relations that now when Christians --the non-churches of the Great Apostasy, -- are made to be the intolerant bigoted bad guys when they answer the title question in the negative. The real response when the question arises should be to quiz Mormons on whether Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants are Christians. The Mormons gave their own no to that question at their founding. And until the last ten minutes, consistently:
Joseph Fielding Smith (10th LDS President)  
“For hundreds of years the world was wrapped in a veil of spiritual darkness, until there was not one fundamental truth belonging to the place of salvation that was not, in the year 1820, so obscured by false tradition and ceremonies, borrowed from paganism, as to make it unrecognizable; or else it was entirely denied …Joseph Smith declared that in the year 1820 the Lord revealed to him that all the ‘Christian’ churches were in error, teaching for commandments the doctrines of men” (Doctrines of Salvation 3:282).  
Spencer W. Kimball (12th LDS President)  
“This is the only true church …This is not a church. This is the Church of Jesus Christ. There are churches of men all over the land and they have great cathedrals, synagogues, and other houses of worship running into the hundreds of millions of dollars. They are churches of men. They teach the doctrines of men, combined with the philosophies and ethics and other ideas and ideals that men have partly developed and partly found in sacred places and interpreted for themselves” (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, pg.421).  
“Presumptuous and blasphemous are they who purport to baptize, bless, marry, or perform other sacraments in the name of the Lord while in fact lacking the specific authorization” (The Miracle of Forgiveness, pg.55).  
Bruce McConkie (Mormon Apostle)  
“The traditions of the elders – as is also the case with the traditions of an apostate Christendom – are wholly devoid of the least scintilla of inspiration. They are, as Jesus said, ‘the commandments of men’” (The Mortal Messiah, Vol.2, FOOTNOTES, Pg.412).  
“What of seventies? Who are they, and how do they fit into the eternal scheme of things? That their mission and ministry is unknown among the cults of Christendom is one of the great evidences of the apostate darkness that engulfs those who call themselves by the name of Him who called seventies to stand as especial witnesses of that very name” (The Mortal Messiah, 3:99-100).  
“Thus the signs of the times include the prevailing apostate darkness in the sects of Christendom and in the religious world in general. False churches, false prophets, false worship – breeding as they do a way of life that runs counter to the divine will – all these are signs of the times” (The Millennial Messiah, pg.4

*Mormonism is even more doctrinally alien to historic Christianity than the Jehovah's Witnesses, who also deny the Christian reality of any other body, rebaptizing Christians who convert. The JW's are non-Trinitarian subordinationist Arians, sort of, who believe that God created Michael the Archangel, who then created everything else and later became Jesus...but they are monotheists who assert their fidelity to the Bible as the only revelation.


A gay movie where I didn't wind up hating all the characters. Whirlwind, 2007. Not saying it was great, just that while most of the characters went through their asshole phase, most of them came out of it as flawed but recognizably human.

Friday, November 04, 2011

The 1%

Kris Humphries, soon to be divorced ex-husband of Kim Kardashian,
after 72 days.

The 1%

Leonardo diCaprio and
all the liberal Hollwood stars and studio folks
like Susan Sarandon and Johnny Depp and Sean Penn
Madonna and Lady Gaga
John Kerry
Nancy Pelosi
George Soros

Surely these are the greedy Democrat plutocrats we are being encouraged to hate and take down?

Oh, yes, and that
culona* inchiavabile
Michael Moore.

*Ho priso la decisione scortese, al onore di quel uomo porco,
di lasciare quella parola sporca
nella sua forma femminile originale.

A day late, again

So the bells rang and we opened the antiphoners
And the wrens and the larks flew up out of the pages.
Our thoughts became lambs. Our hearts swam like seas.

One monk believed that we should sing to him
Some stone-age hymn
Or something in the giant language.
So we played to him in the plainsong of the giant Gregory:
Oceans of Scripture sang upon bony Eire.

November chill and rain. St. Malachy.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Chickens come home to empty roost

Ex Cathedra is no fan of the ideology of feminism. One more version of the Egalitarian Complex that turns out to have unpleasant consequences.


Dennis Prager elaborates on four of them:
In sum, thanks to feminism, very many women slept with too many men for their own happiness; postponed marriage too long to find the right man to marry; are having hired hands do much of the raising of their children; and find they are dating boy-men because manly men are so rare.
Feminism exemplifies the truth of the saying, “Be careful what you wish for — you may get it.”
A lot of the Feminist Revolution boils down to the masculinization of women and the feminization of men...against their natures.

Speaking of Quakers

In my previous post, I noted one egregious example of terrible forms of liturgical prayer. I used to be subjected to it a lot in the 70's and 80's when priests decided to extemporize and all that came out was pontificating: covert sermons, shows of intellectual information, etc. So much logorrhea.

I confess: I did a lot of it, too. I will say in my defense, however, that I at least consciously tried to keep to the themes and poetry of the faith. But that is all long past.

Perhaps it is my Five-ishness, but I was much more happy with a good text frequently repeated than with endless variations awkwardly accomplished. One of the great flaws of the "reformed" Catholic liturgy is options. Options for friggin days. Which means both confusion, sloppy performance and word, words, words. My friend er once sent me a cartoon of the Last Supper, showing Jesus and the Apostles all holding paperback missals and Him announcing, "Now we will proclaim Acclamation B from Year C, on page 47."

Naming the new trinennial lectionary cycle ABC instead of St Matthew, St Mark, St Luke...empty of imagination and continuity. And while I'm at it, de-sacralizing the weeks after Epiphany and the months between Pentecost and Advent as "Ordinary Time" (Tempus per annum) further deprived the year of its shape and color.

And then on top of the "official" prayers, we have the preaching of the clerics --mostly awful-- and the places where they were (and still are, I think) supposed to make "brief introductions". More blather.

It was a funny moment in Amadeus when the prince or whomever criticized Mozart's works for having "too many notes." Well, he was wrong about that. But Catholic worship now has way way way too many words.
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