Saturday, April 30, 2011

Who 2 believe?

Mrs. Barry O is campaigning against all the fat children in America, and now I see a commercial telling me that 1 out of 4 American children are "at risk" of "facing hunger".

Somebody is BSing somebody.

Exploring other cultures

A year or two ago I was stuck out in my parents' house one evening, with nothing to entertain myself but a DVD. It was Twilight, the tweener saga of vampire love. I am a great fan of vampires, but the early teenage angst was too much.

Since then I have stumbled on a bit of the sequel and am not proud to say that I endured the angst for the sake of watching a few minutes of Taylor Lautner.

And last night I caught a half hour or so of the original flick. Edward (the vamp) tells Bella (his depressive human love). "I don't have the strength to stay away from you any more." Couldn't take it.

Perhaps because it reminded me of what seems a peculiarly human trait: overwhelming desire for one person. Not the general desire for beautiful flesh, but that combination of obsession, compulsion, hyper-attachment, lust and idealization that we call falling in love. I know that there are other species that mate for life, several kinds of birds, a mammal or two. But there's something unique about our kind of desire, that capacity for the whole world to become embodied in one body. I remember that. Magical. And frightening.

Why does this stuff get to me?

One of my FB friend's friends responded to some playthought about Mao's dictum that "women hold up half the sky" by adding this:
Perhaps men should hold up the sky so women could busy themselves in nurturing to health the violent world men have made.
The writer is a male, at least chromosomally.  Otherwise he has apparently turned in his balls...and his brains. He was not kidding. I did not want to embarrass my FB friend by responding in this way right there. But this kind of messianic feminism stuff is beyond stupid.

I looked on his home page. His pictures said a lot. Old hippy. Strangely androgynous. With a degree in religion. Mush for brains, with moral inflation as a side dish.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Last one to leave, turn out the lights



My gym closed this evening. A bunch of us got together to thank my friend Bill, who worked the front desk,  for being, as they said, "the heart and soul" of the place for three decades. Nine years I have been there; has made a huge difference in my life. Now, time to move on to somewhere else.

Who could resist? ;)


PS. I decided to follow the link to the skool. Here's the homepage.

 

Metamessage: feminist courses in leaving your balls at the door.

Reminded me of the resentful angry women I met in church and theological life. In his book Wildmen, Warriors and Kings, even back in the early 90's, deceased (and gay) Jesuit Patrick Arnold pointed out the male-hatred of female theologians, many of whom got to vent their anger at male seminarians.

Even though

it's National Hairball Awareness Day (HT 2 CirelliAir), something else apparently happened.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Barry Hussein, American citizen

So we have O's long form birth certificate. Why the fuck didn't he just produce it earlier?

And IMHFO, if this were a Republican president with a similar background and history, the demand for his actual birth certificate would not have been pathologized or marginalized with the title "birthers".  It would have been the daily occupation and noble obsession of the whole mainstream press corps, in the interests of the Constitution.

OMG

Facebook is down. How shall I connect with my virtual friends?

Oops



Actor Dean Winters also plays an emotionally compromised teenaged female driver. Very funny, especially since his best known role is one of the psychopaths in Oz.

Des consequences inattendues

Dat be French for "unintended consequences". One of the reasons conservatives are, well, conservative. Fiddling with things, especially big societal things, leads to results no one intended or expected. It's how history works. So caution is important.

A great example. The drive for Quebec's independence from English Canada took place at a time when the province, as part of a larger cultural change, went from deeply practicing Catholic to deeply anti-religious secularist, its "Quiet Revolution". The arrival of oral contraception enabled this newly liberated population to follow the now familiar pattern of plummeting birth rates. And Canada also decided that its new religion was multiculturalism, and strange immigrants from the Third World arrived. Almost 7% of this once wholly white region is now African, Asian and Middle Eastern; French will become a minority language on the island of Montreal in a few years.

But when it came to voting for independence, a desideratum of liberated women, liberated nationalists, liberated secularists, liberated multiculturalists, it failed. For one reason: not enough separatist French Quebeckers to counter the other residents of the province --including all those foreign immigrants-- who wanted to stay in Canada.

The only force in population in Quebec is foreign immigration, yet the province's overall numbers continue to decline, making its position in Canada's parliament less powerful. So part of the cultural package which aimed at the dream of a free Quebec has turned out to mean its very opposite: permanent belonging to Canada, less power within Canada, and for the native French Quebeckers, a smaller share of the demographic of their homeland.

Talk about unintended outcomes.

Mark Steyn, whose 2005 column on Birthrights and Birth Rates inspired this post, puts it with his customary acuity and aplomb:
In the sixties, Quebec separatists made the strategically disastrous decision to reject both the Queen and the Pope, the Crown and the cross - and, because they disdained the latter, they’ll never be rid of the former. Had Quebec couples of the early seventies maintained traditionally Catholic birthrates, Parizeau would now be Monsieur le PrĂ©sident. Instead, his Republic of Quebec recedes a little further with every census.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

No sympathy for this handsome devil

A fella on one of the personals websites has this to say:
 I often find it quite hard to get in the right mindset to create (music), but when I do there is almost no feeling like it.  I look forward to making more time in my life for that feeling!  Been spending more time with that lately.  You can check out my website or YouTube for some of my stuff.  Slowly putting myself out there as I get more confident and comfortable with myself through the aging process..
Aaaand here is the aging old piker.


who is...30.

Stereotypes

As far as I can tell, the only reason stereotypes are objectionable is because they are true. Not true in the sense that every member of the stereotyped group is always as depicted. But a lot of 'em are, a lot of the time. Otherwise there'd be no offense.

We have a funny cultural rule nowadays that if you belong to a victim group, then you might be able to invoke stereotypes or use insulting language. If you are an outsider, and especially if you don't belong to another hierarchically approved victim group, then you are eeevil and must be destroyed.

The frequency with which Black comedians (and other Blacks) use the word "nigger" is clear as day. But let a White use it and they act like the Emancipation Proclamation is about to be rescinded. Clearly it is not the word, or the stereotype, that is offensive. It is about who uses it. Part of the reverse power hierarchy of Political Correctness. Blacks can make fun of Whites now and it supposed to be cool, but the reverse is always a crime. BS.

And a lot of the PC behavior that our liberal schoolmarms enforce is --besides being lies-- really just pandering to group ego under the guise of "dignity". The Larry Summers women-in-science fiasco is just one example. A recent History channel program on theories of the settlement of the Western Hemisphere constantly referred to the Siberian immigrants as "the first Americans." That makes no more sense than calling the Etruscans "the first Italians". But we have to make believe.

Speaking of stereotypes, the Logo channel --a festival of gay stereotypes-- has a Canadian program on called 1 Girl, 5 Gays. "What happens when one sassy straight girl gets up close and personal with five fierce gay men? A whole lot of OMFG!"  1 Fag Hag and 5 Queens, or 6 Ghyrls, would be a better title. Headshakingly embarrassing.

My morning's guilty pleasure

And no, it's not a rerun of South Park's Death Camp of Tolerance.

Comedian Shirley Q. Liquor educates a brotha.

Ex Cathedra Watson

Watched the third 2010 BBC Sherlock DVD. Sherlock says that he notes that Watson has written up their first case, A Study in Pink...on his blog.

I'm in good company.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Who's gonna outlive who(m)?

Samples from the websites of two different orders of Dominican sisters: the Dominican Sisters of Peace, an amalgamation of several greying and dying post-Vatican II sisters




The still from their video is above. Here's a snippet of the musical background, from folksinger Pat Humpries:

We are living 'neath the great Big Dipper
We are washed by the very same rain
We are swimming in the stream together
Some in power and some in pain
We can worship this ground we walk on
Cherishing the beings that we live beside
Loving spirits will live forever
We're all swimming to the other side


and the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, a traditional Catholic teaching order, founded fifteen years ago, with an average age in their 20's and in the process of building a convent that can hold 100...


Their video shows women in habits, talking about giving themselves to God for life, without reserve, in the service of Christ and the Faith.


One thing that Boomer groups of all kinds seem to have is an inability to reproduce. Why had the exuberant modernizing reforms produced half-empty churches? When the archbishop of Chicago delivered a controversial speech several years ago, asserting that "liberal Catholicism is an exhausted project", he pointed out the inability of the renewed Church to pass on its faith to the next generation.  It seems that the only groups really able to bring in younger people are more traditional.
Over 90% American Catholic sisters are older than 60. This means that they got their initiation under the Old Regime. They rejected that regime and its beliefs, with so many of them morphing into post-Christian social-justice eco-feminists, but its effects stuck with them. That's why they stayed, I think. It seems to me that the particular shape of the Boomer generation is founded on that very particular dynamic: having experienced the traditional forms and then rejecting them in hope of making a reformed version of them that bypassed the rejected version. My suspicion was, back even when I was in religion myself, that only the traditional form could make the identity take shape and last. The Boomers actually lived off an experience that they had later come to consciously reject. And their attempts to create a new regime for themselves meant that they had to deny to newcomers that very formative experience which made the oldsters who they were. A cultural form of artificial contraception.

What the traditional and newly-founded traditional groups instinctively know is that what draws young people to religious life, monasticism or the priesthood is not that it is cool and modern, but that it is challenging and identity-shaping in a way that both sets people apart from the larger world and at the same time inserts them strongly in an ancient tradition.

I mean, if you want to give your life to God and become His bride, there's really only one way to do it. Dealing with climate change, immigration and the UN Millennium Goals....not so much.

To me, basic religious psychology.

Growing up, gay

One of the longstanding tropes of traditional psychology about homosexual men is that they/we are in a state of arrested development. Having failed in the Oedipal task of separation from the mother and identification with the father, we remain "mama's boys". That's why we do not connect intimately with women (or, really, with men); mom wouldn't like it. So we're just boys "fooling around" with other boys.


Freudian developmental theory aside, there is something deeply unserious and silly, childish and uncharmingly adolescent about gay culture. And one of the places it shows up is in events like the Sisters' Hunky Jesus contest.


With my Catholic genes, I have an appreciation for and capacity for blasphemy. But for the same reason, it has its limits. And when I see a video of an overweight middle-aged fag in a veil and drag makeup making sibilant witticisms while costumed guys line up to see who can be the most offensive Jesus...well, my limit is reached.

Have a Hunky Muhammad contest and it show that you might have balls instead of a cunt. (Update: Wow. Scary. Andrew Sullivan channelled me.)

When gays decide to transgress --with all the frissons of risk and bravery attached--- they usually* do it in places without consequence. Where it's safe to be bad. They'll take on Christianity, or some version of traditional America...from a safe distance. Which reminds me of an adolescent girl screaming at her mother that she hates her and hopes she dies...and then, of course, demands that evil mommy buy her that dress she wants.

Another stream in this teenaged subcultural acting out is that gays want to be accepted by established religion --married, ordained, affirmed (pardon the phrase) up the wazoo--and also want to be able to insult and demean it without consequences. Again, welcome to puberty.

Being in the shrink business, I do not begrudge individuals their developmental history. We all have to go through adolescence. And we all have to grow out of it. Or at least we should. But when a "culture" encourages arrested development, --and in this case, gender dysphoria as well-- then I'm not so happy.

Final note for this posting: gay men are not the only men with an arrested development issue. Men in the feminist West are, in general, in developmental trouble.

If any of my readers think I am over-re-acting locally, it's because I am thinking globally. Just doing what the bumper stickers told me to!

*There were times and places where it took guts and where there were consequences, but most gay acting out is now just, well, gay acting out.

Camping up/out in the Castro

A Chronicle-reading friend --the Chronicle is the local newspaper--amazing how some otherwise decent trash-composting people continue to support businesses that kill trees-- alerted me to a tussle between "community activists" and the local business board over the gay flag at the Castro subway station. Should it have been at half-mast for Liz Taylor?

And there was, of course, the consciously blasphemous --but "fun"--annual Hunky Jesus contest on Easter Sunday in Dolores Park, run by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

Nowadays the only thing I am not homophobic about is the sex; the rest of it...no thanks.

My curmudgeonly sense this morning is that most "oppressed" groups were oppressed for good reasons.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Speaking of varied quality

Here's more American nun-talk...

LCWR National Board -- August 16, 2010
The following is the insight reached by the LCWR national board members at the conclusion of their meetings following the LCWR assembly. 

The real gift for us during this time of sharing was the clarity of thought that coalesced around the notions of solidarity and inclusivity. We have experienced a new, deep connection with one another and a sense of real communion as we live our way into new expressions of creative fidelity. We sense bonded energies and radical openness to what is unfolding. We are willing to wrestle with chaos – wherever necessary -- cognizant of the possible cost of such discipleship.

Our response will be: WTF?

There's acres of this inflated indigestible stuff here.

And they wonder why they are turning grey and dying out?

My2K

Yesterday I wrote this, my 2000th posting. I started out in December 2006.

Quality has certainly varied, but at least I have been pretty regular.

Looks like fun

Black church BS

The Obama's went to Easter services at a "historic" Black church in Washington. Founded by slaves. Ooooh. But the approach is what you might expect as a church of choice for someone who listened to Jeremiah Wright for 20 years without a whimper of protest. One more Black church whose religion is blackness. And race whining. And Israel-hating.

Big surprise.

I just had a phone conversation with a member of my family who voted for Obama. I made a less than complementary remark about The One --I couldn't help it-- and did not expect the response I got back:
"With his taxes and spending...well, that was not what I signed on for. Not happy with him, either."

As I've said before, none of his policies or attitudes surprise me. It's why I voted against him. But his ineptitude has been shocking. Just goes to show you the dangers of hiring someone on grounds of affirmative action.

Alas, a lass,


I will be unable to watch, as an old Toronto colleague of mine used to say, "because of a subsequent engagement."

Any subsequent engagement will do.

Really glad

I have never had a substance abuse issue in my life. Alcohol or drugs. These things just wreak havoc in people's lives. When I worked for a community rehab organization when I first moved to SF, they had a saying, "You're either an addict or you're a control queen." Oh, well :)

Emmaus ramblings

Easter Monday used to have the Emmaus story from Luke's Gospel, with the risen Jesus surprising some disheartened disciples on the road. My FB friend ER reminded me that back in my church career, I referred to Christianity as "organized disappointment." Sometimes my own cleverness disconcerts me.



The Caravaggio

Even if you don't watch reality shows regularly or all the way through, seeing bits of them frequently certainly leads one (aka, me) to suspect that they are as structured and predictable as programs which are explicitly scripted. Like so much. Unexpected progeny of TV wrestling.

Tom Cruise playing seduction-artist Frank TJ Mackey in Magnolia (1999): being interviewed by a black female reporter...weirdly prophetic of his actual manic behavior with Oprah...and a dash of what's his name...uhhhh....Charlie Sheen.

Gas prices are certainly in the news. But does anyone else notice that food prices are really high?

Two fascinating science programs, one on the Big Bang, the other on Earth. Both computer-animated descriptions of how each one happened, according to current knowledge and theories. Mind-bending stuff. The theory of water that they included was that it all came from small bits of water in unnumbered meteorites that hit the earth for 20 million years. Makes you wonder how old that stuff is in your glass. And the speculations of theoretical physicists and cosmologists --things such as Planck time-- make the Trinitarian theologies of the Greek Fathers seem like kindergarten.

Wrote my Mormon pal Dave about our new commonality. HBO ran a series on Mormons behaving badly, and well, and strangely: Big Love. And now Showtime is playing out the Borgia papacy. The dark sides of our respective religious heritages exposed by secular media. (Just in terms of dramatic interest, I have to say that HBO's The Tudors was a much better written piece than The Borgias.)

Speaking of Mormons and Trinitarian theology, they are a good example of why it makes nothing but PR PC sense to say that Christians and Muslims "worship the same God."*  Mormons accept the Bible, and they have the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But of course they add other scriptures that reinterpret it. And the Mormon Trinity bears little resemblance to the Christian Trinity beyond shared names. Just for starters, the Mormon "Heavenly Father" was once a man and he eventually progressed into godhood. You can see the difference. As I have said, Mormons are not Christians any more than Christians are Jews. Each group lays claim to its predecessors' tradition, but adds something so new that the parent religion must reject it. So it is with Islam. We share a certain set of common traditional materials, but Jews, Christian, Muslims..and Mormons...interpret them in ways that are mutually exclusive and incompatible.

Why do people who supposedly value "diversity" (see above) also want to erase it?

One more week before my gym closes. Only a few guys left. Equipment being sold off. It's sorta like working out in a morgue.

Trailer for Lost Weekend (1945) contains this line: "One woman loved him too much to let him lose his soul. Another one wanted him enough to take him without it." No comment.

*If you ask a Muslim to admit that Bahais worship the same God that they do, they will never admit it. So why should Christians admit this of Muslims? Or Christians and Jews of each other? Whatever happened to diversity? 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The secular side

of Easter.


 In memory of my friend and mentor, friar Cornelius, who first sent this to me.

The world goes on

NBC has an Easter-themed program this morning with...
Christiane Amanpour...and "Rev" Al Sharpton.

Bestemmia.

Aaaand. I went to YouTube and they had some recommendations for me.
Because I had watched a piece on the election of the new Master
of the Dominican Order, they suggested that I would like
the old Monty Python piece called "Military Fairy."

WTF?

Aaaaaand. I actually looked at the Easter sermons from the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Rome. Too much talking. Most of it could be cut out. And the role that the Pope now has in commenting on world events...so predictable. Peace, blah blah. Etc.

Easter Fire Word Water Bread

Easter

Saturday, April 23, 2011

But...


A Life Alert commercial --I've fallen and I can't get up-- confuses me. The grey-haired lady explains that "I live alone and rarely have visitors". While she lay on the floor for eight hours until a neighbor found her, she worried about "how will my kids and grandkids go on without me?"

Just fine, evidently.

Anastasis

The Easter ritual at the tomb of Christ in Jerusalem.

When the sacred fire emerges, with its runners,
there are cheers and shouts,
whistling and bell ringing
I like this because it is so religious
and not at all "spiritual".


Ediculum

Friday, April 22, 2011

Ferix VIa in Parasceve

as the old Latin liturgical books used to call this day.


Early medieval Irish bronze Crucifixion

 Blackfriars Priory, Oxford
After the Good Friday Service

Good

Good Friday, even for a non-practicing type like me, is not a day where I feel quite comfortable taking pleasure in someone's suffering. But there are exceptions. Even good ones.

When the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the loathsome toads of the Westboro Baptist Church in a suit about their protests at military funerals, I agreed with the court but added that I wished the WBC folks ill. Sort of post-modern Volatairean response: I disagree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it. And if someone drops a house on you all, I will not, by the way, mourn your passing.

Turns out that the vilesters were planning to picket the funeral of Marine Sergeant Jason Rogers down in Mississippi. The good Christian people of that town handled things rather well, I think. When one of the visitors alien invaders mouthed off at a gas station, he was set upon and beaten by a group of people he could not identity and for which event, strangely,  no witnesses could be found among the large crowd of bystanders. Gave him a chance to suffer for his faith. Kind of them.

Then the cars of the Kansas "church" people were oddly blocked in at their motel by a set of local pickup trucks, sans drivers. The police towing vehicle, it is said, was backed up with other tasks and could not get to the parking lot till, oh, after the funeral. "Be ye wise as serpents," said the Lord (Mt 10.16), "and innocent as doves."

A lot of good things have flowed from Good Friday. And some bad things, too. It seems right on this Good Friday to mark a moment when some of its bad turned to good. Let's hope for more.

HT to Kathy Shaidle

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Pedilavium






Holy Thursday is also called Maundy Thursday, from the Latin for "commandment", mandatum.  As an example of the "new commandment" to love one another, John's Gospel describes Jesus at the Last Supper, getting down and doing a servant or slave's job and washing the feet of the apostles.


It is an ancient part of the Holy Thursday liturgy, too. The priest, or bishop, even my Ex Cathedra colleague, the Bishop of Rome, does it. Having been on both sides of the rite, washer and washee, I can say that it is both intimate and moving.*

In England, the monarch used to do it. It later developed into a more elaborate alms-giving ritual. Despite their theological difference, both Mary Tudor and Elizabeth Tudor did it, giving money, food, and some of their own clothing to poor women as part of the ceremony. However, since the poor rarely cooperate with the fantasies of their benefactors, the rite was discontinued because the women started fighting over the gowns, bartering with each other for better ones and trying them on right in the church.

In some Protestant sects, it became a regular practice. You can wonder why it never became one of the sacraments.

When I have imagined a Christian ritual for same-sex unions, even for regular traditional marriage, it struck me as a powerful symbol of what the heart of life-long mating is about.

*I was once the victim of a reformed and renewed ceremony. The priest decided that it would be nice to add a blessing and a prayer for each person he washed. He prayed, extemporaneously of course, and at length, during and after the washing. Part of the power of the traditional rite is that while the choir and congregation sing, the priest kneels down on the floor and washes and dries the feet in silence. No talking. Part of his humility is that, for once, he shuts up. This very groovy priest was clearly intruding his ego into the service under the power of some sort of spiritual inflation. I wanted to take the foot he washed and kick him.

Privatio boni

Political philosopher John Kekes and economist Thomas Sowell both emphasize the importance of scarcity in human affairs. It is, apparently, a constant, and a powerfully determinative one.  Even in what has been the wealthiest society in history, the modern West, there is, in fact, never enough to go around. The current battles over the American budget, deficits and debts, show this. A virtually infinite set of desires chasing after a quite finite set of resources. Sowell trenchantly makes the point:
“The first rule of economics is scarcity: everyone cannot have enough of everything that they want. The first rule of politics is to disregard the first rule of economics.”
***

One of the deepest (of the many) illusions of progressives is that everyone can have enough...be it wealth or rights. Part of that narrative is that bad people are immorally hoarding more than their share of wealth, or power, or rights. And it is the role of good people to take it from them.

Of course, this is a game of infinite regress. As Kekes asks, if the "poor" of America have some kind of entitlement to a share in the riches of their fellow countrymen, with the government as the agent of redistribution, why don't the "poor" of other countries have the same entitlement to a share in the rights of their fellow earthlings? Including the American "poor"*, who, by global standards, are very well off indeed.

I ask the same kind of question to people who seem to think that Mexicans can just move into America and take up residence without permission and then expect to get benefits, etc. What if someone just moved into your house and did the same thing? It's really just an economy of scale difference; the principle is the same. Why should you get to own your own house if you can't own your own country?

Many high-minded people (aka idiots) seem to think that ideas like "the right to private property" is some kind of embarrassment. Of course they always have in mind other people who have more than they do. Reminds me of the definition of a promiscuous person: someone who has more sex than I do.
And yet when it comes to the female gender, ownership "of her own body" is an Unquestionable and Sacred Prime Directive From The Goddess. If you can't own property...and defend your stuff...(whether you do or not) then you have no dignity to stand on and your "freedom" is empty. The right to property is utterly humanistic, utterly basic.

*Sowell often makes an important point that public discourse, especially among the liberals, ignores. The "poor" are not a fixed group. If you follow individuals and even groups over time, you can see that their economic situation changes. A lot of the poor are young, starting out in low-paying jobs. As people get older, they usually get richer. Same for the rich; fortunes change and they are not always the same group.

An uncharitable thought

Yes, I know. Unthinkable for Ex Cathedra, normally the summa of charity.

And on Holy Thursday, too.

Here goes: One definite impression I have from reading the open comments section almost anywhere on the web is that a vast number of morons have computers.

Original sinning

If you take a primate and then give him a brain like ours, bad things are likely to result. Along with the good things.

I just got a flash message on my computer that there was an infection and the Windows Fast AntiVirus 2011 program started up. It started finding viruses all over my computer...which I knew was wrong, since I have two other programs that run scans each night.

Then one of my programs kicked in and told me that the AntiVirus program was itself a virus and it was shutting it down.

Clever, these apes. For good and ill.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wishful thinking

"Catholic visionary" Sister Joan Chittister OSB, a darling of the feminist wing, has a piece up at Huffington...where else?...on finding peace "in the monastery of the heart". She praises her Benedictine tradition, which she has turned into a mirroring vessel for her church politics. Her ramble includes this about "Benedictine peace":
It is not a lifestyle dominated by control and a plethora of rules. It is a lifestyle that foregoes violence on every level, for any reason.
I remind Sister Chister of the following:
If a brother is found stubborn or disobedient or proud or murmuring, or opposed to anything in the Holy Rule and a contemner of the commandments of his Superiors, let him be admonished by his Superiors once and again in secret, according to the command of our Lord (cf Mt 18:15-16). If he doth not amend let him be taken to task publicly before all. But if he doth not reform even then, and he understandeth what a penalty it is, let him be placed under excommunication; but if even then he remaineth obstinate let him undergo corporal punishment.

Rule of St Benedict, Chapter 23

But let the brother who is found guilty of a graver fault be excluded from both the table and the oratory. Let none of the brethren join his company or speak with him. Let him be alone at the work enjoined on him, persevering in penitential sorrow, mindful of the terrible sentence of the Apostle who saith, that "such a man is delivered over for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord" (1 Cor 5:5). Let him get his food alone in such quantity and at such a time as the Abbot shall deem fit; and let him not be blessed by anyone passing by, nor the food that is given him.

Rule of St Benedict, Chapter 25

Every age and understanding should have its proper discipline. Whenever, therefore, boys or immature youths or such as can not understand how grave a penalty excommunication is, are guilty of a serious fault, let them undergo severe fasting or be disciplined with corporal punishment, that they may be corrected.

 Rule of St Benedict, Chapter 30

Yeah, he was a regular hippy that Benedict. Sr Joan should change her visionary initials from OSB to BS.

Bell weather

Among US evangelicals, one Rob Bell has caused a storm by suggesting that Hell might one day be empty. In a related story:
Twenty-five percent of born-again Christians said all people are eventually saved or accepted by God. A similar proportion, 26 percent, said a person’s religion does not matter because all faiths teach the same lessons. And an even higher proportion, 40 percent, of born-again Christians said they believe Christians and Muslims worship the same God.
Boy, these people are confused about their own religion. If the whole fulcrum of this kind of stripped down Gospel is that "ye must be born again"...there really is very little room to wiggle.

IMHO, Christians and Muslims do not worship the same God. Even Christians and Mormons don't!
And if all faiths teach the same lessons, why are Buddhists not beheading people all the time? And most curiously, since Prots deny purgatory, etc...how does God "eventually" decide to save everybody?
What happens in the interim? Worshops? Volunteer service? Theological carbon credits?

One thing is true, though. In the words of American holy man Ron White, even if God can save everybody, he can't fix stupid.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sherlock & John

Just watched two episodes of the new 2010 BBC Sherlock.

I have long been a big fan of the Jeremy Brett version. He is the epitome of all the Holmes'. That series by Granada TV in the 80's. Perfect stuff.

Back in 1991-92, when the new life I moved to SF to start was falling apart, a four-year relationship dissolving unpleasantly before my eyes, watching that show was at least one time a week when I could forget it all and just enjoy being wholly in another place and time.

The new BBC version is decidedly contemporary both in time (right now) and feeling. Watson is a military doctor... but just back from Afghanistan^^, with some depression and bit of PTSD. Holmes is self-described as "a high-functioning sociopath", and possibly gay, to boot. The pace of the stories is very fast, jagged, manic. Our obsession with laptops and cellphones is prominent. The human relations involved seem more spare, even sporadic, and consequently the train of clues is emphasized and made more complex, dense and heady.



Re: supporting characters. LeStrade (Rupert Graves), rather than being the self-important fool, is a critical but strong supporter of Sherlock. Mrs. Hudson does the Mrs. Hudson thing, all the while proclaiming, "I am not your housemaid." One subplot snookered me. The character I thought was Moriarty turned out to be someone entirely different. Clever.

Benedict Cumberbatch (!) is no Jeremy Brett --how could he be, being so 21st century non-Victorian?-- but interesting. This is modern London --the city skyline figures frequently.

They are not "Holmes" and "Watson" to each other but "Sherlock" and "John". Once it becomes clear to Watson that his new roommate is playing for the other team, (a restaurant owner assumes they are on a date) a brisk and funny exchange makes it a playful non-issue between them. Except when Holmes introduces him as his "friend", --and people who know Holmes make the sexual assumption-- he always corrects it to "colleague." When Sherlock notices that a nurse who could be helpful in his investigation is flirting with him, he makes comments about her makeup and her hair, but it's clear that he is manipulating her rather than being really interested. Believable.

Although he is younger than the other Holmes', with a fine-featured pale porcelain face* utterly unwrinkled and thick curly hair, making him gay has, so far, blessedly not meant making him fey.

Holmes and Watson are a classic alpha/beta male pairing, but it would have to be a 21st century tweek to have a homosexual alpha with a heterosexual beta. What connects them is not sexual. Holmes' brain and action gives Watson someone to become a brother-in-arms to again, while Watson's practicality and connection to the world allows Holmes' to allow himself a bit of feeling and play, to finally have a friend.

One leads, the other follows, but the common male style gives the power differential an undramatic (non-erotic) friendliness, something you'd find hard to replicate in a male-female dyad like this. When men and women couples battle for power, they are representatives of vast trans-personal archetypal tribes, an immemorial "war between the sexes". But two males in the complementary alpha/beta structure are simply individual men within a common tribe; their shared and valued masculine identity makes their two-man hierarchy a form of bonding rather than bondage. And men usually have a much better sense of humor about each other than women have about either men or other women.

The autumn 2011 set of episodes will re-do A Scandal in Bohemia, House of the Baskervilles and Final Problem. Will be fascinating to see how they translate those into our time.

^^ As was the original character, who was wounded there as well.

*In an interview, Cumberbatch said that he went on a diet to allow his face to show more bone structure, to give Sherlock "an ethereal, intellectual" quality. 

I'm kinda embarrassed

but I find the impossibly handsome and terrifically built soap actor Shawn Christian


very attractive. He charmed the otherwise silly Tremors 3.

I guess it's the Jason Beghe thing.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Anniversary note

from Gaia.

A brief but very noticeable tremor moved through my third-floor wood-frame dwelling earlier this afternoon. It felt like a wave, moving quickly from north to south, but shaking everything, including me, sitting on a wicker chair at my dining table.

A friend reminded me later that the 1906 San Francisco quake happened on this very day, April 18th.

According to

A Notre Dame graduatess wrote a leftwing play.

"O Beautiful” also deals with suicide, date rape, gun rights, the founding fathers and, of course, abortion — in a subplot starting with the first scene, in which a pregnant teenager, Alice, seeks counsel from Jesus Christ, who wanders through the high school and characters’ homes without explanation. Jesus, rendered as sympathetic to everyone irrespective of their politics, reaches a provocative conclusion when Alice, who has been raped, asks where in the Bible he opposes abortion.
Alice: Did you ever say, “I’m Jesus, and I say that stupid girls who let guys talk them into going to the back seat of their cars have to have babies?” Did you say that ever?
Jesus: No.
Alice: All you talk about is, be nice to each other! You never said nobody’s allowed to have an abortion.
Jesus: No.
Alice: So can I? Can I? Can I?
Jesus: Honestly, I — I don’t really have an issue with it.*
*See comment for another version of this stunning piece of theatre and theology.

From the beginning, there has been something about Jesus which creates multiple and competing narratives. Four Gospels. According to.

The one that has such great currency, unsurprisingly, is the non-judgmental Jesus of the Simple Message of Love, Inc. "All you talk about is, be nice to each other!" Basically, as above, Jesus as Hippie. Jesus as Mr. Rogers with a Beard. Which I also read as Jesus as Mommy Disguised In A Male Body.

Funny, too, how everybody's Jesus seems to mirror them. From Constantine's "In Hoc Signo Vinces" Jesus to Thomas Jefferson's "Deist Jesus" to the "Egalitarian Inclusive Anti-Establishment Activists Jesus" so dear to contemporary liberals.

And it's totally BS. If you've ever read the original four "according to" authors.

I do not have my own Jesus, let's say the "Ex Cathedra" Jesus to oppose to them. Except to say this: there is something about Jesus himself that leads to this kind of fragmentation and multiplicity, something about him that provokes quite different and competing images. And, that pretty well all of the above images of  Jesus require ignoring or excluding massive amounts of text from the Gospels...to say nothing of Paul's letters, etc. (the earliest of which probably pre-date the first written Gospel text.)

The Jesus that I have the most respect for is --unsurprisingly-- the orthodox Jesus. Why? Because the prior commitments of the orthodox traditions require them to hold together, somehow, all the texts about him. They may not succeed very well sometimes, but they try, in principle.

There was a phrase common in theology in the middle part of the last century, "the Christ-event". Whatever its original intentions, it at least recognized that Christianity is more than a personality cult,  about a moral teacher and martyr, that the figure of Jesus was a part of a much larger narrative, a cosmic story that preceded him and to which he gave a new shape as it continued.

I often shake my head at my friend Bill, who is, at best, an agnostic, but who has a kind of humanist hero image of Jesus precisely as a moralist and a martyr. He says that he is a big fan of Jesus, but not of God. When I point out to him that God, precisely as the Father of Jesus, was the ruling obsession of Jesus' life and that his (Bill's) attitude puts him at total odds with Jesus, he just sorta looks at me.

But if you read the Gospel of Mark --or better yet, watch Alec Cowen's one-man play reciting it-- and then work your way through the Gospel of John...well, you might be a bit more forgiving of Bill. As I say, there seems to be something in Jesus which makes for these passionate and very different views of him.

Simple is the last thing he is.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Pissed off in OP minor

So Showtime's lurid soap opera The Borgias has a scene where Cardinal della Rovere meets Savonarola, the famous Florentine reformer. He was a Dominican. As below:



In the scene and thereafter in the show, he is dressed (as below) in some generic Hollywood idea of a generic friar, dark habit with a white cord.






It's like confusing a Marine with an Army infantryman. Any idiot could find out how he was dressed.

True

Came across an interview from Thomas Sowell back in 2008, about why he was voting for McCain instead of Obama.

"Because I prefer disaster to catastrophe."

Pretty much how I felt.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Pravda and Izvestia

In the SF Examiner, this story
A 45-year-old woman was robbed at knifepoint on a Muni bus  last week, the San Francisco Police Department said.
Three thugs in their late teens or early 20s surrounded the woman as the Muni bus reached Mission Street and Geneva Avenue at around 1:15 p.m. on April 5.
They “battered” the victim before robbing her. One of the thugs pressed a knife to her stomach, while another snatched her purse police said.
The suspects fled after the attack. They stole cash and a medical card, police said.
The woman suffered a bruise to her left arm, and also pain in her right arm. However, she refused medical attention, police said.
There have been no arrests, police said Tuesday morning.

So. The gender of the victim and her age are articulated. The gender of the "thugs" is assumed. How sexist! And their age is articulated. Nobody's race or ethnicity is allowed to be mentioned.

However, there are exceptions.


A San Francisco woman came home and found a burglar in her bedroom holding some of her clothing and prescription medication, Park Station police said.
The startled suspect chucked the items and fled the home in the unit block of Carmel Street just past 1 p.m. Wednesday.
No forced entry was found, police said.
The suspect was described as a white man in his early 50s, 5-foot, 6-inches tall, weighing 115 pounds. He had white hair and wore glasses and a dark jacket over blue jeans, police said.

I chanced upon

some Jungian websites today. People I used to know or know of. The internecine squabbles, the typical language, etc. And once again saw the hand-in-glovery of Jungian culture as it now is with the easy progressive nostrums of the EuroAmerican literate classes.

One of the strengths of Jung's approach to the psyche is the role he gives to the shadow. It means that he, at least, if not his disciples, was curious about the marginal and strange and primitive. A quote of his that I always liked, where, in 1912, he urged the budding psychologist
to put away his scholar’s gown, bid farewell to his study, and wander with human heart through the world. There, in the horrors of prisons, lunatic asylums and hospitals, in drab suburban pubs, in brothels and gambling-halls, in the salons of the elegant, the Stock Exchanges, Socialist meetings, churches, revivalist gatherings and ecstatic sects, through love and hate, through the experience of passion in every form in his own body, he would  reap richer stores of knowledge than text-books a foot thick could reveal to him, and he will know how to doctor the sick with real knowledge of the human soul.
Too often the Boomeronian Captivity kept them from listening "with human heart" to parts of the culture that their PC moralism told them was bad.

One of Jung's interests was in the symptom as an ambassador. It can be the spokesman of a process that might not seem connected, at first glance. Or an unsuccessful or costly attempt to solve a real problem. Jungians would look at the phenomenon of female cutting or anorexia not as personal craziness or flaw, but as an indicator of a problem with the situation of women in a patriarchal society. It fit the narrative of female victimization. But would they ever have investigated, say, white supremacist groups not as gangs of morally degraded evil men but as an indicator of a problem with the white race in a changing multicultural society?

Please.

Would it ever have occurred to then to be curious about their own very distinct age, class and ethnic demographic?

Reminds me of a strange relationship I had with one of the candidates at that Institute, a black man who wanted to start a friendship with me. Motivations murky, possibly somewhat sexual. But although he was an accomplished guy, he was, for example, a great fan of Marxoid mountebank Cornel West. When I explained that our values were pretty different and would likely be an obstacle to being friends, that I had become more conservative over the years, rather than asking why, he asked if it was a family tradition and that I was wanting to please my parents. Rather than being curious about the content or the reasons for my change of mind, --something you might expect from a friend--he was looking to diagnose me. Typical, alas.

I am aware

that my mood is low and so my responses to things are tinged with anhedonia and irritability. I learned a long time ago that if my darker moods were not susceptible to being jollied away, I could at least be aware that I was in one and should refrain from doing anything or making a decision about anything that flowed directly from.

I used to use the image of the centaur, the horse and rider, the horse in the barn, etc, to calibrate how possessed I was by my mood. (Of course, one is "possessed" by a very good mood, too, but somehow that doesn't seem as conducive to introspection.)  In centaur mode, I am my mood, identified with it as if it were simply "reality"; with horse and rider, it is carrying me along, but I know that we are two rather than one; standing next to the horse, in the barn, I am impinged by it, but not depending on it.

Nevertheless, respond I do.

So today I pretty much hate gay men.

Homophobia makes complete sense to me. A walk through the Castro and an hour at my moribund gym provided me with enough material for that.  There's a new store on the street, dedicated just to drag. I once would have found it humorous, now it's kinda disgusting . And then there's the usual issue of the queen voice and style: the intonation, the sibilance and tight-throatedness, the vocabulary and phrasing, the topics, the gestures.

Lemme outta here.

Evil and bad

I gave my friend Bill a copy of an interview with John Kekes, whose books on politics have given me a kind of a voice for my own conservative point of view. In it, Kekes asserts that both Christianity and the Enlightenment failed to take evil seriously.

Well, I could see his point about the Enlightenment. A lot of abstract universalizing about the human race when what they really had in mind were white European males. Too much rationality. But Christianity?

Then I realized that he was talking about Augustine, who came to the conclusion that evil could not have an independent existence of its own but was a kind of parasitic emptiness of the good. Jung also found the doctrine of privatio boni impossible to swallow; it wrecked his great friendship with Victor White.

In these days of so much liberal ascendancy, with its implicit assumption of the perfectability of man, it is almost refreshing to hear Christianity criticized for being insufficiently grim!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Good thing

I'm not a monk.

I developed tinnitus in my right ear several years ago. 24/7 high-pitched noise like the sound that old cathode ray TVs used to make. In the last year it has gotten louder.

A month or so ago, I developed what is probably stapedial muscle spasms in my left ear. This creates a set of sounds like muffled explosions or thumping, several times in fast succession. And I think perhaps I can feel the muscle do its thing.

Oops, there it went.

When they happen together, it's like having a dog whistle in one side and a distant fireworks explosion in the other.

I notice them most, of course, when there's no ambient noise. So I'm glad I'm not a monk.

Do as I say

I had dinner with B last night. Nice evening.

He told me that one of his colleagues at the large educational institution where he teaches had been sending encouraging emails around for something like a Hands Across The State event on Sunday to protest education cuts in the California budget. He saw her this week and she asked him if he were going.
He asked her if she were going. No, was the reply, she'd love to, but that would mean driving back into the city on a weekend.

There it is there.

Representin'

Photo credit to Jack Donovan

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I'm feeling Sardinian


...well, at least like Madre Caterina's last line here.

Manning up and down

Although I am not feeling that I represent the adult male of the species very well of late, two items on that issue:

Bookworm notes a J. Crew ad where a mother joyfully paints her young son's toenails pink. More mainstream genderfuck masquerading as enlightenment.

And when I tried to shift my big hats and lacey dresses comment to a more substantial discussion about masculinity and the priesthood, liturgy, Church, etc. I was roundly rebuffed. I was told that it was not about masculinity or femininity but about beauty in the service of God's glory and so gender was irrelevant. That since cultural norms varied, there could be no discussion. And I was also told that I had a problem with my own masculinity. And that they knew a bruiser cleric who wore lace and could knock me out.

The site in question supports the return of the old Latin liturgy and the re-sacralization of the reformed liturgy of Paul VI. It is virtually all male in its demographic. And there is a lot of discussion about the fine points of ceremonial, eg. the history of the folded chasuble. All of these guys would support an all-male priesthood. And one quality of the old liturgy is that there is really no role in it for women outside of singing in the choir.

But did they jump at the chance to reflect on that? Nope. In fact, the responses were just a religious version, in perfect parallel, of the standard gay responses to the question: what difference does it make anyway, we're all people; multiculturalism makes a single definition of manhood oppressive and impossible; ad hominem attacks on the gender security of the one who asks the question; and "I know a drag queen is more man that you are."

Different content, exactly the same structure.

Despite the strong orthodoxy of the site, I assume that a number of the participants are homosexual. And I suspect that many of them are aware that their interests are seen by their enemies as rather unbutch at best. Regardless of their orientations, etc. I found it telling and a bit sad that even these upholders of tradition were unwilling or unable to reflect on the question, sartorial and haberdashery questions aside.

Scary

My previous post on male escorts was done late last night and I didn't remember either the name of the documentary or the channel I saw it on. So I googled...and this is the first item that came up.


Turns out it's a Showtime series.

Reminds me of back when I was actively looking to date, etc. and had a profile on match.com. They sent me a notice that they had found someone who was a 95% match for me. When I clicked the link, guess who showed up?

Me.

Given how I have been feeling the last while, a 95% compatibility with myself seems highly optimistic.

S courts

A documentary on male escorts for women in Las Vegas. Four adult guys who work for an "agent"...

One of them, a boyishly handsome guy with a great body, is hired as a birthday present by a black couple in their late thirties. Hubby watches while his wife and the escort are doing all sorts of things. The woman is pretty verbal. Oooh baby. Oh fuck. Nasty. Nasty. Bone me, baby. Oh, happy birthday to me!

At one point the camera moves in and we see one of her tattoos, on her shoulder. It says:

"Praise the Lord."

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sacristy queens

That is a phrase for clerics with a fussily overdeveloped interest in the minutiae of liturgical appurtenances, etc. They may or may not be gay, but I never met any straight ones.

When I dared to comment at another site about my lack of appreciation for smokestack mitres and acres of lacey vestments, as I said, touchiness abounded. One comment in particular irked me, and my reply to it was erased by the moderator. I used no foul language. "Euro snobbery" was the worst  phrase I can remember writing. Oh, and maybe I used the word "doily".

Anyway, this is the little paragraph I found irksome. Apparently the writer found my thoughts equally so.=:
In Rome, among the Italian clergy at least, the whole idea of a discussion linking lace and moral turpitude is just laughable and so absurdly Anglo-Saxon. I was in an Italian seminary, and we were always taught that the depth and quality of lace on vestments should be graded according to the dignity of the wearer and the solemnity of the occasion. And I have always acted accordingly, even in the USA. Those who have a problem with it reveal more about themselves than about any real connection between vestments and the vested.
I learned a long time ago that people rarely listen to what you actually say or read what you actually write. I never implied "moral turpitude", just said it looked silly and unmanly to me. The response did remind me of American sacristy queens who became oh-so-Roman in Rome and did that kind of Euro snobbery thing..."just laughable and so absurdly Anglo-Saxon."

Laughability and absurdity is hardly unique to Anglo-Saxons...



I am reminded of Mrs. Elton's comment at the final wedding scene in Austen's Emma:  
I do not profess to be an expert in the field of fashion (though my friends say I have quite the eye) but I can tell you, there is a shocking lack of satin!

Natura naturans

Nature naturing, nature doing with nature does.

One of my problems with liberalism is that it has a particular kind of hatred for human nature. Now human nature is ambiguous at best, so I am not complaining from the viewpoint of a happy Unitarian or other somesuch. As Neibuhr said, original sin is what allows men to imagine their own perfection and what makes it impossible for them to achieve.

I am thinking of the hectoring schoolmarmish horror with which liberals often greet what I consider to be natural human responses. Take fear of strangers. It's very common. And there's good reason for it. But under the liberal regime it becomes "xenophobia." Because their very highminded morality imagines that strangers --the right kind of course-- should be welcomed, indeed, privileged, the natural response is condemned, pathologized, rendered practically unthinkable, unsayable.

If we extend this to race or ethnicity, the game is clear. But a game it is. Because, of course, if Hispanics or Blacks --or Somalis or Yemenis-- move into a mostly White neighborhood, unhappiness with the upsetting of the status quo is evil racist xenophobia. But if Whites move into a Black or Hispanic neighborhood, that's classist gentrification, etc.  As I say, it's a game.

So perhaps I should clarify. Liberals don't hate human nature, just the human nature of certain humans.
And that is what it's all about.

Sapphistry

HT to Mr. Freeze

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Puffed Up Puffins

The board of the US liberal nuns let us all know the following this year:
With hearts open to embrace the erupting cries
for freedom, dignity and wholeness,
together we courageously claim:
a compelling fidelity
to an authentic Gospel witness
for the sake of God's desire for the world.

I, for one, feel so much better.


More of this deathless prose here.

The War Between The States


began today 150 years ago, with the shelling of Fort Sumter by the forces of South Carolina. It is emblematic that the man in charge of the shelling and the commander of the fort were close: the Union commander had kept the Confederate commander at West Point for an extra year to help him train gunners because he was so talented at artillery.

In honor of listening to your enemies, I am actually watching PBS Newshour, with three academic historians being interviewed.

The poll discussed at the opening shows that close to a majority of Americans think our bloodiest war was about states' rights rather than slavery. The profs, speaking on behalf of "trained historians", all hold that it was about slavery. As I said recently, I am among the 9% who think that the two issues were inseparable.

IMHO, the combination of the resistance to expanding slavery into the new territories and the election of Lincoln sent a message to the South that they were being cornered and would soon be disempowered. So they bolted. 

It has been common, when Northerners say that the war was fought to free the slaves, for revisionists to assert that it was to save the Union. The implication is that there is no moral virtue involved, just self-interested assertion and preservation of a particular governmental structure.

The profs interpreted the poll to show that Americans don't want to face the moral pain of slavery which, they, the profs, of course boldly and sadly embrace. I guess the liberal double-prize is that the war was indeed fought over slavery, making it a moral issue, but the North deserves no credit for the blood and treasure it expended in fighting it.

There's no pleasing some people.

The boyz are at it again

The fraternal demon-hunters, Sam and Dean Winchester, on Supernatural:



Not the first time this has come up...

video

There's even a word for slash/fiction with these two: Wincest.

Un

motivated.

Firing synapses

I can't remember the full names of people I have known for years, but I can recite from memory this line from the Vulgate translation of Psalm 54:
Ecce elongavi fugiens et mansi in solitudine.
Expectabam eum qui salvum me fecit a pusillanimitate spiritus et a tempestate

Behold, I have fled far, a long way off, and I remained alone in the desert.
I was waiting from him who saved me from a soul-shrivelling spirit and the storm.

Still waiting.

Hypocrite lecteur, mon semblable, mon frere

I fell asleep on the couch, with the TV on. I woke up and there was this stupid movie on, with a whole set of interlocking couples messing things up. I thought, God, how dumb. Then I looked and I saw...me.

The day begins.


After I made coffee, I switch the channel and there was the old X-Files episode, Darkness Falls. With my old heart (and other anatomical areas) throb, Jason Beghe.


Saw some clips of his old series, To Have & To Hold. I woulda treated you waaay better than her, Jay. Never knew what you saw in her.*

The sun is out.

*PS. The character she played was a classic feminist bitch: ball-breaking "equal" district attorney who falls apart into the hysterical emotional little girl when it suits her and god help you if you don't play along with whatever role she's in at the moment.  Jason, dude. Run for your life.

Monday, April 11, 2011

It's petty, I know

So out of character for me...but I got a voicemail today from someone who called, twice. From Seattle. After listening to my greeting, which very clearly states who I am, this person left a message for "Vic".
Who I am not.

Distraction

I am apparently not the only man, gay or straight, who has a thing for Mike Rowe.

I found myself looking at some old videos of him on QVC --don't ask. Dude was about 30 and looking very fine in his early 90's suit and tie.




After another collage video of his various Dirty Job exploits, these were the comments below:

I wish

that I did not notice or care about a lot of the things I notice or care about. My noticing or caring about them seems not to have made one iota of difference to anyone but me. I certainly am not happier because of it.

Yesterday morning I got upset, uselessly but really, by a headline I saw. About something I could not possibly affect. Wasted time.

One of B's great gifts is that he hardly ever gets upset, really, about anything. Outside of slow American baristas and me not talking to him, I find it hard to think of anything which really irritates him much. For that, and for many other things, I have envied him.

Some wag wrote an article or book a while ago called Amusing Ourselves To Death. I sometimes think if I am just Irritating Myself To Death.

Evil

The series Why Does Evil Exist? is mostly about human evil in the context of the world. But it really downplays natural evil --plagues, famines, earthquakes, birth defects...hey, even death itself-- in favor of moral evil: intentional action by intelligent beings.

If the evolutionary narrative is true, that our species evolved from earlier or older species, all of whom have to eat other species in order to live and have to compete for procreation, then the question becomes how to account for good!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Choices

If Bill comes over tonight, we may continue watching the professorial series on evil.
If not, I may watch the ecclesiastical series on evil.
Nicer clothes.

Monday morning.

Well, it was Bill and the Professor. Original Sin in Paul, then theodicy in Irenaeus and Augustine.

Turns out that Reinhold Niebuhr agrees with me that Original Sin is the only Christian doctrine that requires no faith to believe in, only observation. He also noted that "Original sin is that thing about man which makes him capable of conceiving of his own perfection and incapable of achieving it."

Niebuhr's concept of irony referred to situations in which "the consequences of an act are diametrically opposed to the original intention,"
Niebuhr's great foe was idealism. American idealism, he believed, comes in two forms: the idealism of the antiwar noninterventionists, who are embarrassed by power, and the idealism of pro-war imperialists, who disguise power as virtue. He said the non-interventionists, without mentioning Harry Emerson Fosdick by name, seek to preserve the purity of their souls, either by denouncing military actions or by demanding that every action taken be unequivocally virtuous. They exaggerate the sins committed by their own country, excuse the malevolence of its enemies, and, as later polemicists have put it, inevitably blame America first. This is all just a pious way of refusing to face real problems, Niebuhr argued.

Moron

My blog address usmalesf is one I chose because some moron already took excathedra in 2003 and never even made a single blog entry.

Friar Ozymandias

Aging priest uses sermon at his Jubilee celebration to whine and praise himself. for believing that a momentary utopian glitch was going to overturn the shape of human history.

Wilde

 
Oscar once described foxhunting as "the unspeakable in pursuit of the inedible." 

Insecticide

I gave the wasps a lot of chances, but they just did not get the message. Started building another nest right above my back door. So...crunch.

No more wasps.

The classic

gay man: great body, body modifications in ink and saline, open relationship, costumes range from leather bottom to urban sophisticate, own pool, gym and dungeon, house decor (on Fire Island!) by Liberace. All he lacks are pictures of his dogs.

Exceptional

I'm in favor of a lot of traditional things, but not everything old is thereby good. 


Yikes. Reminds me of the ecclesiastical fashion show in Fellini's Roma. Or some alien insect life-form.

UPDATE. I commented on this, in a politer way, at the site where I found the picture. Lacey albs and stovepipe hats. A firestorm ensued. I was called homophobic. (Moi.) When I opined that the deeper issue might be masculinity and worship in the Catholic priesthood, I was consistently told that holiness and beauty had nothing to do with gender...and this on a site where a male-only priesthood is unquestioned. Funny. One guy called for people like me to be banned and said he knew some lace-wearing priests who could deck me. Touchy boyz.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Eclectic


Quite the opposite of this rendition of the Ark, but still built on that image. A niche that has something of the flavor of a Muslim mihrab, which you also find, unsurprisingly, in old pre-Romanesque churches in Spain,


 


where Muslims invaded and receded over eight centuries til Isabel and Ferdinand finally drove them back to Africa in 1492. And a Catholic tabernacle for the Eucharist in the shape of a minimalist Ark of the Covenant, poles included.

Ye olde curiositie shoppes

Got curious about the current state of the parish outside Toronto where I used to live and work, from the late seventies to mid-eighties. Found a site by a guy who decided to make a pilgrimage to each of the Catholic churches in that town. The old church was there, renovated since I left. I never liked the building much. It had a fifties-modern feel to it, a long A-frame with cheap abstract pastel windows. Not much soul. The latest edition turned all the colored windows to clear glass and gave them a slightly Frank Lloyd Wright feel. Not awful. But the sanctuary looks like a cluttered, ecclesiastical junk sale.

As do the sanctuaries of most of the churches this guy lists. Awful clutter and cheap art, plants and stupid banners and hangings. Catholic bad taste, long famous, continues unabated.


 The current disaster



Another area parish that looks somewhat how my old church used to look.







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