Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Disoriented again

Tuesday afternoon....I think.

I have been time-disoriented all day.


I skipped the gym yesterday, stayed home...
and today I have had temporal vertigo.
It could be 2.30 pm, it could be 9 am.

I keep being surprised by the clock.


___

Elephants in the culture

Guess which common denominator goes absolutely un-not-no-way-no-how mentioned in every one of these print articles , but which is "suggested" from the photos?


 (Sorta like all those generic  "terrorists"  and European "youths" who come from The Religion Which May Not Be Named...)

"Beer summit", anyone?





______________________

And people wonder why

a church like this is hemorrhaging members?


Here's part of this inspiring prayer...

We celebrate and give thanks for the life and witness of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Who proclaimed a vision of all people living together,
And bore witness to the power of nonviolence,
We gather, to remember his words, his commitment, his life
And to rededicate ourselves to addressing the evil of gun violence which claimed his life
and which continues to plague our country and the world.

Some 30,000 Americans die by guns each year in the United States. And we grieve.
An average of eighty people is killed by guns every day, including eight children. And our hearts break.
Guns kill some 1,000 people each day in the developing world. And we mourn.
An American child is twelve times more likely to die by a gun than are the children who live in all twenty-five industrialized nations combined. And we weep.
The annual economic cost of gun violence in America is estimated to at least $100 billion. Medical costs, decimated families, the court system, our jails and prisons, and security measures in airports, schools, and public buildings all contribute to this sum.
And sorrow sweeps over us.

Sweet Mother of God!* What pompous, self-congratulatory, ego-stroking, bullshit.

*(That's not part of the Presbyterian litany. That's my atavistic Catholic response to this...stuff.)

Monday, May 30, 2011

Well put, Ms. Coulter

The French Revolution -- which hardly deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as the American Revolution! -- was a protracted mob action, which mostly consisted of some French people mindlessly beheading other French people.

LOL!

(Remember: "No blood for cheese!")

Well put, Mr Burke

Edmund Burke (1729-1797) on Unintended Consequences

The science of constructing a commonwealth, or renovating it, or reforming it, is, like every other experimental science, not to be taught à priori. Nor is it a short experience that can instruct us in that practical science; because the real effects of moral causes are not always immediate; but that which in the first instance is prejudicial may be excellent in its remoter operation; and its excellence may arise even from the ill effects it produces in the beginning.

The reverse also happens; and very plausible schemes, with very pleasing commencements, have often shameful and lamentable conclusions. In states there are often some obscure and almost latent causes, things which appear at first view of little moment, on which a very great part of its prosperity or adversity may most essentially depend.

The science of government being therefore so practical in itself, and intended for such practical purposes, a matter which requires experience, and even more experience than any person can gain in his whole life, however sagacious and observing he may be, it is with infinite caution that any man ought to venture upon pulling down an edifice which has answered in any tolerable degree for ages the common purposes of society, or on building it up again, without having models and patterns of approved utility before his eyes.

(Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France, ed. L. G. Mitchell [New York: Oxford University Press, 1993], 61 [first published in 1790])

HT to KBJackson

The uses of the saints


US Memorial Day, May 30 this year, is also the feast of St. Joan of Arc. On a Catholic blog (boldings mine), this:
Today – which in the U.S. this year happens to be Memorial Day – is also the anniversary of the death of St. Joan of Arc, who was burnt at the stake on May 30th in 1431.  Probably not even twenty years old when she died, she continues to live in the popular imagination as a warrior, dressed in military armor, riding into battle.  Joan thus seems to embody something quite different from what traditional images of femininity suggest.  She was listening to higher, “inner voices,” as she herself described them.  And in that she displayed, powerfully, how God’s calling can function as a profound challenge to established gender identities and their cultural codes.  Holy lives, in other words, also embody their own profound challenges to the living of gendered identity.  Thank you, Saint Joan of Arc, for the witness of your own, short life, on this, your memorial day.
The author of this blurb is
Professor of Liturgical Studies at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music and Yale Divinity School. She has written extensively on liturgy and women’s lives; and her 2005 book "Fragments of Real Presence: Liturgical Traditions in Women's Hands" has just been translated into Japanese. In 2008, Teresa Berger produced (with MysticWaters Media) an interactive CD-ROM called Ocean Psalms, featuring meditations, prayers, songs, and blessings, all focused on the sea. Her newest book, "Gender Differences and the Making of Liturgical History" is being released by Ashgate (summer 2011).
My comment:
Certainly one of the very strangest of the saints. If she can be seen nowadays as some kind of patron(ess) for challenging gender roles, she might just as well also be seen as a heavenly advocate for using violent intraChristian military means to consolidate emerging nation-states and their ethnic identities.

Patroness of European Wars?

Discerning what Providence had in mind by using her to solidify the throne of Charles VII is certainly beyond my pay grade.

The Key to PeeCee

I have discovered the philosophical foundation of PC NewSpeak, that set of periphrastic phrases we are now supposed to use to replace words and phrases that we used prior to The Great Liberal Enlightenment, back in the awful years of racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism, jingoism, looksism, xenophobia, Eurocentrism and Islamophobia, aka, human history prior to the last ten minutes.


“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”
“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master-- that’s all.”

“The question is, which is to be master-- that’s all.”

Memorial Day


Arlington National Cemetery, outside Washington DC.

I chose this picture because it contains  the house around which the cemetery grew up. Arlington.
The home of Robert E. Lee.

When the Civil War started, Lee threw his lot with his home state Virginia. As the war dead began to need burial, the Union pointedly decided to inter them in Lee's front yard so that he would never be able to live there again.

It was a bitter war, as all civil wars must be.

Which makes the event that ended it all the more remarkable. In April 1865, when Lee saw that Grant's forces were simply too massive to overcome, he arranged to surrender the Army of Northern Virginia. At Grant's request, he chose the place: the home of Wilmer McLean. Ironically, McLean had moved to Appomattox for safety after the first battle of Manassas took place in his front yard.

The conduct of these two men was both extraordinary and --this is my point in this post today-- rooted in the noblest traditions of soldiering. Despite the years of carnage between them, Grant treated Lee with deference and respect (they were both West Point graduates) and his terms were astonishingly generous: that the Confederates agree to lay down their arms and return home. That's all. When Lee was leaving Appomattox, Grant tipped his hat to him.

Having lost his war, Lee was adamant against any guerrilla resistance and sought to lead others to return to life in the Union. Some time later, at St Pauls Episcopal Church in Arlington, a black man shocked the Sunday congregation into immobility by approaching the communion rail. It was Lee who first came forward to receive the sacrament.


Both of these men, Grant and Lee, very different in temperament and background, understood duty and they understood honor. War, which brings out the worst in men, can also bring out their best.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Game of Thrones

In this swords-and-intrigue HBO epic, one certainly not written by JRR Tolkien, there's a character who, physically, reminds me of me. Might be true, might not. One's self-image is perhaps the least reliable. He's Petyr Baelish, a whoremaster...

Sunday morning

Sunshine in the kitchen, open windows, strong hot coffee, almond torta, quiet neighborhood. Nice.

Sic transit gloria mundi, continued


Actor Alec Baldwin has not aged well. Age 53. Especially considering his previous incarnations, say, twenty years ago.


On the other hand, some guys, of my acquaintance, have greatly improved with age.

Improperganda

One of my peeves is the casting of The White Guy as the chump in commercials, in contrast to the white female, or the white female and the kids, or to the black guy or other POCs.

So now we have a stupid white dude doing a flash mob dance in Grand Central Station all by himself because he got the wrong text message...a white woman and a black man stare condescendingly at him.

And just now...get this..on a bus, a white guy is talking loudly and boorishly on his cell phone while a quite and well behaved black guy must endure it. Are you kidding me? Have you ridden buses lately?

The list is long. Under the rubric of being cooly against racism or sexism, what we have is a TV commercial culture that plays to the false ego images of females and blacks...with other POCs in line for their turn. What may have begun as a stupidly well-intentioned desire to show open-mindedness has now become practically an unbreakable rule of self-destruction.

Plus, it's just lying.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Why let a good rant go to waste?

I copied this from the FB page where I dumped it.


It's in response to the Canadian parents who have decided to raise a genderless child. And a comment that this undermines the LGBT claim of inborn sexual identity.

At this point in Western history, "undermining stereotypes and questioning definitions of masculine and feminine" is the LAST thing we need. Feminism has so masculinized women and feminized men that a good dose of opposite sex sanity would only be a plus.

Were I an agent of the State in the Child Protective Services, in a less deranged culture, I would remove the child from these abusive ideologues, who, in the name of some moronic narcissism, seek to deprive the child of his or her identity. To me it is vile. Would you have wanted to be so raised? What image of yourself in your parents' eyes could you embrace?

The "LGBT" "community's" theory of gender formation and identity is a muddle. On the one hand it is wholly in thrall to post-modern queer theory,which reduces all gender to socially constructed performances. On the other hand, it asserts that sexual orientation is inborn. And for the T part of the whole mess, that gender identity is even more deeply inborn than the chromosomal and sexual shape of the body.

The inclusion of the T in the LGB acronymn makes it uninhabitable for me. LGB can be held together on the basis of a shared erotic attraction to the same sex. But when you add the T, then you find the common ground not in desire but in gender identity. LGBT thus means non-conforming to gender identity and behavior norms. 


It embraces as ideology one of the deepest shaming wounds that gay men, at least, have to endure: the judgment that you are less than a man, not really a man at all, but some kind of feminine freak.

Granted that sex with someone of your own sex breaks the gender behavior norms, but at least in my own case, I might be considered as a transgressive man --held by many to be thereby not really a man-- but for myself, to imagine myself as a female is literally unthinkable for me.

Inherent to the concept of manhood is hierarchy and rank. So manhood always comes in degrees. Being homosexual may place me archetypally lower in the male ranking system, but it does not, IMHO, expel me from it into some feminoid or transgender hell.


What was novel about the "gay" form of homosexuality, different from any preceding form --age-graded, initiatory, situational, or transvestic-- was that it asserted that males who engaged with each other erotically, regardless of "position" likewise asserted their claim to identity as men. That's the only "gayness" that I am interested in.


And since I am on a rant n roll...it is a symptom of deep societal rot when the pathologically selfish conceit of these parents is given any kind of sympathy at all...when, if they had announced that they would raise their child without race, the whole world would have laughed at them. We live in a madhouse where race is simultaneously considered to be nothing more than than the color of one's skin and therefore no grounds at all for so-called "discrimination" but on the other hand is felt to be so deeply constitutive of identity that becoming a "transracial" as we now have "transgenders" would be seen as insane and ineffably offensive.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Global reach

I installed a new app yesterday, that globe thing in the left column. It tells you wherefrom people are hitting your site. Only shows the place name while the connection is live; afterwards it leaves a red dot on the globe. So in about 36 hours...200 or so hits, as follows:


North America: USA (vast majority), Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico. The Old World: Western, Northern and Eastern Europe...no Rome hits...apparently Benedict XVI can't handle the competition...plus Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia and (I think) one of the coastal emirates.



For South America, Brazil and Argentina. For Asia: India, Vietnam, Phillipines and Korea.

Pretty amazing, really.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

They're young

but I recognize the moment.

What it looks like...


and what it feels like:

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

No genderlessness here



A wrestler. 6 foot 4. 27 years old.
Trapped in the binary gender regime...:)
(wish I were trapped with him)

A recent theme?
the terrifically handsome, built and sexy
Ginger Man:
here, here and here

Kids' rights, kids' rites

Side by side in the Letters section of the SF Chronicle: a man decrying the ballot issue of banning male circumcision in San Francisco. on grounds of State invasion of the family and the effective banning of Judaism and Islam in the city. Another man proclaiming the right of children not to be mutilated by their parents without consent and the rightness of the State in enforcing that. The first guy is the Catholic Archbishop of SF. I don't care who the second guy is, but he's a symptom. Here:
Thanks for covering the proposed circumcision ban, but I would like to propose different language for your current opinion poll.
"Should government allow parents the right to remove functional tissue from their children when there is no immediate medical need?"
A. No, it violates the rights of the individual child.
B. Yes, the parents' religion might demand human sacrifice.
C. Yes, children have no rights, not even to their own body parts.

Another symptom, two Canadian --wouldn't ya know it--parents have decided to raise their third child without gender, calling him/her Storm and withholding the knowledge of his/her gender even from grandparents.

What do you say to people like this? Even arguing with them feels demeaning, like trying to have a rational discussion with a Marxist or a schizophrenic.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Am I wrong?

When Muslims blow up people, places and things, we are constantly treated to the endless use of the words "alleged." And furrowed-brows of the MSM agonizing over what could have possibly driven this young man to such extremes. But when a powerful European male is accused of a sexual assault against a woman, --far harder to prove than a bomb in your SUV--most of the media treats him as, ipso facto, a guilty scoundrel. And it's clearly because he's powerful, privileged, wealthy, or French or male.

And people wonder why I think the West is in a suicidal decline?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

He's 21 now

So it's ok. Although a fan of Harry Potter in the movies, I only admit to one previous moment where my interest in him became at all prurient. The scene in the hot tub in Goblet of Fire. Mea culpa.





This time, as above, he's got all his clothes on. That's part of it. Looked both youthful and grown-up, dressed for Bill and Fleurs' wedding. Jacket, vest, shirt open at the neck but with tie, all dark. Sorta grown up. It was a fleeting moment.  But it was there.




Update, Sept 2012



In The Woman In Black.
He fits well into
the 19th century style.


PS. Although I enjoy Daniel Radcliffe's acting, it does not translate into his non-acting. Having seen him interviewed a few times, I find him too nervous and eager to please. But, hell, he's very young and at the center of wildly stressful, even if positive, attention.
--

Silly

I know I am being judgmental and lacking in empathy, but I find a lot of the foot-stamping of the Boomer religious types pretty silly. One blog I have been looking at recently, Pray Tell, is mostly full of Sixties-loving liberals who view the change in the English of the liturgy as some kind of apocalypse and are constantly whining about the Pope and the bishops. A recent exchange there led me to suggest, in a gingerly way, that they might be much happier and at home in another church, one which has, in all significant respects, conformed itself to their agenda: the USA Episcopal Church.

It is non-dogmatic and theologically open-minded --to put it mildly--, has a sacramental liturgy with dignified language in a wide variety of styles, has married, female and gay clergy, popularly elected bishops, decentralized and shared power, easy with contraception and divorce...what is there of significance that it lacks? Is there any part of current Western liberal culture and world-view that it resists? (If you are an Episcopal priestess and you convert to Islam, they give you a whole year to work it out before they defrock you.) So either a. leave cranky old Rome and join ECUSA or b. say clearly that We Want Benedict XVI to be like Jefferts Schori.

Reminded me of once-controversial Matthew Fox*, a firebrand uberprogressive iconic liberal Catholic and Dominican priest who finally ran aground and became Episcopal in 1994...and immediately ceased to be interesting. Once he lost his Roman sparring partner...zzzzz. Went from David vs Goliath to David vs. Bishop Pike.  Fox nailed 95 New Theses to the door of the church in Wittenburg in 2005, Luther-like. Lots of them are about, guess what? Rome. He did it again this April. In Rome. He is still obsessed with Ratzinger! I guess if your real agenda is oppositional-defiance, you can't really get much of a hardon by attacking Episcopals. What's to attack?


*As a Dominican student brother in Iowa one summer, I was part of a group of about a dozen young friars treated to a session of teaching with Fox. Very bizarre disconnect between his words and everything else about him. He gave his piece on the opposition between male hierarchical thinking (Climbing Jacob's Ladder) and female inclusive thinking (Dancing Sarah's Circle). For the full hour or more that he talked, he looked at the floor. Mr. Egalitarian Joy did not once, not once, raise his head and look us in the face. He had such as cold, angry and leaden feeling...I realize now, even when I see him on video, sort of smiling, that he is profoundly, profoundly depressed. Maybe because he never had the guts to come out. Pathetic.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Predictable

The irritable and fulsome Rev Joseph O'Leary opens his meditation "Rethinking the Eucharist" with these words:
Our Eucharistic thinking and practice has suffered greatly from tendencies to essentialism and reification that have occluded the creative significance of the Last Supper. 
My response? I started laughing. "Hey, Jesus, be careful. Someday your disciples will occlude the creative significance of your Last Supper!" 


Why predictable? Further down, we are amazed to find that it might be much more artistic to consider the "blood" in the chalice not as the essentialistically reified Christ's but as the pluralistically metaphorical blood of the victims of the Iraq war or the Latin American martyrs...both groups slaughtered by the hated USA.


I'm still laughing.

The liberal script in three actors

Described by a man far to the right even of me!

Why, for example, when a white American Protestant pastor burns a Koran and Afghan Muslims kill UN staff because of it, the moral fault lies with the Floridian reverend. Or why toads like "Rev" Jesse Jackson, "Minister" Louis Farrakhan or "Rev" Al Sharpton continue to find a public voice while people like David Duke are silenced into marginality.

...the liberal order articulates the world through a “script” in which there are three characters: the white liberal, who embodies the non-discriminatory virtue of the liberal regime; the white non-liberal, who discriminates against nonwhites and who must be crushed by the white liberal; and the nonwhite/non-Westerner, who either is discriminated against by the white non-liberal or is non-discriminatorily included by the white liberal.
In the script, furthermore, only the white liberal and the white non-liberal are moral actors, with the first representing good and the second representing evil. The nonwhite/non-Westerner is not a moral actor, but is simply the passive recipient of the white liberal’s goodness or of the white non-liberal’s bigotry. The reason that the nonwhite/non-Westerner cannot be a moral actor is that his very function in the script is to be the recipient of either good non-discrimination or evil discrimination. If he were a moral actor, then his own actions would have to be judged; specifically, his bad actions would have to be judged.

But to judge his bad actions would be to discriminate against him. And since the central purpose of liberalism is to eliminate all discriminatory treatment of nonwhites/non-Westerners, moral judgement of nonwhites/non-Westerners must also be eliminated. Therefore nonwhites/non-Westerners cannot be seen as responsible moral actors.

QED. The real battle as imagined here is local: between the liberal and the non-liberal: the nonWhite and nonWesterner is simply the means. As such, it is the script of the liberal that effectively de-humanizes and sub-humanizes the supposed object of his care and concern.

While the Whites kill each other off, so to speak, in internecine war, guess to whom the future advantage goes?

Western guilt

Groundless and overwhelming.

An excellent review of an article which says more clearly and eloquently what I have been saying.

Western elites have liberated themselves from Christ and his God, and yet go around like the guiltiest of flagellants during the Black Death: liberalism, the ideology of Western suicide.



They hold themselves hostage to a set of moral ideals derived from a religion they reject and despise. No wonder they strike me, increasingly, as insane.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Jefferson was wrong

Or at least only somewhat right. In a way. Kinda.

All men are not created equal.

Or if they are, they don't grow up that way.


He has appeared here on XCathedra before...

NSFW

This video contains a clip of uberloathesome Michael Moore. You have been warned. Otherwise a charming and theologically robust contribution from Andrew Klavan on the death of UBL.



Andrew also explains multiculturalism: Multiculturalsim means that when people whose countries are hellholes come to live in your free, open and tolerant country, you can't ask them to leave behind the charming language, religion, culture and behaviors which turned their country into a hellhole in the first place.

I still find

that quality time spent up close and personal with a friendly adult male of my species...well, there's nothing like it.

Fecking right...or left

A fellow-thinker writes...

Watching the news this week I finally got the right word to describe President Obama: feckless. Obama the Feckless. This epithet has been a long time coming but I finally got the right word.

Throughout history, different epithets have distilled a leader's tenure in power. One thinks of Alexander the Great, William the Conqueror, Richard the Lionhearted, Louis XIV the "Sun King." There has also been Charles the Bald, Lorenzo the Magnificent, Edward the Confessor, Thatcher the "Iron Lady."

Obama will certainly go down as the first black American president, and this is how he will probably be remembered in the history books. But in terms of the actual significance of his leadership and what he substantively has done during his tenure, feckless -- which means "unable or unwilling to do anything," or "lacking the organization necessary to succeed" -- is the only apt word.


John Kennedy once observed that power either stabilizes or destabilizes a person. Power has destabilized President Obama.

As we approach 2012, we need to face the sad fact that Barack Obama is not up to the job. He is too young, too inexperienced, too out of his depth. Bill Clinton was right, Obama was a "fairy tale."

Obama the Feckless. One more bigoted right-winger gone over the edge?

Nope.

I have edited out the sections that would reveal the real perspective of the writer. Both he and I find Obama feckless, but the author is Jim Garrison, one of the gurus of "transformational" politics, aka, high-minded leftism. An ex-priest, Cold War peacenik and now global-warming catastrophist, as well as president of Matthew Fox founded "Wisdom University".  For him, the "first black American president's" "inability or unwillingness to get anything done", or his success-destroying "disorganization"* is about not carrying through the massive uberliberal "hope and change" agenda his worshippers awaited: turning rambunctious America into the European Union.

Well, his disorganized flailing around has done a lot of "transformational" damage, economic damage at home, interracial damage, and foreign policy damage. But evidently not enough for these "conscious" types.

Or, it seems, for Cornel West.

Small mercies.
______________________________

*Gee, linking his race and these flaws sounds like a coded form of racial stereotyping...maybe I should call David Gregory.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

to high heaven

As in, stinks.

A new TV series called Filthy Cities, tries to recreate the drek of past great metropolis.

Paris in the 18th century. 600,000 people inside a walled city of 8,000 acres, along with 20,000 horses. Unwashed people (washing was infrequent), rotting food, garbage, excrement. No toilets, no garbage collection. The Seine as sewer. Summer heat.

The palace of Versailles, out in the country, except for the Queen's quarters, had no bathrooms.

Fetid.

Unimaginable.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Hot / Not Hot

An online article in Psychology Today has created a furor and had to be taken down, kept alive only by online screen shots. Its content: studies show that Black men are considered by all races to be more attractive than other men.

This blatantly expressed assertion of racial superiority is shocking in this day and age.

But that isn't the reason the article is gone from view. The same studies also showed that Black women are considered to be less attractive than other women.

Oops.

The author, Japanese, asks why this outcome and hypothesizes that since Africans have higher levels of testosterone (for both genders) than other races, you have a lot of masculinity in the entire group, which is great for the men's attractiveness, but less appealing for the women.

 Michael Vick and Oprah Winfrey

Possibly connected with this testosterone level is that Blacks have the highest levels of self-regard about their physical attractiveness, both (attractive) males and (unattractive) females.

The banished article here.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Dividing line

It's pretty common for humans, men for sure, to divide other people's physicality into face and body. Given the strange condition called prosopagnosia, the inability to recognize faces, it's likely that it is a specialized brain function. In casual conversation about men, it's common to say that someone is both handsome and well-built. They are separable items.

My ex T had a name for guys with great body/not-great face, "accountant face". You'd run into guys whose work at the gym had developed their genetics quite impressively, but whose mugs were bland.

Take the guy in the previous post. A really fine physique. But, IMHO, his face (which I cropped, for privacy reasons*) does not match. It looks like it really ought to belong to someone else. He has a kind of gooey-eyed simpery quality, like Fox News anchor Shepard Smith**:




And of course there are guys who quite handsome, but who could use a bit of time at the gym.

For me, part of beauty is integrity. Not moral integrity, but a congruence of face and frame...and behavior.  Although I have the male capacity to objectify and to focus on a part rather than a whole, the really pleasing men are the ones who are all of one piece.

 _____________________

* Poor fella got dumped by his male partner after twenty-three years together. For a woman.

**Like Anderson Cooper, Smith is widely considered to be gay. The fact that he works for Fox sometimes provokes the tired rants of liberal queers. The mere existence of a media outlet, and a terrifically successful one at that, which does not parrot the usual MSM line outrages these free-thinking lovers of inclusivity and diversity. I do not like Smith. I dislike his face and his accent --the way he says "nyuuz" all the time, and that stupid "Around the World" jingle he does-- and his clothes, and he hardly strikes me as a conservative guy in his news presentation.

Lines

Monday, May 16, 2011

The West, the best and the rest

Further thoughts on race and culture in PC Land.





Heimdall, "The Whitest of the Gods", in Kenneth Branagh's Thor
The “color-blind casting” (i.e. deliberately putting non-Whites in White roles) that Branagh uses here and in his Shakespeare adaptations actually reinforces the institutional racism true leftists decry and movement conservatives defend (so long as they take care to note that there is no link between the culture and the people who created it). Classic Western texts and even bastardized pop culture based on Western traditions belong to everyone on Earth because they are the best that can be produced and echo universal themes, whereas non-Western religions, themes, and even pop culture are only relevant to their own peoples. Seeing the college brochure version of Asgard reminds us of the impossibility of a “color blind casting” for tales based on the likes of Baron Samedi. Filling a world based on ancient Western concepts of honor, duty, hierarchy, and tradition with random tokens is in a way a strange form of tribute.
Original article here.

Yeah, I wonder why Kurasawa didn't fill his samurai cinema with Swedes and Africans?

Reminds me of a conflict I once had with my ex T, a Black man. We went to see the Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre. They did his Revelations in the first part and after intermission, a piece from the classical Russian ballet Giselle. I made the "mistake" of opining that while the troupe did a wonderful job with the first piece, they looked odd doing the second. It was not a question of talent --and in any case I am no expert at all here-- but of match. Of course, he said I was being racist. When I replied that a bunch of Russians would look equally out of placing doing Revelations, his answer, was, "That's different."

As Dead White European Male Bill Shakespeare wrote, "Ay, there's the rub." I still think a Black troupe prancing around like Muscovy princesses is as silly as an all-Chicano film version of Jane Austen. But ballet is part of the Western high cultural tradition. Being excluded from it means not belonging. And every form of exclusion, to Blacks --and other victim groups, including wymyn--, is a mark of their inferiority and of the superiority of the Whites. Hence, no matter how silly the result, they would demand access.**

As Kirkpatrick says above, the cultural productions of the victim groups are theirs; if Whites try to participate, they are accused of "cultural appropriation". But the culture of the Western white men (I say men because men are hugely the creators of high culture) must be declared common property. One effect of this is that it dispossesses Whites of anything valuable and proper to them because that would be exclusionary discrimination. Whites are welcome, of course, to anything the New Order deems damaged or evil. In fact, these things are considered to be specially and uniquely ours. The price to be paid for achievement is erasure. The art is valued, but the people and culture that created it is demeaned. By their descendants.

With the growth of the transnational fantasy, cultural global citizenship, etc. we are asked to consider the quite particular cultural products of Africa, India*, Japan, etc. as our common inheritance, but in a quite particular form: unadulterated in the original, precisely in their ethnic and racial particularity, but accepted by us, as such, as equal to our Western canon. When it comes to Western art, however, it is a requirement for its acceptability that it be, like Woolworth's lunch counter, de-segregated, de-Whited. Otherwise, it would be unassimilable, oppressive and without excuse.

So while we must endure Whoopi Goldberg as a banshee***, Idris Elba as Heimdall (pic above) and Patricia Velasquez as the Norse giantess, don't wait around for the day when the Beijing Opera will be peopled with the daughters of Albion.

*There is an English version of the Mahabarata with a multi-racial and ethnic cast. But it was produced by very White Brit Peter Brooks. In Brooklyn.

** More than one person has suspected that the drive for gay marriage is not built on a desire of most gays to marry, but to break into an exclusionary institution that would have the effect of granting them societal approval, status and belonging; that it's not marriage but what marriage represents that is the prize. 

***Or Whoopi Goldberg at all. She was once, like Margaret Cho, a talented comedian but has devolved, like MC, into a bitter and predictable ideologue. 

Quarantine PC

Smart essay about how to lessen the PC religion in universities. Create a separate School of Oppression Studies and put all the rabid progressive faculty there. Siphon them off. A description of the programs includes this: "There will also be the usual student programs, things like “Junior Year in Newark” or internships with Mexican gangs in LA."

Junior Year in Newark!

Between two hard places


Part of my religious meanderings in cyberspace include visits to two blogs on the opposite sides of the Catholic ritual and cultural wars.

New Liturgical Movement, despite its title, is firmly anchored in the pre-Vatican II past. Pray Tell is full of attachment to the reformed liturgy and its attendant theological and practical changes. Some days you'd think that for the former, nothing good happened after 1965 and for the latter, nothing good before that.

The Pray Tellers largely work themselves into piques and knots and furies over the upcoming re-translation of the Mass into more formal, sacral and Latinish English. The NLMer's pine for the expansion of the old Latin rites. Pope Benedict's unlocking of this option in the last few years (and days) has made them as happy and hopeful as it has made their fellow Catholic opponents angry and depressed.

For each group, a quite different vision of Catholicism inhabits their ceremonies and that, I believe, is at the source of their differences. The old Latin phrase describes it: Lex orandi legem credendi statuat. Loosely, How you worship shapes what you believe. For the Pray Tellers, the liberal establishment, --ecumenical, feminist and volkishly lay--, with its magisterium of academics and liturgists, is really the only kind of Church they can tolerate. One fella in particular, a brilliant Irish Boomer priest who teaches literature in Japan (!), gives the voluble and bombastic impression that prior to Vatican II there was nothing but A Huge Mistake. God said, "Let John XXIII be, and all was light." On the other side of the transept, the younger men --hardly a female voice there-- of NLM, fans of "the reform of the reform", are passionately loyal to the papal magisterium and to the Tridentine rituals as containers of tradition, which always gets the the practically obsessive-compulsive benefit of the doubt.

There are still things I miss about the practicing Catholic life. Obviously, or I wouldn't be so interested. But the kind of battle these folks engage in is not one of them.

Between a rock and a soft place

In the SF Chronicle, the local newspaper, which blithely continues the genocide of trees, we have New Age schlockmeister Deepak Chopra (wonderfully mispronounced by Doris Roberts as "Deepshock Oprah") combatting the rationalist certitudes of atheist Christopher Hitchens.

Do I have to choose?

Comfort or virtue?

It's an Aristotelian slogan that virtue lies in the middle, between the extremes. Courage, for example, is found between the extremes of cowardice and foolhardiness. But it's not a mathematical middle. It's somewhere in between. A lot depends on the context. Hence, the cardinal virtues are courage, justice, moderation and prudence.

I overheard a conversation a while ago at my deceased gym. A twenty-something trainer, one of the finest pieces of eye candy my bifocal-wearing ocular globes have seen in a while, was chatting with his client about politics. He opined that it was a mistake to be either conservative or liberal, since neither side ever got what it wanted. That makes you unhappy. So he wanted to be in a comfortable place somewhere in the middle, where he would not be constantly dissatisfied. A handsome young Buddha in a leather jockstrap! (A pic is here, if scroll half way down, on the left.)

On the level of comfort and daily ease, I wish I could follow his advice, not notice or care about the situations that irk me, be content with things as they are, with people as they are, with me as I am. This is not a setup for me to proclaim that because I am not satisfied with how things are that I am therefore and for that reason virtuous. Even if I am right about the things that get to me, that does not translate into making me virtuous. Merely correctly dissatisfied.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Brookin' no more

I have sometimes written that within every victim lies a tyrant. I continue to see evidence of this archetypal enantiodromia.

Certainly the hate crime laws, absent a strongly held First Amendment, would lead to hate speech laws. And where they exist, how often are any of these victim-friendly constructs are ever applied equally? They target the formerly dominant oppressor classes. Are Muslims, Blacks, homosexuals or women ever tried under these vile regulations of the secular faith?

And the continuing devolution of gaydom into a spiteful freedom-hating cult, the very thing they rant on about "the religious Right.". If you oppose any of our causes du jour, you are an evil bigot.

Because a board member of the US Olympic committee (!) exercises his freedom to oppose gay marriage, he had to resign his post. Skating queen Johnny Weir was horrified at this disgraceful opinion.

And because a theologically conservative but socially left Christian magazine would not take an ad which, despite the disingenuous protests of its sponsors, accepts homosexuality as ethically fine, it is now being outcast from the flock (aka herd) of progressive Christianists. Lesbians moaned that without full acceptance, their work among the poor would be tainted by churchly tsk-tsking over their "loving and committed" relationships. Religious Left star Jim Wallis went from Defender of the Faith to Outcast of the Week in a heartbeat. "Diverse Beliefs. Shared Values."

As I, among others, have said, the religion of secular humanism and its progressive politics aims, like all dogmatic faiths, to humble and erase its predecessors, brooking no opposition. So much for speaking truth to power.

Broken clock

A phrase from theologian Stanley Hauerwas* that I can finally read without wincing. And funny, too.

“…Christians are required to love one another—even if they are married."

*As a pacifist, he is outside the circle of my sympathy and concern.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The sacred name

The one Western value no one can complain against, which everyone (who has a conscience) can agree to, to which everyone must bow.
Hollywood only has one story left.

From The King’s Speech, to Thor, to Avatar, we’re just seeing the same movie over and over again. Aristocracy, identity, pride, and hierarchy must be humbled in the sacred name of equality.
While conservatives bleat about the dangers of “moral relativism,” Hollywood reflects a moral absolutism so rigid and uncompromising that we know the White Hats and Black Hats, how a story will end, and What We Will All Learn barely after the movie begins. We don’t even need scriptwriters—provide the characters and the setting and in modern America, the story literally writes itself. Otherwise, it won’t even get made. The result is not just a poisonous culture, but boring movies.
James Kirkpatrick's review of Thor, HT to FB friend Odin Mannar.

Another kind of beauty


Noble simplicity. Hermit-monks of the Carthusian cloister of Marienau in Germany.

Friday, May 13, 2011

A hill with a view


My sister and her husband brought good weather with them. View of the city from Hawks Hill in the Marin Headlands.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

New research data

After reading through a few columns and comments, researchers have discovered the tripartite deep structure (to use Noam Chomsky's phrase) of the liberal brain. Liberals are famous for their psychological studies showing that liberals are better than conservatives. Here's why: the liberal brain is composed of these three areas and structures:

The Lawyer, The Schoolmarm and the Mommy.

Sometimes only one part is needed and functioning, other times two of them hook up and sometimes, if you're lucky, they all fire at once.

Really, how much better than that could you get?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Immoral equivalence

Bill O'Reilly had an argument with Juan Williams on Fox last night. Williams was playing the moral equivalence game beloved of Western liberals. "If we take on the ways of our enemies, how are we better than they are?"

The particular issue was the ethical difference between Al Qaeda torture techniques and American waterboarding. At one point, Williams burst out, "Torture is torture."

No, Juan, it's not.

Waterboarding simulates the experience of drowning. Very nasty. Scary. Stressful. But you don't drown. And when it's over, you have all your limbs and faculties. The worst result is PTSD. Is it torture? Sure.


But here's a choice, Juan: waterboarding, or having your eyes gouged out, or your tongue cut out, or a drill driven through your joints. Or all three. Loss of limbs and faculties is permanent. PTSD would be the least of your worries.


Saying "Torture is torture" is like saying, "Violence is violence". That would make an evening of Ultimate Fighting equivalent to a gang war. It is meaningless, except as an untruth.

The post-Christian state

Unlike Islam and Judaism, Christianity --like Buddhism--was not designed to be the foundation of a political order. The religions of Moses and Muhammad are based on Gods who specialize in the creation and promotion of legal codes for independent political communities. Buddhism is fundamentally a monastic religion, with householders as useful and necessary but second-tier members.

While Jesus preached the coming of the Kingdom of God, there is no evidence that he was at all interested in a religious state. Render unto Caesar, My kingdom is not of this world, etc. And if there is a form of Christianity that most matches the kind of life we see in his three-year career, I suspect it is more like the medieval mendicants than either Constantine's court or the monasteries of Benedict and Basil...or a parish church.  Christianity, although it is founded upon a unique Incarnation of God and man, is not really at home in this world, this planet earth we know.

The Christian state was an accident of history (or a work of Providence), but an overwhelming reality which long outlasted the initial three hundred year epoch of non-establishment. While Christianity did not start out as either a political or a monastic community, it eventually became both. And you can argue that the rise of monasticism in the 4th century Egyptian deserts was a clear response to the increased respectability of new imperial faith that had for its first three centuries been both largely urban and either marginal to or actively persecuted by its surrounding culture.

Since (rabbinic) Judaism and (Sunni) Islam are householder religions, they are somewhat egalitarian. Experts in religious law --the rabbinate and the ulama-- hold positions of leadership and authority, but these are based on knowledge of tradition, not on alternative lifestyle or sacramental powers. In these faiths, all believers are held to the same standard and same way of living, more or less.

Buddhism is a monastic faith; at its heart are communities of celibate monks, withdrawn from ordinary life. If there is a legal code in Buddhism, it consists in monastic rules. Laymen are held to a much less stringent standard. (Gnosticisms often, though not always, likewise provided a two-tiered community: the perfect and the listeners.) IMHO, this is based on the recognition that you cannot live monastic life and a family life at the same time, that if you withdraw from the world, someone else has to run it.

When Christians rather suddenly found themselves not persecuted by the State, but in charge of it...well, it became (and continues to be) a bimillenial and often very complex and messy tension. I say "continues to be". Despite the disappearance of the Christian State, Christians, having had their faith shaped for a thousand and a half years by political power, are in the habit of bringing their religious convictions to bear on the realm of Caesar. Even in the current West, where the liberal state has emancipated itself from the Church while living off a distorted version of its morality (along with messes of pottage from the Enlightenment and Marx), one which has rebounded back onto the Mater Ecclesia.

My FB friend ER asks a very good question: "How can you pretend to love Jesus and yet not (abolish the separation of religion and politics in order to) demand that the Western state, military and economics obey Jesus' Beatitudes?"

One of the oddities of the social justice Christians, all of whom support the secular state, is that they then expect that state to act like the Community of the Beatitudes. Or when it does its secular state thing, acting like Caesar --the killing of Osama being the current issue-- they tsk-tsk and point out their own high moral code prevents them from being pleased at its actions. And as others have pointed out, social justice Christians expect the state to adopt the social benevolence and pacifist aspects of the Gospel, but --with some exceptions-- they find any post-Christian state that tries to enforce the Gospel's sexual code on marriage or divorce oppressive, tyrrannical and dogmatic.

One of the strategies of Christendom, both in the complexities of Church/State and householder/monastic, was the clear separation of realms or distinctions within the Gospel such as the precepts vs the counsels. One of the benefits of the older, and traditional view, that the celibate monastic life was superior to the householder life in the world was that men and women living an ordinary life, either as shopkeepers or soldiers, were also not held to a higher moral standard. That seems to me to have been a fair and humane trade. The current crop of crypto-Constantinians*, who want to have their Bread and eat it, too, simply confuse supernatural holiness with natural survival.
If you want to practice what you imagine to be a pure, evangelical Christ-like life, then keep your nose out of the polis and stick to the skete. Because it is "only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf that these good people sleep in peace in their beds at night". Have at least a little gratitude, o ye saints.

In a world where Caesar has his necessary, even God-given, role (see Romans 13), these high-minded Christianists (!) who want a besieged Western civilization to act like monks or Mennonites are not worthy of respect. At least from me.

*The crazed idea of Protestant Dominianists like Rushdooney is, to me, beyond discussion.

And now for something completely different

It's got religion, but no angry Muslims. It's got sex, but everyone's keeping their clothes on.


A new novel of gay love in Amish country...

My strange ethical world

A German judge lodged a criminal complaint against Bosch PM Angela Merkel because she said that she was "glad" that OBL was dead. Since the judge judged the raid illegal under international law, Ms Merkel allegedly (!) expressed public approval of the commission of a crime, which in Alice-in Deutschland, is a crime.

He even had the gall to scold her response because her father is a Protestant minister.

I think that what Herr Hizzonor did is evil. I have no other word for it. Insane comes close, but because I am a non-typical therapist, I resist reducing evil to madness. Even if he conscientiously believes that he is acting ethically, his conscioius adherence to such an evil world-view holds him inexcusable.

I am bright fella, and when I am calm, I can construct a linear and well-constructed argument. If my blog entries are more like rants than essays, well, that's the point of it. So here's some scattershot thoughts.

The post-modern secular humanism that is now the official religion of Europe is a religion. Like Marxism, it is a faith masquerading as a rational philosophy. Impoverished though it be, it has its own revealed non-rational --actually ir-rational-- creed, a congruent moral code (including blasphemy laws), and its own pathetic but visible cultic forms, priesthood, holy days, etc.

Its secularism is not a separation of religion and state but triumph of the State as religion. Altar and Throne are one. And as intolerant, totalitarian and inquisitorial as its despised Christian antecedent ever was.

Despite its weird mirroring of Islam, they differ in many points, but one of them makes me respect Islam more. Islam is not suicidal, while the kind of statist superstition that Judge What's-his-Namen represents is really nothing more than a toxic soup of nihilism and narcissism. Islam, like it or not, endures. The soulless preening of the post-Christian Euros (and their coreligionists elsewhere in the West) is designed to self-destruct. Muslims are now specialists in suicide bombers, but the good burghers who adhere to the insane and/or evil religion of a dessicated Christendom are no less suicidally destrictive, only it is their own people they are blowing apart, not the enemy.

Two-thirds of Germans polled asserted that the death of Bin Laden was no reason to rejoice. Is this their pathologically reflexive and resentful anti-Americanism? Do they, too, think that killing someone --no soldier, but a stealth guerilla-- who masterminded a 21st century Pearl Harbor is less important that a highly disputable legal norm? Would they have cast the failed plot to explode Hitler an attempted illegal murder?

The result of the "liberation" of Europe from its turbulent past is stomach-turning corruption, made all the more revolting because it always masquerades as moral high-mindedness.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Old Dominicans

Blurb on a book called Building Bridges.
Thirty-seven Dominican theologians, women and men, reflect on their experiences of ‘doing theology’, of entering into the mystery of God and sharing this Good News with others. None of them could have produced what they did on their own … This publication reveals what is lost by not having more men and women doing theology together. In the form of testimonies, these writers dream about doing theology collaboratively, not in an exclusive or ideological way. (Bolding mine).

Contributors include Albert Nolan, Mary O’Driscoll, Gustavo Guti√©rrez, Mary Catherine Hilkert, Timothy Radcliffe.

It's hard to see the bubble you're in when you're in it. All these people are feminist/liberation theologians. No ideology here. Yeah, right. I mean, Left.

________________________

Although I left the Dominican Order long ago, belonging to it was a quite unique privilege in my life; I cannot remember feeling that belonged anywhere else so fully. I maintain, obviously, an interest in it as an "alumnus". When I left, it was because of the Church, not the Order, and I far more deeply grieved leaving the Order than the Church. I had come to believe, even back then, when I was a liberal, and certainly since then, that the egalitarian fads which led to considering this tripartite order, now 8 centuries old, as "the Dominican Family" was a mistake. And one of its worst results was the huge influence that the numerically far larger Third Order sisters --most of whom seem far more influenced by social justice ecofeminism than anything else--came to have on First Order friars, especially in America.

Monday morning quarterback

One of the pleasures of being an obscure and powerless blogger --despite benefitting from the enormous crime of sharing White Male Privilege (pbuh)-- is that I can mouth off without consequences. (At least in America. For now.) I realize that. I was chief administrator of a few non-profits for twenty years and I can tell you that it's easier to take heroic potshots from the floor than it is to make a decision from the desk, that affects everybody...and then some. So I am conscious of my freedom to let my cyberjaw flap.

That being said, on FB there was a posting about Mexican immigration and our bad response to it. Part of the linked text said, ‎"We watch these tragedies daily, and notice how many immigrants drown or die of exposure trying to get across. Do we have a solution?" 

A commentor replied: "I do, snipers and landmines. Problem solved."

I wonder if he's single.

It is, btw, a few days after Cinco de Mayo, the St Patrick's day of the Mexican Diaspora. I wonder if any Americans got in trouble for wearing our national flag to our schools...in our country. For now.

Scenes of family life

A friend had his parents over for dinner for Mother's Day; they are in their mid-80's. Turns out that mom had cut her hand and it was red and oozing. But she refused to have a doctor look at it, preferring her home remedy of neosporin, olive oil, a dishtowel and two rubber bands.

Really.

Dialogue over dinner, a kind of reverse replay
of the wedding at Cana:

Son: Mom, you really need to let the doctor
take a look at your hand.
Mom: Don't worry. It's nothing.
Son: C'mon, Mom. Go to the doctor.
It would make me happy.
Mom: That's not my job.

Happy Mother's Day!

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Imagine greater

That's the slogan for the SyFy channel, home of some of the worst movies since Plan 9 From Outer Space. So many of them are low-budget formulaic drek set in British Columbia's forests, with computer-generated monsters. (It's astonishing that, as with StarGate SG-1, most of the planets in the universe look like the Okanagan Valley.) There's usually a conflicted hero and a phallic castrating bitch girlfriend/rival.

Well it would be difficult to imagine a greater embarrassment than Almighty Thor. It must have cost maybe $100,000* to make. Instead of the extraterrestrial virgin greenery of Vancouver Island, we have the mean back streets of LA. Really. LA. Young Thor, a blond hulk of less than zero acting ability, --there were auditions, and other guys were worse than him?!--is fighting the evil Loki, Richard Grieco heavily made up to hide himself for shame. They fight over the Hammer of Fate or the Sword of Power or something (that thing made out of wood and aluminum foil below). Thor has to keep Loki from provoking Ragnarok. That's the Norse Armageddon, for you non-Scandinavians. The entire movie is conversations, arguments and fights outside in the back streets of the factory district of LA. Cheap sets. As for the script...
You must wait, my lord Thor. You are not ready.
No. I cannot. It is my destiny,
Please, my lord.
No. I must. Do you not trust me?
Above all gods. You are my king. But you must train further.
And the funniest thing besides Cody "Almighty Thor" Deal himself  (sort of a buff Luke Wilson with an unbroken nose)


is his female teacher, lover and inspiration, the giantess Jarnsaxa....played by aging skinny Venezuelan fashion model Patricia Velasquez,

 Norse Giantess Jarnsaxa

(former film bride of The Mummy and former real life girlfriend of Sarah Bernhard...the difference being?*), Spanish accent and all.

But hey, it's LA.

_________________________
*According to Wikipedia, it was 200k.

**OK, sorry. Even Ex Cathedra has his catty moments. But can you blame me? Really.

PS.  If this movie is a mockumentary, a TV rip-off, of Kenneth Branagh's Thor, apparently the same crap is to be found in the Hollywood big-budget version. SyFy crap faithful to Hollywood crap.

Fishers of men (Matthew 4:19)

A prominent Canadian bishop has plead guilty to possession of child pornography and is in jail*. After the sorry stories of priests acting badly with the underaged over the last decades, it's not surprising that people respond very strongly.
Speaking of the underaged, I say that I am grateful not to have been attracted to teenagers, much less children. A perusal of the male images on my blog gives you a sense of how oppositely inclined I am. I only admitted that I was a sexual being, really, in my late twenties. In fact, I have never had sex with a teenager...even, alas, when I was a teenager. I have had two romantic relationships with significantly younger men in my life: a sexual one with my ex, T, fifteen years my junior, but 30 at the time; and a non-sexual one with a straight man...yeah, I know...who was 11 years my junior, but in his early twenties. I did once connect with a man who turned out to be a few months shy of  21, but told me when I met him he was 24. So, no. No teenagers.


Anyhow, enough about me.
One of the themes that follows the sexual abuse phenomenon is that the Church should allow priests to marry and should ordain women. Righty that I am, I am not in favor. First of all, changing a millennial and bi-millennial structure, respectively, as a response to a recent scandal is not good policy. And aside from whatever arguments could be mustered in favor of doing these things, they would, especially in the current Western climate, just open the floodgates to more and more tinkering until...yes, my old saw...all you had left was Unitarianism in drag.

(Right now the local Catholic church, two blocks away, is ringing its bells for the 10 o'clock Mass. Nice sound. I remember my first Sunday morning in seminary in Rome, back in 1973, opening the window of my room to the pealing of all those ancient bells.)

My opposition to female priests is based on my sense that, despite the truth --oft bemoaned by feminists--that the priesthood and therefore the hierarchy of official power is male, the Christian Church, especially in its Catholic form, is highly feminized already and perhaps always has been. Contemporary experience with liberal Protestant and Jewish groups who ordain women shows that men, already a minority in the congregations there, flee in droves, creating hyperfeminized female (and gay male) ghettoes. What future is there in that?

A visibly gay-dominated priesthood is likewise a bad idea, and for the same reason**. Men will avoid it, both as parishioners and as priests. There is no status or honor in it.

As for married male priests...would that not actually help the too-feminine situation, by increasing the number of hetero clerics? I am not sure. Even contemporary Protestant denominations, who all have a married clergy, seem to demand  in their ministers a character structure that is heavily feminine. As I say, it may be a problem inherent in Christianity. Although Jesus, IMHO, always acted and spoke authoritatively, so that even his willing death was an exercise in courage, a lot of what he said, the Sermon on the Mount and suchlike, makes it sound as if his desire was for a community of very unmanly doormats and wimps. And the huge cultural change and financial and practical problems of a married priesthood would be far more disruptive and complex than people glibly imagine. Would it be worth it?

While I'm at it, one of the reasons I made my impious outburst at the parish years ago, was my realizing --with some help from that old pagan Jung--that following Jesus was not the same as copying Jesus. A central difference between any of us and Him is that once he began his ministry, he was never anyone's equal. A lot of the claptrap bumpersticker sloganeering nowadays about "the discipleship of equals" being his mission is based on a blindness: that He was never anyone's equal. (Have I emphasized that?)  Regardless of whether you follow Chalcedon or Jefferson about his divine Sonship, if you read the Gospels, Jesus never consulted, never asked for advice, never admitted losing an argument, never apologized, never ever sought consensus, never once stepped out of his role as "Lord and Master." Even when he washed the disciples' feet, that was only significant because it was The Boss who was doing it! And the only time he was ever meek or turned the other cheek or forgave an enemy was when he was at the end of his life.

The androgynous "gentle Jesus meek and mild" of much Protestant and even contemporary Catholic piety (like newly made nun-saint Faustina's Mercy Christ now imposed by John Paul II). Never liked him. 

 


But the Anglo-Saxon poet who wrote The Dream of the Rood , a song sung by the Cross itself, was a Christ more to my liking***. I used to read it sometimes before preaching.


The young hero stripped himself--he, God Almighty--
strong and stout-minded. He mounted high gallows,
bold before many, when he would loose mankind.
I shook when that Man clasped me. I dared, still, not bow to earth,
fall to earth's fields, but had to stand fast.
Rood was I reared. I lifted a mighty King,
Lord of the heavens, dared not to bend.

So when groovy Christians get all wet about things like "servant leadership" or poo-poo the Pope's claim to be "servant of the servants of God", I point out that Jesus' "service" was only valuable because he was powerful, authoritative, in charge. Otherwise, he'd just have been the janitor all along and no one would have known who he was.

Given the already complex task of being both an actual non-divine man and a Christian, I think that without access to some kind of real status and power, status and power that is recognizably masculine, men will continue to back away both from the religion and its priesthood. That is not a flaw of character, IMHO. It is a fact and a requirement of nature.

And I will spare you any further ruminations on the renewed global conflict between Christianity, its delinquent offspring The West and that most testosterone-fueled of religions, Islam.

*A personal note. One of my good friends, a woman, has been a courageously loyal friend to him. Not only for her character, but for her other gifts of mind, heart and spirit, she would be one of those women you would think of as candidates for ordination. As with gay marriage, on an emotional and personal level, I get it. But despite my sympathy, --and this includes ordaining gay men--my brain tells me that as policies for large organizations and societies, very problematic in the long run.


**The line in Matthew,  "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men" was sometimes a matter of uneasy humor among gay priests. 

*** I am aware of the erotics of this poem, but it was its heroics which I liked, at least consciously.

Good thing, though, that I am a non-practicing outsider with zilch effect on any of these things! I am just running my mouth here on my non-authoritative cathedra.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Re-frame

Indian givers

How many Americans have called customer service for their computers or other items and found themselves on the phone with Delhi or Mumbai? It has become a staple of comedy.

Well, guess what? If you call the Indian Consulate to get a visa to travel there...they will refer you to the outsource company...Americans...who handle all their visa processes!

It happened again

I agree with something Andrew Sullivan wrote. Again*. But then disagreed with the rest of his article. The good part is preface; no need to read the rest.
To say I am embarrassed to be defending Tony Kushner is an understatement. I was one of very few gay men with HIV who found Angels in America to be pretentious, boring propaganda, and like most propaganda, endless and laden with stereotypes and cartoon figures. In the internecine fights in the gay movement in the 1990s, we were on opposite sides. I'd rather have pins stuck in my eyes than attend his new play, ominously titled "The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism With a Key to the Scriptures," which like other Important Plays, clocks in at four hours. His sad attempt to exonerate traitors like the Rosenbergs was once perverse; now it just seems at odds with reality.
*His contempt for the contemptible Hunky Jesus on Easter event, put on by the puerile Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

HT to David Horowitz.

Negative infallibility

After reading the moral discomfort expressed by the Rev Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, about an unarmed Osama being shot, I think I have discovered a new criterion for truth.

If His Grace pontificates for or against something, the opposite must be true.

OBTW, this, from the Apostle Paul's Letter to the Romans, chapter 13:
3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: 4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid ; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

Just sayin'.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Two thoughts on gender

Earlier today I had seen a poster for a group of gay men reading The Velvet Rage, which investigates the problems and challenges of growing up gay as well as the deleterious effects of that process on gay men and gay culture. Haven't read it, but the website for the group uses the phrase "our authentic masculinity." Slippery language, of course. Authentic.

Gave rise to two thoughts:

If you accept the natural and classical idea of masculinity, then you cannot be egalitarian. Manhood is by nature a matter of differentiation and rank. If you are a man, then you cannot be a boy or a woman, and among men, some have more status than others.

And even those cultures which purportedly provide for categories outside the binary male/female, their very existence as separate identities reinforces rather than expands the limits of the first two. If your society provides a status, even an accepted status, for gender-deviant individuals, this means that they recognize that you do not belong in either category of man or of woman.

Unseasonable thoughts

Continued.

Pleased as I am at the killing of Bin Laden, I find the amount of moralizing about it troubling. Asshat bureaucrats worrying about its legality. And Christian and humanist types being "chilled" by the celebrations of his more than well deserved demise. To me, there is something corrupt in this hyper-ethical attitude, the very opposite of what its practitioners imagine. Something deeply im-moral.

As if justice can only be found in the processes of the liberal state and its fetishes. As if the thin soup of "our common humanity" as "God's children" trumps the actuality of human evil and suffering.

I am reminded of Burham's idea that while liberalism may not be the cause of the West's death, it provides a soothing rationale for it, enabling its believers to imagine themselves moral agents in what is actually a suicidal loss of faith. It makes them feel good about themselves while they adjust to and accelerate the destruction of their world. Hence, this insane contradictory combination of exhibitionist moral narcissism and underlying relativist nihilism.

I just read a review of John Keke's book A Case for Conservatism. Having read the reviewer's previous intellectual hijinks in other venues, I was, I admit, not hopeful. He made some good points, but rejected out of hand conservatism's attachment to habit and tradition on the grounds that it would have continued a whole host of horrors: subordination of women, racial discrimination, etc. Aside from conveniently confusing conservative reticence about change with refusal to change, his words did provoke some further and unseasonable thoughts in me.

What a liberal must hold to is that all of  Western history prior to 1965 --wonderful diverse foreign non-Western cultures are, of course, excepted-- was a huge mistake. Everything really ought always to have been the way it is now. And even now is only an approximation of the imminent future glory of the liberal state. What else is the Religion of Progress about? Oddly, it is a vision of a utopian future for a species whose past is little more than an epic saga of tragedy. Liberalism is, in a way, a radical rejection of human history, except as a long tapestry of unfortunate bad examples, until We came along.

I beg to differ. And I have begun to wonder, therefore, if many of the things that we would now reject out of hand --rightly or wrongly, by the way-- were not, in their contexts, necessary for the survival of those societies and therefore, relatively good. And if our rejection of some of them on moral grounds (see Burham's theory above) is not actually a disaster in the making.

Take "the subordination of women."  In one lifetime, the absolute right and capacity of women to do and be absolutely anything they want to has moved from a strange, even laughable, opinion to Obvious Unquestionable Sacred Truth. Ask Larry Summers. But the impact on males is now showing up and it is not good and not likely to improve. Even women are starting to complain, as they find it increasingly hard to meet adequate mates. What if patriarchy is the requisite natural order for human survival?  What if there is a species-specific nature to us, on a very particular planet, and rather than being infinitely malleable, human nature is only finitely malleable, and only in some secondary ways? In that case --unthinkable as it may be in the last three cultural minutes-- conservative attachment to habit and tradition might have been a better way to go.

What if everybody cannot have everything they want and still survive?

Thursday, May 05, 2011

FU UN

A UN functionary from South Africa, Judge Navi Pillay, of the deeply credible --Cuba, China, Saudi Arabia and Libya are included-- UN Human Rights Council says she is entitled to know all the facts about the Bin Laden raid, to determine if it violated international law and Osama's rights.

As the usually straightforward but usually very civil business journalist Neil Cavuto said on TV yesterday, "Who do these bastards think they are?"

Damn, I knew we forgot something. It was that yellow form we had fill out first to ask the United Crips and Bloods!

My bad.



For the liberal elites, our highminded global betters, the world really only consists of two kinds of spaces: courtrooms and classrooms. Places for talking.  Which is really all they know how to do.

Cultural differences

When the Conservative Party was given a parliamentary majority in Canada, one hysterical homo victim here in the USA opined on a website that now Canada would cease to be a tolerant, easy-going, peace-loving paradise and turn into "a theocratic hellhole like America."

I pointed out to him/her that a Canadian Conservative was not the same as an American conservative. It's what we like to call cultural difference.

An indication: these same theocratic hellholers are pushing a bill in the Parliament that would make a blogger liable to hate speech prosecution merely for linking to a website that promoted "hate".

Sound more like Liberal Paradise to me.
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