Thursday, April 17, 2014

Guest blogger on the Resurrection

The whole of the Easter mystery, dearly-beloved, has been brought before us in the Gospel narrative, and the ears of the mind have been so reached through the ear of flesh that none of you can fail to have a picture of the events: for the text of the Divinely-inspired story has clearly shown the treachery of the Lord Jesus Christ’s betrayal, the judgment by which He was condemned, the barbarity of His crucifixion, and glory of His resurrection. But a sermon is still required of us, that the priests’ exhortation may be added to the solemn reading of Holy Writ, as I am sure you are with pious expectation demanding of us as your accustomed due. Because therefore there is no place for ignorance in faithful ears, the seed of the Word which consists of the preaching of the Gospel, ought to grow in the soil of your heart, so that, when choking thorns and thistles have been removed, the plants of holy thoughts and the buds of right desires may spring up freely into fruit. For the cross of Christ, which was set up for the salvation of mortals, is both a mystery and an example: a sacrament where by the Divine power takes effect, an example whereby man’s devotion is excited: for to those who are rescued from the prisoner’s yoke Redemption further procures the power of following the way of the cross by imitation. For if the world’s wisdom so prides itself in its error that every one follows the opinions and habits and whole manner of life of him whom he has chosen as his leader, how shall we share in the name of Christ save by being inseparably united to Him, Who is, as He Himself asserted, “the Way, the Truth, and the Life?” the Way that is of holy living, the Truth of Divine doctrine, and the Life of eternal happiness.

- Pope St. Leo the Great

h/t: Laura Wood

Monday, April 14, 2014

God's sense of humor

I badly sprained my ankle over the weekend. Clearly God wants me to remain immobile and spend more time in front of the computer this week. Fortunately, Rorate is assisting me with these excellent meditations from St. Alphonsus Liguori.

Think back to Sunday Mass yesterday. Were there more women and children present than men? If yes, why do you think that is? Palm Sunday means reading the entire Passion narrative from the Gospel. The parish priest was up there with two women who read the other parts. I can't think of a single time in a Novus Ordo liturgy that even one man besides the priest was there to read the narrative. And there were two altar girls, naturally.

The local young adult group has some nights dedicated to apologetic type talks where we engage Modernism and relativism head on. It's almost always the men who ask more questions and participate more than the women. On nights when they spend the time in Adoration or talking about our relationship with Christ, it's almost always the case that more women show up than men.

It's a pity. Men generally don't have much patience for the "Jesus is my boyfriend" school of spirituality that dominates much of Christian pop culture. Women generally shy away from direct confrontations with Christianity's ideological and philosophical opponents. It ought to be both/and instead of either/or. Most parishes I've attended were decidedly lopsided in favor of women's spirituality and practice, with the corresponding dearth of male presence.

Surely we can strike a happy balance, yes?

Friday, April 11, 2014

The wages of diversity is death

The Economist gives helpful advice on how not to get murdered:
CONGRATULATIONS: if you are reading this then you are not one of the 437,000 people whose lives ended as statistics in a grisly report on murder published on April 10th by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. The unfortunate half-million were all those around the world who were slain in 2012. The average person thus had roughly a one in 16,000 chance of being bumped off that year. But as the UN’s figures make clear, there is no such thing as an average person. How can you shorten your odds of making it through 2014?
First, don’t live in the Americas or Africa, where murder rates (one in 6,100 and one in 8,000 respectively) are more than four times as high as the rest of the world. Western Europe and East Asia are the safest regions. And the safest countries? Liechtenstein recorded no murders at all in 2012, but its population could fit in a football stadium. Among those countries whose populations number in millions, the safest is Singapore, which clocked up just 11 murders in 2012, or one killing per 480,000 people. In Honduras, the world’s most violent country, one in every 1,100 residents was killed.
For those of us who don't do a lot of international traveling, this means "avoid neighborhoods and cities that are known for their vibrant diversity."

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Strike the colors

Headquarters, Army of Northern Virginia, 10th April 1865.

General Order
No. 9

After four years of arduous service marked by unsurpassed courage and fortitude, the Army of Northern Virginia has been compelled to yield to overwhelming numbers and resources.
I need not tell the survivors of so many hard fought battles, who have remained steadfast to the last, that I have consented to the result from no distrust of them.
But feeling that valour and devotion could accomplish nothing that could compensate for the loss that must have attended the continuance of the contest, I have determined to avoid the useless sacrifice of those whose past services have endeared them to their countrymen.
By the terms of the agreement, officers and men can return to their homes and remain until exchanged. You will take with you the satisfaction that proceeds from the consciousness of duty faithfully performed, and I earnestly pray that a merciful God will extend to you his blessing and protection.
With an unceasing admiration of your constancy and devotion to your Country, and a grateful remembrance of your kind and generous consideration for myself, I bid you an affectionate farewell.
— R. E. Lee, General, General Order No. 9


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Why we fight

John C. Wright passes along this news:
David Marcoe is organizing an interdenominational Christian conference for novelists, playwrights, screenwriters, comic book writers, game designers, and the like for late in this summer. Here is his announcement:
Studying here in Rome, I live in the the midst of ancient beauty. In fact, I’m just down the street from St. Peter’s square, which I walk through on the way to my job or architecture class. The church around the corner, where I attend several classes, is home to a lively local parish (the priest is a real character) not much different than my old congregation, except that the is Baroque building that could serve as a picturesque movie set. Indeed, we’re saturated in beauty, as we study the words of Virgil, Dante, and Shakespeare. I’ve laid eyes on wonders, on the works of Caravaggio, Bernini, Michelangelo, Raphael, Leonardo, and others. And you can see them quite by accident, walking off the street and into practically any church in the city.
And as I experience all this–that vast tradition of Christendom’s art and literature–I think of the business of “culture making” today; at least ninety-five percent of the major commercial works dealing with mythic, moral, or religious subject matters are being made by non-Christians, with Christians coming along to produce second and third rate “me too!” knock-offs. I think it needs to stop.

So, what I’m doing is contacting people I know and organizing a professional get-together for Catholic and Christian writers–novelists, playwrights, screenwriters, comic book writers, game designers, etc.–for the late summer. Why? Because Catholics and Protestants lack on either side of an equation that needs to be balanced. Protestants are generally more entrepreneurial and comfortable with engaging the popular culture, but lack a significant aesthetic tradition to draw on. Catholics have a vast tradition to draw from, but have trouble translating that tradition into a contemporary context. So, in organizing this conference, I want to approach the problem from three directions:
 Read the rest there. Today Martel ponders the mission of the manosphere:
In my last post, I described some of the various perspectives floating around the manosphere.  For those of you not in the mood to click, I’ve divided us into exploiters (have a blast before it all goes to hell), avoiders (go Galt or ghost, refuse to participate), and fighters (do whatever it takes to keep it from going to hell).  It’s perfectly possible to have sentiments that coincide with all three, such as a PUA that uses his blog to attack feminism.
We all recognize that things are incredibly off, that we’ve got countless strikes against us.  When we consider our moral compass, insane amounts of debt (governmental, student, consumer, etc.), the sheer banality of our political class and lack of leadership that even seems remotely equipped to recognize (let alone do something about) the struggles ahead, the successful leftist takeover of our academic and religious institutions, our inability to face reality (fiscal, human nature, etc.), and about two dozen other obstacles I don’t have time to list, it seems hopeless.
 He's right when he says that we are both too pessimistic and too optimistic at the same time. The ultimate war is already over: Christ won. It's still possible for individual Christians to lose their personal wars with the world, the flesh, and the devil. Liberalism has pretty much won the war for Western civilization and I don't expect to see it fall within my lifetime. Even if I weren't Catholic, I'm just not temperamentally suited to be either an exploiter or avoider as Martel describes them.

So I choose to fight. It's what compels me to write this little blog even if no one ever reads it. All men, not just Catholics, should be committed to truth. I didn't put Solzhenitsyn's quote as my byline just because it sounds cool. He was the greatest author of the 20th century and one of my personal favorite authors. We don't have to worry about show trials or gulags today. He still has a lot to teach us about being mentally and spiritually tough when the world seems to be going mad.

If we're to have any hope of getting the Titanic to change course, we have to fight in whatever ways we can. For most of us, including me, we won't have big roles to play. It'll be a matter of loving God, loving our neighbor, and doing our duty. If we want to change the culture we have to start with ourselves. If we have the talent for artsy stuff, then we have a duty to use that talent for the glory of God and the edification of our neighbor.

A good rule of thumb

Avoid persons, communities, and organizations that use the word "vibrant" without irony. For example, Newman Hall Holy Spirit Church serves the students at UC Berkeley, and the National Catholic Reporter says it's known for its "vibrant embrace of the Second Vatican Council's reforms." In this case, that translates to "nuttier than a squirrel dropping:"
BERKELEY, CA, April 7, 2014 ( – Oakland Bishop Michael Barber, Pope Francis’ first U.S. episcopal appointment, has drawn ire from Catholic progressives after replacing the priests serving the University of California at Berkeley campus, one of whom is “openly homosexual.”Newman Hall Holy Spirit Church, which functions as the parish church for Catholic students at the university, has been led by its pastor, Fr. Bernard Campbell, for the past seven years. Fr. Bill Edens, a self-identified homosexual, has served as student chaplain for the last five. Both are members of the Paulist order, which normally appoints priests at the parish.
Oakland Bishop Michael Barber
Barber explained in a letter to the parish that he had intervened in the regular process because he wants to “totally reinvigorate our evangelization efforts for the University Community at Cal Berkeley,” and “reinvigorate and expand our mission ‘to the periphery.’”
The one time I've ever mouthed off to my bishop was when I overheard him lamenting that our diocese's Newman centers have historically produced so few vocations. I said, "Maybe you shouldn't allow liberal Jesuits to keep running them." My then girlfriend at the time decided to stop attending the Newman Center Masses after their activity for the night was Buddhist aromatherapy.

I'm pleased that Bishop Barber is making progress in cleaning out the Augean stables. I've had some spirited debates with my Protestant and Godless heathen friends, but by far the most acrimonious quarrels I've ever had have always been with my fellow Catholics. Some Protestants and Godless heathens admit that they know they don't know about Catholicism. Catholics who received a poor or nonexistent formation don't know that they don't know, and they furiously resent it when their pastor or their neighbor attempts the spiritual work of mercy known as instructing the ignorant. I'll never forget that Catholic man who demanded to know who the hell I was to call him a bad Catholic when he never failed to show up to Mass every Christmas and Easter.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Shakespeare plays are fake too you know

Best WrestleMania in years. Definitely in the top five ever, right up there with 17, 19, and 24. I was even okay with Cena winning his match, although the specific way it finished was lame. Daniel Bryan's victory was inevitable in a "good overcomes evil" story line that's been building for months. That being said, I will laugh in anyone's face who claims Bryan going over was the plan all along. Triple H put him over clean as a sheet, and had one of the greatest entrances of the night. He is literally Shao Kahn. The main event was a lot better than I was expecting. I have to hand it to Randy Orton. Say what you will about his character, but that spot through the announcer's table was brutal. It's astounding he didn't break anything, although his lower back was bloodied. I even enjoyed the Shield's squash match with Kane and the Old Age Outlaws. Cesaro winning the battle royal is outstanding. You have to wonder if they intentionally recreated that WrestleMania III moment when Hulk Hogan slammed Andre the Giant. Cesaro scooped up the Big Show and dumped him out of the ring like a sack of dirty laundry. The Big Show, in case you weren't aware, weighs about 400-450 pounds. Heck, even the Divas match was better than I expected.

The big news, of course, is the Undertaker losing to Brock Lesnar. The match itself was slow and plodding, which we now know was because Taker was injured early on. If you look closely, you can see Lesnar treating him especially safe. He didn't drive Taker down into the F5 at all, but allowed him to take the bump on his hip. The finish though... thinking about it even now still leaves me at a loss for words. I clearly remember my initial reaction: "A third F5? That's a lot of finishers even by Mania standards. Okay, here's the count. One, two, three. I wonder what they'll do to... wait, what? Whaaaa... that... I don't..."

Having Brock end the streak is brilliant. It's the greatest swerve since Hulk Hogan joined the NWO. He's firmly established in the fans minds as a part time monster heel. Brock could quit wrestling tomorrow and his legacy would be set in stone. If a full timer had beaten Taker, then we'd see him job every other week. It'd be an impossible reputation to uphold: "Oh look at that, Sheamus beat the guy who beat Taker. What a chump." And really, who else was there that could have ended it? None of the other guys really needed it or wanted it. Brock only appears at the big headline events anyway, giving him that extra mystique as a monster heel. When he showed up, you knew it was serious. Now that effect will be multiplied tenfold. Undertaker had been saying for years that he was willing to end the streak. In all likelihood, last night was his retirement match. We might see him tonight on Raw, and then he'll get back on his bike and ride off into the sunset until we meet again at the Hall of Fame.