Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Figures don't lie but liars always figure

Check this out:
While all these numbers may make one yearn for the Church of old, a few of them are truly staggering for the modern mind to comprehend in today's Catholic-lite world: a 200+% increase in American converts; a nearly 250% increase in seminaries built; a 200+% increase in seminarians; and a 50% increase in priests. All of this happened over Pius XII's glorious 19-year-reign. 
All of that happened back when the Church was supposedly trapped in the ghetto. Those numbers are the product of a time when the Church supposedly only communicated with the world to the extent hurling thunderous anathemas from on high required. All of that happened when the Church didn't practice ecumenism, or interreligious dialogue, when it upheld the social teachings of Christ the King, when the Mass was in Latin and supposedly no one understood it, when priests and bishops could be expected to manfully preach the solid teachings of the Church without needing constant goading from Rome, when the pope was still largely a "prisoner of the Vatican," etc.

That's not to say there were no problems in the Church back then, but hasn't it always been so? By every quantifiable measure the Church was doing splendidly. She obviously went into free fall after Vatican II closed in 1965. Correlation does not prove causation but it does wave its arms and yell "Hey, look over here!" Counter-factuals are tricky, but it's foolish to think that Vatican II had absolutely nothing to do with the Church's utter collapse in the West.

It'd be one thing if progressive Catholicism inspired countless vocations and motivated the laity to kick ass and take names for Christ. Everyone knows that it doesn't. It's a narrow vision that appeals mostly to comfortable left-of-center folks with solid portfolios and nice neighborhoods. Instead of inspiring vocations to the priesthood or religious life, it inspires the clericalization of a select few lay people who take all the right classes, earn all the right certificates, and learn the secret handshakes in order to do "ministry:" parish administration, offering workshops to the next generation of chancery and parish employees, and the occasional communion service.

It wasn't so much the Church's structures and liturgies that needed change as it was ourselves. That was true then and it's true today. Vatican II was largely about tactics. Anyone with eyes in his head can see that the tactics embraced for the last fifty years have been less than successful. Since tactics don't necessarily touch on dogma, is it not possible to have a constructive dialogue (there's that word again) about when the old and tried are to be preferred over the new and untried?

The collapse of the Church was partly the result of changes in the culture at large. But sooner or later, we ourselves have to take responsibility for her collapse. Yes, bishops and priests are our leaders but poor leadership is not an excuse for us to become complacent in our mediocrity. In the age of the internet, you have no excuse not to learn more about the faith. In the end, we're going to be judged on our own lives, not on the poor decisions and example of our leaders.

Fallout: New Vegas Energy Weapons build

Fallout: New Vegas is even older than Skyrim so why should I bother treading upon territory already trod by countless others? Well, my Skyrim builds really bring in the blog traffic and advertising revenue. All of you progressive suburban white kids are making it possible for me to eat out at Chick fil-A twice a month. And in many ways FONV is a superior game. So I may as well... give it a shot. Haaa.

The pros recommend taking Guns as your offensive skill if it's your first time in the Mojave Wasteland because it's damn near impossible to screw up a guns build. My first toon used energy weapons. It's a science-fiction RPG so I decided to embrace the science-fiction feel. To be sure, guns and ammo are plentiful and comparatively cheap. Energy weapons and cells are rarer and more expensive. Like Rose of Sharon Cassidy said, it will behoove you to become a crack shot with energy weapons in order to save on ammunition and weapon maintenance. And in gameplay terms, that means critical hits.

Energy weapons are stupidly powerful if you take perks which increase your crit chance. If you use VATS to consistently (and psychotically) score head shots, you will quickly become the Doctor Doom-like king of the Mojave. When choosing your initial SPECIAL stats, you want to jack up your Luck as high as possible. There's a significant increase in your crit chance and skill at the blackjack tables starting at a Luck of 7. It's not a bad idea for your Luck to end up as a perfect 10 after implants or Intense Training. Here's how my guy started out:

S - 4
P - 6
E - 6
C - 3
I  - 7
A - 6
L - 8

Strength is at 4 because after one implant or the Weapon Handling perk you are able to wield the Gauss Rifle, the best energy weapon in the game. In retrospect, I probably didn't need to have Intelligence that high, but I felt it added to the role playing experience. Similarly, if you're a power gamer you can drop Charisma all the way to 1 if you like. The two skills it affects, Barter and Speech, can easily be raised through skill points alone.

If you've got all the DLC, then the level cap is raised to 50. I was able to max out all but a few skills, namely the other offensive skills like Melee and Unarmed. At the start you should tag Energy Weapons (no shit), Science, and either Speech or Repair. These are the perks I took:

Level 2: Intense Training (Luck)
Level 4: Educated
Level 6: Vigilant Recycler (it sounds boring but it can save you a fortune)
Level 8: Bloody Mess (more damage is always good)
Level 10: Finesse (more crit chance = must have)
Level 12: Math Wrath (I like VATS. Plasma Spaz is also a good choice.)
Level 14: Jury Rigging (An excellent choice for any build)
Level 16: Better Criticals (You're damn near unstoppable now)
Level 18: Plasma Spaz (or Math Wrath if you didn't take it earlier)
Level 20: Grim Reaper's Sprint (optional at this point, but again, I like VATS)
Level 22: Laser Commander

There aren't as many dedicated energy weapons perks as the other offensive skills. You can take Meltdown if you like, but I didn't care for it as I damaged myself and my companions just as much as the bad guys. Pretty much every other perk available is up to you. Personally, I think the best factions for my Doctor Doom/Lex Luthor like characters are either Mr. House or Wild Card. Democracy is a bunch of bullshit and Caesar's Legion is mired in ignorance and stupidity.

EDIT, 4/1/2014: As most people have guessed, this is definitely not an optimized min/max build. It was literally the first one I ever played, before I knew more about the game mechanics. This is my revised min/max no-fun-allowed version:

S 5, P 6, E 7, C 1, I 8, A 6, L 7. Tags: Energy Weapons, Science, Repair. Perks: pretty much the same except take Light Touch at level 2, and Strong Back at level 8. It's really hard to screw up a build in this game if you're playing on normal difficulty.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Hipsters and the Red Pill

The "Godfather of Hipsterdom" doubles down - Feminism makes women miserable:
Gavin McInnes, co-founder of Vice and often described as “The Godfather of Hipsterdom,” kicked a hornets nest this week by suggesting that modern feminism has been detrimental to women.
“We’ve trivialized childbirth and being domestic so much that women are forced to pretend to be men. They’re feigning this toughness. They’re miserable,” McInnes said in part during a contentious and expletive-laced exchange on a HuffPost Live panel on Monday.
 Have you noticed that about the Junior Volunteer Thought Police? They have unfailingly foul mouths and the sense of humor of a Sigmarite Witch Hunter from the Warhammer series. McInnes is right on here. Feminism is a misnomer as feminists tend to despise the feminine vocation of child rearing and domesticity. They become dried up old ball busters who spend their peak beauty and fertility years pursuing a marketing career at the local cheese firm. In their late twenties or early thirties they panic as the wall looms over the horizon. They get down off of the carousel of Alpha bad boys and desperately try to lock down a Beta provider before it's too late.
McInnes said that the real reason his comments set off such a firestorm is that “deep down” women realize what he said is true.
“I think a lot of women smash through the ‘glass ceiling’ and get to where [men] are and they go, ‘wait a minute, I thought you guys had brandy and went to strip clubs, you’re going over expense reports?’ And they see their friends from their small town with 3 kids going to soccer practice and they think, ‘That looks kind of cool, actually.’
It can be deeply unpleasant for a man to work in an office environment that is predominantly female or worse still, to work for a female boss. Women tend to believe that in order to get ahead in the working world, they need to be more like men. It's impossible for them to provide true masculine leadership so they lurch to one extreme or the other: either they become blustering bullies or insufferably catty. The solution here is for them to cultivate true feminine leadership. Women can absolutely be leaders, but not in the way that men are leaders.
“I see a lot of women without kids, in their 40s, who are miserable and I see a lot of women after they have children saying, ‘what the fuck was I doing? Why was I doing fashion PR? I was doing seating plans for a fashion show telling what people sit in what chair. Now I’m shaping human life,’ he explained.
“It made me religious. I was an atheist most of my life and now I am a God-fearing Catholic, because of the miracle of life. And I’m pro-life,” he said, noting that he used to be pro-choice and became pro-life with the birth of his first child.
Good on you sir.

On the flip side, McInnes said that men have become less masculine, ironically as a means to get more women.
“I think men are becoming beta males because feminists have told them to, but you’ll notice feminists don’t fuck those guys,” he said. “I think they are doing this and being submissive…because they are trying to get laid.
Gavin McInnes may be the Godfather of Hipsterdom but he's sounding very Red Pill here. One of the rules of Game is never pay attention to what women say they want, but to what they actually do. Women may say they want a submissive nice guy who does his fair share of the house work, but do they actually date guys like that? To ask is to answer.
“If women said men who dress in clown costumes are hot and cool, then they would fuckin’ stick a red nose on.”
lolzozozolol. And the more those guys slavishly cater to their woman's every whim, the more frustrated she grows. Neither can articulate it, exactly, but she just feels vaguely angry over her man relinquishing the lead. Don't believe me? Try it out gentlemen. Become completely passive in the relationship. Let her make all the decisions. When she gives an order, snap to. The relationship will die within a month or two. I recommend against trying this if you're married though. I'd hate to be responsible for you getting divorce raped.
He went on to lament the current trend in media, which finds sitcom father figures the idiot of the family.
“If it gets a laugh fine, but we all have to check ourselves and go: ‘How about some reverence, for a change?’ We revere single moms and we revere drug dealers like Jay Z — how about we revere the people who put on food on the table? Even that Huff Post Live thing — We are sitting there shitting on macho men while using their microphone that they invented and the infrastructure they created. Arianna Huffington is only rich because of her man entrepreneur husband.”
I like this guy a lot. I especially like it when RealTalk manages to penetrate the Cathedral's defenses and lay the smack down upon the candy asses of the Junior Volunteer Thought Police. McInnes has demonstrated the correct strategy when the Cathedral has you in its sights: double down. Stick to your guns. Agree and amplify. Dare them to do something about it. Above all, never ever apologize. I am, perhaps, more optimistic than many writers from the manosphere or the Dark Enlightenment in that I believe reality will always out. Maybe not in my lifetime. But counter-revolutionary guerrilla warfare is fun.

He touches on an important truth here. For decades, the father of the family has been the butt of jokes in television shows. He's the bumbling fool whom the wife must always lead. In contrast, how often do we see single mothers portrayed in anything other than the halo of sainthood? Or, say a gay or lesbian couple portrayed as enjoying anything less than pure domestic bliss?

If any other readers or writers of the manosphere or Dark Enlightenment read my words, I would ask us all to consider this. It's good to put systematic treatises on the internet. But if we want to see the culture peacefully shift back to benevolent patriarchy, we must conquer the arts and the media as the Cathedral did. That's going to be the work of a lifetime. Maybe generations. But we'll have a hell of a lot more fun doing it than progressives have maintaining the spoils of their victory.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Someone should get right on that

The latest issue of the Catholic Herald, the official magazine of the Diocese of Sacramento, has a lengthy feature article which interviews many priests about the challenges of ministry in an ethnically diverse and multicultural parish. English Mass, Spanish Mass, Filipino Mass, Vietnamese Mass... reading about all of those different languages gave me an idea. What if the Church used only one language? Like, suppose she set aside one language for use in all of her public ceremonies such as the celebration of the Mass or a baptism or confirmation? Call it a liturgical language if you will. I'm pretty dumb but I vaguely recall reading somewhere that in the distant past the Church had such a language. She seems to have done all right for herself back then. But then what do I know?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

And that's the bottom line because the Grand Inquisitor said so

Catholics are all too familiar with the concept of "Romanita," if not the name. Romanita is the slang term for that talent so many Catholic prelates have of speaking at great length while actually saying very little. If you've ever heard a priest deliver a ten minute homily but you can't recall a thing he said after the Mass is over, the odds are good he was speaking in Romanita. It is St. Paul's admonition to be all things to all men taken to its reductio ad absurdum level. Romanita is the lingua franca of the Magic Circle, from which bishops and potential bishops are pulled. Very seldom do men who speak in blunt, forceful language about the truths necessary for salvation climb the greasy pole of the Catholic Church's hierarchy. That's why I like those plain speaking priests so much. I'm instantly put on my guard around a priest who is reluctant to speak on the Four Last Things or to urge us to repent. It's likely that he'll be the kind of priest where I have to double check everything he says against the Catechism or Denziger.

That's not to say that Romanita is always and everywhere a bad thing. It just means you have to be good at reading between the lines. For example, take this 4000+ word essay by Archbishop Gerhard Mueller, Prefect of the CDF (that's the Grand Inquisitor for the sake of my heathen friends.) It makes for pretty dry genteel reading by American standards. But this:
In many regions, greater compromises emerged later, particularly as a result of the increasing interdependence of Church and State.  In the East this development continued to evolve, and especially after the separation from the See of Peter, it moved towards an increasingly liberal praxis.  In the Orthodox Churches today, there are a great many grounds for divorce, which are mostly justified in terms of oikonomia, or pastoral leniency in difficult individual cases, and they open the path to a second or third marriage marked by a penitential character.  This practice cannot be reconciled with God’s will, as expressed unambiguously in Jesus’ sayings about the indissolubility of marriage.  But it represents an ecumenical problem that is not to be underestimated.
By Romanita standards, that is the equivalent of planting a steel toe in the collective gut of the Orthodox, delivering a Stone Cold Stunner with authority, and then screaming in their ears while waving the double middle fingers as they writhe in pain upon the mat.

The arch is clearly a fan of Zippy Catholic. As am I for that matter.

h/t: Rorate Caeli

Fist of the North Rawr

History was always my favorite subject in school. I'm old enough so that multiculturalism was only beginning to make inroads into my conservative home town back when I was in high school. We had to learn about the plight of poor black washerwomen, yes, but there was still enough of the "Great Men Doing Great Things" style of teaching history that my imagination was enthralled. Many of my peers shook their heads over what a terrible, terrible man Andrew Jackson was but I thought then and still think "Damn, that dude was a stone cold badass." I read a lot of fiction these days but my bookshelves are also stocked with plenty of nonfiction histories. If I had to narrow down my historical interest to one period, it would undoubtedly be the American Civil War. That was a time when war was still cruel and glorious, before it became cruel and squalid. Grant, Lee, Jackson, Sherman... I know their lives about as intimately as you can know someone else's life without ever meeting them.

I like to think it was through my love of history that God planted the idea of becoming Catholic into my head and my heart. Bl. John Henry Newman said that to be immersed in history is to cease to be Protestant, and that was definitely the case with me. Enlightened liberals like to believe that we are much freer, smarter, and better than our poor benighted ancestors who took the Christian faith seriously enough to be moved to action and even violence on its behalf. Whatta bunch o' superstitious rubes, amirite? The medievals would have thought it bizarre to kill over which system of government we prefer, such as between, say, democracy and monarchy. It could be that human beings are prone to violence, among other sins, and that we've simply shifted our focus onto another topic we think is worth fighting and dying for. It's almost as if there was something fundamentally broken about us. Like, something went wrong with us, very very wrong with us near the beginning. Imagine that.

I learn best by reading but lots of other folks learn by doing. This is where historical reenacting comes in. I have many friends who are active in the Renaissance Faire scene. One of my then co-workers invited me to try it out. That was in Golden Gate Park about five or six years ago. They were kind enough to lend me a costume and everything. I didn't know any better so I saw the sights, wielded the pikes, and drank mead. Afterward everyone said, "I'm so sorry, that was the worst Faire ever, it's not normally like this." With my characteristic aplomb I replied, "It's cool." I went again for my second time last month. My third time was this past weekend. The Renaissance up through the end of the Thirty Years War is not my specialty - except for the popes and the Catholic Church's actions during the time of course - but it was still a lot of fun. I enjoyed it and it's put on by some great people.

There was another recent event I had heard about as well: Wasteland. Now that's something I really would have enjoyed. The focus is on Mad Max but I would have gone based as one of my many characters from Fallout: New Vegas. That is, I would have wandered the wasteland in a drunken stupor, dominating the Mojave with only my fists. Post-apocalyptic fiction has been enjoying its own renaissance for thirty or so years now, whether the world shattering event was a nuclear holocaust or a zombie war. The way things are going, it won't be so dramatic. The Prophet Mike Judge has our future pegged.

Friday, October 18, 2013

It is good when brothers dwell together in unity

One thing that drew me to Catholicism was its common language. Catholic means universal, and within the pale of Holy Mother Church we have hundreds of countries, peoples, cultures, and languages. Despite this diversity, there remains a core of unity. The Church has a common liturgical language in which peoples of all times and places can worship and pray together in the same manner as our ancestors did, as all of the martyrs, confessors, doctors and saints worshipped and prayed.

That language, of course, is the King's English.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

There's a reason it's called fiction

Research is probably the greatest procrastination tool ever invented. It's a pity because the research canard is largely in reaction to a depressing trend in modern criticism: fact checking fiction.
In real life, people don’t talk the way they do in movies or television or (especially) books. Real locations aren’t styled, lit, or shot the way they are on screen. The basic conceits of point of view in literature actually make no sense and are in no way “realistic.” Realism isn’t verisimilitude. It’s a set of stylistic conventions that evolve over time, are socially agreed upon, and are hotly contested. The presence of these conventions is not a sign of quality. Departure from them is not a sign of quality’s absence.
The Realism Canard is the most depressing trend in criticism I have ever encountered. I would rather read thousands of posts of dismissive snark about my favorite books than read one more blog post about something that happened in a work of fiction wasn’t realistic or factually accurate to our world as we know it. … [W]e’re talking here not only about the complete misreading of what something is (fiction vs. nonfiction), but the holding of something to a standard it isn’t trying to attain and often isn’t interested in (absolute verisimilitude). We’re talking about the reduction of truth to accuracy.
How much research should you do for your novel? Only as much as will serve the story. I don't have a lot of patience for mystery novels that delve into minute detail about the science of forensics or science fiction stories that explain quantum mechanics at great length if it is not connected to the story. If you're going to explain the latest police equipment that can detect DNA strands in month old chewing gum, then the cops had better use that equipment to catch the crook. If you wish to spend pages explaining how your science fiction hero's laser rifle works then the mechanics of the laser rifle had better be a plot point in the story - repairing it or scrounging up ammo or whatever. If I just wanted an infodump of technical details, then I'd buy a nonfiction textbook.

People buy fiction because they want a good story. If the story kicks ass and the characters are awesome, then it's unlikely that they'll whine about niggling details. And if they do? IT'S FICTION.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Here's to you

Attacking the symptoms instead of the cause

This last summer there was a major battle in the Catholic blogosphere over the appropriateness of labels. At first glance it appeared that normally stalwart defenders of Tradition had embraced the modern hatred of labels and labeling. They even enlisted Pope Benedict XV to the anti-label cause:
As regards matters in which without harm to faith or discipline-in the absence of any authoritative intervention of the Apostolic See- there is room for divergent opinions, it is clearly the right of everyone to express and defend his own opinion. But in such discussions no expressions should be used which might constitute serious breaches of charity; let each one freely defend his own opinion, but let it be done with due moderation, so that no one should consider himself entitled to affix on those who merely do not agree with his ideas the stigma of disloyalty to faith or to discipline.
"It is, moreover, Our will that Catholics should abstain from certain appellations which have recently been brought into use to distinguish one group of Catholics from another. They are to be avoided not only as "profane novelties of words," out of harmony with both truth and justice, but also because they give rise to great trouble and confusion among Catholics. Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: "This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly; he cannot be saved" (Athanas. Creed). There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim "Christian is my name and Catholic my surname," only let him endeavour to be in reality what he calls himself." 
In general I agree with the Holy Father, but when he wrote that encyclical letter the Church was much more uniform in its teachings and its discipline. Bad Catholics have always been with us, but back then the hierarchy was more likely to call them out. In contrast, Hans Kung is a rank heretic and probably an apostate and yet he is a de jure Catholic in good standing. Roger Cardinal Mahony and Raymond Cardinal Burke are both Catholics in good standing, and yet their approaches to Catholicism are so radically different as to seem like two different religions. I'm perfectly fine with telling others that to reject one iota of Catholic doctrine is to reject the whole, but I've found that people resent having their orthodoxy impeached even if they deserve it.

Forbidding the use of labels in this case seems like trying to solve violence by outlawing guns. The recourse to labels is a symptom of the decades long chaos that has engulfed the Church. When the Church is strong in her identity and confident in enforcing her teachings again, then the need to use labels like liberal, conservative, traditionalist, etc., will disappear.

h/t: USC

The kids were stunned because my talk was stone cold

There are many reasons why kids fall away from the Catholic Church after they graduate from high school. Often it's because they never received a good formation in the Catholic faith in the first place; as the old joke goes, CCD now stands for "cutting, coloring, and drawing." Even if you had perfect teachers and both your parents and your pastors were living lives of outstanding sanctity, it's your decision whether to follow Christ or not. Every day we make choices whether to follow his commandments or not.  Choices have consequences. The choice whether to follow Christ has eternal consequences.

This isn't Beefy Levinson being a mean old radtrad. More than any other New Testament figure, Jesus Christ frequently spoke about the existence of hell and the possibility of going there. Lumen Gentium, the Second Vatican Council's constitution on the nature of the Church, says that he who knows that the Catholic Church was established by Christ for the salvation of souls and yet still refuses to enter or to remain within her bosom cannot be saved. Catholics don't like to consider the Four Last Things anymore because we've imbibed much of the world's materialism. We ourselves check our iPhones every thirty seconds, update Facebook every twenty seconds, and vociferously complain to the chancery if our pastor suggests that not All Dogs Go to Heaven. The Victorians may have been neurotic about sex, but we modern 21st century folks are neurotic about death.

My Protestant and heathen friends find this all terribly offensive. "Your Church teaches that there is no salvation outside of her. Do you think I'm going to hell?" My response is always the same: "I hope not." Father Leonard Feeney was excommunicated for teaching that everyone who is not a baptized Roman Catholic automatically goes to hell. The Second Vatican Council said that Christ's Church is larger than the visible boundaries of the Roman Catholic Church. The sacraments are the ordinary means to sanctity by which we are bound, but God is not bound by his sacraments.

None of this is new or revolutionary teaching but my four loyal readers are smarter than the average bear and I'm sure they can see how those teachings can be abused. It is possible for Protestants and non-Christians to be saved, but if they are it is through Christ alone. It's ludicrous to think that our Savior would entrust us with such a high stakes game without giving us to means to succeed. He gave us reason, free will, the intercession of all the angels and saints, and his own precious Body and Blood. If we are faithful to him and use the weapons he gave us for the spiritual warfare, how can we fail? We cannot fail unless we surrender. That's not to say we won't lose battles against the world, the flesh, and the devil. I lose battles against them every day. Battles may be won or lost, but the war is already won.

Strictly speaking, God does not send anyone to hell. If anyone goes to hell it is, pun intended, their own damned fault. If you are reading this blog, it's likely that you live in a First World Country. You can read, you have access to the internet, you're wealthy enough to own a computer and live in a fancy house in a nice neighborhood. How much time do we spend listening to bad music, watching bad movies, reading bad books, playing bad video games during the week? Presumably you have the use of your reason and free will. Are you prepared to tell your loving Savior, when you appear before his Judgment Seat, that you couldn't spare fifteen minutes a day to say a Rosary, or read the Scriptures, or sit with him in an adoration chapel? You say that you're busy. Are you really?

Some CCD programs teach the same material and yet one will have a higher retention rate than the other. Catholic parents need to think hard about what they expect when they drop their kids off for LifeTeen or whatever. Is youth ministry just a way to keep the kids out of trouble on Sunday nights so they don't go out spray painting trains? Or is it a way to reinforce those things they must do and must know to inherit eternal life?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Dietrich von Hildebrand on the Church in the 21st century

Another example is the tendency to substitute for real faith a mere loyalty to the Church as an organization with rules for its members. Instead of being aware of the awful privilege of assisting at Holy Mass, many Catholics go to church on Sunday just as they fulfill profane duties out of loyalty to the country or to an institution to which they belong. That is, they perform this task because they just happen to be Catholics. Here, indeed, the letter has replaced the spirit. This substitution of loyalty for holy obedience and grateful love indicates the loss of a true understanding of the nature of the Church. It suggests that the Church is a merely human institution.
I remember how often, during the first persecutions of the Jews from 1933 to 1936, Catholics could be heard saying that as long as Hitler did not attack the Church, he could not be called an enemy of the Church. These persons did not understand that the Church was attacked each time God was offended by an injustice. They had become blind to the universality of the Church. They had forgotten the words of Pope Benedict XV who said that he was the father of all, whether they wanted to accept it or not, whether they knew it or not. They had forgotten that St. Ambrose refused to let the Emperor Theodosius into church because he had killed six thousand innocent persons in Samos. St. Ambrose did not ask whether those murdered innocents were Catholics or not.
The consideration of the Church as a state or, even worse, as a political party could indeed be called a Catholic ghetto mentality. This outlook fails to see that unlike all natural institutions, the Church has no other interests than those of God.

Bureaucratic attitudes stifle faith

Still another example of dried-up religion is a phenomenon one could well call employeeism. Instead of emanating a spirit of holy unction, of loving zeal for the glorification of God and for guiding the faithful to Christ, priests have sometimes behaved as if they were employees of the Church. The way they say Mass suggests the performance of a professional duty. Their contact with the faithful is similar to that of an organization official dealing with clients.
In contrast to the priest who leads an immoral life or who is immersed in worldly preoccupations—a danger widespread in the Renaissance—these employee-priests who have taken the letter for the spirit do not have a bad conscience. They feel themselves to be very correct and loyal. This makes their attitude, though not sinful as the other is, very dangerous to the life of the Church. They not only tend to reduce their own religious life to correctness and loyalty; they also influence the faithful to take such an approach.  

Schadenfreude is not a Christian sentiment

However, I'd be lying if I denied feeling some while reading this:
Sulpician Fr. James McKearney has been forced to resign as rector and president of St. Patrick Seminary and University in Menlo Park, Calif., a surprise event some call an appropriate change in leadership and others decry as "brutal" and "confusing."

McKearney's sudden removal by San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone stunned students and faculty and the Sulpician himself.
"It just came out of the blue for reasons that are still not clear to myself or my provincial," McKearney told NCR.
...From Baltimore on Friday, McKearney said he remained "at a bit of a loss."
"I am not at all satisfied with the reasons I was given," he said, noting that the archbishop "in general said he had lost confidence in me to lead and administer the seminary. He thanked me for my fidelity and service to the archdiocese, but felt the seminary was in crisis" around enrollment issues "and that it would be best to replace me immediately." 
We share something in common then sir. I was not at all satisfied with the reasons given for my dismissal either.
McKearney also downplayed negative impacts of more structured weekends now required of St. Patrick seminarians. Evaluation of seminarians' free time had begun under Cordileone's predecessor, Niederauer, and had been encouraged in a 2008 letter from the Congregation for Education following an extensive Vatican visitation of U.S. seminaries.
St Patrick seminarians now attend required extracurricular conferences or seminars on all but one Saturday per month. On Sundays, they are required to return to campus for 5 p.m. community Mass, even if they have attended Mass elsewhere.
Now that is a change for the better. When I was there from 2008 to 2010, the men were free to do as they pleased on the weekends, no questions asked, so long as they were back in time for Compline at 8:30 pm. Some men abused that freedom.

I'm convinced that Cordileone got San Francisco largely to clean up the seminary. St. Patrick's serves as the house of formation for all of Northern California, the Pacific Rim, and many other western states. At least it used to. The chief reason why I was dismissed is because I was a little too open about my opinions on its condition back then with someone I mistakenly thought I could trust. I always was a stubborn man since I'm pretty much doing the same thing now. But 1) I'm just a lay slob now, and 2) I couldn't go back even if I wanted to. In my old age, I've lost what little patience I once had for politically correct "Spirit of Vatican II" hippie bullshit.

Thank you again

Last night we held a public memorial service for my father. All of his closest friends came. One after another they told heartfelt stories of how my dad had been a good influence in their lives. One lady said my dad gifted her youngest daughter with his old car. A young man recounted stories of golf lessons he had received from dad: "What the hell do you think you're doing kid?! Who taught you to hold the club like that?!  Jesus!" And there were many stories of his heroic drinking capacity. In that regard, let me share with my four loyal readers a story about my dad.

I was born when dad was in his forties. When I turned twenty-one he was in his sixties and unable to move as quickly as he once could. A rite of passage for all young men is beating their father at something, often sports. I called dad and said, "Hey dad. You can't play football or baseball like you used to. So what do you say we have a few drinks instead?" Dad immediately picked up on what I was suggesting. "Son," he murmured, "Are you sure you want to do this?" I, being the young arrogant buck that I was replied, "Come at me pa." I could picture his nostrils flaring and his piercing glare. He said, "Boy, you don't know what you're getting into."

So we went to one of the local watering holes. Then, as now, I spent most of my disposable income on books so dad was good enough to buy. We began at about 7 pm. By 1 am I had had more than eight pints of beer and a few shots of whiskey (I can't remember the precise numbers. You understand.) I was in bad shape to put it lightly. Dad was smiling, laughing, and carrying on as normal. The next morning he called me. "How are you feeling Kevin?" I groaned and said not well at all. "You never stood a chance son, but I admire your fighting spirit."

I never did beat him at drinking. But we had many good times. I will have several Masses offered for the repose of his soul. Heres to you dad. I hope to see you again some day.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Dreher: "I'm Still Not Going Back to the Catholic Church"

Pope Francis only confirms Rod Dreher's decision to leave.
And I cherish this pastor because he loves his people enough to teach us the hard lessons, and to compel us past mediocrity and toward the good. Catholic priests of the same mind and orientation as my Orthodox pastor — and I know many of them — are telling me that the Holy Father, by signaling to his American flock that God is love and the rest doesn’t really matter, just made their mission a lot more difficult. But that is no longer my problem.
On the contrary Mr. Dreher. You were baptized and confirmed a Catholic. If you do not repent and return to the bosom of Holy Mother Church, you'll find out in the end how very much it's still your problem.

Dreher gets a lot of grief from the Catholic blogosphere. But is his description of the post-conciliar Church off the mark in this latest article from Time? Not at all. I could tell you stories of my RCIA classmates "graduating" into the Church without having any idea of what the Church actually expected of them. I could tell you stories about how the Newman Center at my alma mater seldom broached spiritual topics more serious than Buddhist aromatherapy. I could tell you stories about a seminary faculty that willfully turned a blind eye to rampant sexual activity among the students, and the priests who cracked down not on the wrongdoers but the whistleblowers. I believe it is truly a miracle of God's grace that the Church, as she is now, makes any converts at all. She definitely doesn't make nearly as many as she used to, back when she was supposedly hunkered down in the fortress and only spoke to the world to hurl thunderous anathemas from on high. Somehow, some way, she not only survived but thrived when she did that. By comparison, the results of all this dialogue and reaching out and being open to the world have been less than successful to put it charitably.

And yet I stay. He didn't. Dreher often says that he no longer believes in Rome's claim to primacy or papal infallibility, but his theological reasons for abandoning the Church always read like post-facto rationalizations for what was an emotional decision. When he first announced his apostasy, I remember thinking "And where will you go when you inevitably discover that evil exists within the pale of Orthodoxy Mr. Dreher?"

Even so, I can't condemn Dreher in the same harsh language that other Catholic bloggers sometimes use. The sad truth is that Dreher is more Catholic than some Jesuits. Dreher may be apostate but he has the integrity to not present himself in public as a Catholic in good standing unlike some prominent figures who remain within the Church. Rod's apostasy was an evil act, but God can derive good even from evil.

Carrying on

Thank you to everyone who has offered prayers or condolences for my father. For the past week I've been busy with arranging his affairs and the memorial service. Dad wasn't Catholic. Truth be told, he was angry with the Church over what happened to me in the seminary. But we had a heart to heart before the end, and I think he was at peace with her. I'm focusing on the good times we had. Dad left me his library and his Kindle. His literary tastes tended toward stories of hardcore badasses who killed many men, slept with many beautiful women, and saved the country or the world from destruction. You can see how much he influenced me.