Saturday, November 30, 2013

Here's to the new year

The new liturgical year begins with 1st Vespers for the 1st Sunday of Advent:

h/t: Rorate Caeli

The crisis of the Church is a crisis of bishops indeed

Catholic priest attempts to preach what Church teaches, Catholics outraged:
A Catholic high School has postponed a talk by a controversial priest who encourages teens to “pray away the gay” — but the president of the Bronx school defied angry gay groups by saying the lecturer will be invited back.
Father Donald Timone was scheduled to speak Tuesday night at Cardinal Spellman High School about the Catholic group called Courage — which encourages teens "struggling with same-sex attraction" to lead chaste lives.
After outrage by lesbian and gay alumni, and some staffers, school President Trevor Nicholls scrubbed the event — but this battle is not over.
“The idea that this is the end of the matter is incorrect,” Father Nicholls said.
Nicholls added that Timone would likely be invited back after the school’s board of trustees weighs in — a formality.
Opponents of Timone — who say he treats homosexuals like addicts in a 12-step program — will continue their fight, too.
I guess it would be throwing gasoline on the fire to remind those alumni and staffers that sodomy is one of the sins that cries out to heaven for vengeance? If I live to be 120, I will never understand why so many Catholic priests shy away from being "divisive" or "controversial." Scripture isn't my strong suit, but I vaguely recall some important dude once saying that he came not to bring peace but a sword, and that even family households would be divided amongst themselves over his words. Obviously good Catholics can differ over tactics while sharing the same strategic goal, i.e. the salvation of souls. But there comes a point where you have to accept that it's not the way you're passing on the message, but the message itself people object to. Men said to Jesus Christ's very face that his teachings were too hard and they weren't going to walk with him anymore. Do you really think you can do the Messiah one better?

When discussions like these start, liberals are quick to shift the frame. They claim that the Church's teachings about the gravely disordered and sinful nature of sodomy are cruel and discriminatory. Those teachings single out a group of individuals and commands them to live a life utterly devoid of love and fulfillment. How dare you hateful bigots hold to your outdated superstitions when they inflict pain on real people!

There are two points to remember about the liberal frame: 1) they do not believe in the laws of nature or God; and 2) they believe this life is the only one there is. Far too many Catholics, like far too many "conservatives" accept this frame when they make their counterarguments ensuring they will lose the fight before it even begins. Human beings were not made for this world. As the old Baltimore Catechism put it, we are made to know God, to love him, serve him, and be happy with him both in this life and the next. We were made for eternity. We were made to be happy with God in heaven.

Jesus told us that the two great commandments are "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, etc.," and "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." How do we love God? Jesus tells us, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments." How do we love our neighbor? Love means desiring the other's good. And what could be a greater good than heaven? Love doesn't mean we passively watch our loved one tread the path of self-destruction. You'd intervene if your loved one was abusing drugs or alcohol, wouldn't you? Wouldn't you also intervene if they were routinely violating the commandments of God, if you really believe in the Christian religion? If you really believe in the Christian religion, then why do you allow liberals to reframe the discussion to a worldview that does not include God?
The cancellation did little to appease some staffers, who cited new Pope Francis’ attempt to get church leaders to move beyond divisive issues such as gay marriage, homosexuality and abortion.
"A lot of people are really pissed off (at the school for hosting Timone)," said one employee who asked to remain anonymous. "With the Pope urging people to back off on this issue the whole thing seems a little out of place."
Well, what the pope actually said was that we shouldn't disconnect the moral commandments from the message of the Gospel (although even then, I'm hard pressed to think of many Catholic priests who preach the moral commandments at all, let alone too much.) One writer takes exception to the school's actions:
The epidemic of pornography, adultery, sky-high divorce rates, human trafficking, treating others as objects and not as people made in the image and likeness of God, all can be traced back to the lack of virtue and purity in our lives.
Which is part of what makes the intolerance of those who seek to drown out the church’s beautiful teaching so alarming. For individuals and groups to bully, to threaten, to protest, when a priest seeks to explain this timeless and timely message to parents who invited him to do so, is a scary precedent. We have gone from the days when the plea from some activists was “all we want is to live our lives in peace” to “you shall not have the right to present your teaching.”
Who is being intolerant here? I am reminded of the recent shameful episode when Police Commissioner Ray Kelly was unable to give a talk after being shouted down by students at a renowned "liberal and tolerant" Ivy League school. Have we really reached the point where only one point of view can be expressed?
 The answer, of course, is yes. Free speech is only for the free and equal superman, not for the filthy subhumans who are still bound by the chains of religion, history, tradition, and nature. And by the way your Eminence, but don't you have the power to get that school sorted out? Am I missing something? Is there something which compels you to be a passive bystander Cardinal Dolan?

h/t: Rod Dreher

"Who are you that you do not know your history?"

Everyone pretends to be Irish on St. Patrick's Day, but nobody pretends to be Scottish on St. Andrew's Day. Therefore, I will spend most of today playing golf, drinking scotch, and complaining about how expensive everything is.

"They're watching you work"
For example, the military expanded its hiring test from the four-part IQ-like AFQT to the ten-part ASVAB, but it continues to use the AFQT subset to eliminate applicants. The other six parts of the ASVAB superset are then used for placement: e.g., if you score well on the vehicle repair knowledge subtest you might find yourself fixing trucks. But even if you ace the auto repair subtest, you have to make the grade on the IQ-like AFQT core to be allowed to enlist.
My ASVAB score was such that I could have had any MOS I wanted. I went 11B because I wanted to kill people and blow shit up. I remember seeing a lot of people studying for the ASVAB. I never cracked any of those "study guides" and scored in the low nineties. I remember saying to my recruiter, "Those questions, they were, ah..."

"At the tenth grade level," he prompted.

"But then why do..." I began.

"You'd be amazed at how many kids score in the twenties or thirties," he said. Public education at work: some kids graduate from high school technically unqualified to even pick up a rifle.
A lot of what Silicon Valley does these days is wheel re-invention. Nobody remembers the past because so much effort has been invested in distorting memories to validate current power arrangements, so a lot of things that are sold as technological breakthroughs never before possible are really just ways to get around government regulations that were imposed because they seemed like a good idea at the time. 
The Catholic Church has pretty much spent the last fifty years reinventing the wheel. Its best and brightest are rewarded with cushy chancery gigs or bishops mitre's for pondering how best to preach the Gospel to "modern man." Lost in all of these New Evangelization fads is any institutional memory that the Church not only survived but thrived before the birth of youth outreach, stewardship drives, lay ministries, ecumenism, full, conscious, and active participation, and pastoral preaching and counseling. We're told that the Church of the 1950's was crying out for reform and we're regaled with horror stories about Father's ten minute Low Mass, of people praying the Rosary or sleeping during Sunday Mass, of sclerotic theology out of touch with the modern world, and a cold Pharisaical emphasis on the letter of the law.

But are we really that much better off now that we've thrown away almost every vestige of what our stupid backwards grandparents built? I myself have seen people fiddling with their iPhones during Mass, laughing and shaking hands in the communion line, and sleeping the rest of the time. If Father used to approach the Mass as a duty to be finished as quickly as possible, now many of them approach it as their auditions for a future Tonight Show gig: "Good morning everyone! How about them Niners eh? God bless you for coming to Mass on this beautiful Sunday morning, I promise not to keep you too long so let's begin in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit..." The complaints about the Thomistic theology seminarians used to be drilled with are so idiotically frivolous that I'm astounded grown ass men can actually give them voice without blushing. Maybe if our local priests had spent more time studying those dusty old Scholastic tomes they wouldn't preach so many homilies that consist of corny jokes, assurances that Jesus was a beta nice guy, and congratulations on what good, holy, wonderful people we all are.

TL;DR version: it wasn't the Church that needed reforming, but ourselves.

This story keeps getting better and better:
Dayna Morales, a server at Gallop Asian Bistro in Bridgewater, had posted a photo on Facebook earlier this month showing the bill with a line through the tip area. The photo of the receipt showed someone had written, "I'm sorry but I cannot tip because I do not agree with your lifestyle."
A New Jersey couple came forward to NBC 4 New York and said this week that the receipt was theirs but that they had left a tip and did not write a note, suggesting it was used for a hoax. The handwriting, they said, was not theirs, and they also supplied what they said was a credit card statement showing they were charged for the total plus the $18 tip.
NBC 4 New York learned Wednesday from a Pentagon source that Morales was dismissed from the Marine Reserve Corps in May because she wasn't attending drills. It wasn't immediately clear how often those drills were held, and Morales did not respond to a request for comment.
Well sure, those particular white heterosexuals might be innocent, but white heterosexuals as a whole would absolutely do that. So Morales is right from a certain point of view. Take that, you white, racist, sexist, homophobic, heteronormative bigots!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Guest blogger on giving thanks

"People travel to wonder at the height of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars; and they pass by themselves without wondering... Now, let us acknowledge the wonder of our physical incarnation— that we are here, in these particular bodies, at this particular time, in these particular circumstances. May we never take for granted the gift of our individuality." -Saint Augustine of Hippo

A happy Thanksgiving to all

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor - and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be - That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks - for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation - for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war - for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed - for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted - for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions - to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually - to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed - to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord - To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us - and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

George Washington

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

My heart will go on

Some Protestant named Tony Jones wants a schism:
The time has come for a schism regarding the issue of women in the church. Those of us who know that women should be accorded full participation in every aspect of church life need to visibly and forcefully separate ourselves from those who do not. Their subjugation of women is anti-Christian, and it should be tolerated no longer.
That means:
  • If you attend a church that does not let women preach or hold positions of ecclesial authority, you need to leave that church.
  • If you work for a ministry that does not affirm women in ecclesial leadership, you need to leave that ministry.
  • If you write for a publishing house that also prints books by “complementarians,” you need to take your books to another publishing house.
  • If you speak at conferences, you need to withdraw from all events that do not affirm women as speakers, teachers, and leaders.
That is, we who believe in the full equality of women need to break fellowship with those who do not. The time for dialogue and debate has passed. The Spirit has spoken, and we have listened. It’s time to move forward with full force.
I don't believe that all men are created equal, let alone men and women. My heart breaks with sorrow but I remain confident that the Catholic Church will find some way, some how to press forward. This is the first time I've ever heard "complementarian" used as a pejorative. I'm not a complementarian because the pope says so but because it squares with observable reality. Affirming what we can see with our own eyes is rapidly becoming a revolutionary act. Men are not women. Women are not men. Men and women are not the same. Men are better at some things and women are better at some things. No amount of wailing and gnashing of teeth about gender roles is going to change that.

h/t: Rod Dreher

Headline: Pope Teaches What Church Has Always Taught, World Outraged

It's slowly dawning on more progressives that Pope Francis is not one of them:
Among the vulnerable for whom the Church wishes to care with particular love and concern are unborn children, the most defenceless and innocent among us. Nowadays efforts are made to deny them their human dignity and to do with them whatever one pleases, taking their lives and passing laws preventing anyone from standing in the way of this. Frequently, as a way of ridiculing the Church’s effort to defend their lives, attempts are made to present her position as ideological, obscurantist and conservative. Yet this defence of unborn life is closely linked to the defence of each and every other human right. It involves the conviction that a human being is always sacred and inviolable, in any situation and at every stage of development. Human beings are ends in themselves and never a means of resolving other problems. Once this conviction disappears, so do solid and lasting foundations for the defence of human rights, which would always be subject to the passing whims of the powers that be. Reason alone is sufficient to recognize the inviolable value of each single human life, but if we also look at the issue from the standpoint of faith, “every violation of the personal dignity of the human being cries out in vengeance to God and is an offence against the creator of the individual”.

Precisely because this involves the internal consistency of our message about the value of the human person, the Church cannot be expected to change her position on this question. I want to be completely honest in this regard. This is not something subject to alleged reforms or “modernizations”. It is not “progressive” to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life.
Franciscus
Evangelii Gaudium

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Paranoid Style in American Social Engineering

Dear God that's embarrassing:
This is a stupendously awesome commercial from a toy company called GoldieBlox, which has developed a set of interactive books and games to “disrupt the pink aisle and inspire the future generation of female engineers.” The CEO, Debbie Sterling, studied engineering at Stanford, where she was dismayed by the lack of women in her program. (For a long look at the Gordian knot that is women’s underrepresentation in STEM fields, check out this New York Times article from October.) As the GoldieBlox website attests, only 11 percent of the world’s engineers are female. Sterling wants to light girls’ inventive spark early, supplementing the usual diet of glittery princess products with construction toys “from a female perspective.”
Yesterday was the fiftieth anniversary of the Kennedy assassination. President Kennedy was killed by a communist nut acting alone. Facts are boring though. According to Oliver Stone, Kennedy was killed by the entire Military Industrial Complex acting in concert with a coterie of French Quarter homosexuals led by Joe Pesci with a toupee. According to the Cathedral, Kennedy was killed by "extremism" and hate. And everybody who's anybody knows that only the Right is extremist and hateful. That's why the New York Times can publish stories about how the city of Dallas killed JFK, but not how Buffalo, NY killed McKinley, or Washington, DC killed Lincoln and Garfield. As an aside, I think Rollo Tomassi has a better name for the media machine than Mencius Moldbug's Cathedral: the [Borg] Cube. It better captures their relentless push to consume our souls and stamp out our biological and technological distinctiveness, don't you think?

The modern American mind sees everything as a problem to be solved. If only 11% of all engineering jobs are held by women, then it must be because of cultural programming, oppressive gender conditioning, shaming strong independent women, pushing boys at the expense of girls, and the sum total of centuries worth of evil patriarchal misogyny. It's gauche to take Ockham's Razor to this issue and say, "Hey, maybe most girls just aren't interested in engineering." Bastard! You would say that, you, you... SEXISS! You're afraid of strong women, aren't you?!

I know a lot of people who work in public education, either as teachers or administrators. Pretty much every major fad in the education industry is aimed at closing the Achievement Gap. The Gap is the singular obsession of education bureaucrats. Every conceivable explanation has been proposed to explain away the Gap, most of them putting the blame on something white people did a long time ago, or something so deeply ingrained and insidious that white people aren't even conscious that they're doing it. There's much talk of legacies, and privilege, and invisible knapsacks, and difficulty settings. The one explanation that never occurs to anyone besides awful, awful men like Steve Sailer is, "Hey, maybe some students are just smarter than others." You would say that, you, you... RACISS!

Down with Strong Female Characters, revisited

Sci-fi author John C. Wright on the most abused trope:
I submit that this is not inequality, and more than Fred leading and Ginger following during a stirring waltz is inequality. It is complimentary. Those who object that men should not lead in the dance, whatever they say, are not friends of women; they just want to stop the joy of the dance.
...The sexes are opposite, and culture should exaggerate the complimentary opposition by artifice in order to increase our joy in them, including artifices of dress and speech: when women dress and speak and act like men, some joy is erased from both sexes.
...A woman perhaps will be offended at being portrayed as a prize; but none should be offended at being prized.
Scripture tells us that when God created human beings, "male and female He created them." This truth is so obvious that it becomes easy to overlook. Men and women are equal before the eyes of God but they are not the same. We're not supposed to notice this, but everyone feels disquieted by hard charging, take-no-nonsense ball busting women. We're vaguely disgusted by the man who is quick to tear up or engage in catty gossip. In contrast, we may not personally like the ruthless man who puts his career before all else, or the backbiting woman whose nose is in everyone's business. But we recognize them as extremes of the male and female character.

Feminists are outraged by the notion that the two sexes have traits which are particularly theirs. They hate the idea that there are "masculine virtues" and "feminine virtues." They associate the traditionally feminine virtues with weakness and passivity. And this is where we get the Strong Female Character. You start with a woman, and then make her an obnoxious, foul mouthed, hard drinking ass kicker. Voila! Take that patriarchy. At its most extreme *coughjosswhedoncough* we see 5'3" 100 pound waifs tossing around men who weigh twice as much with ease.

This is not to say that it's impossible for women to be results-oriented or for men to be more emotional nurturing types. But those are not our natural ways of thinking. It requires much counter-intuitive decision making on our respective parts. We have to be trained out of our default and into the alien mode. And you'll like it you evil, evil white man or we'll get you fired and sent to the sensitivity training gulag!

Wright is an astute critic of our diseased culture, but he also walks the walk by being a professional writer. He's not going to single-handedly change the entire culture, but he's doing his part one novel at a time. If you're eager for more RealTalk to make it through the Cathedral's filters, support your favorite writers, film makers, artists, and musicians. If you've got the aptitude for any of those fields, get to it. Don't get hung up on being original. Tell the truth in your work and everything else will be added unto it.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Me needing an editor is unplausible

An inside look at mainstream publishing:
Publishing is an often incredibly frustrating culture. If you want to buy a project—let’s say a nonfiction proposal for a book about the history of Sicily—some of your colleagues will say, “The proposal is too dry” or “Cletis Trebuchet did a book for Grendel Books five years ago about Sardinia and it sold, like, eight copies,” or, airily, “I don’t think many people want to read about little islands.” When Seabiscuit first came up for discussion at an editorial meeting at Random House, some skeptic muttered, “Talk about beating a dead horse!”
To make matters worse, financial success in frontlist publishing is very often random, but the media conglomerates that run most publishing houses act as if it were not. Yes, you may be able to count on a new novel by Surething Jones becoming a big best seller. But the best-­seller lists paint nothing remotely like the full financial picture of any publication, because that picture’s most important color is the size of the advance. But let’s say you publish a fluky blockbuster one year, the corporation will see a spike in your profits and sort of autistically, or at least automatically, raise the profit goal for your division by some corporately predetermined amount for the following year. This is close to clinically insane institutional behavior.
Anthony Hayward speaks of the advantages of self-publishing:
As a journalist and author myself, I have done just that. After writing more than 20 books, with major publishers behind them, I have found it increasingly difficult to get new ideas accepted. It is also frustrating as a writer to have a non-fiction book that is up-to-the-minute when "completed", only for it to come out maybe nine months later and seem slightly dated.
...In setting about doing the job myself, I soon discovered some major advantages. Once written, an ebook can be published at the click of a computer's mouse. When I started, Pilger was making his latest documentary, Utopia (in cinemas now and on television and DVD next month), and I have been able to give the book added impact by tying in with its release. How many of the big publishers can do that?
...Authors might also consider that there is more money to be made by going down the ebook route, although that is dependent on several factors – and not necessarily the most honourable reason for switching to self-publishing.
Micha Mattix says "not so fast:"
In The Guardian, Anthony Hayward explains why, after writing 20 books for traditional publishers, he has decided to self-publish his most recent book as an e-book. He marshals all the usual (and good) reasons to consider self-publishing: It’s quicker, authors retain more of the profit, and they have more control over the book’s content, release date, marketing, and so forth. The disadvantages—the extra time editing and marketing and designing, and, most importantly, the lack of editorial guidance—are ignored.
...Editors junk bad ideas and fix sloppy prose, and while this can be painful for writers, it is ultimately for their own good (as well as the good of readers and books themselves). After all, deep-down, who wants to spend two years on a book that is little more than a pet project or vanity publication? I’ve seen academics and writers pursue such projects in self-publishing and the results are not particularly flattering.
It's usually not editors in general that self-published writers dislike, but editors attached to mainstream publishing houses. I find the disadvantage Mattix cites - "But without gatekeepers, lots of crap will get published!" - to be unconvincing. My counter-argument: Twilight and 50 Shades of Gray. I rest my case. Lots and lots of crap gets published today after it has been passed through several editorial filters.

If you submit your manuscript to a mainstream publishing house, and it gets accepted, you give up a lot. Every writer has to decide for himself or herself if the benefits of professional editing outweigh the costs in giving up creative control and potential profits. If filthy lucre is what you care about, then the choice is obvious. Let's consider the worst that could possibly happen in both cases. If something is wrong with my self-published book, I can fix it immediately. If the entire self-publishing industry implodes tomorrow then I still have all the rights to my work and I can go submit it to a traditional publisher.

If I've submitted my work to a traditional publisher and something goes wrong, I'm up a certain creek without a paddle. I've signed away my rights and have no control over how it's marketed. If the publisher itself implodes, then it will take many years and a lot of legal work to resell my book, if I ever can. Do those sound like acceptable risks in exchange for some editing and cover art to you?

h/t: Rod Dreher

Making all the right enemies

"You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, some time in your life." - Winston Churchill

The manosphere site Return of Kings got in trouble recently for publishing this article: 5 Reasons to date a girl with an eating disorder. Apparently it ignited such an emotional eruption on social media that even the Washington Post got involved by pointing out the obvious: their tantrums are only making Roosh even richer. Heck, I hadn't even read the original article before it became the object of the daily Two Minute Hate. Leaving aside my personal feelings about the sort of lifestyle that website advocates (extramarital sex is not an option for the practicing Catholic), I applaud Roosh's official response to the tide of feminist outrage: double down and make them even angrier.

Shaming is one of the greatest weapons in the Cathedral's arsenal. The other day a woman on Facebook furiously denounced me for linking to Dalrock. She went through all the usual feminist insults almost to a tee. Their enemies must, they simply must, be virginal losers because otherwise they might have to reconsider their assumptions and we can't have that. I laughed in her virtual face. And I seriously laughed out loud in the real world. A middle aged manjawed housewife trying to shame me for being a terrible, terrible white man was the comedic highlight of my week so far.

Never, ever, ever back down when they try to shame you. Laugh in their face. Agree and amplify. Double down. Dare them to do something about it. Whatever you do, don't ever apologize. Never give in. Because it isn't going to work. How many times have we seen mainstream conservatives fall all over themselves to apologize for disagreeing with left-liberals? How often have we seen them sweating it out, trying to prove a negative? "I'm not a racist or a sexist or a homophobe! My adopted black daughter is a lesbian!"

Liberalism is incoherent and inhuman. It's as doomed to failure as was Communism. But that doesn't mean we can't or shouldn't hasten its demise. Trolling is a weapon we shouldn't ignore. Because if there's one thing the devil can't tolerate, it's being laughed at.

A rare case of understatement from Michael Voris


This is one of the few times I think Voris isn't being nearly strident enough. Edward Schillebeeckx was a traitor and a heretic who spent his entire adult life undermining the Church which was foolish enough to give him his livelihood and a platform for his many heresies. He rejected the Church's hierarchical and sacramental structure, he cast doubt on both the Incarnation and the Resurrection, and by the end he doubted the existence of any sort of supernatural order. If he was reconciled to Holy Mother Church on his deathbed, we should rejoice in God's mercy which surpasses all understanding. If he died as a defiant and unrepentant heretic, then we should tremble at God's justice which no man escapes and no worldly success can diminish.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Suffocated with Boomer nostalgia

Nixon and Kennedy: The Myths and Reality
Had there been no Dallas, there would been no Camelot.
There would have been no John F. Kennedy as brilliant statesman cut off in his prime, had it not been for those riveting days from Dealey Plaza to Arlington and the lighting of the Eternal Flame.
Along with the unsleeping labors of an idolatrous press and the propagandists who control America's popular culture, those four days created and sustained the Kennedy Myth.
But, over 50 years, the effect has begun to wear off.
The New York Times reports that in the ranking of presidents, Kennedy has fallen further and faster than any. Ronald Reagan has replaced him as No. 1, and JFK is a fading fourth.
Kennedy is increasingly perceived today as he was 50 years ago, before word came that shots had been fired in Dallas.
That he was popular, inspirational, charismatic, no one denied. But no one would then have called him great or near great. His report card had too many C's, F's and Incompletes.
You have to wonder if the relative places of Kennedy and Nixon in American mythology has to do with their respective SMVs. Remember how historians and people who are old enough to remember seeing their debate on television thought Kennedy won, and those who only listened to it on the radio thought Nixon won? If Nixon had been the good looking one and Kennedy the jowly policy wonk, then Nixon would not only have won the 1960 election by a comfortable margin, he'd be remembered as a good president.

Even though they are tools of the devil, you have to admire the power liberalism exerts on the culture. Kennedy was assassinated by a committed communist, yet the establishment quickly and vociferously blamed the assassination on "extremism," and as everyone knows only the Right is ever extremist. Liberals made it their goal to conquer the institutions and they've succeeded to such an extent that they pretty much own the field. Why can't us Trads do something similar?

In other news, the pope is Catholic

A Cold War Fought by Women:
The existence of female competition may seem obvious to anyone who has been in a high-school cafeteria or a singles bar, but analyzing it has been difficult because it tends be more subtle and indirect (and a lot less violent) than the male variety. Now that researchers have been looking more closely, they say that this “intrasexual competition” is the most important factor explaining the pressures that young women feel to meet standards of sexual conduct and physical appearance.
...To see how female students react to a rival, researchers brought pairs of them into a laboratory at McMaster University for what was ostensibly a discussion about female friendships. But the real experiment began when another young woman entered the room asking where to find one of the researchers.
This woman had been chosen by the researchers, Tracy Vaillancourt and Aanchal Sharma, because she “embodied qualities considered attractive from an evolutionary perspective,” meaning a “low waist-to-hip ratio, clear skin, large breasts.” Sometimes, she wore a T-shirt and jeans, other times a tightfitting, low-cut blouse and short skirt.
In jeans, she attracted little notice and no negative comments from the students, whose reactions were being secretly recorded during the encounter and after the woman left the room. But when she wore the other outfit, virtually all the students reacted with hostility.
They stared at her, looked her up and down, rolled their eyes and sometimes showed outright anger. One asked her in disgust, “What the [expletive] is that?”
Most of the aggression, though, happened after she left the room. Then the students laughed about her and impugned her motives. One student suggested that she dressed that way in order to have sex with a professor. Another said that her breasts “were about to pop out.” 
They actually spent money to find this out? Consider this: have you ever noticed that when a woman cuts her hair boyishly short, it's only other women who are quick to tell her that she looks great?

Liberalism and Modernism

Zippy defines liberalism:
Liberalism is the political doctrine that securing individual freedom and equal rights is the primary legitimate purpose of government.
A liberal is a person who has a significant degree of commitment to this doctrine.
The liberal’s commitment may be derived from pragmatic considerations, or it may be ideologically derived from the preliminary doctrine that the just powers of government derive from the consent of the governed.  But whatever the source of commitment, a person who is committed to the doctrine of liberalism is a liberal.
This is an important point. Under liberalism, a label only applies if the labeled person agrees that it applies to him. A liberal believes he is a liberal not because he is loyal to liberalism but only because he thinks of himself as a liberal, and only so long as he himself gets to define both liberalism and his commitment to it. In reality, a liberal is someone who is loyal to liberalism. Liberalism is an objective thing which exists independently of whatever any individual liberal may think about the matter. Otherwise, we get this:
The notion that liberals aren’t genuinely committed to individual freedom and equal rights is false.  They are.  But the notion that they aren’t leaves the door open for other kinds of liberals to claim that their own conception of liberalism (which they may or may not label “liberalism”) is the authentic conception.  Thus the fracturing of modern politics into different factions of liberalism: in the United States the two main factions are the right liberals (represented by the Republican party) and the left liberals (represented by the Democratic party).  Despite the apparent division, all respectable political opinion inside the Overton window - and indeed much political opinion outside of it – is liberal opinion.
Republicans and Democrats both believe in the liberal superman, self-created through his own reason and will, unfettered from the arbitrary shackles of unchosen realities. Democrats, in general, actively loathe the traditional foundations of society. Republicans, in general, are willing to fight for those foundations but only as one choice among many. When the foundations of civilization are inevitably overthrown, then not only do most Republicans accept it, they defend it. They'll murmur about women being placed in combat roles in the military, for example, but I guaran-damn-tee that twenty years from now they will passionately defend all of the "men and women in uniform" who kill bad guys. Do any Republicans still seriously speak about shutting down the Department of Education anymore? The big issue of the 2016 election will be Obamacare, and Republicans will be arguing that they can make it work. They are the rear guard of the liberal army, impotently grumbling about how the vanguard is moving too quickly even as they agree with them in principle and in strategy.
But who, then, are the authentic representatives of liberal doctrine?  In fact there is no authentic conception of liberalism, because liberalism is incoherent.  An authentic conception of liberalism does not exist: it is impossible in principle.  Government by its very essence is a discriminating authority which initiates force to support a particular conception of the good.  That’s what government is.  A concept of government with the primary purpose of preventing authoritative discrimination is therefore self-contradictory. 
Liberalism is incoherent in theory which is why its practice is so riddled with unprincipled exceptions. A good way to figure out whether someone is a right-liberal or a left-liberal is to find out which areas they are willing to make unprincipled exceptions:
Definition:The unprincipled exception is a non-liberal value or assertion, not explicitly identified as non-liberal, that liberals use to escape the inconvenient, personally harmful, or suicidal consequences of their own liberalism without questioning liberalism itself. Alternatively, the unprincipled exception is a non-liberal value or assertion, not explicitly identified as non-liberal, that conservatives use to slow the advance of liberalism or to challenge some aspect of liberalism without challenging liberalism itself.
 This is why the charge of "hypocrisy" is so frequently thrown about in polemical discourse. Sean Hannity can wag his finger and say "You liberals..." because he has identified where they are making unprincipled exceptions to their own liberalism (although conservative talk show hosts like Hannity seldom apply this line of thinking to their own positions.)
Intuitively one might think that this internal incoherence would make liberalism non-viable as a political doctrine, but in fact the opposite is the case.  When the doctrine one embraces is self-contradictory in a way that is (perhaps) not obvious, it is possible to derive all sorts of conclusions – even conclusions which are in conflict with each other - from that doctrine.  In practice this makes the doctrine very ‘flexible’, and creates a subtle (or not so subtle) shift of frame.  The frameshift makes considerations of what is true turn blurry, and makes what individuals will come sharply into focus as paramount.
So when liberals tell you that they are “pro choice” in an undistilled abstract sense independent of the actual content of those choices, they are telling the truth.  The reason that each faction of liberalism in practice treats some choices as legitimate and some as illegitimate – with different understandings depending on the faction, setting up the intramural conflicts between different sorts of liberals which dominate modern politics – arises from the fact that in order to govern at all it is necessary to discriminate authoritatively.   Thus the implicit corollary doctrine of the superman which inevitably appears in every form of liberalism as its self-contradictory substrate encounters particular realities.
 Liberalism has made deep inroads into Christianity under the guise of Modernism. For the Modernist, the experience of the individual believer is paramount. Doctrine follows behavior instead of behavior being influenced by doctrine. If the believer is "not being fed" at his Catholic parish, then he should feel free to choose another religion of his liking that is more in accordance with his will. If Catholic lay people are divorcing and contracepting at similar rates as the general population, then the Modernist argues that doctrine should change to reflect the chosen behavior of the laity. Modernists are loathe to speak of the Catholic Church as the one true Church of Christ because that implies all people everywhere must, in justice, submit to the yoke of Christ and the rule of the Church.

This is further shown by modern catechesis. Modernist influenced catechists don't like the old pedagogical techniques of Q&A like in the old Baltimore catechism. The focus is on the experience of the individual believer. Faith is no longer considered the virtue proper to the intellect. There's less emphasis on assenting to truths and more to living them. How has that been working out compared to the old ways? Well, you tell me my four loyal readers.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The triumph of liberalism and the failure of conservatism

The Social Pathologist diagnoses the problem with conservatism:
An objective analysis of socio-political history would have to conclude that, in the battle between conservatism and liberalism, liberalism has been the winner. Even today's modern "conservatism" is not the conservatism of 1900. It, too, has been heavily influenced by liberal thought. The dividing line between the two ideologies seems more economic rather than social and on socially corrosive issues like divorce, promiscuity, multiculturalism and moral relativism  there appears to little in practice to separate the two mainstream political actors. From this vantage point in time one has to conclude that Conservatism in the 20th Century has failed. In fact, on every issue that Conservatism has taken a position liberalism has trumped it. Some might disagree and argue that conservatives won on economic issues, to which I reply, "Gold standard, anyone?"

The problem with Conservatism is that it has swallowed much of the liberal Kool-Aid and whilst there may be particular factions which espouse a particular truth quite forcefully, for nearly every faction that espouses one conservative truth it does it with an admixture of other liberal errors.  Modern American and British Conservatism seem to bee prime examples of this admixture. In fact, it's my opinion that American conservatism could quite easily slide into some form of South American (Not German) Fascism if it is not too careful, so bad is the mixture.
It's more accurate to describe American conservatism as right-liberalism. An American conservative is whatever an American liberal was thirty years ago. The conservative is someone who basically accepts the liberal frame but recognizes that left to itself liberalism will self-destruct, and thus it needs the occasional homeopathic injection of tradition to keep the whole thing afloat. But if liberalism is ultimately self-destructive then trying to prop it up is to confuse disease with health. Vdare's James Kirkpatrick takes a look at right-liberal Dennis Prager's proposition nation:
Prager takes this to the logical conclusion: not just the “proposition” nation, but the “proposition family”! He writes that the job of a father is not to “pass on my seed, but pass on my values.”
Of course, no nation, even one with a relatively progressive record like the United States, can possibly compete with an absolute dream that “all men are created equal.” The vision of perfect equality will defeat the national reality every time. After all, whatever the fantasies of contemporary “colorblind” conservatives, America was created by an ethnic core of White Anglo Saxon Protestant settlers—who did it, in the words of the U.S. Constitution’s Preamble, for “ourselves and our posterity.”
Nor can any real family hold together on the ground of ideology. We love our parents and our children because they are ours—not because we agree with their view of the Constitution.
 Liberalism is about freeing the liberal superman, self-created through his own reason and will, from unchosen shackles such as family and country. These unchosen realities only matter if the liberal wills for them to matter. He will not be bound by anything he himself does not choose. At best, the truths of nature and nature's God are "values" that the liberal is free to embrace or reject, not laws that define reality and his place in it.
Prager's column comes off as defensive, apologetic, and most of all, defeatist, like so much of the commentary coming from the Beltway Right. In contrast, in Europe there is a movement of youth who are rejecting their parents' values—because they think their parents are Leftists. Frustrated at the hostile takeover of their country, these young rebels are taking the offensive.
Generation Identity, based mostly out of France, has characterized itself as a resistance movement against the multicultural system. Its manifesto, authored by a 21 year old named Markus Willinger, urges the overthrow of the “'68ers”—the former radicals of the May 1968 rebellion who have now entrenched themselves in the European Establishment. To them, Willinger offers an upraised fist and what he calls a Declaration of War.
While the American Beltway Right takes refuge in abstractions and slogans, the European New Right is taking the offensive explicitly on the grounds of defending its people and homelands. Willinger writes: “A new political current is sweeping through Europe. It has one goal, one symbol, and one thought: Identity.”
 Count me in as an enthusiastic counter-revolutionary ready, willing, and eager to cast down the 68ers and bask in their agonized wailing and gnashing of teeth as their ideology burns in the fires of a resurgent traditionalism. I used to self-identify as a conservative, but now I proudly accept the label of reactionary. I don't wish to conserve modernism - I want to see it explicitly repudiated and condemned as the heresy it is.

Headline: Pope Changes Church Teaching on Capital Punishment

Reverend Fathers, please talk like Francis more:
Pope Francis has delivered a fiery sermon against corruption, quoting a passage from the Bible in which Jesus said some sinners deserve to be tied to a rock and thrown into the sea.
In one of his strongest-worded homilies since he was elected in March, the Argentinean pontiff said Christians who lead “a double life” by giving money to the Church while stealing from the state are sinners who deserve to be punished.
Quoting from the Gospel of St Luke in the New Testament, he said “Jesus says: It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck and he be thrown into the sea.”
The Jesus who appears in the Sacred Scriptures is a far different figure than the simpering nice guy portrayed in many Sunday homilies. You don't send corrupt priests into expensive rehab programs or move them from parish to parish when they're molesting children. You give them millstone neckties.

Fallout: New Vegas Unarmed build

There's something immensely satisfying about being an unarmed badass. And I don't mean your fancy pants kung fu and whatnot. I mean settling your problems with only your fists. Any punk can shoot a gun or a laser from across the room, but it takes a man to get close enough to his enemies to make them explode in a cloud of bloody giblets with his fists. Unlike Skyrim, an unarmed badass build is not only viable in FNV, it's insanely overpowered if you select the right perks. Bethesda should be paying me a commission for my Skyrim and Fallout builds. My game playing genius and incomparable prose have no doubt compelled hundreds to go out and buy these games.

The one drawback to an unarmed badass build is that it requires investing heavily into a second attack skill: melee. You might think that melee and unarmed go together like peas and carrots, but you would think wrong. Melee weapons have terrible critical damage. The best melee weapons, i.e. Oh Baby! and the chainsaw, cannot deal critical hits at all (which is fine since their base damage is so high anyway.) In contrast, critical hits are your bread and butter with an unarmed build. That means you want high endurance and high luck. My SPECIAL stats for my first unarmed guy:

S - 6
P - 5
E - 8
C - 1
I - 6
A - 6
L- 8

If you want you can take one or two points out of intelligence and make luck even higher. It's best to never take intelligence below four, which is the minimum for the Educated perk (although role playing an idiot Courier with an intelligence of 3 or below leads to some hilarious dialogue options.) Strength is at 6 because one implant and the Reinforced Spine perk from Old World Blues will put it at 9, enabling you to use the holy grail of unarmed weapons, the Ballistic Fist. Agility is at 6 so the implant will qualify you for the Slayer perk. Perception is at 5 so that the implant will raise it to 6 for the Better Criticals perk.

Tagging skills at the start won't make or break your build as there are more than enough skill points to max out all but a few skills before the end. And it's a tough choice. I ended up tagging Unarmed, Melee, and Repair and I'll show you why below with my perk plan:

Level 2 - Light Touch (requires a repair skill of 45, but adds 5% to your critical chance when you wear light armor. Crits, crits, crits... always increase them.)
Level 4 - Educated
Level 6 - Toughness I or Bloody Mess
Level 8 - Super Slam! (requires 6 Strength and Melee 45)
Level 10 - Finesse
Level 12 - Piercing Strike (this perk pretty much turns you into a Deathclaw)
Level 14 - Jury Rigging (Repair 90 - a steep cost, but worth it in the long run)
Level 16 - Better Criticals (Perception 6, Agility 6 - must have)
Level 18 - Paralyzing Palm
Level 20 - Ninja (Sneak 80, Melee 80. It's bugged in that it multiplies your crit chance by 1.15% instead of adding a flat 15%, but anything that increases crit chance is worth taking)
Level 22 - Toughness
Level 24 - Slayer

And the rest is up to you. My unarmed badass was a Wild Card. He's generally a good guy but he has a problem with authority and doesn't like seeing innocent folk getting pushed around. He slaughtered Joe Cobb's gang in Good Springs with only a broad machete. Once he stole a pair of spiked knuckles from the Primm casino, he and ED-E went to the local prison and slaughtered the Powder Gangers to the last man using only his fists. I should have named him Logan.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Survey says Medjugorje likely false

CDF bars participation in events assuming the truth of Medjugorje:
.- At the direction of the Vatican's head for doctrine, the apostolic nuncio to the U.S. has written a letter stating that Catholics “are not permitted” to participate in meetings which take for granted that the supposed Marian apparitions in Medjugorje are credible.
“The Congregation (for the Doctrine of the Faith) has affirmed that, with regard to the credibility of the 'apparitions' in question, all should accept the declaration … which asserts: 'On the basis of the research that has been done, it is not possible to state that there were apparitions or supernatural revelations,'” Archbishop Carlo Vigano wrote in an Oct. 21 letter to the bishops of the U.S., sent to the general secretary of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
I've always held off on expressing an opinion about the supposed apparitions at Medjugorje. I know priests and lay people who have made a pilgrimage and it seems to have done them some good. Otherwise, I haven't paid much attention to it myself as the local bishops where Medjugorje is located have said some unflattering things about it.

I'm not one of those Catholics who lives and dies by private revelations. Everything necessary for our salvation is contained within the Deposit of Faith which was closed with the death of the last Apostle. That said, there's nothing unreasonable in supposing our Lord has the power and the willingness to speak to individual believers throughout history. The Church has a rigorous standard in determining which are authentic locutions from heaven. Some of these private revelations have been deemed worthy of belief, and the Church even encourages believing them; the Divine Mercy devotion was born through a private revelation to a Polish nun after all.

Authentic private revelations, whether popular ones like La Salette and Fatima or lesser known ones such as Akita, all have a similar warning in common: God has had it up to here with our bullshit and bad things will happen if we do not all repent, confess, and do penance right the fuck now. No Catholic is obligated to believe in the veracity of private revelations, but the messages of the authentic ones are well worth considering in any case.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Introibo ad altare Dei

A reader of Father Zuhlsdorf's writes:
I finally figured out why I love the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. I attended the Requiem Mass for All Souls at ___ in ___ this weekend. The Priest and the servers were composed of the younger Priests in our diocese- all of which speak with a great deal of authority. I finally realized what appeals the most to me in the Extraordinary Form. It is a very masculine Mass. It literally pours out justice, mercy, humility, and obedience all at once. The Dies Irae, which I had never heard before, places man in his proper place in relation to the Lord and His redemptive sacrifice. The focus stays completely on that sacrifice. I was in complete awe. This form of the Roman Rite demands attentive prayer from the pew.
I believe in my heart that this masculinity is why some Catholics irrationally lash out at this form of the Mass. Our society has become so effeminate that it no longer wishes to be humbled, subjected, and challenged by the liturgy. We have become touchy-feely, so God must be touchy-feely. No wonder catechized children are so glassy-eyed. They are never taught that along with God’s mercy, he must also be feared, because he is ultimately just.
I am so grateful that the Extraordinary Form has returned to the church. It should never have gone away. This was only my second time at this form of Mass, and I am still righteously angry that I have been robbed of my birthright for so long. I made sure at the end of the Mass to thank the Priests, and I told them that this must spread across the Diocese. One Priest assured me that it is “coming back with a vengeance”. Good. This calm, powerful, and masculine authority and presence has humbled me and given me so much more respect for these Priests. They are no more or less human than any other Priest, yet my heart feels a natural desire to follow them.
Now, I know what you're thinking. As Mark Shea might put it, "So what, are you awful Trads saying you're better than us? You saying the Novus Ordo is inferior to the EF? That's what you think isn't it?! Confess you Pharisaical bastards!" The problem with the Novus Ordo, as I see it, is that it's so difficult to pin down. For the record, yes it can be celebrated with reverence according to the Church's historical and traditional praxis. But I think that any Catholic who takes the faith seriously will admit that in most cases it is not. In my own diocese, I'd estimate that ten percent, fifteen percent tops, celebrate the Mass more or less the way the Church envisions. The rest of the time, the Mass comes across as a production of the community and for the community. Priests often have a "liturgy committee" that sees the Mass as a skeleton upon which the people impose the flesh and sinew of their personal preferences. The priest and people face each other, they smile, crack jokes, hold hands, hug, make nice, and congratulate each other on how well they are living the Gospel. "They'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love, yes they'll know we are Christians by our love..."

In contrast, the Extraordinary Form (or Traditional Latin Mass, Usus Antiquor, or whatever you wish to call it) doesn't even try to accommodate itself to the people. It demands that the people conform themselves to it. The priest is a man set apart, a man ontologically different from other men, who stands in the place of Christ himself. He leads the people as their spiritual father and shepherd. That is the essential function of the priest. The EF never lets anyone forget this role of the priest. The personal qualities of the priest are submerged into his function of offering the sacrifice of the Mass, that same sacrifice of Calvary represented to God the Father.

All of this remains true of the Novus Ordo Mass, objectively speaking. If anything, the Novus Ordo requires even greater discipline and self-sacrifice than the EF. In practice, the focus of the Mass shifts toward the person of the priest and the congregation. The priest often starts Mass with a warm up monologue. He often begins his homily with a joke or cute personal anecdote that may or may not have anything to do with the readings. The homily itself is usually a vague exhortation about how Christ was a touchy-feely nice guy so we should all be touchy-feely nice guys too.

I think the reader is dead on about why so many Catholics of a certain demographic are so violently opposed to the EF: it is unapologetically masculine. If Father celebrated the Novus Ordo with the same degree of masculine gravitas that the EF radiates, then the chancery would be deluged with angry phone calls about how Father is a raciss, sexiss, homophobic right-wing lunatic. I can be pretty tough on priests but I know something of what they experience every time they take a tentative baby step in the right direction. Father Z and I are in accord on this point: if your priest does something right, thank him and support him.

The hell you say

USC's Boniface on the Sensus Fidelium and Hell:
What does the Catholic sensus fidelium say about the idea of Hell throughout the entirety of Church history? There is no fast and easy way to answer this, for when we look at the sensus fidelium, we are not asking what the Church has taught, not looking for lists of definitions from the Councils or citations from Denziger. Instead of asking what the Church teaches, we are asking how the faithful have understood Church teaching. Essentially, we are looking at how culture has appropriated Christian truth. Thus, we are looking at things like artistic depictions of the mysteries of the faith, architectural designs, poetry and literature, popular devotions, and any other popular expressions or interpretations of the faith. Looking at all these expressions of faith collectively, and stretched out over the centuries, we can establish a fairly clear picture of the Church's sensus fidelium on a particular point of faith.
...Earlier we mentioned Dante's Inferno. It has been stated in the past, most notably by Dorothy Sayers in her masterful introduction to the Divine Comedy, that no medieval literature so perfectly reflected the medieval mind as Dante's Divine Comedy. The whole structure of the Comedy presupposes a Hell in which sinners experience God's justice in punishment for their unrepentance. Far from being troubled about the idea of human beings in Hell, Dante sees it as a manifestation of the justice of God. In Canto III of the Inferno, the inscription upon the Gates of Hell reads:
Justice the founder of my fabric mov'd:
To rear me was the task of power divine,
Supremest wisdom, and primeval love. 
Thus, far from being tormented in their conscience about how God could let anybody go to Hell, or about how the presence of sinners in Hell would mean that God and Christ "lost", Dante, and with him the whole medieval tradition, see a profound justice in the fact - not the hypothesis - but the fact of human damnation.
The entire entry is excellent. The last paragraph is often portrayed in straw man fashion by liberal Catholics: "So you're saying the faithful in heaven will rejoice in the suffering of the damned? What kind of neurotic fascist bastard are you?!" No, that's not what Tradition says. The angels and saints in heaven do not rejoice in the sufferings of a particular individual who is damned. Hell exists because of God's justice and love: the former because the reprobate have reaped what they've sown, the latter because God does not force anyone into heaven against their will. The angels and saints in heaven rejoice in both God's justice and his love.

Contemporary thinking about morality assumes that we are ghosts in the machine, that our souls pilot our bodies like they were meat robots. Therefore, moral reasoning is aimed at making sure the ghost always has good intentions, which absolves actual chosen behavior of any taint of wrongdoing. In technical theological terms, this is heretical bile vomited forth from the mouth of Satan himself. We are both body and soul. Some things are evil, full stop, and no amount of epistemological alchemy can make them good (take one serving of sodomy, add 2 teaspoons of ignorance, 1 tablespoon of a good intention, and presto, we have a good act, right? Wrong.)

One of the many reasons why I despise liberal Catholicism with a white hot passion (not, you will take care to note, liberal Catholics) is that it lulls us into a false sense of security. It instills presumption. It tells us that Jesus loves us just the way we are, sins and all, and that everyone goes to heaven in the end. Actually, Jesus loves us despite our sins and he very much expects us to avoid sin and work at correcting our faults. This may appear to be a distinction without a difference, but the difference here is a matter of eternal life or death. If Jesus loves me just the way I am with all my sins and faults, then why do I need to repent? Why ask forgiveness? Why strive to follow the narrow path? We have a divine guarantee that God can and will forgive any sin provided we are sorry for it. We do not have any guarantee that we will live to see tomorrow. "You fool! This very night your life will be demanded of you."

The medievals had a healthy sense of eschatology. They meditated often upon the Four Last Things. Saints who were more inclined to the scholarly life are frequently depicted as having skulls on their desks in medieval and Renaissance artwork. Many of our clergy are specifically trained to offer bland inoffensive teaching and preaching that won't jeopardize the collection plate. They keep the money flowing and the institution humming along. But do they inspire authentic Christian hope in their people or presumption? I'm willing to give my life to Christ and work for the salvation of souls in whatever field our Lord wishes me to work. I am not willing to give my life to an institution whose sole and abiding concern is its own self-preservation at any cost.

Sometimes I wonder what might have been, but it's best not to dwell on moments like those. I've rather come to enjoy the freedom to kick priests and bishops in the ass to do what they should be doing in the first place. I'm sure I offend them, bruise egos, step on bureaucratic toes. Hey guys, I'm just making a mess like Pope Francis told me to :D