Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Guest blogger on serving the poor

The harshest form of covetousness is not even to give things perishable to those who need them.  “But whom do I treat unjustly,” you say, “by keeping what is my own?”  Tell me, what is your own?  What did you bring into this life?  From where did you receive it?  It is as if someone were to take the first seat in the theater, then bar everyone else from attending, so that one person alone enjoys what is offered for the benefit of all-this is what the rich do.  They first take possession of the common property, and then they keep it as their own because they were the first to take it.  But if every man took only what sufficed for his own need, and left the rest to the needy, no one would be rich, no one would be poor, no one would be in need.

Did you not fall naked from the womb?  Will you not go back naked to the earth?  Where is your present property from?  If you think that it came to you by itself, you don’t believe in God, you don’t acknowledge the creator and you are not thankful to Him who gave it to you.  But if you agree and confess that you have it from God, tell us the reason why He gave it to you.

Is God unjust, dividing unequally the goods of this life?  Why are you rich, while the other is poor?  Isn’t it, if for no other reason, so that you can gain a reward for your kindness and faithful stewardship, and for him to be honored with the great virtue of patience?  But you, having gathered everything inside the empty bosom of avarice, do you think that you wrong no one, while you rob so many people?

Who is the greedy person?  It’s him, who doesn’t content himself with what he has.  And who the thief?  He who steals what belongs to others.  And you think that you are not greedy, and that you do not rob others?  What had been granted to you so that you might care for others, you claim for yourself.

He who strips a man of his clothes is to be called a thief.  Is not he who, when he is able, fails to clothe the naked, worthy of no other title?  The bread which you do not use is the bread of the hungry; the garment hanging in your wardrobe is the garment of him who is naked; the shoes that you do not wear are the shoes of the one who is barefoot; the money that you keep locked away is the money of the poor; the acts of charity that you do not perform are so many injustices that you commit.
 - St. Basil the Great
 Serving the poor is not optional; Christ himself commanded it. Seldom do I hear service to the poor couched in the terms that St. Basil used. These days the parish and the diocese have a committee for social justice where the school kids can get those bothersome community service hours out of the way before they graduate from CCD at their Confirmation. As the old Latin American joke goes, when the Church opted for the poor, the poor opted for the Pentecostals.

Christ said that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that flows from the mouth of God. He commended Martha for her service (Martha traditionally represents the active life) but said that Mary chose the better way (contemplation.) An apostolic laborer who does not devote any time to contemplation and prayer becomes a mere secular do-gooder. If Catholicism only means being a nice guy who volunteers at the soup kitchen once in a while, then it won't take the people long to figure out that they don't need to be Catholic or even to believe in God to be nice guys who volunteer at the soup kitchen once in a while. Our apostolates, whatever it is we do, must be rooted in a solid spiritual life and prayer.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Don't hate the player, hate the Game

The Christian blogosphere continues to argue back and forth about the merits of Game.

If women are becoming less feminine, men are becoming less masculine. Economics is largely a pseudo-science but it has provided some keen insights into human nature. Women are less feminine and men are less masculine because we are incentivizing them to be that way.

Most of the arguments stem from an inability to define Game. It used to mean the skillset of pick up artists, but now it's being conflated with general self-improvement. Our advanced liberal regime strongly disapproves of masculine leadership. Men and women both crave and need masculine leadership. If they aren't finding any in the traditional spheres of family, church, and country then it's to be expected that they'll take it where they can find it: the manosphere, PUAs, and the like. Zippy compares them to lost children with daddy issues. It's not entirely off base; Jesus himself pitied those who were like sheep without a shepherd. Men who were born pre-1970 simply have no clue what it's like for men born post-1970. Men born after 1970 are much more likely to come from broken homes and at best have been fed conflicting advice, at worst liberal propaganda, from birth. The Red Pill is an apt metaphor to describe how mentally jarring it is for young men when they realize that liberalism is false and inhuman. Critics of Game tend to be natural alphas, like Zippy or Cane Caldo. The most zealous promoters of Game are all converts.

I've always been less interested in the manosphere for learning how to pick up bar skanks than for the general self-improvement advice (I know, how dare I take such vile poison into myself, blah blah blah. Thank you school marms of both sexes.) Truth cannot contradict truth, and I'm not the sort to discount a true insight just because it might come from a source that is ritually impure.

Manosphere commenter Earl (please get a blog) stole my thunder so I'll let him have the last word:
As addressed earlier, the reason why Christians are going to game sites is because they TELL them a system. It may not always work and I do believe it is a placebo but it stresses doing something and points out the dark nature of females which has been well covered up by the other side. The advice on which women to avoid alone is worth the reads. Consider all the “man up and marry the slut” shaming from Christian leaders…those aren’t prudent woman. Now I have a good filter to know what a prudent wife is should the Lord give me that gift.
I was not given anything explicitly from my father, the church, society, etc…other than “be yourself and be good”. Everything was more or less implied…but that is tough to get when you have so many different areas of propaganda being thrown at you and most are to ruin your masculinity. How are we supposed to know that when nobody explicitly points that out in the churches? Do most men outside the sphere realize how much they are being emasculated daily? Do most men know what they are doing that shows active emasculation? I doubt it because I see it all the time in the area I live. The only ones that haven’t are like fish in water…they’ve always been that way and never consider that others are outside that water.
And I say you can separate the good from the bad given that you are asking God for wisdom…fornicating is sinning, getting your butt off the couch and working out is good. Passive aggressive tricks with women is bad…going up, overcoming your fear, having outcome independence and talking to a woman you are interested in is good. Game causes a man to be effeminate through doing, and many other place tell men to be effeminate by being.
To sum up…pray and ask God for the tools you need in your particular situation (because He knows more than you or anybody else will)…then stop being afraid, get off your butt, and use those tools to the best of your abilities. I can give my list of what I do as ideas…but it will not be your list. The common theme of the lists is that it better produce.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Last night's game

When I saw the infamous Richard Sherman post-game interview, I thought that if football players are going to start giving heel promos, they should learn from the best:


I weep when I think of how much Lawler has been neutered. 1990's Jerry Lawler: "Bret Hart was such an ugly baby, for the first few years they diapered the wrong end! HAHAHAHA!" 2014 Jerry Lawler: "John Cena is so great! Hornswoggle is hilarious!"

Thursday, January 16, 2014

What's in a Game?

Zippy on Game:
Part of the reason that objectively understanding the math of getting lucky with Game (HT Aquinas Dad) is important is because many Christian men seem to have bought into the idea that pickup artists are woman-savvy high value “alpha” men, as opposed to the low value dirt bags and sexual garbage collectors they tend most often to be when viewed in an objective light.
Game (understood as the pickup artist’s toolkit specifically) is actually pretty lousy in terms of effectiveness, right on par with placebo.  Doing something (and learning from the experience, and being persistent, and building confidence) is far better than doing nothing; but once you extract taking action at all, persistence, confidence, and learning through experience from the equation, the part of Game that is left over (that is, Game itself) – at least according to the “best of the best” PUA themselves – doesn’t do much for your percentages.  That’s why PUA have to “make it up in volume“: the advice is always to approach, next, approach, next, approach, next, and invest as little as possible in any one woman. This is integral to Game, and as an explanatory matter it clearly accounts for most of the “success” seen with Game.
Nevertheless, many Christian men appear to have bought into the idea that a cad who beds many women (who has picked many four leaf clovers) is a high-value “alpha male”.
 I've said many times in many different forums that fornication is not an option for the Christian man. At the same time, I can understand why Christian men would be turning to PUAs for advice on women. To the extent that churches speak of love, courtship, and marriage, their advice is often counter-productive at best. And lest we Catholics feel tempted to smugness toward our separated brethren on that account, remember that Americans make up 6% of all Catholics worldwide but we are responsible for 60% of the annulments.

Feminism has made deep inroads into all of Western Christianity, so much so that pastors can and frequently do omit parts of Scripture that offend modern sensibilities. Put yourself in the shoes of a young Christian man. His parents, his teachers, and his pastors have been instilling the Narrative into him since he was an infant: stay in school, go to college, get a job that pays a living wage, be sweet and sensitive, be chivalrous, put women on pedestals, cultivate your feminine side, and all that. But as he gets older he sees the holes in the narrative. Girls his age are not impressed by his opening doors and pulling out chairs. They spend the prime of their youth and fertility pursuing nebulous career goals, riding the carousel, and won't even consider marriage until the wall appears on the horizon in their late twenties and early thirties.

"Don't be a sissy beta male" sounds like common sense, but many men, particularly if they come from broken homes, are trained to be sissy beta males from birth. "The Red Pill" is an apt metaphor to describe how jarring it is for the modern man when he realizes that liberalism is false and inhuman. Some men are Red Pill all of their lives, so-called natural Alphas. They tend to regard converts to the Red Pill or people who write about this sort of stuff to be odd ducks at best. "Be confident, assertive, pursue what you want," all sound like common sense too. If school boys display these traits, though, they're often shot up with drugs to make them sit still and be quiet, like the girls.

If Christian men are buying what PUAs are selling, then the churches need to reconsider how they teach young people about love and marriage, i.e. reject feminism. As it happens, the Bible has a lot to say on the matter. Reading the Wisdom literature of the Old Testament should cure even the most committed Blue Pill Christian of the temptation to put women on pedestals. There's only one woman in all of human history who was without sin.

Cads and sluts ye shall always have with you. If they have an easier time of it plying their trades these days, well, whose fault is that?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The devil was the first egalitarian

Sacrificing religious life on the altar of egalitarianism:
Young Catholics are spurning religious life.  According to the Official Catholic Directory, there were only 1,853 seminarians studying for American religious orders in 2011.  That’s less than half the number of religious seminarians that were studying in 1980 (4,674), and less than one tenth the number that were studying in 1965 (22,230), according to Kenneth Jones’ Index of Leading Catholic Indicators.  Even the most successful religious orders are suffering.  The U.S. Dominicans boast of increased vocations, but today they have only about 100 student brothers (compared to 343 in 1965).  Dominican vocations may have increased in the past few years—likely as a result of perceived orthodoxy, strong community life, and aggressive promotional efforts—but they are still anemic.  Orders like the Dominicans look successful only because everyone else has hit rock bottom.
...Vocations directors, however, are unwilling to talk about religious life as the most effective means to sanctity.  One reason for this unwillingness is their fear of contradicting the Second Vatican Council’s universal call to holiness.  According to Lumen Gentium: “All Christians in any state of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of love.”  This message is both true and good.  But many Catholics take the message a step farther than it was intended to go.  They infer that because all people are called to become saints all vocations must be equally effective means to sanctity.  This is a great error.  The view that marriage and religious life are equal paths to holiness is contrary to the writings of saints like Bernard, Athanasius, and Theresa, but it is also condemned by the Council of Trent and contradicted by John Paul II in Vita Consecrata Session XXIV of the Council of Trent declared: anyone who denies that it is “better and more blessed to remain in virginity, or in celibacy, than to be united in matrimony; let him be anathema.”  Pope John Paul II reaffirmed this teaching inVita Consecrata: “it is to be recognized that the consecrated life… has an objective superiority.”
Today’s ubiquitous assumption that marriage and religious life are equal paths to holiness is not merely bad doctrine.  It is also a deathblow for religious life.  Once you accept that religious life and lay married life are equally effective means to sanctity, you undercut the only compelling motivation for becoming a religious.  If lay married life provides an equally effective means to sanctity, plus the goods of pleasure, family, property, one’s own will, etc., then it is irrational to choose religious life.  Choosing religious life over marriage would mean punishing yourself for no good reason.  It would mean turning your back on—showing contempt for—the goods of God’s creation while gaining nothing from your sacrifice.  If lay married life gets you to sanctity just as easily and reliably as religious life, then all that religious life amounts to is a kind of masochism.  In the words of University of Washington sociologist Rodney Stark, “what does a woman gain in return for her vows of celibacy, poverty, and obedience, if she… acquires no special holiness thereby, while spending her working hours side-by-side with married women who now are officially seen as her equal in terms of virtue, but who are free from her obligations?
At the risk of sounding like I have a personal axe to grind, I've always believed that priest shortages and the shrinking of the religious orders has always been a self-inflicted wound by the Church. If the priesthood, for example, is portrayed as a generic way to help people then the priest becomes a social worker who can't have sex. If religious life and marriage are equal in how they can lead us to salvation, then why would any generous young man or woman want to give up sex and children?

The saints did not sugarcoat the difficulties of the religious life. But they did say that it is the safer and more secure way to work out one's salvation. As Brother Hannegan notes, vocations directors are loathe to portray it that way. Dioceses seldom pitch the priesthood as a life of offering sacrifice and leading people to heaven, but as a way to lovingly preside over the community. And the poor sons of bitches wonder why they find so few takers. Men are willing to give their lives for a mystery, but not for a question mark.

In one sense, it's depressing to contemplate how many men and women have been wrongfully turned away from religious life. But on the other, it's a sign of hope. The wound is self-inflicted, but it can be solved through personal conversion and a proper understanding of what a vocation is and why we embrace it.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Monday Night Raw, 1/13/14: Phoning it in

Last night's Raw was undoubtedly one of the strangest I've watched in years. There were almost no promos at all. The night began with the Usos getting a jobber entrance and taking on Bray Wyatt and Daniel Bryan. It quickly ended with DQ silliness, only to be rescheduled later that night as a steel cage match. It was to be an old fashioned steel cage match where you have to climb over it to escape the ring. That's kind of silly when we're talking about tag teams, but WWE writers. Daniel Bryan apparently had joined the Wyatt family two weeks ago.

John Cena vs. Damien Sandow: we have to give Super Cena another opportunity to prove how STRONG he is and how he can OVERCOME THE ODDS. The outcome was a foregone conclusion, but the match itself was decent. Sandow got to look good.

Korporate Kane decided to feed Kofi Kingston, who hasn't done a promo in like five years, to Randy Orton. But then Kingston won, and won clean. Anything can happen in the World Wrestling Entertainment! Orton took out his rage on John Cena's dad sitting at ringside. How many times has Cena's dad been beaten up now? He should probably take some boxing lessons or something.

The New Age Outlaws abandoned CM Punk to the tender mercies of the Shield. It's pretty ironic that Degeneration X is now the establishment. Art imitates life indeed.

I'm astounded that Ultimate Warrior is being inducted into the Hall of Fame. I hope that is acceptance speech is like one of his old promos: "YOU WILL NEED AN ENERGON CUBE THE SIZE OF WYOMING TO DEFEAT ME AND MY AUTOBOTS HO KOGAN! GRAB THE CONTROLS AND SEND YOUR PLANE INTO A NOSEDIVE HO KOGAN! MY WARRIORS ONLY BREATHE THE AIR THAT IS RIFE WITH THE STING OF BATTLE HO KOGAN!"

Daniel Bryan turned on Bray Wyatt after losing to the Usos again. That was an Attitude Era pop. That wide shot of everyone in the arena doing the YES chant was awe inspiring. That is a Stone Cold Steve Austin level of getting over. It makes me wonder if it was the kayfabe plan of Bryan to betray Wyatt all along, or if the WWE writers saw that that angle was going nowhere and decided to abort it with an epic finish. The end of last night's Raw redeemed almost the whole three hours. I'm glad I didn't tap out before 11:05 pm.

Truthfully, I'm still marking out over the return of Jake "The Snake" Roberts last week. I'm willing to overlook a one off night. This time. Next week is the go home show before the Royal Rumble, so I hope it's better than last night's example of the writers phoning it in.

What Did The Pope REALLY Say?

I've been Catholic for eight years. Bl. John Paul II went on to his eternal reward a week or two after I was received into the Church. I didn't pay as close attention to Church goings on pre-conversion. Occasionally the mainstream media would publish a piece about a Vatican "crack down" on this or that error or individual theologian (does the Vatican ever do anything besides crack down in the MSM's imagination?) These days, under the reign of Pope Francis, the MSM coverage of his pontificate has been mostly positive. It's Catholics who are tearing themselves to pieces over Francis. Every other day the National Catholic Register publishes an article entitled "Did Pope Francis Really Say/Do X? Y Things to Know."

A wise old professor of mine once told my class, "If I lecture on something and you're the only one who doesn't get it, the problem is with you. If I lecture on something and nobody understands it, the problem is with me." Granted, I haven't been Catholic long but it's hard to imagine other popes of the last three hundred years needing so many clarifications, qualifications, and back pedaling from his lay defenders. It's possible that Pope Francis is an eminent theological genius of such magnitude that ignorant fools like me have trouble understanding every jot and tittle of his public pronouncements. It's also possible that he has a bad case of logorrhea.

For example, in his letter Evangelii Gaudium he writes:
"The other [form of spiritual worldliness] is the self-absorbed promethean neo-pelagianism of those who ultimately trust only in their own powers and feel superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past. A supposed soundness of doctrine or discipline leads instead to a narcissistic and authoritarian elitism, whereby, instead of evangelizing, one analyzes and classifies others, and instead of opening the door to grace, one exhausts his or her energies in inspecting and verifying."
This is universally understood to be a knock against Traditionalist Catholics. I'm honestly confused by the notion that Trads are in any way pelagian. Pelagius was an ancient heretic who thought that human beings could be saved through their own natural efforts alone, and that Original Sin wasn't passed down to us from our original parents Adam and Eve. If there's one thing all Trads have in common, it's a healthy reverence for the sacraments and our need for supernatural grace. If Trads feel superior to non-Trads, that's definitely a problem. The reason why we observe certain rules and remain faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past is because of something Christ said: "By their fruits ye shall know them." The Church Militant, composed of we sinful human beings on earth, has never been perfect. But some eras have been more faithful than others. Traditions are traditions for a reason. What have been the fruits of the Church's abandoning so many of the old practices, disciplines, and devotions? Widespread apostasy, heresy, immorality, and lukewarmness. By every quantifiable measure the Church has been in extreme decline for fifty years.

I'm flattered that Pope Francis thinks we Traditionalists are so influential that we need to be singled out in one of his Apostolic Exhortations, but I think he and the mainstream Catholic commentariat greatly overestimate our power. It made me smile when many of the regulars on the New Advent blogging network so confidently asserted, "The pope is only talking to those people. I am squarely in the middle. I thank you, O Lord, that I am not like other men."

I'm not saying to ignore the pope, but consider this: the Church survived and thrived for nearly two thousand years before the internet made it possible for us to follow every hiccup from Rome. For a long time it was possible to only ever know who the pope even was through the mentioning of his name in the Roman Canon. It's not healthy to always be sitting by the computer waiting for the latest pronouncement by the pope on what his favorite kind of lunch is. When he addresses the entire Church in an encyclical or other letter, read it, pray on it, and learn something from it. But it's not necessary to one's spiritual life to follow his every word and action.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The free and equal superman

In the modern project, human beings are autonomous centers of consciousness whose choices and decisions bring about their self-actualization. I will explain:
We are autonomous centers of consciousness. My identity is rooted in the fact that I am conscious and aware. It is the center of my self and belongs to me alone. I may choose to share with others and make common cause with others – but I am defined only by myself. This is the heart of individualism.
Our choices and decisions bring about our self-actualization. Who I am in the world is a product of my experiences and the choices and decisions I make. Those decisions create my identity – they are my means of actualization. My decisions and choices are what determine the meaning of my life. I am who Ichoose to be.
When you look at these critical ideas, it is easy to understand why the primary driving force of modern history is freedom. This definition of what it means to be human makes a certain version of freedom the most essential part of life. Anything that restricts freedom becomes an enemy of individual existence and self-actualization. Only if I am free to choose am I able to properly exist as a self-actualized individual.
This is in contrast to the classical Christian understanding of reality:
In the Classical understanding we are not autonomous individuals. We are contingent beings whose existence is a gift with purpose, meaning and direction given by God. We have value as persons, not because of our choices or our ability to choose, but because we are created in the image of God. Thus the least of us, including the incompetent and the vegetative, have true worth and dignity. 
We are not defined by our choices and decisions. Who we are is the gift of God – it is a given. Its identity is a matter of revelation and transformation in the Christian life and not a private work of self-construction. Our choices and decisions are not unimportant, but they only have relative merit or power. In the end, we are God’s creation and our decisions only have meaning in relationship to Him. 
The civilizational clash is perhaps most poignant at the places where modern choice and classical givenness most contradict one another. The most common points have been on the level of biology and relationships. The instincts of Classical Christianity are to treat biology and relationships as givens. Gender is not a choice. Family is biological rather than associational. Sexual relationships serve a given order rather than private needs. The instincts of the Modern Project are to maximize freedom and choice. Biology is real, but not necessarily determinative (thus some today self-identify their gender). Family is increasingly defined as a set of choices – relationships that we prefer. The givenness of blood-ties with inherent responsibilities are largely disappearing in current jurisprudence. Thus we have the “accident of birth,” which cannot begin to compete with “freedom of choice.” 
The often maligned popular version of relativism (“if it’s true for you”) is simply an expression that maximizes choice. Truth that is not chosen is experienced in the modern world as oppressive. The Classical Christian world of doctrine and dogma is thus endangered as a set of extremely inconvenient truths. Why would it be wrong for us to re-imagine God?
 American Catholics, by and large, have political, social, and moral practices that make them indistinguishable from the heathen population at large. The cynic in me would say that means most American Catholics are bad Catholics. For example, Americans make up 6% of all Catholics in the world, but we are number one in annulments, responsible for 60% of all annulments granted world wide. USA! USA!

The question of allowing divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive communion is a thorny, perennial issue of pastoral practice. Well, it is in the West anyway. Christ himself was clear on the matter: he who marries a divorced woman commits adultery, and he who divorces his wife causes her to commit adultery. Divorced and civilly remarried Catholics are living in a state of public and notorious adultery, and therefore giving them the Eucharist would cause grave scandal at best, be sacrilege at worst. They are welcome to attend Mass but not receive communion until their situation is resolved.

But you know, the Modernist and the "pastoral" Catholic will say, they really, really want to receive the Eucharist. The Eucharist is for eating, not staring at. Your pharisaical emphasis on the law will drive them away. You're being too mean and kicking hurting people when they're down. You're the kind of religious zealot Christ condemned so strongly, etc.

Considering Christ himself is the one who explicitly said that the divorced and remarried are adulterers, somehow I doubt that.

The point here is that the liberal Modernist can't abide the notion that there are unchosen, unchanging realities of existence. Ironically, they attribute much more power to the pope than he has in reality. They believe the Church is the manufacturer of truth, instead of an infallible guide to the truth. They're angry over the Church's moral teachings because they don't actually believe in an objective unchanging moral standard. In their minds, the Church could usher in a new golden age of married transgender lesbian priestesses shuttling back and forth between euthanizing the sick and blessing abortions tomorrow if she really wanted to. In their minds, the Church doesn't do this because those mean old men in Rome are racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic bigots.

For the liberal Modernist, it's well and good to think of traditional Christianity as just one equally valid choice among a world of equally valid choices. The traditional Christian crosses the line when he asserts that no, it's not just a choice that's good for me and not for you, it's the way reality actually is. Christianity is true, and its truth has implications even for those who do not believe. My godless heathen friends have difficulty grasping the notion that I believe in God like I believe the sun will rise tomorrow; it's so obvious that you'd have to be willfully obstinate to deny it.

The Modern Project consists of liberating the free and equal superman from the oppressive shackles of unchosen realities. Things like religion, metaphysics, sex, family, country, and so on should only matter insofar as the superman wills them to matter. The utopia of freedom and choice would be here already if it weren't for the subhuman trolls who are still slaves to tradition. These untermenschen oppressors argue for the reality of the supernatural, of gender roles, of particular peoples and cultures, and that just won't do. For the government composed of liberal ubermenschen, existentially there must always be an oppressor troll to overcome as the purpose of government is to tell people what to do good and hard. Who are these subhumans who stand for tyranny and oppression? Well, if you've ever nodded your head in agreement with anything I've ever written here, then the subhuman oppressor is you.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

I don't know why I bother

If you're not reading Jim Kalb, you should be:
The great issue that separates progressive from more traditionalist Catholics is whether the Church will return to type.To answer that question “yes” is to say that the Church has an essential nature—a basic structure, set of beliefs, and way of functioning—that is sometimes obscured by corruptions or distortions but can be counted on to reassert itself in a purer and more vigorous form. In effect, it is to view the Church as a living being that retains her identity as she develops, and is subject to occasional infirmities but thereafter returns to health.
People attached to modern ideas of progress don’t expect and don’t want that to happen. Present-day thought doesn’t like types, and it likes the idea of returning to type even less. It rejects organic comparisons for institutions, and prefers to view them as constructions for consciously chosen goals rather than products of essential forms that exist and endure whether we like them or not. We are Church, such people often say, and how we do Church determines what Church is.
Such claims have strong moral overtones. Belief in enduring forms is identified with stereotypical thinking of a kind that rejects change and difference in favor of an imaginary world of eternal essences. That kind of thinking, it is thought, lends itself to a reactionary and oppressive approach to politics and religion that denies human freedom and tries to force an abstract ideal based on an imaginary and idealized past on obdurate reality. Scratch a traditionalist, many people say, and you find a fascist. 
Mark Shea, call your office. The dislike of forms comes part and parcel with liberalism. If institutions like the Catholic Church have an objective essence, then that places constraints upon the choices of the free and equal superman. I wasn't around during Vatican II, but from what I've heard from people who remember it, it sounded like a mass (no pun intended) hysteria overtook the entire Church. Progressive bishops and their periti got it in their heads that everything non-dogmatic was mere window dressing that they could reform, deform, and toss out at will. Presuming their good intentions, it seems to have not occurred to them that changing the liturgy, the calendar, the prayers, the disciplines, the architecture, the music, and all the rest might give people the impression that the underlying dogmas and doctrines had changed as well.
In any case, the progressive conception means that faith in the one holy Catholic and apostolic Church, and with it the meaning of the word “Catholic,” lose clear definition. The life of religion loses the element of rational public and corporate conviction, and of looking to the past and holding to what has been found good and worthy of love and loyalty. Instead, it becomes a matter of launching into the unknown based on some personal insight or inner assurance, or more likely of following the guidance of prophets claiming special knowledge who say they will help us sing a new Church into being.
 The tragedy of Vatican II is that the supposed problems it was intended to solve have become much worse. Lay people were urged to fully, consciously, and actively participate in the liturgy. Some do, but two thirds of them in the US don't bother coming to Mass at all anymore. We were urged to study Scripture, but the Scripture scholars told us that Jesus didn't really multiply the loaves and fishes, but rather inspired people to share their picnic lunches.
Our situation today does of course have features that distinguish it from previous times. One is that the technocratic understandings that dominate social life today promote the view that the world is simply what we make of it. That view undermines organic conceptions and the idea that institutions have essential forms to which they tend to return. Another is that mass higher education, and the resulting spread of modish ways of thought, make the conceptual dissolution of the Church into a loosely associated succession of situations seem normal to many churchgoers.
One result of such tendencies is that the dream of going beyond the authority of the institutional Church has become mainstream and bureaucratic. Instead of twelfth century abbots in rags, barefoot Franciscan spirituals, or M√ľnster-style enthusiasts engaging in total violent revolution, we have conferences of academics and other mild-mannered bureaucratic functionaries with formal certifications and retirement plans. 
We take it for granted now that there's the progressive parish, the conservative parish, the Trad parish, the reform-of-the-reform parish, etc. American Catholics have social, political, and economic views that mostly mirror those of the heathen population. The people who advocate the antinomian vision of the Church are by and large comfortable left-of-center folks with good portfolios and live in nice neighborhoods. It's not a coincidence that the Church's theology went off the rails at about the same time asceticism was dumped.

To be sure, we must distinguish between substance and accident. But there are some accidents which cannot be removed without radically changing the thing itself. The Eucharist is the true body and blood of Christ. But if we do not have unleavened wheat bread to consecrate, then there is no Eucharist. The Church is hierarchical and authoritarian by its nature. The progressive often forgets that traditions exist for a reason.
The claim that belief in essential forms and natures is oppressive is odd. If such things don’t exist, the world becomes the shifting outcome of conflicting forces and there is nothing in it that is distinct enough to be oppressed. It is not possible to oppress a momentary configuration of eddies in a stream. Or if such things do exist, but they continually transform themselves, then politics becomes something for experts or visionaries who have a special gift for reading the signs of the times. It loses the connection to settled ways of thought needed for rational cooperative self-government. In either case politics becomes something that properly belongs to the few with little possibility for legitimate criticism by outsiders, and is likely to become oppressive in the usual manner of successful radical political movements.
The media-industrial complex was christened "the Cathedral" by Mencius Moldbug, but that can obviously create some confusion when we're talking about the Church. I prefer referring to our ruling class as the [Borg] Cube. It better captures their relentless desire to destroy our distinctiveness.

The acid of true religion

Bl. John Henry Newman said the most corrosive acid for true religion was sentimentality (not sentiment, which is a different thing.) Our emotions are part of us and we can't escape them, but we must not ever allow them to take us over. Religious doubt fixed in the emotions is painful but when we subject them to the light of reason and the dogmas of Christianity, they often evaporate. If our emotional doubts become fixed in the will, then we are in a dangerous spot and only a miracle of grace will change us. From Wintery Knight we get the sad tale of Katy Perry's apostasy:
“I don’t believe in a heaven or a hell, or an old man sitting on a throne. I believe in a higher power bigger than me because that keeps me accountable,” she told Marie Claire magazine recently. “Accountability is rare to find, especially with people like myself, because nobody wants to tell you something you don’t want to hear.”
Perry, who took the Billboard charts by storm with her hit song “I Kissed a Girl” in 2008, told Marie Claire that she no longer considers herself a Christian despite being raised by Christian ministers.
“I’m not Buddhist, I’m not Hindu, I’m not Christian, but I still feel like I have a deep connection with God. I pray all the time – for self-control, for humility,” she told Marie Claire. “There’s a lot of gratitude in it. Just saying ‘thank you’ sometimes is better than asking for things.”
Despite her decision to perform music that may seem controversial to the Christian community, the chart-topping singer has never shied away from crediting the Christian church for giving her a start as a performer.
“The atmosphere I grew up in was 100 percent Christian,” Perry said her “Part of Me: 3D” movie which was released last year. “I started singing in the church, I never really had another plan.”
Perry's mother called her daughter's divorce after one year of marriage a gift from God. Not even the laws of God Almighty can stand against the power of the hamster.

Heathen polemicists define faith as "believing in something for no good reason at all." That definition has so thoroughly saturated our culture that many Christians have bought into it. Most Catholics are unaware that the First Vatican Council anathematized the proposition that God's existence cannot be proven by unaided human reason; that is, Catholics are solemnly bound to believe that God's existence is knowable through the light of unaided human reason alone. Faith is the virtue that resides in the intellect. Faith is a kind of knowledge which means believing a trustworthy source. Most of what we know is through faith then. We believe that God is a trinity because God has said so.

Personal testimony has its place, but even after baptism we are still susceptible to concupiscence. When the Christian inevitably sins, his testimony becomes suspect. We Christians are never to hold ourselves up as examples of a Christian life; we profess Jesus Christ as the example of the perfect man. We follow him, not Pastor Jones or Father McGillicutty. Faith - that is, fidelity to the person of Christ - is what keeps us going even if we don't feel his presence or feel like he's abandoned us. Bl. Teresa of Calcutta famously endured an interior darkness for decades, where she felt like God had turned his back on her. But she kept going.

It is imperative that Christian parents instill in their children that kind of faith. They must show them that Christianity is more than phony-baloney, plastic banana, good time rock and roll feelings. Otherwise their daughters will grow up to be like Perry: they'll marry the left-wing heathen who gives them the tingles, divorce after a few years, and settle into Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Down with Strong Female Characters: The Final Insult

John C. Wright has helpfully linked to all of his entries on the subject.
For this, I got hate-mail and hate-pingbacks (if there is such a word). I confess to a mild  surprise at the sheer vehemence of the hate. Some of my surprise is that anyone would regard yours truly as important enough to bother hating, since, to the best of my knowledge, I threaten no one and nothing, and my opinion is of no concern to anyone who does not take steps to have it made known to him.
Wright is being modest here, but he knows that being outraged over crimes committed in other people's heads is what our cultural overlords do.
Some of the surprise is that anyone would condemn what he has not read. That strikes my poor, innocent, naive, but icy and dispassionate Houyhnhnm heart as illogical. And there is nothing we icy and dispassionate Houyhnhnms regard with our icy and dispassionate equivalent of pity as much as that one sin of which our island of pure reason disapproves, namely, a lapse in logic.
Much of the surprise was that no one saw fit to argue the point with an actual argument. We seem to have fallen into a stage of society where disagreement with Political Correctness is regarded as an unforgivable moral depravity rather than a error in reasoning open to correction by reason.
This is a symptom not of the strength but of the senility of Political Correctness: it has lost its confidence to win in the marketplace of ideas, so it  rules the marketplace to be out of bounds. There seems, however, to be no provision to enforce the ruling, nor any reason to regard the ruling as legitimate.
Therefore, as a public service, and a gesture of conciliation, I here gather all the links of the sprawling essay in to one place: so that any readers deeply offended by the essay be allowed the opportunity to read it before condemning it.
Did it ever possess confidence to win in the marketplace of ideas? I'm younger than Wright so I only have vague recollections of the Cathedral's ascendancy. They've always disliked any sort of marketplace. Perhaps they engaged in reasoned debate once upon a time, but only long enough to acquire the levers of power. They don't argue with Dark Enlightenment types so much as they use words like "unacceptable" or "not cool" or dismissing them as "crazy." If you ever manage to make a SWPL say "Wow... just wow," then you may rest assured that you have triumphed over your foe.

That's why it is sometimes such great fun to be a reactionary. You get the thrills of youthful rebellion without having to traffic in destructive lies. One way or the other, truth will out.
 

The life of a white person in the 21st century

Remember dear readers, all five of you: the life of a White Person is about making sure nobody confuses you with the wrong kind of white people:
PARIS — It is difficult to go more than a day in France without hearing someone express the conviction that the greatest problem in the country is its ethnic minorities, that the presence of immigrants compromises the identity of France itself. This conviction is typically expressed without any acknowledgment of the country’s historical responsibility as a colonial power for the presence of former colonial subjects in metropolitan France, nor with any willingness to recognize that France will be ethnically diverse from here on out, and that it’s the responsibility of the French as much as of the immigrants to make this work.
In the past year I have witnessed incessant stop-and-frisk of young black men in the Gare du Nord; in contrast with New York, here in Paris this practice is scarcely debated. I was told by a taxi driver as we passed through a black neighborhood: “I hope you got your shots. You don’t need to go to Africa anymore to get a tropical disease.” On numerous occasions, French strangers have offered up the observation to me, in reference to ethnic minorities going about their lives in the capital: “This is no longer France. France is over.” There is a constant, droning presupposition in virtually all social interactions that a clear and meaningful division can be made between the people who make up the real France and the impostors.
One naturally wonders when, or if, France will ever pay off its supposed debt to its ex-colonials. Come to think of it, isn't it France that's being colonized now?
I became a philosopher, like many others, in large part because I imagined that doing so would enable me to rise above the murky swamp of local attachment, of ethnic and provincial loyalty, and to embrace the world as a whole, to be a true cosmopolitan. Yet history shows that many philosophers only grow more attached to their national or ethnic identity as a result of their philosophical education.
And here I thought philosophers were supposed to be wise men. Complaining about tribalism among human beings is like complaining about how human beings breathe so much oxygen: it's just the way we are, man. The more committed our ruling class is to erasing borders, rising above local attachments and whatnot, the more ruthless and intrusive their efforts at suppressing hatefacts must be. We see it here in the United States by the media's general reluctance to comment on the race of suspects. We see it in the consistent refusal to acknowledge why the Gap will never be closed.

Multiculturalism is an insidious form of cultural genocide. It might be rolled back peacefully or, as is more likely the case each passing day, it will be rolled back with bloodshed. But rolled back it will be eventually.

The passing of the old guard

This is a short story I knocked out over the weekend. At the risk of sounding unbearably pretentious, I think the argument between the two characters doesn't just represent the Church's arguments with herself, but the arguments I have with myself trying to reconcile the two sides.

Father Matthias Blucher adjusted his necktie as he approached the Kessler mansion. The yard was filled with exquisitely sculpted topiary. Stone gargoyles, salvaged from old cathedrals that had been demolished decades ago, perched on the roof. Blucher smiled. It all matched the descriptions he had heard of old man Kessler from his fellow chancery priests: "a Radical Traditionalist, a right-wing fanatic, an integralist neanderthal, a dying holdout of the Church's blessedly forgotten past." The call had come in earlier that day: Kessler was dying and had asked for a priest. Blucher kept his feelings in check, but on the inside he was hoping that Kessler was going to have one of those deathbed conversions. If word got out that he, of all people, had finally accepted the reforms of the Third Vatican Council, then perhaps those other Traditionalist pests would finally stop bothering the bishop's office with all of their ridiculous complaints about heresy and sacrilege. Really, who even talked like that anymore?

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Guest blogger on reforming the Church

38. It remains for Us now to say a few words about the Modernist as reformer. From all that has preceded, it is abundantly clear how great and how eager is the passion of such men for innovation.In all Catholicism there is absolutely nothing on which it does not fasten. They wish philosophy to be reformed, especially in the ecclesiastical seminaries. They wish the scholastic philosophy to be relegated to the history of philosophy and to be classed among absolute systems, and the young men to be taught modern philosophy which alone is true and suited to the times in which we live. They desire the reform of theology: rational theology is to have modern philosophy for its foundation, and positive theology is to be founded on the history of dogma. As for history, it must be written and taught only according to their methods and modern principles. Dogmas and their evolution, they affirm, are to be harmonized with science and history. In the Catechism no dogmas are to be inserted except those that have been reformed and are within the capacity of the people. Regarding worship, they say, the number of external devotions is to he reduced, and steps must be taken to prevent their further increase, though, indeed, some of the admirers of symbolism are disposed to be more indulgent on this head. They cry out that ecclesiastical government requires to be reformed in all its branches, but especially in its disciplinary and dogmatic departments. They insist that both outwardly and inwardly it must be brought into harmony with the modern conscience which now wholly tends towards democracy; a share in ecclesiastical government should therefore be given to the lower ranks of the clergy and even to the laity, and authority which is too much concentrated should be decentralized. The Roman Congregations and especially the index and the Holy Office, must be likewise modified. The ecclesiastical authority must alter its line of conduct in the social and political world; while keeping outside political organizations it must adapt itself to them in order to penetrate them with its spirit. With regard to morals, they adopt the principle of the Americanists, that the active virtues are more important than the passive, and are to be more encouraged in practice. They ask that the clergy should return to their primitive humility and poverty, and that in their ideas and action they should admit the principles of Modernism; and there are some who, gladly listening to the teaching of their Protestant masters, would desire the suppression of the celibacy of the clergy. What is there left in the Church which is not to be reformed by them and according to their principles?
Pope St. Pius X, Pascendi Domini Gregis

h/t: Jeff Culbreath

Friday, January 3, 2014

33 is a good age to get crucified

I turned 33 last month.  The thirties are an interesting time in anyone's life. You're no longer really young but you're not really old either (so you get ignored by both the ignorant kids and stubborn old fools, hah). We will be resurrected and reunited with our thirty something bodies after the Apocalypse. The older I get the more I see that my greatest struggles in life were always with myself. Once I put my mind to something, my victory was inevitable. But actually getting to that point, that's the real struggle. Men are inclined to laziness and I'm no exception. It's easy to become paralyzed by all the choices the world gives us. We hesitate to make a choice that will close off another.

St. Thomas Aquinas was once asked if it was easy or hard to be a saint. He replied that it was easy. All we have to do is will it. If our desire is firmly fixed in the will then our actions will follow, tempered by the intellect and the virtue of prudence. Motivational speakers call it setting goals. Sometimes the world will beat you down. Sometimes people will do rotten things to you. Some men are born with greater material advantages than others. Whether your goals are modest or grandiose, your success depends largely on your strength of will. Even if you're a pious soul who seeks only to do God's will, it requires effort on your part. God respects our free will so much that he lets us reject him all together if that's what we think we want.

Before the Catholic Church emasculated itself, it used to counsel meditation on the Four Last Things: Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell. Nobody gets out of this world alive and we only have one earthly life to live. Do you really want to spend half of it sitting in a cubicle in a job you hate? Do you really want to keep procrastinating?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Exercise, eat right, die anyway

I laffed:
Imagine my shock, then, at my last physical, when my doctor told me I had hypothyroidism, common in women over 40. When I got home I looked up the condition on the Internet and found a list of foods to avoid. Kale, which I juiced every morning, tops the list, followed by broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and collard greens — the cruciferous vegetables I consumed in large quantities because they are thought to prevent cancer, which runs in my family. And flax — as in the seeds — high in omega 3’s, that I sprinkled on cereal and blended in strawberry almond milk smoothies. Also forbidden: almonds and strawberries, not to mention soy, peaches, peanuts, corn, radishes, rutabaga and spinach.
And then, as if my world was not sufficiently rocked, I went to the dentist, who said I had five cavities and asked if I snacked on candy and sodas all day long. I was insulted. Indignant. What did he take me for? No, I answered. I don’t eat sugar and drink only fresh vegetable juices — no longer kale, of course, but carrot and celery, which I’m still allowed. And filtered water with lemon.
“You’d be better off with chocolate and cola,” he said. Apparently the natural sugars in fruit and vegetable juices can cause decay, and lemon, though high in vitamin C and bioflavonoids which may prevent cancer, had eroded the enamel that protected my teeth.
Being a foodie is its own form of gluttony. There's nothing wrong with wanting to eat right, but this lady sounds like she spends so much time worrying about food that she doesn't take the time to enjoy it. It's a running gag (no pun intended) with my friends that I don't eat well, I smoke, and I drink but I get sick much, much less often than they who spend a lot of time reading labels and running half-marathons. Despite what my nom de blog might suggest, I'm not that beefy a guy even though I eat whatever I want and exercise irregularly. I've always been of the mind that it's not so much what you eat as how much you eat. How do you remain slim and trim? Burn more calories than you take in. If you eat more calories than you burn, then it doesn't make much difference to your waistline whether they come from Twinkies or salads (true story: I know a girl who once emptied an entire bottle of bleu cheese dressing on her giant salad). Once or twice a week I like a big greasy hamburger from Carl's Jr. My favorite home made dinner is meat and potatoes with beer, just like my savage Germanic ancestors. Breakfast is cereal or eggs and bacon. Lunch is often soup or a sandwich with smoked salted almonds.

Granted, processed foods have all sorts of nasty chemicals in them. But if you're worried about them, learn how to cook some basic dishes for yourself. I don't know a single man who doesn't enjoy cooking once he's given it a try. My grandfathers both ate a diet that would horrify the modern foodie: lots of red meat, hash browns, and grains. My maternal grandpa was a chain smoker until his fifties. They both exercised regularly almost right up until the end. Both of them died in their mid eighties.

Everyone dies. Don't get so caught up in the little things like avoiding partially hydrogenated soybean oil that you forget to enjoy yourself.

h/t: Rod Dreher

On parish shopping

I was going to leave a comment over at Mark Shea's blog but as I have been banned once again (that's the third time by my count. Perhaps a record?) I'll write about it here. In an ideal world, we'd attend our geographical parish. But it's a fallen world and sometimes parish shopping is necessary. It kept me sane and possibly saved my faith, so I don't have a lot of patience for people who urge you to stay with your "home" parish no matter what. I know the arguments: good men must stay and fight, the parish will never change for the better if people don't stick around. I've been there and done that, believe me. They're just as happy to be rid of a Traditionalist crank like me as I'm happy to no longer have to leave Sunday Mass angry and depressed every week.

People wouldn't shop for parishes if there was more uniformity in the liturgy. Catholics who are involved in the life of their dioceses will readily tell you which is the progressive parish, the reform-of-the-reform parish, the conservative parish, the Trad parish, and so on. If a Protestant friend expresses interest in becoming Catholic, I guaran-damn-tee that all of us Catholics know which parish we want them to attend and which parishes we want them to avoid. We want our Protestant friend's first experience of the Mass to be a memorable one. It usually is but not for the right reasons. Eventually, our Protestant friend will begin to wonder why he has to attend this parish but not that one. Out of curiosity, he'll attend one of those other parishes and likely be appalled at the silliness. He'll walk away wondering what this strange beast called Catholicism really is.

The Novus Ordo liturgy lends itself to the priest and his lay volunteers showing off their personalities and personal tastes. The people notice that, whether good, bad, or indifferent. Traditionalists are often criticized for their ghetto mentality. Some of them are like that to be sure; I know some who are like that. But if every parish in every diocese in the world offered a weekly TLM, then the problem would vanish. Instead of criticizing the people for how they react to a problem, perhaps it would be more constructive to solve the problem instead.