Saturday, February 28, 2015

Now would be an appropriate time for a colorful metaphor

Rest in peace Leonard Nimoy. I remember reading in one of his autobiographies that Nimoy received far more female fan mail than Shatner. My theory is women loved Spock because, as an unemotional Vulcan, he literally didn't care. Of course Spock was half human and did show emotions on some occasions, so all of the female fans fantasized that they were the unique snow flake that could pierce his cold exterior.

His last tweet reads, "A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP." I can't think of a better epitaph. God rest you Mr. Nimoy. Your work on Star Trek brought joy and wonder to myself and millions of other fans around the world.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Just pull the trigger already

The always excellent Rorate Caeli relates that the German Church has essentially declared its independence:
The synod would have to find a text that would "further encourage" discussion and find a common position in fundamental questions. Doctrinally, one would remain within the community of the [Universal]Church, but in detailed questions of pastoral care "the synod cannot prescribe in detail what we must do in Germany”. Therefore, the bishops wanted to publish their own pastoral letter on marriage and family after the synod. It was not the duty of the bishops to wait for permissions.

"We are no subsidiaries of Rome. Each conference of bishops is responsible for pastoral care in its culture, and must, as its most proper task, preach the Gospel on our own. We cannot wait for a synod to tell us how we have to shape pastoral care for marriage and family here".
According to the German bishops' position, the reality of life constitutes an important factor for the doctrine of the Church.
"Pastoral" essentially means the application of doctrine. If doctrine doesn't matter, then what's the point of being pastoral? If reality of life constitutes an important factor in the doctrine of the Church, then can we repeal that "turn the other cheek" stuff? I mean if we're going to ignore the plain words of Christ concerning the indissolubility of marriage, then surely we can make some paaaastoral exceptions for the descendants of Norse and Germanic barbarians  like myself to bust some heads and flip some wigs up in this joint?

I don't want there to be a formal schism, but on the other hand it'd be an enormous relief if the weenies finally pulled the trigger. It's perfectly obvious that many of our shepherds don't believe the theological doctrines they swore to uphold. Whether they perjured themselves at their ordinations or gradually lost the faith over time, I leave to God. But please don't patronize me by scolding me for "judging" them. The German bishops simply would not be doing what they're doing if they loved the words of Christ more than they loved the tax money they receive from the German government. I'm not judging their souls, I'm judging their public words, their public actions, which anyone with a lick of sense ought to do in order to protect themselves and their neighbors from their poison.

Many of the bishops we have today - including Pope Francis - are the apotheosis of the Spirit of Vatican II. They personify Vatican II's fundamental principle that, hey, maybe the world isn't so bad after all. Maybe we can form an alliance with the world to do good works like taking care of the environment or making nice with the Godless heathens, heretics, and pagans throughout the world in endless dialogue. So help me, one of the bishops in the article spoke of the "dialogical" structure of reality. What the hell does that even mean? The Church somehow managed to survive and thrive for nearly 2000 years without this unending dialogue.

The more time goes by, the more glad I am to be a layperson. On the other hand, it's a sign of our evil times that it falls to lay people to kick bishops in the ass and remind them of who they are and what they're supposed to stand for.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The winner is you

I spent my Sunday night working with the LifeTeens. Better for them and for me than watching the Oscars. As Steve Sailer noted, the squabbling tribes of liberalism are pulling out the knives for each other without a Republican Emmanuel Goldstein hate figure to focus on. For once I'm actually confident the Republicans can win in 2016, no matter who they nominate. Barack Obama won the votes of young progressives who were eager to show off their social justice cred by voting for the cool young black guy. I doubt they'll turn out in such droves for a boring old cishet white lady like Hillary who, unlike her preternaturally skilled husband, is quite bad at politics. Here's hoping it's 1968 all over again for the Democrats.

The more I work with young people, the more convinced I am that the Church's current pastoral practices are ineffective at best, counterproductive at worst. Young people are crying out for challenges and discipline. If they can't find them within the Church, they stop taking it seriously. When I was a teenager, I found my public schooling to be too easy. I became one of those kids everyone knows: aces every test but thinks homework is a joke so his grades are only fair to middlin. So my buddy the youth minister had the bright idea for us core members to think of additional Lenten challenges for the kids to take on.

Before I go further, it's remarkable how much flak he catches in the course of parish politics. The funny thing is none of it comes from parents who actually have their own teens participating in the program. My attitude is to tell the complainers to go take a long walk off a short pier, but I'm a volunteer. He does this for a living so he has to walk on eggshells. The pastor, as per usual, has to maintain a careful balancing act between all of the feuding factions within the parish because if he pisses off one of the soccer moms, there go a bunch of his other volunteers who will probably complain to the bishop. I suppose one of the things I'm most grateful to Holy Mother Church for is confirming in my mind that I never want to work for someone else again. Never again do I want to entrust my livelihood and my future to the whims of SJWs or the nice beta guys who lack the spine to stand up to them. It's self-employment or starve to death trying.

Each core team member has a small group of teens they're working with. My group and I are meeting for daily Mass tomorrow at 6:30 in the AM. I've often thought that instead of sacrificing luxuries like chocolate or caffeine, us supposedly busy moderns should sacrifice our time by taking on additional time for prayer, such as praying 15 decades of the Rosary, or making a Holy Hour, or spending more time reading Scripture.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Breaking glad

Everyone knows of Christmas and Easter Catholics, but for some reason many of them turn out on Ash Wednesday as well. It's not a holy day of obligation but I've noticed that even many non-Christians observe Lent; not in the religious sense but in their desire to exercise self-discipline. Giving something up for Lent is not required of us - save for abstaining from flesh meat on Fridays - but almost everyone does so anyway whether it's caffeine, chocolate, cigarettes, or other treats.

It's a period of self-examination. Ideally we should be exerting greater effort in combating our sins, flaws, and defects compared to the rest of the year. The last year has been spiritually difficult for me. I struggle with the truths that 1) God loves me, and 2) He has a plan for me. It's easy to believe those things when everything is going great. When plans don't work out, when you wonder where your next paycheck is coming from, when you don't know where to turn or whom to trust, it's more difficult. As a rational matter, I know that suffering is inevitable. Intellectually, I know that God keeps his promises on his terms and his timeline. On an emotional level, I sometimes wonder if he's forgotten me or if I somehow don't have a part to play in his plans for the world, not even as an extra in the background.

All Catholic men who take the faith seriously discern the priesthood or religious life at one time or another. I was in the seminary for two years. You can probably figure out why I'm no longer there if you don't know already. Suffice it to say, I had no patience for walking on eggshells or holding my tongue in the face of manifest silliness or outright error. I did for a short time. Well do I remember all those times Father Z has told seminarians to keep their mouths shut at all costs because the elderly Modernists on many seminary faculties are looking for an excuse to dismiss orthodox young men who yearn to roll back the errors and follies of the last fifty or so years. There came a point where I finally said to myself, "Fuck that noise." It's that kind of thinking that has led to the Church's current fugue state. That unwillingness to speak the truth, that hesitancy to declare that the emperor has no clothes has led to decades of ecumania, of a crippling lack of confidence, of grown men having to sit in silence as clip-haired, mean faced old broads in pantsuits henpeck them in umpteen committee meetings because the seminary drills you hard on whether you have a "problem with women."

I love the priesthood in its Platonic ideal, but given the modern understanding of the priesthood and the way it is lived in most parishes in the 21st century I'm not at all surprised they struggle with recruitment. Men are willing to give their lives for a mystery, but not for a question mark. It's brought me more inner peace since I decided that it's not for me. One thing the diocesan vocations director said to me before we parted ways for the last time was, "You'd have been a good priest 60 years ago." I fail to see why that should make a difference. I was under the impression that the Church is the same today, yesterday, and forever but apparently I was wrong.

I'm personally embittered about it to some extent, but I'm angrier over the general pattern. I'm far from the only man to be dismissed for being too Catholic for the seminary's taste; it's happened to much better men than me. I'm angry because the priest shortage is a 100% manufactured problem the Church inflicts on herself because the bishops are too stubborn to see that the pastoral strategies and changes of the last few decades have been manifest failures.

I stick with the Catholic faith because the Catholic faith is true. If I depended on the examples set by bishops and priests, I'd have left a long time ago. Maybe God allowed it all to happen as a way of increasing my faith in him instead of the institution.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Presidents Day, or the Secular Communion of Saints

Americans didn't always worship the Founding Fathers. The only one I hero worship is George Washington. It's difficult to overstate how much he influenced and shaped the country through his character alone. I've read many biographies of the man and the worst things people can say about him are his ambition, occasionally short temper, and reluctance to become overly familiar with anyone. He's the greatest American and probably one of the greatest men who was not a canonized saint to ever walk the earth.

As for the rest, the older I get the more convinced I am that the Anti-Federalists had their number all along.

The normative force of any law, including the Constitution, depends on the natural law. Any positive law that purports to contradict the natural law is unjust and we are under no obligation to obey; in fact, we have a moral obligation to disobey. Left-liberals dislike dogmas and clear distinctions, so they conceived the notion of a "living Constitution." The Constitution can change over time through the amendment process, but that's not quick enough. The meanings of the words can be changed to suit the needs of the present moment. There's only one thing that needs to be said about the concept of a living Constitution whose basic meaning changes over time. That term is a technical one from political science: bullshit.

Right-liberals - also known as conservatives - conceived the notion of Originalism or strict constructionism as a counter. Whatever you call it, it's essentially legal positivism. I'm more sympathetic to this idea but it's still an error. Positivism in religion is exemplified by the Protestant belief in Sola Scriptura. All meaning is confined to a closed text. In theory, the early Protestants thought this would lead Christianity back to the purity of the early Church. In practice, Sola Scriptura means the Bible means whatever the individual believer thinks it means which is why there are thousands of Protestant sects throughout the world.

Applied to the Constitution, far from confining all meaning to the text, it would mean the text means whatever judges and politicians want it to mean. Further, it provides cover for politicians and judges to willfully cooperate with evil or who are too cowardly to resist. It's possible, even likely, that the Supreme Court is going to discover a "right" to sodomite marriage in the Constitution this year, just as it discovered the "right" to abortion in Roe v. Wade. Chief Justice John Roberts, a Catholic, said in his confirmation hearings that Roe is the law of the land and that his personal beliefs would play no part in his legal decisions about abortion. In the future, I imagine all Supreme Court nominees will have to offer their pinch of incense to the legal reality of sodomite marriage (I say legal, but ontologically marriage cannot exist between two persons of the same sex.) Positivist legal theories are not exculpatory. You are formally cooperating with evil when you enforce evil laws. And don't even start with "I'm personally opposed, but…"

What conservatives seldom understand is that positivism is not the opposite of post-modernism. They're two sides of the same erroneous coin. Post-modernism was born from the realization that positivism is nonsense. The left-liberal, despairing of his project to turn man into God, declared that nothing had any stable meaning anymore. That road eventually leads to nihilism and madness. Both positivism and post-modernism are efforts to push the natural law outside the Overton Window and replace it with the Nietzschean superman's will to power. When the legal system is disconnected from the natural law, then all the little laws show up to fill in the gaps of day-to-day life. The Constitution and the Founding Fathers become our great Oracles, the answer to every possible question.

Americans are discouraged from thinking of themselves as a distinct people. The "blood and soil" theory of nationalism and ethnicity strikes American ears as weird and vaguely Nazi-ish. Instead, we base our identity on the ideas contained in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. If you believe in those principles, then you're just as American as the man whose ancestors were at Jamestown. And for that reason, many Americans have great difficulty accepting the notion that the Constitution might contain fatal weaknesses. Whatever flaws exist in the American system of governance are preemptively blamed on moral failings of the population. We have this great fear that if the Constitution is someday amended or reinterpreted to become something monstrous - such as guaranteeing the rights to abortion and sodomite marriage - then somehow America itself will become an illegitimate nation. Our identities are closely bound to our specific system of governance, and if that system breaks down and fails, then who are we?

Nonsense. A sinner doesn't become non-human because he has sinned. He has an obligation to repent, confess, and amend his life. Likewise, if America exalts certain evil practices, she doesn't cease to become a nation. She gains an obligation to repent.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Quinquagesima Sunday

The Pre-Lenten season is yet another tradition the Church disposed of for no good reason at all during the 1960s. Quinquagesima refers to fifty days before Easter Sunday, a more symbolic number than literal. For some of the early Christians, this Sunday marked the beginning of our penitential abstention from meat. Those of us in the West have until the night before Ash Wednesday. This week we celebrate Mardi Gras, literally translated as Fat Tuesday. This is the time of Carnivale, or "Bye bye meat." Traditionally, our fasting and abstention was much more severe in the West. The East puts us to shame in that regard. At one time we gave up flesh meat, milk, and eggs for all 40 days of Lent. Mardi Gras fare usually consisted of meat and pancakes. Sounds pretty good to me. Tonight we're throwing a Mardi Gras celebration for the LifeTeen kids with lots of meat and pancakes.

For lunch on Tuesday, I'm going in to Subway to order my annual Mardi Gras special: "Hello! What can I get you today?"
"Oh… okay, on what kind of bread?"
"I'm sorry?"
"I want roast beef, ham, turkey, salami, and steak between two oven roasted chicken breasts. Wrap the whole thing in bacon."

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Not the kind of love Hallmark envisioned

Nothing says "I love you" like the shattered skull of someone martyred for the Faith. I'm not being ironic.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

What is best in life? The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian

This article from Return of Kings about how your job is crushing your soul reminded me of one of my favorite literary heroes. Allow me to explain. Most of us who spend a lot of time on the internet do so when we're on the clock. How many of my four loyal readers are skimming this blog along with their other favorite websites like Facebook while sitting in their air conditioned cubicle after chowing down at Subway on their lunch break? Most of us work jobs that are far beneath what we're truly capable of. Out of an eight hour day, we get enough work to fill out two, three hours tops. Doing what? Writing code, answering phone calls, typing reports, overdosing on caffeine? How many of us pine for that first drink after 5 pm? Or live for the weekend? Who wake up every Saturday and Sunday morning hung over? Granted, work isn't supposed to be all fun and games. Our need to earn our bread by the sweat of our brow is one of the consequences of the Fall. The need to test ourselves and achieve excellence is intrinsic to masculine nature. Work takes up a considerable portion of our lifespan, so it is indeed a soul crushing experience if our job is meaningless scut work that a chimpanzee could do.

Other things being equal, civilization is superior to barbarism. One of the themes of Robert E. Howard's work is that when civilization is corrupt, decadent, and declining (like ours) then barbarians are often nobler and always stronger than their supposedly civilized betters. I'm rereading the collected stories of Conan the Cimmerian. Most of what popular culture knows of Conan comes from the 1982 movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Don't misunderstand. It's one of my personal favorite movies. But Arnold portrayed Conan differently from how he appeared in the stories, both in looks and in personality.

In the stories, Conan is, for lack of a better word, smarter. He has "gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth" as the chronicler says in the first tale. Howard didn't publish the stories in chronological order; we are introduced to Conan when he is king of Aquilonia much later in his life. Conan seized the crown by force when he strangled the wicked old king and placed it upon his troubled brow. Conan is the target of an assassination plot because he is a friend to the common people. He relieved them of suffocating taxation which put a crimp in the cushy lifestyles of the nobles. Conan, of course, crushes his weak and effeminate opponents. As the poem says, "Rush in and die dogs! I was a man before I was a king!"

We see Conan as a sellsword, a pirate, a thief, an adventurer, and an explorer. He's bewildered by the trappings of civilization and irritated by red tape and bureaucracy. He's captured by the city constables when breaking into a museum at the behest of the king's son. When the son claims he never saw Conan before, Conan splits his skull in half with his broadsword. That's one way to reduce frivolous lawsuits. Conan cherishes his freedom. He does what he wants, where he wants. He's like the honey badger. Conan don't care. H.L. Mencken once said that every man feels the urge to hoist the black flag and start slitting throats. I'd definitely want to do it Conan-style.

I don't like the term anti-hero, but if it applies to anyone it applies to Conan. He has his own sense of honor. He'll help out a damsel in distress, but only if she's smoking hot and interested in him. He's a thief but his targets are definitely asking for it. He is a shade of grey but his opponents tend to be of blackest evil, such as the Stygian sorcerer Thoth-Amon (the latter has been portrayed as Conan's arch-nemesis in other media, but in the stories they never meet face-to-face.)

His tales inspire me to stride through the world without excuse or apology like he did. Whatever it is you want, pursue it. Win it. Take it. We live in a civilized age so that precludes splitting skulls. We can still take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves. Interestingly, Conan is never portrayed as pursuing sex for its own sake. Women are drawn to him through his achievements. If anything, he treats them like spoiled children and they eat it up. Robert E. Howard knew what was up despite his self-professed feminism.

Howard was an interesting character himself. Friends with H.P. Lovecraft, it's been speculated that they share the same literary universe. Howard churned out stories of Conan and the Puritan adventurer Solomon Kane for Weird Tales. He was picked on for his love of reading as a child, so he began a bodybuilding regimen as an adult. Howard killed himself at the age of 30 shortly after his mother received a terminal diagnosis.

One thing I love about the manosphere and the internet in general is its encouragement of the autodidact. Conan deserves a place on every man's bookshelf. As civilization crumbles around us, we can learn a thing or two about strength of will and character from a Hyborean age barbarian.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Son also rises

Donal Graeme muses on the differences between East and West:
Over the course of the last month I’ve visited several Eastern Rite Catholic churches in my area. My interest was primarily curiosity, as I wondered what their liturgies would be like. However, I quickly found something else there that was quite different from the Roman Catholic churches that I’ve visited over the years. And that was a sense of community and hospitality. I was made to feel welcome at both parishes. Never mind that I was a stranger that no one there had ever seen before. I was greeted, welcomed and encouraged to stay. In fact they encouraged me to attend again. And I have to admit, they were tempting offers.
I've never attended an Eastern Catholic parish for Mass. My buddy the youth minister strongly recommends I try it at least once. Many years ago I attended an Eastern Orthodox liturgy. In its own way, it was as insular as any Catholic parish. In a Latin Rite church one gets the feeling that the particular people in the congregation are fungible. With the Orthodox, it feels like an ethnic enclave that may extend a welcome to visitors but you'll never truly be one of them if you're not Greek or Russian or whatever.
I wonder what it is that made those parishes and their members so much more hospitable than than the Roman Rite churches I’ve attended. It isn’t size. While both were small (in membership and the size of the buildings), I’ve been to small RC parishes as well. No, its something else. My suspicion is that the sense of community in these churches is encouraged by the fact that they are set apart. 
Anti-Catholicism is deeply ingrained in the American psyche. Catholic immigrants felt pressure to become more American than the Americans. The first generation of Irish immigrants were poor laborers. By the third or fourth generation they had completely taken over the police department and government of New York City. Catholics didn't want to be set apart. They wanted to be part of the in crowd. Vatican II's declaration on religious liberty was largely the result of lobbying by the American Jesuit John Courtney Murray.

It's human nature to desire the company of those like ourselves. American Catholics chose to conform to the Protestant public sphere instead of the other way around. As such, American Catholics in the 21st century are more or less indistinguishable from their Protestant and secular neighbors. If anything, American Catholics vote slightly more liberal than Protestants taken as a whole: a majority of us voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012.

American Catholics have not been instilled with a distinctive Catholic identity. We all receive the same sacraments but most of the time I have more in common with Evangelicals than I do with many of my fellow Catholics at the local parishes. The only time I ever feel like I am part of a strong Catholic community with a distinct identity is when I go to the local FSSP parish.

This gives me ample opportunities to scare the hell out of Catholics who are used to milk and mashed up baby food instead of the meat of true doctrine. One of the local parishes told me that my services were not required in certain ministries because they felt I was a reactionary extremist who would scare people away. I wear it as a badge of honor.

It does make it a bit more difficult to organize events for Catholics of similar bent when the Establishment dislikes us. The internet is the source of many ills but one area where it's been a blessing is making it easier for Traditionalists and those who are sympathetic to us to share notes and organize. Forty years ago it was pretty much just Michael Davies writing booklets and pamphlets that were furtively passed around by folks who were either shamed into silence at their home parishes, or who gave up on the Establishment and went full on SSPX.

Complaining on the internet is the backbone of the blogging industry but it's not enough. Thanks to my work with the teenagers and my involvement with the young adult group, I can introduce young people to the beauty of Catholic Tradition and the old Mass. We can share books, notes, discussions, and participate in social events of various kinds. If your diocese has an existing young adult ministry, get yourself and like-minded young Trads involved. If you're the only Trad you know, get involved anyway. Not everyone can have the force of personality of a Beefy Levinson, but I'm sure you can do your part.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Book Review: The Nibelungenlied

Give me one public library and I can give youths a better appreciation for the world as it really is than 12 years of public education. The Nibelungenlied is an epic poem from out of medieval Germany that one critic has compared to The Iliad in scope and power. I wouldn't put it in that category but I was struck by a number of "red pill" truths it contained. Contra Cypher, you really can't go back into the Matrix. It doesn't make much sense to give a spoiler warning for a nearly thousand year old poem, so I'm going to quickly summarize the plot.