Saturday, May 30, 2015

Captive audiences are the best audiences

The other core team members and I are driving the teenagers up to the diocese's summer camp for a retreat all this weekend. I'll be gone today through Tuesday. I'm looking forward to driving a giant van. I'll have a captive audience for the Levinson Awesome Mix:

One of the talks I must give is on the New Evangelization, specicifally evangelizing Catholics. This bemused me; I thought that was the whole point of the New Evangelization anyway. It's a tacit admission by the Church that she has been failing rather spectacularly at passing on the faith to the generations that came after Vatican II without pinpointing the cause. And much like Vatican II itself, the term is ambiguous enough that it can mean whatever the speaker intends for it to mean:
Pope Francis has called for a reorientation of the Catholic church's way of educating people in the faith, saying the process of catechesis should steer away from using "simply the scholastic sphere" in order to teach people to encounter and follow Christ.
The pontiff has also offered a new definition for a term that has long befuddled many church observers, redefining the "new evangelization" as an effort by Catholics to evince their faith by working to help those on society's peripheries.
Speaking in an audience Friday with participants of a meeting of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, Francis first said that the times in which we live are ones of "great changes."
"Truly, these changes are a happy provocation to gather the signs of the times that the Lord offers the Church so that it may be able ... to bring Jesus Christ to the people of our time," said the pope. "The mission is always identical, but the language with which to announce the Gospel asks to be renovated, with pastoral wisdom."
Francis of all people should know the old Latin-American joke: "What happened when the Church opted for the poor? The poor opted for the Pentecostals." It's not a coincidence that the Church has hemorrhaged membership since she made a paradigm shift from speaking about man's eternal destiny to worldly problems like nuclear disarmament, youth unemployment, and climate change.  We've pretty much allowed the world to make a colossal reframe of religion. In the past, we demanded the world accept our frame instead. We can speculate about how deeply the faith held the people, but the verifiable facts are we had much greater Mass attendance, participation in the sacraments, and priestly vocations back when we were supposedly withdrawn inside Fortress Katholicus as Mark Shea derisively calls it. I'm not opposed to trying out new paaaaastoral strategies in principle, but there comes a point where you need to accept that it isn't working. The Springtime of Vatican II passed its sell-by date thirty years ago.

But I'm just another Trad blogger. All I can do is stay in a state of grace and offer my best for those members of the next generation it has been my privilege to work with. Archbishop Lefebvre - whom, for the record, I consider one of the greatest Catholic heroes of the 20th century - said that the Church will return to its traditions some day. It won't have a choice; there won't be anything else left. I wish my five loyal readers a good weekend and I'll see you in a few days.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Ireland: the post-mortem

Roberto de Mattei examines the corpse:
In his masterpiece “The Soul of the Apostolate”, Dom Jean-Baptiste Chautard (1858-1935), Trappist Abbot of Sept-Fons, expressed this maxim: “A holy priest coincides with a fervent populace; a fervent priest - a pious populace; a pius priest - an honest populace; an honest priest - an impious populace” (Italian version, Rome 1967, p. 64). If it is true that there is always a degree less in the spiritual life between the clergy and the Catholic people, after the vote in Dublin on May 22, we should add: “An impious priest coincides with an apostate populace.”

Ireland in fact, is the first country where the legal recognition of homosexual unions has been introduced not from the top but from the bottom, through a popular referendum; yet Ireland is also one of the oldest Countries with a deep-rooted Catholic Tradition, where the influence of the clergy is still relatively strong in part of the population.
I've never liked the post-Vatican II tendency to speak of a "vocation" to the lay state. In modern discernment retreats, vocations directors often tell young people to listen very carefully to what that still, small voice inside them is whispering them to do. It's not surprising that 99% of them discern that they're being called to marriage and children. There's nothing wrong with marriage and children, but consider: Saint Don Bosco, who knew a thing or two about youth ministry, once estimated that one third of all Catholic young people had a vocation to the priesthood or religious life.

Whether it's a divine calling or not, our Blessed Lord tells us what is expected of lay people:
Matthew 5:13: You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt lose its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is good for nothing any more but to be cast out, and to be trodden on by men.
Lay people and secular priests live and work in the world. As such, we are more susceptible to the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil than the religious in his monastery. It is the responsibility of our duly appointed pastors and bishops to strengthen the laity with the sacraments, to teach, govern, and rebuke. St. Paul's ministry largely involved exhorting the early Christians to greater unity and refuting the errors that threatened to divide them. Holy priests have a fervent flock. Impious priests have apostate flocks. And then you have shepherds like these:
"The problem in many ways is that the Church has often in the past presented its message poorly.  What is a message of love was presented in language that was harsh.  What was rational argument was presented as a dogma which all should accept.  The truth about Jesus Christ can only be proclaimed in love.  This is a challenge in today’s culture where often there is a clash of viewpoints and where we find it difficult at times to bring the message of our faith into a culture where faith is considered out of place in public discourse. The fact that in the past the Church was dogmatic in its attempted imposition of its views rather than engage in rational societal debate, does not justify people today replacing “sound-bite-ism” for dogmatism as a way of avoiding rational debate." Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin
Bishop of Derry Donal McKeown was speaking for the "no" position on the referendum, as supported by the bishops of Ireland, in a debate on the Shaun Doherty Show.
Although he maintained that legalizing same-sex "marriage" would be a "dangerous experiment," especially the ramifications in the lives of children and future generations, he equivocated that people could vote yes or no in the referendum "in good conscience," if they were as informed as possible before voting and were making a "mature decision."
"People have to make their own mature decision, be it yes or be it no. I would hate for people to be voting no for bad reasons, for bigoted reasons, for nasty reasons, for bullying reasons. People have to make up their own minds and I’m quite happy that people can do that in front of God, be it yes or be it no," Bishop McKeown said. 
“I don’t doubt that there are many people who are practicing churchgoers of whatever church background who will in conscience vote Yes, and that’s entirely up them. I’m not going to say they’re wrong,” he added. 
With respect your Excellencies, what kind of mealy-mouthed bullshit is this? The truth must be spoken in love, but you gentlemen don't speak the truth at all. The last few Irish Catholics on that Godless island were thus unable to argue against the referendum without publicly contradicting their own superiors. There is no doubt in my mind that the Irish bishops are relieved the issue has been settled for now because they can throw up their hands, say "It's the law of the land, there's nothing we can do," and get back to offering nice platitudes about how Jesus is our boyfriend who never, ever judges anyone. Sometimes I truly wonder whether most of our bishops even believe in God anymore, let alone hold to the Catholic orthodox faith they solemnly swore to uphold at their ordinations.

Catholic clergy often speak of the secularization of society as if it were a force of nature. They shrug and adapt themselves to it by avoiding the topics that modern people might find uncomfortable or offensive because that might disrupt the revenue stream. No matter how often or how spectacularly our paaaaastoral strategy of making nice with the world fails, the clergy always double down on more dialogue, more new language, more marketing gimmicks, more reaching out, more safe spaces. If the salvation of souls wasn't at stake, I'd laugh it all off as disgusting and pathetic. It's a pity the clergy don't receive spine reinforcements along with sacred chrism at their ordinations.
Luke 19:41-44: And when he drew near, seeing the city, he wept over it, saying: If thou also hadst known, and that in this thy day, the things that are to thy peace; but now they are hidden from thy eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, and thy enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and straiten thee on every side, And beat thee flat to the ground, and thy children who are in thee: and they shall not leave in thee a stone upon a stone: because thou hast not known the time of thy visitation. 
The Church is not out of touch. People grow out of touch with the Church because her clergy either no longer believe or they're too embarrassed to speak the truth. The Irish bishops only offered the most token resistance to the growing apostasy in Ireland and of course they were swept away. If the clergy don't take the traditional teaching of the Church seriously, then why the hell do they expect anyone else to?

The Church doesn't need more innovations. She needs to return to herself and remember who she is and what she believes and how she used to to teach it.

Monday, May 25, 2015

The last full measure of devotion

Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day. It was first celebrated in 1868 as an occasion for decorating the graves of Union soldiers with flowers. Over time, the competing Union and Confederate ceremonies merged into the modern Memorial Day. Today is when we honor men who died in battle. Veterans Day is when we celebrate all veterans, living or dead, who served in peacetime or wartime. For example, neither of my grandfathers died in battle for their country. They made the other poor dumb bastards die for their country. My paternal grandfather enlisted in the Army when the United States entered World War II, served for the duration, then mustered out at war's end. My maternal grandfather enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1940 and went on to serve through World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, retiring in 1968.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The dawning horror

Commenter Raskolnik over at Rod Dreher's blog gets it:
Rod, you write:
All of us Americans, whether we call ourselves liberals or conservatives, are liberals in this sense. I am no different. I believe in free speech, freedom of religion, civil rights and the other hallmarks of liberalism.
Here’s my question: why? Why do you still believe in those things?
I ask because the history that you trace seems to me a kind of proof by contradiction. Given the epistemological and anthropological assumptions of modern liberalism, the outcome you describe in this post inexorably results. But that outcome conflicts with what you know to be true. Clearly, then, those assumptions are wrong, and therefore so are the “liberal” and “democratic” legal and political structure that legitimize them.
People often talk as if the only possible alternative to secular liberal democracy were totalitarianism of the most repressive and rapacious sort. But to me this grants entirely too much credence to those falsified assumptions from up above. As I never tire of pointing out, Hitler was legally and democratically elected. Bhutan, as close to a traditional monarchy as exists today, is perhaps the happiest society on the planet. 
The idea that our choice is between tyranny and “democracy” (or what passes for it in 2015 America, anyway) is a false dilemma posed to us by our cultural enemies. But this false dilemma really only masks the exercise of their naked will-to-power: accept the bureaucratic liberal regime, or else.
We Americans were much freer under poor old King George III than we are today with all of our self-congratulatory talk of freedom and democracy. Even if the kings of old had access to 21st century technology, it wouldn't occur to them to police our thoughts the way secular liberals do. Moderns tend to believe that kings were all-powerful dictators. Medieval kings were essentially the most powerful nobles in the land, but they weren't strong enough to take on any two or three nobles who might ally against them. And of course the Church acted as a check on kings who attempted to exercise dictatorial powers: imagine King Henry II doing penance on his knees for the murder of St. Thomas Becket.

It's unlikely Dreher will go so far as to question liberalism itself. Mainstream conservatives sometimes describe themselves as wishing to conserve the classical liberalism of America's Founding Fathers. It's an enormous mental leap, comparable to the one portrayed in the Matrix, to realize that the liberalism of today is classical liberalism all grown up. Conservatives believed that they could draw a line in the sand; William F. Buckley said that the purpose of his National Review was to stand athwart history and yell, "Stop!" It was a noble intention but ultimately futile. Mainstream conservatives are the tail end of the long liberal march through history, impotently grumbling that they're moving too quickly without disagreeing on the destination:
Rod concludes his latest outreach in the mutual titty twister he and Sullivan are currently engaged in by nailing these theses to the bathhouse door:
I am glad we don’t live in that world anymore. We don’t live in that world anymore because people like Andrew insisted that gay lives had more dignity than the majority of Americans believed. Again, they did us all a favor by awakening us morally to what it is like to live in a country where what matters the most to you is treated in custom and in law as anathema. But I do not look forward to the world Andrew and his righteous allies are building for those religious people who do not conform. They will demonize dissent, and pat themselves on the back for their moral courage the whole time.

This perplexes conservative commenter Joseph Dooley, who writes
Not sure why Dreher comes out in favor of civil unions and tolerance of homosexuality. It’s a middle ground that is merely a transition stage between hedonism and Judeo-Christian civil society.

Conservative commenter Thursday is more direct:
I honestly do think America is a better place for what they’ve done, on the whole, because it has made us more tolerant and understanding.

I’ll be blunt: this is insane.

If a movement promoting gay sex (however monogamously practiced, or not, as the case may be) has somehow resulted in making American society morally superior to what it was before, then logically gay sex can’t really be that big of a deal. I mean it clearly has to be less of a sin than intolerance for that to be the case. And, if that’s true, then why exactly are we opposing gay marriage?
Why indeed. Dreher and other mainstream conservatives can't bring themselves to say in public that sodomy is one of the sins that cries out to heaven for vengeance because that would get them DISQUALIFIED from the public square. I say that if our enemies deny us a platform, then we need to build our own.

Pentecost Sunday

From the Acts of the Apostles, 2:1-11: And when the days of the Pentecost were accomplished, they were all together in one place: And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a mighty wind coming, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them parted tongues as it were of fire, and it sat upon every one of them: And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they began to speak with divers tongues, according as the Holy Ghost gave them to speak. Now there were dwelling at Jerusalem, Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.
And when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded in mind, because that every man heard them speak in his own tongue. And they were all amazed, and wondered, saying: Behold, are not all these, that speak, Galileans? And how have we heard, every man our own tongue wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, Egypt, and the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews also, and proselytes, Cretes, and Arabians: we have heard them speak in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.
Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to St. John: At that time, Jesus said to his disciples: If any one love me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and will make our abode with him. He that loveth me not, keepeth not my words. And the word which you have heard, is not mine; but the Father' s who sent me. These things have I spoken to you, abiding with you. But the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, do I give unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. You have heard that I said to you: I go away, and I come unto you. If you loved me, you would indeed be glad, because I go to the Father: for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it comes to pass: that when it shall come to pass, you may believe. I will not now speak many things with you. For the prince of this world cometh, and in me he hath not any thing. But that the world may know, that I love the Father: and as the Father hath given me commandment, so do I: Arise, let us go hence.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

If you want a revolution, the only solution, evolve

Schism with the Red Pill:
I would bet on Roosh against the Red Pill sub-reddit as well. And frankly, I never thought much of the Matrix terminology anyhow. Neomasculinity is a much more sensible term anyhow, and as far as the distinction between it and the Red Pill Manosphere goes, I think an increased emphasis on tradition, patriarchy, and the nuclear family that is anti-socialist with more room for spirituality sounds considerably more like a philosophy I can support.
Ever since I discovered the manosphere, I've believed they made excellent diagnoses of the sickness crippling Western civilization. It was their prescriptions I often found lacking. The materialist pursuit of higher notch counts isn't an option for serious Christians as extramarital sex is sinful. It's gratifying to see a desire to delve more deeply into the permanent things that built civilization in the first place. Roosh caught my ear with his resolution that going forward the community will be more welcoming to spirituality and belief in a higher being. It is my hope that he and everyone else will formally convert to the Catholic faith one day. I strongly believe that a commitment to pursue the truth no matter the cost will inevitably lead to he who is Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. The best that has been done by those who came before us was done for his glory.

I believe we want the same thing. All of us, whether our names are famous, infamous, or obscure like mine, write because we want to encourage and mentor other men. I'm a little bemused by the name Roosh has chosen, neomasculinity. If you follow the link, you'll see that much of it involves rediscovering lost traditions and embracing the old ways that our progressive overlords have spent their lives attempting to suppress. Lest we Catholics feel tempted to dismiss them as Johnny Come-Latelys, we should remember that the public face of the Church in the 21st century is in a pretty sorry state because our bishops have by and large exchanged the faith of the Apostles for liberalism. By their fruits, ye shall know them.

It sounds like a trite cliche, but cliches are considered such because they contain kernels of truth that move us: every saint has a past, every sinner has a future. I won't live long enough to see a better future than the one current trends suggest but remember that the war is already decided. It's our duty to cultivate fortitude through the coming collapse.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Never, ever, ever back down

Heads LGBTs win, tails Christians lose:
Let’s understand what happened here. This Christian jeweler agreed to custom-make engagement rings for a lesbian couple, knowing that they were a couple, and treated them politely. But when they found out what he really believed about same-sex marriage, even though the man gave them polite service, and agreed to sell them what they asked for, the lesbian couple balked, and demanded their money back — and the mob threatened the business if they didn’t yield. Which, of course, he did.
 Of course he did. That's why Christians consistently lose and will continue to lose the culture wars. I'm not a great legal mind or a great mind at all for that matter. I'm sure there are all kinds of reasons why this wouldn't be feasible. But if I were in his place, this is how I'd have handled it:

"You must agree to X!"

"Na, bro."

"Then we'll see you in court!"

"Na, bro."

"Wait, what?"

"I will not submit. Ever. If you sue me, I won't appear in court. If I'm convicted of badthink in absentia, I will not pay any fines nor will I cooperate with any judicial rulings against me in this matter. This is only going to end in one of two ways: either you back down and apologize for threatening my livelihood, or you send the cops to drag me off to jail. I'd prefer the former but I'll cheerfully accept the latter if I must. So go ahead: make me famous. You'll see me in court? I'll see you on all the cable networks."

I know, it's easy to talk tough on the internet. I have dealt with these people in real life and from firsthand experience I can tell you that 9 times out of 10 they'll back down and go searching for more timid targets. Remember, they're not after goods and services. They don't want your tolerance. They want your full-throated, rip-roaring approval. They're not interested in your apologies. They want complete submission. They only want apologies as a public confession with which to beat you over the head.

Be prudent. Don't go out of your way to pick a fight. Don't go actively seeking martyrdom on that hill, especially if you have young children to feed. But if you take Christianity the least bit seriously, sooner or later they'll come after you. When they do, don't back down one inch or else they won't stop until you're completely ruined anyway. They may take your livelihood but don't let them rob you of your dignity and your convictions too.

h/t: Donal Graeme

Thursday, May 21, 2015

I wanna rock

There's just something about 1980's hair metal I've always loved. Maybe it's because I grew up in the 80s and it's just pure nostalgia. But listening to classics like this when I'm driving makes me drum on the steering wheel, bang my head, lip sync, everything. No other music makes me do that.

More advice to young men on college and jobs

Continuing with our theme from last night, I'm almost twice as old as this year's graduating class of high school seniors. If you men had a childhood similar to mine, your parents, teachers, guidance counselors, and pretty much everyone in your life has been urging you to go to college or else you'll be a loser who flips hamburgers at McDonald's for the rest of your life. Take it from me gentlemen: I know plenty of college graduates who can't even get hired at McDonald's these days and who are drowning in the mortgage levels of debt they took on to pursue a useless college degree.

The liberal arts have a bad reputation in right-wing circles, and many of their criticisms are true. If you study the liberal arts at most universities, you are paying a lot of money to be fed left-wing propaganda from tenured radicals who hate and fear us white cishet shitlords with all the passion of their misspent lives. That reality makes me angry because I'm a true believer in the liberal arts. Literature, art, music, philosophy... these are the things that separate us from the beasts who only eat, sleep, fornicate, repeat. In a perfect world, teachers would instill in their charges a love of the arts and a commitment to preserving the best we've inherited from our ancestors and encouraging new generations of artists to create quality work that will endure for generations. But it's not a perfect world and in good conscience I cannot encourage anyone to study the liberal arts in college. You don't need to pay that much money for progressive goodthink you can read on the internet for free. You want to be a great writer? Read a lot and write a lot. You want to be a skilled musician or composer? Practice music a lot.

I'd recommend against going to college at all unless you can clearly explain why it is essential to your professional goals. You want to be a doctor or an engineer? Okay, that's acceptable. You don't know what you want to do yet? Then you absolutely must not go to college until you do know. Trust me, you're not missing out on anything if you delay entering for a few years. I didn't enter a four year university until I was 25, and that was after a few years of working and attending night courses at community college. After all of that, my current gig doesn't even require a Bachelor's degree. Even if you're a Godless heathen who's looking forward to drunkenly hooking up with hot college sluts, you don't need to actually be in college to do that. Hell, if anything you might have an easier time of it if you aren't attending university. You'll stand in stark contrast to the low-T progressive manlet orbiters they're used to from class.

Most of the workforce is vastly overeducated and overqualified for the available jobs. Very few jobs actually require a college level education, but businesses use college degrees as a filtering mechanism and a proxy for IQ. As of this writing, employers know that applicants are for the most part quietly desperate for work. They're flooded with applicants which means hiring decisions are seldom based on the quality of your resume because there are hundreds of other resumes as impressive or more so than yours. You have to treat HR like a spoiled, bitchy woman because, well, they're pretty much the same thing these days. They're judging you on your tone of voice, the stylishness of your suit, the cut of your hair, the firmness of your handshake, your willingness and skill at brown nosing, asskissing, backbiting, etc.

If you're determined to get a certain job, you should flatly refuse to interview with HR at all. Insist that you speak directly with the hiring manager or the boss. If they won't let you through, move on because your online application will get lost in the shuffle, if they bother looking at it all. You remembered to add the right key words for SEO optimization, right? If anything, you should err on the side of being a jerk if not outright insubordinate. Yeah, you might piss them off but they'll remember you. That by itself gives you an edge.

What's your long term goal though? If you want to be rich, be aware that no one ever got rich working for someone else. If you want to make enough money to cover basic expenses while you pursue your real long term goal, then you've got plenty of options. If your goal is to marry and have children, or if you are currently married with children, then your options are a lot more restricted. A man with young children to feed can't afford to tell his boss to go pound sand the way unmarried men with no children can.

Remember men, the real world is nothing like what they said it would be like when you were growing up. My parents often said to me, "The real world is nothing like high school." In a way they were right: it's like high school squared. The entertainment industry in particular is almost entirely fueled by old resentments that have been smoldering since high school, whether those resentments are based in reality or not. I exhort all men who may read my words not to take your difficulties personally. Your parents spoke to you out of love and naivete. Your teachers and the government have a direct financial interest in steering you along the college route. College was supposed to afford us sushi but many college graduates still eat Ramen for years afterward. You may be feeling like a failure if you're not living up to society's expectations that you be a good consumer-wage slave. As long as you're still breathing, there's always hope.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Beefy Levinson's tips on getting the job

So you've just graduated from high school or college, or maybe you're a bit older and you've quit, been laid off, or gotten fired from your most recent job. What to do now? My first question to you would be, "WTF?" What are you thinking, applying for some bullshit job with a faceless corporation or some namby-pamby non-profit?

In all seriousness, there's no shame in being an employee if that's what you want to do and it makes you happy. Very few human beings ever find gainful employment that they also enjoy for its own sake. I know professional musicians who love jamming for free at a friend or family's birthday party, but I don't know any white collar workers who design spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations for fun. Are you happy working for a big company that offers good pay and benefits, and gives you enough time off to spend with the family or pick up chicks or read books or lift weights or whatever it is you like to do? If your company is actually like that, you are a rare bird indeed.

What about the 70% of Americans who hate their jobs? I feel bad for my peers. My Bachelor's degree is worthless, but I didn't go into debt to acquire it so I'm much better off than those poor saps who majored in English, graduated with mortgage levels of debt and are now working at Starbucks. In World War II, we took 18 year old draftees and turned them into pilots, tank drivers, and submariners within a few months or weeks of training. Today a Bachelor's degree is required, Master's preferred, not because most jobs require that amount of education, but because employers want a convenient method of screening out resumes.

Our parents grew up in a time when you got your first grown up job at 22 and you stayed with that company for the rest of your life. Baby Boomers interpret "job hopping" as a sign of immaturity or unreliability. I see it as another example of men responding rationally to the incentives offered by the real world. It doesn't matter what skills you have or how long you've been with the company: your employer sees you as an expensive liability he'd sooner do without. Employees pick up on this. Their boss has no loyalty to them so why should they show any loyalty in return?

That's why job interviews, especially those conducted by HR, tend to be such meaningless posturing. "Why do you want to work here?" they ask, or something similar. Let's speak truly here: I want to work here for the money. You want to hire me because you need labor. Do you seriously think I or anyone else wants to work here for the brown nosing, the ass kissing, the office politics, the multiculti horseshit or any of the other progressive joys you have to offer? You want me to be motivated and energetic? Pay me handsomely and promptly.

If you think my language or my attitude would be a hindrance in job searching, you'd be surprised. Every job I've ever had working for someone else, I got it by sidestepping the usual channels. For example, I'm sure my five loyal readers know of the Taleo system. The company asks you to upload your resume... and then they want you to type the same information into their application template so it can get run through their SEO algorithms. HR is comprised entirely of ditzy broads with useless degrees and useless jobs who are too lazy or too ignorant to read resumes themselves so they run them through the computer to search for all the right key words.

Don't waste your time with Taleo resumes. You're throwing away 20-30 minutes on a job you'll never get anyway. One of my jobs during college was at Longs Drugs. I walked in one morning and said, "Here's my resume."
"Oh, well, if you just go to our website we have an online appli..."
"I don't do online applications. Let me speak to your hiring manager. Or the store owner." So I appeared before both in turn. They both asked me, "Why do you want to work here?" I replied, "I need money for college." And that was that. I got the job. It was actually during my time at Longs Drugs that I invented the pseudonym Beefy Levinson, a story I'll share another time. I left right around the time it transitioned to CVS. My friends tell me I got out at just the right time. But no matter what kind of job you're applying for, you'll get further with bluntness and erring on the side of being downright rude.

I've noticed that the manosphere is very high on self-employment, entrepreneurship, starting your own business. Many writers understate the difficulties in being an entrepreneur and a lot of anklebiters in the comments blow those difficulties way out of proportion, saying you are doomed, doomed to failure. The truth lies between the two extremes. Yes it's hard to become self-employed. But one thing to keep in mind is that if an employer is paying you to do something, other people would be willing to pay you too if you went into business for yourself. Self-employment requires a lot more discipline and dedication than a corporate job you can phone in. Not all men are cut out to be entrepreneurs, and that's okay. It's a high-risk high-reward lifestyle which can be enormously stressful if you have young children to feed.

If you're happy working as an employee, good for you. Keep doing that. If you're one of the 70% of Americans who actively hate their job, then why are you wasting your life in a two hour round trip commute in heavy traffic to sit in front of a computer for 8.5 hours a day, 5 days a week though it often rises to 60 or more hours a week? Do you really need that giant house, that new car, those fancy clothes, those expensive vacations, that eating out with all the booze and psychotropic drugs?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Music break

Xenogears was shocking to me when I first played it back in the late 90s. When I looked at the cover art and read the blurbs on the CD case, I thought, "Cool, I get to drive giant robots and blow shit up." In addition to that, it had the most ambitious and convoluted plot of any game I've ever played before or since, touching on religion, philosophy, evolution, nanotechnology, and psychology. Beefy Levinson the high school nerd ate it up. When I played it the first time, I didn't mind the second disc at all. Rumor has it Squaresoft pulled money and manpower out of the Xenogears project to focus on Final Fantasy VIII. The second disc contained much more narrative cut scenes and much less action. The song posted in this entry was the accompaniment to a lot of those cut scenes. I enjoy it in its own right but it becomes powerful to me combined with the characters recounting the Revelation type apocalypse that was consuming their world and killing billions. Good night everybody.

Prevention is the best cure

As a volunteer, I don't often deal with parents directly like my buddy the youth minister who is an employee of the parish. Even around us, he has to be careful of what he says. We had a meeting the other night to continue planning for the  LifeTeen retreat later this month. On Sunday and Monday morning he met with committees of parents. He said the parents are upset with him because they want a religious education class for the middle school kids on Sunday evenings at 5 pm. He responded, "You do realize I spend that time preparing the night for the high school kids, right?" The parents felt that the current schedule of religious education was too inconvenient for kids who have a full load of extracurricular activities on their plates. One of the moms said, "I know religious education is just as important as cheer, but..."

Religious education is just as important as cheerleading. The former may determine whether her beloved daughter will enjoy the Beatific Vision in heaven or burn in the fiery bowels of hell for all eternity. Cheerleading might influence what college she attends or what boys she may meet (but not marry, because marrying at that age would be a big no no.) It's occasions like these where I think that, if anything, the manosphere understates the problem of Churchianity.

Catholics are apt to blame all of the problems of the Church in the last 50 years on bad catechesis. That's true as far as it goes, but poor religious education is a symptom. What is the sickness that's causing it? I have theories of course, but I'm genuinely curious what my five loyal readers think it is.

Progressives and Neo-Caths often point to the anarchy of the 1970s as proof that the Church of the 1950s wasn't as splendidly strong and healthy as she appeared to be. Suppose you've been filling your car's gas tank with gasoline for years. She's running smoothly and gets you from point A to point B with no trouble at all. Then one day you decide that you're bored with gasoline. It's always the same. It never changes. So, on a lark, you decide to fill your empty gas tank with Coca-Cola instead. The car won't start at all or the engine sounds pretty rough. You think, "Wow, just look at how fast my car malfunctioned with that one minor change! Clearly it wasn't as healthy as I thought!"

I've noticed that criticisms of the pre-conciliar Catholic Church tend to focus on unverifiable speculation about people's interior states of mind. For example, in 1965, 64% of American Catholics attended Sunday Mass weekly, whereas in 2013 only 24% did. The standard line is, "Well, more people went to Mass back then but nobody understood what the hell was going on." And you know that how, exactly? There were 49,000 seminarians in 1965. In 2013 there were less than 4000. The response is, "Back then men went into the priesthood because it was considered more socially prestigious, not out of any great religious conviction." Again, I'm not sure how it is you know what motivated all of those men, but we do know for certain that we've succeeded at destroying whatever social prestige the priesthood may have once had. So well done, I guess.

Progressives try to tell us that the pre-conciliar Church had lots of problems. When doesn't the Church have problems? But whatever flaws she may have had, they are as nothing compared to the moral, doctrinal, and liturgical anarchy of the last 50 years of Vatican II's springtime. Pope St. Pius X and later Pope Pius XII kept those problems largely contained with rigor and discipline. There will always be heresy and dissent so long as man has free will. The tares will grow alongside the wheat until harvest time. That doesn't mean known tares should be entrusted with responsible teaching and governing positions.

To answer my own question from earlier, the sickness that is causing poor catechesis is the loss of supernatural faith. A heretic is a baptized Catholic who knows Catholic dogma and rejects it. What do you call a Catholic who doesn't know enough of the faith to rise to the level of heresy? We've raised two generations of baptized pagans. We don't teach because we don't take it seriously anymore. The kids pick up on it and they become adults who associate Christianity with cutting, coloring, and drawing (CCD.) It's a nice activity for the kids but it's not something adults need take seriously.

Protestants can simply stop going to church, but that's not an option for Catholics. So we drive around in search of an orthodox parish and do our best to raise our children right. It's one thing if your kids know what Catholicism is and turn their backs on it as adults. It's literally damning if they turn their backs on it because their parents didn't really believe it either.

I always laugh when I shock suburban Catholics into a stunned silence when I elaborate on what the Church expects of us in principle. Laughing is better than crying, am I right?

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Never underestimate how much random dudes on the internet can change history

Those of us on the Right are a generally pessimistic lot. Sometimes I imagine that it must be nice to be a liberal. Their history is one triumph after another. Some of them don't have particularly strong feelings about gay "marriage," for example, but they love feeling that they're on the correct side of history. Young liberals turned out in droves for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, not because they had seriously considered the issues and relative merits of each candidate, but because they wanted the emotional validation of voting for the cool, hip black guy over the old, square white guys.

For rightists in general, and Traditionalist Catholics in particular, history reads like one long defeat. We observe the social dysfunction that has arisen from liberal triumphs but we can't publicly criticize their failures unless we do so from within the liberal frame. The perfect example of this to me is Sean Hannity wagging his finger and saying, "YOU LIBERALS are hypocrites!" Left-liberals and right-liberals catch each other making unprincipled exceptions and play it off as a cheap gotcha to score political points among the viewers of the 24 hour news networks. Questioning liberalism itself is verboten. There's a good reason why so many alt-right bloggers use pseudonyms.

I don't think of myself as a mighty intellectual in the vanguard of an exciting counter-revolutionary socio-political movement. That way lies an inevitable meltdown. I'm just an ordinary man who exercises his pattern-recognition skills, as are my five loyal readers I'm sure. It's good for us to compare notes. I enjoy conversing with like-minded men throughout the blogosphere. Discovering Traditionalist Catholicism, and later the Red Pill, or Reaction, or the manosphere, or whatever you want to call it was good for me because I realized I wasn't alone. I'm not the only one who noticed that the Church is a mess and society is rapidly devolving into anarcho-tyranny.

Writing long philosophical treatises on the internet is all well and good, but what's a normal man to do in a real world gone mad? You need to be careful about who you trust - I learned that lesson the hard way. At the same time, I think a lot of people are open to hearing realtalk, more than we think. Liberalism hasn't succeeded in completely suppressing our pattern recognition skills. What most people lack is the conceptual framework to articulate what they observe to be true. The State and the culture feed us endless propaganda about how we're so much smarter, freer, and just plain better than our stupid benighted great-grandparents who were chained by superstition and irrational bigotry. But, if we are in fact the freest and most enlightened we've ever been, why is civil society crumbling? If we're all blank slates (although now they're trying to deny that the slate even exists) then why do Americans of a certain racial background consistently lag behind Americans of other racial backgrounds?

When the mainstream media takes notice of the alt-right, they often describe it as made up of pick up artists, mens rights activists, and any number of dissimilar tribes. I think what we all have in common is realism. We want to understand the world as it really is. We may be wildly off the mark, and we have different responses to the reality of the 21st century West, but that's the thing which unites us. I'm of the opinion that we need to challenge the world in wherever and whenever we can, in whatever state of life we've embraced.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Losers always whine about tone. Winners go home and...

I'll let you complete the sentence in the post heading. A guest post at the always excellent Unam Sanctam Catholicam blog describes a favorite trick of the progressives:
There is also the fact that individual traditionalists have to live up to a pretty ridiculous standard. They are not just ambassadors for themselves in all they do, but for the Latin Mass and all of Tradition as well. Any negative behavior can and will be attributed to the Latin Mass by popular bloggers, thinkers, and quite a few priests and bishops. When a random conservative Catholic blogger (both politically and religiously) is a jerk, nobody says that's because of the Novus Ordo. But with the Traditional Latin Mass it is another story. It is automatically assumed that the Latin Mass is the source of the divisive views, and that the Latin Mass contributes to a spiritually rotten subculture. That any one individual trad says "I don't do this!" doesn't make any difference. To say "such is life, deal with it", is true, but those outside the Latin Mass have the luxury of knowing that it will never be so with them. 
The bread and butter of the blogosphere is perusing the comments on someone else's blog or a mainstream website, seizing upon the most extreme examples one can find, and then writing an indignant entry crying, "See?! [X] is filled with hateful crazies!" I used to do it myself back in the prehistoric era of blogging, circa 2002-03. Eventually I wised up and realized, "Yeah, people say all kinds of things on the internet."
So given those realities, should anyone be surprised that when I hear "the biggest barriers to expanding the Latin Mass are bitter internet commenters" I roll my eyes and view them completely out of touch? Yes, everyone needs to be nicer to each other, more understanding, and promote true reconciliation. But do you think that message of reconciliation is going to be very effective in parishes where a lot of this crap takes place? There's a cold reality: every trad could be a saint and a paragon of tolerance and acceptance, and the situation today would change only at the margins, if at all. Once basic obligations are being done, then maybe the call for better tone can be taken with a shred of credibility. Right now, it has zero credibility.
A lot of good natured souls take criticism of their "tone" to heart. They twist themselves into pretzels trying to find the perfect balance of sweetness and light and joy, more flies with honey, etc. ad nauseum. One thing mainstream conservatives (also known as right-liberals) need to understand is their tone doesn't matter. Every election cycle they're always searching for the second coming of Ronald Reagan, the happy warrior who's always smiling and has a joke handy for any situation. I'd argue that Ronald Reagan was a man whose time had come. His time isn't our time.

When someone criticizes you for your "tone," what they almost always mean is, "I don't have any reasoned objections or logical rebuttals to what you're saying, but you're making me feel bad, so shut up." Frankly, I'm always astounded when I hear grown men complaining about somebody's tone. Sure, the speaker may be a jerk, but is he right? Believe it or not, 2+2 still equals 4 even when Adolf Hitler says so.

With the Latin Mass specifically, it's difficult to overstate how passionately many clergy loathe anything that smacks of pre-1970s Catholicism. It doesn't matter how sweet and nice and ready to volunteer we are. Some priests and bishops don't want the TLM to make a comeback and as long as they draw breath they will attempt to stymie it or roll it back. Some people just plain don't want what you're selling, even if what you're selling is objectively superior to what they have now.

Use your common sense. They're going to portray you as a slobbering lunatic no matter how calm, cool, and collected you may be. It's not your tone they have a problem with, it's your message. They're seldom capable of addressing it directly, so they try to get you tripped up on your presentation. They'll try to convince you, "Ah, you know, you make a lot of sense but gosh, your tone is a major turn off." Never take advice from your opponents or concern trolls.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Ascension Thursday

Introit: Ye men of Galilee, why wonder you, looking up to heaven? alleluia. He shall so come as you have seen Him going up into heaven, alleluia, alleluia. Ps. 44. 2. O clap your hands, all ye nations; shout unto God, with the voice of exultation. Glory be to the Father...- Ye men of...

From the Gospel according to St. Mark 16:14-20: At that time Jesus appeared to the eleven as they were at table: and he upbraided them with their incredulity and hardness of heart, because they did not believe them who had seen him after he was risen again. And he said to them: Go ye into the whole world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be condemned. And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name they shall cast out devils: they shall speak with new tongues. They shall take up serpents; and if they shall drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them: they shall lay their hands upon the sick, and they shall recover. And the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God. But they going forth preached everywhere: the Lord working withal, and confirming the word with signs that followed.
Most Catholic dioceses in the United States transfer today's feast to this coming Sunday (but not all, check your calendar.) Besides making a complete hash out of the Biblical 40 days the resurrected Jesus appeared to his disciples, it sends the message that Catholicism isn't that serious a thing. Going to Mass twice in one week? Such burdens those wicked pharisees lay on our shoulders! Transfer it to Sunday!
I know the stated reason: the bishops want more of the faithful to experience the mystery of today's feast. The kind of Catholic who regularly attends Sunday Mass anyway is also the kind of Catholic who attends Mass on Holy Days of Obligation. Transferring it to Sunday shows that 1) the bishops know a lot of Catholics would deliberately blow off today without a good reason, and 2) they'd rather not put in the work to change that. So the people go along with the soft bigotry of low expectations, so to speak.
In contrast, parishes and dioceses that make tangible demands on their people and instill a sense of discipline... they're never lacking in money or vocations.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Church is covered in powder burns from shooting itself so many times

A Church that repels instead of attracts:
Catholics declined from 23.9% of the American population to 20.8% between 2007-2014, and in that time “unaffiliateds” (i.e. those who do not affiliate with any religious group) increased from 16.1% of the population to 22.8%. According to the report, that means that there are roughly 3 million fewer Catholics today than less than a decade ago, even factoring in immigration and births.
...The first, and most important, take-away should be this: what we are currently doing isn’t working. I realize this might come across as blindingly obvious, but for many Catholic leaders it doesn’t appear to be. If you attend a typical Catholic event today, most of the talk will be about how great everything is: our schools, our parishes, our youth groups, etc. Nary any mention of the reality that our pews are emptying.
...The complexity of the problem doesn’t mean we just throw up our hands and give up. I think there is something buried in the Pew numbers that is revealing, and points to a possible solution. When you look at the “religious switchers,” it is clear that the mainline Protestants and Catholics are the worst at attracting new members, and the best at repelling existing members. Yet look at other faith traditions, such as Evangelical Protestants, Mormons, and Muslims: you see that they were able to maintain their numbers in an era of religious decline– the Evangelicals actually added more members than they lost.
Is there anything they hold in common, as opposed to mainline Protestants and Catholics?
I would argue that they take their faith seriously. There are no felt banners, content-free catechesis, or silly songs to endure. More importantly, there are no apologies given for what they believe: they are robust in their practice of the faith, or to use the politically-incorrect term, manly. Such cannot be said of the typical mainline Protestant congregation or Catholic parish. 
 Something my buddy the youth minister told the kids the other night is illustrative of this problem. He told us the story of how he got the job. He was interviewed by a hiring committee of prominent parishioners. The parish is largely made up of wealthy suburbanites, which correlates strongly with liberal Catholicism. He didn't expect to get the job going in so he figured he had nothing to lose. They asked him, "What would you do to attract more young people and keep them rooted in the faith?"

They were expecting him to offer the usual platitudes but instead he said, "Gregorian chant, for one thing. The music in most parishes is embarrassing. Increased reverence in the liturgy should be a priority." Much to his surprise, he got the job. Although, he went on to tell us, later on a member of the committee told him that that answer nearly cost him the job until the pastor put his foot down. It's almost a law of nature that the wealthier a parish is, the more casual the dress and the more liberal the theology and politics.

All of the problems within the Catholic Church of the last 50 years - the ugly churches, the embarrassing music, the lousy art, the milquetoast preaching, the sodomites in the priesthood, the communists in the religious communities, the disappearance of men and corresponding feminization of the congregations - are symptoms of the underlying problem. Of course, stuff like this doesn't help.

This will bring in the men in droves!

Godless heathens think religious faith means believing in nonsense without any evidence at all. This is, of course, ridiculous. Christianity hinges on the historical existence of Jesus Christ. A few neck bearded fedoras try to argue that Jesus never existed, but that is such a manifestly risible argument that it deserves only contemptuous dismissal. Faith is akin to confidence. Reason demonstrates the existence of God and his perfections. The First Vatican Council put it this way:
  • 1. If anyone says that 
    • the one, true God, our creator and lord, cannot be known with certainty
      • from the things that have been made, 
      • by the natural light of human reason: 
    let him be anathema.

Reason cannot demonstrate that which transcends reason. The most prominent example is the dogma of the Holy Trinity. We accept this truth about the nature of God solely on the authority of the God who revealed it.
If anyone says that
  • divine faith is not to be distinguished from natural knowledge about God and moral matters, and consequently that
  • for divine faith it is not required that revealed truth should be believed because of the authority of God who reveals it:
let him be anathema.
The problem which has gripped the Church for the last 50 years is a crisis of faith. The Catholic Church has lost all confidence in itself, its mission, its identity. Why is our public worship so frequently ugly or silly? Because we no longer have supernatural faith that Jesus Christ is truly present. Why is the preaching of our priests and bishops so banal and enervating? Because they're trained not to rock the boat. Might cause too much loss of revenue.

The Second Vatican Council has locked the Church into mid-20th century illusions about the compatibility of Christianity with secular liberalism. Our paaaaastoral strategy has been to make nice with the world. The numbers speak volumes: the world hates us more than ever and Catholics are no longer given solid reasons for remaining Catholic. If anything, it'd be better if religious education programs taught outright heresy. Heretics often take religion seriously, albeit a diseased and erroneous form of religion. Most Catholic education teaches children that religion is kid's stuff. CCD may as well stand for Cutting, Coloring, and Drawing.

Demography is destiny. The Church will continue shrinking in the West for the rest of my lifetime. There are no simple solutions. One thing that has been of help to me is recalling the distinction between Catholicism as a body of doctrine vs. how it is lived in practice. In theory, the Catholic Church should be the most reactionary institution on earth. In practice, American Catholicism is essentially mainline Protestantism with more Mexicans. I admit it's unsatisfactory. But it has saved my faith on more than one occasion to recall that the Church has not and cannot teach error, no matter how much our bishops would like it to or how much they refrain from teaching the hard stuff.

What makes today's crisis heartbreaking to me is that it is mostly self-inflicted. The Arians, the Cathars, the Protestants... all of them were easily identifiable groups with easily identifiable beliefs that marked them as outside of the Catholic Church's pale. They either left of their own accord or they were thrown out. These days the Modernists chose to remain inside and undermine the Church from within. You learn to be on your guard around the clergy until you can discern whether they're orthodox or not. And if not, you either find another parish to attend or you learn to maintain a critical distance from them, always analyzing everything they say to discern whether it's good, bad, or indifferent.

But I stay, and God willing, I will stay until death. I imagine this is how it must feel to watch one's mother descend into alcoholism. You still love her, but you learn not to take her drunken rambling too seriously and you always work and pray for the day when she decides it's time to give up the sauce and turn her life around.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Book Review: Revival, by Stephen King

I don't scare easily but Stephen King consistently writes books that frighten me. King cites H.P. Lovecraft as one of his major influences and it shows in his book Revival, which is a Lovecraftian tale expanded to novel length. The story begins in the early 1960s with the child Jamie Morton meeting the new Methodist minister Charles Jacobs. Jacobs and his beautiful wife are a hit with the small Maine town where they take up residence.  One of Jacobs's hobbies is the study of electricity which he uses to build gadgets for entertaining the children. Jamie's brother Conrad gets clotheslined in a skiing accident which damages his vocal cords and he apparently loses his voice for good. Jacobs tries an experimental treatment by applying a small amount of current to Conrad's throat and it immediately heals him. Jacobs waves it off, saying it was largely a placebo effect.

All is going well until Jacobs's wife and young son are brutally killed in a car accident. At their funeral, Jacobs takes to the pulpit and curses God, mocks religion as a racket, and leaves town. Jamie's religious faith is destroyed. He grows up to be a musician and a heroin addict. He hits rock bottom when he misses a gig and gets abandoned by his band in the middle of Oklahoma. He heads over to the state fair hoping to score some drugs when he sees Charles Jacobs again, working as a carny and using his electrical inventions to wow the crowd. Jacobs recognizes Jamie and promises to cure him the way he cured Conrad. He puts some headphones over Jamie's ears, gives him a jolt, and his heroin addiction vanishes immediately. As the decades go by, Jacobs uses his electric healing machines to hustle the rubes and make bank. But Jamie eventually learns that Jacobs has a more sinister purpose in mind: tapping into powers and realities that man was not meant to know. The story climaxes in the present day with Jacobs's final experiment. The use of his power has a heavy price.

Stephen King's stories take place against an elaborate cosmology inspired in part by Lovecraft. His Dark Tower series explicates it more fully and we see implications of it in many of his other novels such as It and The Stand. Like Lovecraft, King paints a universe where human beings are oblivious to the unseen dark realities that surround our plane of existence. We don't want to see those realities. Direct knowledge of them inspires madness and death. I think that's what made this novel effective at scaring me. Serial killers are human beings who have become evil in their brokenness. Not to get all armchair psychoanalyst, but real life criminals always made me wonder why they chose that life. Many children from single parent homes grow up to be criminals, but not all. Some children from loving nuclear families grow up to be criminals too. Either way, they're still human. We recognize ourselves to some extent, and we know that we are free to choose evil. We all choose evil from time to time, if not petty thuggery or staggering crimes.

Classic movie monsters such as vampires, werewolves, and zombies have been done so often that they hardly scare at all anymore. Vampires are now sensitive souls who are just looking for true love. Werewolves are hunky guys the girls swoon over. Zombies are now taken to be metaphors for the coming socio-political collapse everyone is expecting either consciously or subconsciously. Night of the Living Dead and its many sequels leave us wondering, "Maybe it's humans who are the real monsters." But even when they're played straight as scary villains, they have definite weaknesses that the heroes can exploit. We expect the heroes to triumph. The monsters still exist in a universe with recognizable scales of good and evil.

What makes Lovecraft's, and by extension King's, stories scary to me is that we are portrayed as not particularly important; cosmicism, they call it. The universe is a cold, scary, meaningless void upon which we project our mental constructs.

Hidden in that void are gibbering monstrosities that would devour our souls if they ever took notice of us. We are as insects to them, and gaining their attention is asking to get swatted. Curiosity killed the cat, and curiosity leaves us insane or deader than dead. Villains, and often the protagonists, are compelled by that curiosity or lust for power to push beyond limits we aren't meant to transgress.

Modern "horror" stories rely on the jump scare or gory depictions of violence. These days we've become so desensitized to these Hollywood tricks that a lot of horror flicks inspire laughs instead. A Nightmare on Elm Street, for example, scared me when I was a kid but as I grew older Freddy Krueger evolved into the Johnny Carson of the genre.

Revival is effective because of what it leaves unsaid. It's about establishing atmosphere. You experience a creeping dread the more you learn about Jacobs's plan. Like Lovecraft's work, the reader feels the profound wrongness of the preternatural beings the characters encounter. If the creatures are revealed, the narrative leaves the impression that we can't fully comprehend them, and that we shouldn't even want to. It's darkly mysterious. You don't want to know but you're compelled to find out.

Would read again.

Friday, May 8, 2015

"I don't know, I can imagine quite a bit."

Social Security is in worse shape than you can imagine:
The Social Security Administration projects that its trust funds will be depleted by 2033—not an optimistic forecast. But it may be even bleaker than that.
New studies from Harvard and Dartmouth researchers find that the SSA's actuarial forecasts have been consistently overstating the financial health of the program's trust funds since 2000.
"These biases are getting bigger and they are substantial," said Gary King, co-author of the studies and director of Harvard's Institute for Quantitative Social Science. "[Social Security] is going to be insolvent before everyone thinks."
I'm sure that isn't big news to my five loyal readers. To my generation's credit, nobody believes that there's a Social Security account with their name on it waiting for them when they turn 65. Everyone thinks of SS as just another tax the government takes and that they'll never see again. The money they take is either immediately paid out to current retirees or used for other government spending since money is fungible. And there are slated to be many, many more retirees than young people participating in the workforce. Old people vote in greater numbers than young people, so in the short term, SS taxes will go up because cutting benefits will be a political death sentence. The problem is that there simply aren't enough young people in absolute numbers to support all of the old people, not without raising taxes to ruinous levels. Raising the retirement age might be another band-aid but the system is terminal. It cannot be saved.

What does that mean for young people like myself? The historical blip in which the Baby Boomers lived popped a long time ago. Their life plan was go to college right after high school and major in anything at all, walk right into a job that pays enough to comfortably raise 2.5 children upon graduation, stay on the same career track for 35-40 years, and then retire with generous benefits. They raised their children to believe in the same life path, but I think all of us know by now that it simply doesn't work that way anymore, not even if you work for the State.

In a sense, we ourselves still live in a bubble, albeit a smaller and thinner one. We don't think much of the State anymore but we still expect it to do certain things. It's unlikely it will have the money for even that much. When that bubble pops, we're returning to the historical norm of the brutal struggle for survival amidst scrambling for resources. Retirement as we understand it could only exist within the Boomer bubble. I hope for your sake that you're independently wealthy, or that you have your dream job, or that you get along great with your children. By the 2030s we will have returned to the traditional ways of either working until you drop dead on the job or moving in with your adult children if you're too infirm to work anymore.

Make no mistake, there will be shooting when the State can no longer afford to dispense gimmedats, and that day is coming sooner than we expect. By the end of this century, I believe the United States will have broken apart into various ethnically homogeneous city-states with each squabbling tribe competing for dwindling resources amidst declining overall brainpower Basically, a post-nuclear holocaust wasteland, only without the nuclear holocaust.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Book Review: The Moviegoer, by Walker Percy

Literature endures when it articulates a truth about human nature. Thousands upon thousands of books have been written in the last 100 years alone, but many of them fall into obscurity, not always because they were bad, though many of them were, but because they were written in the moment and don't say anything beyond that moment. The Moviegoer was the first novel of Catholic writer Walker Percy, and it won the National Book Award for 1962. Reading it today is uncanny because Percy accurately describes the malaise of Western civilization 50 years before the first manosphere blog was published.

The story is narrated by John "Binx" Bolling during the week leading up to his 30th birthday which coincides with Mardi Gras that year. Binx is a veteran of the Korean War and a successful stockbroker from a long line of Southern gentlemen. He spends his free time watching TV, listening to the radio, or going to the movies. He's a womanizer and the book describes his abortive relationships with his secretaries. Binx is by all appearances a successful young man, but he's dead on the inside. The book is primarily about his "search."
What is the nature of the search? you ask.
Really it is very simple, at least for a fellow like me; so simple that it is easily overlooked.
The search is what anyone would undertake if he were not sunk in the everydayness of his own life. This morning, for example, I felt as if I had come to myself on a strange island. And what does such a castaway do? Why, he pokes around the neighborhood and he doesn't miss a trick. To become aware of the possibility of the search is to be onto something. Not to be onto something is to be in despair.
Binx lacks the conceptual framework to be more explicit about his search, but the reader figures out he's searching for the meaning of his life. Despite the title, he doesn't spend much of the novel in movie theaters but they do serve as a metaphor for his feelings: his life is a movie, he's the star, and everyone else is a supporting character. Their movements, their speaking, everything is scripted for a fantasy world. He is able to observe without reacting or being moved at an emotional level. Sounds like a lot of bloggers I know.

Binx has a large extended family, split between his mother who is a devout middle-class Catholic, and his great-aunt, a grand old Southern dame who's proud of her ancestry and believes in concepts that were even then considered old fashioned such as class and noblesse oblige. Binx's step-cousin Kate Cutrer comes closest to fully understanding his anxiety and ennui, though she herself is suicidal and manic-depressive. Kate later describes that she never feels more alive than when she considers suicide.

There's not much of a plot. Binx spends pages ruminating on his surroundings, systematically deconstructing his job, his loved ones, and his failed romantic advances on his secretary Sharon Kincaid. The climax is when his great-aunt gives him a good dressing down after realizing his problem:
"Would you verify my hypothesis? Is not that your discovery? First, is it not true that in all of past history people who found themselves in difficult situations behaved in certain familiar ways, well or badly, courageously or cowardly, with distinction or mediocrity, with honor or dishonor. They are recognizable. They display courage, pity, fear, embarrassment, joy, sorrow, and so on. Such anyhow has been the funded experience of the race for two or three thousand years, has it not? Your discovery, as best I can determine, is that there is an alternative which no one has hit upon. It is that one finding oneself in one of life's critical situations need not after all respond in one of the traditional ways. No. One may simply default. Pass. Do as one pleases, shrug, turn on one's heels and leave. Exit. Why after all need one act humanly? Like all great discoveries, it is breathtakingly simple."
Isn't that the decision more and more men make in the 21st century? We've never had so many toys and so few reasons to live. Binx is a nominal Catholic who describes his unbelief as "invincible," and that it wouldn't make a difference if God himself descended from the heavens to perform a few miracles for his enlightenment. His step-siblings are devout Catholics (meaning they practice the faith) like their mother, and Binx is able to speak their language. They see God present in the smallest and most mundane details of life. Binx cannot see the meaning in anything he does and drifts through life and relationships.

The novel ends with Binx and Kate marrying. We receive some inkling that he's feeling better by then as he now has a wife and is planning to attend medical school. He and his aunt reconcile once she realizes that the family has indeed come down in the world and that her nephew is just an ordinary man after all.

The author, using Binx as a mouthpiece, describes modern man as being nicer than the Christians and naughtier than the pagans. We do not strive for virtue anymore. We don't even sin mightily. Instead we're nice. Binx enjoys going to the library to read political magazines, not because he identifies as liberal or conservative, but because he's amused by the back and forth.

Human beings need to feel part of a coherent universe, to belong to something. The churches, the country, the culture, they're all encouraging greater atomization of society. We feel disconnected. Isolated. And when that happens we become listless, lethargic, sometimes suicidal. Percy returns to these themes in his other works.

On some level, I can identify with Binx. He goes to the movies, I read books. We differ in that I'm a believing Catholic, for starters. Christianity won't solve all of your problems but it does teach you how to laugh at them. I know that God created me and put me in this world at this time for a reason though I may know not what. Reality is hierarchical with God at its apex. The Catholic knows his place in the hierarchy and what is expected of him, although many fail to live up to those truths.

The right side of the blogosphere is devoted to recording the ongoing crisis of Western civilization, though some believe it has already collapsed beyond repair. Much electronic ink has been spilled wondering what to do about all of it. Should we go full blown PUA or MGTOW, consigning the world to the flames while we enjoy the chaos at poolside? Should we concentrate on self-improvement in preparation for when the shooting starts? Should we put ourselves out there and actively try to stem the tide?

The first choice is not an option for me. Many men are searching, like Binx. They won't find what they're ultimately searching for outside the Body of Christ. I'm confident that those who are committed to pursuing the truth will wind up there sooner or later. If you seek goodness, truth, and beauty, you'll be drawn to its source. Along the way you might discover that meaning was there all along in the details.