Monday, October 20, 2014

Trivializing depression, on what your glasses frames say about you, and more

  • Trivializing depression as a scheme to disempower the masses.
  • Wide-open eyeglasses: why aren't more kids wearing them ironically? They're inviting in a personal, feminine way. To perfect Superman's wimp disguise, the movie producers had Christopher Reeve wear girly frames. Then again of course I think narrow and old frames are cute on girls too. A thought, just now, probably not new: might the modern piercings and studs (nose rings, etc.) be deliberately off-putting as a display of power?
  • Subpoenaing church sermons. In case you weren't sure that "freedom to marry" really means "the state forcing you to say the same sex can marry." I wonder how long before even the pretense of the republic is out the window.
  • Joel Osteen. "Houston wants to review the content of my sermons; LOL, what content?" Like Norman Vincent Peale and Robert Schuller ('50s mainline optimism), he's pretty good as far as he goes (sure, stop self-defeating thinking) but it's not good enough. What about redemptive suffering, the way of the cross, not to be confused with masochism — M. Scott Peck's point? What about the martyrs? Lacking in Osteen's theology as far as I know. So, yeah, he's more of a self-help guy/motivational speaker/pop psychologist than a real minister. The snobs are having a field day making fun of him: he has no theological training (a career media guy; that and his good looks and Southern charm make him very good at it) and how dare he show the rubes how to empower themselves? A stopped clock is right twice a day; I'm sure the man helps a lot of people, hence his success.

Anglicans and that good old economia

  • Both the "continuing" churches and the Anglo-Catholic wing of the Episcopal Church seem to be afflicted with a surprising, indeed astonishing, amount of remarriage after divorce. Some of that number were ex-Catholics they had attracted because of their laxity in this, but a lot of it were, so to speak, home-grown divorcees. I would not be surprised if the percentage were higher than in the general population. When the Ordinariate was first announced, a number of Anglo-Catholic ministers attacked it with lofty-sounding theological rebuttals, and the ones I happened to know about were all living with their second if not third wives — a fact not one thought to mention. "I have a theological objection." "What's her name?" To be fair, like with contraception this is very recent of Anglicans. Henry VIII didn't believe in modern, no-fault divorce; historically the Church of England and Episcopal Church taught and practiced the same thing about divorce and remarriage as Catholics (annulments were hard to get), which is why in 1936 the Archbishop of Canterbury refused to marry the King to Mrs. Simpson.
  • I think one should add the Orthodox theological commitment to being expressions of their societies — not the way they'd put it but certainly the mindset or paradigm. I once read a talk Fr. Thomas Hopko gave to an Episcopal parish thinking about becoming Catholic or Orthodox and a big point, a big sales pitch, was his claim that with their idea of economia the Orthodox were more pastoral than the juridical Catholics and had no problem with all the people in the congregation on their second marriages. And no problem with contraception either. It was that crass a sales pitch, and it worked.
  • Was this the so-called Western Orthodox Church? Its liturgy is derived from the BCP as I understand it. Some years ago I heard from a reliable source that a parish on Long Island went that way from the Episcopal Church because it was a lot less complicated than the RC approach. Fr. Hopko is OCA, which doesn't have or support Western Rite Orthodoxy. (The Greeks hate it too.) WRO has two juridical forms, Antiochian and ROCOR, and a few ritual versions, from resembling the Tridentine Mass, the original approved Russian version from the 1800s, to resembling the Anglican Missal (the so-called Liturgy of St. Tikhon), the two kinds in the Antiochian church, to sort of free-form Anglicanish or vagante archaic reconstructions that are heavily byzantinized, the anti-Catholic versions ROCOR has used. WRO are under pressure to byzantinize; many do switch. Some become so heavily byzantinized, particularly in ROCOR, they might as well. "The one, holy, Byzantine, and apostolic church"; they worship their cultures. Rumor has it Msgr. Joseph of the Antiochians in America isn't keen on WRO either. The Catholic Church has both latinized and unlatinized forms of the Byzantine Rite.
  • In re: the juridical Catholic mind, I still recall hearing two Catholics attending a wedding on Saturday and wondering if it fulfilled their Sunday obligation. The idea seemed incomprehensible to me and seemed to miss the point that one was a social event and the other the worship of God. Still does. It is my understanding that the time for a mass on Saturday fulfill the Sunday obligation varies somewhat from diocese to diocese. Only Catholics can think this way and I still find it mystifying. It reminds me of the stories a Jewish friend would tell me about his Orthodox parents. You have a point but if it was a late-afternoon wedding, resembling the vigil Mass that does cover your obligation (I've done it; a Tridentine parish near here has it), the confusion's understandable, especially considering a lot of people don't care about the difference in content between a nuptial Mass and a Sunday Mass, or aren't very bright. (The value of the Baltimore Catechism: a quick and dirty intro to our theology that even the dumb kids understand. It's only a starting point for the smart or religious kids.)

The church: one step forward, one step back

Funny thing is the heretics are saying the same thing. I'll explain myself so don't worry.
  • Surprise; the church is Catholic. "For Francis, a resounding defeat: Traditionalists have won a huge victory." | "Even in 2015, it's hard for Francis to go much beyond this without risking schism." Of course the secular media are presenting this like their politics: "Catholic bishops veto gay-friendly statements leaving Pope Francis the loser." (Because we're big meanies who want to beat up the divorced and homosexuals. Sed contra, conservative Christians taught me as a kid it's wrong to pick on gays.) They believe or want to that the church is like Congress or a Protestant denomination, where doctrine is changeable by vote. (Even the Constitution is amendable and repealable: witness Prohibition.) I understand the synod won't be done until next year. And so we thank God for Cardinal Burke and the African cardinals who launched the "Blue Thursday" counter-revolution at the Synod. We thank God for preserving the doctrines and dogmas of his Church. And we pray that one of these great Synod Fathers who fought the heretics will soon serve as our next pope. Burke as the first American Pope. I like it. But we need a Pope young enough to stick around for 20 years to finish what Benedict the Great started (why he quit is mysterious).
  • "God is not afraid of new things!" Paul VI beatified?! Shaking my head. Not a heretic and he took the heat for upholding doctrine on contraception (so of course I accept the church's decision) but what a disaster as Pope. This business of beatifying and canonizing Popes as a posthumous honors system with a political agenda (canonizing that stupid council) just confirms non-Catholics' misconceptions about the papacy. Way to score an own goal, church. Being "a disaster as pope" (as if one of the faithful had the right to judge in such matters, and to make that judgement public) and living the virtues in an heroic manner are not mutually exclusive. Many people might think that Pope Celestine V was "a disaster as pope" and yet 17 years after his death he was canonized. I thought of St. Peter Celestine. Realized he wasn't cut out to be Pope so he quit; very different. When I joined the church I didn't check my brain in at the door. Vatican II flopped and it's crashing down around the neo-conservatives' ears. Since that disaster of a council took the ordinary practice of the Catholic religion away from so many people (and done in the name of obedience per Noel quoted above, as Archbishop Lefebvre observed), conservative Catholics have been rallying around the Pope's person in an unprecedented way. I remember the cultural sea change in America from 1968 to 1972; been chasing the old America since ("went back in time" four years ago, because I realized I can). A reason I don't have a lick of devotion to Paul VI and never will. Sorry I don't agree. Humanae Vitae was the most prophetic document in the past 400 years IMO. He stood against what was then a majority heretic body in both Europe and USA. I don't get a raise or a promotion for doing the bare minimum for my job. Why I have no devotion to John Paul II: bad (liberal) cardinal appointments, low-church charismatic your only option (unless you went Greek Catholic, a fine thing), and selling out on altar girls. Paul VI brought you the Novus Ordo and Eucharistic ministers, who were supposed to be for "extraordinary" situations but that's been horribly abused. The liberals have soft-sold women's ordination with it, but support for that has never taken off because it's impossible. The Holy Spirit at work. Paul VI at the UN: the golden era's blind faith in "Progress!" The '50s begat Vatican II: streamline the church for a better world; pitch it as evangelism. (Heretical version pushed by the media: let's work with Protestants and nonbelievers to create a new church, no longer really Catholic.) Well, my archdiocese is broke, closing parishes. "How's that 'renewal' working out for youse?" In 50 years the American church will be sound again (the only young who still go to Mass are conservative), but smaller than now.
  • "Why I got out of New York." “New York in the ’70s was known for three things: cheap rent, free healthcare and free education,” said John, 52, a lawyer. “That was the city I loved, the one where I drove a cab for five years to pay for law school. It’s gone. So Times Square got cleaned up. For what? Now it’s a demented cross between Tokyo and Disneyland.” 15 years ago I liked Manhattan very much. New York's the capital of the world with something for everyone. But I couldn't live there.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Why are we cannibalizing the Book of Common Prayer?

My parish: trads, conservatives, Anglo-Catholic alumni, and black locals.

  • Sour grapes: Why is the Catholic Church cannibalizing the Book of Common Prayer? Points: it IS a Protestant book as Msgr. Newton notes, imposed by force (been to two English Catholic martyrs' shrines and a ruined abbey: I'll never look at the BCP the same), and British Anglo-Catholics long wanted nothing to do with it; it was used against them. That said, it's because American Anglo-Catholics were attached to the Prayer Book, at least in tridentinized missal form; it's their resistance to Modernism and the Sixties just like the Tridentine Mass. And because much of the time our liturgical English isn't very good; Cranmer and his imitators did it better. (Catholics don't care about liturgical English because deep down we remember that liturgy isn't really in English.) Why not be ecumenical in a good way? I don't per se miss the BCP, but as this was a classic-car show and flea-market Sunday, I went to the early Novus Ordo where I'm an ordinariate of one: And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary: and was made man. (That's right: the Continuum, the Rite I Episcopalians, and I are literally saying the same creed. It's an American Anglo-Catholic thing and a tribute to a lot of good people, present and departed.) My favorite office book is Winfred Douglas' Monastic Diurnal, Roman Rite but not only with Coverdale's psalm translations and Cranmer's canticle ones but both the Roman Rite collects and, where different, Cranmer's as an option. The Protestant intent's only passive (if a prayer was about the merits or intercession of a saint, he replaced it); his content here isn't heretical and is beautiful, like a mini-sermon. The Roman Rite ones are short and terse (the West in crisis and decline, when the Roman Empire fell); Cranmer cut loose in English. That said, the British ordinariate should remain Novus Ordo with married priests; hopefully, high-churched and with the option of the Tridentine Mass in Latin and English Missal forms.
  • Taki misses old-school WASPness, the thing that "Mad Men" (Jewish Matthew Weiner) set out to criticize (lefty nostalgia: celebrating the fall of WASP America) and inadvertently celebrated. ("Look how strong those bad WASPs were... hey, they were pretty cool. No, wait...") My feelings are as mixed as my ethnicity (my dad grew up speaking Spanish). With the real reactionaries including the European SSPX I see the problems, the Protestantism and the "Enlightenment" sequential false ideas creating today's problems, and that the WASPs didn't want us here ("this is our country — you're just visiting"); the Rockefeller Republicans really still don't! (Old-school Episcopal: "The Rrrrromans aren't the canonical church here; WE are, just like in England.") But with the patriotic second- and third-generation American Catholic traditionalists and Joe Sobran ("the Protestants were just so darn nice"), I appreciate their liberality that founded this country, writing the Constitution, and, for all its problems, creating a fantastic home for the church (from Cardinal Spellman to the old-school nuns to Notre Dame's Fighting Irish to Bad Catholics like Spencer Tracy and Joe DiMaggio), a place where Catholics thrived, 50 years ago. Ironically, a place based on free-church dissent that's more hospitable to us than the mother country, which I also know first-hand: hostile to us in a creepily self-aware non serviam way despite the residual saints' names on things, the anointed Christian Queen, and the state church with its coped and mitred bishops. (The Popes hoped they'd come back into the family too but that won't happen.) The place is haunted by its having left the church. Taki's one Greek Orthodox I'd like having a few drinks with.
  • The USS Constitution hosts a little party before its three-year overhaul. A monument to an unnecessary war but a beautiful ship. Still, you wonder how little of the original ship is left; ditto the HMS Victory, Nelson's flagship. Been aboard the Constellation in Baltimore, long thought to be an original Navy frigate like the Constitution but proven to be a newer ship from the mid-1800s; that was a bit of creative accounting (denied a new ship in the budget, the Navy scrapped the original Constellation and built another one, writing it down as a rebuild; good old government fraud). Wonder how the rebuilding of the Cutty Sark (yes, the whiskey is named after a real ship) is going after that fire. ("Cutty sark" by the way is Scots for a low-cut blouse, sailors having healthy desires and all.) Philly has a steel-hulled German windjammer (more impressive than the clipper ships when under full sail) from around 1900 (commercial sailing ships didn't disappear until the '30s), the Moshulu, now a restaurant, as well as our official tall ship, the Gazela originally from Portugal.
  • Culture-wars chum from National Review: "Transgender": reality can be a bitch. Or rather, you made your unreality, now live in it. A girl at Wellesley pretending to be a boy (in this case she doesn't look like one) has enjoyed the school playing along: until now? Want to be a boy? Fine; then you won't be elected "diversity officer."

DCCC Car Show 2014

Glimpses of the Historical Car Club of Pennsylvania show and flea market at Delaware Country Community College.

Flemington Speedway Historical Society Car Show 2014

Hunterdon County Fairgrounds at South County Park near Ringoes, NJ. Music by Suckerpunch Suzie.

Black '49 Mercury Eight coupe with fender skirts. A car that James Dean made famous.

'59 Impala.

'59 Biscayne. Externally the only difference from the Impala and Bel Air was the side chrome. This was the entry-level, no-frills Chevy; manual transmission and I think no power steering. Marketed to farmers and others who just wanted basic transport. But the same sexy design as the high-end Chevys, curvy batwing rear end, teardrop taillights and all.

The first car I remember is a '67 Ford Galaxie.