Wednesday, December 17, 2014

"Mad Men"-like sci-fi: Part II of "Ascension"




  • You can watch it online a day after it's broadcast.
  • Of course there's a twist. The main story line: will the crew and civilian colonists find out the truth about the mission?
  • The critics don't like it but so what? More.
  • Math and science geniuses explain how the space-mission premise is unscientific, and of course scientists in 1963 would have known it. Even if Einstein's right so light-speed travel (warp drive) is impossible (why supposedly it'd take 100 years to get to Proxima Centauri, the closest star besides the sun): Speed of light is 3 x 10 ^8 m/s, so dividing by 9.8m/s^2 gives you just under a year to reach light speed. Of course that's impossible under relativity, but it does mean that they should have reached relativistic speeds quite early into their journey, and after 50 years would probably be beyond the edge of the visible universe. The figures don't add up if they're only going to Proxima Centauri. It does look as though they think they're under thrust. But at a constant 1 gravity acceleration, a ship approaches light speed in about a year and serious relativistic effects start to kick in. Proxima's a bit over 4 light years and they'd be there in about six years, Earth time; shave a bit off for ship time. But they're measuring fifty ship-time years of one gravity acceleration, and they'll have built up a huge time-dilation factor. The outside view will be massively distorted. Thirty years at one G (gee), ship time, is enough to reach Andromeda, a couple of million light years away — and for two million years to pass back on Earth. Fifty years and you're over the rim of the universe... After 100 years of 1 gravity, you'll be travelling a hair's breadth less than the speed of light, and you'll have travelled untold trillions of light years. Your time-dilation factor will be so huge that the current age of the universe would pass by in the time it takes you to blink.
Of course what grabs me is the premise "What if we started over in 1963 with NO Sixties?" Not perfect (fallen human nature) but undoubtedly better off in many ways; at least better-looking.

At first I was hard on the show for putting 2014isms into 1963 but changed my mind after watching the whole first episode. "'Mad Men' shot into space in a tin can" would have evolved; the projections seem pretty realistic. Take the era's brightest, most "progressive," and most secular, and look what happens. The Pill came out around '60 so why wouldn't scientists develop Norplant aboard the Ascension? (In other words, as the paleocons keep telling me, by the '50s, in America the rot had already set in.) Futurism and faith in government planning and control, with a nod to Plato's Republic. It's not Catholic (although this futurism caused Vatican II, why not the Tridentine Mass aboard the ship?) or even Christian, but neither were the intelligentsia in '63, in Protestant America. (Catholics, and Jews, were accepted, but the Rockefellers were still in charge. Probably still are.) Racial equality (the black second-in-command)? Why not? The military has been integrated since '48. In fact the dog work for civil rights had been under way since the '50s. So sure, they could have a black XO in '14. Ditto "Dr. McCoy" being a woman.

Much like with "Mad Men," the audience is supposed to say they hate the "sexism" (women being women, and valued for it) but they really love it. There's even a lyric-less "Zou Bisou Bisou" scene; that and the Horn & Hardart-like automat cafeteria aboard the ship are probably the best scenes of the second episode.

There's an obligatory 2014 homosexualist sermonette: the detective on Earth is a second tall Nordic blonde as a what-a-waste lipstick lesbian; she's basically Agent Scully out to reveal the truth about the mission. But she gets a practical answer on the matter from the project's head, the founder's son: even though reproduction is controlled (genetically arranged marriages but Norplant, affairs, and the stewardesses as call girls and spies), the colonists are supposed to procreate of course so homosexuals were disqualified in '63.

Interesting detail: while Wernher von Braun, the father of our space program including the moon landings, was a Nazi (I think he was a rocket scientist far above all else, but he did get away with being a Nazi), the project's founder is a Holocaust survivor (how 2014 politically correct)... doing eugenics (which was a pet cause of the left, certainly before World War II).

Idiocy note: I'm surprised Syfy would condescend to its audience by using the TV convention of having modern computers buzz and bleep every time you touch them.

The finale's tonight so you can see it and read my take on it tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Syfy's "Ascension" a potential "Mad Men" in space


In the '60s we already had "Star Trek," very much of the golden era, just a thinly disguised Great Society as a space fantasy. "Progressive" but culturally conservative too (partly choice, partly assumption). The generations clashed in the '68 episode "The Way to Eden"; hippies really were that annoying but in real history they sort of won, in my memory by around 1972.

I'd heard of the 100-year colonist spaceship idea; great one for a movie or TV show. The "time capsule," Rip Van Winkle potential also reminds me of another miniseries if I recall rightly, "Goliath Awaits": what if the Queen Mary had been sunk by a U-boat at the beginning of World War II but thanks to some mix of nature and engineering skill, survivors and their descendants lived on board, at the bottom of the sea, for 50 years? ("Ascension" has a class war playing out on different parts of the ship too.) This one's also compared to "Battlestar Galactica" (same colonist storyline but Mormon-based myth where they're seeking Earth).

This time around, rather than basing it entirely on the Navy like "Star Trek" ("U.S.S.," etc., which "Ascension" uses too), the space service that runs the Ascension seems an offshoot of the Air Force based on the main uniform. (Nitpick: Air Force blue in '63 was lighter.) The captain has a Navy-based white uniform too; pretty authentic-looking offshoot of '63. (Rank seems Navy-based as on "Star Trek"; the captain's an O-6.)

The elements of an entertaining story are there: an intriguing premise and soap-opera ("Mad Men") plots complete with "fan service" sex appeal (5'11" Canadian model Tricia Helfer, the android baddie from the new "Galactica," as the Joan Harris-ish leading lady).

Fortunately for people like me who spend on Web access but not premium cable, Syfy posted the first episode online; I imagine like "Mad Men" you'll be able to find the whole miniseries on the Web (Hulu?) eventually.

Without giving too much away, I can say that while the concept itself makes it pretty enjoyable, "Mad Men" it ain't. Now I know part of the appeal of a well-made version of this kind of story is seeing how a parallel society based on ours 50 years ago would evolve differently from real history, and that some things might be the same. A spaceship launched 50 years ago on its way to another solar system would have lost most contact with Earth so there'd be little if any influence. But... rather like "Star Trek"'s makers chose to have it really be America in 1966 in order to attract viewers, whom they thought would be turned off by people TOO futuristic, too different culturally, this is suspiciously politically correct, even in the "we know better now" view of what retro culture there is; too much like America in 2014. Like how "Star Trek" was '60s America (continuation of the '50s: Middle America) but "Enterprise," a prequel, was 2000s America meets "TNG" (which was '90s America). Of course I want to see how a reset/do-over starting in '63 would play out.

P.S. Rent Galaxy Quest. It's a scream. By the ways, years before, there was "Star Trek" fan fiction with the same story line (actors thrown into an actual "Star Trek" universe). Wonder if that writer's getting royalties.

P.P.S. If, as in this fantasy, there were no Sixties, no cultural revolution, we'd still have the Internet, the Web. The concept was already on the drawing board in the '60s (ARPANet started in '69), as you can see in the details on "Star Trek" (reading a technical journal on a small monitor screen, not on paper). All the technological advances, including putting a man on the moon, were achievements of "the other '60s," the good one.

P.P.P.S. On watching the whole episode, I think the Ascension is a really good hypothetical projection from '63 minus the Sixties. Well done. The ship's authentic design and technology make it a star in its own right. The service is definitely Navy, and the bridge is the starship Enterprise had it been built in '63.

Monday, December 15, 2014

How spikey are you?


  • Quiz: How spikey are you? Cute. For those outside of Anglo-Catholicism, spikiness refers to A-Cs' love of traditional Roman Catholic ceremonial. Even their new breed agrees with us traddies that old church is FUN; they're not like Catholic liberals. It's pretty easy to figure out what the quiz writer wants to see in order to move your score "up the candle." Should the altar severs wear plain or lace-trimmed cottas? Note that for would-be Catholics it's cottas, not big rounded Anglican surplices. (Parishes used to have worship wars over this; it was really would-be Catholics vs. "we like being Anglican.") I think the real answer in Catholic ceremonial is "it depends." Plain during penitential seasons, moderate lace on festive days. Also, it can be a sign of rank; priests and MCs (altar server who is the master of ceremonies at High or Sung Mass) can wear more lace than the ordinary servers, and they can wear lace at any service. Should the servers wear cassock-albs with attached hoods? As a kid I thought, "Oh, like a monk's habit; how Catholic." Then I learned the parishes doing it are usually Modernists. So no; not Catholic enough. Final Result: Congratulations!! After passing this rigorous test you are indeed 'Top of the flame'. Ha ha. When I was a kid I had no idea about A-Cs' homosexuality. ... a true all-singing, all-dancing 'bells and smells' Anglo-Catholic! Our videos of Solemn High Mass will have you romping in the Elysian Fields and should you be passing our door... call in and be assured of a warm welcome! And remember our maxim 'the only thing that hinders too much ceremonial is the lack of equipment!' There are lots of variations on the ceremonial now, from the old Prayer Book like regular Anglicans then vs. Sarum vs. Tridentine (the winner among A-Cs, even Prayer Booky Americans, who ironically kept much of it while the Brits went modern) to Novus Ordo-based modern and all kinds of combinations with the older ones. Pictured: my parish. Sometimes the MC has more lace. We have a four-chain censer but maybe the servers don't know how to use it. Sometimes we have two sanctus bells rung in unison.
  • A memorable moment from "Catholic" college was listening to a young man do an impression of Arius, denying Christ's divinity, then complain that our traditional Mass is so bad because the people didn't participate. To which I thought, if Jesus isn't God, boyo, why do you give a damn?
  • Original Pronunciation and the Prayer Book. Maybe there are rhymes, etc., that people miss out on today. Original Pronunciation is the reconstruction of how London English sounded in Shakespeare's time, just after the Prayer Book was written; it also shows why American English, which began with English settlement around the same time (1607), sounds as it does.
  • Roissy: The psychotic left.
  • Nigel Farage: "Me vs. Russell Brand on 'Question Time' — he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?"
  • Ad Orientem on Bill de Blasio: So yeah, how does the first Democratic mayor of one of the most Democratic cities in the country in twenty or so years deal with the recent controversial police shootings? He tells his son, who almost certainly has around the clock police protection, to be very careful in his dealings with cops. Look, I have been a frequent critic of cops over reacting to situations or abusing their authority; but this clown seems bent on elevating hypocrisy to unusual heights, even for a hard core lefty. Not surprisingly rank and file NYPD don't much care for the man, putting it as gently as I can.
  • The devalued American worker: The past three recessions sparked a chain reaction of layoffs and lower pay.

Pessimism about Catholic traditionalism is unfounded in my opinion

American Catholicism becomes less conservative, or at least less liturgical.
You have to distinguish between all American Catholics and practicing ones. All American Catholics, counting the ones who don't go to church anymore, are on average more liberal; they follow the lead of secular society. But over the past 25 years I've seen the practicing ones become more conservative. The generation of churchmen who turned liberal at Vatican II ended up with a unique grab bag of beliefs, retaining some of the church's: for example, pushing for women priests yet leaving the one true church was unthinkable. Anyway, those liberal churchgoers are now all old and dying. Pope Francis may not like us but he's a Jesuit so he doesn't care about liturgy either way, and the average age at my Tridentine Mass is in the 30s: young families. (Nice thing about being a parish of the archdiocese: it doesn't sound or feel like a cult; not "self-conscious" as Fr. Chadwick says.) The liberal dream I was told 30 years ago of everybody forgetting the old Mass isn't happening: the Mass that would not die. Pope Benedict the Great called it: 50 years from now we'll be even smaller than we are now, but the American Catholic Church will be conservative again. The liberals will all have died or quit. I wouldn't rule out its becoming Tridentine again but this time with vernacular services, how Vatican II should have been handled in the first place.

I'm no Pollyanna; in the past three years I've been to liberal parishes. The thing is, even there, they have to use Pope Benedict's corrected English translation; it's Catholic, it's orthodox, in spite of themselves. That's huge. So despite all the problems left over by Paul VI and, yes, John Paul II (not heretics but not great Popes either), in a way Benedict set the clock back to around 1965: I can go to Mass anywhere in the United States, know it's valid, and hear Catholic teaching in the text. Changing the English Novus Ordo took so much time and money (printing) that I doubt Francis would undo it.

I look at the Novus Ordo the way a late-1800s Anglo-Catholic did the Book of Common Prayer: containing all things necessary for validity and not heretical but not ideal. I understand there are moderates in the SSPX who agree.
Catholicism is growing in the world outside Europe and North America, but by assimilating the externals of evangelical Protestantism and pietism in the form of charismatic pentecostalism.
If it's orthodox, it won't push us out. I don't think the Third World has the hostility to the old ways that Western liberals, self-haters, did 50 years ago. (The liberals went from faith in "Progress!", which created Vatican II, to attacking the West that created the progress, in short order, in a distortion of Christian humility.) Liberation theology was a Western liberal fantasy projected onto the Third World that's dead, since Communism, another Western liberal fantasy (Christian heresy), obviously doesn't work.

Fr. Chadwick understands the Orthodox option; Dale Griffith's a good teacher. As for the linked article, blaming the developed papacy (papal authority) for the low-churchification at Vatican II is how I tried to buy into Orthodoxy 20 years ago. But as old friend Mark Bonocore put it, there ultimately you have to turn your back on Western Catholicism and declare it apostate. So I backed out of that sale. In contrast, the Catholic Church includes the East.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Christmas: "SNL" nails it in two filmed sketches



  • Sump'n Claus: I thought it was hilarious, and seriously, some folklore, such as Mexico's corruption of Catholicism, Santa Muerte, claims to act like this (non-judgmental magic for sinners), hence its appeal.
  • St. Joseph's Christmas Mass Spectacular: For all us church geeks, how church (not my Mass or the Orthodox; mainstream protestantized Catholic and Protestant) looks to occasional visitors. (Sadly, they assume viewers don't go to church.) Me: why is the priest singing the Minor Elevation from the pulpit? Also: mostly Catholic mishmash (because we're very visual) filmed in obviously an Episcopal church. (TV doesn't like ugly churches either.) Still, much of this is so funny because it's true.

Can and should the church be involved in politics?


  • Can and should the church be involved in politics? In retreat, there's Fr. Gabriel Kostelnyk's way and there's acting Metropolitan Volodymyr's (Sterniuk) way. Surrendering the public square vs. being driven from it. Big difference.
  • "Ukrainian Catholic Church faces possible ban 25 years after legalization." I’m not buying this. The headline’s a big come-on. Of course the independent Ukraine would never ban the UGCC, even though most of the country doesn’t belong to it. The UGCC’s the independent Ukraine’s biggest fan! I feel bad for any Ukrainian Catholics in Russian areas (the Crimea is part of Russia) getting anti-Ukraine backlash, but seriously, how many Ukrainian Catholics live there? In their Galician homeland, as far away from the Russians as you can get in the Ukraine, they’re 100% safe. The Russian Orthodox are annoying with their blaming things on the Uniates, but churchmen on our side aren't blameless. There's caesaropapism the Russian way but there's being a shill for the liberal West, too, Patriarch Sviatoslav.
  • Prince William honors the Christmas Truce on its centennial. A moment of Christian decency in an immoral war. Sorry, I think the monument is cheesy-looking but their heart is in the right place.
  • Mass: Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico gaudete. Pink is beautiful.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Royalmania and more


  • Takimag: That old feudal spirit. Gloriously politically incorrect thus true: Americans are still crazy about the British royals because we are at base still the same people. After all, we speak English! (Interestingly, given how long ago America was settled, which is why we sound different from most British countries, American didn't become a separate language like Afrikaans from Dutch.) Like why we defended Australia during World War II when the British couldn't anymore: they are family. Here, "the royal family" or "the royals" (outside of baseball) only refers to one family: The Windsors are our royal family. The "special relationship" idea only dates from World War II, politically, as the empire really shifted from Westminster to Washington. For most of our history, until World War I, we were at odds with Britain politically, fearing them as a threat to our independence. (Even in the '20s there was a naval arms race and the countries had last-ditch secret plans if war broke out: respectively, invade Canada and hold out in Canada until the British came to the rescue.) But back in the 1800s, when Prince Albert imported the Christmas tree from his native Germany, pretty soon most Americans had them too. Upper-class late-1800s American families married off their daughters into the British nobility, such as Winston Churchill's mother. Because the "one people" argument is out of style ("Racist!"), white Commonwealth monarchists often use a practical one: a weak head of state (one who's literally far away and doesn't meddle) means you're freer than under a native president. (But their version of a republic would keep the British parliamentary system; the president would be a weak figurehead, the current governor-general, who's always a native now, under a new name, only the Queen would be out of the picture, off the money, etc.) A picture is worth a thousand words: two generations of marriages to attractive women guarantee Britain and the dominions (Canada, Australia, etc.) won't become republics any time soon.
  • Fr. Lawrence Farley on Orthodox liberals. Basically, the only thing keeping American Orthodox in line is their unique selling point of remaining liturgically in the '50s: no Novus Ordo. But for how long will that hold? Beneath the old liturgy and Anglicanish credal orthodoxy, there's not much there. We define ourselves by the Fathers. Uh, so did the old high-church Anglicans.
  • Policeman: "I stopped caring today." Demonized by the liberal media and misused by the state, cops still care. Thanks for guarding the approaches to my town in your squad cars at 1 in the morning.

On not being a Vatican-watcher, and more

  • From Gabriel Sanchez: What goes on in Rome is "not important" to the layman, except when we say it is. Actually much of it isn't important, but here's a reason not to read neocath blogs. "Neocath" means defending tradition only since Vatican II. "Don't pay any attention to that man behind the curtain," now that Pope Francis is an embarrassment, when for decades under St. John Paul the Overrated they told Catholics to do just that. They mean well (mode since Vatican II: rally round the Vatican vs. your Modernist parish or diocese) but they're distorting our teaching about the papacy. I invented or spread the moniker "Benedict the Great"; I loved and miss "my German shepherd" (Alsatian dog to Brits; guess it's World War I anti-German — Catholic doctrine's guard dog for many years at CDF as well as Pope) too, but JP2's reign (bad bishop appointments, Assisi, the Koran incident, and altar girls) disabused me of that personal cult of the Pope. That's right: traditionalists are not Gallicans or conciliarists (council > Pope) but we are papal minimalists as Jeff Culbreath says. Before modern media, Popes probably believed and said all kinds of goofy things; blessedly it never affected the church. Because doctrinally it doesn't (not ex cathedra). Fun fact: by pre-Vatican II standards, Ratzinger isn't conservative; in the '60s he was a "progressive" but a barely orthodox one. But good enough.
  • Yo, Jersey! How's that "renewal" working out for youse? As enrollment numbers plummet, Catholic schools across New Jersey continue to drop like flies.
  • Traditional Anglo-Catholic Mariology. Non-papalist, like the Anglican Catholic Church this comes from. Basically Catholic Mariology with a few ecumenical pro-Eastern and semi-Protestant hesitations about our doctrine but no denials of it.
  • Roissy: Shocking report: feminist "facts" don't line up with facts. A new report on sexual assault released by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) officially puts to bed the bogus statistic that one in five women on college campuses are victims of sexual assault. In fact, non-students are 25 percent more likely to be victims of sexual assault than students, according to the data. And the real number of assault victims is several orders of magnitude lower than one-in-five.
  • Dalrock:
    • UVA rape hoax: "Jackie" may have been telling a big fib to get a boy to like her, like a twenty-teens "I Love Lucy" harebrained scheme backfiring. (On the Web, the kids call it "catfishing": creating a character and even supporting characters to post, email, IM, and text people.) It suspiciously reads like this girl's fantasy: so hot she had all those popular, handsome boys all for herself. (Performing for 20 minutes at a time? Please. We're talking about hypothetical 20-year-olds.) Some say the anti-fratboy campaign is displaced anger at black-on-white crime (in the left's distortion of Christianity, blaming the historically oppressed is verboten); white boys are a safe, indeed preferred target in leftist doctrine. The lefty — Cathedral or Media and Government, MAG — hierarchy of truths, as far as I can tell: anti-white (actually, liberal whites trying to obliterate conservative whites), closely followed by anti-Christian so Mohammedans get away with murder, then the gays (anti-straight), then the girls (anti-men).
    • Bad idea: women aboard our nuclear submarines. You see our last-ditch nuclear deterrent; feminists see an underwater frat house. Who else is reminded of a service comedy (movie and TV) set during World War II, Operation Petticoat? (Cary Grant and Tony Curtis in the '59 movie; John Astin and the lovely Melinda Naud on TV.) Actually our last-ditch deterrent are land-based ICBMs (split between Army and Air Force control in interservice politics) but anyway. What conservatives didn’t understand is that to Social-Justice Warriors (parody of Christian white knights), sexual assault and misconduct aren’t bugs, they are features. As we have witnessed, if SJWs can’t find verifiable claims of horrific abuse to justify a full rework of the system, they are quite happy to go with unverifiable claims. And feminizing our front-line forces makes them better fighters, uuuuuuh, BECAUSE, OK? Recently watched a documentary about Rickover (a brilliant engineer, not a combat admiral); he would have carpet f-bombed this tomfoolery. (Great moment in Cold War and Navy history, now almost forgotten: our first nuclear sub, the Nautilus, reaching the North Pole underwater, under ice, in '58. The captain, William Anderson, turned out to be an old Southern gentleman of the moderate left, even though he was career military, as a Democratic congressman in the late '60s.) West Pointer Brian Mitchell left the Army to warn people in the '90s that putting women in combat is a bad idea (damaging discipline and morale, and sabotaging missions); ridiculous since women are reproductively more valuable while men are civilizationally more so (Roissy's Fundamental Premise).
    • Celebrating divorce by denying its existence. No-fault divorce and contraception ruined our society, even hurting conservative Christians as Leif Erikson found out ("conservative mommy bloggers" frivorce/eatpraydump too).
  • By the way, regarding "I don't care how we extract information from terrorists," all the American conservative talking heads showing pictures of 9/11 victims (jumping from the World Trade Center) to justify CIA waterboarding are dead wrong according to decency including the Catholic Church. Are they serious? Or are they really a liberal false-flag operation to try to discredit conservatives? We executed some Japanese officers for waterboarding; the Cold War, while a noble cause in itself, turned us into our enemy.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Pope Francis, animals, and the afterlife


This Pomeranian was at a classic-car show in New Jersey in May 2011.

The press is having a field day with Pope Francis again: Dogs in heaven? Pope leaves pearly gates open. "Ha ha. Stupid church. Can't even get its story straight about dogs and cats, so ignore it when it challenges our selfish, murderous, unhygienic, societally destructive pet causes." Try again, New York Times. If our bad clergy haven't brought down the church in 2,000 years, what makes you think you have a chance? And if the church is so evidently foolish, why waste newsprint and bandwidth complaining about us (rather than, say, Mohammedan atrocities)?

Reminds me of Thomist ex-farmer Jeff Culbreath's unsentimental discussion on these matters.

My take: kindly Pope Francis was trying to comfort a good-hearted, grieving child like the nice ethnic-Italian parish priest he is; not news. Grownups grieve for pets too. And as far as I know, he didn't say anything wrong.
Paradise is open to all of God’s creatures.
You see, not everything in Catholic theology is defined doctrine. In fact a lot of it isn't. Lots of room for speculation. All we have to believe is, like I think the Schoolmen illumined, our animals have sensitive souls so they share with us the experience of emotions (why dogs are charming) but not the spiritual souls we share with God and the angels.

Beyond that, just like with limbo for unbaptized babies (it's just a speculation: Pope Benedict the Great doesn't believe in it!), we don't know what happens to our animals after they die, other than, because they don't need sacraments because they have no sin, there is no hell for them.

So the worst that can happen to them is they just cease to be, like atheists think happens to us. No more suffering. Some orthodox Christians point to Isaiah 65:17 and Revelation 21:1 about a new heaven and a new earth to offer hope to grieving pet owners that there's a future for our animals. That's fine. One person I used to know said that to make you perfectly happy in heaven, God can bring back Fido and Fluffy to be with you (the rainbow bridge). No problem. Or since "space" doesn't exist in heaven so it's not a problem, why can't all our animals' spirits be there?

Think the Polish National Catholic Church is a conservative option? Think again



A unique mixture of conservative and liberal.

From Fr. Chadwick: The TAC and the Nordic Catholic Church. The Nordic Catholic Church (ex-Lutherans in Norway) is an offshoot of the Polish National Catholic Church. Read the comment thread; as usual, William Tighe and Dale Griffith enlighten.

The PNCC is an 1897 immigrant schism based in Scranton, Pa. At the time, due to bad treatment by the Irish bishops, there were several Polish schisms (Bishop Kaminski in Buffalo and Bishop Kozlowski in Chicago). So this schism was partly for the same reasons as other Slavic ones (Fr. Toth to the Russian Orthodox, at the same time as the Nats, and, 40 years later, Fr./Bishop Chornock to the Greek Orthodox) but also because agitator Fr. Franciszek Hodur (their founder and first Prime Bishop, consecrated by the Old Catholics) was a heretic (universalist) and a troublemaker kicked out of seminary in Poland. His bishop in America whom he turned on had given him another chance, ordaining him.

Having never been to a PNCC Mass, I had no idea how bad it is. I've long assumed: radical liberal founder and bishops kept in check by Polish cultural conservatism (the grand old-fashioned trappings their churches retain, from the intact old disused altars and the statues to the birettas, mozettas, and lace). Before Vatican II it was universalist Prime Bishops but Tridentine in Polish in the parishes. (A girl I used to know in upstate Pennsylvania told me her family went to the PNCC for a couple of years in the '30s by mistake, because it seemed the same!) My impression has been of a priest from Poland who switched to get married (they have third- and fourth-generation American priests too) serving a fourth-generation, aging, dwindling congregation, using a Novus Ordo clone. I've also noticed they're trying to make a play for Catholic liberals, in order to save themselves. Unrelated to liberalism, they've opened one or two new parishes in depressed Rust Belt towns in the wake of Catholic parish closings. Just good people who wanted to keep going to Mass locally as before.

While the ethnic congregationalism as a possible hedge against Vatican II has some appeal to me (one of their unique selling points is a parish owns its property — possible in Catholic doctrine but the church doesn't do it), the PNCC makes no sense. They venerate St. Josaphat, a martyr for the Pope, just because he's popular in Poland. Now they have two factions, the liberal Episcopal-oriented trying to recruit Catholic liberals, vs. the relative conservatives who, at least under Prime Bishop Swantek, were interested in talking to Rome.

If Bishop Hodur were alive today he'd be with the Modernist National Catholic Reporter types preaching his heresy and a kind of Polish liberation theology, not celebrating the Tridentine Mass for Polish-American Catholics.

They have one parish in Philadelphia, in the long Polish Lower Northeast: St. Valentine's, I think with a Polish-born pastor. The story: for some reason, 100 years ago the neighborhood built a church on their own and asked the Catholic archbishop to approve it but he turned them down. Sometimes the Catholic bishop in those situations said yes (Our Lady of the Angels Italian Catholic Church in West Philly, now closed), sometimes no (St. Anthony of Padua Episcopal Church, Hackensack, NJ). The big Polish Catholic parish of St. John Cantius is not too far away. Polish-Americans overwhelmingly remained Catholic; many have never heard of the Nats.

With the Old Catholics' liberal turn, the Nats broke with them about 10 years ago so now there are no more official Old Catholics in America. The Archbishop of Utrecht has designated the Episcopal Church as his American representatives. Thanks to Polish conservatism barely keeping them orthodox, the Nats broke with the Episcopalians in '77 and have formed the relatively conservative alternative (Continuing?) Old Catholic communion, the Union of Scranton. (Scranton has its own Vatican. Who knew?)

The Nats have no religious orders (no nuns) and as far as I know have never canonized anyone on their own.

A lot of their clergy are Freemasons; for some Polish-Americans, the Nats were their families' first step out of Polish Catholic culture towards the American (liberal) Protestant mainstream.

Anonymous:
You might well have placed "education" and "educated" in quotation marks, since we are speaking of the occasional PNCC boy or girl who had "majored" as an undergraduate in theology at university, or a middle-aged PNCC layman or laywoman (and almost always a woman) who has got some sort of certificate for taking a few courses at a RC seminary or adult-education institute; the "theological training" its ordinands (when there are any ordinands; some years there are none, and when there are some they are mostly former RCs who left to marry) receive at its Savonarola Seminary is pretty "basic."
A friend has observed he thinks Continuing Anglican priests often have the equivalent training and workload of Catholic permanent deacons. Probably the same here.

Everything in church polity except the papacy and episcopate (which are part of the church's divine institution; part of our doctrine) is negotiable in ecumenical talks. Some Catholics have long had married priests (the Nats marry the ordained, like Protestants, against both Latin and Eastern rules/custom; likewise, they have married bishops — we had Salomão Barbosa Ferraz), and Catholic lay trusteeship of parishes has happened too (it was suppressed here but again, not doctrine).

Worshipping a culture, putting it above the church, even with a good thing such as an Eastern European Catholic culture, is a dead end. Ethnocentrism/nationalism can turn left just as easily as it can turn right. (The Nazis: opposing the old German aristocracy out of envy, they were leftist on everything except possibly race, except liberals were big believers in eugenics at the time.)

"Bad ecumenism: is that phrase redundant?"



Pauli at Est Quod Est: George Weigel on bad ecumenism.
Bad ecumenism: is that phrase redundant? I'm one of those people that see the whole project of ecumenism in practice as being a big, ivory-tower academic ritual. I'm much more interested in personal, hand-to-hand apologetics, even though it gets pugilistic at times. I prefer that ecumenism to a supposed search for common ground which, in my experience, is usually a chance for theology grad students who can't write and don't want to commit to the priesthood or religious life to finally use those hours spent in classes and late-night bull sessions spent on the mostly irrelevant subject called comparative religion.
True 90% of the time. There is good ecumenism, such as spinning the positive in the Anglican branch theory, same as our theology of valid holy orders and valid Eucharists. All the ancient "Catholic" churches share an overwhelming amount of beliefs and practices, more or less equaling Catholicism. (Which by the way is not the original Anglican branch theory, which says the Catholic family has branches but they're the best because they're "reformed" too.) So why keep fighting? Arguably that's the only ecumenism that really matters to us: these are estranged Catholics, with bishops and the Mass; bringing them back is very doable and desirable. As for within the East, you have the recent Orthodox/Oriental Orthodox bromance, between two loose communions of ethnic churches little to do with each other; historically those communions hated each other. (William Tighe: ALL the ancient Catholic churches claim to be the true one, except the Nestorians now, because of Anglican influence.) A rapprochement that's probably just, between two churches that outsiders assumed were the same anyway. The Orientals have different rites as well as languages, distancing them from each other even more than the Orthodox are from each other. But they all, Orthodox and Oriental, have the same polity: married priests, monastic bishops.

As for the rest of ecumenism, two Episcopalians, C. Wingate and Dr. Olsen, have spoken for me. Corporate reunion won't happen, except, I say, the shrinking mainline merging, all becoming Episcopal even if they don't use that label, just like the Church of South India Protestant merger. They turned high-church but they don't want to come back to Catholicism, as their decisions about sex and the sexes show. (Protestants can change doctrine by vote. We can't nor do we want to.) And the Orthodox and the Orientals getting together.

The Orthodox don't want to come back either; the Russians, the only Orthodox with clout, understandably feel they don't need to since they're a world power.

So ecumenism's only real achievements are that the various Christian factions aren't trying to kill each other anymore, as the Protestants understand us well enough now so that doesn't happen, plus cooperation in charitable work, which we can do with the Orthodox in Eastern Europe along with our culture-wars coalition with them. With pro-abortion, homosexualist mainliners? Soup kitchens, food drives, joint Thanksgiving prayer services, and Christmas Messiah choir concerts, and that's about it. In America, it's charitable work and a culture-wars coalition with the evangelicals. (Jerry Falwell pioneered that Reagan Democrat ecumenism, reaching out to Catholics without compromising his fundamentalist Baptist faith; RIP. Arguably Nixon with Pat Buchanan working for him started that: anti-Sixties pushback.)

There has been a good ecumenism in the trenches as conservative Roman Catholics, spurned by Vatican II, have learned about the Christian East as a result (my first traditional Catholic Mass was Ukrainian), sometimes adopting Greek Catholicism. Some are called to do that. (Attrition to Orthodoxy has been negligible.)

You had good and bad ecumenism in its Sixties heyday too. "I think it's so groovy now that people are finally getting together." Churchgoers then, egged on by the media, really thought we'd all reunite. Good in that the Episcopalians were high-churchifying like they wanted to come back; it looked like Anglo-Catholicism was winning but it was really about to lose big. (Women priests. Felt like a sucker punch, but with 20/20 hindsight it was almost inevitable.) Good that other Protestants wanted to talk to us; everybody loved good Pope John. Bad in that it was really our Modernists and their liberals planning to create a new church together, not really Catholic. The whimper of that you'll see is the mainline merger I mentioned. (Ex-Catholics don't turn mainline. They just drop out: "I left the true church. Why should I bother with yours?")

I think the cartoon is from The New Yorker.

P.S. Hooray for Christmas. The feast celebrating God becoming man makes the Protestants want to come home. They forget they don't like us, putting up statues of Jesus and Mary, lighting candles, and singing in Latin.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Churchmanship, libraries and the Internet, the sexodus, and more

  • "What is your churchmanship?" personality quiz. Final result: Traditionalist Anglo-Catholic. You are a staunch supporting of the Catholicity of the Church. A Sunday for you without incense is probably a Sunday visiting your relatives. Your parish has more vestments then you can count, or if you don't then you certain want more. You like edifying worship and despise modernism. Of course. And I wasn't trying to "game" this. I've identified as Catholic since I was 13 and walked into full-fledged Tridentine Anglo-Catholicism when I was 17. My parish doesn't actually re-enact '50s American Catholicism; we've taken on board some of the best of '50s ANGLO-Catholicism. Most of our hymns are found in the Hymnal 1940, and if it has six verses, all six verses are sung, just like in the Episcopal Church. We even have coffee hour once a month, remarkable for a Catholic parish. On those pick-your-denomination quizzes I always get Orthodox because my answers always include the East (married priests, for example).
  • Dewey Decimal System Day. Dewey was used in small libraries. I forgot the name of the alphanumeric system for big libraries: Library of Congress Classification System. Thought so. I worked in a library 21 years ago, as a cataloguing assistant, right before the Internet hit big; in fact one of our librarians (Noel S. McFerran) showed me the Internet and I panicked, thinking I'd never learn it. Good thing graphical-user interfaces and the Web opened it up to the masses.
  • Bob Wallace: The sexodus, part 2. Manosphere stuff: "men going their own way" because of feminism.
  • The life and times of Dr. Feelgood. A fictional version made an appearance on "Mad Men."
  • New job: I'm out of the Web content-writing business after two years. Back in publishing but with no writing; keeping track of production of scholarly journals for a nice, stable British company whose local office is a commuter-train ride away. Deo gratias.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Zizioulas on Catholic/Orthodox relations, Sailer on "Megaphonics," and more

  • Metropolitan John of Pergamon on Catholic/Orthodox relations. Better known as the theologian Ioannis Zizioulas. ... for many centuries, the Orthodox believed that the Pope wanted to subjugate them. And now we see this is not in any way true. The emphasis he placed on professing and sharing the same faith is also important. Professing the same faith is the only basis of our unity. The question is recognising what that same faith is; we need to profess this faith together in order for us to be in full communion. Nothing new: "nice Orthodox" such as he, as opposed to nasty Orthodox, recognize our sacraments and churchness, in their opinion, as we dogmatically do theirs. But their hardliners (nasty Orthodox, who believe we don't even have a real baptism) have nothing to fear: same mirror true-church teaching as ours. Nice Orthodox, their ecumenists, start on the wrong foot by assuming we no longer teach we're the true church ("now we see this is not in any way true") so they, and their "Orthodox in communion with Rome" followers in but not of the church, get their hopes up when a Pope or some other Catholic churchman tries to be humble. Their understandable reaction to the unclear signals coming from us: "Why don't you just dump your doctrine like you seem to promise half the time and come into the true church?" ("Professing the same faith is the only basis of our unity.") As Catholics we believe the second-millennium papacy has consistently, effectively defended all the essentials of the faith that we do share with the Orthodox: God, Christ, the Trinity, the hypostatic union, Mary the Mother of God, bishops, the Mass, and the option of using images in worship. So we have no incentive to dump our second-millennium defined doctrine. The most I can do is blame Popes' prudential judgment for buying into the naive futurism that begat Vatican II (and there are Orthodox liberals who want to do the same thing), but that was nothing to do with our doctrine ("pastoral council" that didn't work, as my now-broke archdiocese shows). So thanks but no thanks, Metropolitan John.
  • By the way, the obvious analogue to the Byzantine Liturgy is the Tridentine Mass, as old Orthodox theology books accepted, but Orthodox ecumenists always defend the Novus Ordo, saying it's better than our Mass (which has the second oldest Eucharistic prayer still in use). It's like Sixties Catholic and Protestant liberals trying to create a new church together, though in these Byzantines' case (the OicwRs do it too, sneering at conservative Catholics coming into "their" church) it could just be anti-Westernism. (Hip Orthodox theology such as Schmemann: retread of our French liberals before V2; "anything but Thomism," as if the Schoolmen were too dumb to understand the church fathers.) Red alert.
  • Tea at Trianon: The drug-of-choice for intelligent and literate pagans is the Matthew Arnold doctrine, which can be cruelly epitomized as “Real religion is too much like hard work, so let’s have a religion of art.”
  • Satan's traps of the pious.
  • Steve Sailer at Takimag: Intro to Megaphonics. I was planning to write the definitive essay on why the engineers of conventional wisdom — the holders of the Megaphone — always seem to get their big stories so ludicrously wrong. … As Theodore Dalrymple famously noted: "… the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, not to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better."
  • Face to Face: "In debt up to my eyeballs" — the growth of a telling phrase.

Three on church

  • Bye, Anglican Communion. Archbishop Welby is about as important as the Swedish Lutheran Archbishop of Uppsala. If history had turned out a little different — if the Swedes beat Alexander Nevsky and the Russians — New Sweden (in which I’m sitting) could have become America with Swedish as the world language, etc. “Imagine the tidy bicycle trails through the Rockies.” England, its language, and its church would have been an obscure northern culture.
  • "I personally believe one could get a better Catholic education for a lot less money by attending a secular university with a high-quality Newman Center than at a Catholic college." If Newman Centers are still like my “Catholic” college’s liberal campus ministry 30 years ago, then no. I’ve long said something similar but substitute “conservative Catholic parish in town” for “Newman Center.” If I could do it over, I’d have gone conservative Catholic or secular great-books humanities (a not-too-obnoxious little preppy college; truly liberal WASP liberals if they still exist) along with Catholic traditionalist, conservative Novus Ordo or Greek Catholic parish townies, OR vo-tech such as automotive or HVAC repair: GOOD money; beats a humanities degree if you’re not going to law school. Then study the humanities for free: the Web is the greatest library the world has known. Most of the time college today is a scam.
  • Time was the Pope was a distant figure whose opinions were largely unknown to the faithful, which was good because his opinions largely don't matter. I don't watch EWTN. Mostly, to me, the Holy Father is just a name the priest whispers in the Canon at Mass and to whose charities I give my Peter's Pence envelope once a year. The media making like he can change the church just don't get it, because they don't want to.

Bye, Daniel Nichols


Of course the cop thought this was a real gun. It's like combat: you can't afford to hesitate.

In this blog's early years (it turned 12 this year) I liked Caelum et Terra though they (Daniel Nichols and Maclin Horton) didn't like me. Mr. Nichols has great credentials for an orthodox Catholic trying to think outside the two-parties (Punch and Judy) box: anti-war (unlike the Republicans invading Iraq over 10 years ago) and a Greek Catholic by choice (iconographer). Similar appeal as anti-war libertarianism, still my flag of convenience (I've voted only LP nationally since '04) even though I'm really a conservative, not a libertarian. The Greek Catholic angle understandably made me assume he's theologically conservative; small-o orthodox. That and leftism are not an unusual combo for serious Catholics, even though I don't agree with it.

Then this: Only in America. Rubbish. Standard lefty narrative (distortion of Christian charity) starring evil white cops and black threats depicted as cute kids. Tamir Rice had what looked like a REAL gun; its orange tip marking it as a toy was missing. A gun person wouldn't have done what he did. Hooray for the Oath Keepers in Ferguson and hooray for the Second Amendment.
Dude. You are SUPPOSED to be an antiwar libertarian. Not a cartoon figure righty.
Who said anything about supporting unjust wars?
Antiwar is supposed to be about a preference for nonviolence, especially State nonviolence, which murdered a twelve-year-old kid.
You don't get to tell me how to be anti-war.
My idea of the Ideal World is formed by the Sermon on the Mount. Not by some individualistic utopian ideal.
Reminds me of Jim Wallis calling his leftism "God's Politics." Preening, just like when SWPLs do it.
Beeler: you have become a joke. Your Catholicer than thou, anti-Orthodox, capitalist kissass, not-so-young fogey shtick is old old old, just as you like it.
Nichols' lefty martyr routine is good for something: he's written my new sig, now on FishEaters and maybe a few other places.

Fine; you're just an old pro-contraception lefty who likes icons. ("Orthodox in communion with Rome" nonsense: pro-contraception.) Beat it.
Are you even married? I think YOU probably beat it. I haven't beaten it in many years, being married and all. Defending shooting a f*cking 12-year-old kid playing with a toy gun. God damn.
"Free-speech movement." How Sixties. "Manners? Bourgeois bullsh*t!" Bait.

Someone else, with common sense about the Cleveland incident. The cops in this aren't blameless, but the anti-cop narrative/propaganda is tiresome:
What the video shows is 3 people making very bad decisions. 1) Tamir Rice, should know his neighborhood and that he was going to attract attention to himself. 2) Cop driving the police car puts him and his partner in a very bad tactical situation by pulling right up to the suspect giving the other cop no room to maneuver, find cover, issue verbal commands or follow any use of force continuum, he is placed in an immediate "shoot" situation. 3) After Tamir is down the driver cop moves around behind him and passenger cop finally takes cover behind the car, when they are done they have set themselves up in a potential crossfire. This is the perfect video for training on what NOT to do responding to this type of situation.
Another: "Daniel Nichols, please shut up."
Or what? You'll shoot?
"I'm righteous/not a sellout because I'm poor." Here's a thought for this Eugene Debs cum Maynard G. Krebs (Byzantium's his Zen, I guess): let's talk about "social justice, man." "Honor your obligation to your wife and kids by getting a better job." When he's not "beating it" to all that "righteous" black rage on the news, like the other white liberals. Strike three; he's out.

P.S. For all Nichols' insight into Dreherism's error (the Benedict Option: "a place for special people to play church while eating kale or something"), contemptuous toward a perceived (self-styled) elite as it is, he's actually not that different, Byzantium and all. "Let's surrender the public square to the left and 'be spiritual,' above the fray, unlike those stupid Tea Partiers."

CIA torture, St. John Coltrane, and more


  • From RR: Torture report reveals CIA’s “brutal” interrogation tactics. 1. I am a law-and-order conservative. 2. The church is clear: the end doesn't justify the means and "my country, right or wrong" is heresy. We executed Japanese officers for doing these things to American and British POWs during the war. The left and libertarians have a point here: in our Cold War sovietization to beat the Soviets, we have become the enemy.
  • St. John Coltrane African Orthodox Church. Interesting in that this church has picked up on the Orthodox version of tribalism and made it their own, even though they're not really Orthodox of course. (Was Coltrane a member?) Nice iconography though. The African Orthodox Church was part of Marcus Garvey's black American nationalism in the '20s, started by a former Episcopal priest. They long imitated the traditional Roman Catholic Church in vesture and I guess liturgy; guess they went freestyle after Vatican II. Met one of their bishops once, a nice older man kitted out just like Archbishop Lefebvre in choir habit. Philly has a black vagante church right behind St. Donato's; that building was actually a chutzpah move by the Presbyterians setting up an Italian congregation there many years ago: "Innayourface!" Now, as far as I can tell, their bishop (so it's a cathedral?) looks like our bishops but the services are typically American black, not exactly liturgical.
  • Recently watched a "Ridicule Religion" movie triple feature on TV. That genre can be intelligently done. Elmer Gantry holds up; arguably a classic tale of American Protestantism (the American Religion), watchable because it doesn't gore my particular ox. Burt Lancaster as the con man, Jean Simmons as the good girl, really Aimee Semple McPherson (were Pentecostals the first to ordain women?), and Shirley Jones as the hot bad girl who takes them down. Agnes of God is much ado about nothing, a mixed bag of positive images of the church (Anne Bancroft as the smart mother superior, and essentially traditional Catholicism at a convent, long no longer true in Quebec since the Sixties' "Quiet Revolution" turned them against the church, which had been overbearing) and heavy-handed symbolic potshots at it before (spoiler) coming to the same conclusion the lawyers wanted in the beginning (which was just). I don't think an order would admit a crazy ward as a novice. Set in the golden era (in '64; based on St. Nicholas of Tolentine, New York), Doubt was a stage play like Agnes; fine characterizations and acting with a true-to-life twist (the strict conservative is the heroine, like Bancroft another streetwise orthodox nun), marred by inaccurate liturgical details, based on technical adviser the real Sister James's muddled memories. Most of Mother Seton's Sisters of Charity order was folded into the French Daughters of Charity; in the Archdiocese of New York they remained a local order so they kept the unusual Mother Seton habit (black bonnet, not the "penguin" habit) until the Sixties. Now the order is liberal and old. Did the priest do it? People I've known who grew up then say the clues say he did.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

"Christine" movie's 31st anniversary



I understand that John Carpenter's movie was released 31 years ago today, and that he has one of the two restored cars from promotional tours. The other was won in a promotional giveaway and is auctioned off every now and then, next year at Barrett-Jackson in Scottsdale (got $200,000?).

I have a 1:25 Christine, the '58 Plymouth with a "don't screw with me" attitude. (The movie's a black comedy using the horror genre, mostly making fun of men and their cars; the book's more straight-up horror.) Plastic model kits are a pain, though. For "carpet f-bombing" (thanks, Mr. O'Sullivan), few things beat them. Thin plastic made in Communist China: fun, fun, fun. The plus side is you get to know the car really well; training for future mechanics amateur and pro ("this is a starter; here's where it goes"), including solving problems (putting an extra bar in the chassis frame to secure it to the floor pan, C-clamping the chassis at one corner, then gluing a shim under the frame of the opposite wheel to balance it out). Terrible stuff: Testors enamel spray paint; takes forever to dry. (If there's a next time: primer and lacquer for the car body and other big parts.) Blackwashed the grille and hubcaps with shoe polish. The antenna's a pin. Great stuff: Bare-Metal, like gold leaf in a sheet for model-car chrome and trim. Cut a piece with your X-Acto knife and a ruler, peel off the backing, lay it down like tape, press it, and cut away the excess with the X-Acto. I'd say for an adult with a normal amount of spare time, it takes at least a week to do right. I'd give my Christine a C+ (biggest problem: the consistency of the gloss paint finish). By the way, the book calls the car a Fury (perfect for a horror novel) but the movie never does; she's really a Belvedere (red, white, and silver) but with a Fury engine (twin carburetors). This kit repackaged as a movie tie-in has the Belvedere engine. I've seen one Christine clone, New Jersey's "Evil 58." If I recall rightly, it has parts from some of the movie cars (problem with that movie: in that age before computers they mashed a few '58 Plymouths to film it).

Socialist booze, clericalism, and more


"You doity rat, Pennsyvlania! People can get good wine from us, see?"


Rome: Former blogger Fr. Jim Tucker and friends?

  • Retiring Washington state liquor chairwoman on privatization: "Dumbest thing we ever did." I live in a "socialist liquor regime." Pennsylvania never entirely repealed Prohibition (but is less Mafia than New Jersey), because of a teetotaling governor in '33. (By the way, Republicans weren't always conservative.) So you're stuck with the state stores, like Sweden, for a mediocre wine selection. NJ has both great Italian-American wineries (most don't know it but NJ is "The Garden State"; much of it is still rural/agricultural, the difference with Missouri being everybody's Italian; South Philly's East Annex) and a great selection of wines in the private liquor stores. Still other states treat you like a grownup and sell alcohol at the supermarket. So no to this state official: hooray for liberty and the free market. And we still have a liquor tax for Johnstown flood relief!
  • Clericalism. I knew some of this. Even in the Middle Ages and the Counter-Reformation, "secular" (diocesan) priests' lives weren't quite like the 1800s Catholic model we traddies and Anglo-Catholics know and love, "Good, Father, night, Father," 39-button cassocks, birettas outside of services, and all. Lay clothes and "Mr." were common. The poor medieval village Mass priest (curate doing the pastoral work — what his job title means, the care of souls — while the absentee rector lived off one or more parishes' income, which the Anglicans retained) wasn't much different from his congregation in lifestyle and education (he could read well enough to say Mass). We more resembled Orthodoxy in some ways (monks vs. everybody else; unschooled village priests). The Catholic clerical culture we assume as the norm was really a reaction against "the French Revolution and 1848 revolutions," rather like the exposition craze among conservative Novus Ordo Catholics reacts against heresy and liturgical abuse (bring back the old Mass; don't distort our rite; thank you). Also: as Fr. Rutler says, Catholicism is sacerdotalist (the bishop fully sharing in Christ's priesthood, offering his sacrifice and the grace of absolution, ordaining, confirming, etc.); clericalism is a parody of the faith that some Catholics fall for too. My point here is while liberals are anti-sacerdotalist ("don't call me Father," "presider," etc.), they are the biggest clericalists. It's why some old Catholic women want to be priests: they DON'T believe the church's teaching about the Mass, apostolic bishops, etc. POWER. (Feminist cr*p: Freudian envy.) "Fake religion is always about self." Same as the long-running circus of failed clergy wannabes (except they're often orthodox on the basics and high-church like us), vagantes. P.S. Unlike in the Roman Rite, I think Byzantine priests have long been "Fr." to their parishioners and worn a cassock. But "Priest Name Surname" in writing to their bishops. Only the bishop is a reverend father in God in his own right. (Did A-Cs ever claim Prayer Book precedent for "Fr."?) Their professed monks are "Fr. Name in Religion" whether they're priests or not. P.P.S. It's actually traditional for Catholic priests in academia to wear lay clothes.
  • An intersex story. Hermaphroditism; actually the story of a man with a rare birth defect, not the "transgender" one the media want you to believe (World Wars G and T propaganda and clickbait) and would have the state force you to believe, out of misguided charity. Actually his story proves there's no such thing as "transsexual"; he's a chimera with some parts of his body XX and some XY. His story refutes the "gender is a construct; nurture is everything" brigade: because he has XY in his body, he's in fact a he. His case was horribly but probably ignorantly (not maliciously) handled; trying to raise him as a girl even with surgery and fake hormones (cancer risk?) didn't work. It never does. World War T (il)logic: "I feel I'm as handsome as Antonio Banderas and I'll make you lose your job if you don't play along." Seriously, be nice by treating people as they want to be treated as long as they're not a public health hazard.

Politics, bad religion, and the manosphere


  • What brings prosperous Westerners to join East Ukraine militias? Nothing against the independent Ukraine, but 1) its new government seized power illegally, so, reason the Russians in the far east, "Why can't we?" and 2) give up: the far eastern Ukraine has been an integral part of Russia for centuries. The people I've known from Kharkov didn't identify as Ukrainian. As pointless to try to stop that as forcing the formerly Polish-owned Greek Catholic far west (not part of Russia since around the 1300s; the first East Slavs and Byzantine Christians I knew) to be part of Russia. The Crimea is back in Russia because it unanimously asked to be.
  • The rise of immigration in Germany is prompting one of the parties in the government coalition to seek a requirement that would oblige all foreigners to speak only German in public and at home. I'm all for newcomers having to learn the native language (we have no official language but in our golden era of immigration, they had to learn English in school — of course a society needs a shared language), but I love languages and would never try to stamp out theirs. (Dumb nativist nonsense suppressed German in World Wars I and II, so for example Texas German, dating from the 1800s, is terminal.) Naturally, most such foreign languages disappear by the third generation in the new country anyway. Spanish persists here (I know it and have used it professionally; my dad grew up speaking it) because Latin America is right next door — Puerto Rico and massive Mexican immigration — which masks the fact that their third generations in America often have little or no Spanish.
  • Bad religion:
  • Manosphere:
    • Roissy: Another realtalker burned at the stake.
    • Smart manosphere critic Bob Wallace:
      • Back to normality/truth: the Dark Enlightenment. The things that the DE contend about human nature — that parents naturally favor their children, that sexual attraction is a biological phenomenon, that some people are naturally smarter than others — were all accepted as common sense for most or all of human history.
      • The sexodus. Surprise: women, while wonderful, aren't normally conceived immaculate; they, especially their feminist version, are as self-serving as everyone else, to society's detriment when they get their way all the time. Roissy actually agrees: it takes all kinds; betas build civilization; healthy society, such as America before the Sixties, was better all around, for betas and average girls alike, who were happy to have each other, continuing families. The Sixties' selfishness and shortsightedness (childishness), under a "love humanity" fake altruism, really has returned us to the jungle. Do your own thing = every man for himself = die already.
  • On the virtual demise of The New Republic. Peretz’s life has sort of fallen apart over the last year. Though he has been an avowed bigot for most of his adult life, he has only been held to account for his ethnic hostility to Arabs and Persians recently, when he wondered aloud on his New Republic blog “whether I need honor these people and pretend they are worthy of the privileges of the First Amendment, which I have in my gut the sense that they will abuse.” The “these people” were Arabs, for whom Peretz also said “life is cheap” (he later apologized for the First Amendment line). The naked racism of the sentiment caused even some of Peretz’ oldest friends to hang their heads in shame, and served as an ignominious cap to his career. ... During the Peretz years, it seemed to serve a small segment of American Jews who had moved to the neo-con right on foreign policy but still wanted to maintain their association with the left on domestic affairs. There were times I read it I wanted to scream at the editors: just complete the circle already and become the Weekly Standard! And that’s why I gravitated towards TAC. So many center-left publications became pro-intervention after 9/11 that the only places you could find good commentary on foreign affairs were on the far left (not my cup of tea) and here. Pretty sad when you think about it. ... Subscribed to the New Republic in the '80s, for a while. It championed a growing government in all situations. I’m surprised by those who admired the rag. It is amazing–pathetic that some rich kid would buy it as a trophy. The old commie martyr cause is probably not much to start off a profitable venture in publishing. It seems those who still yearn for “workers of the world unite” are the types who don’t really read so much. ... The media habits of this era are different from those of even 15 years ago. That’s true of you, it’s true of me. Every “venerable” media outlet is struggling to keep up with our habits, to figure out how to package their news, ideas and entertainment in ways that we will accept. Steve Sailer: Anti-Defamation League for gay WASP billionaires.
  • Israeli columnist: "Ashkenazi Jews are not white." Of course they're Middle Eastern-based; the Arabs' cousins. The people of the Old Testament, Jesus (in propria venit, et sui eum non receperunt), Mary, and the apostles. Goodbye, old covenant. "Before 3 p.m. on Good Friday, the head of the church on earth was Caiaphas; afterwards it was St. Peter": no more divine right to Palestine. Reminds me of discussions Steve Sailer has started: old mixed-race New Orleans Creole families, in a Latin Caribbean culture more fluid about race than ours, used to identify as white ("pass") but now that white is no longer cool in mainstream America (a distortion of Christianity standing up for the oppressed; actually, it's the elite liberal Tutsi whites, living in whitopias, genociding conservative Hutu whites), such now identify as black. (Anglo-America: related to blacks = black, so the races don't mix much.) Ashkenazim are odd Europeans but Europeans; now that "white is bad," some such as this no longer want to be white. Helen Thomas, an Orthodox Christian Semite: stop beating up the Palestinians and go home to Germany and Poland. (Yiddish, of course, is a kind of German, written in Hebrew letters with a few Hebrew words in it.)
  • Taki on the Mideast, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Parish mergers


St. Donato's Church, 65th & Callowhill Streets, Philadelphia.

  • Went to Mass at St. Donato's today, the former Italian national parish that's my parish's "worship site" actually a little closer to home (no Tridentine Mass). It used to have its neighborhood festival (street carnival) every summer. Lots of local black kids because the former parish school (archdiocesan) is a private Catholic school, uniforms and all, named after Mother Cabrini.
  • I had no idea Our Lady of the Rosary ("Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament") is closed. At night the stained glass in its tower would be lit up like a beacon of God's presence in a cold, harsh neighborhood. A 19th-century-looking Irish territorial parish (in which St. Donato's was located) that probably tried to go black culturally (white liberal condenscension?), as in gospel music (beautiful devotionally but not liturgical) and kente cloth (merry Kwanzaa, yo). It had a Sunday afternoon Mass in Haitian Creole (Africanized French spelled phonetically). Back in '08 after a Ron Paul speech I met an eager young postulant in the Franciscans who had a friary there; very John Paul II Novus Ordo conservative. St. Cyprian's is historically St. Carthage; the archdiocese merged Transfiguration into it and tore down Transfiguration, which was gray stone Romanesque splendor with gold mosaics. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia's broke, having spent down all the clout it earned before Vatican II. "How's that 'renewal' working out for youse?"
  • From April: Mon Valley parishioners stage sit-in to protest closing. I have mixed feelings about this. Of course part of my heart is with such, as was the police chief's. Then again it feeds the liberal mainstream's anti-Catholic narrative; they LOVE disobedience. It's not like teaching heresy in the Catholic school, wreckovation or liturgical abuse; it was heartbreaking but a lawful order from our resident "apostle," the bishop. In the traditional church, parish closings were announced at the preceding Sunday's Mass and that was that. (St. Brendan's, Philadelphia, closed in 1940, for example.) Actually in a similar town or two, closed parishes have restarted under the PNCC; wrong but very understandable. Their heart was in the right place: "We want to keep going to Mass so let's."

Conceived immaculate


  • O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee. A book whose link Dom Benedict Andersen shared on Facebook. That Mary is sinless is simply Catholic, Eastern and Western; idiomatic Greek for Our Lady is Παναγία (Panagia, pah-nah-ghee-ah), all-holy. The Byzantine Rite celebrates this feast on Dec. 9 (Gregorian)/22 (Julian) because of the truth that only God is in himself perfect (so it's not exactly nine months before Nativity BVM, as the Annunciation is exactly nine months before Christmas); Mary, in order to be the Mother of God, was MADE perfect, redeemed retroactively by her son, as God is not limited by time and space. I don't believe Mary grew up in the Holy of Holies but the Immaculate Conception is entirely believable exactly because it was invisible. Blessed be her holy and immaculate conception.
  • Domine, dilexi decorem domus tuae et locum habitationis gloriae tuae. My parish church in a haze of incense after my Sunday Sung Mass. Dirigatur, Domine, oratio mea sicut incensum in conspectu tuo. Note the average age of the congregation.
  • History:
    • Remember Pearl Harbor the right way. 73 years ago yesterday. As the veterans are now in their 90s, the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association just had its last official reunion on location. Lots of good-hearted flag-waving from others, such as on one of my favorite radio stations, WVLT. But they don't know the whole story. Regular readers know my line. While the Japanese were no saints in Asia (they wanted to rule it as Germany wanted to run continental Europe as it naturally should, the British ran much of Africa, and the United States rules the Americas), they weren't really our problem; as much as I love the '40s as part (the start?) of our golden era, including Americans' unabashed patriotism and solidarity, I am a complete revisionist about World War II (America First) and thus do not hate the Japanese. (The Germans and the Japanese had neither plans nor the means to invade us.) The perfidious, Constitution-breaking FDR maneuvered America into the war by goading Japan (embargo, asset-freezing, violating American neutrality by forming the Flying Tigers); as far as I'm concerned, the blood of those 2,000 American sailors is on him. (The Japanese Navy pilots attacked military targets. We nuked civilians.) Fact about the war: the USSR won; we were only supporting players, made so partly because FDR's government was riddled with Communists (why the left gets weirdly nostalgic and even militaristic about this war). We might have been better off if Willkie won in '40, even if he was just a ringer.
    • Anecdotal history. The other day a man who noticed my leather Navy flight jacket talked to me about the war, claiming that German-born and ethnic German fishermen on the New Jersey shore would sneak out in their boats to the U-boats (submarines) and trade with the Germans. They weren't Nazis or Bundists; it's just that the war wasn't theirs. He claimed not only did the fishermen speak the language but they got gold for American goods such as bourbon and that there was a Masonic connection, even though Hitler banned the Masons (so what?). I think some people in neutral Ireland did that (but many others fought for the British). Free enterprise is a way to peace.
    • John Lennon. He died 34 years ago today. "Boomer Jesus," a formidable culture-wars enemy (the Beatles were an instrument of great evil, kicking off the Sixties, though I still don't know how a mere pop group pulled that off) and a considerable talent. (Born in '40, technically he wasn't a boomer.) "Imagine" is pure evil, partly because it is a beautiful song. Not the nice guy people think but he wanted to stay in America because he was happy here. He almost would have rather died young (I'm older than he was when he was murdered) than been miserable in England today. RIP. God have mercy on him.
    • Populuxe. My good friend Karl just lent me this book. Great stuff. American commercial aesthetics from 1954 to 1964, which goes by many names: the Fifties, the space age, doo-wop (not just the music, as Wildwood has taught me), googie, the Kennedy era, and mid-century. As I call it, the golden era. America's peak. You had postwar prosperity AND the old values hadn't fallen. The book's title is a made-up word combining "popular" or "populist" with "luxury"; sounds like a brand name then. The book has intelligent commentary, not TOO smug with "we know better now." There was beauty including sex appeal, and elegance (Jackie Kennedy), plus innovation in design and production from a confident country that was still an industrial dynamo. Part of this style's appeal and nostalgia, and also why the elite makes fun of it (irony, kitsch), is that it appealed to the formerly working-class. (Paul Fussell: archaism as in Georgian colonial is high-class; ultramodern has always been low-class.) Lots of Catholics, including lots of Italian-Americans, took this style to heart. We had arrived in American society, already almost entirely accepted by the time of the war (during the war, backlash made the feds back off harassing Italians). (Then we threw it away at Vatican II and fell for the Rockefellers' contraception blitz.) People from this background who were around then don't say they were oppressed. They miss it. (Been to enough classic-car shows and oldies concerts to confirm that. It's how the people who danced on "American Bandstand" here feel.) Another name it's now called: "Mad Men." Accidental nostalgia: Matthew Weiner obsessively re-created the era to celebrate its fall ("we know better now," the message of the animation in the opening credits) but did such a good job that a lot of viewers thought, unironically, it was pretty neat.
  • The Anti-Gnostic: Post-secondary education is one of the clearer examples of government good intentions paving the road to hell, and the distortions are obvious and legion: completely unmarketable and academically shoddy Grievance-Studies and other programs; tenured, Marxist bureaucrats; minor league for the NFL; duplicative and unnecessary science, such as professors of Polar and Marine Biology in, of all places, the University of Alabama at Birmingham; tuition rising to the clouds, even as the job market shrinks. I could devote a whole separate blog to this, with an entry each day.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

The psychiatrist who chose conscience over enabling government evil, and more

  • When should a psychiatrist refuse to treat a patient? If you were a psychiatrist assigned by the government to make torturers feel better about their lives, what would you do? That's not a rhetorical question. Back in the 1950s, the psychiatrist and philosopher Frantz Fanon was forced to answer that question, in his own life.
  • Daniel Nichols, at this point an old liberal who likes icons, writes: I am trying to imagine what the response of the right would be if cops had shot an open-carry Tea Party type instead of a twelve-year-old black kid with a toy gun. Plenty of people in my political bailiwick reflexively hate the cops. I'm not one of them. The orange tip marking the gun as a toy was missing. An open-carry Tea Party type, people who know and thus respect guns, wouldn't have been ignorant or stupid enough to brandish that. (Like the anti-Second Amendment politicians who give speeches holding a gun with the safety off and pointed at people.) A 12-year-old black kid with a real gun is as deadly as anyone.
  • Our beautiful animals:
    • Our messed-up, dog-loving, childless culture. Jeff Culbreath recently hosted a long discussion on this lamenting the degeneracy in our society in which people spend more on pets than on charity for people; the phenomenon of substituting pets for people, particularly children (demographic suicide). A former farmer, work that's often unsentimental about animals (the Amish run puppy mills), he and a college-educated Thomist son (I knew the son as a very little boy) offer a logical, hard-headed counter-argument: animals have emotions (which is why dogs are charming), sensitive souls, but not spiritual souls like God, the angels, and us ("love is a choice, so strictly speaking, our pets don't love us; we just satisfy their survival and emotional needs"), so not only is the inordinate spending on them a sin but animals don't even have an inherent right to comfort, etc.; they don't intend to excuse cruelty to animals but I think that goes too far. Rather, the common sense that animals are property (they're not filing the briefs to be treated like people) but the existing anti-cruelty laws should be enforced; animal husbandry or good stewardship. (Some libertarians hate the government so much — anti-authority daddy issues — they excuse cruelty to animals.) Hypocrisy because it's self-centered sentimentality, rather like its cousin, vegetarianism (a recent article claims most revert to eating meat anyway): bet nearly all of those pets-first people are pro-abortion. Finally, Jeff and I agree that anthropomorphizing our pets doesn't respect them as beautiful creatures of God. I'm thinking of dog and cat clothes (as opposed to practical horse-blanket-like dog coats for thin, short-haired breeds in cold weather); pet owners who put those on their animals almost deserve to be bitten or scratched.
    • Science! Brain scans of dogs confirm our feelings about them. They're intuitive and empathetic.
    • RIP Frank and Louie, 15. He was a rare example of a Janus cat (one being, two faces) who survived beyond a few days. Glad he had a loving home and a long life. It's a genetic glitch but usually not extreme conjoined twinning (modern human example of such twins, two heads, two arms, and two legs: Abby and Brittany Hensel, now grown) as classically thought.
  • Labor-force participation remains at a 36-year low.
  • Mass: Populus Sion, ecce Dominus veniet ad salvandas gentes.
  • Threads on an Orthodox board about Greek Catholicism (long) and Slavic history. Touches on OicwR nonsense (let's dump our doctrine and become Orthodox, denying that the second-millennium Western Church defended and spread the essentials of the faith). What strikes me is the long history of ethnic grievances: intra-Slavic fighting (Poles vs. Ukrainians, for example, even when the Ukrainians were Catholic). Pan-Slavism is from the 1800s: Russian imperial and Soviet propaganda. But what strikes me of course (which of course I'm not welcome to say as a guest on that board) is the Slavic and slavophile Orthodox take the leap from defending a rite and cultures that are good to assuming an East Slavic universality as opposed to real universality (not all such Orthodox are russophiles; Ukrainian and Rusyn patriots). The short trip from loving Byzantium (which is Catholic) to worshipping it (which is idolatry). Pan-Orthodoxy ("people shouldn't become Orthodox just because they're Ukrainian but because it's the truth") is an American convert fantasy; of course those churches are extremely tribal. (Christianity is both propositional — you choose to follow Jesus — and tribal: Irish, Italian, Ukrainian, etc.) And no, after all they've been through (the first East Slavs, Byzantine Christians, and traditional Catholics I knew 30 years ago were from the western Ukraine), Ukrainian Catholics in the Ukraine will never give up Catholicism to join an autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox church. In their hearts, becoming Orthodox would mean what it historically did, selling out to the Russians and the Communists. (The only Rusyns who think they're Russian are in the OCA and America's Moscow Patriarchate parishes: the great-grandchildren of the Toth schism.) My guess: Constantinople in its prideful battle royale with Moscow (the only Orthodox church with clout) might side with the now-uncanonical Kyiv Patriarchate causing a split in world Orthodoxy. It would be like when Bulgarian Orthodox declared independence from C'ople in the late 1800s as part of Bulgaria breaking with the Turks. Give it 100 years to calm down and the independent Ukraine will have its canonical, autocephalous church. Fine with me as long as the Greek Catholics in the far west are left in peace, the majority church in their small turf. And the Ukrainian government has every reason to respect the Greek Catholics: they're among the most ardent Ukrainian (anti-Russian) patriots; they supported the recent coup. I'm hoping for a Ukraine that's a conservative Slavic state, not a pawn of the U.S. government or NATO, a Catholic-friendly mini-Russia (but actually the Ukraine is the biggest country entirely in Europe).