Wednesday, December 31, 2014

"I'm proud to be white," said the racist

True, and I might add that "Asian," like "Hispanic" (and I'm Hispanic), is an almost meaningless catchall that its members don't identify with. The Hispanic world like the Anglosphere shares a language and religion (if you consider Protestantism generally as the Anglosphere's main faith) but is countries that don't necessarily like each other. (Slavs don't get along either: Yugoslavia in the '90s and the eastern Ukraine now, for example.) East Asians are at least as divided as Europeans; for example, the Chinese vs. the Japanese is sort of like the French vs. the Germans. More so since the languages are unrelated. (Japanese in Japan HATE other Asians.) I can't say if there's a generic "Asian" identity among third- and fourth-generation Asian-Americans (who speak only English and often intermarry with whites so they're half, etc.); my guess is no. (Too busy getting on with life, successfully, to feel sorry for themselves.) Anyway, idolizing race like this (identity politics, cultural Marxism) is really a power play by liberal whites vs. conservative ones. Lumping very different peoples together, as "Asian," for example ("you all look alike to me"), might give away the game that white lefties don't really care about these people, whom they're trying to make into mascots.

Reminds me: I read once that a trick of lazy TV writers is to make an East Asian character half of one ethnicity and half of another (Chinese-Japanese, etc.): "you all look alike to me" and it makes it easier for them, since they don't have to learn about a culture well enough to write the character. Probably not done now since chances are the character is American-born so, for all purposes on the show, is just like white Americans.

By the way, I just rediscovered this clip of Andrea Martin on "SCTV" as Perini Scleroso. I think it's cute: obviously she's supposed to be an older Catholic southern or Eastern European immigrant like you might have met 60 years ago (World War II refugees I used to know). Not offensive like Andy Kaufman's Foreign Man character he used on "Taxi." (American Jews have a tradition of making fun of their Slavic rulers from home; they invented Polack jokes.) The joke's not on such but rather: "What English Sounds Like to People Who Don't Understand It." Mocking other languages, in reverse: joke's on us. By the way, Martin is 100% Armenian.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A lot of people misunderstand IQ

Comment at Steve Sailer's old blog:
My I.Q. at 12 was measured as 93. I was raised in poverty. in a culture of ignorance, bigotry, dislike of education, and had to work menial agricultural jobs long hours every day for little pay. (By the way, I'm a white male!). Dissatisfied with my lot in life, I studied math, science, vocabulary, etc. every night after work (morning), school (in between 8 hours), and work late afternoon and evening). Went to high school and scored high SAT and ACT scores. Went to college (worked a job all the way through), and 131 on an I.Q. test there. Took speed reading courses for years and got my speed up to 3000 words per minute (Of course on complex topics it slowed down). Got a Doctoral Degree. Self-employed now successfully. So is I.Q. just genetic??
A lot of people misunderstand IQ. Somebody with a high one doesn't necessarily know more; he just has more potential to learn. But he might be lazy! Somebody with an average IQ who works hard to learn will end up "smarter," knowing much more. And it's true there are other kinds of intelligence, such as empathy and street smarts, social skills, that are just as important.

Post-rationalism and more

  • Post-rationalism. Jim's Blog misses conservative religion for utilitarian reasons. Progressivism wears the religions it has devoured like a monster that dresses itself in the skins of people it has eaten. It has consumed Judaism, Christianity, and most of Islam, though the worst and most harmful religion, Islam, still lives and is fighting back. The martial Christianity of Charles the Hammer would serve our civilization well. The pragmatic, realistic, and cynical Christianity of restoration Anglicanism would serve our civilization very well, though it proved vulnerable to people whose beliefs were dangerously sincere, being reluctant to martyr them properly for reasons of mere pragmatism. Counter Reformation Catholicism would serve our civilization well. But none of these live, and their revival is unlikely.
  • Huw Richardson: Why he's not "Gay and Catholic" but rather just the first of sinners and Orthodox. Yes. Just like a few sound Catholics and the best of the gay Anglo-Catholics: it's not the sum of their being.
  • A dangerous moment with promise. Fr. Robert Sirico. Gabriel can explain how he's part of the problem but anyway.
  • Steve Sailer: "Doonesbury" promotes the UVA rape hoax. My first thought: that pretentious, unfunny cartoon's still around? Don't get me wrong: there are gentlemen and non-gentlemen of the left whose sense of humor I respect and enjoy, from the late George Carlin to a man who beat Garry Trudeau at his own game, and knew when to quit, Berkeley Breathed.
  • Dalrock: Fathers (sometimes) matter!
  • Ron Paul on the meaning of the Christmas truce. Obama deserves some credit for drawing down in Iraq and Afghanistan, though I think the official end of the war in the latter for us is just political theater, as our soldiers are still stationed there.
  • ORU's space-age architecture. Never been. I know the elite sneer at its nouveau richesse (not so much googie/doo-wop, which tries to be fun, as trying to be as serious as Danish modern and falling short), but minus that, given the fervor for Christ of many of its teachers and students, on an anti-Sixties mission, it makes me wonder: imagine if Vatican City had been built in 1965; a Counter-Reformation for the space age. And there were big American Catholic buildings like that, from churches to seminaries to convents, in the same period; nearly empty only a few years later. (We blew it.) I think the Prayer Tower's neat. Whether Oral Roberts was sincere or not, I've got to give him credit: the Holy Spirit and miracles are real.
  • I'm working again. Three weeks of "boot camp" and a Bible-sized manual, in a big library-quiet cubicle farm in a classic high-rise, to which I take the train like Don Draper used to. I love it.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Leftism is a religion, and more

St. Thomas Becket plus displaced Anglo-Catholics

He is also known as St. Thomas of Canterbury. There were no Anglicans then (by the way, the name originally was just a way of saying "English" in Latin, anglicanus; back then the English were Catholic of course) but this was about the principle of God first and the king second. Not what the modern world wants to hear.

Anyway, from Facebook, on displaced Anglo-Catholics:
Had several former parishioners return as visitors for Christmas Masses at St. A's, having moved out of state a few years back. Each family, having attended numerous Episcopal parishes for miles around their new home in states far away, reported that they could not find a parish with a) 1928 BCP service or Rite I 1979 or b) a male priest or c) anything resembling traditional Christian theology (no less Anglo-Catholic). One reported finding a 1928 BCP place, but the parish had fewer than 12 members, all over 70 and not too welcoming/attractive to their family with young children. All of them reported being so frustrated in their search for a parish that they had become Roman Catholic or Orthodox. It is a sad statement about "the franchise" of being Episcopalian, that traditionalists in one place who move away, will rarely be able to find a place to continue in the Faith as this Church has received it.

And many of the Roman parishes are also pretty awful. Those who became Roman had to visit a dozen to find a priest who said a reverent Mass, where the hymns weren't insipid, and where the priest could preach a theologically reasonable sermon in a compelling manner. They had more parishes to choose from nearby.
Father, you have to recognize you are doing an excellent job of providing an oasis on a sinking ship, down at the bow, and taking on water fast.

I don't have issues with TEC... Those were left in the rear-view mirror... That being said, I would not recommend trying to start throwing stones, given the glass nature of the house you apparently choose to live in.
Things are bad all over. But on one hand, you used to be able to find Episcopal parishes that were still conservative thanks to that denomination's semi-congregationalism, which is how St. John's, Detroit and St. Paul's-by-the-Lake, Chicago keep going. If I recall rightly, the diocese also leaves St. Paul's in peace because its parishioners are African. Vatican II laid waste to most of our American parishes but a counter-movement's been a-brewing for 25 years, as one saw under Pope Benedict XVI. Catholic liberals are slowly dying out. I've joined a parish that has the Tridentine Mass ("1928" in our culture) as its main service, sings Hymnal 1940 classics in full, and has coffee hour monthly. Thanks to Pope Benedict's reforms, I can hear Catholic teaching from the text at any Mass in the U.S. So it really comes down to teachings. I think we can agree: forget "the National Church" ("815") or even the Episcopal diocese. You can come up with a classical Anglican consensus with Rome and the East, more or less Catholicism. But on whose authority?

I believe that the line "the Faith as this Church has received it" is indefensible, but of course convert because you accept the teachings of the church in full and not just for convenience.

Also, to be fair, I've seen a Continuing priest and congregation who weren't ex-Episcopalians. I was impressed.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Sunday in the Octave of Christmas with Commemoration of the Holy Innocents

  • Mass: Dum medium silentium tenerent omnia. In my parish church the Christ Child goes under the baldacchino in the high altar's reredos where the crucifix or monstrance usually goes; the crucifix is then moved down to the mensa. (Architecturally we're a Victorian exposition chapel with Gothic trappings.)
  • The hinge of fate. A long article about Christmas and Holy Innocents' Day. Obviously a pro-life feast; what's now considered peculiarly Catholic socially was generally Christian 100 years ago.
  • Celebrating Christmas at Christmastime. A usual purist's complaint, not without merit. When I looked out on the feast of Stephen, on my usual walk through a nearby town, I saw TWO trees on the curb.
  • Out and about: Lambertville, NJ, and New Hope, Pa., with hat tips to MiX Gallery for a nice little selection of '50s furniture, hats, and ties (got a tie), and Villa Vito Ristorante, right on Bridge Street but not tourist or rich-liberal New Hope, at least not in the summer: family-run friendly and cozy with satisfying Italian-American favorites including cannoli.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Proposed Catholic pushback against false ecumenism and more

  • On the feast of Stephen. From a sermon by Fr. Robert Hart.
  • Damian Thompson: Pope Francis: despite the glowing headlines, the jury is still out.
  • Fr. Z: KC, MO: anti-Catholic atrocity scheduled before Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. I read in the Kansas City Star (a McClatchy paper) that some “Lutherans” are going to host a sacrilegious, fake catholic (me: vagante) “ordination” of a woman by the usual wymyn suspects. It is to take place at an ELCA-associated Lutheran church on 3 January, 2015 at 2 pm. The end of old-fashioned ecumenism, already passé. This stuff adds to my suspicion that all along, ecumenism was just the Protestant liberals and ours trying to start a new church. It all works one way, right? Protestants think they can tell Catholics what to do or think about our sacraments? On the eve of the Octave for Prayer for Christian Unity, they stick their “F-YOU” finger in our faces, by hosting this farce and sacrilege. Here’s the bottom line. Antics like this should have consequences for ecumenical dialogue. Upon hearing the news that this ceremony is going to take place (or has taken place), the local Catholic bishop must call the pastor of that Protestant parish and say, “I’m the Catholic bishop. Do not allow this sacrilege to be committed in your church. You wouldn’t do this for a group of dissident Jews wanting to ordain rabbis, but we are Catholics so you don’t care what offense you give us. Until an apology is issued, don’t look for us to dialogue with you again.” This won't happen — yet. Give that about 25 years, when the last of the old liberal bishops is gone and conservatives are all that's left in the church, running it again. Note the Star's approving, come-on headline. Note that the liberals who are the story's subject are all old. Also: denominations such as ELCA try to do everything the secular world tells them to; nobody cares what those denominations think.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Religious entertainment vs. religion, and game vs. red pill

  • Mosebach's paradox: The more circumstances compel me to become an armchair expert in the nature, structure, rubrics, and history of the sacred liturgy, the more inclined I am to become a spectator and critic when I assist at Mass. Traditionalists face this problem in acute form. This articulates something I've felt for some time: the problem of high church becoming a hobby. There's a difference between religious entertainment and religion.
  • Roissy: The difference between game and the red pill.

The blessing in disguise of religious burnout, the state of the church, the Ukraine, and more

My parish.

5800 block of Baltimore Avenue, Philadelphia.

My new old lamp and souvenir glass (Fourth of July, Roebling, NJ, 1954).

Wishing you a blessed Christmas. Tonight I'll be celebrating la Festa dei Sette Pesci (the Feast of Settling Things Like Joe Pesci), the Italian version of the abstinence vigil feast; tomorrow, Mass at Mater: Puer natus est nobis. By the way, strictly speaking, Christmas didn't begin at Halloween or Thanksgiving; it starts at I Vespers tonight and ends at the Epiphany (the 12th day of Christmas) and even then fades out until Presentation/Purification/Candlemas, Feb. 2. (Me as an Episcopal kid: "Why are we singing carols in church after Christmas?") Buon Natale e felice anno nuovo.
  • Jeff Culbreath: "It is more blessed to give than to receive." - Acts 20:35. In a human sense, that is certainly true, and during the holiday season one naturally becomes mindful of giving. But is Christmas really primarily about giving? Christmas re-enacts a supernatural event. The fundamental message of Christmas is not about giving, but about receiving an incalculable gift from God. And in that sense, receiving the divine gift of Christmas - with a grateful heart - is far more blessed than giving.
  • "My Favorite Things" is NOT a Christmas song.
  • Religious burnout can be good. Because some religion is false, and all false religion is about self, not God. From my experience, and others’, I have identified three forms of religiosity that lead to burnout: religion as a form of self-rejection; religion as a quest for one’s own perfection; and religion as devotion to an ideology rather than to God Himself. The blessing of burnout lies in this simple fact: It is actually an act of mercy for God to destroy these forms of religion. Not to be confused with turning away from sin. It also reminds me of Mark Bonocore giving me the Cliffs Notes version of the Spanish mystics: there's the honeymoon stage (the converts' first five years here) in which you're overjoyed to be free from sin. Newbies think that's the end stage. Then the dark night of the soul, rather like Christ's temptation in the desert, kicks in, which is where most people quit as Satan intends. (Like the icon of the ladder of divine ascent with devils throwing people off.) Get through that and THEN you reach the end stage of real union with God.
  • John Lennon’s "Imagine" is "heart-chilling," says bishop in Christmas homily. Absolutely. By Boomer Jesus himself (a jerk actually a little older than the boomers), an anthem for "the Cathedral," a.k.a. MAG (Media and Government), the Christian heresy that is secular humanism, dangerous exactly because it's a beautiful song.
  • Fifteen minutes for the new homophiles. The Cathedral/MAG narrative is conservative Christians (including the Catholic Church: America never really stopped hating it) want to round up homosexuals and send them to death or re-education camps; actually, when I was growing up, born-agains taught me it's wrong to pick on them. Language is my career: the word they want is "continence" or "abstinence," not "celibacy," which merely means not being married. Chaste gays are nothing new. The kernel of truth here: absolutely be honest with yourself and whoever else needs to know about your temptation. Preached the right way, it can inspire gays to take up their cross and follow Christ. For example, the once celebrated Episcopalian turned Catholic Fr. John Jay Hughes will tell you he's bisexual but never attacks the teachings of the church. Regrettably, unsurprisingly, some in this "movement" are joining MAG in using this to attack the church.
  • The editorial line taken by Le Figaro is that Francis is more popular outside the church than within. It contrasts the standing ovation, “in stereo” from left and right, to the silence offered by local Catholics to the pope’s visit. And it is here that we find the deeper story -- not the one-off account of what happened in Strasbourg, but what is happening in French Catholic culture. Francis has the ear of professional politicians, the media -- the chattering classes -- but not of active Catholics. He's coming to Philadelphia next year but I'm not jumping up and down. As I like to say, we don't "worship" the Pope; he's relatively not that important. A distant figure whose name the priest whispers in the Canon at Mass and to whom I give my Peter's Pence envelope once a year, money he collects for charities. Novus Ordo neocons usually attack approaches like this saying we trads are part of the same problem as the secularists, hurting the church with disloyalty and division. But quasi-official conservative Catholic bloggers have backed off the "Benedict through Francis" routine. My loyalty is to God through the church, the doctrine that's in the catechism, not to Jorge Bergoglio's person. "But if the Pope isn't that important, why be Catholic? Isn't the Pope what defines you? Why not dump that Pope jazz and be Orthodox like they want you to be?" Because for all their faults, the Popes have done nothing but defend the truths of the faith. Caretakers as Benedict the Great has said. ("He can't break anything" essential; that's how the church works.) There is no reason to leave and everything to lose if we do.
  • Hilary White on the state of the church. When you're over the target, there's flak. People are asking me, why now? Why this sudden descent into the absurdities of the 70s for the Church? Why are the ageing "progressives" suddenly so violently resurgent... Well, maybe because: "Outside the SSPX since July 7, 2007, in the 191 dioceses in North America, there are 485 parishes that offer the Traditional Latin Mass on a regular basis. (Including mine.) 335 parish locations offer a weekly Traditional Latin Mass. 75 parish locations provide access daily..." Out of the billion-odd Catholics in the world, and the hundreds of thousands of parishes, these may not seem like very impressive numbers. But recall that ten years ago, the availability of the Traditional rites of the Church could be counted in Canada on one hand. They were in the single digits nearly everywhere. The turnaround has been under way since John Paul II but thank Benedict for this change. These numbers are also, particularly in the case of Old Europe, the only Catholic numbers that are growing. And how! While all other Catholic statistical indicators are plummeting. All. The old Modernists, hippies and communists know they don't have much more time. The "conservative" Novusordoist compromise has failed spectacularly, and the Faith and Praxis they tried so hard to stamp out turns out, like the Old Narnians under Miraz, not to be so dead and legendary as previously thought... In 50 years we'll be Cardinal Spellman's American church in miniature. By the way, after Mass last Sunday I met a group of people in their 20s who were coming to the Tridentine Mass on their own for the second or third time, having recently learned of it.
  • Clerical Vesture of the Patriarchate of St. Stephen. Of the Anglican Rite Roman Catholic Church, which is neither Anglican nor Roman Catholic but their heart's in the right place. Actually it seems to be a guide to my traditional Roman Rite's clerical choir habits (mostly not liturgical vestments), with different details for different ranks and situations, just like the military's service dress uniforms. Interesting early form of the clergy suit. The biretta's missing. (Cathedral canons in Europe dress like one of the ranks of monsignori and I think outrank them.) I don't know how accurate this is. My parish isn't a cathedral and we're staffed by friars, not monsignori. "The ARRCC is made up." Yes but still a resource; kind of ironic they're teaching me about my own church. God works in mysterious ways. And to be fair to such, although I wouldn't join, they have a claim to the episcopate, believe the creeds, believe pretty much the same thing about the sacraments as I do, and even love my own rite's high churchmanship as much as I do. And "where two or three are gathered together in my name" (often literally true with independent Catholic churches): if you're going to church every Sunday, you are in some sense real, even if I don't agree with you.
  • Cardinal Raymond Burke said in an interview this week that it is “amazing” that those who have defended Catholic teaching and practice on withholding Communion from those in publicly “irregular” sexual situations, are being accused of “being against the Holy Father, and of not being in harmony with the Church.” Burke for Pope: Pius XIII or Benedict XVII.
  • Why you should watch old movies. Golden-era America: Those films were made by men who remembered what it was to work in the fields or in the mines or on the girders. They were made by women who remembered what it was to till a garden, to patch a dress, to put up fruit and vegetables, and to make life sweet in poverty more materially severe than what the poorest among us now have experienced or perhaps can imagine. They were made by Jews who could chant prayers in Hebrew, and by Catholics who made the sign of the cross whenever they passed by a church, and by Protestants who had the sentences of the King James Bible ringing in their memory. I'm not saying that the actors and writers and directors were pious. Many of them were, and many were not. But they at least remembered these pieties. And their films are therefore often pious without intending to be so. Amen. I VERY selectively watch new movies and often they're set 50 or 60 years ago. I watch them partly to go back there, if they're well made, or to critique them if they're not. Recent favorite: Jersey Boys, not a sermon (they weren't always good boys) but a true story, about tough-guy music with a heart (the show and movie are the official continuation of the Four Seasons, approved by Frankie Valli). Also, not a period piece: The Wolf of Wall Street, because it's a story of America, definitely for grownups.
  • On that note, It's a Wonderful Life. I like it very much. Its history is interesting. I think it was released at the wrong time of year (summer?) and maybe audiences then thought it was too corny, so it either lost money or barely broke even. So it was forgotten for decades until its copyright ran out around 1974, which was right around when nostalgia became socially acceptable again. TV stations starting running it at Christmas because it was free, so boom: "holiday classic." I love The Family Man, the modern movie with Nicolas Cage that's an inversion of this story (Pottersville's the real world). I've seen an article defending Pottersville: Bedford Falls was a snooze but Pottersville was a swinging 1946 boom town, full of fun that seems only mildly naughty now. "I don't get it": A Christmas Story, cutesy but not very interesting.
  • Opening Cuba. Of course I'd like to see Havana remain in the '50s but get out of poverty, but the first probably won't happen. Somebody's said if the Cuban government's smart it will buy up and sell the country's many '50s American cars (still there thanks to a 50-year-old ban on American imports) to foreign collectors. I'm undecided. On one hand the Popes have been asking America to give Cuba a break for humanitarian reasons since the fall of global Communism (Cuba was subsidized by Russia when it was strategically important), since they're not a threat anymore. On the other I sympathize with the Cuban exile community in Miami (Gloria Estefan and her husband: Republicans; I'll bet they're furious) about not caving to petty tyranny, the Castros' government.
  • The Sony/The Interview/North Korea story. Why can Kim Jong-Un push a Western company around? We've lost our honor. North Korea's a badly run monarchy (hereditary) with Stalinist trappings.
  • The Ukraine:
    • Patriarch Sviatoslav's Christmas message, political while sort of pretending to be above politics. On one hand, the man loves his country and obviously wants "the freedom and exaltation of holy mother church" in order to live peacefully in the eastern Ukraine if it wants to and even to passively missionize among the Orthodox and the many secular people. On the other, it strikes me as being as crassly political, Erastian, nationalistic, as the Orthodox he opposes.
    • The Ukrainian parliament votes to end nonaligned status. Which I think means the new government, the one Sviatoslav is so crazy about, is the West's b*tch. What's next, gay weddings in Kiev?

Monday, December 22, 2014

Orthodoxy again: Gabriel Sanchez reads David Bentley Hart

Hyper-traditionalist Catholics, intoxicated with a very myopic view of ecclesial history, may not think much of the Church’s "need" for the East.
Maybe it's because, although I'm a traditionalist, I'm not of the "hyper" persuasion, but I've never come across this attitude in person. I credit that to the "ecumenism in the trenches" as conservative Roman Riters have taken refuge in Greek Catholic churches after Vatican II (my first traditional Catholic liturgy was Ukrainian, about my only option in 1985) and so have learned about the Christian East and appreciate it, even if they don't adopt it by switching rites (some do, which is fine). Virtually every conservative Catholic I've known has felt this way.
I like to think — call it the Sophiologist in me — that the tribulations that Eastern Christianity has suffered under Islamic and communist rule have insulated it from some of the more corrosive pathologies of modernity for a purpose, and endowed it with a special mission to bring its liturgical, intellectual, and spiritual strengths to the aid of the Western Christian world in its struggle with the nihilism that the post-Christian West has long incubated and that now surrounds us all, while yet drawing on the strengths and charisms of the Western church to preserve Orthodoxy from the political and cultural frailty that still afflicts Eastern Christianity. Whatever the case, though, we are more in need of one another now than ever.
Hart's linchpin paragraph can be read in either a Catholic or an Orthodox way. At face value I'm fine with it; I was saying things like that over 15 years ago on my long, slow walk back to the church:
Although the Schism between East and West was tragic and probably preventable, it seems that God providentially has spared the Eastern Churches, including the Byzantine Rite ones of the Orthodox tradition and communion, from many of the mistakes and their consequences that have beset the West, from Eucharistic heresies (from Berengarius to the Protestants – there never have been any heresies about the Blessed Sacrament in the East) and the rise of "man-centered" rationalism to its fruits, from the Renaissance (revival of pagan thought) and the rise of private judgement (resulting in the Protestant heresies or "Reformation") to their logical results, "Enlightenment" deism and today’s secular humanism. Might there be some cracks in the foundation of Western thought that caused these problems? Fr. Seraphim (Rose) (1934-1982), an Orthodox monk, explained much of this in his writings. While one may not necessarily criticize Latin Christianity as harshly as many Orthodox (perpetuating the Schism), it seems that the living, sanctifying tradition of Orthodoxy offers the healing medicine the West needs to restore it: a holistic view of Tradition including liturgy, icons and a strong monastic life. (As good as the Roman Mass but with a mystical "kick" all its own.)
Maybe providentially the Christian East can help us out of the mess we've made for ourselves. Sed timeo Danaos et dona ferentes. In this case the "Greeks bearing gifts" are the seemingly friendly ecumenical Orthodox, recognizing our sacraments as dogmatically we do theirs. (Why talking to the Orthodox is different from talking to Protestants: they have bishops and the Mass, and all of their defined doctrine is true.) Hart's paragraph, in the mouths of such and their quisling convert "Orthodox in communion with Rome" (not to be confused with unlatinized good Catholics) tagalongs in but not of the church, really means "Dump your doctrine and join the true church."

Gabriel is wise to dissent disguised as Eastern mysticism, easy to dupe Catholics with back when ecumenism was fashionable:
Third, though the movement has not been uncontroversial, I believe it is safe to say that the Roman Catholic Church, for more than a century, has internalized a great deal of the Eastern Christian liturgical, intellectual, and spiritual deposit, albeit with mixed results. In fact, one might say that the results are “mixed” because the mixing of traditions itself was highly imprudent. An excessive fascination with “things Eastern” (or what certain theologians and reformers assumed were “things Eastern”) prompted a premature, and in my estimation damaging, abandonment of “things Western.” Certainly matters were not helped by the desire of some “broadminded clerics” to play the Christian East off against the Christian West, using inchoate theological speculations and other vagaries yanked from Patristic sources to do an end-run around Scholasticism and, some might say, the Church’s magisterium altogether.
The Orthodox liberals who hated scholasticism and claimed to liberate their church's theology from "Western captivity" (sounds like self-hating Western liberals now: exoticism) and return to the pure teaching of the Fathers were just copying OUR French liberals from before Vatican II. (Ironically, ROCOR openly hates us yet has internalized the good Catholic scholasticism the liberals hate.) In Orthodoxy, the rot has set in (their teaching on divorce and remarriage is a hash and they've caved on contraception); without the magisterium, their center (the old liturgy, Anglicanish credal orthodoxy, and ethnic folklore) won't hold.

Everything in our polity EXCEPT the papacy and the episcopate is negotiable. I think the Orthodox just won't take yes for an answer. We're working to restore married priests among Eastern Catholics in the West, the original, real reason for two waves of Slavic-American defections to the Orthodox. (In your face, liberal Protestant America: CONSERVATIVE married priests.) They won't come back, even if a later Pope finishes Benedict XVI's conservative revival.

I don't see it as Eastern vs. Western (we include the East) or the Pope vs. everybody else (the proud Russian and Balkan peoples vs. the Evil Roman Dictator). It's about a set of universal beliefs, for all, including but transcending all peoples, vs. reducing that same set of truths to boosterism for your tribe (which emperors, sultans, and atheist dictators have found convenient). The Pope has only defended that set of beliefs, so I'm with him.

If a millennium ago, God really turned his back on Western Europe ("outside of Balkan folklore there is no salvation"), despite its holding the same core beliefs as Byzantium, simply for not being under Byzantium or Russia, then he's a sicko and I'd be better off Buddhist.
“The West” is, in a Schmittian sense, the enemy which inadvertently assists the Orthodox in knowing who they are. There’s nothing salvific, or holy, about that.
Indeed, though it understandably appeals to Slavic-Americans still mad at us, and it WAS our fault, after 75 or 100 years. (The OCA thinks it's Russian.)

Commenter Stephen:
I appreciate what you’re saying here, but I’ve run across not a few Roman Catholics, priests in particular, 40-60 years and older, who are fairly uniform in their thought that Orthodox theology has remained “static”, “frozen”, “lacking in development” for that past 1000 years or so. Reasons given typically center on some perceived captivity or sloth of the Church, such as “caesaropapism”, “no councils in a while”, “lack of a magisterium”, etc. All of which they learned in their seminary formation, they tell me.
Makes Orthodoxy look good in comparison to the Novus Ordo, but the Anglican high churchmen were conservative that way too and look where it got them: Evangelicalism (lots of Anglicans are still conservative but they sure aren't Catholic), women priests, and gay marriage. ("I can't abide any Mass newer than 15th-century Sarum or office since Pius X's ghastly reform," said the aesthete to his husband and their woman priest.) Also, I detect a whiff of sucky Novus Ordo neoconservatism. Such people, talking to people like me in the '80s: "Be open to the Spirit. Give up that artsy old-fashioned stuff and become a charismatic." To my ears, it sounds like Episcopalianism that happens to have a Pope.

That said, Newman's theory is right, and I don't believe the church went mute for a millennium; we can clarify but not change doctrine like Protestants can.

The Orthodox, estranged Catholics, have nothing to lose and everything to gain by coming back to the church.

"The cure of all souls"?

"We wyll haue the Masse."

"It's the Mass that matters."

No longer true of the Anglicans, and a Catholic opportunity, even in hostile England. On an Anglican copout, but also a discussion of what the British ordinariate needs. From here:
Two years before his appointment to Whitby, Philip North had made rather a name for himself when in a speech at Pusey House in Oxford he publicly refused Pope Benedict’s offer to join the ordinariate in Britain. He had pointed at the specific advantage that the C of E enjoys as a result of Establishment, namely that the vicar of a Church of England parish has the cure of the souls of all the residents of the parish, something which Fr. North highly cherishes.
Surely that "cure of all the souls" is a fiction. A matter of law, yes, but not a matter of reality. I can imagine what some of my Irish Catholic friends who've lived in England would say when told the Anglican vicar has the cure of their soul. A legal fiction not much on which to hang a defense of remaining in the C of E.

Not just law, I’m afraid. I find as a Catholic parish priest that I am treated somewhat differently than I was as an Anglican vicar. As a Catholic I am assumed by many to be there just for Catholics. As an Anglican I was assumed to be there not of course by everyone but by a good number of people. It was to an Anglican vicar that the Hindu priest sent a British woman enquiring about Hinduism. She became an Anglican and somewhat later married a Catholic priest, but that’s another story. Most of the funerals I did as an Anglican — though few enough — were of people who were not practising anything. Most of the funerals I do as a Catholic are for families where there is some practice going on.

Yes, but... the evangelising capabilities which the theoretical cure of souls gives are dwindling exponentially, and, as the decline of the C of E since its high point in the 1950s (numerically, not as a proportion of population) only goes to show, it was being hugely romanticised by North. I said so at the time. In any case, North's emphasis on evangelisation was no reason for rejecting the Ordinariate. Just think of the opportunities in England among lapsed Catholics! The vocation of the ordinariates should be to reach those parts which other Catholic ministries do not reach. Hence the need to make over more parishes to the care of the ordinariate.

I entirely agree with this but with two caveats. One is that we mustn't collude with total loss. Michael Nazir-Ali has spoken about the need, as the Christendom
Titanic sinks, to hang on to as much of the furniture as possible, as well as the passengers. So we are in a rapidly deteriorating situation and not in one of total catastrophe. The other is that there is Big City and elsewhere too. Communities and ghettoes and civic belonging are complex and where a ministry based on whomever, wherever, provided that they are domiciled within a particular area, has long been absurd. Elsewhere, however, old patterns remain. It is important for me to be at the War Memorial, alongside the Anglican minister, on Remembrance Sunday. I am asked to participate in a religious programme, and have sometimes obliged, on the village radio station, run by a couple of pagans and a Muslim. Tomorrow (Sunday) we have a Nativity Procession, dreamed up by non-churchgoers, with mulled wine and snow machines and I was asked to be the narrator of the story. (Others will co-ordinate the animals, child actors &c.) This is in a village where most people either work at the local corporation or go on the train to the city every day. So (in spite of my own earlier point) the rural pattern remains and it is there to be cashed in on. A former colleague — Anglican vicar in a rural village near Milton Keynes — has had scores of adult baptisms and family baptisms by working the village as it always should have been worked. (He gets more than the rest of the deanery put together). In short, some of the collapse of the cure-of-souls model is because clergy have stopped doing it.

As for the Ordinariate, I agree: Where the local coetus runs a church, it is successful. Where the local coetus borrows a church for an hour or two a week for a gathered group from here and there, it is not. In short, we need the parishes.
Interesting conversation; thank you. The cure-of-all-souls argument reminds me of two Catholic things. First, the old view in England of "the church" vs. "the chapel," because of the Establishment; easy for an outsider (such as this foreigner, but I lived in the mother country so I have a clue) to mistake for Catholicism's true-church claim, and indeed Anglo-Catholics traditionally treat it as such vs. dissenting Protestants, a.k.a. Free Church ("no bishop, no ministry"). Second, the notion of the priest serving the lapsed for funerals, etc., is something like Italy and Latin America; again, an echo of one nation, one true church. One church is just presumed; in England Anglican, in Latin countries Catholic. Even if next to nobody really practices.

A pond difference is England had no mass immigration from Catholic countries to change the culture, even from Ireland; in America, even now that the church is downsizing, Italian and other kinds of Catholicism became part of the culture (even though we didn't become a Catholic country; arguably in the Northeast we almost did) so a Catholic priest taking part in civic events is accepted and even expected (especially police and fire-brigade chaplains, part of our Irish heritage). In England, Catholics are fewer numerically and proportionally; almost as small as the Orthodox churches there? The anti-popery's still strong; immigration ended it in the American North. (The South's conservative Protestant as you know.) It's both Ground Zero to restart evangelism and yet haunted by Catholicism. (The English were driven, literally violently, from the church.) What struck me living in England was there are reminders of the Catholic Church everywhere, left over from the Middle Ages, yet society now hates the church.

As for Fr. North, besides Apostolicae Curae, women's ordination puts paid to his "Catholic," romanticized notion of the C of E. Regarding remaining Anglo-Catholics, I feel for sound priests sticking it out to collect their pensions (maybe becoming Catholic after retiring, an honorable option many have done); I don't judge them as that's a matter of survival for them and their wives. As for the rest, I don't think much about them or of them; I assume they're gay or bought off. All of the English "shrine" parishes, from Bourne Street to Kentish Town to Oxford to Brighton, have stayed put. I'm not angry at the Anglicans/Episcopalians anymore (they are what they are, and their liberals still have belief in the creeds and high church in common with us trads, which our liberals don't), but if you said no to the Catholic Church, we're done.
When I lived in the UK circa 1980, we lived in Manchester. I found NW England was notably more Catholic than the rest of the UK. Liverpool was notably Catholic. I once read that the immigrants from Ireland went one third went to north America, one third to England and one third died en route. There was a large construction company based there called Wimpey which was said to be short for "we import more Paddies each year." Obviously this reflects the prejudice of the past.
I understand in the 20 years since I was last in England, the Irish don't practice anymore so the church has become immigrant Polish.
The two parts of England in which on-the-ground Catholicism survived to some extent (other than the "seigneurial" Catholicism of some nobles and some gentry families) were Monmouthshire and, more considerably, rural Lancashire (Manchester, however, was a Puritan "stronghold" in the late 16th/17th centuries, and later a dissenting one). Mass could be said semi-publicly (in barns, for instance) in rural Lancs. (except in times of "crackdowns" on recusants) at least down to the 1640s, and maybe later.
Most of the English didn't want to leave the church. Through the 1580s crypto-Catholicism survived in people's homes and even parish churches (the vicar would secretly celebrate Mass for the people's intentions, publicly do the Anglican services, and at the Communion sneak people the Sacrament he had consecrated at Mass). By around 1600, Shakespeare's time, most had accepted the new church, treating it reverently but not fanatically as literally a substitute for the old. (Source: Christopher Haigh, English Reformations.)

You can always find high church in England if you're looking for it, and the church there has always benefited from Anglo-Catholic alumni.

Great Catholic things and places I've seen in England:
  • The Brompton Oratory, still doing baroque high church after Vatican II, "reform of the reform" before it was cool.
  • Westminster Cathedral, including the tomb of St. John Southworth, and the Catholic Truth Society bookshop across the way (where I got my "working Bible," the CTS Catholic RSV, to this day).
  • Blackfriars, Oxford: the right kind of noble simplicity, pre-Vatican II Dominican building, not wreckovated.
  • The Ronald Knox Society at Oxford, doing high church at Blackfriars and otherwise anticipating Pope Benedict the Great by about 25 years.
  • St. Aloysius, Oxford, before it was the Oratory.
  • Littlemore, where Barberi received Newman into the church.
  • Grandpont House, the Oxford base of Opus Dei, like something out of Brideshead Revisited. You can imagine Evelyn Waugh taking refuge there.
  • St. Margaret Clitherow's house in "The Shambles" neighborhood, York, a site for illegal Masses and now a Catholic shrine.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The dregs of American Catholicism

  • The dregs of American Catholicism. "Who am I to judge?" How that 50-year-old "renewal" is working out. It's a little better here: we get good-sized congregations on holy days of obligation. And with Pope Benedict's reform, you get validity (grace) and Catholic teaching from the Mass text in English. So we'll keep shrinking but we won't go away, more because the church used to be huge in America, especially around these parts, than anything we're doing now.
  • Mass: Rorate, coeli, desuper, et nubes pluant justum.
  • The menace of egalitarianism. Murray Rothbard on the subject.

Putin, the Episcopalians, Christmas in South Philly, and more

  • Alternative Right: The failure of Putin. I'm not endorsing everything in this article, but it's worth a look for its main point. Rather than falling for the West's trap, taking the bait on the Ukraine, Putin should divide the West (the U.S. vs. Europe) using the Middle East (such as Palestine). I hope, for the Russians, he's a new Constantine. Interesting in light of Russia's recent economic crisis: a natural-gas monopoly in Europe wasn't enough to keep the ruble from crashing. The many Western russophobes are crowing; never underestimate Russia. (Funny how in the Cold War the left loved the Russians; now they hate them again.) I have nothing against the independent Ukraine; I hope they're a pro-Catholic version of Russia, conservative in that classically Slavic way, not a shill for the U.S. and NATO.
  • On the Task Force for Reimagining the Episcopal Church. My mission isn't to put down the Episcopalians. But I don't have to be spiritually gifted or psychic to predict this plan's failure. The Episcopalians never were and never will be a majority or cross-section of America. (Not the state church so no incentive to stay; I'll bet a lot left for the Methodists early on.) The closest they'll get is when the shrinking mainline merges, adopting government by bishops who claim apostolic succession. The more liberal they get and the more "diverse" they try to be, the richer and whiter they get. Traditional American Catholicism, pre-Vatican II, thanks partly to massive immigration, is a universal church (besides a universal doctrine: Christianity is both a choice and a tribe), including very ethnic enclaves but transcending them (the Orthodox claim to do that with all the new converts but I don't believe it): the Reillys and DiGuglielmos back East, the Shewczyks (including the Greek Rite) in the old Rust Belt (Deer Hunter Pennsylvania and Ohio) and Chicago, and the Gomezes in Texas and California, plus a few Schulers who've been American as long as the English and Irish have (not all Germans are Lutheran; what we think of as German culture is usually Bavarian, which is Catholic: the home of Pope Benedict!), but also the Richardsons in swaths of the Midwest, for example. (There were English Catholics in Virginia too: conservative and low-profile.) Did somebody mention blacks? Lena Horne was a lifelong Catholic, and you've got blacks in French Louisiana. If the mainliners think they can convert most of a Hispanic majority (not churchy like the Irish used to be but not inclined to leave the true church either: "Why should I bother with yours?"), they are mistaken. The Episcopalians thought they could do that with the Italians 100 years ago.
  • Interesting who's NOT Catholic (anymore); free will, you know: somebody told me Tony Soprano himself, James Gandolfini, didn't have a Catholic funeral but an Episcopal one at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. RIP.
  • In showdown with American nuns, the Vatican blinked. Unfortunate but no big deal in the long run. Even a bad Pope can't change our doctrine, which is online for all to read (only the church has fulfilled Jesus' Great Commission). And these old liberalized orders are still dying off: no vocations. Young Catholics who don't believe don't stay and complain anymore as priests and nuns; they leave. The remaining churchgoers are sound. In 50 years we'll be Cardinal Spellman's New York again, but in miniature.
  • Original Franciscan order: "We're broke." So, faddahs, how's that Vatican II "renewal" working out for youse?
  • Fr. Hunwicke on "Dear Old Mother Hilarious": A friend tells me that at the moment, the C of E, dear sweet old thing, is agonising over 'the Green Report'. It's a laugh a line. Don't miss it. It reads like a satirical spoof by Mgr R. A. Knox. Perhaps it is. Another friend tells me of an Anglican Diocese which has invented an 'Archdeacon for Generous Giving'. In other words, the pew-fodder shell out for the stipend of an archdeacon whose job it then is to screw even more money out of them! (But 'Green' is going to cost £2,000,000.) Turkeys not so much voting as paying for Christmas! Like buying tickets to gain admission to the abattoir! Magnifique!! Trebles all round! Pass another mince pie! Our corrupt churchmen who were the excuse for the "Reformation" would blush in appreciation. The "Reformation" got rid of the Mass officially in England but kept the rectors as absentee landlords, accumulating benefices (income from multiple parishes) while leaving the ministering to poorly paid curates. Patrimony?
  • Gabriel Sanchez:
    • Bishop Fellay blesses crib in EU Parliament, reports the Society of St. Pius X. Just reread that headline a few (dozen) times; then proceed. During the blessing, Bishop Fellay took a moment to quote Cardinal Pie’s words to Napoleon III: “If the time has not come for Jesus Christ to reign, then the time has not come for governments to last.” If only that quote could be put on placards to be hung in not only Brussels, but Washington, London, Paris, and even the Vatican. Let us not forget that we are awaiting the Nativity of our Lord and King, one who possesses the right to rule over all the nations of the earth. How quickly we forget that truth amidst the secular mentality we, faithful Catholics, are expected to cozy up to. Thankfully there are still priests and bishops of the Church willing to resist such madness.
    • Good old fallen human nature: Llano del Rio, a failed American commune... in the 1910s. There is nothing new under the sun.
  • Happy Hanukkah! The events of the feast, in the books of Maccabees, are in the Catholic and Orthodox Bible but not in the modern Protestant or, ironically, modern Jewish ones. The feast is minor (no synagogue services, just home devotions) and 100% in accord with Christianity; we don't celebrate it because the new covenant has replaced the old per the Book of Acts. The Jewish Bible in Jesus' time, the Septuagint (LXX), the Catholic Old Testament, has books in Greek (like the New Testament), not Hebrew, written after the other, Hebrew books; Protestants call the later books the Apocrypha. Jews had dropped them by the time of the "Reformation" and the Protestants made the mistake of thinking the contemporary Jewish Bible had never changed.
  • Roissy: Men not at work.
  • European Parliament recognizes Palestine.
  • Colorful Christmas in South Philly and elsewhere in America.

Friday, December 19, 2014

England's first woman bishop, and Anglo-Catholic exile and homecoming

I get Anglo-Catholic déjà vu every Sunday.

From Facebook on the occasion of the Rev. Libby Lane being about to make English history: the Church of England's first woman bishop. News that does not affect me in any way.

No hard feelings so minimal snark here, but: and so the English people, having had their funny bones tickled as well as their hearts touched by watching "The Vicar of Dibley," are so thankful the C of E has adopted self-evident truth about women's rights that since women priests, they have come back to church in droves, sending Sunday attendance skyrocketing and spurring church planting, building churches, and converting the unchurched. Oh, wait.
The Church of England, the Episcopal Church and numerous other Anglican Churches can no longer be considered Catholic. It is really really sad; I hate what has happened to the Episcopal and the C of E Churches.

I left the Episcopal Church in 1967 to be married in the Catholic Church. It gives me sadness though because of my spiritual foundation was that of High Church Episcopalian and I still feel drawn to that. The Episcopal Church is no longer the Church that I once knew. I feel sad in that I can never return or that it will never reunite with the Roman Catholic Church.
My father left the church for the marriage reason before I was born, and came back in the end; unlike me he liked Vatican II. When I was a kid, I mistook fashionable then-ecumenical high-churchification for would-be Catholic Anglo-Catholicism. I really thought we were about to come back to the mother church (by the way, not all A-Cs are would-be Catholics), so women's ordination felt like a sucker punch. The second sucker punch was the aftermath of Vatican II: "the Romans" (as the Anglicans call Catholics) didn't want us conservative A-Cs either.
There's no desire to "exclude folks." There's simply no authority to change the ministry we have received from Jesus through the apostles.

My foundation is that of an Anglican. Prayers in the Mass are unique to Anglican Liturgy (e.g. Prayer of Humble Access). Fortunately the Anglican Ordinariate is thriving and so there is access to our Anglican roots. I just miss my old parish; I am not even sure if they still use the Anglican Missal at Mass.
The parish church where I first experienced "full faith" Anglo-Catholicism (little wooden Episcopal church jampacked with old Catholic equipment and décor) turned liberal by the end of the decade when its priest from the 1950s retired and is long closed. Episcopalians' semi-congregationalism made such parishes a hedge against Vatican II, ironically in the middle of a liberal Protestant denomination (but at first I didn't know we were in one).
When I went thru instruction, many many years ago, my vicar taught the branch theory. He explained that there was the Eastern Church, The Roman Church, and the Anglican Church. All three were completely Catholic. This was because of Apostolic Succession. He said the minute the Anglican Church ordains women they will never be Catholic again. Our Saviour choose 12 men to follow him. The Early Church established orders, Bishops, Priests and Deacons, all of which were men. To be Catholic means to honor Tradition. The Episcopal and C of E Churches are now Protestant Churches. This is the path they chose.
As Fr. Jonathan Mitchican explains at "The Conciliar Anglican," the ORIGINAL Anglican branch theory wasn't three co-equal branches. The classic Anglicans thought they were the best for being "reformed" as well as "Catholic"; they saw Rome and the East as real churches but in grave error. They never envisioned women clergy but it follows naturally from their principles (the Articles of Religion: councils err so the church is changeable). Anglican liberals are being good Anglicans. And Rome and the East don't accept the branch theory; Rome has a very modified version of it in our recognition of valid orders and the Eucharist in some other churches, such as the East. But what's interesting about the "consensus" view you were taught is you DO end up more or less with Catholicism.

For would-be Catholics, women's ordination is a point of no return. For many years I felt the same dislocation (cultural amputation?) you do. Benedict XVI changed all that. To this day I say the Nicene Creed in English (at the new Mass the few times a year I'm at it) according to the old Prayer Book and Anglican missals; my way of remembering and saying thanks.

Why I don't miss the Episcopal Church: thanks to "reform of the reform" starting under John Paul II and thanks to Summorum Pontificum, I have the best of it at my parish, and we're not even in the ordinariate, just high-church!

Symbolically interesting: from my bedroom window I can see the towers of both the Episcopal (closed) and the Catholic churches in my town.

Happy Ember Friday in Advent, with the O antiphons: O Radix Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum, super quem continebunt reges os suum, quem gentes deprecabuntur: veni ad liberandum nos, iam noli tardare.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

"Mad Men" in a can, Part III: "Ascension" miniseries finale

Good writing: exciting with many twists. I didn't see any of this coming. Spoilers/bottom line: it's a not uncritical look at ... yikes, eugenics (the ultimate computer dating: Happy Ostara), namely, taking 1963's best and brightest to... breed people with psychic powers (the rather heavily symbolically named Christa, the clairvoyant child)... who can move the colonists to their new planet with their mental power. (Gault's stranded for now.) So the USS Ascension is Capricorn One fake but the space mission's real! Lots of ingredients (TV and movie tropes) in this stew, from "Mad Men" to The Truman Show to "The X-Files" (anti-government suspicion that never seems to turn into political reality: "Ooh, scary," say the geeks, who then vote for men like Obama) to "The Sims" to some of Planet of the Apes ("it was Earth all along"). Of course I'm glad what I expected to happen didn't: the '63ish fantasy world wasn't destroyed or didn't destroy itself; their ingenuity saved themselves (neat chemistry lesson at the end) and the door's obviously open to a series. Story lines didn't wrap up and we still don't know what the modified American flag means. (Our Milky Way galaxy?) Lots of political and soap-opera intrigue both on and off the "ship."

So it's not a clone of '63 but rather '63, the intelligentsia's utopian ideas from '63, and about 50 years of independent development.

A critic:
Characters wear military uniforms or extremely muted versions of ’50s suits and dresses — they wouldn't look out of place in a 21st-century New York bar or office.
Right, something halfway between '63 and the "Mad Men" effect (with his meticulous re-creation, Matthew Weiner meant to tear down the golden era but he started nostalgia instead: whiskey and cigarette sales have gone up) starting around 2007, which you can explain away as the ship's society slowly changing.

A 2014ism I thought I heard: the main teenage girl (the one in love with the good-looking rebel boy from the wrong side of the tracks ship; hackneyed but classic) or one of her friends says "totally" in a way unknown before Valley Girl talk became a fad in the early '80s (actually Moon Unit Zappa making fun of SoCal girls she didn't like). At least she didn't say "awesome."

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 Jewish refugee from the Nazis (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.