Tuesday, December 26, 2006

What do you think?

This is probably the most interesting non-John Allen thing I've ever read on the Reporter's website (and it's not by a NCR regular, predictably enough). It is an essay, for lack of a better description by a self-described progressive Catholic and Dominican made in response to Allen's also-interesting proposal for a Catholic "mega-trends") book. Critical of "restorationism" and certain tendencies he sees within the orthodox camp, it is a far, far more bracing and rigorous critique of what progressivism hath wrought in the wake of the Second Vatican Council. I can easily picture sitting down and talking with this guy.

My only caveat is that the ever-sensible Rich Leonardi is nowhere near as taken with it, giving a rating of zero to my four. Which leads me to wonder if I am missing something here.

What say you?

...anybody up for leftovers?

A great Christmas at the Prices (hint for new parents: skip naps on Christmas Eve). Maddie received Holly Hobbie dolls (old and new--the new is entirely un-Bratzishke), a Cabbage Patch baby and the Lady and the Tramp DVD.

Dale has a new Shake and Go racer set, a remote control amphibious vehicle (we expect to see the cat again in a week), and the Toy Story DVD. His father also insisted on a cowboy pistol and rifle set. One that makes noise.

Rachel has a new Sleeping Beauty doll, Sleeping Beauty Golden Book and Sleeping Beauty DVD (a trend developed in the last two months).

Mom and Dad brought lots of supplemental toys, too. Courtesy of me, Heather has on DVD a complete series of The Greatest American Hero, Divine Intimacy (a very interesting TAN reprint) and a Catholic woman's day planner. Hey, she asked for (1) and (3), and expressed interest in (2). Talk to her.

I have some new clothes, Steyn's America Alone, Truth and Tolerance (by some German guy), DVDs of Serenity, Reno911 Season 3 (for a little new boot goofin'), The Warriors Director's Cut (can you diiiiiig it?) I also asked for The Sky People, but to quote the Beloved, the Macomb Mall B. Dalton's "sucks." Some changes will also be announced later this week.

All told, no complaints, though. Will get to that e-mail--promise. Speaking of which: Hey, Richard--see the History Channel's Engineering An Empire installment last night? And a quick answer to your question--probably the time of Heraclius, but no later than Constans II. I'll explain more in my response.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Merry Christmas to You and Yours!

I get to go shopping today. Sure as God made little green apples I'm not going out tomorrow. In any event, I'm not anticipating this task, and my ever-practical Heather suggests that toting the 12 gauge along to "clear the way" would be inadvisable. "Even with 'birdshot and salt shells.'"

Who knows? She may be right.

So, in order to fan the embers of the Christmas season, I offer the following notes:

1. A reminder: according to North American Air Defense Command, Santa is going to be taking off in about 17 hours. [H/t to Dreadnought for this find.]

The history of this project can be found here.

2. Another little reminder, this one about the reason for the season, as the tagline goes, courtesy of Madeleine:

Monday, December 18, 2006

Oh, and another thing...

(1) A priest celebrating the Tridentine Mass denies "full, active and conscious participation," but

(2) Watching women twirl about in spandex as part of a display of liturgical dance/movement is "full, active and conscious participation."

Fr. Richard McBrien again devastates his opponents.

And again emerges covered with straw.

Really, there's nothing here to fisk. Fr. McBrien creates a sockpuppet opponent, accuses it of bad motives, feeds it ridiculous lines, "refutes" it and declares victory.

It's almost cute in a way--offer a peculiar premise ("It's all ecclesiology these days!"), don't even hint the other side has a coherent argument to the contrary, paint your opponents' objective in the worst possible terms (describe the worst of the old Mass), and finish by repeating the peculiar premise. Viola! If his column isn't titled Ipse Dixit, it should be.

The sad thing is that there are too many people who will nod uncritically at this nonsense and repeat it around the chancery watercooler for weeks, not realizing that the author has become the Emperor Norton of Catholicism, thundering nonsensically from on high.

Yep, sure it's our failure to embrace the Church as "People of God" that has us hacked off at Fr. in a Barney suit or any of a thousand liturgical outrages that happen every month. It's our clericalism showing (pot, kettle, black), and it can't possibly be anything more than that.

Listen, chump/
Don't you see/
It's your e-ccle-si-ol-o-gy...
Not since I started wearing tighty-whiteys.

True story:

My sister in law Maria composed a list of gift suggestions for my nephew, Brennen to give to my beloved Mom. Brennen is into those Japanese marketing combat shows--Yug-i-oh, Pokemon, Dragon Ball Z, Bi-mo-nau, etc. The handwriting, alas, is a little ambiguous in spots, leading to my Mom visiting the nearest Wal-Mart and asking if they "have any dragon balls?"

In related news, Prince Albert has been released from imprisonment.

[Mom's folk were Hays from old Caledonia. The Scottish blood runs dilute in our veins, but true--the capacity for vendetta and vengeance is still strong. Maria's a little...concerned about this week's visit.]
There are several people I owe e-mails.

You know who you are.

I'll start to respond today. Thanks for your patience.
Christmas shopping. In stores.


Friday, December 15, 2006

Happy Hanukkah to our Jewish friends and neighbors!

Interestingly enough, the festival is not recorded in Hebrew Bibles (which is no big deal, of course). For the curious, though, the holiday's origin is located in Catholic and Orthodox Old Testaments. The most detailed account is in 1 Maccabees 4 (an unjustly neglected book even by those who venerate it as inspired). Starting at verse 36:

Then Judas and his brothers said, "Now that our enemies have been crushed, let us go up to purify the sanctuary and rededicate it."
So the whole army assembled, and went up to Mount Zion.
They found the sanctuary desolate, the altar desecrated, the gates burnt, weeds growing in the courts as in a forest or on some mountain, and the priests' chambers demolished.
Then they tore their clothes and made great lamentation; they sprinkled their heads with ashes
and fell with their faces to the ground. And when the signal was given with trumpets, they cried out to Heaven.
Judas appointed men to attack those in the citadel, while he purified the sanctuary.
He chose blameless priests, devoted to the law;
these purified the sanctuary and carried away the stones of the Abomination to an unclean place.
They deliberated what ought to be done with the altar of holocausts that had been desecrated.
The happy thought came to them to tear it down, lest it be a lasting shame to them that the Gentiles had defiled it; so they tore down the altar.
They stored the stones in a suitable place on the temple hill, until a prophet should come and decide what to do with them.
Then they took uncut stones, according to the law, and built a new altar like the former one.
They also repaired the sanctuary and the interior of the temple and purified the courts.
They made new sacred vessels and brought the lampstand, the altar of incense, and the table into the temple.
Then they burned incense on the altar and lighted the lamps on the lampstand, and these illuminated the temple.
They also put loaves on the table and hung up curtains. Thus they finished all the work they had undertaken.
Early in the morning on the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month, that is, the month of Chislev, in the year one hundred and forty-eight,
they arose and offered sacrifice according to the law on the new altar of holocausts that they had made.
On the anniversary of the day on which the Gentiles had defiled it, on that very day it was reconsecrated with songs, harps, flutes, and cymbals.
All the people prostrated themselves and adored and praised Heaven, who had given them success.
For eight days they celebrated the dedication of the altar and joyfully offered holocausts and sacrifices of deliverance and praise.
They ornamented the facade of the temple with gold crowns and shields; they repaired the gates and the priests' chambers and furnished them with doors.
There was great joy among the people now that the disgrace of the Gentiles was removed.
Then Judas and his brothers and the entire congregation of Israel decreed that the days of the dedication of the altar should be observed with joy and gladness on the anniversary every year for eight days, from the twenty-fifth day of the month Chislev.

Enjoy those eight crazy nights!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Bovines in Love.

An oddly touching story about a lonely steer and his new girlfriend.

[Title changed after a pertinent biological error was noted in the comment box. I could say "with God all things are possible," but....]
Moral insanity on parade.

How about we worry about the man and his family instead of the damned political impact?

For the love of God.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Affirm and go hottubbing, for yours is the reign of God.

Some things just bring out my inner Savonarola.

Yesterday in our parish bible study, we went over Acts 19, which covers the tumult resulting from the growth of the Church in Ephesus. Ephesus was the home of one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the Temple of Artemis. A remarkable engineering feat, the Temple was even in ancient times a magnet for pilgrims, and as Acts makes clear, the economic life of Ephesus depended upon the temple and the industries connected to it. Starting with idol-making silversmiths.

One of the many interesting scenes in the chapter involves the burning of a pile of valuable magical texts by recently converted Christians as a sign of continuing conversion.

As a sign of my own deepening conversion, I hereby state that I will burn any copies of the Catholic Update which come into my possession. The trigger? This slice of USCCB-certified Grade A headcheese served up by Fr. Ken Overberg, a professor at Xavier University (Cincinnati).

If there was ever an essay which illustrated in such stark terms the problem with the Americanization of the Gospel, this is it. As Niebuhr put it way back in 1937, the cotton candy gospel being offered up by the liberal Protestants of the time boiled down to this:

A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.

You can find all four in spades in Fr. Overberg's meditation. Except "kingdom" references, of course. And the use of "men."

Adopting the biases of the secular academy, Fr. Overberg is big on "inclusive" language. Thus the replacement of "Kingdom" with "Reign." Furthermore, and despite the daunting witness of revelation, Fr. Overberg has an aversion to refering to God as "Father" or "he" in his own writing (as opposed to quotes). Stale and awkward (note the tortured gymnastics he has to go through to paraphrase John 3:16), but sadly unsurprising. As are the equally stale form-critical judgments offered up with the usual uncritical certitude, but I'll leave aside the Bultmania for now.

To be blunt, the overarching dreadfulness of the essay is mind-blowing. Milk-jug absent from the commentary are such traditional concepts as repentence and preparation for the Advent of the Lord, which, of course, are the focal points of the season for those not allergic to the Church as it existed in 1962. To give you a brief flavor of the problem: there are three dutiful references to "God's Reign" in the essay, but zero to "repentance/repent." As in zilch.

(1) A God without wrath/Kingdom without Judgment.

The distant and neuter God loves you. Period. There's nothing that makes God angry. Jesus came as a symbol of divine love--no atonement there.
What's remarkable about this is that Fr. Overberg has. no. clue. how this obliterates social justice advocacy. If God truly loves unconditionally, then not even screwing the poor and building a nuclear death ray to fry puppies and redwoods from one of the Lagrange Points is going to hack Himherit off. Godself is all about acceptance--and nothin' but.

(2) Men without Sin.

Care to guess the number of references to sin in the essay, personal or otherwise? Actually, there's one--which naturally denigrates the concept of atonement. More about that in section (3). Sin apparently went out with Vatican II, along with Latin, habits, incense, moral seriousness and reading comprehension. There is no call to genuine introspection, no suggestion that there is anything in the conscience which bears examining. Oh, sure, he lobs off the "what then shall we do?" line, but he's already provided the answer two paragraphs earlier, where one can find a call to discipleship which amounts to "share, be nice and no hitting."

God is apparently some kind of neuter Ron Burgundy--R. Burgundy--whose sole remaining task in history is to look upon Himherit's beings and say "You stay classy, Creation."

Add to this the discovery that cost-free, Jacuzzi-jet spirituality is the reason for the season. Bold defiance of those numberless advocates of nuclear war and starving the poor gets you accolades as a 21st Century Bonhoeffer.

(3) Christ Without a Cross.

Fr. Overberg hates atonement. Hates it.

God's not about atonement. Not even in the Gospel of John:

John’s Gospel does not see Jesus’ life and death as atonement or ransom. There is instead emphasis on friendship, intimacy, mutuality, service, faithful love—revealing God’s desire and gift for the full flourishing of humanity, or in other words, salvation.


Here's the part where I am compelled to ask--"Don't you have to be fatuous somewhere else?"

Yeah, sure--if you ignore all of the "lamb of God" references, Jewish sacrificial allusions and every other signal of the atoning mission of Christ which bubbles up from the text. Of course --pay no attention to the creative theologian behind the curtain! Or: "Don't believe your lying eyes--I have tenure!"

And the drama of salvation is reduced to some felt-needs security blanket--being the best you you can possibly be! Just perfect for a comfortable people not interested in taking up a cross and following Christ. It's Joel Osteen in a cassock. Which is just about the last thing the Church in America needs right now.

[Thanks to Rich for the link.]

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

I have a theory about American foreign policy.

Namely, that those tasked to handle it rarely have any grasp of religion. Specifically, religion as motivator of the actions taken by others.

Exhibit A.

Instead, the brahmins prefer to substitute economic interests, ethnicity, or even class whenever they hear a religious tag. It's easier, and more reassuring, to think that way. The idea that someone is motivated by messianic impulses--and reports visions related to such impulses--is too fantastic to consider.

Oh, nononononononononono--Mr. Ahmadinejad is actually motivated by Persian nationalism and related grievances. He doesn't actually believe in any of that Twelfth Imam stuff. That's why we should try to talk to him, like the Baker Commission says.

Come on--get real. Motivated by religion? Nobody I know is.
"I love this car!"

--so spake Madeleine, upon discovering the versatile armrest in our "new" car, a 2000 Buick Regal LS with mileage best described in terms of circumnavigation.

It looks pretty much like this, black exterior, tan interior. The main exterior difference is that it lacks the "blackout" finish on the grill, and has, hearkening back to my Camaro-owning high school days, a spoiler. Now all I need is the Kraco cassette deck, Eagle tires, the company of at least two equally-dateless friends and the flashback can begin.

What do I think? To use the lingo of the young people, it's 'ight. We can almost afford it, and I needed a set of wheels. It'll do.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Happy Feast of the Immaculate Conception!

Giorgio Vasari, Allegory of the Immaculate Conception (1541)

Now get to Mass.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Memed! By the trophy wife, no less!

Heather was tagged with the Birthday Meme, so she became a carrier.

The Rules:

1) Go to Wikipedia.
2) In the search box, type your birth month and day but not the year.
3) List three events that happened on your birthday.
4) List two important birthdays and one death.
5) One holiday or observance (if any).

Three Events

1831 - James Clark Ross discovers the North Magnetic Pole.
1925 - Lou Gehrig plays the first game in his record streak of 2,130 consecutive games.
1962 - Adolf Eichmann hanged in Israel.

Two Birthdays and a Death
1780 - Carl von Clausewitz, Prussian general (d. 1831)
1937 - Morgan Freeman, American actor


1571 - Bl. John Story, English Catholic Martyr


Samoan Independence Day (1962)
Memorial of St. Justin Martyr (OK, two observances)


Rich, Melanie B., and Pansy and Peony.
Recent random thoughts.

You know, Mater and the Ghostlight is almost as much fun the 83rd time you've seen it as the 78th.

Please, please, dear Lord don't let them come up with a hemorrhoid treatment.
I'd like to take this moment to welcome Rod Dreher to our ranks.

He, too, has acquired a righteous and holy hatred for the hellish marketing empire that is Bratz.

[Which must be immediately distinguished from the unalloyed goodness that are brats.]

Hey, Torquemada, whaddaya say?/
How's everything at the auto de fe?

People interested in my previous considered opinions on the subject are directed here and here.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


According to the mechanics, the engine canna take no more, Captain.

Looks like we are going to take a trip to Beater City and dredge up a suitable lemon.

The Buick is dead. Long live the....Mongo not sure.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Blue Monday.

Let's see:

1. Yesterday Heather and I went to the emergency room. Her main problem is that she married a klutz.

I dropped our Christmas tree box on her. It slipped from my hand as I was lowering it from our attic and smacked her in the head. No concussion, thank God, but she is on antivert for the dizzy spells. Good wishes and such appreciated.

2. The Buick may be done. It overheated on me this morning and shows every sign of wanting to get the mercy bullet. Good thing we have scads of cash to get a replacement.

Oh, wait...

3. If it takes a conference championship to make the BCS, then make it explicit. (And a 13 game schedule if you're a 1-loss team). And as far as that "strength of schedule" crap goes--Michigan hasn't played a I-AA team in...forever. [Coughcoughcough.] Watching the media Florgasm build in favor of the Gators develop over the weekend was dismaying but predictable.

And notice that Sweatervest abstained, helping to ensure that he got the matchup he wanted. Which means his second national championship by a minimum of two touchdowns on January 8.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Here's the Turkish TV feed.

Posted at YouTube. The prayer occurs starting at 6:58. Interestingly, Pope Benedict keeps praying long after the Mufti has finished his devotions.

And, say what you will about Turkish Islam, it certainly has great architectural taste. The Sultanahmet ("Blue") Mosque is truly a beautiful place.
Kasatka also apologized on Letterman and checked into rehab.

Killer whale rejoins Sea World show after attacking trainer.

The problem is that he was facing Mecca. Moreso because it comes from the man who recognized--and curbed--the excesses of the Assisi gatherings.

I'm not hopping on board the sede bandwagon. It's simply a little disheartening.

(1) It's going to encourage ecumaniacs--"Why can't I sacrifice a chicken with the Unitarians? The Pope prayed facing Mecca...." And a credible rebuttal is....?

(2) The only reciprocal gesture that will be received is a pat to the head, possibly with a "Good dhimmi!" thrown in.

[Update: OK, a little better--the Holy Father is holding his pectoral cross as he prays--and the event was carried live on Turkish TV. That changes my perspective some.

Clarification: No, I am NOT accusing PBXVI of dhimmitude. I just think that it is an ambiguous-to-dubious gesture that will avail us nothing.]
Well, well, well...

A certain dogged propagandist for a south Texas professional basketball franchise has been at great pains to assert that the team's starting point guard is only "half French." Nevermind that the team's own website lists him as hailing from the Fifth Republic. In the face of such inconvenient facts, the apologist persevered in a Ziegleresque display of tenacity.

Alas, the campaign has taken a torpedo amidships with yesterday's announcement that Mr. Parker will be marrying the fetching Eva Longoria in an elaborate wedding ceremony.


No doubt as part of a sinister Gaullist plot to spirit our women away from our shores.

I eagerly await your reply, Victor.

Victor Morton, attempting to explain away the Frenchness of Monseiur Parker.

Free advice: Do NOT anger Kathy Shaidle.

Break out the asbestos jumpsuit for this one. As per usual, the flamethrowing is deserved.
Prayer request for Lily Siekierski.

Matt posted an update here. Things are gradually improving, but she is going in for scheduled abdominal surgery at noon today to determine/resolve the source of the blockage.

Prayers/whatever you can manage continue to be welcome, as Matt indicates.

So I have been trying to figure out what to do.

 Those who have followed this space no doubt noticed a bit of an eastward drift, spiritually.  Largely, but far from entirely, due to Cathol...