Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Great post about Lent.

From John Heard at Dreadnought:

It has always seemed too easy that a month or so of fasting and abstinence can result in the kind of spiritual payoff that a faithfully kept Lenten vow represents. Nothing, I was shocked to discover as a child, feels better than a clean heart trilling on Easter morning. It is like ten post-confession glows. But I guess that is what the Divine Mercy means. Lent changes lives.

That doesn't help, however, at the outset. Lent is meant to be hard. It is hard. I find Lent a serious challenge. I had great trouble writing this column. Once you start in on Lent you open yourself up to serious criticism. Only, the judge isn't some easygoing colleague or loving spouse, it is the Lord of the Universe and you've been a miserable young bastard.

So, sordid details get parsed. My suffering is compared with His suffering and the gap between the two, the way His exceeds mine in magnitude, complexity and positive impact, causes even more squirming. Lent, if there were no point to it, would be the nastiest period in the calendar.

But there is a point.

There's that glow.

And near the very end of Lent we might stumble blinking into Holy Week, a time that climaxes the heady ritual. None of it, however, will compare with the tension and beauty, the chiaroscuro pageant at play inside the Catholic who takes the Lenten discipline seriously.

This is what is so hard to explain to non-Catholics. There is something remarkable about Lent that makes all the pomp secondary. As incongruous as it sounds, most of the Catholics at a Maundy Thursday Mass have their heads down as the procession passes. Magnificent watered silks, great clouds of incense, candle-flare and gilded wonders glide past, almost unheeded. Our eyes are fixed on an interior vision of Christ.

What is going on in the head and heart, the things that stir in the soul are, rather, what overwhelms. Like the Blessed Sacrament, most often veiled or hidden in churches, or the ostensibly crushing fact of the crucifixion we hail, look in Catholicism for those things that are hardest to catch sight of: there you'll find her riches.

As always, RTWT.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Holy aspirated coffee, Batman!

My first link from the Anchoress!

Reminds me of Tim Allen describing when he knew he'd finally made the grade on The Tonight Show: Johnny Carson invited him to take a seat after his routine.

I am not worthy...

[H/t and thanks to Julie at Happy Catholic, too.]
That's right.

Crossan was the one who said Jesus' body was probably eaten by dogs or crows. You'd have thought that he might have objected thusly in the interview. Perhaps he did, but I have yet to see him quoted as protesting Jim Cameron's cavalcade of whimsy.

"By the end of the evening, I hope that you, too, will embrace the good news of following an obscure taciturn sorta-but-not-too-Jewish cynic peasant sage who somehow crossed (rimshot!) the Romans and ended up as animal waste products despite the fact that one of the few sayings in the "canonical gospels" that is accurate is "Render Unto Caesar." Not that it will get you tenure and regular TV spots come Lent, but no one ever said life was fair."

Monday, February 26, 2007

Bad things happening to good people.

Melanie and Dom Bettinelli have suffered a miscarriage.

Prayers and sympathies--I am so sorry.
"Honey--looks like we're gonna be Jewish now."

Oh, James "King of the World" Cameron, noted director of the celluloid milestone Piranha Part II: The Spawning, has found the body of Jesus. OK, he had help.

Just in time for Easter, of course.

I'm really going to miss BLTs.

But while the hypothesis is classic deep stupidity wedded to Barnum, it isn't the dumbest thing you will hear in connection to this story.

Nope. Far and away the stupidest thing you will hear (and I already have--some degreed twit from DePaul has weighed in accordingly) are self-described Christians nattering on about how this, if true, doesn't affect their "faith" one iota.

That sort of "Christian" belief is a hectoring Unitarianism with a liturgial bent. Not to mention intellectually void and unmoored from anything preached by Christians before the 1600s. Faith in a decayed corpse is not the faith for which millions have died and continue to die for today. Not to mention it's not the faith that built and still operates hospitals, (an admittedly dwindling number of) universities, food pantries, schools, clinics.... But it's nice to see that worshipping an ossuary is no bar to maintaining a tenured sinecure at a university in the Catholic tradition.

Why does this matter? The bodily resurrection of Jesus--as opposed to the post-lightsaber chopped Obi-Wan Kenobi--undergirds our life on this earth. What happens in the body has meaning. We don't rise from "this crude matter"--it is transformed. If the body is something discarded on the way to something better, then that dramatically changes our perspective. Katy bar the door--experiment as you like, in all the near-infinite permutations of the term, both inside the lab and out. A Christian's faith would not be "diminished" by finding the remains of Christ, it would be destroyed. That the professor doesn't even regard the hypothetical as "diminishing" suggests that that his faith is in something else.

Ah, well. At least misery loves company. When Ramadan comes around, we'll have to sit through the usual debunking deluge of splashy media documentaries, books and magazine covers reinterpreting Mohammed, too.

What a delight.

Friday, February 23, 2007

The Briggs Beer Cannon.

Just see it.
Dr. Zaius! Dr. Zaius! Dr. Zaius! Dr. Zaius! Dr. Zaius! Dr. Zaius!
O, Dr. Zaius!

[Obligatory subcaptioning for the pop culture-impaired: click here.]

A trend we need to keep a close eye on: Chimpanzees are making weapons now. You know, before we're driven underground and start worshipping ICBMs.

Keep your hands where I can see them, you damn dirty ape.

Feel free to add your own Hestonisms in the box below.
Ask and ye shall receive.

Yesterday, a Boston Globe sportswriter wrote an impassioned plea for the return of old time hockey--Dave "The Hammer" Schultz style.

Later that evening, the Buffalo Sabres and Ottawa Senators weighed in with their own endorsement.

I concur--all you have to do is say "March 26" or "turtle" to a Wings fan and the wolf grins start splitting faces.

[H/t to Mark Sullivan for the Globe link.]
Yes, alive and all that.

Just busy. If I have nothing to say, I try not to say it.

For Lent, we are doing the Full Trad, which has increased my appreciation of Sundays by several orders of magnitude. It could be worse--I could have tried to pull the Coffee Monkey off my back. Yeah, that would have lasted five, maybe six hours. Remember Londo's Keeper in the fifth season of Babylon 5? That's a good analogy to my relationship with java.

Dale's doing better, but he's suffering from periodic night panics, which are painful to behold. We think it has to do with his awaking from anasthesia and not finding us there. We eventually get him calmed down, but it's rough.

From the "This One Goes To Eleven" Department: That's quite the impressive bit of ballot box stuffing there, lads and lasses. I maxed out at 11 votes, in funniest Catholic blog. My response is simply to quote Wat from A Knight's Tale:

Betray us, and I will fong you, until your insides are out, your outsides are in, your entrails will become your extrails! I will w-rip!.... All the p!.... ungh! Pain! Lots of pain!

Good thing I don't get bitter, eh?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Tuesday Morning Galactica.

Good news--BG has been greenlighted for a fourth season, though the number of episodes is still up in the air.

Brief thoughts--the last two episodes seem to be more standalones than arc-related, but I think there will be payoffs down the road: Apollo's shaping up into a real leader as CAG, Zarek's warning about a trial for Baltar, Helo's still-ambiguous place in the crew, rifts between the Colonials based on ethnicity (with Capricans at the top and Sagitarons on the bottom, and the others in between).

One question: what is the "canonical" status of the deleted scenes? Did they happen, are they do-overs, or (here's where I lean) are they a mixture of both? From my partial perusal of the deleted scenes in Seasons 1 and 2.0, the last makes the most sense. There's certainly some interesting stuff in them, especially related to the mythology. Plus, any easter egg info on the DVDs would be welcome.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

And he was a little overrated as a guard, too.

My prediction: Tim Hardaway is heading for "rehab."

"You know, I hate gay people, so I let it be known," Hardaway said. "I don't like gay people and I don't like to be around gay people. I am homophobic. I don't like it. It shouldn't be in the world or in the United States."

Hardaway was a guest of Miami Herald columnist Dan Le Batard on Miami sports radio station WAXY-AM and was asked how he would deal with a gay teammate. When asked if he would accept an active player's coming out, such as that of retired NBA center John Amaechi, Hardaway replied: "First of all, I wouldn't want him on my team.

"And second of all, if he was on my team, I would, you know, really distance myself from him because, uh, I don't think that's right. And you know I don't think he should be in the locker room while we're in the locker room. I wouldn't even be a part of that," he said.

Just lovely, all over. "I hate gay people." It's not all in the heads of homosexuals. There's plenty of raw hate out there, and this is just further proof.

This doesn't make Hardaway a monster, of course. By all accounts, he's an otherwise decent guy. But the fact that this can bubble up unprompted is grim.

And if the wrongness of hate for some reason isn't enough, consider the more crudely practical impact: it makes the fight that much harder for those who stand up for traditional sexual morality without an ounce of hate in their hearts.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Still kicking.

Trip/D3/The Boy™ had his tonsilectomy/adenoidectomy today. A little woozy and pained early on, he has made a nice recovery so far. Unlimited popsicles and Kool-Aid have improved his mood. So has watching a 60 minute commercial for Hot Wheels titled The Ultimate Race. Lord, it's dreadful--dialogue that doesn't rise above "it's so crazy, it. just. might. work!" levels. Honest--the phrase "DESTROY ALL HUMANS!" is repeated over and over. But since there are wheeled vehicles going fast, it doesn't matter.

I see Ms. Marcotte has resigned from the Edwards campaign. Prediction: what was said about the Bourbon dynasty that returned to the French throne in 1815 will apply equally well to her: "They learned nothing, and forgot nothing." The secular left has more self-inflicted wounds and alienated would-be friends than any other movement in the U.S. And they wonder why they lose.

Oh, and a housekeeping note: This here electronic kiosk has been nominated in the following categories in the Catholic Blog Awards:

Smartest Catholic Blog
Funniest Catholic Blog
Best Individual Catholic Blog
Best Designed Catholic Blog
Best Overall Catholic Blog
Best Written Catholic Blog
Best Political/Social Commentary Catholic Blog

"Best Designed" is a head-scratcher, but wins in any category will keep voters off my fisk list for the rest of 2007. GOTV!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Wilfred Owen in the dorm.

From my nearest and dearest.

A take that I think Dawn Eden would appreciate.
So, Edwards decided to keep the Rantz Girlz.

John Edwards--personally opposed to speculating about aborting Jesus.

Like this isn't going to be turned into push-poll material by his primary opponents.

"Did you know that John Edwards employs a spokesperson who calls Christians 'godbags,' calls Christ 'Jeebus,' and suggested the Virgin Mary should have taken 'Plan B' medication?"

I'll say one thing for Edwards, though--he's a genuine miracle worker. He's convinced me to sling a little cash over to Hillary Clinton's Michigan campaign.

Oh, and I do believe them when they say they didn't intend to malign anyone's faith: given their track records, by now it has to be an ingrained reflex.
Mercy High, again.

Mercy High School in Farmington Hills, proud host of Lunch with Gov. Granholm back in 2003 (which netted the school $3,750), is again in the news.

This time, it barred a pro-life speaker from giving a talk on Margaret Sanger to the pro-life club. The speaker in question is author Dan Flynn, whose website is here. Yes, from a cursory review of the website, he looks like a political conservative (however, he's critical of the Iraq war and the President). But the Gov. is naturally something of a partisan, too. Right?

Back in 2003, it justified its decision to host the fundraiser with the following:

"Our consideration last week to withdraw the item took into account the sensitivity of the issue and its potential impact on the welfare of our students," the statement said. "The topic has provoked much discussion and debate.

"We believe that providing Mercy students and mothers with the chance to meet with Gov. Granholm is a valuable educational opportunity and fully consistent with our school's philosophy, mission and values."

This time, apparently the poor dears would be confused by the speaker:

[School Principal Carolyn] Witte said Flynn's message was unsuitable for high school students. The 'content could be misunderstood,' she told Young America's Foundation.
* * *
Witte also added that her students were too 'sensitive' to hear a topic about Planned Parenthood.

Alas, Principal Witte doesn't have any idea what the speaker would actually say:

'I'm not suggesting that I or the school is anti-Mr. Flynn,' she added. 'I just have not heard him speak.'

Unfortunately, we can Mercy speaking, loud and clear. Without saying another word.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The cat drinks unleaded from now on!

Yeah, that's pretty well human nature at work. Note that James offers helpful conservation tips, too.

For our part, we've switched to the spiral light bulbs all through the house (five or so regular bulbs remaining). You can get a six-pack of 60-watters from Home Depot for under 10 bucks. I purchased a 100 watt outdoor spotlight for $8. The bulbs have made a huge difference on electrical consumption and you get the same illumination. Full disclosure: they do have limitations. First, they take a little longer to get to "full power." Second, I haven't found any that work on dimmer switch set-ups. Finally, they do not come in smaller sizes (e.g., candelabra style bulbs). But I suspect the technology will solve these items in short order. Even now, they are well-worth it.

Oh, and if we're really going to be serious about conservation/carbon emissions, we might want to look at these sorts of things. I'm not saying bans, but the elites might want to put their money where their mouths are.
Good discussion.

About demographics and Mark Steyn's statistics, going on here.

For me, it boils down to "What are the rates?" The disparity can't be reconciled here, and Steve gave an example of the Palestinian Authority grossly inflating its fertility rates for the UN stats. And it is a given, across cultures, that fertility rates have depressed with the onset of industrialization. So it's UN v. CIA--who's more reliable, and why?

Finally, let me reiterate that America Alone has a broader thesis, too--the radicalization of Islam by petrodollar-powered Wahhabism (the Saudi "Burka King franchise," to use Steyn's memorable phrase), the enervating effects of multi-culti thinking and welfare/nanny-statism in the West, and related items. But inaccurate stats gut the rest of the book.

Keep it going--it's an important topic.
About the blog tags/labels.

Here's the list so far, along with a brief description, where necessary:

Ave atque vale -- The deceased. Yes, I lifted it from Mark Steyn.

B16 -- The Pope, not a WW2-era American bomber prototype.

Bible -- Where the Good Book comes up.

Brave New World -- Watching our society's jaunts into moral insanity.

Byzantium -- Everybody needs a hobby.

Catholica -- Things Catholic.

Culture -- Good and bad.

Family Fun -- the first word is always true.

Fisks -- You're new here, aren't you?

Galactica -- That show.

History -- General history topics. Have to flash the BA/book collection every now and then.

Humor -- OK, I think it's funny. YMMV.

Inside Blogball -- Blogging about the blog.



Liturgy Wars -- Forays into transepts and "worship spaces," GIRMs and ICELs.

Memes -- Quizzes included.

Michigan -- Dispatches about the Greatest State in the Union.

Miscellaneous -- When I'm at a loss.

Motown -- [Mason voice]: "Deee-troit blogg-ing posts..."

OBH Church -- One Big Happy. Surveying the dysfunctional family of God.

OBH Church Detroit -- Surveying the dysfunctional family of God's local branch.

OPB -- Other People's Blogs. You down?



Religion -- the Catch-all that doesn't fit the above.

Sci-Fi -- Includes fantasy and other non-Galactica topics.

Sports -- Or "sport," for speakers of non-American English.

The Money Pit/Cars -- Two perennial sources of migraines.
She had me at "sticky."

Amanda Marcotte, the official bloginatrix for John Edwards '08, really, really, really doesn't like papists very much. Actually, the woman just oozes charm.

It's such a problem that even the Gray Schoolmarm has taken notice. Not bad coverage by the ol' gal, but the writer makes a common mistake--the Immaculate Conception refers to the conception of Mary, not Jesus. For the latter, "the Incarnation" or "Virgin Birth" fits.

Dean Barnett asks the obvious "what were they thinking?" question, and Michelle Malkin offers a hilarious "dramatic read" on a Marcotte post about contraception.

On a serious note: wow. Where is the rage coming from? It's one thing to dislike or even hate Catholicism, but this is hysterical, in the not-funny sense.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Vote Early, Vote Often.

The 2007 Catholic Blog Awards nominations are now open.

Since you're not paying cash to read this, you might want to consider a cheap ego-booster shot like a nomination or three for your humble scribe instead.

It's either that, or pony up for this.

Your choice.
By the way, it's cold here.

As in "(1) I think it's a glacier, and (2) yes, it's 'getting closer.'"

The furnace shuts off for all of about five minutes at a time. And we don't heat the house to 70 degrees (Fahrenheit, for the Metrificated), either. It was all of 8 degrees for a high yesterday (factoring out the gusting-to-30mph winds that only Sts. Bartholomew or Lawrence could have appreciated). With the winds, it was somewhere near -20.

When they say "Arctic blast," they aren't kidding.
Podcasting the Empire.

One of the most popular education podcasts on the 'net involves the great Emperors of Byzantium. No, seriously. [H/t, Mike Aqualina.] As in listened to by 140,000 people per 'cast.

The podcast can be found here or here.

I found Mike's post after getting, on the same day, recommendations for it from both Maureen and commenter and fellow Byzantinophile Steve (via e-mail). Now there's a hint for you.

Friday, February 02, 2007

I am delighted to be wrong!(1)

Mr. McAuliffe's application for the Knights of Malta is bleedin' demised. Though I still would have been satisfied with this solution, truth be told. Good work by the Knights, Dames and their clergy, and thanks to them.


Footnote (1): OK, but not every time I'm wrong. Were that the case, I would enjoy a bliss that passeth all understanding.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Cat bathing for the new millenium.

Some may call it cruel.

But they've never tried to bathe a flea-ridden Himalayan. Twice.

I call it painfully, painfully funny.

Mano a mano!

Our Famous Author goes head to head with Mark Steyn on demographics, citing the CIA World Factbook. Here's the exchange in full:

Albania - total fertility rate 2.03 (2006, CIA world factbook).
Turkey - total fertility rate 1.92 (2006, CIA world factbook).
The replacement level is 2.1, so of course the number of Albanians and Turks will soon begin to fall, as the effects of demographic inertia play themselves out. How long that will take depends on how much further the birth-rates fall - there's no reason to believe they won't continue to decline - but it will inevitably happen.
Iran's rate is 1.8, Algeria's is 1.86, and Tunisia's is 1.75. These are also continuing to fall. Mr. Steyn, you have a tendency to ignore data which contradict your thesis. Why is this?
S M Stirling

MARK REPLIES: For a start, I don’t know where the CIA get their figures from, but Turkey’s fertility rate is more like 2.4 and Albania’s about 2.2. But you’re missing the point. My thesis fully takes on falling birth rates in the Third World. It’s not difficult. It’s on page 3 of America Alone:

"True, birth rates are falling all over the world, and it may be that eventually every couple on the planet decides to opt for the western yuppie model of one designer baby at the age of 39. But demographics is a game of last man standing. The groups that succumb to demographic apathy last will have a huge advantage - and those societies with expensive social programs dependent on mass immigration will be in the worst predicament. It’s no consolation for the European Union with its deathbed birth statistics if the Third World’s demographics are also falling: they’re your nursery, they’re the babies you couldn’t be bothered having; if their fertility rate goes the same way yours has, that will be a problem for you long before it’s a problem for them."

Look, the best way to understand global demography at a glance is to go here
Print out the graphic and stick it on the wall, and look at how far Niger has to go to be (demographically) in the same predicament as Latvia. By the time Niger gets to where Latvia, it will be no consolation to Latvia. And, if you think it will be, you’re the one who’s ignoring data that contradicts your thesis. As for the inevitability of falling fertility rates, you’re also ignoring the point noted above that Muslim immigrants in France, Belgium and elsewhere currently have a fertility rate higher than that pertaining back in their home countries. In other words, Tunisians in Tunisia may be on the gentle slope of demographic decline but Tunisians in Europe aren’t.

I love Steyn, but I'm going to give Steve this one on points. If the birthrates are already below replacement in those countries, then that makes a hash of the demographic thesis of AA (there's still a potent cultural argument worth considering, though). The only thing that keeps it from being a knockout is the argument about higher birthrates among the immigrant populations within Europe itself. I simply don't have the figures to verify that one.
A signpost along the way.

What does the KoM mini-scandal mean?

Dismissing the mail-it-in carping of scolds who go Emily Postal about the tone and bad form, what what, of St. Blog's (read: whining about other people whining), the problem is this:

There are no consequences for pro-abortion advocacy by Catholics in public life.

First, let's dispense with the "it's just a lay organization" business. Not quite.

Where the rubber hits the road, (1) the Order has clergy, (2) the Pope is involved in the governance of the Order, (3) a cardinal archbishop is tasked with the spiritual oversight of the Knights, and (4) the pastor of the candidate has to endorse him.

Then--and this has to be emphasized--lay people are expected to step up to the plate and shoulder their responsibilities, too. I've heard there's something about that in "the Vatican II" somewhere. In my swatting at the clergy below I mentioned, but didn't put enough emphasis on the equally-dysfunctional lay leadership of the Church.

Yet, given the hierarchical constitution of the Church, the buck stops with the ordained. And the climate created by the leadership has taught and continues to teach that disregard for life issues is of no importance whatsoever because there are never any consequences for that disregard. In fact, we'll honor you in spite of it. And it's not just abortion, of course, nor just the Malta Order--for some reason, Cardinal Mahony sponsored Rupert Murdoch for a papal knighthood, which was granted in 1998. Yessiree, the man responsible for the Fox Network's quality family-friendly programming, and yabboes on Page 3 would have been on the top of my list of candidates, too. I guess Hef was probably disqualified because he was raised Methodist.

Look, I actually like Archbishop Wuerl, believe it or not. He was a hardliner on perverts in collars before the scandals broke and is one of the finest catechists in the Church today--almost certainly the finest in the English-speaking world. He deserves profound thanks for the American Catechism, a truly five-star effort.

You know what's coming.

But to simply focus on teaching without any hint of sanction teaches another lesson--namely, that it doesn't matter. And it says it without saying a word. Loud and clear.

There are signs this may be changing among some of our shepherds--thanks be to God. It certainly can't happen fast enough.
Another article on L'affaire McAuliffe.

Lifesite spoke to someone at the Order. Big h/t and thanks to commenter Joshua.

Helpful, but not sure how much light it sheds. The suggestion that he's barred from membership is based on Lifesite's read of the website, not upon what the contactee at the Knights said.

At least that's my read of it.

The Synodage of Satan.

The Catholic Church announces that it is discontinuing support of its previous OS.  I mean, TC and the Coddling of the Krauts makes that cl...