Monday, October 31, 2011

Notes toward a new Catholic Dictionary.

Clericalist, (ˈkler-i-kə-ˌlist), noun.

A Catholic who, when confronted with Christ's threefold office of Priest, Prophet and King asks "What about comptroller?"

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Accidental Captivity Diaries of "T. Henry Price," Switched At Birth.

Dear Diary:

It is now Day 26 since I was mistakenly torn from the grasp of my undoubtedly-old-money family and placed in the care of...well, how should I describe them?

Let me hasten to say that it would be entirely ungenerous of me to claim that I have not been well-cared for. Indeed, my material needs have been met with great alacrity. The red-haired wet-nurse, a charming and lovely woman whom I have to say is growing on me, is quick to feed me and dispose of my alimentary leavings, ensuring that my nether regions will not be chapped. I rather enjoy the swaddling and have plenty of time to rest. Bathing seems to be great fun, and the water is pleasant to the touch. The clothing, though too often second-hand, alas, is sturdy and comfortable. The wet-nurse also seems to have primary care for me, which is good, given her mostly cheery demeanor and overall competence. I will miss her when I am returned to my Grosse Pointe (Farms, quite likely) abode to reside with my natural kith and kin. I have resolved to send her a card on my birthday in gratitude for her assistance.

The surroundings are passable, a brick bungalow with a second floor addition that makes it near-enough a colonial. Only a one and a half car garage, but that's not my problem. Surprisingly enough, given the behavior I observe, they seem to be bookish. Plenty on the built-in bookshelf, including the Bard and Homer, along with rumors of an impressive library in the basement. Drat my inability to ambulate!

I say "surprisingly enough" because, as regards the rest of the staff....sigh. I am certain their intentions are good.

The hairy-faced fellow to whom the wet-nurse is inexplicably espoused is a rather loud and eccentric chap. He seems competent enough in the ways of child care, in a sort of rough-hewn peasant fashion. And the rest of the staff, wet-nurse included, seem genuinely happy when he returns from the quarry (?) where he likely works. He, too, is capable when it comes to keeping my nether regions unchafed, and proves to be a startlingly-effective heat source conducive to productive napping. He could be a bit more capable of dressing me, but at least he chooses appropriate clothing. However, his eccentricities have become a bit cloying. What is with his penchant for bizarre nicknames? The name they gave me is solid enough, passable even in the Pointes, especially when I abbreviate the first initial. I can't get attached to it, of course, but it is a commendable moniker. I understand diminutives like "Tom" or "Tommy." But what on earth is a "Tombert"? And what's with "Tomás"? They don't look Mexican. Odd--and increasingly annoying. By the way, Mr. Hirsute Jokester, "Chubba-bubba" is right out.

Alas, while they are likely not Mexicans (though the wet-nurse has one of those tall candles with the Savior on it), I can confirm that they are Papists. That would explain the large staff. Worse yet, they appear to be Irish--all except the Bearded One, oddly enough. Despite his annoying mannerisms, he seems to be of good Kentish yeoman stock, if his stories are correct (I'll ignore the Welsh component). This is something of a relief, given that when I first saw him I thought I might have been accidentally deposited with the followers of Mahomet. No, adherents to Popedom instead. With at least a leavening of the Sceptered Isle in their veins.

And, if I must go to the Roman Mass, I suppose I shan't complain about the surroundings of the church itself--the decor is commendably high church, with a baldacchino and some tastefully done stained glass.

As to the rest of the staff, they are a mixed bag: the older three--a girl, a boy, and a girl respectively are all rather decent. Loud and boisterous, but genuinely charmed by my presence. And no attempts to play dress-up by the ladies, which is a relief.

The younger two staffers need much more work, unfortunately. The boy is just bearable, what with his ill-timed need to lean over to give me a kiss or hug whilst I am sleeping in the papasan. But even he is a prince next to his younger sister. She is called "Elizabeth," but I refer to her as "the Poker." She has no sense of appropriate personal space--"close talker" doesn't begin to describe her oafish intrusions. And her constant poking of my eyes, nose, mouth with her jabbing index fingers, intoning the facial feature in question as she does so, is utterly intolerable. The rest of the staff seems to be aware of her proclivities, so they intervene before permanent damage is done. And, I suppose I can grudgingly admit that she wants to be nice, but is simply awful at displaying it, most of the time.

Stiff-upper lip, keep calm and carry on--these are my creeds. The mix-up is no doubt being investigated as I write this, and I am certain the authorities will return the burly peasant boy to this band when I am redeposited into the arms of my family in the Farms. I suppose it could be worse.

Respectfully yours,

"T. Henry."

The difference between observing our lives and living them.

Hilary puts it beautifully in this essay. Read it all.

I have the same problem, taking pictures of my kids' activities instead of merely watching them. Sure, they're great keepsakes. But was I fully there? A good question.

This is probably why we are so irritated with tourists who take pictures of everything in sight. We instinctively know there is something wrong with it. I stopped taking pictures several times in Florence because I realised I was trying harder to save Florence for later than I was trying to actually be there at the time.

It is only in the here and now that life can actually be lived. When you are thinking about doing an act of charity or committing a sin, you aren't actually doing it. The act itself is the meritorious or culpable thing, not the contemplation of it. Humans in the West have been retreating from The Real for a long time. The reason Twitting is so popular is that it offers us a new way of doing what we have been doing for decades, pulling back and becoming observers rather than participants.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Gutless wonders, petty tyrants and chancery dwellers.

But I repeat myself. Yes, I know there are good folks laboring in the bureaucratic halls of the Church--this isn't directed at you. As for the rest of you...

The rector of the Cincinnati seminary managed to successfully retaliate against Rich Leonardi, long-time Catholic blogger extraordinaire and pointed, but usually civil, critic of the manifold problems of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

Rich was booted off the Son Rise Morning Show in retaliation for his criticism.

Here's the message he sent me in response to a query on Facebook:

To net it out, the seminary rector reached out to the head of the Son Rise Morning Show to have me thrown off the program. I called him out on it, and a pissing contest ensued. I shut down my site and intend to withdraw from public Catholic life.

In the meantime, Ken Overberg will continue to deny the Atonement from the pulpit, and Paul Knitter will air his doubts about the salvific significance of Christ and the historicity of the Resurrection, both undisturbed in the sanctuary of Xavier University. Because doing something about *them* would take a set of clockweights, the willingness to endure media hostility and the turning of a deaf ear to the squalling of local progressives.

Squashing a layman who criticizes the local leadership? You can do that in a snap and still have plenty of time to enjoy a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon with lunch. To applause from "the right people," to boot.

What few non-Catholics understand is that we remain Catholic in spite of--sometimes literally in spite of--those to whom God, in his inscrutable Providence, has temporarily given custody of part of His Church.

I hope you reconsider, Rich. The Seditious Catechist is needed now more than ever.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Once I had a railroad, made it run...

From the "Things that keep me up at night" File--this would be number 1.

Yet it is some of those very conditions-the slashing of consumer debt (or deleveraging), reticence to spend and general risk aversion-that helps drive Rosenberg's depression case.

"It will take time and shared burden by lenders, households and future generations of taxpayers before we hit bottom in this credit contraction," he wrote. "Time is certainly going to be a big part of the solution, and history tells us that the deleveraging cycles last years."

Indeed, ominous signs abound.

Strategists at Bank of America Merrill Lynch earlier this week published a note with the sub-heading of, "The chart that keeps us up at night." The particular chart in question tracks the bond yield differences, or spreads, in the European financial credit default swaps market .

The instruments are insurance against debt defaults and the spreads, BofAML says, have gone 0.70 percentage points or so beyond their levels at the 2008 financial crisis apex. The same spread for US financials is only about 0.40 percentage points away from late 2008, while high yield spreads are right at the point they were the day before Lehman Brothers went bankrupt.

Scary stuff, even for a firm saying that the chance of a recession remains below 50 percent.

"The experience of 2008 has taught us that once the level of distress in the financial system reaches a certain level, it can become an uncontrollable force, with the potential to push market participants into deleveraging as counterparty exposures are being cut," the firm said.

"We may not be at that point yet, but we believe we might not be too far away from it, and with the markets behaving the way they have over the past few weeks, we could get there quickly."

I strongly doubt Europe is going to get its act together--the way it has handled its debt contagion is reminiscent of the way Russian prisons have handled tuberculosis.

I'm finishing up this solid treatment of the Depression era, and have Amity Shlaes' work in the hopper next. The subject seems to be disturbingly topical, sad to say.

"May you live in interesting times."

Thomas Henry, born on October 2, 2011.

At 7:31am.

A little more than four hours after Heather woke me with the news that her water had broken. Which changed me from slumbering to AIEEE! in less than a second. Thank God for the groundedness of my wife.

And a big round of applause for my other children, who despite been awakened at 3:20am and not fed until around 7am behaved beautifully in the family lounge of the hospital.

There's still the good and the bad which is affecting my ability to blog at present, but this 9 lbs., 6 oz., 20 and 1/4 inch brick is one of the very best.

Mom and Tom are home and both doing well. I'm blessed beyond words. Sorry for not getting the word out by phone, but "hectic" doesn't begin to describe my life at this point.

Speaking of which, anybody who can give me a line on an 8+ passenger used vehicle would have me in their debt... :)

Anonymous commenters are the herpes of the internet.

By which I mean they turn what should be a pleasurable exercise into a scabby one filled with discomfort, recrimination and regret.

From the spammer file come these sub-literate gems from my spam catcher (which is a default function not set by me):

Who is this wanker? Are all americans this imbecile?
By Anonymous on OK. Things are somewhat better. on 10/1/11

I guess you probably won't be publishing my comment. bummer.
By Anonymous on Just another day of Resurrection denial. on 6/10/11

You people exist? I stumbled upon this by accident. Yikes! You really spend all your time ranting about the truth inherent in Catholic Orthodoxy? lmao. Oh the irony in wasting this life at a keyboard utterly consumed about something only other hardcore acolytes give two craps about. hahaha.
By Anonymous on Just another day of Resurrection denial. on 6/10/11

My favorites are Nos. 2 and 3, by the same Voltaire. Yeah, a real loss to reasoned discussion that would be.

Though No. 1 has a certain idiot panache, given how grammatically challenged wanker-flinger is.

As long as I get the like, I'll periodically publish these for the purposes of hearty mockery.

If you have a good reason for anonymity, that's fine. But most don't--they're just mental masturbators capable only of...well, just look at the above. If you're going the anonymity route, you're on a choke chain here.

The GOP Garbage Squad.

Nine awful human beings whose views are unworthy of the slightest respect. Especially after caterwauling about spending money on Ukraine, no...