Friday, April 11, 2014

Of your charity,

please remember to say a prayer for my mum, Judy, who would have been 70 today.

I miss you, Mamma.



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Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Bloody new people

Shutting down.

Go say a Rosary. Or do the crossword. Or read the stupid Pollyanna stuff at Patheos.



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Abandonment issues



When I was four, my parents divorced. It was 1970, and the Divorce Tsunami hadn't hit the general population yet. No-Fault, easy divorce was still a few years away. There was still a stigma, believe it or not.

I don't remember much about it except one episode in the car with my mother on the way home from (paternal) Grandma and Grandpa's house. My mother had told my grandparents (who I think liked me and my mother better than their son) and then on the way home she explained it as best she could to me. The only thing I remember asking was, "Will Daddy still be my daddy?" I think at that point, I was the only one in the family who still liked him.

When Benedict announced his resignation, I'd been up late the night before and was napping. My phone rang under my pillow and I blearily answered it. It was a friend of mine from the US who had been up very early indeed looking at the news on the internet after getting a phone call from a mutual friend in Rome, telling him what had happened.

He didn't mince any words, "Pope Benedict has resigned."

"What?!" He said it again, and I told him that this was just meaningless noise. Those words didn't make any sense.

"If a pope can painlessly walk away from his relationship with the Catholic flock, why do divorced laypeople need annulment?"

...

Divorce is verboten. Papal resignation is not: It was officially authorized by Pope Celestine V in 1294 (who then took the opportunity to step down, five months into his term). But between Celestine V and Benedict XVI, only Gregory XII resigned, to end a schism involving three claimants to the papal throne. Pope Benedict is the first to abdicate because of age and infirmity. The tradition and expectation is that once elected, you are pope until you death do you part.

What does that have to do with Gwyneth Paltrow? The idea behind conscious uncoupling is that divorce needn't be a devastatingly painful separation, and that both halves of the couple can take positive things from the relationship if they drop the shame, guilt, and regret and regard one another as teachers, and divorce as a natural part of our modern lives.

This is an aspect of that event that very few are willing to talk about. He ditched us. If the reasons he gave were the true ones ("I'm tired"... seriously? We're just supposed to go with that?) then he just walked away to a quiet retirement, with a little wave and a smile, like a feckless deadbeat dad.

"You're on your own now, thanks for all the prayers."

It would hardly be surprising if some of us were harbouring a little forbidden, guilty anger with him for it.

When I was a kid in the 70s there was a kind of explosion of "groups" you could go to and talk about your feeewings about things. All kinds of "groups" where you were supposed to shaaare how you felt about this or that childhood trauma or whatever. When I was about 8 or 9, a popular type was, "Talk about your parents' divorce" groups. We were told a lot that it was OK to feel angry about it, and that it wasn't our fault, and that feeling angry and then feeling guilty about feeling angry, was all a normal reaction, which I suppose is true.

Abandonment by a parent is something that kind of sticks with you. And we have a whole western world now living permanently in a state of psycho-emotional post-divorce trauma.

This might not have been the best possible historical moment for him to decide to go "find himself" or practice piano.



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Monday, March 31, 2014

Yeah, I know, sorry,

...but the stats are still really high. I check every couple of days and they're still way higher than normal. So, just hang tight, you regulars.

They'll be gone soon...

Meanwhile, I share a little of what's on my mind lately.

A conversation by FB with my old bloggie-buddy Steve. Steve's been a little worried lately too. And as it turns out, he's not the only one.

HJW: Did I tell you my latest zombie dream?

Steve Skojec: No. you haven't

HJW: I was in a big city, like Vancouver or Toronto, maybe New York, but definitely N. America and the zombies were swarming the whole city, coming on like a wave. But so fast that half the city didnt know.

I escaped to a section where things were still normal, and ran around this mall yelling at everyone to STOP SHOPPING... trying to get them to understand that they needed to run RIGHT NOW.

They were shopping, shopping, and talking on their cellphones and acting completely normal.

Steve Skojec: yeah, no metaphor there at all

HJW: I looked up one street and saw the wave coming about three blocks up, and people started screaming up there and running, shots fired, cops, sirens, fires, couple of explosions, but still all the people around me refused to listen.

...Then they started falling on us out of windows of the skyscrapers.

Steve Skojec: I don't like your dreams

HJW: Me neither

A little... preoccupied lately: Russia, China, Iran, Russia and China, Korea, N. Korea, troops and hardware moving to Russia's western borders, the US sending planes to Poland. Finland. Estonia. Latvia. Lithuania. All the names I really never wanted to hear mentioned every night in the news again.

Getting that paralysis feeling again... it was soooo long ago...I thought I'd forgotten what it felt like.

We really thought it was over. We weren't idiots; we knew that there was still plenty of Bad out there, but we thought at least the chances of getting vapourised had diminished a bit. My twice or thrice-weekly nightmares about The Blast diminished and finally dried up all together.

The _____ ____ing Cold War went a long way to blighting the lives of my entire generation. And we thought it was over.

It wasn't much, but we figured at least that one was behind us. As long as they weren't going to blow up the world, we'd make it. We could deal.

It's like the end of the movie when you thought (but you didn't really) the monster was dead, and it roars back to life. Only this time, it eats everybody...

...and there's no credits.

People talking about how it might be a good idea to learn how to make a fire without matches.

Oh, and there's this. Remember ebola? Oh, I do.

How does it go again? War, plague, famine and... and... what was the last thing again?

Suddenly, it's 1980 again, and I'm 15, listening to Heart, and wondering if there's any point to doing anything. (That was the real reason, by the way that "Gen-X" never did anything with ourselves. The "slacker" generation had been told by their hippie parents that none of us were going to live to see thirty, so what did we care? We were, to put it simply, paralysed by the terror our parents had instilled in us. We spent our whole lives staring unmoving at the headlights we'd been told were coming at us. Yeah, thanks for that Boomers...)

Oh, how well I remember that weird, nauseating pressure between my shoulder blades and at the base of my throat at the phrase "emergency NATO meeting..."

After Friday's urgent meeting of the UNSC, U.S. ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, called upon Moscow to withdraw its armed forces from Crimea, while Russia’s UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin said that Russia is acting within existing agreements on the stationing of the Russian Black Sea fleet in Sevastopol, Crimea.

Russia is a veto-wielding permanent member of the Security Council and is able to block any proposed action by its members.

Foreign ministers of the European Union will convene at an extraordinary meeting on Monday to discuss Russia’s potential use of armed forces in Ukraine.

Thousands of Russian soldiers doing nuke drills.

Nuke drills.

...

(...nuke drills...)

...



Sooo...

Not much blogging for a while.

Why don't y'all go say a Rosary or two.



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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Right you lot, I'm off


I'll be not blogging for a week or so. Working, but absent here. If you've been misbehaving, I'll find out about it from Dale or Steve, so be good.



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Meanwhile, out here in Grownup Land...

There are Real things going on...

Ukrainian Catholic priest abducted in Crimea

Something you can offer your Mass for tomorrow.



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I guess It's just the Ides

But I came home from Rome this evening feeling stabby. The conversation on the train-o was about whether Putin was going to keep going when he was finished taking Ukraine back into the warm embrace of Mother Russia. The conversation was made doubly interesting by the company; two of my companions were from the Baltics, one from a former Soviet state and another from Finland, where they fought one of the very few successful wars to fend off the enthusiastic ardour of the Stalinists.

So, y'all will forgive me when I say that I've not got a whole lot of patience for the stupidity that passes for Catholic debate in these difficult times. My friends were wondering whether they were going to have a country to call home in a few weeks or months. All the Europeans are wondering if they are going to be dragged into another war, either cold or hot.

So, really, Just at the moment, I've not got a lot of patience for the self-indulgence and chronic self-deception that American Catholics tend to be prone to. The grown-ups have things to think about over here.

But I see that my reservations about having a huge influx of new readers were justified. There has been an annoying little inflammation of itchy argumentation in the commbox below, with the newcomers apparently unable to understand that when I say we do not engage in such rudeness here, I really do actually mean it.

I see that I will also have to clarify what kind of site we have here.

This is the site of a Traditionalist Catholic. I do not adhere to the self-deception of the neocatholics. I gave all that up some years ago, and after much study and a good deal of pain, I have learned to reject the NewChurcian lies. I don't blame anyone for not being either ready to do this, or for not knowing enough to know the difference, but the one thing I really don't have any patience for are those who come in here and try to tell me that I don't know what I know. I also don't have any patience for rude, crass, American neo-Catholics trawling the blogs trying to generate arguments in order to boost their readership. It might be useful for the newbies here to remember that I am not an American and that in general, Americans do not endear themselves to the rest of the world with this kind of behaviour.

It's late, and I've had a very nice birthday in town, went to see the absolutely gorgeous Lawrence Alma-Tadema/Pre-Raphaelite exhibition at Santa Maria della Pace this afternoon, followed by an insanely huge meal of fish at my favourite Sardinian place near St. Peter's. There were presents and ridiculously overpriced tea at the Viennese Tea Room, and a long gaze at my all-time favourite Bruegel painting at the Doria Pamphilj gallery (and a couple of pretty good Caravaggios and Raphaels) and a nice private Mass at the St. Philip altar at the parish. More or less a perfect day.

So I'm not going to spoil it by staying up too late and getting into a big unpleasant thing, just because there are some people who don't have either any manners or enough to do with themselves, and who don't know how to disagree pleasantly.

I am only going to leave this:

I'm a Trad. I've been a Trad for ten years. I used to be a neo-con, but after a while, I just couldn't keep feeding that crocodile. Therefore, I not only know the difference between a Trad and a neo-con; much more importantly, I know that there is a difference. This is not a matter of politics, it is a matter of taxonomy. The recognition and identification of objectively discernible traits. And I've got exactly no patience at all for the people who try to tell me that by admitting the existence of these clearly discernable differences I am somehow trying to be "divisive" or "political".

Truth is divisive. Adherence to The Real is as divisive as Christ himself always told us it would be.

Suck it up.

Here are some links, in case you are wondering if I have ever had anything to say about it before:

First, define your terms:
Real things, things that exist in nature, have characteristics, observable accidents that can be quantified to help us decide what sort of things they are, and what sort of other things they are related to.

Of course, people don't like to be quantified in this way, and it is especially unfashionable now that political correctness has entered the fray. I can't tell you how many times I have heard the indignant cry, "I'm not a ____, I'm just a Catholic." Well, may I suggest that in the modern Church, if that is true, then you are, most likely, simply a lazy Catholic who has never bothered to learn anything about the Faith, to discover its depths and surprises and has never had an opportunity to find out what your reactions to those surprises will be. The Church is in crisis and is fragmented from top to bottom. If you are trying to claim that you are "just a Catholic" I suggest that you are attempting to wish these realities into the cornfield, a power you do not have. Grow up and get into the fight.

Taxonomy
Very few modern Catholics know half of what the Church teaches, and if they did, it would scare them silly. Don't forget, most of them, even the "conservatives" think that feminism can be "Christianised," that it is natural and good for Church and State to be separated, that "freedom of speech" is a natural human right... a lot of rubbish, but it is rubbish upon which their entire universe is founded. It is no wonder, then, that they are scared stiff of the fullness of the Faith and get angry with Trads and call us names when we point out that they are infected with the Disease. (That and I think I mentioned Trads tend to be jerks about it.)

Traditionalism, therefore, is not "extremely conservative conservatism". "Traditionalist" is not a sliding term, it cannot be used as an adjective and it is certainly not part of a scale from Trad to Modernist. THERE IS NO SCALE.

Traditionalist can't be used as an adjective; it is only a noun. You can't be "more traditionalist" than someone else. You are, or you are not a Traditionalist. There could be such a thing as a conservative Traditionalist, I suppose, because "conservative" can be used as an adjective. And in theory there could be such a thing as a "liberal" Traditionalist, but the thing is what it is.

I am a Traditionalist. This totally precludes me from being "a conservative" (noun). I do indeed also happen to be quite a conservative Trad, but that is using the term "conservative" as an adjective to describe my personal style and attitudes. The issue here is the difference between substance and accident. I am not a conservative of any kind. I am a Traditionalist.

My buddy Chris explains it all to you
Where there are differences, one must make distinctions. And in the Church there are differences (and how!) and therefore we make the distinctions as best we can. (Taxonomy is the least exact of all the biological studies).

It is not pious or noble to try to ignore these differences or to sneer at the people who are attempting in good faith to clear away the dishonest effort made by many churchmen over the last 50 years to paper over and ignore these differences, to the harm of millions.

Now, I'm going to bed. And tomorrow I'm going to be out, and after that I'm going to Umbria for a week. So you can all just go look at cat videos for a while.



~

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Attention New People: this is not your regular kind of blog...



I know we've picked up a bunch of carpetbaggers in the last few days. I spose that's OK, but New People, be aware that this is not your regular kind of blog. It's more like a little club. I have many times described it as a kind of salon, where polite people can talk about things over tea and cake. I have had pretty much the same five hundred readers a day for most of the ten years we've been doing this, and I look upon newcomers with grave suspicion.

Disagreement is welcome, and almost required to keep me from getting bored, but the slightest hint of rudeness brings out the vengeful pagan deity in me. This blog is my universe; I am not your warm, fuzzy New Testament kind of God, and I've got my finger poised over the Smite button, and am not afraid to use it. For those who have been drawn here expecting Catholic polemical fireworks, be warned that you will be expected to be able to talk about, music, art, gardening, Canadiana and the state of the weather with equal facility. Anyone being rude to me or the other guests or picking fights will be shown the awesome power of my wrath in short order. A disciplined congregation is a happy congregation.

Commbox rules are posted on the sidebar to your left. You will note that snark, anonymous posts or obvious pseudonyms are among the high crimes which will merit my swift and awful justice. Those New People I don't know caught flouting the rules will be smoted instantly without warning or apology. Are we clear?

~

I've been thinking in the last little while, as regulars will know, about the value of all this. I am made more and more acutely aware every day that the internet, the new Great Conversation, is, quite honestly, a realm of deception and distraction, as well as perhaps grave temtpation.

Are we not obliged to take pains to "avoid near occasions for sin"? Well, this week, I've been thinking about it more. I watched an interesting thing from the BBC last night, about a rather naive Church of England minister who went to live for a few weeks in a monk's cave in the Egyptian desert. It was full of hints and little naggings for me.

I just sent [more or less] this note to a friend who is a magazine publisher who is pestering me to write Catholic things for him:

Well, thanks to a couple of links the other day, one to the Remnant and the other to PewSitter, my Phil Lawler piece got picked up by gazillions and we had our first (nearly) 3000 pageview day at O's P. It's only one in the afternoon over there today and I'm already up to 1600.

And it's definitely making the temptations whisper in my ears again: "You could totally do this for a living. Zillions... at least thousands, of people would read you, everyone would think you're cool and smart. And they'd throw money at you..."

"And you'd be doing the world a favour! The Church neeeeds your voice, it neeeeeds your blunt honesty and clear thinking... everyone says it... you'd be doing the work of God..."

Approval, affirmation, fame... they've always been my biggest worldly desire and temptation. But I know exactly what this is. My parents got rid of me, like yesterday's embarrassing trash when I was fifteen and I spent the next 30 years fending for myself, convinced that I was the only person in the world whom I could count on and that if I didn't make it in the world, no one would help me or catch me if I crashed.

"You're on your own kid, and you'd better find a way to make people like you. All you've got going for you is your brain and your words, so baby, you better get smart, witty and clever in a hurry, or you're dead in a ditch." Buzz buzz buzz...

"You could be one of them famous polemicists...Become the Trad edition of Jimmy Akin...He makes barrels of money...You know you could, and you really want to..."

But in truth, I know exactly what that voice really is playing on. It's a combination of my neuroses, the result of fashionable 1970s parental neglect. It's telling me it's OK to looking to the world for the love I didn't get when and where I was supposed to. Which means it's really an indulgence in Fantasy, a chasing after something that isn't Real. And I'd rather be done with that.

I'm starting to think that what I've really been doing is steadily and single-mindedly pursuing my own fame and popularity since I started writing full time ten years ago (almost to the day, now I think of it). And for me it's the road to perdition.

Frankly, I'm lazy as hell, and if I were to actually put some effort in, I know I have the capacity to become one of those one-man industries, to that old crass self-promotion thing that you have to do to become a Media Personality, a "professional Catholic". I know I've got the necessary superpowers. It's in there. But I also think I'd be turning myself into the monster I've been trying to avoid becoming all this time.

Things are getting past the point where we have the leisure to pursue such things. That stuff is for peace time. In war, we have to stop playing games.

~
UPDATE:
Oh great. A link from Kathy. Now I have to get the sails down.

Oh well, I'm going back to Norcia next week for a while, so things are going to be shut down here for a while anyway.



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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Who makes the Faith?

"Never criticise the pope" has never been a Catholic rule. Ever.

There has also never been a rule that says, "Only saints can criticise popes". Nor has there ever been any rule that says you can't criticise a pope on the internet or other public forums.

All that stuff is in fact made up. And pretty recently. Mostly since we started feeling, in the early 1980s, with more and more bishops going weird and wiggy on us, that the pope was the last bastion of sanity in a world gone pazzo. But the history of the Church is longer than the last 40 years.

To say that a pope is above any criticism simply because he's the pope is becoming one of the favourite mantras of the neocatholics and "conservatives" and it is not only "solemn nonsense" it is dangerous nonsense. To suggest that the pope is above criticism is to suggest that he makes the Faith. He doesn't. The pope is the servant of the Truth, not its maker. To say that a pope cannot be corrected by the faithful is really to suggest that the Faith, the Truth, is a subjective thing dependent upon the pope's personal approval. This would render it as fragile as political opinion (which, by the way, is precisely what the world/liberal Catholics want it to be.)

Here's a few snippets for consideration.

There's no "except the pope" caveat in the following:
Can. 212 §3 [The faithfull] have the right, indeed at times the duty, in keeping with their knowledge, competence and position, to manifest to the sacred Pastors their views on matters which concern the good of the Church. They have the right also to make their views known to others of Christ's faithful, but in doing so they must always respect the integrity of faith and morals, show due reverence to the Pastors and take into account both the common good and the dignity of individuals.
~
John XXII (r. 1316-1334) in a series of Sunday sermons asserted that the blessed departed do not see God until after the General Judgment­. This would have undone the doctrine of the efficacy of prayers for the dead in Purgatory, among other consequences. The pope at the time was opposed, publicly, by theologians at the University Paris who said that while (by that time) the matter had never been defined as dogma, the Pope was in error, and they petitioned him to recant his opinion. Which he finally did. John XXII added at the time that he had never proposed the idea for the whole Church, and everyone had been free to disagree with him.
~
The Pope is infallible only when he: “speaks EX CATHEDRA, that is, when, in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole Church…” (First Vatican Ecumenical Council, Sess. 3, cap. 4).
The Pope has no power to define doctrines as he pleases, for as Vatican I also teaches: “the Holy Spirit was promised to the successors of Peter not so that they might, by his revelation, make known some new doctrine, but that, by his assistance, they might religiously guard and faithfully expound the revelation or deposit of faith transmitted by the apostles.”

More to think about here.



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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

When the Son of man comes, will He find faith on earth?



Seeing a lot of the "gates of hell" quote. Of course, I've had lots and lots of conversations with smarty-smart learned types about what, exactly, that really means. In the end, it was clear that it does not mean that the Church structures that we are used to seeing are going to survive. The conclusion reached in these discussions was something along the lines of, "As long as there is one Catholic left on that day," and, "Try to be that guy."

The Church will remain "visible" because this is one of its indefectible marks, but the question will be, "visible to whom?"

The late, lamented Mario Palmaro leaves us with a last note of encouragement:

In some little, out of the way church there will be always be a priest who celebrates the Mass in a holy way; in a little apartment a solitary old woman with unshakeable faith will say the Rosary; in a hidden corner of a House of Divine Providence a Sister will look after a baby considered by all as having no worth. Even when all seems lost, the Church, the City of God, continues to radiate its light on the City of Man.



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