Monday, November 24, 2008

Poetic Justic

I quite fittingly squashed a mosquito with Jacques Maritain's Existence and the Existent. Hah!

Side-Bar Update

Seraphic Single is getting married (many congratulations!), and she has started a new blog that chronicles her adventures and thoughts as a woman about to leave the single life - Seraphic Meets Bridezilla!

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Frenzy of the Faithful

Fr. Z (who provides a very balanced reaction to the Mass and subsequent statement released by Cardinal Schönborn) and American Papist have brought to the attention of the Catholic blogosphere the video of an unfortunate Mass presided over by Cardinal Schönborn. Immediately, there was a massive comment-box outcry, allegations of grave liturgical abuses, etc., etc. Simultaneously, there were snide remarks about how this sort of thing would NEVER happen at an Extraordinary Rite Mass, but with the Novus Ordo Mess (oops! You mean, Mass?)...well...

As things objectively stand:

1. Two possible liturgical abuses have been observed in the video provided: the bread used looked leavened, and the vessels were of wood.
2. His Eminence's spokesperson has responded that the bread was unleavened.
3. The Mass was incredibly tacky.
4. But! His Eminence conducts himself reverently within the context of the tackiness.
5. And! His Eminence has a history of orthodox thought and teaching.

Several issues have been raised - simply because it is not against the letter of the law to use balloons, or rock instruments, or strobe lights, does that make it OK? Cardinal Schönborn, some say, has participated in this type of Mass (instigated, even) in the past (I haven't seen documentation of this - which doesn't mean there isn't any, just that it falls outside of my scope to judge the truth of this)- does the thought that he might have been 'ambushed' by this liturgy hold any water?

Now the question is: what should a prudent person conclude from all this?

There is enough evidence to say that the Cardinal Schönborn presided at an incredibly tacky Mass.There is not enough evidence to say that participated in the Mass with approval of the liturgical setting, nor that he engaged in grave liturgical abuse - though the use of wooden vessels could constitute a liturgical abuse if they were not of precious materials (like ebony --- I could be wrong on this, though. Crystal and precious metals, I know are licit - precious wood?).

Sometimes the Mass settings are sprung on priests - it happens - and when it happens a prudential judgment must be made as to whether it would be more harmful to the flock to say the Mass (Edit: I mean here something along the lines of how the Mass setting would affect the faithful's understanding of the Mass and what example it provides for others) or to refrain from saying the Mass. Given that the balloons occur somewhat later in the Mass, presumably during the prayers of the faithful, it is possible that the his Eminence thought that the music and lighting were bad but were not such as to warrant refraining from saying the Mass - and began the Mass and was stuck (can you stop a celebration of the Mass?).

Further, the musical settings of a piece may not be known in advance. The Master of Ceremonies may have simply been told that the consecration response would be sung by the "choir." Was he told that there would be heavy metal guitar riffs, etc.? A bit doubtful. I'm in a choir, and the instruments used for a piece are not listed in our program or bulletin - I don't think this is an uncommon practice, but I could be wrong. Also: if Cardinal Schönborn presided at Masses like this in the past, is it possible that he may have expressed a wish for greater reverence and been assured of it for an upcoming Mass? I don't know.

So at this point, I would gently suggest that the prudent person should not conclude - based off of one video that included snippets of the Mass - that a Prince of the Church has kicked the bucket of orthodoxy. Give a guy a chance and wait until more details emerge. At the very least, a prudent person should not begin frothing at the mouth and assume the worst of his Eminence - charity forbids us from doing that.

I think it would be a shame had the Cardinal Schönborn actually participated in this with full knowledge and approval. But I don't know that he did. So I think it is a great shame that many people are willing to go crazy-righteous about this.

And don't be snide about the Extraordinary Rite or Vatican II (the council, not the "spirit"). Taking delight in perversion because it furthers your stance is...well...sick and icky! It's like laughing at a little child who falls down, cuts up his knees, but looks absurd. HAHAHA! (?) Or - worse - it's like taking a smug joy in the fact that one of your friend's boy/girlfriend cheated on them and you sit back and say "I tooooollllld you he was nasty. If you'd only listened to ME this wouldn't have happened! What DIIID you expect!?"

Meanwhile, your friend is uncontrollably weeping.

See, you people give the rest of the people who love the Extraordinary Rite a bad name because that's how you sound to us.

Finally: so maybe Cardinal Schönborn exercised bad judgment here. I'm not going to expend my energy raging about a possibility. I'm going to pray for my pastor, for priests, and for holiness.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen - Lend Me Your Vote!

Vote for Thomas Peters: Catholic and orthodox. Why not!

Why I voted Yes on Prop 8 - A Post From My Facebook Account

What's written below is what I posted in a note on Facebook, prompted by a number of my friends/acquaintances from Cal expressing bewilderment (that's about as polite a way as I can put it) that rational people could actually support Prop 8.

A debate is currently running merrily along, with a minimum of incivility and a number of interesting digressions that I shan't post here.

Before I write anything else, I'd like to start out this note by laying out a couple of ground rules for whatever response you decide to give me, if any.

First and foremost, please do not use any invective or ad hominum attacks in your responses. We can disagree; but, for goodness sakes, be civil! We’re not barbarians here, after all.

Secondly, I ask you to keep an open mind. If you sincerely believe that people cannot honestly - and with good will - hold an opposing viewpoint, you are either engaging in intellectual dishonesty (on this issue, at least), or demonstrating a lack of sympathy and imagination, or both. I understand why you voted No on Prop 8 and I see where you're coming from. But I disagree with your reasons. I do not believe that your intentions are bad or that you are idiots. Please extend a similar understanding to anyone who voted Yes on Prop 8.

Alrighty, then. On to the meat of this post!

Let me start off my making what may at first sound like a rather shocking assertion: *discrimination is either good or bad,* depending upon the circumstances in which it is employed. Allow me to ground that statement with an example: fruits and vegetables are better for you than fast food. That is discrimination. It is also, most would agree, a good discrimination. To say that something is discriminatory is not sufficient to establish that it is, of necessity, a bad discrimination. A discrimination is simply an act of judgment. In this light, it becomes apparent that we discriminate all the time - we have to, every day: is it better to study tonight or to go dancing? To bike or walk? It should also be apparent that we may discriminate rightly or wrongly.

There is a real biological difference between a man and a woman and there is a complementarity between the body of a man and the body of a woman. This is a fact. Sexual intercourse between a man and a woman typically – or potentially – generates a new human life. That is the purpose, by nature, of sex. This new human life is (ideally, at least) the result of a loving union of a mother and father. A new human life cannot naturally be generated without a man and a woman, sperm and egg. The state supports the definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman because of that unique relationship of man to woman to child and believes that relationship to be good for society.

These biological facts constitute the basis of my understanding of marriage. Marriage is not simply two people loving and vowing to be with each other. Marriage is the covenant a man makes with a woman by which complete unity and self-giving is achieved for the purposes of…making babies…and for lifelong friendship and partnership!

Note that here I do not expect you to agree with me that my definition of marriage is what marriage is. But I do expect you to agree that there is this peculiar natural relationship of man-woman-child, because that is incontrovertible – and the definition of marriage resulting from this relationship has always been the understanding of marriage, in Western culture (with the exception of polygamy).

For this reason, making a distinction between marriage and same-sex unions is not necessarily an act of aggression/oppression. It is recognition that same-sex partnerships simply do not share with marriage the same factual biological realities. Incidentally - if by marriage you mean a purely legal bond, then the state has the right to say what constitutes that legal bond is.

Yes, this is an act of discrimination. But it is not a discrimination that devalues the dignity of any human being: I'm not saying that people with a same-sex orientation are any less human than I am. I am, however, saying that same-sex partnerships and marriages are ontologically distinct things and hence should be called by two different names.

To many, this seems like a poor justification: what about the rights of the people? It has been pointed out to me that the proposition specifically says that it “eliminates the right…” I have been familiar with the text of the proposition for some time, and I take issue with the use of the term ‘right.’ There was a certain legal state of things, prior to the passage of Prop 8, that is no longer. But – bear with me – an assertion that rights are being removed does not mean that rights are being removed. Just as an assertion (and a legal definition!) in Nazi-Germany that Jews were untermenschen did not mean that the Jews were not fully human. In other words, I do not think that people in same-sex partnerships had the right to call a “partnership” a “marriage” to begin with, for the above-stated reasons.

But before I can go any further with that train of thought, it would be necessary for me to know what you think rights are and where they come from (I suspect we might have different definitions in this respect).

Finally, I should like to say that my goal here is not to convince you that I'm right and you're wrong. My purpose is to show you my reasons for voting Yes on Prop 8 - reasons which are not driven by a desire to unjustly or wrongly discriminate against people with a same-sex orientation. It is a judgment that the two types of relationships are not the same, and hence should not be called by the same term – especially since the term “marriage” is loaded with a number of connotations and social implications that should not be appropriated simply to accommodate an ideology.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Gar. AR! BAD!

This makes me incredibly upset.

Why, exactly, do these Bay Area Air Quality Management District people have the authority to tell me I can't have a fire in my own fireplace?

Gentlemen and ladies, I call upon you - on the Spare the Air days, when this ban is in effect, light up a cigarette (preferably 10 cigarettes), your bbq, anything licitly proscribed, to protest this ridiculous ban.

There's nothing wrong with Spare the Air days. There *is* something wrong with invading the home when no illegal or intrinsically harmful activities are being performed therein.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

One Mass forYou. And One Mass for Me. Step Away.

Bubbling away in my subconscious, I've been aware that dissatisfied noises are made about the disunity of the "Traditional" liturgical calendar and the "Novus Ordo" liturgical calendar. The former operates using a one-year cycle of readings, and celebrates saints that the ordinary form does not, for a various number of reasons. The latter uses a three-year cycle of readings, and so on. Controversy probably inevitably ensues. I never really thought much of it.

Recently, I've begun attending the extraordinary form of the Mass more, due to practical considerations: the time of the Mass (6pm) is very convenient for a working lady. The Mass becomes more and more fascinating the older I become and the deeper my understanding. The reality and immensity of the Sacrifice of the Cross is more and more vividly brought home. Hence, if I can get to daily Mass and if I'm not feeling particularly lazy/exhausted on a given day (which I do feel on many days), I'll go - and I go to the extraordinary form, for the reason mentioned above.

There is no animosity within me towards the extraordinary form of the Mass - or to its attendees, which would necessarily include myself. Speaking from an unstudied stance, I can only say that I find the disparity of the liturgical calendars to be deeply disturbing. I don't want to spend my time comparing calendars (today, incidentally, both the new and the old liturgical calendars are celebrating St. Teresa of Avila), or entering into one liturgical rhythm on one day only to fall into another on the next. That HURTS.

One of the four marks of the Church is its oneness, its unity. But the disunity of the liturgical calendars within the same rite seems to be contrary to the unity of the Church. I'm not saying every rite must share the same calendar - but just that it seems fitting that a rite should.

I feel sort of like how I imagine a (rational, self-conscious, yadda yadda) puppy would feel if you say "BAD DOG!" and then feed it a treat. Conflicting signals ain't good for my devotional life, yo!

Thoughts? Insights? Haaaalp!

Friday, September 19, 2008

You Go, Zip bing bang badda boom!

For the past several days, I've been meaning to give Zippy Catholic the thumbs up for his sensible position on voting. Namely, that given present circs (McCain supporting embryonic stem cell research and this not really being a lesser of two evils case), a sensible person can reach the conclusion that it does not seem like there is proportionate reason to vote for McCain.

Mark Shea beat me to the punch.

I don't want anyone to win who does not - or is not willing to - defend the lives of the people he's pledged to serve on the grounds that they are too small - and is willing to go a step further and directly support the use of tiny human being's broken and dead bodies for medical research.

Third Party! FTW!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

More Art

More of my art! This is drawn on the computer, with a tablet. I'm not really happy with it - mouth is too small and the neck is off - but meh! It gets me out of having to actually write something for my blog!

Orissa Burning

Thomas Peters has the story.

I strongly suggest that you ask Ss. Francis Xavier and Thomas the Apostle, patron saints of India, to intercede on behalf of all Christians there. These are our brothers and sisters in Christ who are being persecuted.

Monday, September 01, 2008

A Smidge O'Me'Art

While the shoulder is off on this, I very much like the expression captured and the lines of the forehead.

Open Minds Turned Towards the World

I've recently visited a Catholic group whose charism focuses on personal experiences, understanding why those experiences affect you, and what one can make of it. The purpose, it seems to me, is to draw our gaze from the experiences up towards the loving Father who permits us - sometimes for mysterious reasons - to experience them.

But - this causes some of the charism's followers to (I think) mistake emphasis on personal experience for a denial of the real value of abstract thought, of philosophical or theological enquiry. That is, I think, partly an allergic reaction to people claiming to be Catholic intellectuals who compartmentalize their beliefs in such a way as to rationalize opposing ones while ignoring the reality of the situation (that abortion is a grave sin, for example). And if you look around the world, you see many people engaged in rationalizing everything that our experience as Catholics tells us is wrong.

However, you have to have a criteria for judging your experiences - any experience from saying that chair is green to saying "daaaayyyyeeem - dat is a fine portrait you might say."

Criteria of judgment is not embedded in experience. In experiencing green, your eyes detect a certain wavelength, etc., etc. But to say that something is green, you are making a mental judgment (logically speaking, you're predicating the color green of some object) - and a judgment is a proposition that is either true or false. We can affirm a false proposition, we can deny a true one.

How do you know that your judgment is sound?

Over time we experience much many things. We may mistake a straight stick for a bent one under water the first time we see it - but we (hopefully) won't make the same mistake twice. We may mistake a turquoise for a green until we look at a color chart. Our personal experiences are exceedingly valuable because they help us to make sound and sounder judgments about the reality that we encounter. This is all, by the way, politely ignoring all that messy Cartesian distrust of the senses.

Notice, however, that we abstract from reality to get concepts of color and distortion - abstract thought is part and parcel of judging, it is fundamental, though it takes those experiences as its basis. So - abstract thought does not stand in opposition to the personal experiences we have. It accepts those experiences as its basis and builds on them. From many simple propositions we may form more complex ones - "Mary is the co-redemptrix," "Actuality precedes potentiality," "The Pope is Infallible," etc.

These propositions are not known or given by the experiences we have - these things are drawn out of our experience of Christ and the world around us - or the experience that others had with Christ and the world. If we deny that these propositions arrived at through careful and abstract thought hold any value for us, then we eliminate not only important truths of faith, but we also cast aspersions on those promoters of the faith who are named Doctors of the Church.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Philosophia Perennis - Athens, meet Jerusalem!

Moreover, if God, by Whom all things were made, is wisdom, as the divine authority and truth have shown, then the true philosopher is a lover of God. But the thing itself whose name this is does not reside in all who glory in that name; for it does not follow that those who are called philosophers are lovers of true wisdom.
(City of God, Book VIII. 1.)

This looks like a very promising website. Nota bene: I stole the link from Dr. Ransom.

Day-before-yesterday, I received my diploma from Berkeley in the mail. It said that I had a bachelors in philosophy, from Berkeley, with all the rights and privileges thereto. Not sure what those privileges are - am I allowed to dance on the tables of Howison library, while patting my head, rubbing my tummy, and whistling Dixie, now? - but there you have it.

Being a Catholic and a philosophy major was reason for much astonishment among classmates. "WAIT," said one - "You're a Catholic AND a philosopher?" Huh... I didn't know that was possible."

HoYes. I was breaking that glass ceiling with the 18 million cracks placed by Boethius, Aquinas, Duns Scotus, Pieper, Maritain, McInerny, MacIntyre, and all those others!

Vhat, however, is perennial philosophy? And Vhy should this interest Catholics?

If you are familiar with plants, you may recall that perennials are that class of plant that bloom during spring/summer, seem to die, then come back the next year during spring/summer.

Perennial philosophy is analogous to that - only instead of plants living and dying, you have questions of epistemology and ontology (broadly speaking) that persist through time/space and transcend a particular culture or religion.

Buuut. Us Catholics sometimes tend to view philosophy with a bit of suspicion, because a lot of funny business is seriously proposed by philosophers. I mean, Monads? Seriously? WTF(rillyLaceDresses)! So Tertullian, for example, said:
What indeed has Athens to do with Jerusalem? What concord is there between the Academy and the Church? What between the heretics and Christians? Our instruction comes from the Portico of Solomon (see Acts 3:11), who had himself taught that the Lord should be sought in simplicity of heart (see Wis 1:1). Away with all attempts to produce a mottled Christianity of Stoic, Platonic, and dialectic composition! We want no curious disputation after possessing Christ Jesus, no inquisition after enjoying the Gospel! With our faith, we desire no further belief.
(The Fathers of the Church, Aquilina 95)

Where's the love? Well, the philosopher is being mixed up with philosophy. In the early Church, some heresies were based on philosophical or logical distinctions or puns. It's very difficult to love something that you see as a tool that aids the destruction of faith by diluting, contradicting, or disparaging the gospel. Or, it's difficult to see the need for philosophy since Christ is the fullness of Truth. Besides, the Greek philosophers were pagans who believed in multiple gods. Why would you want to have anything them? That's a very short, incomplete answer (don't maim me, scholars, for it's incompleteness!). Let it suffice for now.

St. Justin Martyr responds:
Our doctrines, then, appear to be greater than all human teaching; because Christ, who appeared for our sakes, became the whole rational being, body, reason, and soul. For whatever lawgivers or philosopher said well, they elaborated by finding and contemplating some part of the Word. But since they did not know the whole of the Word, which is Christ, they often contradicted themselves. And those who by human birth were more ancient than Christ, when they attempted to consider and prove things by reason, were brought before the tribunals as impious persons and busybodies.
(The Fathers of the Church, Aquilina 81)

Notice what Justin Martyr is doing here - resonating with what Augustine said about wisdom, Justin Martyr points out that Christ became a rational being. It is in light of our rationality that we are men. Christ became a fully rational human being. Rationality, then, cannot be contrary to faith. For God does not first give us the character of rationality and the inclination to grasp after knowledge while asking us to have faith in something that contradicts or is unintelligible (in principle) to that reason. Hence, it is natural for us to freely exercise this rationality in the pursuit of wisdom, which turns out to be the pursuit of God. All roads lead to Rome.

So, if you're not in philosophy for the celebrity lifestyle, shaggy hair, and existential crises every few weeks, then you are involved in the pursuit of something greater than yourself - wisdom, truth. This pursuit does not focus on things apart from the Word, but things that are a part of the Word.

I suppose I should add one more "if," and that "if" is the "if" of hope. Pope John Paul II points out in Fides et Ratio that:

It has happened...that reason, rather than voicing human orientation towards truth, has wilted under the weight of so much knowledge and little by little has lost its capacity to lift its gaze to the heights, not daring to rise to the truth of being.

Philosophy is in trouble - we are experiencing a surfeit of factual knowledge about the world, but don't know what to make of it. We've lost hope that there is something above and beyond those facts, something that is the source of them and the answer to all questions.

So rock on, Philosophia Perennis! Make that reason rise.

On another note, there was a sound outside that sounded like something wood was being rolled around on squeaky wheels. My little sister woke up, giggled to herself, and proclaimed "It is the giant bunny!" Monty Python, what have you done!?

Friday, August 22, 2008


The University of San Diego (a Catholic university) is standing up for the Church's teachings. It withdrew the appointment Rosemary Radford Ruether to an endowed chair because she is pro-choice, pro gay-marriage, and pro-women's ordination.

Now Catholic bloggers want YOU.

Yes, YOU.

To sign this petition supporting USD's decision:

Just remember what Dante Alighieri said -
If the present world go astray, the cause is in you, in you it is to be sought.

So...signed it, yet?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I Bought A VHS Today For The Blurb On Its Jacket


Seeking the legendary elixir of life, Bothius, the high sorcerer of a remote medieval Spanish kingdom, summons into being what he believes to be a heavenly angel, an angel perceived by others to be a ferocious dragon intent on devouring the countryside! It is in fact an alien spaceship.

The King's daughter Alba falls in love with a mysterious and charming alien who reveals a world of beauty beyond her imagination. The King's best warrior Klevar also desires the hand of the King's daughter and makes a desperate attempt to confront the alien man-to-man and to kill the dragon.

This superb recreation of the clash between Medieval superstition and alien technology is enhanced by powerful special effects which draw you into a world of magic, fire-breathing dragons, maidens in distress, and an unforgettable encounter with THE STAR KNIGHT. (Emphasis mine.)

C'mon, sounds brilliant, yes? And I like the names.. Bothius...hmm..hmm.. And "Klevar"? Ooo. How medieval. I bet KEVLAR was named after that!

Either that or these superstitious Spaniards were Norwegian!


I can't recall if I've linked this before, but this has always made the greatest of sense to me.

Where is my Fanclub?

This morning, while waking up to my alarm clock, I was still in a semi-dream state and to me the task of waking up seemed hugely, gigantically, monumental (more so than just normally getting up). It was like climbing Mt. Everest or eating a 10lb burger in less than five minutes! So upon actually sitting up in bed, I thrust both my arms into the air like a winner.

But no cheers greeted me.

Then I realized I was awake and that no one was cheering me.

And I was sad.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Eees Pretty.

Tropic Thunder

I went, I saw, I watched.

Impressions: a funny, crass movie in which Ben Stiller does what Ben Stiller does (and does really really ridiculously well) - plays a character with a glamorous life who is (ever so slightly) out of touch with reality and with who and what he is, really.

Annnd there's not much more to say about it.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Don't Get Me Wrong.

Do not misunderstand me - people who love the extraordinary form are a-ok in my book. I do not have any quibbles with the sensible attendee of the extraordinary rite Mass. On the contrary, I do appreciate the charms of the extraordinary form of the Mass. It's beautiful, it's reverent, and I like lace.

But I've been burned, over the internet, and once or twice in person - by some attendees of the extraordinary rite. See, being called a "Kool-aid" or "Second-rate" Catholic because you love the ordinary form of the Mass just doesn't tend to sit well. It has something to do with charity.

All my writings gesture towards that contingent of radical traditionalists who tend to sympathize with schismatics - or are schismatic - and have trouble accepting the living magisterium of the Church or think that Pope Benedict XVI isn't doing a good job because - gosh darnit - there are still priests who abuse the liturgy. People who think attending the ordinary form somehow taints everything you say or do.

Listen - I live in the Bay Area. I know BAD. A church that I once attended "celebrated" (and I quote) reformation day. Yes, it distresses me. No, I don't think it's because of the liturgy.

F'rinstance. World War I and II - Europe, right? Lotsa Catholics, and some Catholic leaders, right? Extraordinary form, right? Why did millions of our young men die in a stupid, pointless war? Why has there been corruption and death for hundreds of years between 1570 and today? It's because people are people - fallen, sinful.

What Women Wear

Lately, I have been mulling over the manner of dress of Christians (don't look now, but that's totally a stolen chapter title from Book 18 of Augustine's City of God - which you, being proper Catholics, have a dog-eared copy of). What women should wear is often a source of great contention, and this is a bit puzzling until you realize that the highly-charged emotional screaming matches are about what is highly visible and a major concern - clothes. (Incidentally - the clothes make the man, women (sometimes) make clothes ---> women (sometimes) make the man?)

What do we learn, almost from the moment we first begin to toddle around and enchant impressionable grownups, from the fairy-tale of Cinderella?

Clothes matter.

Clothes matter a lot.

Jane Austen poked a bit of fun, in her novel "Northanger Abbey," at the young women who noted others' dresses so much that they might as well have a notebook handy so as to record an evening's worth of gowns (such is my remembrance).

Louisa May Alcott had a female character in one of her more odiously sanctimonious novels exult that her rival's pink dress was utterly demolished because there was only a green couch to sit on, creating an unsightly clash of color.

People have been paying attention to what other women wear for a very long time.

There is, however, the temptation to behave badly towards fellow human beings when it comes to clothes because we can elevate ourselves above our rivals - or at least, above those people we don't like very much.

Of course, clothes can be a handy thing to form judgments on - it's probably not prudent to approach a person in strange costume who is mumbling to himself.

But, when you bring in modesty, well... you should duck for cover because there will be fireworks in the discussion that night.

This has, I think, somewhat to do with the whole Traddie/Novus(ie) snafu, because where you find debates about modesty, you often find either the pants/skirt debate or fashion/modesty or you often find in comment boxes something akin to: "Well, thank GOODNESS I go to the Latin Mass where people don't expose their shoulders or arms or wear less than ankle-length skirts!"

These are good things to talk about. However, there is also then the added temptation to adapt modesty to fit an agenda if you're facing up someone who believes one Mass is highly superior and the other is highly inferior to someone who rather likes the Mass considered inferior and exposed arms. Because, if the Mass is superior then, maybe, so are its attendees - or at least their judgment, since their judgment has obviously caused them to prefer what is superior.

The question, in some instances then, morphs from "what is modest," to "what is modest according to this bunch of Mass goers"? The ankle length skirt becomes a badge of affiliation, rather than a modest skirt. The attendee of the "inferior Mass" is then, in some sense, a rival with their arms akimbo and bare.

But because of our unity in Christ, we are not rivals.

That's all I have to say for now. Draw your conclusions, take it as a cautionary tale, and remember - keeeeep your shoiit on!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bay Area Humanae Vitae Conference, August 9th 2008

The Humanae Vitae Conference last week was wonderful! 400+ people attended the Mass, 370+ people attended the conference, and most people came away absolutely enchanted. A number of people even asked me what the next conference was going to be on - whee!

Oh and I got to sit at a table with Ralph McInerny, at a banquet, the night before the conference. Muahaha!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Physic my Sensibilities and make them Super

I'm reading a book on metaphysics for the first time in my life and find the subject to be indescribably beautiful, cogent, and whole. Philosophy departments should mandate the teaching of metaphysics. I certainly feel cheated of something ordered and good. Why, Berkeley? Why!?

An Aryan Nation of Different Kind

This seems particularly reprehensible. It's fine to want a trim belly, it's fine to be fit -- but to mandate that employees maintain a certain girth until the age of 74 or else employers face fines?

Arg! So many things are wrong with this approach! The neglect of the soul which - if properly ordered - would not indulge in gluttony, clinical sterility encountering living being, government intrusion of personal privacy. . .

That government is on my "Poo-list."


Plato would not approve.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Xena, Princess Warrior

I might not be able to walk a mile in her shoes, but - with a little money - I could easily walk in her two-piece armor.

... Why Xena and vintage clothing? ...

Monday, May 05, 2008

Time. Is Marching On. And Time. Is Still Marching Ooooon.

'allo, 'allo, 'allo, people.

I know - it's been *ages* since my last blog post, and you have been faithfully keeping the blog tryst each day.

Now, can't say I've been particularly busy, what with my upcoming graduation, finals, and working 24+ hours a week. So there's no excuse, really.

And if I tried I pleading chronic indigestion, you might suggest some wholesome, foul-tasting, tonic! I never have indigestion, anyways.

What can I say?

Many things. But instead, I shall write a paper on Nietzsche. I wish I had some melancholy piano music playing in the background - Nietzsche is so depressing. He talks of the affirmation of life, but without the afterlife, it's only an affirmation of death. In some respects, Nietzsche reminds me of Graham Greene and Shusaku Endo - there is a haunting despair that gives his writing form.

Friday, April 25, 2008


I was reminded, on hearing the name of L.M. Alcott, of one of the most traumatic moments of my childhood. That is - reading the conclusion of the lives of those in Little Women: Jo does not marry Laurie. Amy marries Laurie. It took me years to forgive Amy. The brat.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I am a Catholic Ninja

On entering the art-classroom, I found that on the whiteboard someone had drawn a picture of the pope, including a yelling speech bubble emerging from his mouth that queried "Where are the metal clipboards!?!?!"

Where, indeed?

Pope Benedict XVI was garbed in a knee-length robe, with a wide, lacy collar - his skinny legs emerging and ending in appropriately shiny red shoes (and now, whenever I see his fashionable red-shoes, I shall think of the Wizard of Oz). Atop his head was the Mitre that singled him out at pope.

It all seemed just a bit inappropriate, however, and liable to garner ridicule. So I casually sauntered up the whiteboard and...erased the mitre, while the teacher was speaking in another part of the room!

The resulting image did not look like the pope.

-Mission accomplished-

*Cue Mission Impossible Theme Music*

Dun dun de duuun duuun.

(Can life get more exciting than that? I don't think so!)

Thus I refute.

The director of RoboCop writes a book "refuting" the Virgin Birth. It makes the headlines on CNN! What does his book rely on? Realism!

What prompted this "realistic" look is no doubt the author's consideration of how babies are made and what it takes to make 'em - the biological approach.

Which overlooks the divine: if you make the claim that God is all-powerful, creator of galaxies, the universe, heaven and earth, angels, the porpoise and the fruit bats, of man (good ol' lovely men!) - fashioned in His own image and likeness, then...well... the author's saying "but let's be *realistic* about how babies come to be" is missing the point by just a teeeny tiiiiny gigaaaantic bit.

Ave Maria! Ave! Ave! Ave!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Recent Artwork

^^ Contrast was applied because the glare from the flash kinda dulled the image. It wasn't this dark, before. The charcoal from another drawing left it's imprint on the background, too, which is the weird shadow you see. You can click for a bigger image.

Apparently, my image was too nude for imageshack - it's back, using blogger's native image thingummy.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Logic 101

How can you deny that the Holy Spirit was guiding the council of VII?


Either God was guiding the Church or He wasn't.

If He wasn't, then He was a liar because He promised to be with the Church.

But God does not lie.

Therefore, God was with the Church.

Aye, you say - but it's not that simple. And would you just *look* at the fruits of the council! *Clown* Masses! Decreased vocations! etc.

Well, to put it simply: your word about the council over Christ's? Not gonna convince me nohow.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Friday, March 28, 2008

In Which I Post Un Picture

Mantilla!After talking at rad-trads, do you ever get the sense that they think virtue consists in a mantilla?

... heeeh.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Wrong. No Cookie for You.

Ok kids...

Non-rational animals cannot have marital fidelity because they can't have marriage.

Further, non-rational animals cannot have either fidelity or loyalty as humans do, except in an analogous sense.

Whyyynot? Because non-rational beings are not capable of developing habits of virtue.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Sin: It's not a BUG, it's a FEATURE.

The other day, in section, one of my classmates was explaining the Christian conception of how-people-get-to-heaven-or-hell. Basically: people go to hell because God puts them in Hell, and in Heaven 'cause God puts you in heaven - and simultaneously, heaven is the carrot, hell is the deterrent. That IS the Christian view, he claimed, and the traditional one. How barbaric. You'd think that in this so-called enlightened age, at the college that begins with "B" and ends in "erkeley," people would have more sense than to expostulate on a religion when they don't even know its basic beliefs.

Yah, there is heaven and hell. Yah, there is eternal reward and punishment. NAH, you're not put there because God simply decided you go there and we don't want to go to heaven simply to avoid hell.

Up went my hand and the GSI (Graduate Student Instructor) called on me. At which point, I stuttered out that that was certainly NOT the traditional belief of Christianity - God doesn't simply put people here or there on an arbitrary whim. I alluded to Dante's Inferno as a historical point, to backup my claim, and said that people went to hell because they choose to commit sins like anger or lust and that if we look at the Inferno, the people were there because it was their choice to be there. (Implying --> God does not choose for you --> free will --> your choice --> God doesn't just drop you into hell because He felt like it.)

Not exactly the most erudite response, and d'oh-ingly left out the why-one-wants-to-go-to-heaven (beatific vision, wot wot!), but something weird happened. When I uttered the words "sin, anger, lust," the entire room fell into one of those sudden, deep, intense, listening silences that one gets into either because one is so very struck by what someone has said, or because someone has just said something very very stupid and the entire room realizes this and you're sort of leaning out of your seat to see what they'll say next.

I think that in this instance, the former case is applicable, and this is why: naming sin is a powerful thing. See, when you leave the fuzzed out terms "bad things you've done," or "unkind acts," or even "pre-marital sex," and replace those words with "Sin. Anger. Lust." it suddenly hits you that these are brutal, wicked things. But most people are unwilling to encounter these words because they are unsettling - we want to hide the evil away in comfortable terms "normal human behavior," and not think of it at all. That is terribly sad. If you don't acknowledge sin, you cannot repent of it.

But in this situation, my classmate's guards were down. It is easy for people in the Bay Area to laugh off those mid-westerners who preach hell and brimfire and then are caught in some indelicate act. It is not so easy for youths (in particular) to laugh off a philosophy student at UC Berkeley who is not attempting to convert (well, not in the sense that they're familiar with) you but simply to counter a false assertion -- without *any* reflection on you as a human being. I did not say they committed acts of lust, I only said that according to traditional Christian beliefs if you cling to your sins - such as lust - you go to hell. That's pretty terrifying. Might make you wonder if what you're doing counts as sin.

Anyways, in this way, what I said slipped by without giving offense to anyone. The thought of sin as sin and its consequences was entertained, for at least a moment.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Re: ducks

St. Flora of Cordoba

Latest attempt. The back isn't quite right, and the hand is...less said the better. But why, you ask, this particular saint? She is one of the *few* saints who was a Muslim convert! I figger we should be asking for her intercession. My old attempt is here.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

I hope you won't think it crass

I'm currently taking a figure-drawing course. My teacher likes me because I helped set up the tables once and always follow directions.

Yesterday, while doodling in my class on Nietzsche (the teacher was saying something about the will to power, except not WILL will, because Nietzsche didn't believe in FREE WILL but thought it was a charming idea that we couldn't escape from, blah blah blah), I was drawing the figure of a woman turning around. It was giving me trouble until I had a striking realization: the butt goes there. That was the first time I was able to draw a figure from a view of the back, without having a model present. It was a magical moment. No buts about it!

Ask me no questions | I'll answer them.

To all those people who ask "Why doesn't Pope Benedict get rid of all those mediocre priests and clean up the Church, RIGHT NOW!?!?!?!"

I have an answer.

Wait for it.

Wait for it.


Because that would be stupid.

Why? Because it's a ham-handed approach not sensitive to the subtle nuances of the situation. Un-thought-out. Poor show, poor show!

What are you going to do about the priests who don't teach heresy but are a little unsound or perhaps kinda sentimental and full of fluffy thoughts? Sack 'em? Mrmm... Does canon law allow for that...? Would it be just? Where are you going to find a couple/few hundred thousand orthodox priests to replace the priests you want sacked? Who will confect the Eucharist, hear confessions, or do confirmations in their absence? (What? You don't WANT people to receive the Eucharist!?!)... What about the mass numbers of people who are attached to the priests being sacked? Would more souls be lost if they were sacked or weren't?

Anyways. Comfort yourself with this.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Unformable Mind

Some people stay up late at night worrying about their sins.

I stayed up a bit and worried about this hypothetical situation concerning repentance:
Suppose there was a good Catholic man who was raised in the Church, knew its teachings inside and out, etc. One day, he gets into a horrific car-accident that he survives, but which leaves him incapable of forming new memories. One day, he commits a mortal sin that he does not immediately repent of. For reasons outside his control, he is unable to let himself know what he did on the prior day (say that on his way home he's mugged, knocked unconscious, and is out for the rest of the day, soon after the sin is committed). But he *would have* repented had he remembered what he had done and had repented of similar sins in the past.

Assuming no one involved in such a sin (if any one was) ever told him that he'd done it, what happens? It doesn't seem to sit well that God's grace could not penetrate to this fellow. Is it sufficient to confess past sins with the intention to confess ALL sins? Does he need to feel contrition for THAT sin, or for his sins in general? Hm.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Fun-Filled 10 Minutes

My walk down two blocks of Telegraph Avenue and then through the Berkeley Campus was significantly eventful this afternoon. Much happened in just 10 minutes!

First, I passed by the ex-hippie who had some bottle-glasses on, a white curly beard, selling fabric patches with a sign up above them that read 'wiretap this.' He was singing to the song on the radio which had a rock beat and whose lyrics were "I can act like a woman if I want to."

Second, the homeless man, as I passed by, starting asking for money but switched to "Heeeeeeellllllllllloooooooooooooooo Dolly!" I wasn't sure what the proper etiquette was for thanking him, so I ducked by.

Third, a group of African-American men were trying to sell some records, and one of them, who was well-muscled and had removed his shirt," complained "MAN. I can't sell these things even if I show some skin!" No. No, you can't.

Fourth, a homeless man gave me a hug because I gave him two dollars. I initially only gave him one, but he jabbed his finger at my purse and said that I had tons of money, could I give him a loan which - on his honor - he would pay back? Somehow persuaded, I gave him another dollar.

Fifth (not on Telegraph Avenue), about three students were protesting some action of the UC Regents. They'd set up a huge banner in a tree and were holding smoke bombs.


Friday, February 22, 2008


This morning, after I'd reset my alarum clock to allow me to sleep in some minutes, I had a nightmare. Recently, because my schedule permits, I've begun attending Mass more than once a week at a local parish. Every Sunday I go to a beautiful ordinary form of the Mass in Latin, so to go to a weekday Mass said in English and with a number of liturgical abuses, is a bit shocking. Sort of like going from Trader Joe's lightly salted organic chips to Ruffles (I know - the Eucharist is the Eucharist - why else would I go?). It must have made more of an impression than I'd realized.

In my nightmare, the priest had left the sanctuary and was wandering up and down the aisles delivering his hippy-dippy homily. Shadowy faces were in the pews about me, grinning in a vapid and garish manner. During the offertory, a woman with wavy dark hair smiled, stepped up to a podium and sang a pop-song. The priest who STILL wasn't in the sanctuary went up to her, patted her on the back, shook her hand, thanked her, turned to the laity and told us to give her a round of applause while she smiled in a suitably bashful manner. Then the priest began the sprinkling rite, and another pop song began - with tambourines. With tambourines! And the priest causally wandered into the aisles AGAIN, with a bucket of holy water. In my dream, as the shadowy faces about me started to chatter happily with each other, my mind was shouting "ASPERGES ME!!! ASPERGES MEEEEEEEEEEE!" but my mouth wouldn't open. Then my alarum clock went off.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Nothing healthy here.

While I was waiting in line at the grocery store, my attention wandered to the front of the line where a moderately buxom young lady was having a conversation with the African American clerk who was ringing up the goods. The young lady was very keen on getting across the notion that she was from the deep south, and after receiving some sympathetic remarks ("I knew that accent was from somewheres!") from the clerk, the young lady remarked pathetically "yes, and it is so hard for me to eat healthy out here."


No more fried chicken for you!