Category Archives: Catholicism

New Acquisitions

Someone please stop me!!

First pick-up was:

I love C.S. Lewis’s work in general and his theological work in particular (although do I prefer Chesterton over Lewis? hmmm). And how can I pass up a book that contains an essay titled “Fern Seeds and Elephants.”

Second Pic was:

This is from 1954 and is pre-Vatican Two. It has some lovely (and some rather homely) art in it and a wealth of information on many things Catholic: stations of the cross, extreme unction, baptism, the thingamabobs that make up a priests “uniform”, etc, etc.

In the Missal (a thing I still find hard to penetrate conceptually) they give you the years 1954 thru 1972 instead of using a generic system by which you identity which of the possible fourteen calendars you are in for any possible year, say 2017? Can you imagine someone throwing this set out and getting a new one in 1973 because they ran out of years?

Ah, and the smell of the set. That old book smell. I don’t know what it is. Do books that come out now end up with that smell? Is it the ink? This is a closed box set so the aging of the pages and ink and binding is somewhat preserved in a hermetical atmosphere and the tones are that much more sweet. You can’t get that out of a digital book. And they will always be at a loss for it.

But it proves a nice thing to begin the day looking them over.

But as it is I am four weeks into N.T. Wright’s The Resurrection of the Son of God and I am only on page 67. My reading slows to an absolute crawl during allergy season and my waking hours are usually less than sleeping hours.

Of course a crawl is about 200 pages a week, but it has been all fiction as I can’t attain the level of focus required for Wright’s subject at this time. I hope the Cottonwood clears up by next week.

Interestingly, my wife has just recently started to suffer from seasonal allergies and she is hating it. “This is what you have been living under all these years?! I feel as if I’m having a stroke!”

Yeah, love, it sucks big time.


This Catechism is Tough!

A few months ago I restarted my online catechism class after a two year break for school.

These Catholics are real ballbusters! One subject, out of seventy-nine subjects (I think it was the Transfiguration lesson) had seventy-four pages of online reading material. This consisted of sermons from Church fathers such as St. Augustine, sometimes a modern homily around the subject, biblical passages, material from the Catechism of the Catholic Church and its Compendium, The Baltimore Catechism (which I think had to have been for children). And then, usually to top it off, questions from Aquinas’ Summa. And that last ain’t easy reading. And then, for at least the Gospels and Life of Christ module, two chapter’s from Bishop Fulton Sheen’s The Life of Christ.

This last is usually a pleasure for the man wrote as he spoke, which is to say, superbly.

But, moly, you’d be almost an expert after all of this, no? How is any Catholic ignorant after going through all of this?


“The Matrix” (Part 1 of 2) Commentary by Fr. Robert Barron | Word On Fire

Source: “The Matrix” (Part 1 of 2) Commentary by Fr. Robert Barron | Word On Fire

I became a fan of now Bishop Robert Barron several years ago after stumbling upon his commentary on the Matrix and Bob Dylan’s All Along the Watchtower on YouTube. Hell, I even became a Dylan fan. That’s saying a lot because Dylan’s music is not in my usual sphere.

Before that I assumed priests to be quite removed from anything so earthly. Actually I didn’t know anything at all about priests outside of scenes from The Exorcist and The Amityville Horror. This clip is part one of two parts on the Matrix. If you want to see part two or any of his other stuff, he is not hard to find on youtube.

Happy Viewing!


THE MAN WITH THE SPECKLED EYES

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As usual I am reviewing the introduction and, maybe, later reviewing some of the stories, or the book as a whole.

But probably not. I never do seem to get back to it.

And I usually see no reason to when I get into the book. It is a collection of Lafferty stories, nearly all I will enjoy immensely, and a few I will understand.

So far the only failing of this series (for me anyway) is in the choices for who writes the introduction. So far it is following the opposite of the Star Trek movie rule. The first and third introductions were good, the second and fourth were told by two men who mostly talked of themselves.

However Harlan Ellison had the advantage of having some relation to the man. And took a paragraph or two to relate something about Lafferty from his experience and not himself.

Richard A Lupoff spends most of his introduction talking incoherently about Lafferty being a practitioner of Orwell’s doublethink. And questioning how someone as smart and educated as Lafferty could believe in something as profoundly stupid as Catholicism. It should be noted that Lupoff has no real knowledge of Catholicism.

At the beginning of the introduction Lupoff confesses he only had a passing acquaintance with Lafferty – handshakes and a ‘how do you do?’ at conventions. At the end he goes into this bucket list fantasy about his friend Lafferty and Jack Vance.

I rarely, if ever, read introductions. No one buys a book for the introductions. But I read the Lafferty introductions because Lafferty is my favorite writer and I would like to read of the man. I hope, in future volumes of this series, they will get some writers (or editors or publishers) who had some interaction with the man – something real to relate.

And, perhaps, one who did not wonder how “someone so smart could believe in something so stupid.”

 


Wizard’s Resources

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I was listing (eh hem, bragging) to someone today of my numerous resources. And I had forgotten this little gem sitting on one of my bookshelves.

It is a beautifully illustrated book covering many mystical and visceral creatures of meadows, forest sand dark corners. It is divided into two sections: part one is elves and part two is goblins and other little creatures.

Many a creature one will meet in these pages, some familiar, some obscure. Most of us have heard of Puck, the Drac, sylphs or the will-o’-the-wisps. But there be others not so known, the Asrai, Patupaiarehe

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You get dwarves, goblins, elves, sprites, creatures of the ponds and lakes and the rivers, of the meadows and the garden, the sea and the coast, of the mountains, heaths and hills, and of the shadows and many others besides. And they are from all over the globe and from every culture.

Funny thing to observe. It is observed that religion is ubiquitous to man in all times and all places. And so are these class of creatures. A modernist would shrug off such an observation as man is an idiot in all times and all places. And while I do not discredit wholly that assertion, I do not agree that religion and faerie are the result of idiocy.

I am quite willing to go on record and claim the exact opposite. I am even prepared to go on record and say both are to the glory of man.

But this wasn’t to be about a single book. I wish there was an equivalent book on monsters.

I had laid out (the bragging I had referenced at the beginning) to this person my general reference material: Sisson’s Synonyms (that’s a new acquisition though) complete OED, Fowler’s Dictionary of Modern Usage, and some picture dictionaries that I find indispensable.

But I then dove into my digital reference material which is mainly religious (Catholic really) in nature. It is pretty impressive. And I am leaving out my complete collection of Ante-Nicene, Nicene, and Post-Nicene Fathers collections, my complete Summa Theologica and other related things.

Why am I writing about it though? Because it was shortly, pretty damn shortly too, after acquiring all this that I went into school and haven’t had much occasion to even glance at it until now.

  • Vatican II documents
  • Saints and Feasts of the Liturgical Year
  • The Roman Missal, The Roman Martyrology
  • The Book of Saints, The Book of the Popes
  • Catholic Pocket Dictionary and Cyclopedia, Collins Thesaurus of the Bible
  • Dictionary of Latin Forms
  • Dictionary of the Vulgate New Testament
  • Great Quotations
  • An Introduction to Ecclesiastical Latin
  • Manual of the Councils of the Holy Catholic Church

I left out I don’t know how many pictorial/maps to the ancient biblical world books. Aramaic, Greek and other such dictionaries and bibles. Several books on the Council of Trent, Vat I, etc, etc.

All that and more, plus I still have in my possession the entire Durant history series.

I am going to be playing for a long time now!


How Long? Where are We Going? And When is it Coming?

Jesus Preaching the Sermon on the Mount Gustave Dore

Jesus Preaching the Sermon on the Mount
Gustave Dore

I am on the Beatitudes in my online catechism class now. I am not sure how long I should spend on such a thing. I could spend a day and answer the questions at the end correctly. I could probably answer the questions correctly without needing to read (or reread as I have read the beatitudes and some commentary on them before) the material. But these are things that men have studied and wrote about and applied to life’s various realities for centuries. When is it enough?

Of course just because you cover a subject once does not mean you cannot cover it again. I didn’t really mind finishing up Christ’s baptism in a day or so. A few points are covered in that event, but it is not essential. The beatitudes are quite important and I am not sure what I gain by a day’s study although it has already been more than that.

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I’m on Tales of Chicago of Lafferty’s Argo tale SPOILERS!!! – But not too badly now. I know the general theme, or at least one of them, of the whole tale as it was in the first book. But as far as narrative flow goes, this is a tough Lafferty read. Meaning I am not sure if all the events are going to be linked and sewn together in the end. We get a little taste of each of the characters and their lives after WWII and the second book follows the other life of a John Solli – Finnigan. He is the focus at the end of the first two books, but those endings are open-ended, they are not concluded, but pick up at a different point of a different life.

The third book, Tales of Chicago, that I am now on, so far hasn’t visited Finnigan at all, and I am not even sure if we will see him again. We have to see him again don’t we?

SPOILER!!! For those that may be reading and have travelled this tale (that would be very small window of people) I believe at least one of the themes is expressed by Mr. X to Abselom Stein at the end of Archipelago. I could be wrong, but the statements he make seem significant enough to be thematic.

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I also hope to be posting some writing here in the very near future. Huzzah!


It is Time

Gather around, brothers, sisters. The campfire is grown now and mature, she will burn through the middle of her life for a time and keep us warm. It is time to get back to it.

To writing.

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The last time I wrote was January 21st 2015. And then I had that catastrophic idea of going into medical coding.

Still haven’t found work in that area. They do not like newcomers in that field. I might never. But, and pardon my French – fuck it – I gotta write. Over two years with not even the time to think about wanting to write. Nothing.

I fear, like a person who finds an ominous lump in the wrong place on their body (but mine would be the anti-lump, a hole, a void where flesh should be) that I may have lost what I had. Like the last two years twisted me as though through some twisted form of baptism, from poet (at least in heart, I can be quite hideous in my use of language) to logician.

But there is nothing for but to dive – not step! DIVE! with thy whole body! – back into that river and lose self to its churning flow. And to see whether I still have the scales to survive or to be torn apart by my rigidity.

It is really too bad that I had to decide such a course at the time that I did.I had just started to produce sentences, and even paragraphs, son, that I felt good about. The lack of a desire for a match tells me the prose is good. Good, at least, enough for me.

I’m still going to go the typewriter route for the first draft stuff. I did a self-taught touch typing course last month and got myself up to 49 words a minute. I imagine I can attain 60 when I am actually looking at the paper! I just can’t do it on the computer. The thing is a distraction machine.

Hold it, is that the color I want to use? Let’s Google a red color palette so we can peg the exact hue we want! Yes! Right now! I couldn’t possibly write another line without this knowledge!

Two hours later I’m checking out yurts in northern Arizona.

However such meanderings have their place in dreamland where you wander wherever ye may. And so I do not have a problem with throwing together ideas and rough outlines on the computer. In fact, with this program:

scrivener

it is optimum.

I had, before the school debacle, thought of pursuing a degree in theology. It is my humble opinion that there are more answers about man and the world to be found in theology than in modern “wisdom” or even in science. Note, that is a very limited statement referring to ultimate ends and aims and morality. Obviously theology will not inform you on how the eye works, nor on its physiology, that belongs to science. But theology will answer many of the very crucial questions that science can say nothing about.

That would be a discussion unto itself, I merely state my motivating factor and go about my way. But I had been thinking about an AA in Catholic Studies from Catholic Distance University. Two years later and I’m thinking about my approach to my 50’s. Damn me, I’m thinking cash value nowadays.

I have many things to repent.

There is a backlog of projects stored in Scrivener I haven’t looked at in over two years. That, my friends, if you don’t already know, is like going into an old family chest, the contents of which you only vaguely remember and you are not the same person you were when you first engaged these objects. Or maybe the photo album analogy is better?

If any of you play a music instrument then you know the feeling. Sometimes I get to play my guitar a couple times a week and I can get rather stale. But stay away from it for a few weeks and suddenly I’m riffing and chording from a whole new perspective.

Anyway, I am looking forward to opening the chest and looking forward to going back to Elfland, to my imagination. Lot’s of friends there.


The Summa, Archipelago, The Devil is Dead

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I am trying to get further into my catechism class, although January has been a bitch to get things started. One of the problems is the lengthy portions of the Thomas’ Summa you have to go through.

It is not that the sections of the Summa are necessarily difficult (although you do have to keep aware of the structure of his arguments, if you let your focus lapse you’ll get lost), but most of the points raised would never have occured to me. For instance I am on the baptism of Christ and John the Baptist. In the related Summa reading material there are questions (articles) that are stated thusly: Should He have been baptized with the baptism of John? Was that dove a real animal? Whether those who had been baptized with John’s baptism had to be baptized with the baptism of Christ? Was it right for him to be baptized when he was (at 30 instead of as a baby)? Etc, etc.

Now, I suppose that by the 13th century these questions had not only all been brought up a number of times, but were probably argued over a great deal. But, to be truthful, I have read the Gospels, and most of these questions never occured to me. Of course I can’t expect myself to ask the questions accumulated by over a millennia of men. I am just not creative enough to have thought to ask: Was that dove a real animal?

It is not a bad question. Is the wafer really the body of Christ? Is it really, or is it only symbolically and is really only a wafer?

In order to not simply fall asleep, I have to, before I tackle his argument, recognize some significance to the question being raised. Sometimes the objections will provide it, sometimes the replies. But sometimes I have to sit there and ask: what difference does it make?

Also, they sometimes have you read sections from the Baltimore Catechism which is literalist in a lot of places. For instance:

Q. 345. How many years passed from the time Adam sinned till the time the Redeemer came?

A. About 4,000 years passed from the time Adam sinned till the time the Redeemer came.

Eh, are we sure about that one? I would rather have a larger number range. How about sometime between 4,000 and 50,000? Do we really want to say specifically when man was first man? Man to be the first man in the Bible? Man to be responsible for sin before the sight of God? If we are going to take some parts of Genesis as non-literal, then I also think it wise to make all time measurements in the loosest possible sense.

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So, I finished Archipelago last week. What can I say? It’s Lafferty! It is hard to say anything definitive about the story although the thesis of it is contained in a letter from Mr. X to Absalom Stein:

“There is Pride in all of us, Absalom, and it must be broken. We all come to the passions and are shaken by it; Finnegan who goes to his many deaths; Casey who was dead and lives again; Hans and Henry who were born to balanced power and will both be broken to gibbering weakness before they die; Duffy who must find Him who is more than Melchisedech; Vincent who made peace with the world and will find that the world will not keep it; Dotty herself, and the Urchin, and Margaret the bonfire.”

Archipelago ends in a shoot out and Finnegan and Dotty (was it Dotty?) laying shot on the ground but their fates undecided. The Devil is Dead, presumably, picks up at an earlier time in Finnegan’s journeys. Although this is Lafferty, we cannot be sure if his journey in The Devil is Dead is before he was shot, after, concurrent, or even post-mortem.

The easiest character line to follow in the series (such a word to use for these works) is Finnegan. Finnegan, says Mr. X goes to his many deaths, and that we all come to the passions and are shaken by it. Finnegan is a vagabond drunk. His line is easy to see… for the moment. The others are harder to see. But they may get their time to line their paths plainly in the sand for us to see.

The Devil is Dead, so far, is a much more straight ahead piece of work; whereas Archipelago is very much like its name if you consider each character an island. After the surprise ending of Archipelago, we find Finnegan in a black-out state entangled with a group of people and a situation he has to figure out. He soon ends up on a voyage on the sea with the Devil himself. So far the story is mainly in the horror vein.


The Scar and the Next Read

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To those who are new here, I have a policy when doing a book review. I talk about my impressions from the book, but I do not mention any details. My reviews (if they can even be called such) are 100% spoiler free because I talk in generalities.

The Scar was great. Mieville is an excellent writer. The Scar: think Melville meets Lovecraft meets a dash of RR Martin’s Fevre Dream. Mieville has one of the most polished styles I’ve read in a while. I’ve heard people say he is too wordy with his descriptions. I think he does it just about right.

I disliked his handling of sex (of what there was) but it did fit the despair of the novel quite well. Except for the use of “f***” for intercourse. Every time he used it, I was jolted back to now and out of the story.

No heroes in this story, no one to look up to. There was a sort of honor among thieves morality going on – a pirate code as it were. I am not sure if Mieville is the sort that writes heroes or understands what one is. But his skills as a writer means I give him pass. After all, Dostoyevsky never had any either. The closest I can think of is Alyosha from The Brothers Karamazov, but he was hardly Errol Flynn!

Anyway, The Scar is probably the best book I’ve read in years. I will be reading the rest of his catalog.

Currently on the reading docket. 

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I’m only on the first chapter but it is good so far. That means I got myself trapped in three books at the moment besides the 7 I’m on for my school work. The one above, Merton’s The Seven Storey Mountain and Sheen’s The Life of Christ. I’m immersed in medicine and theology!

Ah, am I a boring snoot. I can’t wait to be writing again.

 


Face-a-Booku! And Catholic Mass

So, upon leaving my job I decided to get keep in touch with people I knew through Facebook. I sort of wish I had not. Most of my friends and acquaintances are free-wheeling, atheistic, liberals and free lovers. I am none of these things. I did, however, connect with a bunch of Lafferty fans on a page I had been following for some time. That was cool.

My mother also posts on Facebook, and while it is better than all the liberal crap (which consists of calling anyone not in lock-step with them assholes or bigots or motherfuckers – you name it) she posts some eye rolling stuff as well. The other day she posted a “mugshot” of Obama and his arrest plate (what do they call that thing the processed holds in front of him?) date said 1968. Mom, for God’s sake, Obama was 7 in 1968 and that is the oldest seven-year old I have ever seen.

I will remain “active” for a time and then disappear. Not from my mother or family, mind you, that’s ridiculous.

I saw Word Perfect Office on repackage sale at Target yesterday and bought it. Man, 1997 was a long time ago. And the software hasn’t changed too terribly much. I remember liking it so much, but perhaps that was because it was my first. I am going to stick with Scrivener as usual. I think I just like getting new software. But so far nothing has come close to Scrivener. I sort of like the new Word (well, the one before they tried this retarded “we’ll lease it to you on the web” bull crap that is so Microsoft) and I have to learn it for my new line of work.

Which is all for naught since I haven’t written anything in almost a year. I can’t wait to finish school and get a job. I am going to write like it was crack, all day and all night. And read too.

Last night, because it was only $1.99 I got Bishop Robert Barron’s Catholicism for Kindle. I’ve dug (you dig?) Bishop Barron from when I found him on YouTube talking about Bob Dylan and The Matrix movies. It says it’s available at this price for a limited time.

Speaking of all things Catholic, I attended Mass today. Most uncomfortable thing I have done… in recent memory. I went by myself because I know no one to drag with me. Perhaps I should not have gone on a weekday. People going during the weekday, they freaking mean it. So I was with a “pros”. Ever jump in the middle of something? A dance, a complex board game, or how about a song that you barely know but everyone else does? I thought that thing by my ankles was a foot rest. Apparently it’s a lever that brings down a pad to kneel on.

I just watched what everyone else was doing. Luckily I was at the very back. It was the most awkward experience ever. I also thought the priest was a little flat and the song they picked to sing was terrible. There was a point where everyone shook the hand of the person next to them. The guy next to me said something to me, but I missed what it was (too many years of loud amplifiers) and stuttered out a “same to you”. Which caused an odd look. Whatever.

At the end I got another odd look because people started coming out from behind their pews, I asked the guy next to me, “Is this the communion thing?” Well, shit, buddy, I don’t want to get in line for something I’m not supposed to! He answered me politely enough. Of course when he and his family came back from communion they made sure to sit four rows in front of me.

I read a little about the Mass before I went (alright I read about it sometime last year) but I don’t want to be the jackass that stayed seated while everyone went up for something I was also supposed to because I misremembered or misunderstood something.

And then when it was over the priest gave me a weird look as he passed by. Weird as in I don’t know if it was antagonistic, fearful, bored or what. It certainly wasn’t friendly. I’m sure I probably seemed like an idiot, or, closer, someone who had never been to church before. Not very welcoming at all.

But that’s alright. Actually, it was kind of funny how much of an outside they made me feel! I mean I really am, but… wow.

The interior was beautiful, I managed to sneak off a few pics before anything started.

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