Covering part of the segment on hell for my Eschatology elective. I say part of because the largest segment in this is on hell. Seems misplaced. I really picked some hardcores to take an RCIA course from. They would view Vatican I as a conclave of fornicating homosexuals! I am not of a liberal mind here where my God has to be my buddy and has to follow my marshmellowy concept of justice, but this stuff is overkill.

I am forced, in this section to read an eighteen page diatribe on the tortures of hell. A concrete, literalistic interpretation of all references to hell. The fires of hell are literal fires that you burn in constantly forever and are super-duper intense – beyond any fire we’ve experienced or can possibly imagine. The thirst is a literal thirst but beyond thirst that a mortal man can imagine, same with hunger. On top of this, in an earlier reading on the CCC we learn that the chief punishment, of suffering, of hell is eternal separation of God. And then there are the vile odors, plagues of demons, the company of suffering tormented sinners as yourself and many more things besides this.

Seems a lot to focus on, doesn’t it? Now, I’m not the queazy, modern type, I understand the logic of hell. But such a description as this priest tries to paint ends up falling under its own weight. Most of the torments of hell described here are physical torments. Would not the torment of eternal separation from God require not being so eternally distracted with all this burning and starving and thirst? Seems I am to be kept quite distracted from ever thinking about the lack of beatific vision.

It reminds me of the second Matrix movie. The climax of the first movie was an awesome fight between Neo and Agent Smith. So, for the second movie, they thought “what could be more awesome?” so they had Neo fight a hundred of them in a CGI fest that was 1/100th the tension of the one on one of the first film.

I think a real vision of hell would be a lot quieter, darker, drab, and acute in its lack of feeling, not in its intensity.

New Acquisition

Actually got this a couple of weeks ago, but was too busy reading it to post about it.

The Word on Fire Bible

It is a beautiful Bible (technically this is a series and this installment is only the four gospels, 600 pages of the four gospels). There is commentary from church fathers and Bishop Barron (who has a knack for being concise and very clear). There is classic, beautiful artwork from the masters in it with essays about the works.

It has something that a lot of Bible commentaries and study Bibles fail at is explanation towards an understanding of the text, what it means. Study Bibles are usually buried in historical method and thus the commentaries are squabbles over whether Matthew actually wrote Matthew. If anyone has ever read these sorts of books, one knows that they are usually pointless discussions, wrong, and usually contradicted by the next book you read. Meanwhile, what the meaning of the Transfiguration, or what various parts of the Sermon on the Mount meant, or how it relates to you, the reader, is entirely missed.

It also navigates the forest and trees pretty well. Again some study Bibles go into great detail about each chapter without ever coming to an understanding of it – except to note that this scholar disagrees with that scholar, and some are so over arching that key parts that are not obvious go by completely unmentioned. I think this Bible does a very good job of hitting a lot of the important major chords.

And the art work, did I mention the art work is superb.

I can’t wait for Bishop Barron’s treatment of the rest of the NT as well as the OT!

Highly recommended!

Writing is Funner

A number of my posts have been on world events of late and I got sucked into it. Reading the news getting the darkest lens possible on anything – even spinach (it can have e-coli DANGER!) And I wrote nothing. But since we are all agreed, again, that black lives mean nothing (least of all to blacks), I suspect it is time for me to get busy.

That and the fact that we are likely heading into some sort of very near future dictatorship a la Cultural Revolution (anyone wanna a bullet to the back of the head? Yeah!) means I should get busy before I am made busy – or dead. Hell, I’m going to be 50 next month, that is going to happen sooner rather than later at this point in my life. I don’t think that will be the half way point.

Finished The Violent Bear it Away. It was good but a hard read in a certain way. It is a theme book (which the title alludes to very directly) and you either get it or the end just lays flat for you. It is a dark novel however, there is not a moment of joy in it. It is the only novel of hers that I have read (I think she only has two or three) but I find she packs a harder bunch in her short stories (particularly Revelation, which is excellent).

I can’t believe I am still slogging through my online RCIA course. These guys made this course as lackluster as possible. Each and every lesson (or more than 80) are giant blocks of reading – that’s it – a giant text dump. And then a test. For instance the last segment I had to do was Kings, Saul, David and Solomon – some thirty pages of text and then the lesson part may not be entirely related, or, if it is, they won’t come right out and tell you.

Also this segment is the Old Testament, and they mean for you to read it – and some of the unreadable parts without a unifying object of lesson. For instance the story of Jonah (not covered, btw) they would just text dump, catechism references if there are any, and then give a test. Basically this company just slapped mountains of related texts together and then thought up ten questions per section – for 83 sections.

If this is what everyone had to go through to get into the Catholic Church – there would be zero people at Mass. I am only going to make it through because I am a stubborn SOB. Think about, almost all churches accept anyone for nothing at all. Just come on in, drop a dollar, we don’t care, nor will we check what you believe. While that is bad policy, this juggernaut is ridiculous. It also makes for poor learning because I bash through a ton of stuff just to get to the end of a lesson and take the damned test.

The RCIA course I was in last year until January was a half hour video every time from a series called Symbolon and then the instructor talking for another 45 minutes to an hour and questions. For six months. I’ve been on this thing for 7 months already! They go from the assumption you’ve never heard of the Bible! Arrrggggg!!!!!

I thought the medical coding certificate I pursued in 2016 was an unholy pain in the ass. This is worse!


So last week I started my RCIA classes, having attended two so far. This is a quick, rough sketch of the experience so far. They are very small, last week was me and two other people, this week it climbed to me and three other people. There is supposed to be two other people who are going to miss a few weeks. So the class is a total of six people and the instructor.

I wish the class were larger just for atmosphere. But, considering that it is in the mountains in western North Carolina, six really isn’t that bad!

The teacher is, though rambling at times, quite informative. This is good as I have read quite intensely on the subject for several years now and a more popular, common approach would be hard to sit through.

You are given a block of the Catechism of the Catholic Church to read for the week (last week was a hundred pages!) and then the instructor gives an hour and half talk and about a half hour video. Frankly, I could do without the video. I am rather philosophically minded and am not moved by popular testimony. The presenter in the videos is googly-eyed and goofy so it gives a cultish feel to the presentation. Perhaps it is helpful to the others. Frankly I would prefer going more into hypostasis and other such topics.

I think the Catholicism series by Bishop Barron (and his Pivotal Players) would be better. However, I have seen them already so…

Don’t make it easy! Don’t dumb it down!

These are the resources for the course:

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church

Companion to the Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Didache Bible (Midwest Theological Forum)

Daily Roman Missal (Midwest Theological Forum)

The Catechism of the Council of Trent

The Catholic Catechism: A Contemporary Catechism of the Teachings of the Catholic Church, by (the Venerable) Father John A. Hardon, SJ [highly recommended]

Triumph: The Power and the Glory of the Catholic Church, by H. W. Crocker III [an excellent history]

Except for the Didache Bible I already own all of these resources. Although I have never cracked the Daily Roman Missal.

I use my Verbum program for the CCC reading because all the footnotes and annotations and abundant cross-references are a click or mouse hover away and eliminates the need of books two and three. It also means I don’t need a Bible sitting next to me as there is one in the window next to the window with the text of the CCC. Also available is the full context (the complete works actually) of any references to the Church Fathers.

This will be quite challenging in a few weeks as NaNo (Nation Novel Writing Month) is coming up. I missed last year on account of a busted back. This year I’m all in!

I’m Back!

Hopefully for good this time. I’m on a four day a week, ten hour a day work schedule, so I should have time to do extracurricular activities like writing (I wish it weren’t a luxury but facts be facts, ma’am) and posting here. It won’t be a lot. Even today I didn’t get done with house stuff until about half an hour ago.

I even batted out a few chords the other day to the tune of AN ALTOGETHER UNSERIOUS BREAKFAST. Only a fragment and I keep those all in a giant mega-file like a guitarist would keep riffs. Keep rolling those fragments and things slowly come together after awhile. I would have wrote more of it at the time, but I was already three hours late for bed and I don’t have a slacker job. Here is the fragment (I have no fear this will be stolen!).

What a strange, strange world I live in. Not your world, no. Your world is as normal as normal gets. Which is to say it is completely Continue reading

Objectivism Revisited…Sort of…

Early Sunday morning wandering around on the internet waiting for the wife to wake up. I suddenly think to myself, “Hey, let’s go visit that Objectivist forum I used to post to years and years ago.”

So I did. There are still some of the same people there having the same discussions. That’s not surprising, nor does that in itself say anything. I still comment on Mr. Wright’s blog and have been for nine years.

I ran across a discussion topic Is It Proper to Address a Priest as “Father?”

Except for one, the responses are drivel. The question itself is drivel. Who cares about an address? I was always astounded at the questions Objectivists could ask. One question at a Peikoff lecture was, “is it ok to say good morning to a priest?” Another was: “Is being a mother anti-life?” This last the lecturer, Peikoff, had the good sense to respond that you could make a very good case for the opposite.

I had forgotten the ignorance, the haughty pride, and dupability of the Objectivist mind. That was my mind.

Here is some choice cuts from the discussion.

-I would feel that I was degrading myself by calling him “father.”

-I’m 15 so I’d run as fast as I can from them. (IT is witty though.)

-Expecting me to call someone I don’t care for Father (and agreeing to be called “son”, back) is a bit more than expecting me to be polite.

-The term Father is intended to be more than titular. It is intended to capitalize on the respect most people hold for their own fathers. In my opinion that is nothing more than a dirty trick.

-Maybe you should change the question to: “Is it proper to address a catholic priest?” :dough:

-Seriously though, I personally would eat shit before willingly calling a priest “father”. I find the term insulting TO ME.

Note most of these people likely have no idea what a priest does, their education, their duties. No idea of Church history except for common misconceptions and half truths.

The third comment is telling. “Someone I don’t care for…” You don’t care for someone based on what they do? I get if they are a hitman or something, a no good bum. But you do not care for a person because they are a Catholic priest? I submit I never had this allergic aversion when I was an atheist and I was as ignorant as these poor folks. After listening the likes of Fr. Pachwa, Bishop Barron and others, I have nothing but respect for them. Consider also one of the great philosophers, Aquinas was a priest. Consider the foundations of modern science were all made by men of the cloth, genetics, the big band, etc, etc.

Anyway. Going back and looking, I do not even recognize myself among them. Their words and thoughts are foreign and illogical to me. I know at one time they were not.

The Great Adventure Catholic Bible

A new acquisition on the way this week. It is a Bible that is organized (thought the books and all text are in same order) in a way that is to be more easily grasped in its broad outline.

I note it says it has an Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat through the Archdiocese of Saint Paul & Minneapolis. This means absolutely nothing nowadays (not saying anything about Saint Paul and Minneapolis Archdiocese specifically but about the value of the Imprimatur and the Nihil Obstat). I learned this from the first Catholic study Bible I owned which, though stamped with those credentials, should have been declared anathema so demythologized, secularized and simply wrong it was. So much so that I, having little knowledge of the Bible, Christianity, or, even, Catholicism, at the time, knew it to be in error. But this isn’t specifically a study Bible as the link shows.

I liked the idea of collecting within the overall book itself. I think, following Bishop Barron, of the Bible as a library with books than simply a book itself as if it is just another book like Grapes of Wrath – a library of many genres. And, just like a library, this one seeks to have some system of classification that is part of the make-up of itself. A lot of times, if it is not simply a straight forward Bible, these points are only buried in addendum articles at the end of the Bible or at the beginning of each book within it.

It can be quite difficult to never be in the same book that you are studying.

It seems (and this is why I am taking a chance on it) like it follows a modern textbook approach to organization (when I say modern, that is probably 20 years ago or more) with a lot of shout outs and visual cues.

I’m going outside my usual translation confines here. I usually stick with Douay-Rheims or KJV (original not any new fangled). This one is Revised Standard Version – Second Catholic Edition. I tried some RSV-SCE at BibleGateway.com and it seems to read alright. I miss a little of the Shakespearean art but it at least it is not some gender-nuetral abomination! Sad thing is (outside of the abominations, that is) is most of us are ill equipped to really tell the advantage of one translation over the other on a verse by verse basis. I can judge that “the quick and the dead” is more lyrical than “the living and the dead” but I do not know Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, nor Latin (ok, a tad Latin, but nothing functional). I generally follow a form of the coherence theory of truth when judging texts. Does this mesh with what I know? Does it fit?

The BibleGateway, btw, rocks. Input a chapter and verse (or an entire chapter) and you can get it in any number of different languages and English translations – over a hundred it looks like at a glance.

Another reason I got this is I needed a functional everyday Bible.  I have my Biblica Sacra which is the the Clementine Vulgate Latin of Jerome in one column with the Douay-Rheims version in the other column, but that is a cumbersome hardback and I use it for the Latin. Then I have a pocket sized Douay Rheims leather edition, but my eyes are so bad I can’t see the print without an effort.

To digress, I do have several other Bibles, but they are mainly collectables (also several digital copies). I was in the need of a good, functional Bible. Hopefully, I have found it.

I’ll unpack it when it arrives and give a review!

Scattered Life

I have a particular problem that is getting worse and worse as I get older. I am one of those people (and I am sure everyone knows one) that starts many, many things – and finishes close to none of them. This problem is getting so bad for me that I have some six books that I am simultaneously reading and getting nowhere with. I have stories that are sitting around with anywhere from six sentences to sixty pages – all of them sitting around (with very few exceptions) in first draft form.

I just went on my Catechism Class.com site and see that the last quiz I took (for Institution of the Holy Eucharist) was from April of 2017, and I started the course in 2013!!!

My reading of the Bible will take probably until the year 2099.

I have no problem getting the daily stuff done, the chores. I never miss vacuuming, balancing the checkbook, etc, etc. But then – what happens? Now, even blog posts are something I can’t seem to get to.

And now my complete lack of discipline and time management has to compete with a 40 hour work week. Gone, oh gone, are the 23 or 25 hour work weeks (including the 16 hour work weeks, I will miss those most of all).

I can barely seem to muster up the discipline to write to my sponsored child!

I think what I will do is I will complete each and every one of these objectives. And perhaps I should write a to-do list everyday. I have had a free schedule today, for instance since 12 pm, it is now 3:30pm. I’ve been on the old internet.

I think I will make a goal first and foremost, since it seems to be the most delayed, to finish the catechism classes. Funny, I think there is a little procrastination in this. The classes are heavy in reading Aquinas’ arguments, and they can be quite tedious. I am pretty sure I have done enough outside reading in those five years since I started the course that I could just blaze through all the quizzes now.

CATHOLICISM by Bishop Barron

Today starts the free viewing of Bishop Barron’s CATHOLICISM series. One episode a day for the next ten days for free. I have seen clips and he takes you around the world showing various aspects of the Catholic faith in action, in building, in beauty – and maybe other things, but I’ve only seen clips.

The only other thing I know about it is it pissed a lot of PBS viewers off when some episodes showed several years ago. It would be like Darth Vader showing a documentary series on the life of Emperor Palpatine!

Anyway, I will be enjoying it!