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!

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Absence

I’ve been spotty on posting this first month of 2018. I would say I am still reeling from the butt splatter that was Star Wars: The Last Yedi, but I buried that carcass in the backyard and moved on.

This generation cannot write and does not know what a story is. I leave them to their message fiction.

I’ve got several projects in the works ¬†(one really important one) and I am in a reading frenzy at the moment.

I am finishing up Will Durant’s CAESAR AND CHRIST

And Thomas E. Woods HOW THE CATHOLIC CHURCH BUILT WESTERN CIVILIZATION

I am also doing a reading a St. Luke’s gospel with four different commentary books. That’s about a verse a week.

Also following Jhn C. Wright’s LOST ON THE LAST CONTINENT serial from his website.

In the bullpen I have Stanley Jaki’s SCIENCE AND CREATION whose work follows some early 20th century French historian’s work – his name escapes me at the moment.

And followed by A HISTORY OF THE CHURCH TO THE EVE OF THE REFORMATION Volumes 1 – 3 by Philip Hughes (he died before he could go any further – but hey, the reformation, what a cliffhanger!)

And of course when I finish Durant’s Caesar and Christ it is onto his AGE OF FAITH

And through all of that – writing.

And love the dog.

I could comment on current events but… Why?

He Said What?

I was rereading one of the articles I posted about in the prior post, the one entitled The Ten Commandments Rationally Considered (it was renamed to The Ten Commandments: Not Freedom Friendly).

It would take me days and days to get through all the double-think and make-believe the author goes through to squeeze in his Objectivist narrative of history. But one thing stood out.

Near the end of the article, Cline is quoting Rand (who else doth quote?) and her religion as primitive form of philosophy jig. [Note: this is a core historical assumption of the Objectivist. I merely pass over it, it is a category error – charitably. I don’t think Rand was that obtuse. The two can, obviously, overlap, but they are not the same thing.]

After quoting her view he goes on to make the following incredible assertion:

By way of illustration, religion can be compared with the stick men children first learn to draw; a fully rational philosophy, absent any form of mysticism and reliance on unsupportable assertions, should then lead them to create the likes of Michelangelo’s “David.”

The context is the failure of modern philosophy to provide a rational basis for the proper representation of man (and of this part I still agree with Rand, modern philosophy is a titanic failure in that regard and most else).

If one knows anything about Michelangelo (he was a devout Catholic, even more so as he grew into old age) and about his work in general, one wonders if he is saying Catholicism is a fully rational philosophy? What is he trying to get across here? Who is this David? It is David of the Bible. But it wasn’t a “fully rational philosophy” (not by Objectivism’s definitions) that produced David, neither in subject nor in its creator. No. What produced David is the wooly mysticism and irrationality of the Church to describe it in Objectivist terms.

If you were to ask Mr. Cline to explain how the opposite of rationality, i.e., faith produced the zenith of art, and subsequent, secular philosophy did not, he would have an answer. And it would involve a story about St. Thomas Aquinas reintroducing Aristotle into medieval culture and the subsequent triumph of reason over faith and that the depiction of David in sculpture is the force of reason acting upon subjects of mysticism.

To understand that, one would have to go into the tale of history as told by Rand and most other secularists. It is a false story of course. And it leads men like Mr. Cline to say the absurd as the quote above illustrates.

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.

writing

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.