Tag Archives: Catholicism

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!


FIRST THINGS talks PAST MASTER

The Christian online (online?) magazine FIRST THINGS, talks PAST MASTER, and DEAD LADY OF CLOWN TOWN, MANSIONS IN SPACE, and a few others.

Hey, they got the essential theme right!


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.


We Now (Slowly) Return You to Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

Having finally finished school and acquired my certification, I am eager to get back a few thing things I have been putting off. Probably most pressing is getting into R.A. Lafferty’s Argo cycle:

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[Note: this is not a pick of my Argo collection, but a pic I lifted off of the esteemed Mr. Daniel Petersen from his site, The Ants of God Are Queer Fish.

I hope he does not mind.

My collection is only partly hardcopy. Tales of Midnight and Argo I only own digitally, the rest I own hardcopy.Hard to get all of them in a line up when they are not simultaneously on the same plane.]

Anyway, I am eager to get this series read because I do not know how long these digital copies will be functional on what machine for how long. I could get an update on my ePub reader tomorrow that makes the two books incompatible with the new software.

That, and I am eager to take the trip!

The next back burnered project was this:

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I had only reached (in the Adult Formation course I was taking) Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple before I had to put it on hold for the demands of school. It remains to be seen whether my internship and two jobs (hopefully a job in the medical field, no?) make this a project taken on even further in the future.

At the end of this course you get a certificate and I think I would be prouder of this one than any other. They also added a level two which is more generally theological/philosophical. The course curriculum for level 1 is here.

And, last but certainly not least, my writing. This has suffered a big-gloved, bitch-slap, crotch grab since January 2015. But I have been building back my finger muscle and coordination on my new typewriter for the last month. And when the job hunt is over, I am going to come on a swinging.

Having been with the typewriter for a month I can say it was no nostalgia that brought me back. I love the fact of having a first draft (alright I did a little writing…) that is as physically unique as the words themselves (as unique as I can make them anyway…). And if you look at the words on the paper, they are unique. No two people, except for perhaps two perfect secretaries from the 50’s typing at 90 words a minute without error, would type the same thing the same way. And since it is not diction, the two pages would not be the same anyway even if the words happened, by miracle, to be.

 


Life in a Bubble

Hell seems to be bubbling up to the surface as I pedal away endlessly in the medical coding class. I swear I made the Dean’s list three quarters in a row when I was in school for electrical engineering; I was part of a two man team that built a Tesla coil (I crunched the numbers mainly). So I am not stupid. I am not failing the class by any stretch – my lowest grade so far is a 93% on a test – but the material is not digestible.

I am, as everyone is, stupid in some ways, but not in matters like this. And here is the big difference between then and now. There is an 18 year difference, but brains are not like muscles, and I haven’t been leaving my brain (not completely anyway) idle.

The difference is this. Electrical engineering is science – directly applied science. Medical coding is government fiat, and conclusion by committee. The only organizational thing about it is the medicine so it has to at least relate to that. Kirchoff’s Current Law is not a law like “use whatever bathroom you feel like using” but a demonstrable fact. And each such law, building upon the ones before it, becomes compact and retainable. In a way you never leave the most basic law V=IR or I=V/R or R=V/I.

The medical coding, each chapter has its own rules and each chapter has a string of concrete all this is that except when this that and this and that. Each progressive chapter, unlike electronics or even philosophy, wipes out the preceding chapter. Getting to the end of any chapter prepares you in no way for the chapter coming next. You are not dealing with a structured system of human knowledge.

So, it is taking a long time. Also, as I’ve said before, I have no medical background at all. So I have to learn stuff like bone grafting and the insertion methods of a port-a-cath, etc, etc.

The brochure for the school said “Some people finish their programs in just four months!” Apparently deans of medicine are becoming medical coders because there is no way someone is finishing that in four months without a degree and experience in medicine and surgery. And even then I think the coding will still take them out past the six month point.

So that is all I’ve been doing and outside of an hour or so of daily reading, or a television show, that is literally all I’ve been doing. I don’t even make goals for it now, nor estimates. My current extension runs out in December. I hope to be done then.

In other news I have added a new book to my itinerary: Finding True Happiness by Robert Spitzer. He used to be the president of what I like to call Gorgonzola College in Washington state. He is also a priest. Yep, another book by a Catholic author! Apparently Spitzer is a technical read, so I have heard. Good, I don’t like soft-boiled theology and I like my spirituality rarified.

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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.