Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Words are funny critters

"Pawn", for instance. We don't want to be "treated like pawns"; it has the feel of someone else setting themselves up as queen (or bishop) over us, or worse (as much for the bishop as for the pawn) The Chess Master.

The English "pawn", of course, is related to the French word for the same chess piece, "pion". The funny thing, however, is that the French "pion" also shares the root of the English "pioneer". And, now and then, some of us might like to be pioneers.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Gussied-up Paschal Sequence.

I got this via Matthew Alderman over at Shrine of the Holy Whapping, six years ago it seems. I was already at Urban Metropolis at the time! How's-about that? Not so long ago, really... but youtube has since changed its embedding API so you have to dig in the page source for the link... So I'll just link directly to the video.

And that link may also go stale eventually; you never can tell, with the Internet.

Happy Happy Easter! Some things are Eternal, and we are meant for Communion with the Best of them, if only we can get there. Easter promises it can be done.

Friday, March 18, 2016


I hope Dr. Thursday might be amused (not that I imagine he ever visits) that "Something of an else" has become a (rare but) recurring expression of delight in my private idiom. And so, thank him for having taken time, sometimes, to share these fun little things.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Some Recent History of The Heresy Inclination-as-Identity

It is interesting to look at the novel Brideshead Revisited for some "Interwar" (as it is later called) currency about various ... well, as Catholics, we should say, various disorders of the will.

Antony Blanch says of himself "I may be inverted...", and you can translate that into the terms now in fashion as you like, the narrator Charles Ryder calls himself "agnostic", and ... Sebastian Flyte doesn't deign to describe himself at all, that I recall. Others lament "something chemical in him", and the French Doctor "diagnoses" him as "alcoolique"—and even Charles finds this a bit too noncommital. I had a similar experience the last time I consulted a physician about a complaint: I was having chronic tiny blisters on my hands, associated with various discomforts, and the "diagnosis" was "palmo-plantar pustulosis", which is to say "you have tiny blisters on your soles and hands" only in Latin — though, no, they never appeared on my feet at all. But I digress. (and they seem to be all better, now!)

Contemporaries might have described Sebastian as "a dypsomaniac", but this is simply an individualized way of saying "he suffers dypsomania". Similarly, a leper is one who suffers leprosy. My point is that these are all descriptions, descriptions of accidents, and not necessarily intended as categories of persons. Now, this is not to say that society at large has ever been reticent of identifying the patient with his disease, but it was usually unusual (I think) in patients themselves. Neither has society's simplifying instinct been always a bad thing: it is an instinct towards quarantine, which often enough has been the best option for preserving the City. (Even at the same time: to comfort the sick and the prisoner is also a good thing, a work of Mercy).

Curiously, about the time Sebastian was getting lost in Tunisia, over in the United States was developing a fledgling Movement, whose Creed begins, "My name is N., and I am an alcoholic". And the fact that the patient is called by this Creed to actively identify with that he suffers seems to be an important feature of how AA-taught sobriety works. As Catholics, we might say that what AA-faithful do is "avoid the Near Occasion of Sin" (which is to say, always decline the First Drink), itself a good practise, but the way they are usually meant to manage that avoidance is to always remember "I am an alcoholic".

True: I am a sinner; but it is frightfully important that I be not my sins, for they can have no place in Heaven.

And so, I wonder if this apparently successful movement (AA), whose apparent success seems to hinge on radical identification of persons with particular passions (sensu lato) inspired today's radical identification of persons with various other particular passions — all of them, incidentally, inducing altered brain states when indulged, far more profoundly than does alcohol. The way Satan has some power to work prodigies by which he convinces some of lies, a heresy begins by seeming to work some good in a small way, and the less one questions it, the easier for that heresy to open more cracks in dark corners. Some folk suffering dypsomania find the discipline to remain sober, so last century; now "it's 2016", and one can argue morals from the Nature of Things only out of "animus" or "mean-spiritedness", saith the Associate Justice. Because now, one is not allowed to "suffer" fruitless attractions, but only to "be X.".

Monday, March 7, 2016

what to do, what to do...

I used to know this nice family, husband and wife had in their youth wandered through Unbelief to some kind of Baptistism, and when I knew them they had arrived in Catholicism. Another dear friend of mine had introduced me to the idea of what were then still Indult parishes; but these two, they Knew People, and they FOUND it. (The community were at the time quite lacadaisical about announcing themselves).

We mourned John Paul; Benedict was elected, and we rejoiced; he issued Summorum Pontificum, and we rejoiced. I went to Urban Metropolis to try for a PhD, they got married, we rejoiced iterum iterum...

It seems, in the running of time, they both of them know more about becoming converts than they do about seeking Truth, because where they are now... If anyone still said that sort of thing, and if they were more visible figures somehow, a Bishop Somewhere would have to say anathema sit, the things those two publish these days.

But what, if anything, can one do? I suppose one might hope that they are, indeed, so willing to keep changing their minds that we might hope and (as Robert Bolt thought Thomas More might have said) pray that when their heads have stopped spinning their faces are to the front again.

God? Please send help!

Friday, March 4, 2016


I can't bear to read the blog/website taking its name from the Advent Marian Votive Mass, nor the Remnant or any of the rest of those self-segregated circles; but I am curious, if anyone who can pull it off without sinking into a pool of despond can tell me:
Does Bernard Fellay still write to his following in the same style as he did when our beloved Benedictus XVI PP so mercifully re-admitted him and his three brothers to Roman Confessionals?
I remember reading, that one time, Fellay's letter proclaiming "Tradition is no longer excommunicate". Because it made me really mad.

I can only hope that Benedict didn't have to read that, that Fellay had better tact in person, that he was better in person. That is (it seems) I hope it was just a stupid bit of crowing, and neither a gap in the veil nor an extra layer of veil.

That is, I really hope Fellay doesn't (if he ever did) think himself somehow uniquely in the Church to Personify Tradition. And it would be much worse if he wrote that way deliberately, whether because he does believe it or because he doesn't believe it but his following do.

Anyways, is it too much to hope that, when he writes, he does so more sensibly, these days? Is there hope that, when he isn't hashing things out with ☨Müller, that he also isn't murmuring up his sleeve?

Because I want him to finally really come home, and bring his priests with him. And then they can clear up all those weddings with a general proclamation of sanatio in radice, and deal with the paperwork later.