Saturday, October 30, 2010

Only the Best for My Baby

So it has come to my attention that there is a dearth of good literature in our modern age.  There is too much about making friends with the dragon, and not enough about putting something pointy deep into its dark and evil heart.  There is much about two mommies and two daddies.  There is little about truth, justice, and the quest for righteousness.

The Brute Squad

I need to thank my wife for this insight.  She talked about a passage in a book which she loved, talking about a father bringing his children back from the brink of modern stupor by the power of Tolkien.  She talked about the importance of good literature for children.  I will admit that it was somewhat academic for me at the time - we were not yet married, and I have always been more academic anyway - but I have had my world rearranged by a growing bundle of joy, and also happen to be rereading that book, so hey, blog fodder!

The real danger of so much modern literature, as Michael D O'Brien points out in both his fiction and non-fiction works, is that our children our taught to befriend the dragon, as it were.  In the words of his books, to "swallow the dragon."

It is the way of literature these days it seems.  The white man had so persecuted the "other," that clearly all "other" must in fact be okay in their own right.  We have stopped looking for the right of things by their own merit, but instead by the merit of who opposes them, which is not necessarily a very good measuring-stick.

We used to read the Greek myths as great stories of the heros slaying the monsters and freeing the people from bondage and evil.

Instead, in my Greek class, we have people sympathizing with the Minotaur.

In case you don't recall who the Minotaur is, he's half man, half bull, and he eats people.  This guy is bad news, an embodiment of evil, and my classmates, and professor, are sympathizing with it!  Please allow me to reiterate: HE FREAKING EATS PEOPLE!!!!!!

But maybe that's just all they give him?  Maybe he's just really ugly and maligned by a society too obsessed with physical beauty?


He's a monster.

He must be killed.

End of sentence, page, story, period.

But Jeremiah, you white male you, what gives you the right to say that?  Why is it okay to kill these so-called monsters.  Aren't dragons just big lizards with wings?  Doesn't Dracula just have a skin condition, pointy teeth, and a slight need for particularly raw food?

Well, I suppose that the simple, "Because that's not the way the story goes, O my revisionist Herr Redakteur!" won't suffice...

Fine, you want to know the real reason we must kill the monster?

Because the monster is us, or more properly in us.

The monster represents one of two things, and usually a little bit of both.  Either it is the external enemy of good, the fallen one himself, or it is the fallen nature within us.

A great example of this is Dracula and the vampire mythos.  See how the way Dracula and other vampires feed has been sexualized over the years?  Well, that's really because we in the modern age are a little dense, and also a lot permissive.  In many ways, the vampire was always a symbol of the disorder of lust, that is the emotional and physical desires which should be associated with spiritual love, but instead are selfish and aimed only for self gratification.

That's right, putting the stake through Dracula's heart was a reminder that we must root out our own lustful desires, purify them as the sun burns away the vile Transylvanian Prince.

Now do we see the danger of Twilight?  What is it saying but that there is no danger from lust, and no consequences?  Edward is described as being "excruciatingly beautiful,"  he doesn't burn, he apparently has a soul (or it doesn't matter), there is absolutely no down side to it.  In other words, follow your lusts, you won't get hurt.  It is your right to be free and licentious with your sexuality.

[Editor's note: Kill it.  Kill it with fire.]

What's really at stake here is that while shades of grey tales help us to explore the edge cases of morality, the times when it's not easy to discern what is right, children aren't there yet.  Before you can explore the grey areas, you need to know what black and white are.  You need to know right from wrong, absolutely, and to know that they exist, and that they matter.

When a young child sees Harry Potter being rewarded for breaking the rules and being rewarded, their formation now includes that there are no absolute rules, and that you are the only final arbiter of your morality.  Now, while I will agree that you are the only actor of your morality, and the only one directly responsible for it, you cannot also be the measuring stick for it.  Down that road is the world you see today...

One other thing that bugs me are the Seriously-when-are-these-going-to-stop-coming-out-quels.  Let us take for example Saw 3D, Halloween, and Friday the 13th.  The latter two especially have been remade to death, and should be put, along with that pun, into a sealed coffin 6 foot under, never to see the light of day again.

Why are they so bad?  The bad guy never dies!  He's invincible!  No matter what you do, he's going to come back and kill more people!

Our literature and other media inform our worldview, so when we see that this bad guy keeps coming back again and again, we look at the same thing in our own world (poverty, oppression, dictatorships, et cetera), and can get a sense that it will never end, that no matter how many evils we defeat, there will always be more.

That's why Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and other similar epics are so great.  I used to dislike the way that they ended, and now everyone goes away, and everything is different, and there's nothing worse than an annoying bureaucrat to deal with... All the exciting parts are in the midst of the trouble!

Except, they are reminding us that we are finite, this world is finite, and our troubles are finite.  There will be a last battle, and after that will come the peace of the final victory, which will last for ever and ever and unto the age of ages.  They are reminding us that while right now we may feel overwhelmed, and like nothing we do makes any difference, that it won't last forever, that there is hope.

It is very important to note here that I am not at all concerned with kids reading or seeing scary monsters, by any means, so long as they are not the type of grotesque which is meant only to scar (such as descriptions of abortion, or of sexual acts).

Chesterton points the why out quite well in his essay The Red Angel (a part of the collection Tremendous Trifles, available on Project Gutenberg).  He notes that;

"One small child in the dark can invent more hells than Swedenborg. One small child can imagine monsters too big and black to get into any picture, and give them names too unearthly and cacophonous to have occurred in the cries of any lunatic.


The fear does not come from fairy tales; the fear comes from the universe of the soul."

What these stories provide with their gruesome orcs, cruel dragons, slavering hordes of bogey men and monsters of all sorts, witches and hags and gremlins et al, is that there is a way to beat them.  As Chesterton says;

"At the four corners of a child's bed stand Perseus and Roland, Sigurd and St. George. If you withdraw the guard of heroes you are not making him rational; you are only leaving him to fight the devils alone. For the devils, alas, we have always believed in."

So it is indeed our duty to tell children of the orcs and the goblins and the dragons and the witches and of every other evil thing, and about the hero who through humility and sacrifice found the weak spot in the dragon's armor and thrust his sword, piercing the black heart and saving the village.

Adults can handle most of these sorts of things just fine, heroes who aren't perfect, bad guys who aren't all evil, et cetera, assuming that they themselves have properly formed consciences, but good literature for adults does not automatically translate to good literature for children.  Adult literature should push us, make us ask questions, try and find the truth even when it is muddled and distorted.  We cannot expect the same out of children, and we cannot ask them to "take their own meaning from it." Children must be formed from a young age in what is good and right, and what is wrong and bad.  They must hear of strong men and women of heroic virtue slaying dragons, conquering selfishness, and doing what is right even when it is difficult or unpopular to do so.  They must suffer consequences if they do wrong, or if they listen to the dragon.  They must win.

With all the nonsense flying in print and film today, it probably can't hurt us adults to take frequent forays into the realm of absolutist literature, where the good guy is good and the bad guy is bad, and the dragon deceives many with its sweet speech, almost convincing the hero who hears the lie of it in the last instant and skewers the evil in front of him, and so doing skewers the evil inside of him.

As for me and my house, we shall read the Tolkien.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Where does it say that in the Bible?

So there I was, reading  Understanding Roman Catholicism (read the 1 star comments, they're hilarious) by Rick Jones, when I came across the most over-used anti-Catholic-doctrine assault: "Where does it say that in the bible?"

Well, to be perfectly honest, it probably doesn't.

That's right, today's topic is the protestant doctrine of sola scripture (by scripture alone).  I'd like to take an excursion through the Holy Word of God, applying his twin gifts of Fides et Ratio (Faith and Reason) to what we find, to see what we can determine.

It occurred to me while reading that... book... that Our Lord is truly wise beyond all telling.  The tripod is the most stable structure, finding stability even on uneven ground.  Is it so problematic then that Our Lord would give us a tripod of revelation?  But then, that is all the Catholic Church has ever asserted: The Word of God written in the scriptures, the Word of God lived in the traditions handed on by those who knew him, and the Word of God spoken in the Holy Spirit, guiding and preserving the Church for all time.  Scripture, tradition and magisterium.

But Jeremiah, they say, doesn't that contradict the bible? That's a serious charge, after all the Word of God cannot contradict itself, for God is Truth, and the truth never contradicts itself.  If any doctrine of the church contradicted scripture, it would of course be wrong.

Well, I answer, no it doesn't. What scripture does that assertion contradict?

Duh, you silly Catholic, don't you read the bible?  Read 2 Timothy 3:16. Okay, let's see what we've got here...

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

Oh... Right, that one.  Well, fine, how is this an issue?  Let's take a look at this phrase by phrase.

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.  Alright, fine, but what is scripture?  The bible, you say?  Well yeah. To US.  To the Church at that time, the scripture was Jewish, the Torah, the Talmud, things you would hear in the Synagogue.  It is only because Christ gave authority to the Apostles that scripture includes what we now call the New Testament. 

Even if we understand that verse to mean "everything that will be considered scripture," that still requires an authoritative source after Christ to define what exactly is scripture.

...and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness... This is saying one of two things.  Either scripture is to be used directly for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction, or it is to be used to develop the same.  However, neither excludes other sources, they only solidify the place of the scriptures.  Which, again, at the writing of that line, did not include that line...

Let's take a look at some more scripture, though, and see if we can find some reason why sola scripture doesn't work.  After all, if the scriptures refute scripture being the only authority... Well, that pretty much settles the question, doesn't it?

It's a bit long to paste here, but go read Acts of the Apostles 15.

Here we have Peter standing up as the leader of the assembly, and making a statement regarding what is to be the doctrine of the Church, contrary to the Jewish scriptures.  James then stands up in agreement with Peter, and the whole council of Apostles and Presbyters in Jerusalem send the following letter to certain churches:

It is the decision of the holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities, namely, to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meats of strangled animals, and from unlawful marriage. If you keep free of these, you will be doing what is right. Farewell.

This is a doctrinal decision undertaken not on the basis of scriptures, but on the inspiration of the Holy Spirit through Peter, James, and the rest of the Council at Jerusalem.

I answer also with the Second Letter from Paul to the Thessalonians, chapter 3, verse 6:

We instruct you, brothers, in the name of (our) Lord Jesus Christ, to shun any brother who conducts himself in a disorderly way and not according to the tradition they received from us.
I emphasize, ...the tradition they received from us. That is to say, Paul and the other Apostles have the authority to hand down the traditions of the faith, to preserve that which was not written down.

Wait, what am I talking about now?  Oh right, from the Holy Gospel according to John, chapter 21, verse 25:

There are also many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written.

That is to say, the Gospels, which themselves are not instruction manuals so much as they are a handing down of the story of the life of Christ, are not complete.  There are true things which happened which are not contained in the scriptures.  Perhaps, say, entrusted to the Apostles whom he ordained on the eve of his Passion?

Really, the sad thing is that there is a very simple problem with every protestant's assertion against tradition, namely that when you challenge their interpretation of scripture, they often resort to what their pastor or other authority in their church told them, not realizing that that is in fact relying on tradition.  We are doing the same thing, but our sources are, shall we say, closer to the source.

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs." He then said to him a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." He said to him, "Tend my sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, "Do you love me?" and he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." (Jesus) said to him, "Feed my sheep."

Let we, His sheep, hear the Good Shepherd's voice as it is given us, in the inspired Word of God, in the traditions handed on to us from the Apostles through their successors, and through the proper interpretation given us by those same successors, preserved as Christ promised against the very gates of Hell.

Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom, pray for us!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A short primer on means and ends...

So, I've been hearing some disturbing thoughts on the Eucharist, so I'm going to do the only thing I know how.

Quote: "I use the tools of the faith, like the Rosary, and the Eucharist."(emphasis added)

I'm just going to assume that this meant the prayers of the Mass, and the beautiful vessels, monstrances and tabernacle with which we reverence Him.  Still, without that clarification, there can be confusion, which I don't like very much, and seek to eliminate where I can.

The error that can be gained through lack of explanation is found blatantly in the soundbites from the students who were denied Eucharist by Archbishop Nienstedt; "We were making a statement during the eucharist ... how else to do it than in liturgy?"  As if the liturgy, the very act of receiving Our Lord were a perfectly appropriate place to convey their unorthodoxy and stubborn disobedience.  Reception of Our Lord is now a medium... a tool.

There are two types of things in reality - means and ends.  

Some things may be both a means and an end, for example, the hammer is the end of your expedition to Lowes, but the hammer is in turn a means to hanging the painting your wife made to display how proud you are of her.  

Some things are only ever ends.  They can draw you to them, but they are in fact always an end, never a means.  Namely, people.  A person should never, ever, ever ever be used as a means, for it is the nature of a person to be an end, a recipient.  You love a person, not for what they can do for you, but because they are.

Jesus Christ, Word of God, Second Person of the Trinity, Incarnated Son of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God, is a person.  He is THE Person, in many ways, as in his humanity, he showed us what it means to be human.  He showed us what He meant our humanity to be.

He is our end.  He is our goal.  He is our destination, our hope, our home, our reward.  He draws us to him, but he is never a means, for he is The Omega.  In giving us Himself to us to bring us to Him, He has first given Himself to us, putting us in the presence of our End!!!

The Eucharist is not a tool of the faith, or a place to make a statement, it is the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  The danger of these statements and actions is that they hide, and can altogether deny the True Presence.  Are we then surprised when 45% of Catholics don't know about the True Presence in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar?

Let us pray for a return to a true devotion to the Eucharist and His Holy Presence. 

Well done, Your Excellency!

Read this first...

Back already?  Fast reader.

So, basically, well done Metropolitan Archbishop Nienstedt!!

In case you didn't read the article from US Catholic, you really should.  Fr. Z's commentary is, as usual, the spoonful of sugar that let's you finish the article, so that you can understand the wrong-headedness that abounds.

Seriously, though, I was so proud to be Catholic when I heard about this!  I know that we've had our issues with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops from time to time, wondering if they really toed the Vatican line, wondering if they were being pastoral, or just wishy-washy.

Whatever the case may have been at any point in time, we have Bishops that we can be proud of, and Archbishop Nienstedt is one of them!

Look at this man!  This here is a true pastor, laying down the comfort of popularity and approval for his sheep, who have strayed from the fold.

I mean, first off he causes 400,000 DVDs with instruction on the Catholic teaching regarding homosexuality and gay marriage to be sent around his diocese for the education of the faithful.  

Assuming he got a good discount, we're still talking 10¢-20¢ apiece for these, meaning raw material cost is going to be over $40,000!  

NB: Say what you will about "That money could have gone to the poor!", it did.  The Western Church is STARVING for truth.  I think American Catholics might define the poor in spirit, though not quite in the way Jesus meant... Unless the European Catholics do...

So first he commits tremendous resources to this project, and then he's out celebrating a student Mass at a college parish in his diocese, and the story gets interesting.

Really people?  Really?  In case you missed it in the article, one of the students denied communion attempted to GRAB the host!!  What disrespect!!  Receiving Our Lord in Holy Eucharist is not, never has been, and never will be a right.  It is the most wonderful gift of His Very Body, Soul, Blood and Divinity, and we are to come HUMBLY before him, begging Him to make us worthy to receive Him.  

They should really read Theology of the Body for Beginners by Christopher West, because then they might understand both why homosexuality is wrong, but (and more grievous in my mind) why their grasping was wrong.

Pray for Bishop Nienstedt as he faces the onslaught that his spine has brought him.  May the Lord give him strength as he performs his duties as Bishop, successor of the Apostles, beating the wolves of decadence and immorality back from his beloved sheep.

Friday, October 8, 2010

It doesn't matter what you call it, a tail's a tail.

That is of course referencing Abraham Lincoln, and Blessed Pope John Paul the Great "re-tweeting" him: "If you call a tail a leg, how many legs has a dog? Five? No, calling a tail a leg don't make it a leg."

To what I am referring?

Before we go any further, if you've read any post previous to this in my blog, you should already know that I'm opinionated and Orthodox.

The Ordination of Women.

You have been warned.

Well, I suppose that I could answer this one the way I answered the question on kneeling (because), but it seemed proper to the Holy Father JPM (Joannes Paulus Magnus) to first give the world the Theology of the Body to lay explicitly the reason that this was being made doctrine.

Before we go any further (again...), let's get one thing straight.  It is doctrine that the church may not ordain a woman to the priesthood, that it is impossible.  Roma Locuta Est, Causa Finita Est.  This is not a matter for discussion insofar as it's not changing. 

That being said, it's a fruitful doctrine and teaching, and bears reflection, and we should always be willing to ask why, even when we are willing to accept it out of hand, for the simple reason that the why will enrich us, if we will listen to the answer.

Point one is that Christ did not appoint any women to His Church ab initio.  He had close followers, chief among them - His Mother.  But there are also Mary Magdalene and others who followed him, were His friends.  He was already breaking all sorts of customs and traditions, what's one more?  But He didn't.  He ordained (at the Last Supper) a man who would betray him for 30 pieces of silver, and a man who would deny him three times.  No women.

Oh, and that "Bishopess" in the middle ages?  She was the Mother of the Bishop, not ordained herself, but active in the life of the Church, caring for the poor et cetera.  It was a term of endearment, not an ordained title.

Of course, aside from tradition, there's a fundamental problem with a women priest that has to do with what a priest is to his parish.  The role of the Priest is to be the vicar, the proxy for Christ.  We are all called to bring Christ to one another, but the Priest is called to Be Him.  In his Priesthood, he imitates our Lord as the bridegroom of his parish, just as our Lord is the bridegroom of His Church.  

Beyond that, I would like to offer two things that I have learned from people who know a lot more than I: the Community of St. John.

As he confects the Eucharist, the Priest holds up the bread and chalice and proclaim, "This is my body.  This is my blood."  They are in personae christae, participating in the one sacrifice of calvary.

Mary, the Ever-Virgin Theotokos, looked upon the cross, saw her son hanging there, and could say in a way even more profound than that, "This is my body.  This is my blood."  By her Maternity of Christ (which protects His divinity), she literally gave him her body for His own.  Her blood ran in His veins the way my blood runs in my daughter's. She is united with Him at the cross because the body with which He saves the world is her gift to him, is her body, her blood, and that is why she is Our Lady, Queen of Priests. 

Laying aside everything else, she is the only woman to ever exist who could be truly considered for the priesthood, and He who gave her everything, assuming her body and soul into heaven and crowning her Queen of Heaven, did not ordain her.  

Women who would be ordained priests, whether they know it or not, would in the same act usurp the place of honor given His Mother. I would not want to be there when the Master comes to the banquet and asks them to take a lower place at the table.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Should I stand or should I kneel?

So I'd like to face another controversial topic: Why do we kneel at Mass?

Especially at my parish, this has been a bit of a bone of contention over the past two decades.  For a while, we had one priest who stuck to the rubrics, and the other who had everyone stand through the entire Eucharistic Prayer, which led to the compromise - stand up right before the proclamation of the Mystery of Faith and the Memorial Acclamation.

In discussing this, I've heard such comments on how it should be up to the community, or up to the individual, for varying reasons.  Many of them are actually quite well thought out, with basis in scriptural passages and such, and may make my answer seem unsatisfactory.

My answer?


Told ya.

Okay, that's my shock value answer.  My real answer is, because the church said so.

There are actual theological reasons, as well as some small-t traditions that go into things like when we kneel and for how long.  However, at the heart of it, we should be kneeling because the church says that at that point in the Mass, the laity kneels unless impeded by location or infirmity.

But why is that important?

As the Master said, he who is trusted in the small things will be trusted in great things, but he who is distrusted in the small will be distrusted in even in the great things.

Simply put, it is an exercise in obedience, which reminds us that this is not about being comfortable, or having a good time, or even of recharging the battery and getting a spiritual boost.  Experience teaches that if those are your reasons, you'll find yourself unsatisfied.

Rather, the Mass is when we come to worship our God, to put ourselves at the foot of the table and the foot of the cross, to adore and place ourselves in the presence of our creator, our redeemer, our bridegroom, I AM.

I once read a quote from a Protestant minister that went something like this: "If I believed what you Catholics believe about the Eucharist, I would crawl up the aisle every Sunday."  Why?  Because we proclaim that our GOD is on the altar itself.  Not a placeholder, substitute, imitation, image, but our very God.

I'm not recommending that we do that, but what I am saying is that through His Church, which we affirm at Mass to be One, Holy, Catholic (Universal) and Apostolic (Having Authority), to which he gave authority in His name, he asks us to take maybe 15 minutes a week to kneel before him in adoration.

There are theological reasons, spiritual reasons, wonderful reasons to go down on your knees.

My question is this: why do we need a better reason than that it has been asked of us?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Ode to Spam

On a lighter note today...

Ode to Various Luncheon Meats
(Or, The Wonder of By-products)

Part I

Spam, Spam, Glorious Spam!
Take it on the trolley! Take it on the tram!
It will vanquish your hunger with ease,
And its shelf life is several centuries!
Use it in place of ipecac; it’s pink like Pepto Bismal
(Though, in hair replacement trials, its results were rather dismal.)
Feed it to the old folks, and the babies in the pram,
‘Cuz as everybody knows, everybody like da Spam!

Part II

Bologna, the other pink Spam!
Made of who-knows-what, though they call it ham.
I mean, come on! Does anyone really know how it’s made?
For all we know it could be Caribou meat (filleted).
Of this, and its cousin, chopped and formed ham,
Of these products, you would think, you would need but a gram
To wipe out the whole human race in a flash,
And in heaven, we could have a big afterlife bologna bash!
But no, bologna lasts forever, or almost, anyways.
The only thing eternally fresher is Spam, on any given day.

Part III

Spam! Spam Lite! Corned Beef in a can!
If you don’t eat it, you’re not a man!
Just take off the key and roll off the top,
And you’ll have so much fun you won’t be able to stop!
With their cousins, the hotdogs, and Vienna sausages too,
They float in their own met by-product Au Jous.
Perfect for dipping your PB&J’s!(An old family recipe from the beginning of days.)

Part IV

Ah, Spamshine! Sweet nectar of God on high,
Better than any alcoholic product you could buy.
Spam Juice Beer, and aged Spam Juice Wine,
Perfect to drink every time you dine!
As to why it’s so great, I’ll give an example:
It won’t show up in your urinary sample!
Ah, sweet sweet nectar of God on high,
Spamshine, sweet Spamshine, for your sake, I would die!


Battle of the Sexes

It occurs to me that Robert Jordan may be very unpopular among certain... ahem... modern circles for his views on masculinity and femininity.  Specifically, in his Wheel of Time series, there is a "magic" which is called the "One Power."  Both men and women can use, but they do it differently.  While the Power is made used the same way by both - weaving the elements of fire, water, wind, earth and spirit together in varying ways - they are also radically different.

Women wield saidar, while men wield saidin, represented as two halves of a circle, like the Yin & Yang without the dots.  Whereas saidar is used by being open, receptive, and yielding, guiding it as the bank guides the river, saidin must be fought constantly, walking the knife's edge while fighting what are described as mountains, avalanches and oceans of intense cold and intense heat.  They are so different that without aid, men cannot see the weaves of women and vice versa.

For various reasons, at the time of the story, saidin (the male half) is tainted by "The Dark One" and has been for 3,000 years, driving the men who can touch it mad.  Men who can "channel" (touch the One Power) do play a part in this story, however, though there are none formally trained.  This leads to the remarking several times, regarding why women can't teach men to channel: "A fish could as soon teach a bird to fly!"

Changing paths again, I find it intriguing that years before I picked up Eye of the World, I incorporated this into my language: .  It is a combination of the two elemental characters & , which represent fire and water, but also masculinity and femininity.  , which elementally represents a geyser or hot spring, also connotes the interplay between men and women, as exemplified in the interplay of fire and water.  There is a sense in which one or the other is too dominant (quenching or evaporating), one where both are weak, and one where both are strong, but balanced against each other, this last being the best.

Is it just me or have we lost that from society?  Say what you will for the women's liberation movement, I'm not sure how freeing it actually was.  Don't get me wrong, the vote, driving and equal pay are all important things, things that needed to change.  But in denying women an equal participation in society, we were denying the dynamism of the sexes, the rich interplay that exists when women and men get together, beyond just dating and marriage and what comes with it (and all to often before it these days).  The extremism of the 70's has fixed a symptom, but left the underlying rejection of the importance of our differences.

Instead of disappearing from society because they were considered irrelevant, not equal to men, women have been disappearing from society because they have been taught that they must be men.

Sorry ladies, on my worst day, I will be a better man than you could ever dream of being.  Of course, by the same token, I will never be as good of a woman as any of you, ever, even on your worst days.  It's kind of a beautiful thing, this reciprocal lacking.

I cannot begin to describe how rich my life has been made by my wife, of having her as a foil, as a sounding board, as the person who's willing to tell me when I say something stupid.  She was that even before we were married.

I also cannot begin to describe how rich my life has been made by my little sisters.  Before you ask, no, Sean and Ethan are my only two "real" siblings.  However, over my years at St. Thomas, I have found many fellow students who I like to think of as my little sisters, and both by their trust in me as someone worthy of listening to, and in their own oftentimes profound insights, I take great joy.  Don't get me wrong, I have many great man friends, many of whom enjoy waxing philosophic as much or more than I do, but it is different.

We need each other, and not just for the future of the species, but for the NOW of the species.

We need to acknowledge that there are jobs and professions that men do better at, the same as there are jobs and professions to which a woman is better suited.

We men need to acknowledge that just because women are always stubborn and confusing, we're missing something when they're not in the game.

You women need to acknowledge that just because men are always stubborn and confusing, you're missing something when they're not in the game.

So, in conclusion, thank you Robert Jordan, for your profoundly simple insight.

Men and women are different.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Epic Music

Muse: United States of Eurasia

I pretty much love this album, and most of their work in general.  This song in particular just has such a sweeping sound, what with the interspersion of massive piano sections reminiscent of Lawrence of Arabia and Indiana Jones, and then the outro, which is basically just one big exhalation... Me likey.

Apparently the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI appreciates them as well:

Share your favorite epic songs of epicness in the comments!

Call to Arms!

Genesis 18:

20 Then the LORD said: "The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great, and their sin so grave,

21 that I must go down and see whether or not their actions fully correspond to the cry against them that comes to me. I mean to find out."

22 While the two men walked on farther toward Sodom, the LORD remained standing before Abraham.

23 Then Abraham drew nearer to him and said: "Will you sweep away the innocent with the guilty?

24 Suppose there were fifty innocent people in the city; would you wipe out the place, rather than spare it for the sake of the fifty innocent people within it?

25 Far be it from you to do such a thing, to make the innocent die with the guilty, so that the innocent and the guilty would be treated alike! Should not the judge of all the world act with justice?"

26 The LORD replied, "If I find fifty innocent people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake."

27 Abraham spoke up again: "See how I am presuming to speak to my Lord, though I am but dust and ashes!

28 What if there are five less than fifty innocent people? Will you destroy the whole city because of those five?" "I will not destroy it," he answered, "if I find forty-five there."

29 But Abraham persisted, saying, "What if only forty are found there?" He replied, "I will forebear doing it for the sake of the forty."

30 Then he said, "Let not my Lord grow impatient if I go on. What if only thirty are found there?" He replied, "I will forebear doing it if I can find but thirty there."

31 Still he went on, "Since I have thus dared to speak to my Lord, what if there are no more than twenty?" "I will not destroy it," he answered, "for the sake of the twenty."

32 But he still persisted: "Please, let not my Lord grow angry if I speak up this last time. What if there are at least ten there?" "For the sake of those ten," he replied, "I will not destroy it."

Anyone can see that there's a lot of evil in this world. And I do mean a lot. But my brothers and sisters, let us take courage and be not afraid! Our God is a God of Justice AND Mercy, and for the sake of the innocent, he will spare the city, lest those who live in Him face His wrath.

Will you stand up and be counted? Will you fight to be holy? Will you be one of the 10 righteous for whom He spares his wrath?

Will you fight for integrity with no thought of reward, for the simple reason that the master has asked it?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

What's in a name?

So, I though I'd take a moment to share with those not in the know why exactly this is "musings-of-jeb."

So, given name is Jeremiah. Noble name. Prophetic name. Means "God exalts," or "God will exalt." A rather apt name, taking my personality type and that of my namesake. Also my confirmation name, as at the time I didn't have a great devotion to any particular saint.

Obvious shortenings:

  • Jeremy: Kill it with fire. I know some really great guys with that name, but that is not my name.
  • Jerry: Unless you're a Carlson, kill it with fire.  There is one family who is allowed to call me "Jerry." It works for them. It DOES NOT work for anyone else.
  • Jer: Well, pretty obvious, whatever.
  • Miah: This was my common family name.  Sometimes extended to "Miah-mooga." Why am I telling you people that...?

Not so obvious nickname and the point of this post: Jebediah/Jeb.

As many of you know, I was homeschooled K-12, though I went to the public school for band and vocal from 5th grade on. My freshman year, being a freshman, I was of course picked on by seniors, as that is what seniors and freshman do. Specifically, in an attempt to irk me, a few of the seniors started calling me "Jebediah," as of course, since that's not actually my name, it would annoy me or something.

As Robert Jordan says, that which you cannot change, you must accept.

This same year, our band took Alfred Reed's Russian Christmas Music (Part 1 | Part 2) to band contest. It has a wicked awesome string bass part (my favorite part starts at about 6:55 in part 1, with the melody in the woodwinds, and a running string bass line underneath, it still gives me chills), which our band director let me play. That's right, as a freshman, having experience only on the guitar and bass guitar, I got to learn string bass, the part, and take it to contest. Win.

So, for a good chunk of the year, I got to go over by the trombones and play string bass.

I don't care if you're just a freshman, string bass is cool.

The lead trombone was a senior, and one who didn't think I was dirt. She actually thought that my playing the string bass was pretty cool. That meant the trombones thought I was a cool cat, and the appellation "Jebediah" became my mark of coolness.

From there, I just really dug the name, and so I introduced it to the mighty ISUCFVMB as an optional shortening, and from thence it stuck.

Fun fact, Jebediah I have seen translated as "Beloved of Yahweh," and "Beloved Friend." Also win.

Something on my mind...

From the Holy Gospel according to John, chapter 6:

51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world."

52 The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us (his) flesh to eat?"

53 Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.

54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.

55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.

56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.


60 Then many of his disciples who were listening said, "This saying is hard; who can accept it?"

61 Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, "Does this shock you?

62 What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?

63 It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

64 But there are some of you who do not believe." Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him.

65 And he said, "For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father."

66 As a result of this, many (of) his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.

67 Jesus then said to the Twelve, "Do you also want to leave?"

68 Simon Peter answered him, "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.

69 We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God."

Pay close attention to verse 66: "As a result of this, many (of) his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him." This is in direct response to his claim that his flesh is true food, and his blood true drink. He did not temper this statement, at all. He truly meant what he said, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you."

The Sacrifice of the Mass is not a "re-enactment" of the sacrifice on Calvary. It is in fact a Participation in the one sacrifice. Mystically, we take part in the sacrifice of the cross. We watch as the bread and wine become His Body and Blood, lifted upon the cross as his Mother watches with pierced heart, shedding his blood into the chalice of our salvation. We witness his glorious resurrection in triumph as we are told to "Ecce Homo - Behold the Man."

I was told today that 45% of Catholics don't know about the True Presence. While we may point the finger of blame at bad catechesis, or the 70's, even if we are right, that does nothing to heal the wound.

Next time you go to Mass, when Father says, in the person of Christ, "This is my body," see your God, broken on a cross, crowned with thorns, dead for your sins. When he says, in the person of Christ, "This is my blood," see the life of your God spilled upon a dry and thirsty world, shed as a fountain of life for those who will drink.

When he says to you, "Ecce Homo - Behold the Man," see your God, glorious in his salvific love. See Him shining like the sun, the lamb who was slain, I AM.

Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
O good Jesus, hear me.
Within Thy wounds, hide me.
Separated from Thee let me never be.
From the malignant enemy, defend me.
At the hour of death, call me.
To come to Thee, bid me,
That I may praise Thee in the company
Of Thy Saints, for all eternity.


Well, I figured I'd better start this blog out right, appropriately nerdy and all. I just decided today, maybe all those kids with their bliggity-blogs and their facey-spaces were on to something. So here I am, with my very own blag. Maybe I'll even clean up and start using my wobpage!!!

In any case, welcome to my blog. The title comes from my collected works of poetry, in turn named after the movie of 2002. I have not seen the movie, I just really like the title.

These are my thoughts, my musings, my rants and my ramblings.  Nothing more or less, they are what I am thinking at the moment. Not to say that what I think fluctuates wildly, simply what I think about. I am a Mastermind, after all.

You people are so hard to look after.

So welcome, pull up a chair by the fireplace, grab a glass/mug/shot of your favorite inebriative, and let's talk.

Topic #1: I am right.