Tuesday, November 30, 2004

So I'm a novelist now

I was roped into doing Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month), an annual event where people promise to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. I managed to finish earlier today, with a bit of time to spare. It was hard. But I learned a few things: novelists are like PhD's. It doesn't take brilliance to write novels (although it helps). It takes perseverance.

Here's the scary thing: The steaming pile of doo-doo that I wrote is not the worst novel I've ever read.

No, I don't think I'll post it. But I am now not only Athanasius, blogger, but am also Athanasius, novelist!

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Crazy thought

Merit pay for priests.

Think about it. As Thomas More said, if virtue were profitable, everyone would be virtuous. What if orthodoxy was also lucrative?

Just a crazy thought.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

The way is shut!

Today is the feast of the entrance of the Most Holy Theotokos into the temple. The readings for Vespers for the feast are quite thought-provoking, and intentionally place the Temple before us as an image of Mary. Take the third reading, from Ezekiel (KJV):

Ezekiel 43:27-44:4

And it shall come to pass from the eighth day and onward, [that] the priests shall offer your whole-burnt-offerings on the altar, and your peace-offerings; and I will accept you, saith the Lord. Then he brought me back by the way of the outer gate of the sanctuary that looks eastward; and it was shut. And the Lord said to me, This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no one shall pass through it; for the Lord God of Israel shall enter by it, and it shall be shut. For the prince, he shall sit in it, to eat bread before the Lord; he shall go in by the way of the porch of the gate, and shall go forth by the way of the same. And he brought me in by the way of the gate that looks northward, in front of the house: and I looked, and, behold, the house was full of the glory of the Lord: and I fell upon my face.

The implication is clear: any door through which the Lord enters must remain shut forever afterward, since it is now holy. The conjunction of this passage with a feast of the Mother of God shows that the Church views this passage as applying to Mary, whom the Lord God of Israel has entered in most intimately. This passage supports and foretells her perpetual virginity--since it was by the Holy Spirit that she became pregnant, Joseph would have been wrong to enter that door. Thus she was ever virgin.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Do you think St. Basil the Great ever would have sat through a USCCB meeting?

I listened to some of the deliberations on EWTN radio today, and was immediately stultified. This is not to say that I am opposed to the bishops or their authority. But putting bishops in a room with a budget to administer will only bring out the worst characteristics of such men, rather than the best. It makes them look like a politburo, rather than successors to the apostles.

The USCCB ought to disband, or maybe just meet for a yearly retreat (which I think they are doing). But having a standing committee with a budget is a very bad idea. Shut it down. Use the money to save some parishes from being closed.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Thoughts that occur on the way to work

Why does Hollywood often cast John Corbett as a man of God? Northern Exposure, Raising Helen? He's a convert to Orthodoxy in My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

Why is that?


Saturday, November 13, 2004

"Every evil can be reduced to the destruction of mutual solidarity."

V. Soloviev.

"Every evil can be reduced to the destruction of mutual solidarity and balance of the parts and the whole; and every falsehood and every ugliness is also in essence reduced to this. We should acknowledge as evil all exclusive self-affirmation (egoism), as well as anarchic particularism and despotic unification. That is to say, evil exists when a particular or individual element asserts itself in its individuality, striving to exclude or oppress another essence; when the particular or individual elements separately or together desire to stand in place of the whole, exclude and negate its independent unity, and through this the common bond among themselves as well; and when, on the contrary, the freedom of an individual being is constricted or abolished in the name of unity."

From The Heart of Reality, page 74.

Good stuff, eh? I wonder if Solidarity had some roots in this stuff. Incidentally, I was watching a special on the trouble of the coca-growers in Bolivia, and the peasants have a new champion, some politician named Evo, who talked about how the poor have been oppressed, and how their culture needs to be recognized and valued, and I'm thinking, "Yes, that's true." Then he started talking about Marx, and ended a speech saying "Death to the Yankees!" I thought "Same old crap. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss."

This world needs a whole lot of Solidarnoses.

Friday, November 12, 2004

We visited the Field Museum yesterday

and looked at cultural artifacts from various parts of the world. There was little unity in what we saw, except that humans all seem to have a need to decorate their functional objects, and that every culture had religious belief of some kind or other. There were no atheist cultures, in the history of the world.

Why do some people think that such a thing could exist now?

As Mark Shea says, supernature deplores a vacuum--humans are the animals built for a relationship to the divine. We could only live as the NY Times would like if we ceased to be human.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

What kind of nerds go to a Teen Mass?

I was talking with a friend who had the misfortune to suffer through a Teen Mass which had all sorts of drums and electric guitar and handclapping, and the thought that came to my mind was "Who goes to these things?" What self-respecting teen would go to an event that so desparately tried to be "cool?"

Now, I am not very cool. I don't even know how to define the word. But what I do know, is that one either is cool or is not cool. If one is not, trying to be cool is only going to increase one's uncoolness. The trend for lively rock n' roll teen liturgies strikes me as a blatant attempt by uncool adults to be like the kids.

Neither I nor any of my friends would have been caught dead at one of those things. Perhaps I'm unusual, and normal kids are clamoring for this kind of stuff. But I think it would be far better to try to be timeless rather than trendy. It might even attract more of the best of the kids, those who aren't satisfied with shallow pandering, but who would swallow up something substantial.

Am I the only one who thinks these things are nerdy?

Thursday, November 04, 2004

The Ents have awakened, and found themselves strong

The lesson from this past election should be emblazoned on the door of every cathedral church: "Preaching the gospel forthrightly and clearly will transform our nation."

What happened before this past election has never happened in my lifetime: Catholic bishops, priests, and laity (not all of them, but many) preached the Gospel of Life, and not only preached it, but drew out its concrete applications in political life. In other words, people were repeatedly told that their faith should inform their vote. Do you know what happened? Enough people listened that a pro-choice candidate for president was defeated. The ents are awake, and they are strong!

Will they go back to sleep again, I wonder? The unprecedented clear teaching of the Catholic faith that we have just lived through did not come as a result of an initiative of holy bishops. Rather, it was forced upon them as a necessity by a presidential candidate who claimed to be Catholic, but yet repudiated publically fundamental aspects of the faith. The bishops had to act, or admit that they were theological and spiritual eunuchs

However this uprising happened, it must not be allowed to die. The lesson of the past election should not be lost. Let me put it clearly: Preaching the Gospel will transform the culture! If we continue the work that has begun, if even 10% of Catholics vote their faith, we will determine every election. If we continue to teach the Culture of Life, I assure you that there will be a time when both major parties nominate pro-life candidates. If we fail, there will come a time soon when no major party will concern itself with the protection of life.

Don't believe me? Try it and prove me wrong.

Note: I have no illusions that the current president is a fearless advocate of the dignity of every human person. He isn't. The flame of truth is not a bonfire yet, but a flickering candle. That's why we must continue to feed the flame. But at least the flame wasn't extinguished.

Monday, November 01, 2004

A prayer for election day

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Repeat as necessary, or without ceasing.