Gaza, or, The LALA Show ep. 1

Gaza. And so begins my least favorite essay of the week. These musing on the subject come from a man thousands of miles away. I have never even met a national on either side of the contested boarder, nor have I really given the matter much thought. What I present here is not an argument per say, they are merely observations from a man who has happened to read a few books.

Auctor: I really can’t see why my three readers stick around. All I do is pontificate on things I have absolutely no qualifications to speak on. Why do you keep reading Lector?

Lector: Well, for one thing, I am not really a reader; I am merely a literary tool you stole from Belloc to add some flavor to your blog. If anything, I am a projection of you.

Auctor: Granted, but besides that?

Lector: Well, maybe it is like what Chesterton said. Umm… I can’t remember it exactly. But wasn’t it something about the expert only being useful when it comes to building a bridge or flying an airplane, the common man being needed to discover Truth.

Auctor: Is that what you think I am doing? God, I hope not. If that is why people read my blog, well, I had better just stop writing now.

Lector: Don’t worry. Everyone knows that your essays are just mindless drivel. I certainly do. I just said the Chesterton thing because I know he comforts you.

Auctor: Oh, so you think it is all mindless drivel? That’s a relief.

Lector: I’m glad.

Auctor: Wait! Didn’t you say that you are just a projection of me?

Lector: I did.

Auctor: So. What you’re saying is that I think my own essays are mindless drivel.

Lector: Yes.

Auctor: That’s a relief.

Lector: … Um… aren’t you kind of in the middle of something. Or the beginning more like. I thought we were supposed to be listening to you pontificate about Gaza.

Auctor: The truth is I simply do not have the heart. All I can think about is the novel I should be writing, or my essay on the Romantic Poets tomorrow. Actually, I’d much rather just keep talking for the last 400 or so words.

Lector: Well, it’s your blog. I guess you can do whatever you want. Can I just make two suggestions? I think they will help this out a lot.

Auctor: Shoot.

Lector:  First, if this is going to become a regular thing, maybe we should limit it to about 500 words. It is one thing to ask an audience to read a monologue of 750 words, but expecting them to have you talking to yourself for that long is an abuse of their time.

Auctor: Maybe 600, any way I agree on principle. What is the second suggestion?

Lector: Can we at least talk about Gaza a little. It is the title of the post after all.

Auctor: I guess.

Israel should be able to defend itself from missiles. But it does not have the right to bomb civilians, even if the militants are hiding there. It is not alright to kill a human shield, especially when a vast number of that human shield is made up of children.

Auctor: That’s it. That’s what I got.

Lector: Well folks, it looks like out time has runneth over. This is Lector for Auctor, signing off from this weeks, The LALA show. Goodnight and God Bless.

Mark Shea

Tags

, ,

I have never met Mark Shea. I suppose I should have that out into the open right now. I have never read a single book by Mark. I religiously avoid his article in the Register, even when he links to it. This study of him will be based solely on his blog and on his FaceBook account. I have long been a subscriber of his FB page; and, once his effort to alienate his friends list was successful, I was honored to be number among his virtual friends. If this poor excuse for a blog ever falls under the eyes of Mark: might I congratulate you, sir, on the sheer amount abuse and skullduggery that you dish out every day.

Your Skullduggery is masterful.

I first came across Mark a year ago. At the time, I was in the midst of two big ideological shifts. The first movement was toward traditional Catholicism. I was a daily reader of WDTPRS, NLM, and a variety of other traditional hotbeds. These were great men, furthering a great cause in our Church. I will always recall the days I spent in their company with fondness and humility; and I am still very favorable to the monarchical tendencies of many within that clique. Alas, the pairing was not destined to be permanent. A young man, finally away from the droning of professors and educated men, I was finally beginning to decide things for myself. Chesterton stole my heart. And Distributism seemed like the final piece of the puzzle. I went to The Distributists Review, but it all seemed a little too intellectual for a poor poet like me. A friend recommended Catholic and Enjoying It, and I have been a regular reader ever since. Thus endeth the back story.

Mark was the first modern I have read to uphold both the moral and social orthodoxies of the Church. He has enemies on all fronts, because the Church has enemies on all fronts. I will be taking up the next three Tuesdays giving my opinion of three recent incidents involving Mark. Next week I will look at the recent election. The following week will be spent discussing Mark’s views on homosexuality. And finally, I will wax poetical on his cautions against Catholic Folk Heroes. The rest of today’s essay will be spent in the only unpleasant aspect of writing about Mr. Shea, my disagreement with him.

Luckily for me, there is rather little for me to write here. The areas that mark and I are at odds over have nothing to do with the Faith at all. Our differences land within the true realm of prudential judgment. The phrase ‘prudential judgment’ has come to be used by the political right in precisely the same way that the political left uses the idea of conscience. In both cases what they actually mean is license: the license to believe whatever they want, without any care for the teachings of Holy Mother Church. For prudential judgment to have any credence at all, it must not deal with morality whatsoever. Torture can never be a matter for prudential judgment because, right or wrong, (and it is wrong) it is inescapably a moral issue.

The area in which Mark and I disagree is found in that den of horrors: politics. We are both democrats, in that original sense, meaning we both believe in the equality of men, and the divine right of those men to live freely. We disagree on one point, and I have a nagging suspicion that most of my audience will disagree with me too. Mark is an absolutist, in same sense that the Divine Right Kings were absolutists. The philosophy three hundred years ago was that God gave kings the right to rule their nation with impunity. Today’s prevailing thought is that the voting public has the right to rule themselves without any secular block.

This new philosophy has the advantage of raising up the common man. It corrected the errors of the seventeenth  and eighteenth centuries, but I fear that it overcorrected them. The United States is famous for its supposed checks and balances, but there is one fault in the system: It does not give a check against representative democracy. The majority always rules. Or rather, the majority of the people that bother to vote for a candidate they don’t particularly want to begin with get to choose the men who will rule. My contention is simply that a Monarch, anointed by the church, and acting as a check against the abuses of democracy is a step up from republicanism.

I will go into further detail concerning my beliefs some other time. I am already fifty words over my limit.

Good night. I’ll see you tomorrow for my thoughts on Gaza.

The Sin of Boredom

Tags

, ,

Friday’s essay might have been better named, “An Essay that will quickly Devolve into an Explanation of Earlier Remarks.” Similarly, tonight’s paper might be named, “A Short Wrap Up Concerning what I meant to Say Last Week, and Further Development of that Same Thesis.” I stand by last week’s original title because I honestly did not think that Belloc would be taking up so much of our time. I stand by today’s title because, well, that is what the essay is about.

I ended my work Friday by relating myself to Belloc. I said that we both have a driving need to write. A need that is quite separate from the battles we wage and the truths we propound. His was clearly the need for money to sustain his family. Mine is the need for intellectual occupation to stave off boredom.

Lector: Finally we get to boredom.  After an essay and two paragraphs of another, you have finally managed to get around to it.

Auctor: Yes, yes, I know that I was a bit slow. But this is the Internet after all, what did you expect?

Boredom is one of the worst things in the world. In fact, I have no qualms about naming it the worst thing in all creation. (And not only because it plagues me so terribly.) The bored man commits the worst imaginable sin against God: complete indifference. Christ has told us that he will take the hot and the cold, but the lukewarm shall be cast out into the night. Love God or hate God, pray to Him or curse Him, believe in Him or reject Him, do something, anything, but ignore Him.

Boredom is the state of being dissatisfied; and in a certain way, it is alright to be dissatisfied. Have we not been told by the Great Father Augustine, “My heart is restless ‘till it rests in Thee”? The problem is that the bored man is not even naturally satisfied by the naturally satisfying aspects of life. It is true that basket weaving may not be able to hold our attention eternally. But it should, at least, be able to hold our attention for the space of ten minutes. Indeed, the truly holy Christian could be taken up with basket weaving forever, because he would see God within it, and be satisfied. I said two weeks ago that the Human mind tends toward the infinite. When we are bored it is because we either refuse or are incapable of seeing the infinite majesty of God within our daily habits.

Let me use myself as a parable. I am surrounded by books. Above my head this moment are the complete works of a dozen poets, the Bible, three different Catholic missals (both EF and OF), a medieval book called the “Golden Legend,” three smaller books of poetry, my journal,  and preliminary notes on a narrative poem. To my left is a phonograph; beneath it hide a dozen symphonies, three contemporary records of music, a description of the Old Mass by a Dominican, and three copies of my Uncle’s “Close Enough for Jazz” record. To my right are over two hundred of books, ranging in subject from philosophy to religion to history to fiction to poetry and back again. All around me are religious images and sacramentals, rosaries and statues. Before me lies my pipe. Heaped around are the drafts and notes for twenty or more projects that should all command my attention. An entire universe is at my disposal, and I am still cursed with boredom.

I spend the day lying about, mindlessly staring into a computer screen. In my fits of distemper my books are nothing more than dull paperweights. The music drives me mad with its noise. Nothing can steal me away from myself, even for the span of five minutes. I become the sole item of worth in the room. Everything else dims in comparison with my needs, with my mental appetites, and I am left with a prideful heap of self pity and self righteousness.

If we are unable to see the divine in the human things around us, it will naturally lead us into a state of self idolizing boredom. Alas, however, there is yet one other kind of boredom. One that is much, much worse…

Lector: Wait, why did you stop?

Auctor: Because, I am maintaining these essays at about 750 words. That way my audience will not become bored with me.

Lector: What Audience?

Auctor: Touché

On Boredom

On Boredom.

I began this blog with the intention of writing one essay a week and never broaching the topic of politics within the calendar year of Presidential Race. I write this little essay tonight with the intention of breaking both of those rules completely and forever. The new rules of this blog will be as follow:

Monday is the day for faith and religion. I will have just gone Mass the previous day, so I figure that I will be filled with all manner of holy thoughts.

Tuesday is the day for biography. I do not just mean historical or literary figures, expect Mark Shea to come under my microscope very soon. And of course the greater half of the Chesterbelloc: Hillary. (Chesterton disciples may view this as an appropriate time to shun me forever.)

Wednesday is the day of the lowest of all possible topics: politics, or more exactly, current affairs. Expect the very depths of my intellectual penury to be exhausted in this case.

Thursday is the happy day for art. This will cover any manner of things that might fall under that heading. I plan to spend some time on the Romantic poets, the Pre-Raphaelites, English novels, and a great smattering of the best European symphonies.

Friday is the day for this blogger to do what blogs were made for. Namely, being able to publish whatever happens to pop into my head. Seeing as today is Friday, I might as well get on with my Friday’s essay; which the clever among you will know to be on boredom.

I mentioned above that I thought Belloc to be the greater half of the Chesterbelloc. I also intimated my fears that such an opinion would be less than gleefully met. I feel I should explain myself further, and perhaps quell the raging hearts of those Chestertonians whom I have thus offended.

You see, there were great differences between the two men that no manner of conviviality could get rid of. At the height of each man’s reign, when both were fighting against the evils of the powerful and the errors of the educated, the two battles had a very different feel about them. GK always possessed an angelic streak that seemed almost too good for Earth. His enemies in the newspapers were his friends in the pub, and there was not a man alive who could fault his congeniality. Quite the contrary for Belloc; his enemies were mortal enemies, and they never ceased to be so.

The reason for this major difference is to be found in the pocketbooks of each man, not to mention his nursery. They say we are headed toward a fiscal cliff; Belloc lived his entire life desperately scaling fiscal cliffs. At the end of his illustrious career he looked back and remarked that he only ever wrote one book for love: Path to Rome; he wrote the rest for money. Hillarie, a widower, raised five children. Chesterton, survived by his wife, enjoyed the pleasures of unclehood without the trials of fatherhood.

It is true that Chesterton began poor. (Show me a writer who began rich and I will show you a lord or a liar.) But Chesterton’s poverty only lasted until his fame eclipsed his debts. Even at his height, Belloc walled up King’s Land like a literal castle against the invading hordes of money collectors.

When Chesterton defended the poor he did it on principle. When Belloc defended the poor he did it for the very practical reason of being a hair’s breadth from joining them in poverty. When Chesterton attacked modern education, he attacked it because he saw Eternal Truth in his position and not his opponents. When Belloc attacked it, he did it because his five children needed educating.

I think this is the reason for the personal attacks on Belloc’s part. The fight was simply too real for him. His felt toward the intellectual errors of his day the same way a man might feel toward a personal insult. Chesterton was fighting ideas, Belloc was fighting men.

This is why I feel so drawn to Belloc. He had a driving need to write, a need that was quite different from the object of his writing. I have a driving need to write too. Not money. No, I am quite a bachelor, living on my own, completely indifferent to any monetary concern whatever. My driving need is-

Dear me. As you might know, there is a law of blogging that insists I finish this post very quickly. I am sorry I did not get to Boredom. But hey, that’s Friday for you.

The Great Defeat

Tags

Do not weep. Do not let your heart be troubled. For we have been defeated.
They are coming for us now. The black veil of the State is poised above the heads of Catholics all across this Country. Our liberty may not last the night.
Fear not. Lift your voices in songs of joy. For we have been defeated.
We have followed our Lord and we have been offered His Cross. Let us now embrace it in His manner.

The outcome of last night’s election has been weighing heavily upon my mind. Four years ago, ignorance might have been a legitimate excuse for the popular vote. That time has passed. Ignorance has fallen away like a curtain from a stage. A man was revealed, gradually but completely, to the American people. We were shown a man Hell-bent on destroying the Catholic Church. We saw a man determined to murder of Children, both born and unborn, both at home and abroad. We saw a man who ignores the poor and widows. We saw modernism, progressivism, relativism, injustice, and deceit. We saw the fullest embodiment of statist evil even known in this Country. We saw all of this, and then we re-elected him.

Let us not mince words. The political experiment began by the founding fathers has been a failed experiment. Men have proved once again that we are useless without a visible authority above us. The United States, and let us here call it what it truly is, an Imperial Power stretching across the whole world, may linger on for a while, but the country founded by Jefferson, Washington and Franklin is dead.

Evil is now firmly planted within our boarders and it possesses all of the ingredients for a Catholic persecution. Statists rule in all of government. Nationalism pervades the psyche of the citizenry. The Church is standing up to the HHS Mandate. The Church teaches objective truth. The Catholic Church is the only thing that has stood in the way of tyranny for 2000 years. The first move that any new totalitarian government must make is the neutralization of Rome. Look for this to happen.
Oppressors have used different strategies to destroy the Church in a blossoming tyranny. It is only a guess, but I expect the American Government to follow the Henry the Eighth model. Forces will precipitate a mass schism from Rome. The new church will become a Patriotic Puppet Catholicism (think China). The recusants will be forced underground by labeling us domestic terrorists. The state might wait for their Guy Fawkes moment, or they might simply take the Nero approach for blaming Catholics. We will be hunted like rabbits, and held up as terrorists in a country that has already sold its soul in the name of security.

Persecution is just around the corner. And yet I say rejoice? Why?
Because persecution is the Glory of the Christian. It is our glorious chance to give our lives to God in the most complete sense. The Christians of Rome would pray for Martyrdom. We pray for fellowship with the martyrs weekly at Mass.
“Blessed are ye when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for my sake: Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in heaven.”

Be glad. Rejoice. Our Reward is great in Heaven. Christ has baptized death with His Blood. He has sanctified suffering with His love. Let the state take notice. Let all the world hear this proclamation from the Church Militant:

There is nothing that you could possibly do to us that we would not welcome as a gift from God. If you spill our Blood our joy shall be twofold. First we shall soon see God. Second we shall see your sure defeat reflected in our very blood. The blood of martyrs is the seed of conversion.

Remember, dear reader, there is only one path to a Christian revival in America, and it is not in the polls. It is through the prayer and suffering of the faithful.

The Terrible Mercy of God

Tags

, , , ,

The Terrible Mercy of God

Last Saturday I knelt in church to prepare myself for Confession. As usually happens in that place, my mind began to slip from the wretchedness of my sins to the vastness of God and His merciful nature. Before delving into the ideas this excursion produced, it may be interesting to consider the actual reality of this wandering. In fact, I think I will do so now.

I have never been very good at keeping one train of thought in any line; and if that one line concerns me, I am even less interested. Do not mistake me, I have done my fair share of self-absorbed navel gazing. I have pitied myself to an outrageous degree, belaboring the most minor sway in emotion as a cataclysmic event. (If you ever have the chance to speak with my closest friends they will tell you what an insufferable ass I am.) My point is that, even when I am lost in the very grips of prideful self-analysis, I am bored by it, and I usually end up in one of two places: Contemplating the Almighty, or staring numbly at a computer screen, vaguely hoping that it will suddenly have the capacity to interest my churning mind. Need I say that I enjoy the former more than the latter? Or that I end up with the latter much more often than the former?

There is something in the mind that naturally tends toward the infinite. Whether it be the infinite God or the infinite illusion of Cyber pleasure, the human mind needs to delve into a subject without any risk of hitting a final boarder. I pity the materialists their philosophy, and I am sure that I could not last a single day with it. They are trapped by walls on all sides: a universe that feels suspiciously like a prison cell. The Materialist is confined to two responses in the face of the unknown: Denial or Suicide. Not the best options for a scientific mind, surely. Is it any wonder then, as I contemplate such a small thing as my life, even when it is a contemplation on the sinfulness of that life, I am soon dissatisfied with the subject and want to move on?

As the old stone church that I quietly knelt in last Saturday did not possess an internet connection, I was unable to sink dispassionately into the mindless prattle of the web. (Of which, coincidently, I am here contributing to.) My secondary enterprise would have to suffice.* And so, dear reader, I am now in the strange position of drawing to a point, or rather commencing a point. It is something that I have avoided for some time now, but which I accept to be inevitable.

 

It was a slight deception to suggest that my contemplation of God’s Mercy took place in the line for confession. I did, in fact, think on it a great deal while in the line. And I certainly spent much more time considering the ideas here written than in studying my own conscience. However, the first inclining of this subject occurred to me moments before the Consecration during the Mass of All Saints. Will you believe me if I defend my presence of mind in that occasion? Indeed, I did not let myself get swept away with it, even if the timing was justifiable. The Consecration is too real a moment for any theoretical thoughts. Theory should be avoided in the presence of the miraculous, lest you become like a mathematician scribbling away wildly during the multiplication of the loaves: he risks missing the point. Nevertheless, the point I am about to make is framed just as well in line for the confessional as at the Consecration. In fact, my very purpose is to consider the link between the two.

The Confessional is blood on the hands of the world. It was our sorrow, and not our sins, that caused the Crucifixion. God would never have sent His Son to die for an unrepentant race. If any Devils were capable of sorrow, I am sure Christ would gladly suffer again to save them. But since they remain obstinate, they remain in Hell. The Human race fell just as Satan did, but then we did the worst thing we ever did. We turned back to God. If only our pride were stronger, then Christ would never have had to die for us. And yet, I sing with the Deacon on Holy Saturday, “O happy fault,/ O necessary sin of Adam,/ which won for us so great a Redeemer!”  But note, the Exultet has it wrong. It was not the fault of Adam that won us a redeemer, it was his sorrow.

The moment Adam turned to God in sorrow, The Triune desired to grant forgiveness. Alas, He was not able to. God cannot be unjust, for He is Justice itself. But he is also Mercy, and for a very long time I could not understand the relationship between these two ideas. I believed them to be so radically opposed that both of them existing within one being was incomprehensible. I spent most of my childhood (I am lately escaped from youth even now) trying to reconcile the two. Actually, a novel lays half written before me, dealing with this very problem.

Imagine my shock to realize it at last. You may think me a fool for not seeing it before. I am sure that it is a commonly known truth; that I will find it written in book after book now that I am no longer looking for it; but then, such is the humor of God.

Mercy is not the negation of Justice. It is merely a means of achieving it. When we think of Justice in its negative sense, that is, when it considers the wrongs of men, it is natural to assume that the guilty party will fulfill the requirements given. The matter is simple enough in practical terms: If a man breaks a window, he is compelled to pay for it.

Mercy does not dispel the requirements for Justice. It is not the great White Out of God. Rather, it shifts the means of achieving justice from the wrong doer to the wronged. If the owner of the window grants the smasher mercy, then the smasher will no longer have to pay for the window. But Mercy does not pay for windows, and Mrs. Window Owner will grow cold without a barrier to the outside world. So Mr. Window Owner will have to buy a new window himself, fulfilling Justice by practicing Mercy.

God and Man have played out this same scenario on a cosmic scale. Man sinned against God, and the wage of sin is death. We begged God for mercy, and Christ granted it. He took on the yoke of our own sin. He fulfilled Justice through Mercy, and enabled God to forgive us completely.

The Church has always taught that Jesus came to die. Archbishop Sheen says that all men cast a shadow before them from their birth. But Christ cast a shadow back from the Cross, one that even reached His manger in Bethlehem. He was the only man that lived to die. And what was the reason for his death? What cause did he champion as he rose above the world in benediction? It was the sorrow of man that he championed. It was for the baleful cries of wretched sinners that he came to suffer and silence them forever.

Remember this the next time you have the gall to enter a Confessional. You are not asking God to erase your sins from the universe. You are not asking Him to give you a gentle hug and reassuring word of love. When you plea for mercy, you are asking Christ to die for you. You are looking back two thousand years, for time is nothing, and holding out the nails to Him, begging Him to take them.

Perhaps this thought will make us think twice before we sin, but I doubt it. I know myself at least. I know my weakness. Instead, I hope this thought brings something that is even more missed in the modern world than morality: Thanksgiving.

 

 

*I might have said that my presence in a church was a contributing factor to my decision. But I believe my readership could see right through that falsehood, even in the inaugural submission to this website.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 240 other followers