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Archive for May, 2007

Yet another post of mine inspired by something over at Jeff Culbreath’s Stony Creek Digest.  His post is a lengthy discussion of how one may resist feminism, which contains many interesting points worthy of discussion.  However, the most interesting part of the discussion that I saw was near the end.  Mr. Culbreath points out that “The flip side is that non-feminist toys and games are often hyper-masculine in the worst pagan sense. And that is the choice modern children are presented with: feminism, or barbarian masculinity.”  This, I believe, is the origin of many of our societal problems today.  Many of the people described in the aforementioned article as feminists are, simply because they do not see any choices beyond feminism and barbarism.

It may come as a surprise to readers, but I have taken many “women’s and gender studies” courses in college.  This is not really by choice: many of them filled requirements for one of my two majors.   However, I learned some of the arguments and opinions of even the most extreme feminists through these classes.  And, I believe that few of them see the posibility of any kind of system that is neither feminist nor barbaric.  The world as it is today seems to offer those as the only options.  Just look at how people react to any hint of something that goes against the typical feminist worldview, such as making abortion illegal.  To many, there is no thought that perhaps the people seeking to make abortion illegal care about women, that in fact many women believe that themselves.  If you read indymedia or a similar liberal website after a pro-life event, they will typically assume that all the men there are woman-hating neanderthals (which reminds me…I must post about the real neanderthals sometime), and all the women are brainwashed doormats.  There is, of course, little truth to this view: I have yet to see anyone at the Walk For Life, for instance, who seemed to fit this stereotype.  However, the stereotype exists precisely because of the notion that the only masculinity is barbarian masculinity.  Young men who do not conform to the typical feminist line are left with little to choose from in society.  Thus, we are left with a kind of uncivilized masculinity which then appears to be the only kind available, which in turn feeds the idea that men and women are naturally opposed to each other.  In this way, I believe that the barbarian masculinity mentioned in Jeff Culbreath’s article is just as dangerous as the feminism he discusses in more detail.

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I just wanted to inform everyone reading of an excellent new blog, Catholic Restorationists.  It is a group blog, and some of the bloggers I regularly read are participating.  In fact, I doubt whether there are many reading my blog who do not yet know about this new blog.

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Recently I cracked the LCD screen of my laptop. A black hole with radiating tendrils appeared, looking something like a palm tree, or the Nile Delta seen from the air. I took the computer to GeekSquad as well as another local computer repair place, and they all told me essentially the same thing: it would be extremely expensive to fix, and if I did not get it fixed it would spread. They told me I ought to just get a new laptop. So, I believed them, and started looking at new laptops. However, I kept using this one in the interim, and I am lucky I did: the crack has healed itself! There is now, instead of a large black hole, merely a tiny black line near the top of the screen, which is quite “live-with-able”.

Anyway, if any readers can offer any insight into how that happened, I would very much appreciate it. It is strange to watch a lifeless machine heal itself.

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It should come as no surprise to any reader that I do not approve of moving Ascension Thursday to Sunday. It is on Thursday for a reason! Seriously, why should it be moved? Should we move Christmas to the nearest Sunday too, so that people can spend the actual feast day indulging in materialistic greed? What makes this move especially unpalatable is the fact that it helps no one. Concerned that no one will come to the Ascension Thursday Mass because they have work? Hold it after most people get off work! Concerned that people just won’t care enough to come to Mass on a weekday? Well, if that’s the case than, to be blunt, they don’t care to come to Mass on Sunday either. Why would anyone respect the Church’s teaching that we must attend Mass on Sundays, but disrespect her teaching that we must attend Mass on Holy Days of Obligation? And finally, if the concern is that people won’t know that Ascension Thursday is coming up, then announce it at every Mass that Sunday! Thus, I believe it should stay on Thursday.

Thankfully, I am lucky enough to live within walking distance of a wonderful Tridentine Mass parish, Our Mother of Perpetual Help Chapel. So, I walked over there for Ascension Thursday Mass at 6:30 this evening. Though in this diocese the Feast of the Ascension has been moved to Sunday, the Tridentine Mass still celebrates it on Thursday. Now, my problem is this: my girlfriend, who lives in another diocese, is coming to stay with my family this weekend. She did not go to Mass today, because there was no Church near her celebrating the Feast of the Ascension today. Now, we had planned on going to Sunday Mass at Our Mother of Perpetual Help, which of course has already celebrated the Ascension and will not be doing so on Sunday. So, does Catherine need to go to a Mass where the Ascension is being celebrated? Should we go to a parish that is celebrating Ascension Thursday on Sunday in order to fulfill both of our Sunday Obligations and her Holy Day Obligation? Or may we just go to the regular Sunday Mass at Our Mother of Perpetual Help, without worrying about the fact that their readings and prayers will not be for the Ascension?

Update: Fr. Richtsteig has a similar rant up on his blog.

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Cetaceans

This post has no particular reason behind it, but cetaceans sure are fascinating creatures.

orca.jpg

Orca (Orcinus orca)

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Beluga (Delphinapterus leucas)

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Narwhal (Monodon monoceros)

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My Very First Meme!

Fr. Daren Zehnle has tagged me with a “meme” about books. I don’t like the word “meme”, but these internet memes seem to have little to do with the evolutionary concept of a meme, so I don’t dislike them. And furthermore, it must be a violation of some canon law to refuse a meme request from a priest. Anyway, my answers aren’t a comprehensive list but should show something of my opinions about various books. Furthermore, I won’t post links to the books on Amazon…if you’re interested in the book, find the version you want from the store you wish to support.
Three works of non-fiction everyone should read:

The Confessions by St. Augustine. This is an absolutely wonderful book, and I believe that everyone who is interested in how to live a Christian life should read it. It is really the story of a troubled man with many problems who manages to become a saint. If he can do it, we can too.

The Framework of a Christian State by Fr. E. Cahill, S.J. This book was written in the 1930s, but does an excellent job at anticipating and discussing the social and political problems we are experiencing today. I do not agree with everything in the book, but certainly a great deal of it is still useful and good today.

Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton. This is somewhat of a cliche answer I suppose, as so many people love it. However, I found it quite interesting: the arguments for orthodoxy are given in a clear, plain-spoken, and somewhat confused manner. Reading it is sort of like meeting someone for the first time, and quickly realizing how much you agree with him.

Three works of fiction everyone should read:

The Silmarilion by J.R.R. Tolkien. This is such an intricate and beautiful set of stories. Reading it, to me, was an experience of having the pagan myths I loved as a child reconciled with a truly Christian worldview, in a way that does not compromise either. In short, it is a great new mythology. And besides, Fr. Zehnle already took The Lord of the Rings so I had to come up with something new.

Lost in the Cosmos by Walker Percy. I’m not sure whether to call this fiction or non-fiction. It is certainly applicable to our society, and what’s more it gives the reader so many fascinating ideas that it is well worth reading.

The Metamorphoses by Ovid. These are somewhat silly poems, and center frequently on sexual themes. However, the reason for my interest in them is that they are a wonderful collection of ancient myths, usually in the forms we are used to. They are cleverly written and reflect a great deal of what was good and what was bad in pre-Christian Roman society.

Three authors everyone should read:

J.R.R. Tolkien. Of course. Everyone absolutely should read Tolkien. I myself have read Lord of the Rings four times, and I am working on my fifth (reading it with Catherine, who has never read it before.) Tolkien’s works were what got me interested in Catholicism in the first place.

G.K. Chesterton. He’s funny, prophetic, poetic, and a great writer. Everything from “Lepanto” to the Fr. Brown stories posess their own kind of beauty and greatness. I have not read a quarter of what I should read of his works.

Walker Percy. Another author I haven’t read as much of as I would like. I can’t quite figure him out, either, but every time I read something of his I find myself thinking about various points and getting new ideas, so I think that is a good thing.

Three books no one should read:

The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. It’s an awful book for “Young Adults” or whatever the age category is called. I was forced to read it in sixth grade, and it was absolutely miserable. I highly recommend not reading it and not forcing your children or students to do so.

Cognition by Margaret Matlin. This is the book for a Cognitive Psychology class I am taking. In fact, I am using that book to symbolize all psychology textbooks, which are almost always dreadfully boring and un-informative.

Women’s Lives: A Topical Approach by Claire Etaugh and Judith Bridges.  Essentially a celebration of everything that is wrong with the world.  This was used as a textbook for a “Women’s Studies” class I had to take at Santa Clara University, and is a truly loathsome book.

Well, now that I have completed the meme myself, I must inflict it upon others.  I would tag Jeff Culbreath, but he just said he doesn’t want to have to make a list of books.  So, I tag Felix Randal, Chris at Domine Non Sum Dignus, and of course Mr. Culbreath if he is interested in doing it.

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Traditionalism, as readers who were have read my first few posts know, is a word I was originally hesitant to use.  It seems to me to have many possible definitions, and that many definitions that are used for it do not match what I or any Traditionalist I know believe.  Thus, I avoided using the term.  However, it seems to me that it is difficult to avoid the term, and that I often have to go to great lengths to describe “the kind of person who thinks that the Traditional Mass is wonderful, that “the old days were better“, and that our society has gone the profoundly wrong way” without saying “Traditionalist”.  Because of this, I have decided to write a defense/explanation of what I believe Traditionalism is, and an explanation of what the real Catholic Traditionalist thinks about several issues.  I hope to leave some room for disagreement on particulars: one may be a Traditionalist and nonetheless be somewhat to the “left” or “right” of me (if I may use such imprecise terms).  I will thus attempt to avoid defining a “Traditionalist” as “myself and others who agree with me”.  Rather, I would like to leave the adjective “Traditionalist” open to as many people as it can legitimately be extended to.

Society

Catholic Traditionalism, I believe, is more a response to modern society than it is to liturgical matters, though liturgy is important and I do plan to address it.  Modern society is over-sexualized, and sexualized in all the wrong ways.  It is greedy and self-interested.  It is based upon a lifestyle which is not sustainable in any sense, whether social or physical.  Furthermore, it is a society which strictly controls its members through mostly invisible means.  Real differences, differences that matter, are crushed while immaterial differences, such as those between races, are “celebrated”.  A Traditionalist is quite simply one who says “no” to this society.  This is not to say that we do not engage with the society at large, or that we wish to separate ourselves from other people.  Rather, it means that we live our own lives with radically different ideals than those of the people around us.

A Catholic Traditionalist must see sexuality as the God-given gift that it is, and utterly reject the sleazy “glamour of evil” that is pornography and semi-pornography (a category which includes much of advertising and the media today).  The Traditionalist furthermore must be dedicated to the construction of a society which is more cooperative than competitive.  Competition has its place, and I am not by any means a Socialist.  However, if we are to have a society which follows Catholic teaching we must be our brothers’ keepers to some extent.  To a Traditionalist, this is best done on a local level: offering Mr. Edwards your help when he is struggling is a far better thing than telling Mr. Edwards how to sign up for a Federal welfare program.  Furthermore, we must break free from the subtle controls of the society around us.  Our society, for all it claims to “celebrate diversity” is quite intolerant of any attempt to differ from the norm in matters of dress, behavior, and way of life.  Parents with several children, young people who faithfully attend Mass, priests who wish to celebrate Traditional Masses, and the like can tell you how hard it often is to deviate from the accepted norms.  A Catholic Traditionalist must be ready to reject certain problematic elements of society.

Religion

All too often in the modern world, religion seems to exist in a vacuum.  Even some devout Christians who attend their church regularly and see themselves as very religious would shudder at the thought of discussing religion with their co-workers.  This is not without reason, as often our culture is hostile to religion.  However, from a Traditionalist standpoint an important change that must be made is that religion must be central to one’s life.  A Catholic Traditionalist, to a greater extent than even many non-Traditionalist-but-orthodox Catholics, will life life as a Catholic.  Catholicism is clearly not just a matter of Sunday mass and Friday abstinence.  To a Traditionalist, however, Catholicism must permeate life.  This does not mean being a “religious fanatic” who talks of nothing but God and the Church.  Rather, it means making certain choices “the way a Catholic would”.  Of course all Catholics should do this, but from my experience Traditionalists have a certain aptitude for this.  Once, my girlfriend and I were walking to Mass at Our Mother of Perpetual Help.  We were walking from a parking lot that was not associated with the Chapel, and thus could have been going to a store or business in the area.  However, we were both dressed for Mass and I suppose had a certain look, that led to several people we did not know who were leaving an earlier Mass greeted us warmly as if they were already our friends.  We somehow all knew why we were there.  This focus on the place of religion in life seems to me to permeate the lives of most Traditionalist Catholics.

Liturgy

Yes, this is the big one.  This is the point where the Traditionalist Catholic really begins to differ from others, where the label comes into play.  A Traditionalist, at least in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, believes that older liturgical practices and rites are good and should not be abandoned.  A Catholic Traditionalist usually is someone who attends or would prefer to attend the Traditional Latin, also called the Tridentine, Mass.  A Traditionalist also encourages the use in the Novus Ordo Mass of traditions such as chant, ad orientem celebration, and Latin.  Because of this focus on older forms of liturgy, we often are seen as quite different, even by orthodox Catholics.  Furthermore, liturgical matters have caused certain structural divisions and schisms, such as the situation of the SSPX.  Because of this and other schisms, Traditionalist are often viewed with suspicion.  However, more important than the fact that there have been schisms is the matter of why Traditionalists love and wish to preserve the old Mass.  It is not out of some sick devotion to our own perfection or our own glorification.  Rather, it is because the Traditional Latin Mass offers a true focus on the Eucharist, gives us real clarity about what is important, and provides us with a solid foundation for our lives.  Perhaps this can be found in some Novus Ordo parishes, and I have experienced wonderful Novus Ordo Masses at some parishes.  However, for the Traditionalist, the TLM is simply a good thing, and its complete survival and acceptance is a good goal.

Conclusion

I believe that by defining and defending such terms as “Traditionalist” we may be better able to argue for and understand our own positions.  Often, I find myself arguing against someone who thinks I believe something quite different from what I actually do believe.  Of course, my definition is far from authoritative, or even complete.  However, it does give my readers a clear view of what I mean when I say that I or somebody else is a Traditionalist.  I would very much welcome comments and suggestions about this entry, as I am attempting to define a movement which consists of many more people than just myself.  I also wish to point out, as a final thought, that to my mind “Traditionalist” is not a divisive term that seeks to make one group of Catholics feel superior to another.  Rather, it is a descriptive term, much like “charismatic” or “conservative” which describes the lifestyle and worldview of a particular group.  Thus, it is not an ideological label nor a slam at others who are not Traditionalists, rather a term that seeks to identify the existence of a real group of people with real views and opinions about the world that are similar in particular ways.

Finally, I would like to end with a request that all readers pray for the greater unity of all Christians throughout the world, and for their conversion to the Catholic faith.

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