Archive for June, 2007

Today I was reading Wikipedia about various topics, and I started to look over different Roman Emperors.  While reading about Elagabalus, a well-known weirdo, I decided to take a look at the Talk Page.  The Talk Page, for anyone who is not familiar with Wikipedia, is where users discuss factual, stylistic, and other issues regarding the entry, which is a compilation of the work of multiple contributors.  Anyway, apparently Elagabalus dressed up as a woman at times, and may have attempted a primitive sex-change operation.  Thus, someone on the talk page suggests that he be referred to as “she” rather than “he”.  I have learned in several classes at Santa Clara, of course, that transsexuals prefer to be referred to as the sex they wish they are, rather than the sex they were born into.  However, it seems to me to be quite inappropriate for this case, and most likely for most cases in which it is used.

Firstly, of course it makes sense that a transsexual would wish to use the opposite pronoun.  And I will say, in a social setting, if someone introduced themselves to me as Mary, Grace, Sally, or anything else typically considered a feminine name, I would probably refer to that person as “she” even if the person looked like a man.  However, it seems to me that referring to such a person as being an actual member of the opposite sex in writing or even in conversation with others is silly, and probably destructive.  A man cannot become a woman, and a woman cannot become a man, anymore than one may change his skin color or height.  A man may insist his friends call him “Donna”, wear women’s clothing, and even convince the great majority of people who meet him that he is a woman.  But, he still isn’t, anymore than a Swede in a dashiki is African.  The hypothetical Swede may be completely entranced by the cultures of Africa, wish he had come from that continent, feel inwardly that he should have been born there, but nonetheless he is not.  Thus, referring to a man who goes to great lengths to pretend to be a woman as a woman is not correct, despite the fact that it may be rude in certain contexts to point out that he is wrong to consider himself a woman.

Furthermore, referring to Elagabalus as “she” is in a way an illustration of the absurdity of the trend.  No Roman believed Elagabalus was a woman.  He was an emperor, not an empress.  I can envision that some activists would wish to entirely change the article, turning him into a Roman Empress, a priestess of a Semitic Sun-god, and so on.  We could completely lose the knowledge that he was in fact a man, or at least such knowledge could be obscured.

The trend of calling things what we wish they were, rather than what they are, is quite dangerous.  It should be seen, I would think, as dangerous by liberals as well as conservatives.  If one calls a man a woman, lines of reality are blurred too much.  Even radical homosexual activists should see the value in maintaining contact with reality: they will have no success whatsoever if they do not.  It is profitable to everyone to maintain contact with reality, and it is foolish of anyone who doesn’t.  In fact, it is indicative of the fact that they are wrong.

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Fr. Ragheed Ganni

Perhaps some of you have heard of this new martyr, Fr. Ragheed Ganni.  At Mass last Sunday, the priest, who is from Ireland, discussed the martyrdom of Fr. Ganni.  Apparently he knew him (Fr. Ganni went to the Irish College in Rome, and spent time in Ireland at Lough Derg).  I encourage everyone to read this story, and to remember the names Fr. Ragheed Ganni, and the three subdeacons killed along with him,Basman Yousef Daud, Wahid Hanna Isho, and Gassan Isam Bidawed.  All were killed in odium fidei and thus should all be saints in heaven now.  I would encourage prayers both for and to them.  And pray to Our Lady of Lepanto for the defense of Christendom, wherever Christendom may now be found.

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I keep coming to the same realization. It may seem strange that I would continuously have the same realization, but I think this is the best way to describe it, as you will see as I go on. The realization is quite simple, disturbingly accurate, and profoundly pessimistic. We have everything we need to live much better lives, and we ignore it and choose our own misery.

Few people like the way the world is today. This is not merely a matter for Traditional Catholics. Most Christians and even non-Christians seem to understand that the way we live is miserable. I have heard people, even people most deeply and ignorantly immersed in the greed, lust, and gluttony of modern culture, express a great desire to have what once existed. They are fascinated by the clothes, speech patterns, and lifestyle of an earlier time, one infused with Christian thought and general respect for tradition.

However, as a group these people do not do the obvious thing: live as if the world were how they want it. There are numerous excuses. The most prevalent, and the most easily refuted, is that “the world just doesn’t work that way.” The world works the way people work: when people actively ruin their own society, society is ruined. If everyone who wishes to dress nicely were to do so, society would not only go along with it, it would be society doing it! A similar case can be made with other “traditional” concerns: reverent liturgy, well-made products, small farming, healthy families, well designed cities, good schooling, and so on. All of these are considered difficult or even unfeasible today. However, the only reason for this infeasibility is that people deny themselves what they really want. Its a kind of sick asceticism: we deny ourselves things which we desire, because we feel they in some way cannot exist. It is a modernism of the worst sort: the modernism of people who profoundly wish they did not have to be modernists.

Another common objection is that there were problems in the past, and wishing to return to any kind of golden age is mere utopianism and nostalgia. However, this is not an objection at all. Any traditionalist merely wants to maintain and preserve good things. What was not good in the past can easily be replaced or improved, without throwing out the good aspects as we have done. Furthermore, this may be an argument against the past, but it makes no case for the present. If women were degraded by not being allowed to vote, does this justify degrading them with pornography? If some families were once terrorized by authoritarian fathers, is a modern family without a father good? If physical illness prevailed in the past, should we be pleased that spiritual illness prevails now?  This objection is thus not enough to keep us from having the kind of society where at least we may be somewhat happy.

I do not believe these excuses are true: I think it is fundamentally a matter of laziness.  People do not want the hardship of being different, of fighting for a livable society.  Even most good Catholics are not willing to do the work necessary.  Without a great many people doing likewise, one person’s efforts may prove useless.  However, I think it is possible and in fact necessary that we reclaim and restore that which was good in our society, and institute that which is good, before we lose everything we had.

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No, this isn’t a farewell post.  Rather, I want to talk about the idea of the “last time” one does something.  One time, my mom mentioned to me how strange it is that there is a last time for everything, but you very seldom know it is happening.  Thus, the last time I asked my mom to read me a story, the last time my dad took me to the playground, and other such memories were simply normal at the time.  There was no sense whatsoever that it was the last time.

However, my mom was wrong about one thing: she said that if we knew it was the last time, it would be unbearable.  This, in my experience, is not the case.  I am about to graduate.  Today was my last chance to get a sandwich from Benson Center and bring it back to my room to eat it.  Soon will be the last time I sleep in a dorm room.  My last college class as an undergraduate is already over, though I do have a few finals.  Last night was my last chance to linger outside after my philosophy discussion group talking to friends, and today was my last meeting/long discussion with my Classics advisor.  All of the beautiful and the unpleasant things about college will be over in one week.  And it is bearable, though sad.  I walk in to Benson center and order my food, just like any other time.  I say “see you later” to people I may never see again.  In short, I just act like its not over, and I’ll probably act like that until it is completely.

However, I don’t wish to be merely sentimental here.  I believe that there is something in this impulse.  If we all have a tendency towards God, perhaps we know somehow that these good things will someday be fulfilled.  Perhaps I say “see you later” knowing that with prayer and sacrifice I will someday once again linger with the same friends, and have in greater measure all the good things I am losing.

Which isn’t to say I hope Heaven has the same caterers as Benson.  I kind of hope not, actually.

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My Return

Well, I have now mostly finished my senior thesis paper for my Classics major. That, of course, was the source of my lengthy departure from blogging. Anyway, I am now back, and I have a few ideas which I have been wanting to blog about lately, so you should be seeing a lot more new material here from now on.

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