Saturday, December 30, 2006

Memed!

I've been memed, by a Dominican, no less.

The Questions:

(1) Favorite devotion or prayer to Jesus:

The Divine Mercy Chaplet and the Jesus prayer.

(2) Favorite Marian devotion or prayer:

The Holy Rosary, although I also try to say the Angelus when I remember.

(3) Do you wear a scapular or medal:

I wear the brown scapular and the Miraculous Medal, which also has the St. Benedict medal. I also ear a crucifix on the same chain as the Miraculous Medal.

(4) Do you have holy water in your home:

Yes.

(5) Do you offer up your sufferings:

I do, but I need to do it with more regularity.

(6) Do you observe First Fridays and First Saturdays:

No.

(7) Do you go to Eucharistic Adoration? How frequently:

Not very oten. This is another thing I need to do more frequently.

(8) Are you a Saturday night Mass person or Sunday morning:

Sunday morning, 10:00 at St. John's Cathedral. The choir is excellent,and the music is typically good (though occasionally they sing something by Haugen, Haas, or Shutte).

(9) Do you say prayers at mealtime:

Yes. Always.

(10) Favorite saints:

St. Francis, St. Joseph, St. John the Evangelist, St. Augustine, and St. Thomas Aquinas

(11) Do you know the Apostles Creed by heart:

Yes. However, when I'm the Precentor for Vespers or Compline, I have to read it from the book. That translation uses more archaic language.

(12) Do you usually say short prayers (aspirations) during the course of the day:

Yes, whenever the need strikes me. Sometimes it's frequent.

(13) Bonus question: When you pass an accident or other serious mishap, do you say a quick prayer for the persons involved:

I do try.

(14) Wolftracker's bonus question: What sin do you find most difficult to manage from day to day:

I sometimes think uncharitable thoughts. I have to remind myself (or be reminded) that we are all children of God.

Hmmmm. Whom to tag next? Maybe Dorian Speed (formerly the Anonymous Teacher Person)?

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas

...to everyone. The peace of Christ be with you all.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Apocrypha of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

The late fashion of revisionist biblical history underscores a general trend in our day and age toward a twisting of truth, surely indicative of what our Holy Father calls "the dictatorship of relativism." One indicator of the trend is the degeneration of popular folk epics into revisionist screeds—the transformation of folk hero into antisocial predator.

No example would be more apropos than Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. If one were so inclined (as I appear to be) to parallel the development of Sacred Tradition and Scripture with the development of the Rudolph saga from folk song (oral tradition) to the height of the tradition's development, the similarities are staggering. As biologists like to say, ontogeny recapitulates philogeny.

As many of the early prayers and hymns included in the synoptic gospels came down through oral tradition, so the Rudolph saga begins. In 1938, Robert May pens a poem, which Johnny Marks later turns into song and Gene Autry records. But the good news of Rudolph's triumph must evolve and be passed down in a new form, one geared toward reaching a broader audience.

In 1964, Rankin-Bass produces a stop-motion animation of Rudolph's story: "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." It airs for the first time on December 6, 1964, coincidentally enough on the feast day of another famous personality and avid fighter of heresies, St. Nicholas, Bishop of Myra.

But like all stories of good news, some would later appropriate and divert from the teaching of Rudolph story. The first step is a nod toward paganism in 1976, "Rudolph's Shiny New Year." As time progresses, the story of Rudolph becomes mired in mysticism, secret gnosis, and just a touch a nationalistic fanaticism in "Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July." And finally, bogged down by political correctness and blatant materialism, Goodtimes Entertainment releases the first CGI-animated sequel, "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys," in 2001.

With the true message of Rudolph leached of its original depth, the antlered icon is ripe for reification by postmodern revisionists. Where our original hero is a gentle soul, a cynical postmodern recasting posits a violent "Raging Rudolph," a mafioso wannabee, who overcomes to become "The Reinfather."

Not to be outdone in its depth of moral despair, "A Pack of Gifts Now" gives us a story of Rudolph with a Christmas heart of darkness, Scorsesi style.

The horror. The Ho. Ho. Horror.

The development is clear. Once a message of good news to all is proclaimed, it is twisted and transformed into a promise of enlightenment for the few. When that distortion loses its charm to the masses (and its lucrativeness), opportunists appeal to the baser material instincts of the masses, only to finally reach a nihilistic endgame. It is a sad indictment, but an all too common one.

"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (TV special)." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 22 Dec 2006, 23:28 UTC. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 26 Dec 2006 .

The Heresy Channel

The Biography Channel is right up there with the History Channel in competition for the official title of "Channels Most Likely to Dispute Biblical Accounts." Perhaps the worst example is the series "Mysteries of the Bible," which should more properly be called "Postmodern Feminist Mysteries of the Bible."

The episode focused on Mary, the Mother of God. Naturally, the regular cast of modernist theologians and scripture scholars were trotted out to make claims of conflicting accounts (cave vs. stable, birth in Bethlehem vs. Nazareth). Nevermind that each of them has a reasonable explanation supported by documentary evidence. Surprisingly, one or two of the scholars mentioned the "Protevangelium of James." This document, attributed pseudonymously to James (the brother of Jesus, son of Joseph from a previous marriage), recounts the conception and births of Mary and Jesus. The earliest manuscript dates from the third century, but there are references to other works that suggest a date of around the middle of the second century.

But not shortly after the mention of this extracanonical work, one of the scholars, a professor from a Marymount College, claims that the references to a "virgin" in Matthew and Luke are likely mistranslations of a term used to refer to a woman of marriageable age and disputed the claim of technical virginity. She made no mention whatsoever of the development of a document not 100 years later that clearly sets forth an account of Mary as a virgin in every possible sense of the word.

Of course, these claims are nothing new. It would be refreshing if either of these two channels would try nearly as hard to find a group of scholars who supported the orthodox interpretation of scripture. But when Elaine Pagels is perpetually available to give us gnosis, I guess we can't expect producers of such codswallop to work all that hard to find better scholars.


[Technorati tags: Christianity, Catholic, Catholicism, Church History]

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Books! Books! Books!

Okay, I did manage to make off with quite a few new books on my latest birthday, and I picked up a few more with a gift card to Barnes & Noble. The big surprise was the three titles by Cardinal Ratzinger, including The Spirit of the Liturgy. I'm working my way through that now (along with four other books I've been picking at for a while). I can never read only one book at a time.

Rufus McCain will no doubt be happy that I have picked up The Moviegoer motivated largely by his constant trumpeting of the glories of Walker Percy. I had a copy of The Last Gentleman for a graduate course another lifetime ago, but for some reason we dropped it from the course list. I never got around to it, and that book somehow found its way out of my collection. Anyway, I'm happy to have another go at Percy.

I also picked up The Man Who Was Thursday (G.K. Chesterton) and The Loved One (Evelyn Waugh). Thursday is turning out to be rather interesting. I'm more familiar with British fiction prior to 1890 and after 1930, but this novel seems strikingly like the Continental fiction of the later period—a bit surreal, absurd. The Ball and The Cross struck me in the same way. I'm enjoying it nonetheless. I've been reading more theology and history lately, so it's nice to return to fiction for a time.

Monday, December 18, 2006

They say it's my birthday...

As initimated in last night's post, today is the 42nd anniversary of my nativity. Or whatever.

My wife, daughter, parents, and brothers got together to spoil me last night. As my dad once warned me, someday I would miss those family get togethers. Now, I look forward to every other Sunday when we all have dinner at my parents. I think my wife and I may be taking over the hosting soon as Mom is not as excited about feeding a large horde anymore.

Anyway, my wife gave me a copy of the Latin version of Rosetta Stone. Dabbled a little in it this evening, and it looks promising. I might have to get the French, Spanish and German versions to relearn what I've forgotten. Mom gave me three titles by the Holy Father. I'm currently digging into The Spirit of the Liturgy. And apparently she has another on the way, a Hans Urs von Balthasar reader.

Tonight, my wife is making enchiladas, and we're watching Chronicles of Narnia. I feel blessed.

Every now and then, I think, "Hey, I'm actually 42." I'm not depressed, just rather surprised. I should've been clued in by the whizzing sound that January first kept making as it passed by. Nonetheless, I find it oddly shocking to be two years on this side of 40.

I mentioned that my father has been diagnosed with two forms of cancer—both slow growing and very responsive to treatment. He's been undergoing chemotherapy and finished his second cycle last Monday. I guess his hair has started falling out, and it appeared last night that he had gone ahead and shaved his head. So today, I celebrated my birthday by having my head shaved. Dad won't know until I see him at Vespers on Wednesday (and I trust that no one - Mark - will tell him).

One thing is certain. I'm much happier since I've come back to the Church and turned my life over to God. That sounds trite. In a previous life, "trite" would've concerned me. I still sometimes wrestle with the cynical, hip voice that sneers at sentimentality and raises its brows at common expressions of love. I have, at very least, come to despise the malady of hipness, the illness of ennui. And it's not an illness merely because it "torments" people. Hipness, cynicism, and ennui poison the soul. They make simple pleasures impossible and degrade the beauty of everyday life.

Here's a happy birthday to me, and a very merry unbirthday to all y'alls (or y'uns, or youse guys).

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Don't hate me because I'm beautiful...

...that would be a misguided waste of energy.

If I sound different tomorrow, perhaps a little more mature or wiser, that would also be a figment of your imagination. There would be absolutely NOTHING to it.

BTW, would you also please not mention the number 42. I'm just sayin'.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Verbum in Via

Kansas City Catholic brings new meaning to the term "interfaith dialog."

*Please let me know if the declension for "street" is incorrect. I was sort of winging it.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Barque of Peter or Gilligan's Isle?

The Pertinacious Papist has an interesting post on welcoming converts into the Church. Having gone through RCIA at a rather liberal parish, I can confirm many of the reflections and supporting comments. Oddly, I recall that one of the points they frequently touted about membership in the Catholic Church was Sacred Tradition. Yet most of them were quite happy dispensing with Tradition and Magisterial Authority when those sources of doctrine didn't jibe with personal preference.

[Technorati tags: Christianity, Catholic, Catholicism, Church History]

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

SLAMMED!

Yep, that would be my current work life. In addition to the end-of-year stuff for the food pantry I run, I'm getting hammered at work (both for actual billed work and general business development stuff). And did I mention that we didn't shop early?

So posting will be slow for the next few days. However, I would like to link to an excellent speech that Archbishop Chaput gave at this year's Orange County Prayer Breakfast, courtesy of Jeff Miller. The archdiocese of Denver is vey lucky to have such good bishops. I can only hope their quality bcomes commonplace in the coming years.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

More Crack for Fantasy Lovers!

Our friendly fantasy crack-dealer, S.M. Stirling, has posted yet another chapter from The Sunrise Lands. I've only read the first few pages, but it's looking good. The only thing that haunts me is the length of time between chapters and the anticipated wait between the last chapter S.M. posts and the release of the book. Fortunately, I'll have more theology classes to occupy my time, so maybe I won't feel the jones quite so much.

Who am I kidding?

Become an organ donor! Give your heart to Jesus!

That was Jesse Romero's message to us today.

St. John's had a conference this week on family life and faith, and we were blessed to have Jesse Romero, Rosalind Moss, and Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers as the conference speakers. They were all fantastic, and they brought something that we hear all too infrequently in our diocese: orthodox Catholic teaching. I'm not saying thatall of our priests are heterodox. We have some who are excellent, but there are a few who softsell the faith, who hesistate to preach the hard teachings, and admittedly some who are simply operating under their own personal magisterium.

Deacon Harold was particularly vocal about novelties in the liturgy, and he made one thing very clear: when priests mess withthe words in the liturgy, they are messing with scripture!

AMEN!

He mentioned a discussion he had with a Calvinist friend who claimed that the Mass wasn't scriptural. So the deacon proceeded to show him every location in scripture from which the prayers, responses, and acclamations are taken.

There were two somewhat embarrassing points in one of the deacon's talks and when Rosalind Moss spoke. At some point in their talks, they turned to point to the crucifix, only to find that there was no crucifix in sight. It was just what the rest of us needed to finally put our collective foot down. Back in the late 80s there was a remodel, and the traditional crucifix was replaced with the newer, sleeker resurrects-ifix. (Credit my friend Mark with that name.) Somewhere along the line, that was removed, but an appropriate crucifix was never replaced. Lately, even the processional crucifix has been replaced by a resurrects-ifix. Apparently the debate has gone on for about four years, but I think the tide has turned.

It was a happy day to be a faithful, conservative Catholic in Boise today.

Monday, December 04, 2006

One small step for Sparky, one giant step for clown priests.

Okay, that is deliberately provocative. I did not witness, today or ever, a clown mass. However, I did sing at a local Advent concert featuring several of the Catholic choirs in our area. For the most part, it was very pleasant. However, there were liturgical dancers from one of the local parishes (not mine). A number of the churches seem to be putting together liturgical dance troupes. While I object to dancing during the liturgy, I couldn't really object to dance as part of a concert.

One of the dancers, Sparkle, was actually quite good, and she performed with a soloist singing "Breathe of Heaven." Nonetheless, the dancers for the most part were a bit distracting. Both my wife and daughter found it uncomfortable to have these women moving around in the aisles while the choirs performed. My daughter summed it up nicely: Boo, creepy liturgical dancers! (I have to acknowledge that my wife put her up to it.)

I later mentioned that it's a short step from Sparkle the Liturgical Dancer to Sparky the Clown Priest. We will have to keep our eyes peeled for overlarge shoes poking out from under our priests' cassocks.

[Technorati tags: Catholic, Catholicism]