Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

Essential thinking for reading Catholics.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

His P.R. Materials

There seem to be very few sure-fire ways to make money in Hollywood. Among those few ways is Ye Olde Reliable ploy of Christ-baiting.

This, in a hazelnutshell, is how it works:

1- Take a book -- quality of the writing notwithstanding -- which carries a message offensive to the Judeo-Christian mindset at its core.
2- Make a film about it. Cast someone generally well-regarded by audiences.
3- Give it a good marketing budget.
4- Let the more excitable culture warriors catch hold of the thing.
5- Watch as the culture warriors start loudly proclaiming (correctly, I hasten to add) the vile and loathsome message incorporated in the book/movie.
6- Shrug innocently in befuddlement and recite how this is "only a work of fiction."
7- Smirk inwardly.
8- Observe how the culture warriors publish books, articles, get on serious news programs, magazines, newspapers, write editorials, appear on radio talk shows and apoplectically generate gazillions of dollars of free publicity for your vile and loathsome film/book.
9- Start shopping for a ski lodge, a Gulfstream V and/or a beach house. Celebrate with dinner at Nobu.

As you may well imagine, my thoughts on Pullman, and the upcoming film cannot be adequately expressed in even the most minimally charitable manner. These thoughts, in fact, don't even contain the slightest chemical trace of charity; so I shan't be your near occasion of sin and post them here.

There. Now you have my bona fides.

It seems to me the way to squelch this is by having an impact at the box office, and the way to have the impact we desire is to quietly educate people on the dangers of this stuff. However, the picosecond we start "calling for an upper-case-B boycott" the game is lost. We start generating that free publicity that practically guarantees a given film will succeed.

Oy.

-J.

"THAT. That's what we're talking about." Pt. 8

Look.

-J.

P.S. My inner, somewhat inured, Pollyanna replies, "Well, at least it's women for a change."

Just for Ryan Duns, SJ

The lovely and gracious Karen has, often-ish, harped on the visual-free nature of my bloggery. So, here ya go, Internet.
******
Over at Ryan's place, he discovered the joys of hot shave lather. (Watch the Google pervs pour forth out of the woodwork.) In doing so, he bought what Karen surmises is the community hot lather shave cream machine thingy. I believe it works by putting a can of pressurized soapy goo shave foam therein and the machine has an element which heats the pressurized soapy goo shave foam immediately prior to release from the nozzle. Sounds very Ron Popeil-ish.

Me? I'm an anachronism and it is widely held that for the most part -- medicine, automobiles, computers and A/V gear aside, mostly -- my views on the last 100 years is that they have been a monumental waste of our time. So I shave with a straight razor. This has several advantages. One razor is good for a lifetime, properly cared. Compare that with the cost of cartridges for your Gillette MegaQuantumForce Pi+, it's as close to "free" as makes no difference. (We'll discuss travel shave stuff anon.)

When combined with a decent shave cream (more on that in a sec.), it also gives you an INCOMPARABLE shave and marks you as a particularly adept specimen of masculine humanity, on par with someone who can drive stick shift or ride a steeplechase.

If you like your lather hot, all you need add to the equation is a mug -- an old coffee mug you got with your $25 pledge to NPR (because you love Car Talk even though the rest of NPR is pretty much the equivalent of Pravda for the visually impaired) will do admirably -- or if you feel like doing it the way it would have been done by your valet, you can pop for a double walled mug called a "scuttle."

Here is the basic equipment (minus mug or "scuttle" for ease of illustration): straight razor, badger (no, the other badger) bristle shave brush and a tube (equivalent to 3.25 cans of pressurized soapy goo shave foam) SIX DOLLAR Proraso shave cream from Target.
Dig this serious Flintstone-like stubble action.
We wet the brush with water as hot as can be. In the hot-lather-mug-scenario, you'd just fill up your mug halfway with hot water and zap it in the microwave for 1½ minutes on full power, and let your brush sit in that water for a minute or so as you complete your toilette. Then you drain off all but a teaspoon or so of the water, shake the brush once, dab the appropriate amount of shave cream and you're off.
Just a dab'll do ya.
A few seconds with a searingly hot, soppingly wet towel can do wonders if you do not svae immediately after a shower.

If you are opting to go mug-less, just whip up the lather in the palm the hand.

Smear the face with the very hot, tingly lather. (Greetings Google pervs!)

Get good coverage.
And start! (I practiced by shaving balloons...once you get the hang of shaving balloons without popping them, you're good to go.)
DO NOT EVER BEAR DOWN ON THE BLADE. (Unless you think your cheek looks better detached from your face, or are practicing to perform tracheotomies on rhinos) Light touch. You can hear the blade cutting off whiskers with a "plink." Sorta like "Horton Hears A Who." Make idiotic faces.
Almost done.
Newborn smooth. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

-J.

P.S. You could, if you were deranged, spend gazillions of dollars on a brush. Don't. Pretty much any badger brush will do, and even a boar brush will do -- it has a peculiar...er...scent that might take a couple of weeks to dissipate -- nicely for little coin. As long as you rinse and let it dry quickly and standing up, it will last forever.

P.P.S. For travel purposes I prefer something like this.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Tutu? So-so.

It seems that Abp. Desmond Tutu has taken it unto himself to determine what is inerrant and what is revelatory.

Revealing, this.

-J.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Deconstructing it all.

One of the most dangerous bits of bloggery is posting an opinion on something with which those whom you correspond and love will likely take exception. It's dangerous because one could very easily come across as gleefully taking whacks with a machete at someone else's adored object. It's even easier to do this if one is under the erroneous assumption the written medium can properly convey one's tone as intended.

So the choice is to barrel on, or to proceed with...er...deliberation.

Now, part of the process of proceeding with deliberation is allowing the pulse to slacken, and the better angels of one's nature to come back from their coffee break and get things under control. With one's baser passions duly thralled, it's easier to glide and maneuver carefully and minimize misunderstandings.

"Why the protracted song-and-dance?" I hear you murmuring out there in Blogville.

Because I am going to take a more methodical look at Fr. Arrupe and, more importantly, at those people whose sense of self is inextricably bound up in the public perception of "the spirit of" Fr. Arrupe. I promise to avoid even the hint of ad hominem, but in exchange I ask that if I have gotten something factual wrong, that I be corrected.

This all started when I was graciously sent a link to an excerpt of an article in America Magazine on the legacy of Fr. Arrupe.

[There are some things which I consider beyond dispute: Fr. Arrupe's character, dignity, piety, morals, etc. are all, to my knowledge, above reproach. So don't go there.]


I'll go through the salient bits, with my emphasis and comments.

The article raised so many red flags with me that one would have thought the Kremlin had started its version of a Rennaissance Faire right on Red Square. Starting with the fact it was authored by someone (Peter Hebblethwaite) formerly of The Tablet. To someone with views like mine, this didn't bode well.

****************

The 31st General Congregation, which elected [Fr. Arrupe] was unique: No previous congregation had required two sessions, and none had produced documents of such far-reaching scope and character. It was like a second founding of the Society of Jesus. I didn't know there was anything the matter with the first founding.

Though the Society, restored in 1814, could claim moral continuity with the dissolved Society, some aspects of the restoration were less faithful to its spirit. This strikes me as rampant subjectivity, and ought put any reader on his guard. The Dutchman Johann Roothaan, S.J., the first General after the restoration (he served from 1829-53), was the dominating figure. He presented the Spiritual Exercises in a rather wooden way How does he know?; Jesuits tended to be Ultramontane in theology a glittering and unsupported generalization, and one which is falsely cast as almost synonymous with the sort of albino-monk-sniper Catholic Church Inc. If the choice is between an ultramontanism and an unfettered subsidiarity and collegiality, chalk me up to play for the ultramontanists. and, as educators, to be the props of reactionary regimes a glittering, wildly erroneous and scandalously offensive generalization. Men who are craven acolytes of "reactionary regimes" -- kindly note the agitprop-speak -- do not go forth to martyrdom as they did in Mexico, Spain, the Soviet Union, Communist China and other places where The People's Non-Reactionary Regime was only too happy to violently catapult them into eternal life.

[snip]

It was appropriate that another Basque, with an astonishing physical likeness to St. Ignatius, should preside over this reinvention of the Society of Jesus. What have I been saying all along? In Don Pedro, two lines of force converged. Conciliar renewal was the program of the church, and the council itself urged religious congregations to greater fidelity to their charism. Don Pedro never wavered on this, despite disappointments, and was never tempted by the fashionable pessimism of the 1980's that blames the present "crisis" Notice the scare quotes around crisis? on the council.

In November 1974, for example, Father Arrupe held a press conference to explain why men were leaving the Society. At that date, it had declined from 36,038 in 1965 to 29,462, and worse was to come. Don Pedro said that 0.8 percent of Jesuit priests were leaving each year. Though obviously he did not relish this trend, he was completely unfazed by it. He did not blame it on the modern world, and he refused to wring his hands in impotent grief. Admirable, but what did he do?

He learned from the departures. Some people leave to sort out personal psychological problems. They go with blessings on their head, and their departure, though sad, is not tragic. After all, there are other ways of serving God. "One mission-many ministries," as the council says. No one else in Rome was using such language. In a famous Maundy Thursday homily, for example, Pope Paul VI likened "ex-priests" to so many "Judases."

But Don Pedro said he was more worried by another kind of departure. Just as pain can be a sign of malfunctioning of the organism, so the losses of bright young men could be a warning that change must come or decline would set in irrevocably. It seems this is prescient. Don Pedro always held firmly to this principle: "The voice of the young Jesuits is the voice of the modern world within the order." And he wanted to give that voice a hearing. Remember these words.

I did not know Don Pedro's predecessor, the Belgian John Baptist Janssens, S.J., very well. He seems to have been content to stay in Rome and [snip] was always addressed as "Your Paternity." He seemed like a dry, old stick in need of much watering. When he came to recreation at Kaulbachstrasse in Munich in 1955, conversation dried up. Get that? Fr. Janssens was not the life of the party, clearly a bad man unfit for the job.

[snip]

None of this meant that Don Pedro had abdicated the leadership of the Society, as some of his critics alleged. As you may surmise, this is hardly a "case closed" matter. In one sense he did more "leading" than any of his predecessors. But the gist of his approach was that he trusted other Jesuits to behave in a Jesuit way. If this is true, then it's a strange definition of "leadership" of which I hadn't previously been made aware. The problem is this writer -- and a sad many others -- mistake leadership with "bossing people around." Leadership is not just issuing corrective measures when needed, but also offering instruction and guidance. If they did that, they would get the right answer. He was not afraid to take the risk of trust. Those working in writing, theology, social action all benefited from this ordered liberty. All perfectly true, no doubt. Yet, one wonders at whether the Church and the world benefited from the output of all these writers, theologians and social action figures who benefited from this ostensibly ordered liberty. One of Don Pedro's crosses was listening to denunciations, which came from all over the world. The internal ones caused him most pain. But did these denunciations have or lack merit? But it could be said that the 32nd General Congregation dealt with them insofar as it was in a sense a plebiscite on the way he ran the Society. His mandate was confirmed. So...those who were doing what they will, approved of the liberty to do as they will? Novel, that.

But still the denunciations kept on rolling in. Did anyone ever stop to wonder why? Or stop to wonder if these just might have any merit? At synod after synod, bishops would come up to Father Arrupe and ask him what he was doing about the Jesuit who had joined the guerrillas or who said Mass in coveralls or who dismissed Humanae Vitae as tyrannical. Don Pedro's principle in such matters was to defend his men loyally. Not defend the Church, nor its doctrines, nor its strictures but "his men." I hope that for Father's sake, the author has this wrong. It makes my head throb to contemplate. But he asked for something in return: "Please make it easier for me to defend you!" Please, someone...anyone, explain to me why this is not equivalent to "Please change your rules so my guys can stop being rule-breakers." Those writing about the Vatican at that time, as I was, were liable to get letters from the Secretariat of State charging them with "offending against Truth and the Apostolic See" (as though the two terms were synonymous). Please, someone...anyone, explain to me why this isn't arrogant smokescreen. Did anyone bother to determine if the denunciations had any merit? This would happen, typically, when some Asian bishop had failed to detect a stroke of irony or see a joke. And why were jokes and ironies being banded about, again? I discussed this once with Don Pedro. "If I write about you," I suggested, "I would have to be free to be critical since, as Figaro said, 'Without the freedom to criticize, no praise has any value.'" Don Pedro liked that--thus effectively disarming me as a critic of him. Frankly, the author's armament is likely to not require much in the way of disabling.

[snip]

It can now be freely admitted that relations [between Fr. Arrupe and] Pope John Paul II were not so cordial. No one quite knew where Pope John Paul's coldness, hostility even, to the Society came from. No one? Really? Nobody had ANY idea whatsoever from where they came? But it was an undoubted fact. He seemed to make them scapegoats for the "crisis" in the church. Scary scare quotes again.

As long ago as 1972, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla proposed that the synod should examine "religious life." He wrote a memo on the subject that begins with the evidence for a "crisis": Scary scare quotes again. This is getting tedious, Hebblethwaite. "Defections, lack of vocations, infidelity in keeping the vows." All of which strike me as perfectly reasonable criteria for a crisis. Is this author saying it's illogical and unsound for someone to have a problem with these being considered "bad?" Really? Among the "remedies" Scare quotes yet again. You bore me Hebblethwaite, and are beginning to strike me as a half-trick pony. was "a better insertion into the life of the church," which would naturally involve a "reexamination of the concept of exemption." These were Roman euphemisms for recovering control over a body that was behaving too independently. These would appear to be progressivist euphemisms for a body that does what it bloody well wants to regardless of what Church teaching actually says and arrogantly placing itself above same. Follow me here. If the Church is guided by the Holy Spirit (and it is) then what possible use is it to behave independently from it? Why would any sane person who disagrees with its doctrine -- and thus wishes to start "behaving too independently"-- even bother to devote his life to serving it in a clerical capacity? Though there was no specific mention of Jesuits there, when Cardinal Wojtyla became Pope, they soon found they were in his sights.

On Sept. 21, 1979, Pope John Paul II addressed Father Arrupe and his top advisers in menacing fashion: "I am not unaware--drawing on a few other sources of information--that the crisis which in recent times has troubled religious life and is still troubling it has not spared your Society, causing confusion among Christian people and concern to the church, to the hierarchy and personally to the Pope who is speaking to you." Keep in mind the Pope is the Vicar of Christ. Don Pedro responded to the Pope's address and bravely tried to pretend that there was nothing new here. On the Feast of the North American Martyrs, he wrote that "a call from three Popes leaves little room for doubt that it is the Lord Himself who, surely with love, expects something better of us. We cannot wait any longer."

The "third Pope," by the way, was Pope John Paul I, who had prepared a critical address that death prevented him delivering. Mind you, NOBODY who has ever written anything about JP1 has ever cast him as a reactionary troglodyte eager to hurl the Church back to the Dark Ages. Could it be (maybe, perhaps) that JP1 had possibly a semi-valid reason for his views?

But it was in truth difficult to "do something" about such imprecise charges. The Pope said he was worried by secularizing tendencies and a lack of austerity in community life, and exhorted the Jesuits to greater "fidelity to the magisterium of the church and to the priestly character of your apostolic work." One simple question. WHY would he do that? Assume, for the nonce that JP2 did not have some pathologically irrational hatred of the Society of Jesus. There was some evidence (!) that fidelity to the magisterium was from now on (!!) going to require not only a resolute defense of Humanae Vitae but also not bringing up questions--like the ordination of women--which the Curia did not like. Did you catch that "from now on" thing? Fidelity to the magisterium means precisely what it says, and always has: What the Magisterium* says goes, always, completely and unreservedly. JP2 didn't invent a new meaning of that phrase merely to suit his nefarious right-wing agenda. Let me put this as plainly as I can...without steadfast adherence to the teaching authority of the Church there is no true Catholicism. After all that's why they call it the teaching authority of the Church.

Oh, and did you also catch that "which the Curia did not like" bit as well? You see, in certain quarters, it seems there are no doctrines or unwavering truths...just things the Curia doesn't like. One presumes the Curia is like Lola and "what the Curia wants, the Curia gets" regardless of what Revelation has, erm, revealed. I wonder if people fall down because the Curia likes gravity.

Seriously, I defy anyone to read that sentence again and not be tempted to speechlessness.

This concealed rather than revealed the real point of conflict. It was simply that the Jesuits under Father Arrupe worked with an analysis of the present state of the church that was at odds with the papal analysis. Stop and let that sink in. Don Pedro had addressed the German Katholikentag in 1972 and declared: "For hundreds of millions of Catholics the real crisis of faith comes not from materialism or from unrestricted theological discussion, but from the brutal misery of their existence." With which I would disagree more strenuously than I can charitably express.

Crises of faith happen only when we pry God out of our life's center and cram something else therein -- money, fame, our narcissistic self, luxuries, sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll -- in an invariably haphazard manner. An existence of brutal misery does not. Unrestricted theological discussion foments crises of faith gives people the idea that what are actually pillars of faith are perennially up for grabs and the foundations are malleable--only the silly whims of the Curia, if you will. An existence of brutal misery CANNOT do that. Crises of faith allow us to either turn a blind eye to brutal misery or only act in ways which will merely assuage our guilt over said brutal misery. Full stop. Those who believed that the crisis was caused by "materialism and unrestricted theological discussion" took exception to such statements and bided their time.... Cue ominous music to highlight the perfidy of the HyperOrthodox. The first anniversary of Archbishop Romero's death, ignored by L'Osservatore Romano at the explicit orders of the ultramontane HyperOrthodox lackeys of reactionary regimes, surely! was celebrated in March 1981 in the Church of Sts. Cosmas and Damian. The Union of Major Religious Superiors, led by Father Arrupe, organized the event. The choirs of the Mexican and North American Colleges combined to make it memorable. But it was regarded as provocative by Cardinal Sebastiano Baggio, then prefect of the Congregation of Bishops and president of the decisive Pontifical Commission for Latin America (C. A. L. ). Don Pedro was among the concelebrants. That put a bad mark against his name. More ominous music. Can we get Peter Cushing to play Baggio?

But a much graver crisis was already looming. At the 1977 Synod, Don Pedro had remarked that silence could not be an answer to the problems posed by Marxism: "Today, when catechesis includes, and quite legitimately includes, the political dimension of Christian duty and Christian existence, it is impossible to leave Marxism out of account." One would have expected this to be a platitude. One would have? For Latin America, it was more like firing a time-bomb. Marxism is evil. It has been proven, over and over again, to be a gallery of ceaseless horrors at worst and "hay and a barn for human cattle" at very best. Why are we even discussing this?

In 1979 Don Pedro went to Lima, Peru, to discuss with the Latin American provincials what to do about Marxism. Do what Bl. Miguel A. Pro, SJ did: engage people, challenge their erroneous Marxist assumptions and preach the Gospel to them. For Puebla had denied that it was possible to separate out various aspects of Marxism, notably its philosophy from its analysis. Self evident stuff, why is this even on the table? This matter needed studying in depth. No it didn't, unless one wished to reach a different conclusion. It could not be solved by repeating slogans. What slogans? No, it could be solved by doing what Bl. Miguel A. Pro, SJ did: engage people, challenge their erroneous Marxist assumptions and preach the Gospel to them. This is not particularly complicated.

[snip]

To deny the use of Marxist concepts, in this sense, would be to ban serious political discourse altogether. No, it would not. To assert otherwise presupposes noxious, delapidated and intellectually banrupt political philosophies such as Marxism are even possibly a part of serious political discussions. But of course it did not mean that Don Pedro or the Society of Jesus had suddenly "gone Marxist." On the contrary, the rejection of Marxism as a whole package deal was clear and unhesitating, as was the rejection of the exclusive use of Marxist analysis. This is like saying one doesn't mind patronizing a doctor who performs abortions if all one is doing is getting a pelvic exam.

But perhaps the passage that most annoyed the critics in the Vatican was that which exposed the fraudulence of much anti-Communism: "Finally, we should also firmly oppose the efforts of anyone who wishes to take advantage of our reservations about Marxist analysis in order to condemn as Marxist or Communist, or at least to minimize esteem for, a commitment to justice and the cause of the poor, the defense of their rights against those who exploit them, the urging of legitimate claims." Let's read this carefully again, shall we? If Marxist analysis is ::cough, cough:: worthy of reservation, that means it simply cannot be the only avenue by which one arrives at being committed to the poor...in which case, why use it at all? Why leave yourself open to charges of Marxism? The above passage strikes me as a bit of innoculation...after all, how can someone practically offer any criticism of Marxism in action, without getting blasted for a lack of concern for the exploited poor?

In an oblique way, Hepplethwaite has put the arrow through the apple and exposed the decrepit fraudulence of much "social justice" which seeks to place itself above reproach by preemptively claiming that any criticism of its invariably collectivist "solutions" is hostility to the poor and derision towards their legitimate claims.

[snip]

Instead of dying, he was gravely incapacitated, placed in that worst of states where his mind remained alert but he could no longer express himself. It was a final purification. He had been very hurt. A negative judgment had been passed on his stewardship. That was the plain meaning of the imposition of a "personal delegate." He and the team he had gathered were not to be trusted...Did anyone stop to seriously ask -- besides the usual back-room conspiracy theory stuff -- why this was?

In the fall of 1981, Father Dezza had other things on his mind. While some zealots expected a purge, Father Dezza kept the Jesuit curial team together, left all superiors in place, and continued all of Father Arrupe's policies, while making reassuring noises from time to time. Where to begin? Who are the zealots? Those who recklessly consider fidelity to the magisterium to encompass Humanae Vitae? Also notice that Fr. Dezza "continued all of Father Arrupe's policies, while making reassuring noises from time to time." If this really was a serious effort to think with the heart of the Church and the Vicar of Christ, please email and explain this to me with charts, graphs, circles and arrows, because frankly I don't see it. What I do see, alas, stands much further afield than my capacity for charitable explanation.

As someone who loves the Society of Jesus as much as I do, and who sweats out the future of the Society in daily prayer, this article did nothing to reassure me of the mindset of the more stalwart defenders of Fr. Arrupe. On the contrary.

If I am wrong, please show me how and where. I promise to listen patiently and humbly.

AMDG,

-J.

* "If we wish to proceed securely in all things we must hold fast to the following principle: What seems to me white, I will believe black if the hierarchical Church so defines." - St. Ignatius of Loyola

Sunday, November 25, 2007

You thought nobody was keeping tabs, didn't you?

Click here, and groove mightily therewith.

-J.

P.S. Like I have been telling Sr. R, we are winning.

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Friday, November 23, 2007

¡Viva Cristo Rey!

Today, for the maladjusted, is the feast day of Bl. Miguel A. Pro, SJ.

I have a particular devotion to Jesuit martyrs, as has been recorded here and elsewhere. Of all the many Jesuits who've "worn the red crown" none has hit a chord with me -- for reasons I cannot explain, frankly -- like Bl. Miguel A. Pro, SJ.

There are lots of places where you can read more about him, such as here or here, so I shan't dwell overlong on the particulars* of Fr. Pro's death; you can read them for yourself. However, I would like to leave you with this tidbit:

"His first assignment as a priest was to work with the miners of Charleroi, Belgium. Despite the socialist and communist tendencies of the workers, he was able to win them over and preach the Gospel to them."

Now, the prayer for his intercession:

Blessed Miguel, before your death, you told your friend to ask you for favors when you were in Heaven. I beg you to intercede for me and in union with Our Lady and all the angels and saints, to ask Our Lord to grant my petition, provided that it be God's Will.

[Here mention your request.]

We honor and adore the triune God. (Gloria)
We ask the Holy Spirit for guidance. (Come Holy Spirit)
We pray as Jesus taught us to pray. (Our Father)
We venerate with love the Virgin Mary. (Hail Mary)
All you angels, bless you the Lord forever.
Saint Joseph, Saint [name of your patron], and all the saints, pray for us.
Blessed Miguel, high spirited youth, pray for us. ¡Viva Cristo Rey!
Blessed Miguel, loving son and brother, pray for us. ¡Viva Cristo Rey!
Blessed Miguel, patient novice, pray for us. ¡Viva Cristo Rey!
Blessed Miguel, exile from your homeland, pray for us. ¡Viva Cristo Rey!
Blessed Miguel, prayerful religious, pray for us. ¡Viva Cristo Rey!
Blessed Miguel, sick and suffering, pray for us. ¡Viva Cristo Rey!
Blessed Miguel, defender of workers, pray for us. ¡Viva Cristo Rey!
Blessed Miguel, courageous priest in hiding, pray for us. ¡Viva Cristo Rey!
Blessed Miguel, prisoner in jail, pray for us. ¡Viva Cristo Rey!
Blessed Miguel, forgiver of persecutors, pray for us. ¡Viva Cristo Rey!
Blessed Miguel, holy martyr, pray for us. ¡Viva Cristo Rey!

AMDG,

-J.

* Five articles of the 1917 Mexican Constitution were written specifically to suppress the Roman Catholic Church. One forbade the Church from participating in primary and secondary education, another outlawed religious orders. Yet another article banned worship outside of any church building (that hadn't yet been seized because a further article restricted the Church's rights to own property). Priests and religious were proscribed wearing habits, lost the right to vote, and could not comment on political issues in public. Most (!) of the anti-Church articles of the Mexican constitution were repealed in 1998 (!!!).

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Step 1 of 12.

This is an amazing (and amazingly forthright) admission* from Fr. Patrick Howell, SJ:
"The Jesuit commitment is to the faith that does justice. I think we're really good on the justice part; what we need to do is much more exploration about faith and its grounding, especially in the Catholic tradition."

...and so begins the journey of a thousand miles, I hope.

AMDG,

-J.

* Whether this was fully intentional or inadvertent on Father's part is not something I consider relevant at the moment.

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Monday, November 19, 2007

What to make of Don Pedro.

The lovely and gracious Karen who likely assumed -- erroneously, I'd wager -- that her adoring public was growing weary with her labor union agitprop against The Man, and clearly missing the combox fireworks related to discussing the woes of how the Genius Bar is neither, posted a little something or two on the matter of Pedro Arrupe, SJ.

Whence the fireworks began.

The estimable Mark Mossa, SJ vigorously reacted with, as Jeeves might have said, "no little warmth" and explained to Karen how this was something which both displeased him and with which he disagreed. Then someone brought up Truman and the atomic bomb and the discussion devolved and I simply couldn't muster the interest to remain involved.

But the question remained rattling in my brain about what to think of Fr. Arrupe.

There are Jesuits -- of the "you'd know them if you saw them" sort -- who taught me wa-a-a-a-ay back when, who did absolutely nothing to conceal their dismay at the way the Society of Jesus had changed under his tenure and I believe it is fair to say they held him responsible. Some may have even held more censorious personal views of the then-Father General. The latter are, for the purposes of this blog entry, out of bounds.

Having read a fair bit of what Fr. Arrupe wrote, I cannot say his writing blips my "ooky-meter" like it does Karen's (Why, I may not even HAVE such a meter.) but I fear I must confess his writing does strike me as...don't hate me...a bit saccharine and banal. Certainly I can gather the meaning behind his words and they, while a bit syrupy and underwhelming, depict a man who is clearly a man of Christian faith.

So, not much drama there.

The thorny issue is that of the legacy of his stewardship as Father General. Here's how I look at it, and feel free to disabuse me as need be. These days I'll point out some spectacularly regrettable action by a given Jesuit and, invariably, some kind soul will email me and tell me not to vex myself so because (and this is the part they all say in nearly identical words) "there are a lot of different sorts of men in the Society of Jesus, and therefore with such a large and diverse group there will be many different ways in which someone could behave."

Since I like litmus tests, let's take such a test. Ready?

Please find for me ONE instance of public idiocy by a Jesuit pre-1965. Not 100, or 10. One. A measly, lousy, itty-bitty one.

One assumes the Society of Jesus was just as diverse 50 years ago as it is today -- certainly it was larger -- yet reports of a pre-1965 Jesuit priest admitting his sexual orientation during Mass or calling homosexuality "a gift" or serving in the cabinet of a Communist government or bemoaning that a would-be Papal assassin was a "bloody Turk" who "couldn't shoot straight" or saying how the Vatican's instruction on _____ doesn't really mean what it plainly says, these all seem to have escaped public notice.

So, inquisitive lad that I am, I ask an impertinent "Why?"

Why is it that in 2007 we find saddening public displays by Jesuits (almost on a continual basis) and in 1957 we found none? It can't be the case that from St. Ignatius on, every single Jesuit was a man of exclusively heterosexual inclination, right? So what changed? My guess is that a Jesuit in 1907 who faced, say, homosexual inclinations, correctly regarded them as his cross to bear. Not as a "gift." The point at which I am driving is that it's not okay for X% of the Jesuits to careen off the rails. The kind souls who worry about how I fret myself over some Jesuit's rendition of Claire de Lunacy will attempt to assuage me with "Most Jesuits, who never make the news, are good and holy men."

Which doesn't really assuage me, because the percentage of Jesuits who are good and holy men AND who preserve the Church from scandal (by act or omission) is less than 100%. At this point I'm not interested in how much less -- 0.0001% or 99.99% -- that may be.

Something changed. And that something, it changed during Fr. Arrupe's watch.

I will emphatically NOT issue a screed detailing how this was Fr. Arrupe's willful doing, or how he was clandestinely sacrificing rats to Baal at the full moon. But he was the man at the helm when things started to go wobbly and I, for the life of me, can't find any evidence to the effect he desired to right them.

Two classic illustrations of this are the cases of Fr. Robert Drinan, who as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives had a ::cough, cough:: favorable view of legalized abortion and gave scandalous cover to myriad self-described Catholic politicians' 100% NARAL rating. Then we come to Fr. Ernesto Cardenal who served as a cabinet minister in the Communist "Sandinista" government (A government that was so "of the people" that as soon as the people got hold of free elections they were all heaved out, incidentally.) and cheerfully espoused its, er, economic theories. Such as they were.

The sad litany continues, unabated, to this day.

This didn't happen overnight.

It happened slowly, gradually and began when someone, somewhere in the Society of Jesus during Fr. Arrupe's early tenure decided the Church was moderately wrong about some minor issue (it doesn't matter what...ordaining cats, marrying outside your species, whatever) and went public with this opinion. For reasons which have never been adequately explored, the upper management at the Society just shrugged and said "meh."

Which in turn led to some bright-eyed young Jesuit (delirious with Spirit of Vatican II Fever and whose opinion on Church wrongness on the issue of ____ was held with considerably greater vigor) to actually make a greater splash of his strenuous disagreement (eightieth trimester abortion, polyamorous clergy, whatever) and nobody did anything.

Then all Hell broke loose, all while Fr. Arrupe's leadership merely blinked in a semi-concerned manner. Furthermore, many from within greeted the breaking loose of Hell as a very good thing and told us so.
At this point, those whose general worldview is in sharp contradistinction to mine, will invariably comment this is just my Goldwaterishness wailing about the social justice stuff. Which is a sad little red herring. The problem with the social justice stuff is twofold:
1- It assumes that Jesuits pre-1965 were all loitering about the salons of men dressed like the MonopolyTM guy and wrenching morsels of bread from the starving lips of the proletariat, and
2- That the stuff that passes as "social justice stuff" these days will produce any permament, worthwhile results. (Hint: It won't. More on this anon.)
However, the concern for social justice had two unfortunate side effects (What? I like enumerating. Shut up.) :
1- It afforded unassailable cover to the Liberation Theology types -- who flourished in Latin America as a result, with the consequence that Evangelical Protestantism is growing like mad -- who would argue that all they were doing was for social justice, and anyone who disagreed was a plutocrat who be the first up against the wall when the Revolución comes, anyway.
2- It allowed many to take their eyes off the ball; forgetting that the paramount goal is to get to Heaven and take as many people with us as we can. (The "Equitable distribution of the people's resources and just allocation of the means of production" is pretty useless if you're in Hell.) This is vital stuff. I shan't out anyone here, but I am continually amazed by Jesuits whose blogs have multiple entries on the minimum wage but where you cannot find ONE mention of the Rosary or the Sacraments in three years of writing.
Finally, the most frustrating thing of all is, for me, the guardianship of Fr. Arrupe's legacy. To my untrained eyes, to hold a divergent view on Fr. Arrupe's leadership is simply not allowed. It is beyond discussion and to have such a view is equivalent to being a flat-earther. Further conversation is impossible, and all refuting evidence must be inadmissible.
So I ask myself...why?
-J.
P.S. I am aware that a lot of situations are handled through back-channels and behind the scenes and all that. Fine. Granted. But the onslaught of imbecility continues apace, meaning only one of two things:
1- There are not enough (in number and/or vehemence) of these back channel actions going on
2- Back channel stuff is useless

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Perhaps we ought reconsider the morality of cloning.

After all, that way we could have a whole USCCB crammed with guys like this.

AMDG,

-J.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Keep going, it's working.

Meeting with big deal Argentines went pretty well. Still have 2-3 more rounds, though.

KEEP at it. (You know who you are.)

-J.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?*

This guy, that's who.

(And you though the Vatican would remain asleep forever? Shame on you.)

-J.

* Oh, fine.

"THAT. That's what we're talking about." Pt. 7

This from Creative Minority Report: (Any emphases, mine.)

Priest "Comes Out" During Mass

A priest at a Jesuit University in Philadelphia announced he was gay during Mass Sunday night to kick off the school's "Unity Week."

During the homily, Thomas J. Brennan, S.J. said he was active in "Unity Week" and said his homosexuality was one "the worst kept secrets" on the campus of Saint Joseph's University so he might as well say it outright. Most of Fr. Brennan's homily was on Catholic themes of acceptance and tolerance. However, he did not offer any thoughts or statements on the Church's stance on homosexuality.

During the petitions after the sermon, Sister (!) Betsy Linehan, Chair of The Gay/Straight Alliance on campus, asked that the Church accept all and judge not.

Unity Week at Saint Joseph's University includes a play called "Beauty Is" which highlights the scourge of crystal meth in the gay community, as well as a seminar called "Before Brokeback" about how Hollywood has portrayed homosexuals in the movies.

Unity Week was formerly called Rainbow Week but a critical article in the Catholic Standard & Times prompted the University to change the name of the weeklong event two years ago due to widespread controversy over the school's position on
homosexuality.

According to the school newspaper, Unity Week follows in the Rainbow Week tradition of educating and promoting acceptance of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered students and faculty.

Brennan wrote a chapter in the book "Jesuit Postmodern" entitled "A Tale of Two Comings Out: Priest and Gay on a Catholic Campus."

Bishop Joseph P. McFadden, the former Secretariat of Catholic Education and current Auxiliary to the Archbishop of Philadelphia, said in the above mentioned article in the Catholic Standard & Times, “There’s a fine line between recognizing diversity and promoting a lifestyle. Being a homosexual is not sinful. Acting on the homosexual lifestyle is — as is all sex outside the bond of marriage, which is defined as a union between one man and one woman.

Bishop McFadden, a St. Joseph’s alumnus, added: “While the Church asks that we recognize the unique dignity of every human person, it does not mean supporting a lifestyle that is contrary to the natural law.”


AMDG,

-J.

P.S. You have no idea how achingly I want the public perception of the Jesuits to be one of far less homo and much more sapiens.

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Monday, November 05, 2007

No, really.

I have clients coming in tomorrow. Very big deal clients.

I realllllllllly need your prayers.

That is all.

-J.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Watch this space.

Over at Karen's she posted a letter from someone weighing in on the WGA strike, and the estimable Barb N. also posited on this matter vis-a-vis the outlook of "conservative Catholics."

There is SO much with which I find to disagree in both of these -- without losing my support for the writers -- that I'll devote a post thereto as soon as I can rid myself of the interloping inlaws.

-J.

Friday, November 02, 2007

An outsider's insight.

As you know, the lovely and gracious Karen is sweating out the impending strike by the WGA, to which she belongs. Please keep her and all those folks who will suffer terribly in your prayers.
Which led me to muse on this from a couple of different perspectives.

Eons ago I had wanted to become an auteur, one of those filmmakers who did EVERYTHING and brooked no outside interference. I took a cubic boatload of film classes (in which did extremely well, thankyouverymuch) at the university level, and had my sights on being the next Scorcese (actually, closer to the proto-Tarantino, but whatev) until I realized that the people who had the sorts of things I wanted/needed generally expected payment, and I was far better able to oblige, and to a far greater degree, with an MBA under my belt than with a script for a dark comedy involving two serial killers* who bump into each other on a long hitchhiking trip.

To say nothing of having to live** in L.A. or N.Y.C. or -- ack! -- both.

But, as I mentioned to Miz K, I have always kept my eye on this field as something of a well-informed amateur on its inner doings and as a professional finance-type guy on the mechanics of the TV & film business.

The fallout will be brutal.

Most writers, if they are like most writers I know, are exclusively creative/artistic people. Invariably, this means they do not (in most cases cannot) think in an entrepreneurial way. Which has gotten them , over the course of several contracts, in the bind in which many will find themselves.

The fact is that the producers can simple wait out the writers. The vast majority of the writers, I suspect, couldn't handle more than 4-5 months of striking. This is pretty elementary B-school stuff: the entity with the least interest in a relationship wields the power and dictates terms. End of story.

A case can be made that the business model upon which this sort of thing hinges is ancient and decrepit, necessitating these sorts of work actions. It should be (as a model) far closer to the Silicon Valley model than it is. But it isn't and it's not likely to be, until something from outside comes along at rips its head off. (Hollywood being Hollywood, memories are short and IQs shorter, so nobody remembers how catastrophically they dealt with paradigm quakes such as sound or TV).

As a pretty sober MBA-type, I can say pretty confidently that any business model that has an Us vs. Them component in its team structure is a walking fossil. Make that lumbering, limping fossil. More on that anon.

In the medium term, this does not bode well for people who like their media consumption on the "intelligent or better" side. TV has yet to recover -- I really doubt it ever will -- from the 1988 strike...at least in terms of quality. Definitely in terms of market share. Let's look at the quality angle first.

Here's a quiz:

Let's suppose you are a big executive at Big Network. There are no writers writing any scripts and you are staring at endless hours of dead air, for months on end. What do you do?

1- Do you go to the library, dig out a bunch of Shakespeare/Euripides plays and shoot those "stright" and giving the broad American audience a taste of great artwork?

2- Parachute 25 Hooters waitresses on a Caribbean island with a month's supply of XTC, assorted gels and the imminent threat of a spandex-eating vipers?

Yeah.

This is to say nothing of the inevitable script rot that hits after a long period of inactivity. If you look at the shows that survived the 1988 strike, I'd say that most of them jumped the shark. I defy anyone to show me a show from series TV that was brilliant in 1987 still on the air and brilliant in 1990, a mere three years later. Exactly.

Now ponder what arises from the quality issues. Not everybody will want to embalm their mind watching Hooters waitresses on an island. Some people will just turn off the TV and find they don't miss it. They'll read books. Watch films. Cook. Sleep more. Others will start watching BBC America (where intelligent writing doesn't seem to carry the stigma it does here) or other channels. Others, savvier, hipper, and with Alpha male-like societal leadership traits, will find the new and uncharted territories.

From where I type, Hollywood's mindset has always been a combative one. Maybe it's because of all those crusty hard@$$ types who came over from the East Coast in the early 1900s, having scratched out some financial success despite the discrimination and difficulty there*** and that adversarial quality has imprinted itself in the DNA of the place. Combativeness often leads to dismissiveness. "___ is nothing but a fad." While Hollywood haggles over who gets what percentage over what's distributed over the new media, the new media is awakening to what it wants to distribute. And it's not AirBud III.

And aggregate Hollywood will not know what hit them and will wonder why they are all covered in bright, wet red, in pain with their innards strewn casually on the floor. For reasons which I have not been able to fathom, the Hollywood types simply do not "get" the Internet. But for those who are willing to think and see, I'll give them a hint: where the blogosphere and talk radio have taken the news media, things such as YouTube will eventually take creative media. Those "distribution channels" are actually drastically lowered barriers to entry. The sort that made Adam Smith's naughty bits all tingly.

In sum, I see this as a lose-lose.

The studios -- sorry, Karen -- will probably "win." They don't have to worry about mortgages, car payments, tuition, etc. They will use the down time to rejigger things and a year after it's all over, the landscape will be far harsher (albeit "fairer") to writers. They will smugly go back about their business amid self-congratulatory plaudits over a battle won, not realize they lost the war...and like dinosaurs never bother with the meteor that hit way over there.

Oy.

-J.

* Don't even try it. My lawyers will not leave flesh on bone and once set loose I cannot recall them.

** My rules for where I wish to reside are very simple: No state income tax, no discernible winter or seasons, no "company towns" and it must be within 10 minutes of the sea coast.

L.A. fails #1 & #3, and N.Y.C. fails #1 & #2. Alas, global warming has not made New Hampshire the tropical paradise it ought to be, and Arizona is still waiting for plate tectonics to give it its fair shot at being the Pacific coast. Karen smugly says the mountains are the place to be when the Islamofascists show up, but I am not convinced they have amphibious assault capabilities.

*** If you really want to insult an Hollywood person, calmly tell them they dress like someone from Boston.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

For All Saints Day.

Today we celebrate the Feast of All Saints. This isn't just the feast of All Canonized Saints, but all those, including those known but to God.

So I'd like to focus on this for a moment. The lovely and gracious Karen has a "thing" for the North American Martyrs. As well she should. But I'd like to bring to your attention the Spanish Civil War Martyrs. During the conflict (as well as the years immediately preceding it, starting with the suppression of the Jesuits in 1932) 13 bishops, 4172 priests and seminarians, 2364 religious brothers and 283 religious sisters (for a total of 6832) were victims of persecution by the Loyalist forces.

If you do some combined Math/History homework, you will see that this level of martyrdom is unequaled in the last 100 years. Even with the USSR and Communist China (unless there's something we haven't found out yet) in the count, these figures are hugely impressive.

In the parts of Spain controlled by the Loyalists (we'll call it half), the population of clergy and religious was hacked by approximately 30%. (Want to know what happened to Catholic Spain? There's your answer.)

Martyrs of the Spanish Civil War, pray for us!

AMDG,

-J.

(The first photo is a memorial list of the 128 Jesuits martyred, the second is of Loyalists -- whose salvational status has probably come as an utter shock, one which I doubt many would wish to share -- shooting at the Sagrado Corazon de Jesus statue.)