Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

Essential thinking for reading Catholics.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Friday's Film Flashback...

Those of you who descend upon this blog -- you know who you are -- have heard me write in generally positive terms about First Things. Sometimes the things I like about same are the sorts of things which might test the blood pressure of others but, still, there you are.

As proof of the manifest goodness that is FT and their historical rightness on this issue, I bring you this recent entry from their blog where the virtues of Whit Stillman and, in particular, his debut film Metropolitan are expounded. Being a preppy, the film carries an extra "something" of resonance for me, but even if someone's background is as far away from prepdom as can be managed, the film will still delight with its incessant wit and sparkling dialogue.



and



Golly, does this make me happy...

-J.

P.S. To prove (yet again, as if any more proof were needed) the complete and utter worthlessness of the OscarsTM, this film lost in the Best Original Screenplay to...get this...Ghost.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Be right with you.

Still swamped.

Stay tuned.

-J.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Making sense of what's going on, musically

Just for the lovely and gracious Karen:



-J.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Not just my Capitalist Tool of choice...

Look at what the WSJ hath wrought.

I like that it dovetails nicely with what I wrote previously.

Trying desperately to contain my smugness,

-J.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Usual Subjects

Don't ask me why, but right around this time of the year, every year we have, in PG Wodehouse's immortal words "some slight friction" in matters Jesuit over here in the blogosphere.

This is normal and to be expected and no reason for alarm. Shortly thereafter, summer fruits will be in season, and so the long day wears on.

But just because this thing rolls around with near-Helvetic regularity doesn't mean I oughtn't chuck in my two cents every time it does.

So here goes, taking things in bits.

One of the usual subjects is the matter of These Jesuits vs. Those Jesuits. Without going into the particulars of whether Fr. ______ SJ is the latter or the former, I suggest a good way of looking at this sort of thing is to carefully analyze any relevant writings on "the neuralgic issues" of today: Women's ordination, divorce/remarriage, pro-life issues, that sort of thing. Here's where it can get tricky because many of the more wayward thinkers on these issues tend to be intelligent enough to leave open "semantic lines of retreat."

That such people exist and move and are active is beyond discussion. How to classify them is the key aspect.

That said, I'm personally not very comfortable with adjudicating any Jesuit (or pretty much anyone this side of Stalin) as awful, evil, heretical, etc. To be sure, some of the positions advocated by them can be, and they can also be wrong, ill-reasoned, based on faulty data etc. But to call someone anything is m-i-g-h-t-y dangerous. I recommend you avoid it.

But, feel free to explain why someone (Jesuit or otherwise) is wrong on these issues and you may do so with a luxury of detail. The goal is to straighten someone out, not thwack them over the head.

Now, this leads us to the divisiveness divide. Tricky, this.

Why?

Because sometimes divisiveness is nothing more than merely pointing out the obvious. If Fr. ____ SJ is publishing articles in which he advocates the ordination of rabbits and polygamous priests, it's not divisive to point that out. The divisiveness arises from someone in dissent with Church doctrine, not from extending one's index finger and saying "Whoa! Look at that!"

Where the wheels can fall off the wagon is in extrapolating from someone's stances on prudential issues or going off on an ad hominen jag. It weakens one's position, it hardens the heart of those who disagree and alienates those who may not be fully informed as to the various details of the issue at the core of it all.

That leads me to ponder the matter of social structures of sin, which -- and this will seem all nit-picky -- is emphatically not the same bloody thing as "sinful structures." There is no such thing as a sinful structure, because a structure has no free will and therefore cannot sin. Sure, there are structures that are the product of sin and instrumental in its propagation and sustainability. But that's not the same thing.

Those who advocate "Liberation Theology" (in the popular sense, not the strict sense as Ryan Duns has so ably explained) are, sadly, all confused about the matter of prudential judgments and theology and collectivist politics and the like. Sadly, during the Studio 54 years, this (ahem) theology got a lot of traction and it's still a recurring phenomenon like a cold sore. The main problem, natch, with this Liberation Theology is that it provides neither. And, as policy it doesn't work, and never will work. To argue in favor of these policies is like arguing against the law of gravity.

What I'm more wary of than argument and disagreement is acrimony. When acrimony appears, you know Satan has sneaked into the discussion, sowing discord and enmity.

There. Feel better?

AMDG,

-J., going back to work.

Back.

I'm back, but only because not one, nor two but THREE projects at the office require my immediate attention.

I publicly apologize to Mark Mossa, SJ -- who may be Fr. Mark Mossa, SJ by the time you read this -- because this swamping of activity precludes my attending his ordination to the priesthood. I am inexpressively displeased to miss it. Mark, my prayers are headed your way.

Bloggery will be lightish for the next week or so as I clear my workload.

AMDG,

-J.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

This made me smile, it's so bizarre.



-J.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

"Missed me by that much"

I am absolutely convinced I have the hardest working Guardian Angel in the solar system. Forever pulling me out of trouble (almost always of my own devising) we're talking about someone who has earned every medal available.

Why do I say this?

Because this year I have dodged a bullet scarier than the one time some idiot crashed into my car at 45mph (75kph) and -- literally -- almost killed me. Here's the story, which is only moderately interesting, but I compensate by lavishing brevity thereupon.

Our friend D. called my wife one fine day a couple of weeks ago and says something like: "My parents have a time share at Mt. ____ Resort, would you and Joe and the boys like to come along with us, because my parents can't go this year?"

Mt. ___ Resort, you'll shudder to know, is riddled with nature. On the list of things to do at the resort and in the nearby bucolic hamlet of Mt. ____ they have such horrors as hiking, canoeing, ticks (contracting Lyme disease is optional), fishing, getting eaten alive by wildcats, horseback riding, nature trails, rafting, and "nature excursions."

Personally, I'd rather place several venomous spiders in my suit of underclothing or watch Sex & The City: The Movie -- which, come to think of it, is pretty much the same thing -- than endure any of the abovelisted activities. My wife, with an admirable broadness of mind answered something like: "Sure! Sounds fun!"

The catch was that, while lodging was free, airfare was not and Mt. ____ is not a major airline hub, and even the nearest major city isn't thick with nonstop flights from Miami. The non-nonstop flights had stops in the least likely places with spectacularly protracted layovers. Oh, and at ridiculous prices...which I firmly believe was my Guardian Angel messing around on Expedia.

(For reasons which will become apparent in a post or two, we weren't going to use any FF miles)

But, my Guardian Angel is not one to slack off just because things look promising, no. Things have to be neatly sorted before my GA punches out. I had to offer an enticing alternative. Lo and behold, I was able to find cheap fares on the most convenient flights (departing AND returning), an absurdly cheap a special rate on an excellent and posh hotel mere steps away from a convenient and well-designed mass transit system...all for $300 less than just flying out to the nearest major city and then driving 2 hours up to Mt. _____.

The shopping in this city is merely okay but the restaurant action is pretty good and there's enough museum/child-friendly activity to have easily swayed the younger voters to not yelp when told that no, we shan't be going to Mt. ____ so long as Dad has the slightest grip on his nervous system.

We leave on Saturday.

-J.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Requiem aeternam dona eis...

Since I have a lot of Jewish friends, I got this in my email today:

Irena Sendler passed away on Monday May 12th, 2008 at 8:00 am CEST in Warsaw, Poland. A funeral service will be held on Thursday, May 15th at noon CEST in Warsaw. Memorial services are planned in numerous places, including Fort Scott, KS.

The life of Irena Sendler was one of great testimony, one of courage and love, one of respect for all people, regardless of race, religion and creed. She passed away peacefully, knowing that her message goes on. Our hearts and prayers go out to her worldwide family. She is gone, but will never be forgotten. Born in Warsaw, Poland, she live most of her young life in Otwock. Irena Sendlerowa led the rescue of 2,500 Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto during the Holocaust in World War II. She was recently nominated* for the Nobel Peace Prize. Her legacy of repairing the world continues, as good continues to triumph over evil. Irena Sendlerowa was 98 years old.

The http://www.irenasendler.org/ web site tells more about Irena's life (under home page and additional information). The Life in a Jar students who brought her story to worldwide attention, continue to share her legacy and the play (Life in a Jar) to people all over the world.

She smuggled babies in a secret compartment under plumbing tools in her bag, and also older infants under folds of burlap. She would write the names of the children on two slips of tissue paper and put each slip in a different jar and she'd bury each jar in widely different locations. She was arrested and was tortured (she had both legs and feet fractured) but she would not reveal anything. After being sentenced to death, she managed to escape via a fake execution.

In recognition of her heroism and sacrifice, the postwar Soviet puppet government in Poland branded her, naturally, a Fascist.

Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis. Requiescant in pace. Amen.

AMDG,

-J.

*Click here to see the winner.