¡Ay caray! I hope this isn’t true

30 06 2008

And those Catholics that are staying in the Catholic Church are redefining their churches, giving it a Latino makeover of sorts, including more lively music and a more natural embracement of the mystical. A growing majority of these Catholics refer to themselves as “Charismatic” and share with evangelicals the belief in God’s intervention in the everyday in the form of supernatural phenomena such as speaking in tongues, miraculous healings and relevations (and you thought selling Sábado Gigante to your client was tough).

-from this site

Of course, I suspect that it is, as I have said in the past.

In any event, I have been thinking recently that if one of the only reasons that the Church is growing in the United States is due to the influx of immigrants, and most of those immigrants are Latinos, then where are all of the Latino Catholic bloggers? Don’t get me wrong: I am not one of those people who thinks that only a person of a certain race, ethnicity, gender, etc. can understand the problems and perspectives of that group (I’m a Platonist, afterall). But it would be nice to see more bloggers whose religious backgrounds do not come from the American suburbs, perhaps a generation or two removed from the Catholic ghettos of yesteryear. And let’s face it, a disproportionate number of Catholic bloggers are converts and it shows. That’s why the Catholic blogosphere is a bit boring for me.

If you know any Latino/Hispanic/etc. Catholic bloggers, please forward me a link. So far, one of the only ones I know is my cuate over at Roamin’ Catholic, and he’s nuevomejicano, so his family has been in this country probably a lot longer than all of yours. Maybe I can start my own blog ring.

I’m out. ¡Arriba Coahuila, paisa!

20 Years Ago Today

30 06 2008

A Debate About Syncretism

30 06 2008

First, I must give credit to the Cruising Down the Coast of the High Barbaree blog for directing me to this article on the syncretic attitudes of Hindus and Thomas Christians in Kerala. It is well-worth a thorough read, and Josh S. and I get into an interesting discussion on the post cited above.

Of course, my Lutheran interlocutor on the thread cited this article as representing the dangers that apostolic Christianity has of falling into superstition, and no doubt a number of Catholics will also find the actions of the Thomas Christians described here highly objectionable. I personally think that they crossed some lines that should not have been crossed.

On the other hand, in a lot of ways, the Christianity of the laity is often about what we can get away with. ( I am thinking here specifically of some of the quirks of my grandmother, que Dios la tenga en Su gloria). I am beginning to think that the shepherding of our pastors in the Church is not as simple as they lead and we follow. As I have written in the past, the cult of the saints in my mind did not arise as a “from the top-down”, but rather as a “from the bottom-up” phenomenon. In other words, the emergence of the Catholic ethos was not a strictly “by the book” affair, and it can at times resemble a wrestling match between God and man, pastors and laity, as to the shape and flavor of their beliefs and practices. While I think the Christians of Kerala have taken their syncretism too far (as have some Mexicans in their cult to Holy Death), I do not see these actions as part of a process that is contrary to the Gospel, but rather as one that is very much a part of it. It is just an issue of regulating these things so that they don’t get out of hand.

On the Closing of the Lefebvrist Mind

28 06 2008

Some thoughts about the current situation between the Society of St. Pius X and Rome

The night of the consecration of the church in La Reja, I met up again with a French priest who I had met when I lived in a priory in the United States. I saw him in the open field on the seminary grounds, and I decided to go over to introduce myself again.

“Hello, Fr. X, [I was saying this in English]. I don’t know if you remember me, but we met in [such and such priory]…”

“Oh, yes,” was his reply, but I saw he was more concerned with looking up at the stars at this point. “We are in the Southern Hemisphere. I think I see up there the Southern Cross. Excuse me.”

He wandered eagerly into the darkness of the night with the curiosity and glee of a child. I left him to his stargazing.

When I think of the Society of St. Pius X, the first things that come to mind concern neither theology nor the “crisis in the Church”. They are anecdotes like the one above, or anecdotes about having to carry Bishop Fellay’s rather heavy baggage down a precariously wet metal spiral staircase, or having to drag a boy back to the sacristy after Mass after he had very publicly picked his nose while serving at altar, and so on and so forth. Most people who like to comment on the SSPX are either Catholics who never had or never will have sympathy to their cause and thus treat them like three-headed monsters, or ex-supporters who have a rather personal and petty axe to grind with them. Having left their circle on amicable terms, and having been always fairly treated by them, I can say that I have neither tendency.
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28 06 2008

In the midst of these things, if you want to assign all the reasons which led Moses to command the Hebrews to be at leisure on the Sabbath, perhaps you will discover behind it a more sublime and secret allegory: the day of Saturn unfit for action in peace and war but fit for contemplation and for beseeching divine patronage on that same day against dangers. Abraham and Samuel and most of the Hebrew astrologers testified that they were able to acheive this aid against the menace of Mars and Saturn by elevating their minds to God and by vows and sacrifices, thus confirming that rule of the Chaldeans: “If you lift up your ardent mind to a work of piety, you will preserve your weak body”… It would be very worthwhile to explore that Hebrew notion, namely that in ritual slaughter of animals and in the scattering of our possesions as a sacrifice, the evils menacing us from the heavens are deflected from us to our possesions.

-Marsilio Ficino, De Vita Coelitus Comparanda

Santo Daime

27 06 2008

If your Portuguese isn’t up to snuff, please click here for a video with English subtitles.

I thought I knew everything about syncretic religions in Brazil. You learn something new everyday.

By the Numbers

26 06 2008

Above: the magic square in Gaudi’s Holy Family Cathedral in Barcelona

For the Pythagoreans, numbers, as opposed to physical substances, are the permanent, prime principles of the world. Numbers alone have unity and give rise to multiplicity in an orderly, knowable fashion. Physical things are transient, indefinable and impossible to know in essence. Numbers are the elements of everything, even of divinity. So they embrace all reality. Their configurations reveal the structure of the universe. Number four is one of those special configurations, for if one adds its constituent numbers, one plus two plus three plus four, they come to ten, the total range of single numbers. Four, or “the tetraktys” as the Pythagoreans called it, represents the total universe.

-Lucas Siorvanes, Proclus: Neo-Platonic Philosophy and Science

Krazzy 4

25 06 2008

On Bollywood movies, the English language, Argentine billboards, little black dresses, strip malls, the Fathers of the Church, and the role of language in religious discourse

One of the vices that AG has introduced me to is the joy of Bollywood movies. Since India is a poorer country and movie-goers have to get more bang for their buck, Bollywood films have to be over-the-top spectacles that boggle and overstimulate the mind into a complete entertainment stupor. The story lines are contrived, the plot twists barely worthy of belief, the dance sequences long, the women pretty, and everyone has a good time doing what they do best: dropping everything to dance and sing (or more often than not lip synch) at a moment’s notice. Here is an example from “Dhoom 2”, that AG and I recently watched:

(No, seriously, this movie is way cool. You should watch it.)
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Ficino on India

24 06 2008

...[M]any dwellers in the East and South, especially Indians, are said to have an admirable power in their words, as these people are for the most part Solar. I say that they are the most powerful of all, not in their natural, but in their vital and animal forces…

-Marsilio Ficino, De Vita Coelitus Comparanda

Mythical Founding of Buenos Aires by Jorge Luis Borges

24 06 2008

English Translation (by Alastair Reid):

And was it along this torpid muddy river
that the prows came to found my native city?
The little painted boats must have suffered the steep surf
among the root-clumps of the horse-brown current.

Pondering well, let us suppose that the river
was blue then like an extension of the sky,
with a small red star inset to mark the spot
where Juan Diaz fasted and the Indians dined.

But for sure a thousand men and other thousands
arrived across a sea that was five moons wide,
still infested with mermaids and sea serpents
and magnetic boulders that sent the compass wild.

On the coast they put up a few ramshackle huts
and slept uneasily. This, they claim, in the Riachuelo,
but that is a story dreamed up in Boca.
It was really a city block in my district – Palermo.

A whole square block, but set down in open country,
attended by dawns and rains and hard southeasters,
identical to that block which still stands in my neighbourhood:
Guatemala – Serrano – Paraguay – Gurruchaga.

A general store pink as the back of a playing card
shone bright; in the back there was poker talk.
The corner bar flowered into life as a local bully,
already cock of his walk, resentful, tough.

The first barrel organ teetered over the horizon
with its clumsy progress, its habaneras, its wop.
The cart-shed wall was unanimous for Yrigoyen.
Some piano was banging out tangos by Saborido.

A cigar store perfumed the desert like a rose.
The afternoon had established its yesterdays,
and men took on together an illusory past.
Only one thing was missing – the street had no other side.

Hard to believe Buenos Aires had any beginning.
I feel it to be as eternal as air and water.

translation found on this page