Editorial note

31 05 2009


Just because I post things from non-Christian religions or from heretical or schismatic sources doesn’t mean that I think that they are salvific or true in any way. It just means that I find some roads to perdition more colorful than others.

Now feel free to go about your reading.

Krishna Govinda

29 05 2009

Oración al Judio Errante

28 05 2009

judio errante

¡Oh, Judio Errante de los amantes! Según tú entraste en el templo de
Jerusalén y apagastes la lámpara del Santísimo Altar, así yo quiero
que te metas en el corazón de ________ y no me lo dejes comer , ni dormir,
ni estar tranquilo , hasta que no venga donde mi de todo corazón en
cuerpo y alma .

Judio Errante , no me lo dejes ni en silla sentado , ni en cama acostado ,
ni en sitio parado , que por donde quiera que vaya oiga mi voz y vea mi sombra ,
y que según de campanazos den las campanas de la iglesia ,sean debatidos en
el corazon de __________.

Judio Errante , no me lo dejes vivir con nadie , que sea yo quien me lo presente
en el sueño y me le ablande el corazon solamente para mí y para más ninguna
mujer .

3 Padres Nuestros, 3 Ave Marias .
Use el escapulario del Angel Guardian para que lo proteja contra todo lo malo.

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Jansenism as Whipping Boy

28 05 2009


Via Fr. Chadwick’s page, I found an essay by another cleric stating that the recent child abuse scandal in the Irish church is due to the lack of a vibrant and colorful liturgy and the prevalence of Jansenism amongst the clergy. While I have indeed myself had recourse to this argument when approaching other questions, I think this priest’s use of such an accusation is unfounded. There is no reason to believe that theology had anything to do with it. If anything, what was really at fault was fundamentalist ultramontanism that is a general outgrowth of realized eschatology; not so much a theological principle, but a religious ethos. In the midst of an increasingly persecuted Church, the hierarchy was seen as being able to do no wrong. Needless to say, the institutional Church in many places took that principle and ran with it, often over the backs of the innocent.

First, however, I would like to address the idea of attacking of Jansenism as an all-powerful bête noire. Jansenists are now portrayed as moral monsters responsible for everything from taking Holy Communion away from children to ingrown toenails. While Jansenists were indeed extreme in their ideas and practices, their being painted as the ultimate villains is the result of history being written by the victors, and it was a hollow victory at that. From infrequent Communion we have gone to Holy Communion as a social right of the members of the People of God. From the strictness of the Port Royal nuns we now have an overly relaxed regime where ascetical minimalism is the name of the game. From the victory of “God’s mercy” in the disputes with the Jansenists, we have now a secular Europe and an often liberal, fuzzy deity who few take seriously, and so on. The only place where some of the Jansenists’ ideas flourished were in the realm of liturgy; some of the aspects of what is known as the Novus Ordo Missae were first proposed by the Jansenists, and condemned by the Church after the Jansenist Council of Pistoia.

Indeed, with the final defeat of the Jansenists and in the aftermath of the French Revolution came the idea that the institutional Church was a heroic, suffering institution that needed to be followed in even the most insignificant things. (This perception is alive and well in the Catholic blogosphere.) Catholics ceased to be mere believers and had to become militants. This was no doubt a product of the fiercely anticlerical regimes in the 19th century, but the other side of the coin is that many saw in these struggles that “the Church could do no wrong”, especially in the face of a hostile state. No state was more hostile than the British one in occupied Ireland. It is no wonder that in the aftermath of independence, the Church could get away with anything short of murder. In many ways, it was Jansenism, in all its misguidedness, that was the last flicker of a “loyal opposition” in Catholicism that could call the institution out on its own imperfections.

In the post cited above, there is a a romanticism unbecoming of any sort of serious discussion. It is quite pollyanish to think that such horrible stories of abuse were due to the hostile weather of the northern climes, or that it could have been prevented if people danced more or enjoyed themselves. I come from an ecclesial culture that is the polar opposite of Irish Catholicism: vibrant, emotional, colorful, and loud, and I can tell you that such horrible things still occured in this ecclesial context as well. The only difference is that in Mexico, the government disliked the Church to the point of persecution, so the Church obviously didn’t have the power to exploit people to the point of slavery and child rape. Where the Catholic sun shines, people just don’t get warmth, they can also get burnt.

(I should comment that Jansenist liturgies may have been somewhat sparse, but they were far from lacking in beauty. I once heard a recording of Jansenist chant that was quite beautiful.)

And if anything, such revelations probably prove the Jansenists to be the more correct party rather than the ones at fault. Homo homini lupus. Such horrible things are due to man’s penchant to sin, and such sin leads to selfishness and cruelty. The other side of the rhetoric against “Calvinist gloom” is that we have forgotten our own miserable state in our march of modernity. At the end of the day, I don’t defend the Jansenists, but in their defeat, we may have lost more than we gained.

Wichita Vortex Sutra

27 05 2009

From the opera Hydrogen Jukebox

Music by Philip Glass

Libretto by Allen Ginsburg

My Latest for Inside Catholic

27 05 2009


And other notes

First of all, if you haven’t read my latest essay for Inside Catholic, you can do it by clicking here.

My main goal in life, at least on an intellectual level, is to cease thinking in shibboleths. I say this because in the essay above, I had to try to steer clear of them, with limited success. For example, I really did not want to use the term, “incarnational”, for reasons I have outlined before. In too many circumstances, we let the words speak us, empty words, hollow words. Perhaps it is my Nietzschean adolecence haunting me, but people like to take refuge in such phrases, uttering them and mentally walking away, as if not wanting to be contaminated by the error of their interlocutor. That is why in a lot of ways, I hesitate to write pieces like the one above. But I still think at times that I have “something to say”, and often I have to speak the “language of the herd”. Of course, I know that there are certain points where we must accept such slogans since they say best what we cannot adequately say.
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The other side of “otherness”

26 05 2009


The racial politics of American folk healing and other notes

Anthony Cavender has a brief section in his book, Folk Medicine in Southern Appalachia on the role of African-Americans in the development of American folk healing. (I will do a broader post on the rest of the book later.) As usual, the American black was considered by the white populace of being a practitioner of witchcraft, and able to be manipulated by superstitions. (Gladys-Marie Fry shows some of this in her book, Night Riders in Black Folk History, which is on my reading list.) Even though the black populace was (and to an extent still is) very much Christian, white Christians always suspected them of not having given up their “pagan ways”, and the white press was always keen to talk about the “voodoo” and “hoodoo” of the black minority at every possible turn.
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A little bit of Mozart

22 05 2009

The opening of Cosí fan tutte


21 05 2009


From Ann Ball:

In many parts of the American Southwest and in Mexico, travelers pass numerous reminders of journeys not completed. Solitary crosses by the wayside stand as sentinels of love and death, and the promise of the resurrection. “Be careful,” they silently plead to the passerby, “finish your journey on this earth in safety before you go on.”

The descansos (resting places) are a death-related aspect of folk art which stems from old traditions in Mexico and the Spanish – settled areas of the Southwest. In the old days, when the body was carried from the church to the cemetery, the pallbearers often had to stop and rest, as the distance was far and the burden heavy. The places where the procession stopped to rest became known as descansos. As they entered the graveyard (camposanto), there was a ritual stop at the entrance and each of the four corners of the cemetery. Here, decades of the rosary or requium prayers were said. Many cemeteries were built with special shelters to mark these stops, and shelters were also sometimes built at the stopping points on the way from the church to the cemetery. Although the early Spanish settlers preferred to bury their dead in a camposanto, this was not always possible and many were buried where they died. Crosses were placed to mark the gravesites. Later, the custom extended to marking the place of death, even when the body was carried to a cemetery. The descansos on the way to the cemetery and, of course, the crosses marking the graves in the open, were hallowed by custom, and soon the crosses and small shrines erected along the roadside at the site of a death in an automobile or other accident acquired the same hallowed ambiance.

Created out of love in a time of pain, today’s roadside descansos are truly folk art. They are made of many materials, sometimes even including the parts of the cars involved in the accidents. Each is unique, and yet similar in the expression of love and bewilderment on the part of the families who erect them. Generally, the families who choose to erect a descanso in memory of a lost loved one, place a temporary wooden cross at the site soon after the accident. This cross remains until the permanent memorial is built. Sometimes the wooden cross is left after the memorial is built, or incorporated into it in some way.

Read the rest here

Also. here is an informative short video about this tradition:

The Jewish Temple

20 05 2009


We find similar temporal symbolism as the part of the cosmological symbolism of the Temple at Jerusalem. According to Flavius Josephus, the twelve loaves of bread on the table signified the twelve months of the year and the candelabrum with the seventy branches represented the decans (the zodiacal division of the seven planets into tens). The Temple was an imago mundi; being at the Center of the World, at Jerusalem, it sanctified not only the entire cosmos but also cosmic life – that is, time.

-Mircea Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion