A male soprano

31 10 2010

I used to have this CD.





Some Terry Riley

29 10 2010

An excerpt from a recent live concert

Showing off, among other things, the classical Indian vocals he learned when he was a disciple of Pandit Pran Nath.





The shape of American religious discourse

28 10 2010

AG sent me an article in the Economist entitled, How the cold war reshaped Protestantism in America . It is an eye-opening reminder about how much religious discourse has changed in this country in the past fifty to sixty years. It used to be that Protestantism was a force for “progressivism” so to speak. Now even Catholicism and other religions are drawn into the culture wars that have their origin in militant anti-communism and pro-capitalist campaigning.
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Old school syncretism

27 10 2010

See link here. (“Copyright issues”, apparently)





“100% Catholic”

26 10 2010

In spite of feeling more often than not that I have no horse in this race, stuff like this concerns me. Circling the wagons in the Catholic context always seems to have to do with sexual orthodoxy. It is as if the Catholic Church had some sort of strange neuroses wherein the obsession of the celibate clergy centers on what members of the non-clergy do in their bedrooms. Why are we not so neurotic about poverty, inequality, and cultic issues? Why are the below the belt issues the only non-negotiable ones?

Before all of you commenters start getting your hair all up in a bunch over this, I ask only looking through the prism of phenomenological social perception and not through some abstract argument over theological dogma. No doubt that when the good bishop speaks of being “100% Catholic”, he is not talking about the Church’s stand on immigration or war. Non-negotiables seem to have their goal posts moved depending on who you speak to, but more often than not, they tend to center on one’s genitals.

To a certain extent, stuff like this looks at the problem in another light. All the same, the idea that the Church needs to be smaller and purer (no matter who said it) is a potent one to the self-described orthodox. They see their relatives and fellow pew warmers and can’t help but look at them in a disdainful light. The problem for me has always been that this was not at the origins of the present aggiornamento. A text from one of Ratzinger’s favorite theologians, Hans Urs von Balthasar, would indicate that such a quest for institutional purity in and of itself is not that uniform or ancient. As the old theologian writes:

On the other hand, everything must be done to prevent an emigration of the progressivists, however uncomfortable their continued presence in the Church will prove to be for the faithful…. I ask the bishops: Is the hearer of a [heretical] homily dispensed from Mass? May he, ought he perhaps leave this liturgy?

But such an approach is out of the question for the Catholica… [it] would have the effect once more of hurling the remnant back into lifeless, cheerless integralisms.

If the “progressivists” are allowed to stay, why not others who “don’t know any better”?

If we went back one hundred years ago, under the old tyrannical papacies, would any of us be “100% Catholic”, just as we are now?





The (ir)relevance of the Catholic blogosphere

25 10 2010

This short report was brought to my attention recently. Those of us demented and bored enough to actually follow the workings of most Catholic blogs will see that this is far from a hit piece. There is indeed an entire section of Catholics with websites and certain print publications who consider it their duty to “heresy hunt” and do the job that the “cowardly bishops” aren’t doing. You can even find their opinions in some unlikely places. At the church where I sing in the Gregorian chant schola, I once saw a bumper sticker advertising “Real Catholic TV”: a website / video blog that seems to not realize that the last 100 years of history and “theological development” have taken place, and in the back of a church in Houston, they were offering free sample copies of the National Catholic Register.
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Agora

25 10 2010

Missing the universe within

I have to confess that I wanted to like this movie, and to a certain extent, I did. AG thought it lacked a coherent narrative structure, but as far as I was concerned, it was pretty watchable. The sets were fascinating, but not always authentic (people have complained that the way the Roman soldiers were dressed was more appropriate for soldiers a few centuries before). The most staunch criticism is the liberties it took with history: Rachel Weisz, while easy on the eyes, would not have been the same age as Hypatia when she died at the age of 65. There was probably no library at the Serapion when it was levelled to the ground in the fourth century. Some critics have taken issue with this, and for some these inaccuracies seem to be the main thrust of their criticism. That, and the fact that the Christians of the time were portrayed as the swarthy Taliban avant la lettre, running through the streets with clubs shouting, “God is one”.
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I am just posting this because I want to watch it later

24 10 2010




Hallelujah Junction

22 10 2010




Dr. Sousa Martins

21 10 2010

Dr. José Tomás de Sousa Martins (1843-1897) was a doctor and pharmacist renowned for his work amongst the poor in Lisbon. After his death, a secular cult has arisen around him in which he is thanked for ‘miraculous’ cures. Born in Alhandra he moved to Lisbon in his youth, and qualified in pharmacy (1864) and medicine (1866). He then practiced as a doctor in the Pena area of Lisbon, specialising in the treatment of tuberculosis. His work was entirely on a secular basis, but he was noted in his life for the care he gave to the poor. In 1897, realising that he has contracted tuberculosis himself and could only expect a painful death, he committed suicide.

Yet since the memorial was erected in 1904 at Campo dos Mártires da Pátria outside the main Faculty of Medicine, it has become the focal point for a religious devotion to Dr. Sousa Martins. People who come here believe that by praying to him and asking for his intervention, they will be cured.

-from here