25 03 2021

 The brāhmaṇa replied, “I am illiterate and therefore do not know the meaning of the words. Sometimes I read the Bhagavad-gītā correctly and sometimes incorrectly, but in any case I am doing this in compliance with the orders of my spiritual master.”   

The brāhmaṇa continued, “Actually I only see Lord Kṛṣṇa sitting on a chariot as Arjuna’s charioteer. Taking the reins in His hands, He appears very beautiful and blackish.

“While seeing Lord Kṛṣṇa sitting in a chariot and instructing Arjuna, I am filled with ecstatic happiness.

“As long as I read the Bhagavad-gītā, I simply see the Lord’s beautiful features. It is for this reason that I am reading the Bhagavad-gītā, and my mind cannot be distracted from this.”

Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu told the brāhmaṇa, “Indeed, you are an authority in the reading of the Bhagavad-gītā. Whatever you know constitutes the real purport of the Bhagavad-gītā.”

After saying this, Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu embraced the brāhmaṇa, and the brāhmaṇa, catching the lotus feet of the Lord, began to cry. (Madhya lila Chapter 9 Verses 98-103)

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Off-the-cuff comments on Catholic philosophy

20 12 2010

When I was growing up, I wanted to be a Thomist. That didn’t work out. It didn’t help that I read Descartes and Sartre in middle school, but even if one could conclude that their epistemological skepticism is a non-issue, an invented game with an agenda, one cannot escape having to address that method of philosophizing. If you read the popular Thomists of last century, they get bogged down in those questions, and it didn’t help that many of them were sympathetic to Husserl and Co., even if they tried to use phenomenology to break out of le songe de Descartes. John Paul II, for all of his pretend orthodoxy, was just as much a child of this philosophy as Heidegger or Derrida. These epistemological questions are an issue because even their opponents have made them an issue.
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The Rake’s Progress

30 07 2010

I am pretty sure this is from the production that my wife and I saw at the San Francisco Opera a couple of years ago now.

On the margins of theology – X

24 06 2010

The Horseman of Divine Providence (Conclusion)

Pues bien: la iglesia, como institución, está en el mismo caso. Yo le pediría que no trataran de institucionalizar a Malverde; es un santón y un héroe del pueblo; no traten de arrebatárselo de las manos; la realidad es que está allí, la gente lo quiere, le tiene y lo más maravilloso es que hace milagros.

(The Church, as an institution, is in the same boat. I would ask that they try not to institutionalize Malverde. He is folk saint and a hero of the people, they should not try to take him from them. The reality is that he is around, the people like him, they keep him, and most marvelous thing of all is that he works miracles.)

These are the words Óscar Liera puts on the lips of a doctor in his play, El Jinete de la Divina Providencia. The subject of the 1980’s Mexican play is a fictional ecclesiastical investigation of the miracles of Jesus Malverde, the deceased bandit who works miracles from beyond the grave. In this special ten part series regarding the prevalence of “popular Catholicism” in many societies, I thought it a good quote to tie many ideas together. Here, there is not so much a stark opposition between institution and spontaneity, high and low religiosity, but a juxtaposition of what emerges in the life of believers and the rules imposed from above. In other words, we speak here not of an exclusive situation, but of a complementary one. That which is in the margins of religiosity is just as important as officially sanctioned doctrine and praxis, though it is not necessarily superior to it.
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Cultural Catholic serendiptity

25 05 2010

image credit

“I’m looking for a 100 committed Catholics. Are you one?”

Uh, no. I am lucky to get out of bed for Mass on Sunday morning. (He must be selling something.)

I click anyway.

When one considers how vastly different our modern society is when compared with the society in which our parents and grandparents lived, as recently as the 1950s, I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that this “interesting” time in which we live is an epoch that is between goodness and evil and, it would seem steadily drifting away from the former and toward the latter.

Okay. Now I know he wants money.

You and I cannot stand by in silence as challenges mount. We must take our places in this struggle and peacefully do our part in the cause of truth.

How much is it going to cost me?

This is why I need to find 100 comitted Catholics [what’s with this guy and typos?] who will stand with me in “fighting the good fight” by becoming a member of the Envoy Institute of Belmont Abbey College…

By becoming a member of the Envoy Institute — you can do it today for as little as $10 per month (about the cost of lunch for two) — you will directly participate in the Envoy Institute’s robust outreach to our culture, you’ll directly help preserve the Catholic identity and faith of countless Catholic young people…

Where do I sign up? Wait a minute! No thanks.

I close the browser.


Of late I have been dissecting all aspects of cultural Catholicism: the imagery, the laziness, the Voodoo of making deals with God and then breaking them. For most of my sentient life, I have counter-posed Catholicism to the world, even though that was not how I was raised. I was raised a church-going, cultural Catholic. Catholicism primarily informed the rhythm of life in a very low key way. While I went from crazy fundamentalist to strange spiritual seeker, reversion to normal life has driven me to choose once again the Faith of my childhood. While some people con-vert, and others re-vert, I think at this point I am in the process of di-verting. As I have put it before, how can I keep the Faith without the Church being all up in my business?
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Santa Muerte video

28 03 2010

Featuring some of my old haunts

Judica me, Deus…

28 01 2010

Sometimes the real life friends I have chosen to make say the darndest things. I had a half-Mexican friend who, after many twists and turns in life, had decided to finally embrace Protestantism. One time, we went out for pizza. While talking about modern Christianity, the conversation turned to how modern Christians tend to regard God as some plush toy they display prominently in a curio cabinet. God loves you, He’s not going to get mad at you. He is perfectly harmless. To this total lack of seriousness, the failure to take seriously the vengeful God of the Bible, he said:

“God is Santa Muerte.”
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…that you see yourself in seeing me

6 01 2010

Estados de ánimo

A veces me siento
como un águila en el aire.

-Pablo Milanés

Unas veces me siento
como pobre colina
y otras como montaña
de cumbres repetidas.

Unas veces me siento
como un acantilado
y en otras como un cielo
azul pero lejano.

A veces uno es
manantial entre rocas
y otras veces un árbol
con las últimas hojas.
Pero hoy me siento apenas
como laguna insomne
con un embarcadero
ya sin embarcaciones
una laguna verde
inmóvil y paciente
conforme con sus algas
sus musgos y sus peces,
sereno en mi confianza
confiando en que una tarde
te acerques y te mires,
te mires al mirarme.

-Mario Benedetti

On Forgetting

9 12 2009

Poema LXXI

Hasta en tu modo
de olvidar hay
algo bello.

Creía yo que todo
olvido era sombra;
pero tu olvido es
luz, se siente
como una viva luz…

¡Tu olvido es
la alborada borrando
las estrellas!…

-Dulce María Loynaz

(Even in your way
of forgetting there is
something beautiful.

I used to believe that all
forgetting was shadow;
but your forgetting is
light, it feels
like a living light…

Your forgetting is
the dawn erasing
the stars!…)

Chauvin Sculpture Garden

10 11 2009


From a useful website:

Little is known about the reclusive Kenny Hill, a bricklayer by trade, born around 1950. In 1988, he settled on some property on the bayou in Chauvin (pronounced show-van), Louisiana—population 3,400. Hill pitched a tent as his home and, over time, built a small rustic home that demonstrated an interesting use of space and attention to detail. Then, in 1990, without explanation, he began transforming his lush bayou environment into a fantastic chronicle of the world as seen through his eyes.

Less than a decade later, more than 100 primarily religious concrete sculptures densely pack the narrow, bayouside property. The sculptures are a profound mixture of Biblical reference, Cajun colors, and the evident pain and struggle of the artist’s life. Most figures—black, white, male, female, child, or solider—are guided, supported, or lifted by seemingly weightless angels. The unique angels, some inviting passage, others prohibiting, vary from blue skinned, bare-footed, and sightless to regal celestial figures clad in medieval garb with the black boots of the local shrimp fishermen.

AG and I visited here this past weekend, and my first reaction was: “this is what happens when you don’t have an editor”. But it was an unexpected and pleasant surprise near the “end of the line” in southern Louisiana. I also have to give a shout out to Annie Miller’s Sons’ Swamp Tours and Bayou Delight Restaurant, both outside of Houma. The former was pleasant and reasonably priced, and the latter was just an obscenity of southern Louisiana cuisine (i.e. fried food “porn”: fried alligator, crawfish, frogs’ legs, boudin balls, shrimp, etc.) I recommend the “Cajun Platter”. See below for more pictures of the sculpture garden.

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