On the Church and Language

3 12 2009

Or: On Pizza, Beer, Machine Guns, Transliterated Greek Words, Argentine Sedevacantism, Taxi Cabs and Other Attractions of My Theological Freak Show

This essay was originally posted here

Sometimes I think that there is no such thing as Roman Catholicism. Rather, there are Roman Catholicisms. My religious experiences with Mexicans and Argentines seem so far removed from any conversations about religion that I have in this country among “non-Latins”. There is an antiseptic, dry quality to everything that is said in the United States about the Roman Catholic Church. This quality even penetrates to the fringes and extremes of any Catholic phenomenon in this country.

When we were occasionally let out of seminary in Argentina, I would sometimes be able to go into the actual city of Buenos Aires to see the sights and take a break from the usual diet of gruel and water. A few times, I went out with my best friend Nico, another bohemian who had no business being an SSPX seminarian, to spread clerical terror in the land of the porteños. One of my favorite things to do was to go to San Telmo, the old part of the city, and have some beer and pizza. Now, Argentine pizza is different from the pizza we have here: it is much less greasy, the crust is thicker, and it has less of a sense of being a type of fast food. And it goes wonderfully with a nice Argentine beer.
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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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31 08 2009


A la cara de mi hijo
que duerme, bajan
arenas de las dunas,
flor de la caña
y la espuma que vuela
de la cascada…

Y es sueño nada más
cuanto le baja;
sueño cae a su boca,
sueño a su espalda,
y me roban su cuerpo
junto con su alma.

Y así lo van cubriendo
con tanta maña,
que en la noche no tengo
hijo ni nada,
madre ciega de sombra,
madre robada.

Hasta que el sol bendito
al fin lo baña:
me lo devuelve en linda
fruta mondada
¡y me lo pone entero
sobre la falda!

-Gabriela Mistral

Dangerous Truth

5 01 2009


The one thing I fear most is to be right for all the wrong reasons. That just seems really tragic to me.

Perfect Church, Perfect State, Perfect World

17 10 2008

image credit

It is irrational to expect a perfect Church if you yourself are a complete mess. It is foolish to want a perfect form of government if you have been a failure at governing yourself. It is absurd to expect a perfect or at a least better world if your own life is far from perfect. To get yourself worked up over things that do not immediately concern you is thus the highest vanity: it is to divert attention from the fostering of the self in order to direct the blame for evil onto something else. It is in the end a form of shirking responsibility for your own actions and it leads nowhere.

People today are obsessed with the better, when they should really be obsessed with the good.

The best way not to be a victim of history is to learn to transcend it, and that is a very personal task.

I am not too proud to beg

10 09 2008

Hi everyone!

Having viewed other people begging on the Internet, I have concluded that I should get in on the action. I spend way too much time on this blog as it is. Now, I know that times are tough, and most of you probably have better things to do with your money than give it to me. So I am not asking for money. Well, not directly…
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On Quiet and Other Ramblings

9 07 2008

It’s really quiet here. I don’t mind it at all. It reminds me a bit of my old cell back in the monastery. I have said before that one of the complaints that I don’t have since leaving the monastic life is having enough time to pray. After you go through all of the hand wringing and breast beating about being “a sinner” and “forgetfulness of God”, I would tell you, “Go ahead. Go into the desert and see how well you pray.” If you are like me, you’ll probably just have a 50 Cent song stuck in your head. And it’s not about our “evil age” or our corrupt lives. It is just about life in the here and now. Anyone who has read the Fathers of the Desert for a paragraph would conclude that very quickly. So I am satisfied with the little “quiet time” I have with God.

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On the Concrete

19 06 2008

Two Reflections on One Anecdote

Pt. I – An attempt at theology

I have done my share of Bishop Williamson-bashing on my blog, but as of yet I have not revealed to you, the reader, my only real one-on-one correspondence with the good schismatic prelate. I was twenty, and looking to drop out of Berkeley to enter a seminary of the Society of St. Pius X. I had written my harrowing story of conversion to then district superior Father Peter Scott, and he had given me the green light to give up all that I had for Jesus and the Church. He had even written me a rather touching letter saying that my past would not negatively effect my future as an SSPX priest, and that I would be welcome into one of their seminaries after a period of discernment, which ended up lasting about a year.
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Through a Glass Darkly

5 06 2008

On Unsettled Souls and the Search

During my brief years as a monk, I kept a notebook that I would occasionally write in between the long hours of baking, packaging, and delivering I had to do for my monastic obedience. This morning, I thought of this particular quote, and I think it is foundational as far as what I now write is concerned. I have been mulling over recently what is the meaning behind the phrase, “aesthetic Christianity”. It is, in the end. a working title. But maybe this quote, written in the monastic metochion of Big Bear Lake on April 26th, 2005, will shed some light on this term:

The aesthetic principle: maybe avant-garde musicians and bohemians are closer to God because they are still looking for Him in what they do. For us proper “religious people”, we often think that we have found God, so we indeed are far away from Him. This does not excuse the evils and immoralities that these people commit; but if we can’t excuse theirs, how can we excuse our own (we, who supposedly know better)?
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In Search of a Strange Orthodoxy

4 05 2008

A Personal Testament and an Invitation

I know that the few people who read this blog may be shocked and a bit disturbed by some of the things I post. If you have been a long-time reader, you have also probably read some of the more edifying things that I have written which were often very personal and devout. I have to say, however, that I don’t think that I will be writing a whole lot of that type of stuff any time soon for a couple of reasons. The first is because I think the medium of the Internet is your least likely source of spiritual nourishment. For that, you would be much better off turning off all your electrical appliances, locking yourself in a room, and praying. Or you can take a walk with your rosary in the early morning, or a hike in the wilderness by yourself or with a few intimate friends. Reading this blog will NOT bring you closer to God, though I would hope that a thing or two that you read here might help you along the way. And the Lord knows that I have my own problems, but I’m not going to share them with you.
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