On cultural education

19 01 2009

Above: the finale of Maurice Bejart’s version of Le Sacre du Printemps

I have been commenting to AG about one of the greatest cultural travesties that I have witnessed lately. With the rise of the MP3 player and other gadgets, my listening to the local classical music radio station, KDFC, is limited to when I am driving. The brief times I do listen, however, I have noticed that they have started to play music from the film scores of recent box office hits. (The last piece I heard was some symphonic suite from Pirates of the Caribbean.) Normally, I am not that disturbed by the general cheapening of the cultural discourse in this country. Part of me, however, found this musical selection completely unacceptable. You have 800 years of continuous musical development in the Western world, from St. Hildegard von Bingen to Osvaldo Golijov, and you are going to play film music from Star Wars? Sorry, the whole idea is repugnant to me.
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Forgetting Hologram Jesus

23 11 2008


The temple, in its highest manifestation, was seen as constituting a microcosm, an image of the entire universe, and was laid out accordingly. The temple was seen as an organism, possessing a body and a living spirit. The spirit was attracted through the temple’s underlying geometry and proportions, and gematria, thus reflecting the harmony of the universe and those principles which underlie the genesis of life. Based on the idea of “like attracts like”, the temples of antiquity, like the Gothic cathedrals of medieval times, were designed to reflect, and hence enshrine, the living spirit of harmony which underlies the universe.

-David Fideler, Jesus Christ, Sun of God: Ancient Cosmology and Early Christian Symbolism
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On the Moral Meltdown of the Catholic Right

5 11 2008

Wherein I put on the mask of an empty soul

Some people believe in big government. Some people believe in small government. Some believe in no government. I believe in screwed-up government. It builds character, and it is precisely what we deserve.

According to some, today is a day we should wear black with the ascension of Barack Obama to the presidency. It’s funny that many of these Catholic mourners did not wear black when our country began the unjust invasion of Iraq condemned by the Pope himself. One maverick Eastern rite even threatened excommunication against anyone who participated in that war. Yet no good Catholic Republican wanted to wear black then.

All of these mourners condemn Obama’s messianism and the rhetoric of naive hope for a new future. Where was this same sobriety when the current president thundered against the “axis of evil”, when the powers that be assumed the right to wage war on anyone who dislikes this glorious “city on a hill” known as America?

Politics is a cesspool of hyperbole, broken promises, and back-room deals. I really feel sorry for anyone who thinks otherwise. Americans are some of the only people in the world who expect good government. Everyone else expects their government to be lousy. The local politician may be able to deliver the goods on some things, but in the end you wouldn’t even trust him to baby sit your gold fish. That’s how it is, that’s how it’s always been. St. Paul doesn’t exhort obedience to secular authority because it’s easy, and Aquinas doesn’t give very limited conditions to overthrow tyrants because tyrants are nice people who are easy to follow.

I know, people will bring up the whole “abortion” thing. Well, I am all for criminalized abortion. The only difference is that I know exactly what that would mean. If women are at the point that they will kill their children in their own wombs without a second thought, what types of mothers would they be if they were obligated to have those babies? Maybe they will give them up for adoption, or maybe they will just abandon them. Who’s going to take care of them then? The problem with the pro-life movement in this country is that it is only passionate about babies, especially black and brown babies, for the first nine months of their existence. For the rest of their lives, it’s all about racial and cultural politics, free market capitalism, and jails (lots of jails) if all that doesn’t work out. So where is the simple answer? I was raised by a single mother who was in a rocky relationship. It never crossed her mind to abort any of us, even though she was poor, in a bad marriage, and at times homeless. That type of love and dedication is something you can’t legislate.

And if you are still bitter, and still think that we are on the brink of socialism, chaos, and the reign of the culture of death, keep in mind that if we are being chastised for our sins, they are not the sins that you are necessarily thinking of. This country was founded on the original sin of slavery, it grew by the injustice of Manifest Destiny that stole half of another country to make itself bigger, and it slaughtered the inhabitants that had lived there for thousands of years. So all of the abortion and immorality is just the chickens coming home to roost. To paraphrase Langston Hughes, America has not been America for many, many people. So if you are starting to feel the pinch, welcome to the club. Get comfortable, because it’s not going away any time soon.

Missing the Low Mass

3 08 2008

Or: Saving 1962 Catholicism from the Cult of the Experts

I once read something on the New Liturgical Movement blog (a blog that I no longer link to because I am trying to get passed the cult of ecclesiastical porn) that really bothered me. [Danger- long footnote: Anti-Staretz once told me the story of an Anglo-Catholic monastery in England back when their church was more tolerant of them. It is said that another Anglo-Catholic went to hang out with the monks, but noticed they didn’t do Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. “Oh Father,” complained the visitor to one of the monks, “if only you did Benediction. It would in my heart make me feel so good.” The monk replied, “Fornication would make you feel even better, but we don’t do that either”.] The phrase was “saving the 1962 Mass from 1962”. I thought to myself at first, “But of course! Who wants to go back to the speed Masses, the St. Jude Novenas, the nuns who could melt you into a puddle with just one cold and rutheless gaze?!”

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