26 March 2012

Birth of a Book (link to video)

Lovely video by Glen Milner.  It's a short vignette of the production of a book by traditional methods.  I wish it was longer and dwelt more on each piece, but it's still haunting and informative.

21 March 2012


Monsignor Nicola Bux has written a beautiful and heartfelt letter to Bishop Fellay and the priests of the SSPXFr. Z mentioned that it's at Rorate, but he also posted it, along with his comments and emphases.
With Saint Catherine of Siena, we wish to say: “Come to Rome in complete safety,” next to the house of the common Father who was given to us as the visible and perpetual principle and foundation of Catholic unity.

Come take part in this blessed future in which we can already foresee dawn, despite the persistant darkness. Your refusal would increase darkness, not light. And yet the sparks of light we can already admire are numerous, beginning with those of the great liturgical restoration effected by the motu proprio “Summorum Pontificum”. It stirs up, throughout the whole world, a large movement of adherence from all those who wish to increase the worship of God, particularly the young.
 I wanted to comment over at Fr. Z's, but had to give up the attempt.  This is so close to my heart, so deep in my soul, that I cannot dash off a couple of sentences and be done, and my intensity will show through, and people will ignore me (as is right to do when some stranger blunders into a place and has an emotional episode).

In 1971, I entered the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil.  It was simply wonderful, the culmination of a long journey of years of prayer, reading, observation and thought.  It was the biggest decision of my young life, it was all mine, and I did it in good faith and with a right understanding of what I was getting into.  Or so I thought.

Over the next very few years, the Church that was my haven against the wildness of the world became as strange and hostile to me as my mother, who had unfortunately taken to drink after the visit of an old friend.  In the middle of all this confusion, I learned that, nearby, there was a chapel of the SSPX.  I learned about it because it was excoriated by other Catholics, neighbors.  And, to make things worse, there was another neighbor, across the street, who actually attended!

The woman was a convert to Catholicism of a few years, and in doing so, she had adopted all of what Catholicism embraces, including children as God gave them.  Her children's souls were more important than whether or not the local diocesan priests wanted to please the bishop, so she took her brood down to the SSPX chapel where they would learn real Catholicism.  (Because of inhibitions on SSPX's faculties, she went to a local church that was run by a religious order of famously pious and holy priests for confession.)

Her neighbors were pretty cruel in their gossip and condescension.  But I had talked with her, several times, and I knew what she was fleeing from in the Church.  The others simply took it at face value:  that's what Rome wants, it's what Vatican II requires, we'll do it.  But Vatican II didn't require lots of the things that were perpetrated, and our good priests were just trying to find middle ground between the innovations and the needs of their bewildered parishioners.

I never joined the SSPX, but I understand them and feel that I know where they're coming from with all this.  The Church left me. I didn't leave the Church.  I'm sure many, if not most, SSPX feel that way.  The hurt is deep and has colored my life.  I couldn't imagine that the Roman Catholic Church would do those things!  But they did, and do them still, although the tide is turning, thank God and Pope Benedict.

It is particularly galling when the "reformers" take over the Church, strip the liturgy, introduce sacrilege and make it part of the rubrics, then scold people for doing simple things like kneeling for communion etc., but have the nerve to call you schismatic, when you didn' do nuthin' but just keep worshiping God as was required for millennia.  If you call the SSPX schismatic, then I'm in schism, too.

Of course, the reformers were all about imitating Protestantism, ostensibly to draw the Church closer to her separated brethren, but all they did was cripple the Faith.  For example, it used to be a mortal sin to evade the abstinence and fast rules on Fridays and Ash Wednesday and so forth.  The bishops abrogated that, but their "do something else instead" got lost completely, and so now Catholics don't abstain on Fridays except during Lent if they remember.  But it doesn't have the force that it used to.  It used to be sacrilege to touch a consecrated Host with unconsecrated hands; now people shuffle up and get their little biscuit in their paws, and it's "unity," not sacrilege.  The problem with that kind of change is it completely tosses out authority:  so if it's not a sin today, then was it before?  Of course not.  You cannot say "well, it is the way the Church says it is," because those are BIG changes - either you go to hell (mortal sin) or you don't.  And if you were consigned to hell because you messed up on those, did the rollback of the law somehow magically snatch you out of the eternal fire?  I'm confused.

That is why I find myself just reading Scripture, plain, unadorned.  Cross references, sure; once in a while a commentary or a study Bible or some such to elucidate a passage or explain an ancient custom.  Otherwise, I rely on the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  They do not change.  They do not get a wild hair up their... nose... and decide to rework the whole shebang because Woodstock, or something.  Paul warned us against the traditions of men ... I think now I know why.

17 March 2012

Women, do you really think Sebelius and HHS care about your health?

As this Administration takes active steps to overturn the Constitutional guarantee of religious freedom, we're hearing a lot of scary stuff that essentially boils down to, "The Catholic Church wants to deny women access to contraception." This is a bald-faced lie.  Feminists, if you want to be taken seriously on this issue, get your facts straight.

The Roman Catholic Church knows from its study of natural law that contraception is wrong because it is bad for humanity.  There are lots of excellent posts about Humanae Vitae out there, so I'm not going to trudge over that ground again.  If you want to be taken seriously in this debate, you need to read Humanae VitaeJust do it.

In the meantime, what I'm not seeing is a round-up of recent writing about the serious risks to health and happiness posed by The Pill, so I've included some links below.  It is important for you to understand that Jean Sebelius and the HHS (and therefore President Obama, since Sebelius works for him) are not helping women by promoting oral contraceptives. 

By the way:  the general attitude seems to be that the only option for single women is to use contraception and exhibit a general carelessness about intimate acts with men you don't know.  It is not the only option.   Your options as a mature woman include being picky and discerning about the kind of men with whom you associate; controlling your relationships to maximize your health and chances of happiness for both you and your eventual husband; and planning your life so that you have less risk of being a single mother, which is nowhere near as fun or as comfortable as life with a good man.  No one is going to do this for you.  You must do it for yourself, preferably when you're quite young, so that you know what you're going to say and do - and not say and not do - during your teenage years and beyond.

Choice is when a mother can decide when and how long to either work or stay home with her children.  A real choice is the one you make for yourself, not living up to someone else's notions of how to live life as a woman.  You get to make that choice for yourself and your children when you have a spouse whom you love and respect and who is a good provider. 

All right, rant over.  Here is why I believe the insistence on oral contraception does not show concern for women:

From "How the Pill Changed the World, and the Fertility Problems It's Causing Women Today," by Vanessa Grigoriadis, New York Magazine, published Nov. 28, 2010 and retrieved March 17, 2012:
But there’s also no reason not to talk about the more complex changes long-term use of the Pill has wrought, instead of finger-pointing over compromising women’s choices. After all, these days, there’s not as much pressure to procreate as one may imagine. Most mothers, who were at least tangentially part of feminism’s early waves, know better than to stress women out about when they’re having children, even if an aunt puts her foot in her mouth from time to time. And, of course, bosses would rather women were around all the time, thumbing their BlackBerrys in the off-hours. “There’s a strain of feminist thought that’s still trapped in the mind-set that the male patriarchy wants women pregnant and has been withholding things like abortion and contraception from them because of it,” says Liza Mundy, author of Everything Conceivable, a comprehensive book about fertility treatments in America. “To me, that’s a laughably simplistic view of the world.”  (my emphasis)
The Pill is dangerous.  It affects women's health.  From The Pill is Not Good for Women by Erika Bachiochi & Catherine R. Pakaluk, published on National Review Online on February 21, 2012 and retrieved March 13, 2012:

And this points to an unresolved difficulty with the contraceptive revolution, which was supposed to serve women above all: Women on the whole disproportionately bear the burden of the new sexual regime. They are expected to dose themselves with a Group 1 carcinogen for approximately two-thirds of their fertile years. They sustain greater emotional costs from casual sex. They are at greater risk of contracting STDs and disproportionately suffer from their long-term consequences, such as cervical cancer and fertility loss.And even after 50 years with the Pill, as many as half of all pregnancies are still unintended. Women, not men, must make the heart-wrenching choice between abortion, reckoned a tragic outcome even by its supporters, and bearing a child with little to no paternal support. After all, since children were negotiated out of the bargain by the availability of contraception and abortion, men have secured a strong rationale to simply ignore or reject pregnancies that result from uncommitted sexual relations. Nobel-laureate economist George Akerlof predicted nearly two decades ago that this would lead directly to the feminization of poverty, as it ruefully has. (my emphasis)
 A woman who is taking the Pill during her courtship is liable to find herself with the wrong guy. From "Having Trouble Finding the One?  Maybe the Pill is to Blame," by Megan Gray, published at TheZerosBeforeTheOne.com on February 24, 2012, and retrieved March 17, 2012:
Men aren’t the only ones affected by subtle chemical changes when it comes to the scents of attraction. The Pill may change what kind of man you’re attracted to, and not for the better.
The Pill can delay fertility.  From "Pill can Delay a Baby Far Longer than You Want" by Claire Henry, published at The Telegraph online on August 13, 2007, retrieved March 13, 2012: 
"I have seen cases where women in their thirties have not ovulated for two or three years after taking the contraceptive pill," says Dr Marilyn Glenville, author of Natural Solutions to Infertility. "The Pill artificially suppresses your hormones, effectively making your ovaries dormant. Sometimes it can make the reproductive system go into hibernation."
In my case, the Pill caused my manageable bouts of headache to become migraines of terrific intensity that would keep me in bed for up to 72 hours.  I quit taking the Pill, but the migraines, and the unfortunate marriage that I probably wouldn't have gotten into if I hadn't been addled by hormones, lingered on for years and years.

Oh, and remember that the environmentalists make a big noisy deal out of chemicals in the environment, with one notable exception:  the hormones all those contracepting women excrete into the water supply.  Not one peep do you hear about this, but it is happening, and the effects are unknown but plausibly happening.  From "Can Birth Control Hormones Be Filtered from the Water Supply?", posted in Scientific American on July 28, 2009:
One of the common culprits is estrogen, much of which is inadvertently released into sewers through the urine of women taking birth control. Studies have shown that estrogen can wreak reproductive havoc on some fish, which spawn infertile offspring sporting a mixture of male and female parts. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh found that human breast cancer cells grew twice as fast when exposed to estrogen taken from catfish caught near untreated sewage overflows. “There is the potential for an increased risk for those people who are prone to estrogenic cancer,” said Conrad Volz, lead researcher on the study.
What may be more troubling is the mixture of contaminants and how they might interact to cause health problems. “The biggest concern is the stew effect,” says Scott Dye of the Sierra Club’s Water Sentinels program. “Trace amounts of this mixed with trace amounts of that can equal what? We don’t know.”
If you want to get mad at selfish men, get mad at the men who invented the Pill, and those who ensured it got onto the market and into the bodies of women.  It was a dream come true for selfish men to have women willing to have sex with no strings attached.  Women, we were once denied the vote because we were judged too flighty and credulous to make good decisions.  Let's look again at the Pill, its history, the reasoning of the Catholic Church (so that we know it, and aren't falling for the scare tactics of the administration) and the documented consequences and concerns, and decide if it is really the best choice for us.

11 March 2012

What's next?

Ask The Futurist.

The markets are broken thanks to central control and the ignorant meddling of academics.  As the survivors of WWII and The Great Depression have died off, what they learned is no longer taught in families or in schools, resulting in the staggering debt load of Western economies.  Along with the unprincipled use of credit, we have been conducting ourselves with unprincipled behavior, blind to the reasons why such things were warned against in the years before 1960.

We must be willing to let go of what we want to be true, and face up to what is true.  One of the truths is that the "sexual revolution" as promulgated in the 60s was in reality the sexual devolution, a massive step backward into practices that profoundly harm women.  The consequences were foreseen and are unfolding as predicted (or, more cynically, planned):  more divorce and extramarital sexual behavior; impairment of the ability of men and women to care for one another; and the adoption of contraception by governments as a handy way to keep numbers down and so control their people.  (Here's a well-written retrospective.)  The sexual devolution is inextricably intertwined with the economic consequences of poor behavior choices.

The Futurist has done the heavy lifting of rounding up information and presenting it in a clear format.  His tone gets a bit cynical at times, but, by and large, his conclusions are sound.  I had the advantage of growing up with a mother who was an avid student of markets and what drives them, including societal trends; she foresaw in the 70s what we are dealing with now.  At some point we will all have to begin to take small steps to reclaim civilization, starting with educating ourselves on the basics by reading the classics with an open mind to disabuse ourselves of the notions being taught as "truth" in public schools and universities.

As a general rule, true progress, sound development and interesting ideas come from deep understanding about the rules and experiences of those who have gone before.  This is true in music, art, science, engineering, architecture, computer programming, and design.  Too often we achieve only mediocrity, relying on marketing to make up the difference in swaying people to like our product.  Real progress comes from the individual buckling down to learn what those who came before figured out.  That means reading and thinking.  To live life well it is required to know the wisdom of those who lived well before us... and to have an idea of what "living well" looks like.

08 March 2012

Remember in November: healthcare

I'm not going to rant about this.  Educate yourself about this before you vote.  Please go to http://cciio.cms.gov/ and look around.  Read the regulations.  Take a look at the Act itself.  Are you comfortable with a bureaucracy like this handling your personal health care decisions?


Glenn Reynolds over at Instapundit is puzzled at the outrage over Rush Limbaugh's comment about Ms. Fluke:  "The political reaction to “slut” was opportunistic, of course, but it worked with a lot of women because — apparently, even in this age of sexual liberation and “slut pride” — women are still somehow deeply affected by charges of wanton and undiscriminating sexual behavior."
I'm confused, too.  I thought the word "slut" was being "reclaimed" as a good thing:
A new event for Women's Month in 2012 is titled Slut Walk, which seeks to reclaim the definition of the word "slut." A grass-roots movement that developed in response to a Toronto constable who said if women didn't want to be raped, they should "avoid dressing like sluts," Slut Walk is a way for both women and men to fight the rhetoric of victim blaming and speak out against sexual violence, says Gilbert."The participants are reclaiming the language of the dominant culture," explains Gilbert. "This is an attempt to call attention to the empowerment of women and alliance of men."(Morning Sun, March 8)
So which is it?

Update:  Ann Althouse has a thoughtful post in the wake of Glenn Reynolds', in which she writes,

Realistically, this should be a policy debate about insurance coverage, but minds must be manipulated, so competing templates are offered. What should a woman prefer, to be thought of as a strong free agent, doing what she chooses, with the government as far from her sex life as possible or a government that sees her as vulnerable, easily wounded, and in need of protection and support?

Fender gets an IPO, but ...

...Gibson Guitars still is undergoing an investigation?

There wouldn't be a political reason why Gibson and Fender are getting such different treatment, would there?  Nah ... this administration is much too scrupulous when it comes to that kind of thing.

06 March 2012

You are what you eat

16Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts. (Jeremiah 15:16)

This year I have taken on the M'Cheyne Bible Reading Plan.  I discovered it in the back of the KJV Master Study Bible, which I obtained when I got homesick for the Holman Master Study Bible which was published in the NASB and is, sadly, no longer in print.  (However, I was able to track down a copy on the ever-useful eBay for a big $10.00.)  I like the M'Cheyne Plan because it is just about four chapters a day, quite manageable, and going through four books at once is wonderful for seeing the threads that go all the way through the books.

The KJV Master Study Bible is unique because it has only cross-references, no in-line notes, and even the cross-references are somewhat sparse.  I'm reading the KJV because, as an English major, I'm always interested in the source of the language patterns and metaphors that influenced thought in England and America from the 1600s on.  Also, while I realize the KJV is a translation, it is considered to be remarkably faithful.  So I've been going along, reading my chapters most days, making up those missed when necessary, and not taking too much time over it.  However, the Word is working on my heart and sensibilities.

I notice it most when watching television.  Movies which I might have been able to tolerate previously now cause me to rise to my feet and politely and quietly move to another room.  I really cannot stand most TV, and virtually no movies after about 1960... but now it's even more obvious as I take in the sacred words, just reading my way through.

There is no substitute for focused Bible reading and study, no matter what church we attend.