Saturday, December 14, 2013

Chesterton "The Thing"

If you want to understand Chesterton and his spiritual and philosophical thought, start with his book "Heretics" (1905), follow up with "Orthodoxy" (1908), go through many other works, and finish up with "The Well and the Shallows" (1935) and this book (1935 or 1936).

In "Heretics," Chesterton discussed and criticized the distortions of traditional Christianity, and in "Orthodoxy," he explained (very clearly and wittily) how and why he found himself on the side of traditional 2000-year-old Christianity.
In "The Well and the Shallows" Chesterton - by then having "crossed the Tiber" to Rome, defended the position that Roman Catholicism was the source of all that was admirable in the civilization of the Middle Ages (a position held also by historians such as Christopher Dawson, R. W. Southern, and Régine Pernoud).

In "The Thing" Chesterton describes how and why he himself became a Catholic, even though it cost him; he argues that one cannot argue against Truth when one finds it.

Here are a few snippets defending the traditional family:

"Among the traditions that are being thus attacked, not intelligently but most unintelligently, is the fundamental human creation called the Household or the Home. That is a typical thing which men attack, not because they can see through it, but because they cannot see it at all. They beat at it blindly, in a fashion entirely haphazard and opportunist; and many of them would pull it down without ever pausing to ask why it was put up."

"Some social reformers try to evade this difficulty by some vague notions about the State or an abstraction called Education eliminating the parental function. But like many notions of solid scientific persons, it is a wild illusion of the nature of mere moonshine."

"The existing and general system of society, subject in our own age and industrial culture to very gross abuses and painful problems, is nevertheless a normal one. It is the idea that the commonwealth is made up of a number of small kingdoms, of which a man and a woman become the king and queen and in which they exercise a reasonable authority, subject to the common sense of the commonwealth, until those under their care grow up to found similar kingdoms and exercise similar authority. This is the social structure of mankind, far older than all its records and more universal than any of its religions; and any attempts to alter it are mere talk and tomfoolery."

Monday, May 27, 2013

Going to Hell in a Handcart

The Christian tree has its roots in Jewish ground (think Jerusalem, Athens, Rome).

Christianity built European civilization, especially that of Western Europe, from which American civilization and culture derive.

There are superb and distinguished historians who have demonstrated this; I mention especially Christopher Dawson, Thomas E. Woods, R. W. Southern, Hilaire Belloc, and Régine Pernoud.

This culture began to fragment about 1500; see Jacques Barzun's "From Dawn to Decadence"; and the fragments have largely dissolved.

There came to be a spiritual and moral vacuum in western Europe, which was filled by the gruesome and bloody regimes of National Socialism, Fascism, and Communism. Those were defeated but the moral vacuum remained.

This -- in my mind -- is the main reason Islam has gained such a foothold in Europe, a foothold that may well be impossible to stop or reverse.

In short, insofar as Christianity goes away, secularism, totalitarianism, and Islam will take its place.

And don't think it can't happen here.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Thursday April 25 -- I had to eat out anyway --

So I got a nice sticker.
But I changed it a bit, just for fun.I like obscure jokes.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Supreme Court and Marriage

"The Law is an Ass." When there are nine lawyers, they make an Asinine.

FB comments:
"You can have your Christ and trees. You just have to realize that your religion is yours not to be forced down the throat of everyone else."

"I could care less your faith. You just can't legislate with it."

Nobody is trying to legislate one particular faith, or force it down anyone else's craw.

What almost all people in almost all times and places throughout recorded history have called "marriage," is the union of a man and a woman.

The "union" is the recognition by their society that they have societal rights and obligations toward each other, their kin, and their children if there be any.

My first anthropology prof mentioned that even in primitive societies, marriage exists to give societal status to the children as the offspring of both parents. Lineage can be of great importance to social status.

You can go back in ancient history as far back as there are written records, and farther: "These reconstructions push the origin of monogamous marriage into prehistory, well beyond the earliest instances documented in the historical record...." (

The point I wish to make is that marriage is primordial and seems to be "built into" human nature. The modern civilized nation-state did not invent marriage and in my opinion does not have the authority to define or redefine it; certainly not at the federal level.

In fact, Justices Kagan, Kennedy, and Sotomayor indicated as much, and Sotomayor said (quoted in Chicago Tribune): "What gives the federal government the right to be concerned at all about what the definition of marriage is?"

Precisely, Justices.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Viva il Papa!

Some thoughts:

I'm rather surprised at my own reaction to the election of Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio.  It's part "Hooray!" and part "Ho, hum."  Of course I'm pleased that we have a new pope, and very pleased that he appears to be a simple and holy man.  On the other hand, when I was a kid, Pius XII was pope and had "always" been pope (just like Eisenhower had "always" been president), so Francis is the seventh pope of my lifetime.

I wonder if anyone is alive who remembers Pope Pius XI.

I'm having trouble keeping his surname in my head (but of course I don't have to anymore).  I keep wanting to say "Cardinal Bongiorno."  Maybe there's something mystical in that.

I see on another blog that VP Joe Biden is going to go to Rome for the installation Mass.  Now it would surprise me very much if Pope Francis doesn't know that Biden is about as pro-abort as they come.  I wonder if Biden will present himself for Communion or have the good sense not to.  I can just see the mainstream media exploding in anger if Biden tried to receive and is refused.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Reality and Fakery

A week or so ago, I saw a movie on the TV of my favorite eat joint.  It was full of computer-generated images (which I found out just now are called CGI) that made the impossible look real, and added quite a lot of pizazz and "can't not look" to the movie.  I had to search to find the title: "Live Free or Die Hard."

One of the first things I noticed was a long drawn-out fistfight between two men (I think one was the Bruce Willis character) that involved more violence than I think any human being could handle.  Part of the fight took place in an elevator shaft, with both actors doing what I think were impossible acrobatics.  I believe one of the guys was hanging on one of the elevator cables at one point, which didn't seem possible to me.  During or after the firstfight, Willis was all bloody; but I noticed that as the story went on, the blood didn't change color as it dried (someone slip up in makeup?)  Then there was the scene with the semi and the jet plane that appeared to be hovering while it shot at the semi, which Willis was driving underneath collapsing freeway ramps - which of course missed him.  (I worked in public works engineering for 27 years, and though I'm not a concrete expert, I will bet that freeway ramps just don't collapse like that! -- they're full of re-bars.)

Another movie I saw just a few days ago, same eat joint, was "Starship Troopers."  That one was full of computer images (good monsters, though)!  Again, it had this "can't not look" quality.

I'm thinking that if you make a movie interesting to look at, you can make it as implausible as you like, but you've got the audience eating out of the palm of your hand, and their cash is in your bank.

Fake is more interesting than real.  That may be why porn is more popular than marriage.
(I don't know that it is, but I'd bet my shirt on it.)
Or recreational drug use almost an epidemic.

When I was taking Physics 1 at the university in 1962, we learned about falling-body problems and acceleration due to gravity All the problems said "neglect air resistance." I asked the prof when we could figure that in; he said, "Come back when you've had five quarters of calculus."

Reality is messy and difficult to deal with.  It takes learning, dedication, growing skill, and good judgment.  Makes no difference whether you're trying to establish a solid relationship with a new spouse, take care of a colicky teething kid still in diapers, raise a kitchen garden, rehab an old double-hung sash window, or do practically anything for real.

Anyway, I'm suspicious of the popularity of these high-grade fantasy movies, video games, and all that.  I get a sneaking suspicion in my nasty suspicious mind that an awful lot of people prefer fantasy to reality.  I think it's one of the things that's ruining our country.  And worse yet, it gets in the way of salvation: there's no resurrection without death first.

Friday, February 8, 2013

In the Dead of Winter

In the dead of winter
midway between the solstice and the equinox
the light of Christmas and the gloom of Lent
remember trees give wood
for crèches, cradles, crosses, crucifixes
(a crucifix was called a “tree”)
Jesus’ Tree took His life and gave us His
On it He died
in a Cradle He was a newborn
The Tree points back to the Cradle
Man owed God a debt
A man had to pay it because Man owed it
God had to pay it because it was owed to God
so God became Man
He was born to die
The upright goes from earth to heaven
The crossbar reaches all space and time
Jesus’ "tree" is the center of all things.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

I have a bone to pick . . .

I have a bone to pick with people who talk about the "narrow-minded" and "repressive" and "un-diverse" education in parochial schools in the 1950s. I daresay most of them weren't even twinkles in their parents' eyes (especially if they were born after 1962 when I graduated from high school).

Just to take a few examples:

Arithmetic: we were expected to master the multiplication table up to 12x12 in 3rd grade, and short division in 4th grade. We were introduced to fractions, decimals, percentages, and the rudiments on geometry in 5th and 6th grades, and the practical applications of arithmetic in 7th and 8th grades. I have the books. One time in the early or mid 90s I took my eighth-grade arithmetic book to the office, and graduate engineers were astounded by what I was expected to know by age 14.

Reading: Our readers had stories about children all over the world, plus stories of life on the frontier, and folk and fairy tales from all over the world. I have the books.

Fourth grade geography: we learned about other lands and the children who lived in them; I can remember the pygmy hunter-gatherers of Malaya, Mongol children on the Siberian steppe, Indian children in the Andes, kids on a dairy farm in Wisconsin, USA, Inuit kids (Eskimos as they were called then) in Alaska.

About fourth grade-fifth grade, there were monthly publications in comic-book format called "Junior Catholic Messenger" and "Young Catholic Messenger." One year there was a nine-part series on various immigrant groups to America, and another year there was a nine-part series on human anatomy and physiology (they left out sex and reproduction because we didn't need to know that yet, we were too young; and because the philosophy of the school was -- note well! -- that it was our parents' job to teach that).

Fifth and sixth grades we learned the basics of world history and geography, and in seventh and eighth grades we learned the basics of American history. I have the books.

We had gym starting in fifth grade.

We had music all eight years. Besides teaching us the basics of reading music, the music books had classical melodies, folk tunes from all over the world, and folk dances. (I think it was in fifth grade we learned "La Cucuracha," of course a very clean version.) I have the books.

Of course we had religion all eight years, taught according to our ability to understand it, and we were expected to memorize it. Of course it was "packed" and drilled in, I think in the hope that as we grew up and survived our rebellious years (which our teachers knew we would have) we would remember it and could unpack it. I remember vividly being struck hard in my thirties by the very first question in the Baltimore Catechism: "Who made you?" "God made me." That popped into my head again and I said to myself, "That means Pop and Ma only helped!"

We got what I think was a superb foundation for life.

So please don't tell me how bad it was in the 1950s if you weren't there. Thanks.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

First time since summer 1961

Twenty .38 special rounds through a Ruger Blackhawk
at a life-size silhouette target at 21 feet.
3 in the X zone
1 on the line of X and 10
1 in the 10 zone
7 in the 9 zone
5 in the 8 zone
3 in the 7 zone
none elsewhere, no misses.
I think I did pretty well!
I know I did better than I thought I would.
I'm grateful for the gun control Pop taught me when I was a kid! --
Aim carefully, pull gently.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

A Curious Dream

I just woke up from a very curious dream, a mix of memory and fantasy.

I had been summoned to the office where I worked for some unspecified reason.  I dressed up very nice because it was hinted there were Important People that I had to talk to.  When I got there, the anteroom of the boss' office was full of people, most of whom I didn't know.  I tried to find out what was going on and how it affected me, but couldn't.

So I decided to go to my cubicle and do some work while I was waiting.  I had a hard time finding it, because it was tucked back at the end of a sort of maze, it was a tiny corner, and it didn't even have enough room for the computer I needed to work.  In its place there was a brand-new compact little machine that I had no idea even how to turn on, let alone operate.

I went looking for a snack and coffee, and wandered lots of empty halls until I found the snack bar.  It was tiny and underequipped, and there was little there for me.  While I was there, someone came and told me I had to report to the boss' office.  So I set out for it, looking for a toilet on the way, and couldn't find one.  When I got there, people were talking about their careers with the organization; the guy next to me got so upset that he couldn't talk any more, started crying, and slid out of sight under the sofa.

It wasn't my turn yet, so I went out, again looking for a toilet.  I wandered through what seemed like miles of empty halls lined with vacant offices.  I ran into an old pal of mine who had started at the organization about the same time I did.  We smiled, compared notes, and decided that there was no place for us here anymore, and we might as well retire and be done with it.  They weren't giving us the equipment we needed to do our jobs, and the young folks had no time or inclination to take advantage of our 30 years or so of experience.

That was where the dream ended and I woke up.

There were a lot of other little details, most unrelated.  The main  theme of it all seems to me that my time is up and it's time to move on . . . whatever that means.  It could be almost anything.

Saturday, January 5, 2013


A basketball comes into a bar and orders a beer.
"I'm not serving you," says the bartender.  "You dribble."

I have begun to suspect that very few Yeti are Catholic.