Thursday, November 30, 2006

Beatrice's Eyes

Reflecting the Griffon

A comment that friend Scott Dinsmore shared sparked a memory of something about the Church, connecting with others, and an alternative to "is this all there is?" ways of relating in a hall of mirrors.

The world is filled with people trying to connect with something transcendent, but usually in rather earthly ways with their eyes leveled on other human beings. René Girard's mimetic theory all too well delineates the ways that humans interacting with humans, sans authentic transcendence, degrades into rivalry, resentment and -- well -- basically the worst parts of human behavior.

I share at length an excerpt from a tape series by Gil Bailie (The Cornerstone Forum) that speaks to an alternative to this human dilemma:

At the top of the purgatorial mountain, Christ comes out -- Christ is manifested in this poem, in this pageant -- as the Griffon, the figure that is part lion, part eagle. The Griffon represents for Dante the two natures of Christ, the divine and human nature of Christ. So the Griffon stands there as Christ in Dante’s poem, and Dante is led by the four cardinal virtues -- justice, prudence, temperance, and fortitude -- to the Griffon. And this is what Dante says, “They led me to the Griffon. Behind him Beatrice waited. And when I stood at the Griffon’s breast, they said in unison, ‘Look deep. Look well. However your eyes may smart, we have led you now before those emeralds from which Love shot his arrows through your heart.’” In other words, the transfigured Beatrice. You could almost say the risen Beatrice; the transfiguration of the Beatrice he had known in his youth. They say to him look there! They are performing the same function for Dante that the Serpent performed for Eve in the Garden. They are directing his attention, his desire, toward Beatrice. And what does he see? Dante says, “A thousand burning passions, every one hotter than any flame held my eyes fixed on the lucent eyes she held fixed on the Griffon.” So she’s not looking at him, she’s looking at Christ. And Dante says, “Like sunlight in the glass, the twofold creature shone from the deep reflection in her eye.” So he looked into her eyes and he saw the reflection as in a mirror of Christ. And I think that’s exactly it.

How do we get out of this mess? The same way we got in.

We see. We look. We see another whose desire is not “horizontal”, so to speak. Whose glance is looking at something above the horizon. We see somebody like that and we think, “Wait a minute.” It feels like somebody is calling us Home.

You go about your everyday life and all the little mimetic entanglements, you know, that we’re all involved in (“How’m I doing?” etc.). And every once in a while, you come somebody and you notice that their glance is above the “horizon-line”. They seem to be going through life looking at Something Else. And when you notice that, it is like being called Home. You think, “They’re onto something.” And then you notice, if you find out more about them (like you read the life of Teresa of Avilla and you find out how she was influenced by and was an influence on John of the Cross) and you see that, “My goodness! this thing is the Communion of Saints, isn’t it? We ‘do it for each other, don’t we?’”

We catch each other in this moment when our glance, when we’re looking at Christ, to use the Dantean metaphor. And at that moment, we start to come up out of this ‘soup’ we’re in. I’m not doing this justice, but I think there’s something quite symmetrical with the Genesis story of the Fall in Dante’s story of Redemption. Both have to do with mimetic desire. And we can’t get out of “this” except (by) the same way we got in it.

We don’t want to be ‘caught’ looking at one whose eyes are looking at Christ, because that seems pretty passé. Yet on the other hand, we don’t want to be caught with blood on our hands. So we don’t want just completely embrace the Adam, Eve, Cain syndrome ... (Bailie concludes by alluding to Virginia Woolf's novel, The Waves.)

So, of the three, I would suggest Dante’s.

The Church offers in the Real Presence of Christ -- body, blood, soul and divinity -- the One Who is worthy of our adoration, worship and "connectedness".

The closer we come to the Word made Flesh (John 1:14), the closer we come to one another in right relation. Far closer than in the sad, debased and often brutal ways of the sarx, (flesh) as St Paul warns.

The Massketeers attest to this in our lives and with our lives. Cheers!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

"Do You Love Me?" -- My Church Meets You Where You Are

After his resurrection, Jesus met Peter on the seashore. Three times he asked Peter, "Do you love me?" (How many times had Peter betrayed him before the rooster crowed? You get the idea.) But not everyone knows that Jesus used a different form of "love" the first two times he asked Peter than the last time.

The first time Jesus asked, "Peter, do you agapais (unconditionally, selflessly love) me?" Peter replied, "Lord, you know that I philow (love you as a brother) you."

The second time Jesus again asked, "Peter do you agapais me?" Peter answered, "Lord, you know that I philow you."

The third time, the Lord changes terms. He sees Peter's weakness; but instead of remaining aloof, Jesus meets Peter where he is. He asks, "Peter, do you phileis me?" And Peter, disturbed, answers, "Lord, you know all things. You know that I philow you" (John 21:15-17).

In this small pericope, we see in miniature God's unlimited willingness to meet us where we are. It is a trait that continues in the Catholic Church.

George Tyrrell notes this in his Reflections on Catholicism:

"... we feel that Catholicism is, in tendency, a religion of all levels of spiritual development, and not of one only; that it has milk for babes and meat for adults; that it is a language in which the simplest and the subtlest can hold converse with Heaven on the shallowest themes and the deepest. And this range and versatility commends it to us as a product of experience, of God working through Nature; and not a device of human reflection...

"I could not be satisfied with a religion which, however much it did for me, did nothing for the masses or for the classes -- too academic for the former, too barbaric for the latter. The board spread for all must have every sort of fare, so that each may find something, though none can find everything, to his taste and requirement ... It is only the fantastic notion that we must eat everything on the table that makes the banquet seem burdensome to us."

Arnold Lunn in reflecting on Tyrrells' reflections adds, "The Catholic family, then, is not a museum exhibit of saints, but a human family in which saints, publicans and sinners all feed from the same table."

And Jesus feeds us all, our Eucharistic Lord, forgives us in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and asks, "Do you love me?" meeting us each right where we are.

Bishop Lori's Prayer for B16

posted by Jimmy Akin here.



NOV. 28 – DEC. 1, 2006

Heavenly Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name, we humbly ask that you sustain, inspire, and protect your servant, Pope Benedict XVI, as he goes on pilgrimage to Turkey – a land to which St. Paul brought the Gospel of your Son; a land where once the Mother of your Son, the Seat of Wisdom, dwelt; a land where faith in your Son’s true divinity was  definitively professed. Bless our Holy Father, who comes as a messenger of truth and love to all people of faith and good will dwelling in this land so rich in history. In the power of the Holy Spirit, may this visit of the Holy Father bring about deeper ties of understanding, cooperation, and peace among Roman Catholics, the Orthodox, and those who profess Islam. May the prayers and events of these historic days greatly contribute both to greater accord among those who worship you, the living and true God, and also to peace in our world so often torn apart by war and sectarian violence. We also ask, O Heavenly Father, that you watch over and protect Pope Benedict and entrust him to the loving care of Mary, under the title of Our Lady of Fatima, a title cherished both by Catholics and Muslims. Through her prayers and maternal love, may Pope Benedict be kept safe from all harm as he prays, bears witness to the Gospel, and invites all peoples to a dialogue of faith, reason, and love. We make our prayer through Christ, our Lord.  Amen.      

Prayer composed by Bishop William E. Lori,
Knights of Columbus Supreme Chaplain

Monday, November 27, 2006

A Tuning Fork for Let This Mind Be In You

This post will lead us into a discussion around the tape series entitled "Let This Mind Be in You" by Gil Bailie. Please join us as we explore the psychology of Christian conversion.

St. Paul – I live now not I, but Christ lives in me. – Galatians 2:20

Walker Percy: Doctor of Soul – This is the age of anxiety because it is the age of the lost of self.

Gil Bailie – Individualism, once considered an alternative to social conformity and a remedy for psychological alienation has turned out to be only a more ingenious form of conformity and a flamboyant form of alienation. What we thought was a cure for the epidemic for the psychological distress was only the next step of the epidemic. A real cure and a source of genuine psychological authenticity is what Christians call conversion, and it is a phenomenon, the psychological implications of which we yet to fully appreciate.

Gabriel Marcel captured the essence of Christian conversion and the psychological freedom it entails when he said that genuine selfhood involves “the subordination of the self to a superior reality – a reality at my deepest level, more truly me than I am myself.”

Gil Bailie – We have failed to grasp the scope and significance of today’s profound cultural and psychological crisis because we have yet to fully appreciate the depth and power of the revelation that is bringing it about.

Leszek Kolakowski from Modernity on Endless Trial “The strength of Christianity does not reveal itself in a theocracy or in a monopoly on the creation of rules for all areas of civilization. Its strength is manifested in its ability to build a barrier against hatred in the consciousness of individuals. The requirement of the renunciation of hatred was a challenge thrown down by Christianity to human nature. If Christians are only to be found among those who know how to meet this challenge how many are there now in the world? I do not know, however many there are, they are the salt of the earth and European civilization would be a desert without them.”

Entrance here to anthropology.

So if we are all tuned up, let us begin.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Prayers for Benedict XVI

A Warm Welcome ...

Our prayers as we see a Turkish Welcome for the Holy Father .

What if we depicted an erstwhile pretender-Prophet with similar venomous intent?

Gil Bailie relates an interview with a convert from Islam to Christianity at the Cornerstone Forum Blogspot .

Note well the venomous training in mimetic rivalry toward Jews and Christians.

God speed Benedict XVI.

The Three Massketeers X X X

Le Jazz Hot

Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grapelli

And Django did not have the use of ring or baby fingers on the fret hand, as you can see here.

One of the handful of the true guitar greats.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Black Friday

Driving past all the big box retailers and shopping areas around 6:30 AM on my way to Mass yesterday and seeing all the cars and people packed waiting to throw their treasures at a cash register was disheartening for me and demonstrated for me how enslaved we are here in this country.

Part of the syndrome of being a child of one's age is a lack of the historical imagination to recognize oneself in a different setting, endowed with a different array of sentimentalisms. In fact, such people are certain they'd be on the side of the angels in any situation. The personal advantages they have purchased by their social conformity are so enormous and comprehensive that they fail to see it as conformity at all. (Words from Diogenes over at the "Off the Record" blog of the Catholic World News.)

You Can't Always Get What You Want But Stick Around...

Thankfully Porthos has such a great and wide musical collection, whereas we would be always banging around with Norman Greenbaum - Spirit in The Sky

And we should be so blessed to have your contribution for wonderful art for if we relied on my collection we would always be looking at


The Divine Comedy

Beata Beatrix
1863 (30 Kb); Tate Gallery, London
The death of Beatrice from The Divine Comedy by Dante, the original Italian poet. This painting also reflects Rossetti's grief after the death of his wife, Elisabeth Siddal, the model for Beatrice, painted from memory after her death.

A highly recommended tape series is Gil Bailie's "Dante's Inferno" and "Dante's Divine Comedy -- The Purgatorio / the Paradiso." Available through the Cornerstone Forum website . At least two Massketeers say that an annual listen is essential to their spiritual growth.

Jarrett, Dejohnette, Peacock

"When You Wish upon a Star"

Does a rhythm section get any better than this?

8 minutes. Open another window and use it as background music?

Whaddever ya want.

Friday, November 24, 2006

To Grow Up and Into Faith

In God's Real World

Evelyn Waugh, also a convert to the Catholic Church, once said, “Conversion is like stepping across the chimney piece out of a Looking-Glass world, where everything is an absurd caricature, into the real world God made; and then begins the delicious process of exploring it limitlessly.”

I was reminded of this when I had the good luck – providence? – to come across volumes II-IV of the Liturgy of the Hours at a Catholic School yard sale. I bought them for next to nothing and the saintly soul who was staffing the cash box that morning soon after presented me with a used copy of Volume I (knowing, no doubt, that I would need it soon with Advent just around the corner).

In my brief five years as a Catholic convert, Evelyn Waugh’s words certainly ring true, and becoming acquainted with the Liturgy of the Hours only impresses me more and more with the fact.

The Christian faith in general and the Catholic Church in particular recognizes the fullness of the experience of being human. It is difficult, joyful, shocking, painful, complex, tragic and ultimately, according to our theological virtue of Hope – comedic. And it would be surprising, therefore, if God revealed some kind of one-size-fits-all master plan set of rules for an experience so vast, so complex and so difficult.

So I still find it astonishing that many extremely responsible persons in very responsible professions in my experience – physicians, military officers, intelligence personnel, and the like – believe with what strikes me as a bemusing naïvete in what amounts to a third-grade understanding of God’s dealings with the human race.

The vast expanse of the human drama, even if we stick solely with the biblical narrative, is solved by Four Spiritual Laws ?

I gave three years of study at a major university to acquire a Masters of Divinity degree, and twenty years of pastoring Protestant churches to realize the insubstantiality of one’s rather puny abilities to grasp the fullness of the deposit of the faith on one’s own. Or, as Arnold Lunn once dryly remarked, “I was tired of being my own pope.”

Yet Christianity in general and the Catholic Church in particular is faced with a mountingly vocal and hostile mass of believers whose goals, beliefs and holy writ are NOT so expansive and encompassing of the grand human opera in which we all are actors and participants. This belief system nearly equals the number of Christians in the world and, depending on who is setting the terms of its discourse and acceptable behavior, it allows its adherents to use deadly force against any whom they deems “infidel”.

Catholics are, in this arena of global proportions, most fortunate – or providentially blessed. We are given a mandate to “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:44-45a).

We are given the means of escaping the trappings of mere mimetic rivalry and violence. A desert father once told his disciple that in hating, one must drive the spear of hatred through one’s own heart before it pierces one’s enemy. But, he said, as one forgives, one brings one’s enemy and oneself before God, realizing one’s own need for forgiveness as well.

This is the spiritual sword of agape love; it blesses and heals oneself even as it fends off any evil or hatred of a real enemy.

There is none the like to be had, except provided by the Lamb slain since the foundation of the world. The Catholic faith is one of and for adults. It isn’t simple or easy. Neither does it have goals that cater to the whims of a faith whose goals line up with a 13 year-old boy’s imaginations of vanquishing enemies. But it is one to grow up with and grow into … all the way to the Beatific Vision.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Get ready, people . . .

for the "Chorus Mysticus" of Mahler's 8th.

Apologies for the clownish conductor who appears off an on, though, truth be told, he's a man after my own heart . . .

Ecce Ancilla Domini - Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Our Crossed Swords


Red martyrdom, as our friend and mentor Gil Bailie mentions, is becoming a more realistic possibility these days for prominent and nonprominent persons of faith. The saint whose feast day we passed yesterday, Saint Cecilia, and recent events in Lebanon bear witness to this fact.

Not having visited the catacombs of Saint Callistus, I haven't enjoyed seeing the magnificent sculpture of Saint Cecilia in Rome. But I see a living sculpture, one provided by Our Lord, in the personage of our Holy Father, Benedict XVI.

At Regensburg, he did what nearly no one in the leadership of old dreary, ashen Christendom has done within recent recall: he spoke for the Body of Christ and named good and bad, sin and evil, reason and unreason.

For the ghetto-dwellers and hedonists and relativists of old Christendom, it came as something incomprehensible. For foes whose holy writ was written in sand, blood and the patriarchy of the 7th century, it brought howling hysteria. For some, it was tonic: a heady draught and a memory of some long-forgotten trumpet call to arms.

Not a military call to arms; no. But a blessing mixed with pain and joy saying, "Remember! Remember who you are!"

This kind of witness - martyrdom - is what our king and Lord sends us in Peter's 265th successor. Who will listen?

Oh, I think many a feeble and trembling arm will feel around a chest and find a blade and mail and helm; not for battle, but identity.

"Remember who you are!"

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving (and Annunciation Painting)

Happy Thanksgiving to my two US located Massketeers and to all the rest of yuh who might be reading!

I also wanted to share another painting in preparation for Advent (and to test out my image posting abilities).

The painting is The Annunciation by Henry Ossawa Tanner, an American painter.

This probably qualifies as my second favorite Catholic painting (though I have no idea whether Tanner was Catholic or not--I assume not), the first being Velazquez's The Immaculate Conception.

Tanner's painting is another treasure I discovered in Pelikan's Mary through the Ages (recommended to all those devoted to our Blessed Mother). This painting belongs to a school I can only call "Supernatural Realism" (just made that up). There is no halo of traditional hagiography (nothing wrong with traditional hagiography, I hasten to add) and everything about Mary's room is spare and utilitarian. The clothing and blankets (simple and poor but made for function, for warmth) are ample with all those incredibly sensuous wrinkles and folds. The cloth on the wall is the only ornament, but it is probably for warmth more than anything else, as a buffer against the cold stone walls. And you can see Mary's toes poking out from under the hem of her robe, on the cold floor. Yet Mary is, above all, a shy teenager, in a sense like any shy teenager in any suburban bedroom.

The Angel Gabriel is absent the symbolic wings, yet closer to the essence of what an angel should be: from our eyes an incomprehensible manifestation. He is a Thomist angel, or, as someone else pointed out to me, a Lewisian angel (from C.S. Lewis' Out of the Silent Planet, the first in his Peralandra series).

Mary is tensed up and hunched up at the end of the bed, probably out of the initial recoil in fear and panic, but now she looks attentive and questioning, as if she's getting ready to say, ". . . but how . . ?" This means that Gabriel must be past his first greeting and announcement and is explaining the first part of God's proposition. Her hands are clasped not in prayer now, but out of habit or reflex, in the attitude of cautious attentiveness, but also for warmth against the cold.

It is an intimate bedroom scene, one whose consummation will introduce redemption into the world.

A beautiful painting. Please click for the larger view!

Jack Dejohnette 3

This is about eight minutes long. It is the same combo linked before: Dejohnette, Hancock, Metheny (changes to accoustic guitar), and Holland, doing a very contemplative piece by Dejohnette called . . .

Silver Hollow

Again, this is a fantastic group of musicians who do wonders together. But it is the delicacy and expressiveness of Dejohnette, especially the way he plays the cymbals, that I find extraordinary.

(This post is also a chance for me to try out my linking abilities without Aramis holding my hand . . .)

The Dionysus Mandate: A Fable of Desire & Death

Hey, are you looking for a special Christmas Gift?

Wanting something totally unexpected for a gift to give?

Not excited about camping out tomorrow night in the cold in front of your favorite big box store hoping to get one of their Black Friday specials?

Welllllll, let me share with everyone a special book by our friend, Walker Hunt Golding entitled, The Dionysus Mandate. When you are making up your shopping list for this season, please consider this novel as a gift to give to that special someone who has everything (or maybe nothing at all). Or better yet, treat yourself to it. There is nothing quite like it in literary circles. You will be captivated by the suspense and mesmerized by the tense interface drama as you are propelled into a fast-paced world of music, sacrifice and violence. So hurry on down to your local bookstore before their allotment runs out and buy 2 - 1 for yourself and 1 for your best friend.


they make your mouth turn green . . .

Comments, they taste like gasoline . . .

Comments, they make you vomment,

So don't make comments, or vomment todayyyyyyy . . .

By way of this infantile introduction I propose to explain our comment policy, or should I say rather our lack of a comment policy. For those readers who have attempted to make comments, we apologize. Comments are currently disabled except for comments by the Massketeers. This is because we can't really decide what to do about them. Should they be for everyone and anyone? For registered users only (in which case how do we handle the registration process?)? Should we even have comments at all? If we choose instead to recieve contacts via email, how do we set it up so that the email goes to all of us? Or should we have three separate emails visible?

Yes, we here at TTM are an evolving community, still trying to figure out how all these bells and whistles tingle and tweet. Comments were a default feature of the blog, and at this point we couldn't make that comment link disappear if we wanted to. And we may want to. Or not. Or something. Assuming you're still with us, or have any intention of coming back, please be patient as we sort these issues out.

The long and short of it is, Please don't bother making comments, because you can't, despite the appearance of the "comments" link under each post.

As time, opportunity and technical prowess allow (actually, Aramis is the only one who knows how to do anything around here, and he usually has to spend most of his time trying to explain it to Athos and I) we hope to work out a channel of communication that works, whether that involves the comment boxes or email addresses. But we don't have a timeline on that.

We thank you very much for visiting us and hope you are getting something (anything!) out of the blog! We are not high volume bloggers or comprehensive aggregators, but at our current rate, there ought to be at least one post by one of us up every day or two. Our content will most likely be in the areas of 1) Catholic spirituality, 2) mimetic theory, 3) art, music and lit sharing, and 4) religious and cultural issues.

PS/Edit: If I got any of that wrong, Aramis and Athos can straighten it out in this post or a new one!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Light of the World - William Holman Hunt

Behold the Pierced One

A Thanksgiving Day recipe:


1 - Behold the Pierced One – Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

Thesis 3: Since the center of the person of Jesus is prayer, it is essential to participate in his prayer if we are to know and understand him.
… – The fundamental act of religion is prayer, which in the Christian religion acquires a very specific character: it is the act of self-surrender by which we enter the Body of Christ. Thus it is an act of love. As love, in and with the Body of Christ, it is always both love of God and love of neighbor, knowing and fulfilling itself as love for the members of this Body.
In Thesis 1 we saw that prayer was the central act of the person of Jesus and, indeed, that this person is constituted by the act of prayer, of unbroken communication with the one he calls “Father”. If this is the case, it is only possible really to understand this person by entering into this act of prayer, by participating in it. This is suggested by Jesus’ saying that no one can come to him unless the Father draws him (Jn 6:44). Where there is no Father, there is no Son. Where there is no relationship with God, there can be no understanding of him who, in his innermost self, is nothing but relationship with God, the Father – although one can doubtless establish plenty of details about him. Therefore a participation in the mind of Jesus, i.e., in his prayer, which (as we have seen) is an act of love, of self-giving and self-expropriation to men, is not some kind of pious supplement to reading the Gospels, adding nothing to knowledge of him or even being an obstacle to the rigorous purity of critical knowing. On the contrary, it is the basic precondition if real understanding, in the sense of modern hermeneutics – i.e., the entering-in to the same time and the same meaning – is to take place…

… - The person who prays begins to see; praying and seeing go together because – as Richard of St. Victor says – “Love is the faculty of seeing”. Real advances in Christology, therefore, can never come merely as the result of the theology of the schools, and that includes the modern theology as we find it in critical exegesis, in the history of doctrine and in an anthropology oriented toward the human sciences, etc. All this is important, as important as schools are. But it is insufficient. It must be complemented by the theology of the saints, which is theology from experience. All real progress in theological understanding has its origin in the eye of love and in its faculty of beholding. – pg 25-26.

2 - made in the image and likeness of God as we are. Fr. Cantalamessa quotes Augustine:

To this point has human perversity arrived, that he whom lust overcomes is
regarded as a man, whereas he whom has overcome lust cannot be a man. Those
who overcome evil cannot be men, whereas those whom evil overcomes are men

To which Fr. Cantalamessa adds:

"Human" has come to mean rather what we have in common with the beasts
than what distinguishes us from them, such as intelligence, will power,
conscience, holiness.

Stir and sit for meditation. Serve only on your knees.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Mark Steyn & SpongeBob

Who's Your Plankton?

In his America Alone, Mark Steyn notes the following:

Many of us figure the Islamist plan to re-establish the caliphate is the equivalent of that moment in The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie when Plankton roars, "I'm going to rule the world!" Towering over him, SpongeBob says, "Good luck with that."

But you never know: it might be that we're the plankton. "Our enemies are small worms," Adolf Hitler told his generals in August 1939. "I saw them at Munich." In Europe today, as in the thirties, the political class prostrates itself before an insatiable force that barely acknowledges the latest surrender before moving on to the next invented grievance. Indeed, a formal enemy is all but superfluous to requirements. Bomb us, and we agonize over the "root causes." Decapitate us, and our politicians rush to the nearest mosque to declare that "Islam is a religion of peace." Issue blood-curdling calls at Friday prayers to kill all the Jews and infidels, and we fret that it may cause a backlash against Muslims. Behead sodomites and mutilate female genitalia, and gay groups and feminist groups can't wait to march alongside you denouncing Bush and Blair. Murder a schoolful of children, and our scholars explain that to the "vast majority" of Muslims "jihad" is a harmless concept meaning "healthy-lifestyle lo-fat granola bar." Thus the lopsided valse macabre of our times: the more the Islamists step on our toes, the more we waltz them gaily round the room.


Steyn also notes that to the progressive mind, the very concept of "enemy" implied in the words "war on terror" is obsolescent: "there are no enemies, just friends whose grievances we haven't yet accommodated."

Like the old Cold War joke in which the American tells the Soviet guy that "in my country we're free to criticize our president" and the Soviet replies, "Same here. We're free to criticize your president," the West is free to mock and belittle our Judeo-Christian inheritance. Likewise, the Muslim world is free to mock and belittle the West's Judeo-Christian inheritance.

Of the two, the latter is surely healthier than the former.

Can't we find a way to stand UP, breathe deeply, and be grateful for what the West was founded upon -- the Revelation vouchsafed by the Church's Magisterium in Scripture and Tradition -- without scapegoating Islam?

Self-flagellation is clearly not working for old Europe. Bullies can only be stopped by those who don't hate themselves; by those who not only don't roll over and play dead, but are actively thankful for and live out the truth (aletheia) of the Gospel.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


Athos is experiencing some physical problems that involve no small amount of pain. Please hold up Athos in prayer!

Please remember as well Gil Bailie's wife Liz, and Gil Bailie himself.


Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Scapegoat - William Holman Hunt (1854)

"Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrow
Yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted"

With the words of the Prophet Isaiah on its gilt frame, Pre-Raphaelite painter William Holman Hunt sent this image into the world.

Even Hunt's admirers in general and those of the painting in particular are divided over it. Hunt visited the Holy Land in 1854. He shows the goat bearing the sins of the community -- as per Leviticus 16 -- in the form of the red wool upon its head. In the barrens near the Dead Sea its doom is clear, expelled and alone.

Art historian Christopher Wood writes, "To lavish such time and labour on such an unpromising subject may seem to have been misguided, but it is an extraordinary powerful image, set in one of the most macabre and eerie landscapes in English art."

"...he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed" -- Isaiah 53:5

The Roar of the Crowd

In the Olympic Stadium, or Next Door?

About this time last year, the London Observer ran a story on the cost over run on the cost of the 2112 Olympic Stadium. Of interest to the British was not only the rise in their taxes to cover this over run but the news that same week that Tablighi Jamaat, an Islamic missionary group, plans to build a mosque next door to the new Olympic stadium

The London Markaz will be the largest Muslim house of worship in the UK, holding upwards of 70,000 people. Just 10,000 less than the Olympic Stadium.

Ah, the joy in good old London when the cries of the crowd go up, depending of course from which venue they arise. The benighted Americans whose military presence and security guarantee that liberated European budgets and politicians from the same responsibility have no equivalent. Well, unless you count a Billy Graham Crusade in Dodger Stadium. But then about the loudest sounds are the strains of "His Eye Is On the Sparrow (and I Know He's Watching Me)" or "Just As I Am" accompanied by a big honking portable Wurlitzer. And that is dear old waning mainline Protestantism, as opposed to new, user- and browser- friendly, low commitment non-denominational mega-churches that serve up Gospel Lite and lattes to-go.

To what kind of cries from what kind of organizing principle do you think fans of the modern Olympic Games will be treated from the vast London Markaz? Repentance, taking Christ into your heart, and hymn-singing?

I should at this point mention World Youth Day and ITS organizing principle, but do I really have to? Need it be said that whether or not it is expressed in Girardian terms (identifying with the Lamb Slain since the foundation of the world - Guess where Girard got that phrase?), millions of young Catholics gather not to hear tirades against Great Satans? No. They gather around the Eucharistic altar that is now also a table, led by the Pontiff who leads and evangelizes in the Name of the Word made flesh (John 1:14).

Mental experiment: Imagine the London Markaz rockin' and rollin'. Now imagine yourself hearing the sounds coming from World Youth Day?

What are your feelings about the former?

What are your feelings about the latter?


Friday, November 17, 2006

Jack Dejohnette 1

Thank the good Lord for You Tube.

Jack Dejohnette is the most expressive and delicate drummer I know.

Here he is doing "Blue,* with Herbie, Pat Metheny, and Dave Holland.

The same ensemble doing "Canteloupe Island":

Or with Keith Jarrett doing "Green Dolphin Street":

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Velazquez, The Immaculate Conception

We've been discussion visuals in our back room . . .

This is my own choice for "favorite Catholic painting."

(Although I hate to bump Aramis' nice work down from the masthead.)

(OK, so it doesn't link. OK, so I don't know how to do that yet. So, just paste it or something, I don't know . . . Did I tell you I can do italics? Look: isn't that neat? And bold, too! Look: Cool, huh? {Dear Porthos, I hope you like my edit.}


Paradiso by Dante
Canto XXIX : Lines 7-15,
translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Beatrice's Discourse of the Creation of the Angels

7 - 15
So long, her face depicted with a smile,
Did Beatrice keep silence while she gazed
Fixedly at the point which had o'ercome me.

Then she began: I say, and I ask not
What thou dost wish to hear, for I have seen it
Where centres every When and every Ubi.

Not to acquire some good unto himself,
Which is impossible, but that his splendour
In its resplendency may say, ' Subsisto,'

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Ontology 101

My first IBM computer had a handy button called "Reveal Code." If there is one thing that the Three Massketeers appreciate is the distillation of the thought and work of Rene Girard carried out by Gil Bailie. Between (a) Girard's insights gleaned from world literature and his study of the New Testament and (b) Bailie's popularization of Girard melded to his own keen insights, one has available a most valuable hermeneutic at hand. A "Reveal Code" button, if you will allow, into a vast array of human behaviors gleaned from the Christian revelation found in Scripture and Tradition.

One area explicated by these scholars is that of ontology, the study of being and personhood. I hope that no one minds if I share a lengthy couple of paragraphs from Bailie's tape series, The Gift of Self. I think it is a seminal approach to an area of absolute value for trying to understand many, many dysfunctional attitudes and behaviors of our decaying culture. And, in my opinion, a study of ontology can only serve to more fully help a world in need of the teachings of Scripture and Tradition of the Catholic Church.


“If Jesus represents the supreme example of 'ontological density' {Henri Cardinal de Lubac} when he said, “I and the Father are one,” we moderns have tended to shirk the challenge to approximate that ontological density, and have instead bartered it away for a shabby facsimile of it; namely, desire. And that is why we cling so tenaciously to desire; why we think it is the key to everything; why we would be so reluctant to voice any criticisms of it or any misgivings about it, because it is what passes for ‘theological orthodoxy’ in our world. Among believers and unbelievers -- everybody -- in the modern world. When I say ‘modern world,’ I mean the western world in crisis. Not just everybody living (today). In modernity, desire is the coin of the realm; it is how we define ourselves. And nobody will say anything -- or very few people will say anything -- against desire, because not to have it is to be beyond the pale in our world.

“The ontological density that Jesus incarnated is the true source of subjectivity. What the modern world has is a shabby facsimile based on desire. That is to say, desire is a powerful force, it can generate a lot of energy, and that energy can give the appearance of something really formidable, something psychologically formidable. But, finally, it desolves real subjectivity, because it does not imitate the God in whose image and likeness it was made -- to put it in the simplest of terms. It imitates all others, any others, this or that other, and it does so for the most part surreptitiously. The modern world has made a gamble. It has gambled, you could say, on the proposition that it is possible to generate a substative psychological reality based on desire. One that is capable of taking the place of the kind of ontological density represented by Jeremiah, Jesus, and Paul ... Desire is so psychologically animating that it gives rise to what appears to be a new and exciting personality. And the cultural circumstances surrounding the emergence of this new personality are such that the person defines this new feeling of social independence as ‘individuality.’ In fact, however, desire diminishes ontological density, and it does so the more it generates all of the ‘pyrotechnics’ of modern personality. Real ontological density is being destroyed in the background ...”

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Review your list of the Music of God

Dear Athos and Porthos,

Can we include amongst all these cultural and theological headbanging posts some more dignified or meaningful dialogue? (-:

Being suckled only on rock 'n roll, a little big band, a tiny bit of gospel and country; then "rebelling" into rock and its many tentacles throughout the 70's and 80's, I would like to hear some reviews of the GIANTS in classical music that you 2 have listed in your profiles. Can you do that?

Baby's First Link

Athos, of course, was behind this:

Can "Baby's First Being Blogrolled" be far behind?

Actually, I'd rather we weren't getting even this much attention yet. It's just, it's just that I don't think we've [add nervously sensitive creative person gestures here] I don't think we've really found our _voice_ yet as a blog collective. I just don't feel _ready_ to be linked. I just really think we need to _define_ ourselves in a little more _integrated_ kind of way. You know what I mean?

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Three Massketeers: Pray and Do Not Curse

The Three Massketeers: Bless and Do Not Curse

Pray and Do Not Curse

Meeting the Mullahs

The BBC story leads off,

The chief causes of the rift are not religion or history, they say, but recent political developments, notably the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A recent poll among British Muslims found that 17% believed that Arabs had anything to do with 9/11. That leaves 83% undecided.

While political developments, like the right for Israel to exist, may inflame the sacred heart of Muslim street mobs (we are so careful not to victimize that we refuse to see it in mimetic theory terms), the following statistic is interesting:

A United Nations report of 2002 states that more books are translated into Spanish in a single year than have been translated into Arabic in the last thousand. And what few were translated? Mein Kampf and The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

But going back to the British poll above, when 83% of the fastest-growing demographic in the United Kingdom doesn't accept the same reality as their fellow British subjects, you have a volatile meeting of competing versions of reality -- not a good recipe for social stability. May I suggest one more photo from the BBC? Read carefully the English captions on the placards being carried by the protesters.

How, how are Christians supposed to meet and greet those street protesters? Just leave it to the nation-state forces and local police to handle? What would/will be a faithful attempt of Christian effort to meet them look like? Clubs, guns? Or, standing still, silent as a lamb, praying and watching, watching and praying? The "victim's epistemological privilege" of McKenna looks pretty daunting to me, but if we don't try to confront them soon, they will take our unwillingness for weakness and willingness to succumb.

Oh, and, by the way, how do you think they will take to female priests meeting them?

Mark Steyn says it:

"When the mullahs take over (due to Christian passivity), I'll grow my beard a little fuller, get a couple extra wives, and keep my head down. It's the feminists and gays who'll have a tougher tim

Just So This Brave Dude Don't Get Lost in the Shuffle

Bangladeshi journalist faces death sentence for being moderate, liking jews:

(h/t Powerline)

Edit: I don't know how to encode URLs. For that matter, I don't know how to do inset quotes. Or italics. Or bold.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Cursillo Weekend

It's a woman's Cursillo within my diocese this weekend.
So join me by taking your favorite rooster for a stroll.
If you aren't aware of what a Cursillo is click on to their national site at:
My wife is on the team and I am helping with clean-up.
Please pray that all involved are open to the Holy Spirit.
Our lives become authentic, authorized and unique when we realize that we are not the author.

Boobs & Ninnies

Today's Washington Post has two offerings that caught my eye. One is an op/ed piece by a United Methodist pastor whose first husband was a "closet gay" who fathered three children with her before opening the exit door and leaving them in emotional tatters. (Thus she shows that she has victim status and is credentialed to speak with authority on these matters.) She goes on to say that the "root of the problem (in light of the Ted Haggard, Mark Foley incidents) is in our denial that gays and lesbians are as worthy and unworthy, flawed and gifted, as heterosexuals."

She notes that our condemnatory attitudes arose with such benighted thinkers as Thomas Aquinas in the Middle Ages who "labeled not only homosexual acts but all non-procreative sexual behavior 'unnatural'. The Roman Catholic Church continues to promote this idea, even though most critical thinkers (as opposed, presumably, to the slouch thinkers in the Church) appreciate the relational bonding, tension release and joyous pleasure that sexuality affords along with the possibility of procreation." Not wanting to single out the Catholic Church (she says), she proceeds to spend two paragraphs denegrating the Catholic Church.

Finally, she concludes, with the results of Election Day in -- one wonders if it is akin in her mind to the Second Coming or merely cloaked in an aura of apocalyptic liberal triumph -- now is the time to throw off the shackles of medieval attitudes about our sexuality.

The second piece is an amusing story by a young, articulate lady who writes about her being blessed with -- how to say it appropriately and with decorum? -- excessively large mammary glands. In her words:

"Stare all you want; you'll have no idea what's going on in my head. Because if you're staring, I am probably thinking that I could smother you and make it look like an accident.

"Harsh? I know. But with a rack like this, you can't be a doormat."

Now, how in the world does one relate these disparate offerings from a well respected and outlet for progressive news and information like The Washington Post? Why, one at a time, of course.

The Rev. Ermalou Roller apparently subscribes to that optimism about breaking down social and psychological barriers that sees anything that impinges upon one's sexual freedom of expression as passe, "medieval" and worthy of scornful dismissal. Jeffrey Satinover, respected lecturer at both Yale and Harvard in Psychiatry, showed courageously and conclusively that the removal of homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV) was carried out by a determined lobby by political means, and not according to scientific evidence in his book, Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth.

Too, mimetic theory casts a cool and discerning eye on what Rene Girard calls "the crisis of distinctions." The bold and reckless knocking out of the road little distinctions like "natural" and "unnatural", especially in the area of human sexuality, may seem the very vanguard of social justice and indeed mercy. What practitioners of this kind of erasure of demarcations do not see is their culpability in bringing about a sacrificial denouement. In short, the imploding of a culture which has lost its cultic and organizing principle.

The Rev. Roller isn't interested in whether or not her promoting gay rights looks for all the world like a sacrificial preparation. The Rev. Roller is too much on a roller coaster of naive progressive optimism and Pelagianism. And what of the benighted Thomism that sees certain sexual practices as "unnatural"? Fortunately, the Church teaches that Natural Law is not only universal but immutable. The knowledge of it cannot be destroyed; it can only be obscured for a time. Times when the frenzy of a sacrificial preparation dims the eye and rationality to its truth.

And what of the young lady who writes of her well endowed set of mammilian opulence?

In his hugely prescient epic tale, J. R. R. Tolkien has the walking, talking tree-herders, the Ents, bemoan the fact that the Ent-wives abandoned them so long ago that they cannot even quite recall what they looked like. And, thus, their numbers dwindled to only a few (demographics of Europe one generation out, by conservative estimates). Where did the Ent-wives go? What were their concerns instead of having and raising little entlings?

I waited as I read the funny story in the Post Magazine for her to mention something about the purpose of her breasts. Weren't they designed for something, anything, other than attracting glances of males and potential lovers or murder-victims (see her quote above)?

Have we so forgotten the design and purpose of sexuality that we are enduring what Mark Gordon calls at his website, the suicide of the west? Will we draw back from the brink and return to the Greatest Adventure known to human beings: falling in love, marrying for a lifetime, raising children in our domestic church and being a "sign and image of the communion of the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit" (CCC #2205).

Otherwise, we will prove what boobs and ninnies we magnificent moderns have become to our doom.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Mug Mug Shots (A Purely Technical Question)

This doesn't bear--at least directly--on the bare reality of mimesis, the implications of interdividuality, or the role of the Church as salt and light in the midst of a disintegrating cultural epistemontology, but how did you two get your mug mug shots into your profile?

The Three Massketeers

The Center of Culture

Gil Bailie has noted, echoing the seminal work of Rene Girard, that at the center of every culture is religion; not just any kind of religion, but "the sacred" in the terminology of perichoretic anthropology and mimetic theory.

Only one civilization has ever tried to found a culture without religion at its center. This grand experiment can be loosely called "the west" after the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. Of course, one could argue that the Founding Fathers of the United States based the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution on self-evident Natural Law. But one would be hard pressed to say either they or leaders to the present consulted the teachings of Judeo Christianity en masse when structuring law or policy. The European Union has in fact gone out of its way to insure even reference to the historical beginnings of Europe and its inextricable ties to the Catholic Church are shelved, muted and ignored.

Be this as it may be, the grand experiment of maintaining and thriving as a culture without religion at its center is failing rapidly and alarmingly. The writer Mark Steyn recently noted in his book, America Alone, the following:

"We are witnessing the end of the late twentieth-century progressive welfare democracy. Its fiscal bankruptcy is merely a symptom of a more fundamental bankruptcy: its insufficiency as an animating principle for society. The children and grandchildren of those Fascists and Republicans who waged a bitter civil war for the future of Spain now shrug when a bunch of foreigners blow up their capital. Too sedated even to sue for terms, they capitulate instantly. Over on the other side of the equation, the modern multicultural state is too watery a concept to bind huge numbers of immigrants to the land of their nominal citizenship. So they look elsewhere and find the jihad. The Western Muslim's pan-Islamic identity is merely the first great cause in a world where globalized pathologies are taking the place of old-school nationalism."

Is the shell of old Christendom doomed to be filled by the most unlikely successor, its old nemesis, Islam? And without a bang but with a whimper?

Ask yourself: What, besides Islam, is the natural alternative for the West to refind and reclaim as its "animating principle" or "great cause," in Steyn's words. Is it truly too late? Has a tipping point been passed?

As I recall, the Tower of Babel story that leaves the human race in basic shambles in the eleventh chapter of Genesis leads directly into God's making an obscure man in Ur an offer of covenant.

It is as though it all comes down to a single person, this narrative of salvation history, and then begins its long building, broadening and burgeoning. Like two pyramids balanced ever so precariously one atop the other, apex to apex.

The point: it is not too late for the West. The way of salvation history seems always to be pulling the fat out of the fire at improbably and nearly impossible moments of inbreaking grace, kairos, remorse, penitence, metanoia and renewed faithfulness.

It is unfaithfully despairing to think and believe and act otherwise. At the center of western culture, long forgotten and proudly cast off, is the Word made flesh. The Church, also disdained, continues her faithful witness in Word and Sacrament. Scripture and Tradition are served by the Magisterium. And the Massketeers lay our useless swords at the feet of this true Center of culture.


The Time Stamp: In Honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Porthos has had limited computer access over the past several days, but good Athos and noble Aramis have done an admirable job getting the blog up and running, and are ahead of me in terms of the profile. I can't even figure out how to do it.

One useful thing I did do at the beginning was select a time zone. It is probably close to Athos' and Aramis' but most importantly, I saw that it the time stamp for Guadeloupe! Was that not appropriate?

We fight for our Queen!

All 4 1 & 1 4 all!

I may get into the profile thing more on the morrow, if I am able.

The sub-header is still up for grabs and I hope my good comrades-in-arms experiment with it.


The Three Massketeers
For All the Wigged-Out Zeal of the (Fairly) Recently Converted

The Three Massketeers
Because "The Three Stooges" is Not as Amenable to Catholic Punnery

The Three Massketeers
Because We Like a Little Self-Mockery, But "Three Blind Mice" Would Be Too Much Self-Mockery

Open to other suggestions . . .

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Three Massketeers

The Three Massketeers

The fear factor (mana - polynesian) of the sacred will always tend to preclude lucidity. Alas. Nonetheless,

the grand and beautiful, what Sam Gamgee tells his Master Frodo, is "worth fighting for," has been traded for the quick, dirty and convenient. How will we trade the eloquent for the merely expedient:

How can we hear the words of the Lady who speaks in Chesterton's Ballad of the White Horse?

"The men of the East may spell the stars,
And times and triumphs mark,
But the men signed of the cross of Christ
Go gaily in the dark.

"The men of the East may search the scrolls
For sure fates and fame,
But the men that drink the blood of God
Go singing to their shame.

"The wise men know what wicked things
Are written on the sky,
They trim sad lamps, they touch sad strings,
Hearing the heavy purple wings,
Where the forgotten seraph kings
Still plot how God shall die.

"The wise men know all evil things
Under the twisted trees,
Where the perverse in pleasure pine
And men are weary of green wine
And sick of crimson seas.

"But you and all the kind of Christ
Are ignorant and brave,
And you have wars you hardly win
And souls you hardly save.

"I tell you naught for your comfort,
Yea, naught for your desire,
Save that the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher.

"Night shall be thrice night over you,
And heaven an iron cope.
Do you have joy without a cause,
Yea, faith without a hope?"

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Immigration #1 in the South

Immigration is No. 1 voter issue
Nov. 8, 2006 01:35 AM
Immigration No. 1: Arizona Republic readers said immigration was the No. 1 issue driving them to vote in Tuesday's election. The Republic's daily question asked, "What issues are bringing you out to the polls?" Immigration garnered nearly 37 percent of the responses, followed by war with 22 percent. All immigration measures won overwhelmingly.

A few hours prior to this article I was arguing with my mom and dad who live in Arizona and who were adament about the war being the overwhelming reason why the Republicans lost control of both the Senate and House. I said, no. Yes the war is a terrible thing, but in the end, it was not the #1 issue for why the voters voted the way they did (though I believe many exit polls will say that voters said it was due to the war as to why they cast votes against Republicans, but I don't believe it was the primary reason).

I am surprised that the Democrats gained as many seats as they did. Any comments? Any Girardian views on the election outcomes?


What Is Conserberalism?

Conserberalism is a joke that Athos and Aramis didn't see the first time around, and then when they finally saw it, they just thought it was just a weird word. Which just goes to show . . . I'm not sure what, exactly. "Had to be there"? "Timing is everything"? "Location, location, location"?

When we first aired the idea of a blog, I wrote something like, "Hey guys, how about this: 'The Three Massketeers: Squaring the Circle of Our Rad Trad Girardian Catholic Conserberalism.'"

And I thought myself pretty darn clever to come up with the word "conserberalism."

Which only goes to show . . . I'm not sure what, exactly. "You're not as funny as you think you are, Porthos"? "What's the punchline"? "Humility, humility, humility"?

Conserberalism a mutant hybrid of conservatism and liberalism. I thought it expressed our cummulative cultural-political-sectarian take. That is, if you took all three of us, shook us up, put us through a blender, and poured the resulting substance out in any of our vintage "All 4 1" commemorative mugs, the resulting mixture would be (among other things) "conserberalism." Each of us is both "liberal" in a somewhat different way from the other two, and "conservative" in a somewhat different way from the other two.

Hence, "conserberalism."

Get it?

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha . . . ha . . . ha . . . . . . . haaa . . .

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

and your mug Porthos. I thought that these mug shots will do for starters. What do you guys think?

Athos mug

Aramis here.

Hey my first ever post, and with a picture to boot.

I assume you each got little "I Voted" stickers today. Oh yea, Porthos, you would have had to vote sometime ago. How did the American election go with those living outside the country? Right or Left? Republican or Democrats? Aramis

Welcome Amy Welborn Readers!

Just kidding.


(Actually, would we ever want to be linked by Amy? The sudden fame would probably freak us out.)

Monday, November 06, 2006

Hussein Sentence

From a Catholic viewpoint, should Saddam Hussein face a sentence of death by hanging? What about from a Girardian pov? Is there a difference?