Monday, February 28, 2011

Monday News

Two brief announcements: old Athos will be appearing this evening on EWTN's The Journey Home with Marcus Grodi (8:00 ET). Check local listings for availability. It will be archived, however, for streaming at The Journey Home website.

Too, Athos will be facing more surgery in the not too distant future. Pity unnecessary, but prayers greatly appreciated. More information will be forthcoming. Thanks!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Mud Pies & Kites

My friend Gerry, back in Haiti again and asking for help to finish his documentary.

Monday, February 21, 2011

GKC - Why Be Catholic

Dale Ahlquist writing of G. K. Chesterton (of course) says,

(W)hen we have our days of doubt, when we are confused by the incessant attacks and the personal disappointments, it is a good exercise to sit down and make a list of all the things that prove that the Catholic faith is true.
  • The Church is the only consistent defender of morality and virtue. It defends marriage and the family. It defends children and babies and the unborn. It defends the poor. It defends peace and human dignity. It defends order and it also defends freedom. It defends the body and the mind and the soul.
  • The Church is the only institution in history that has continually survived its own defeats. Chesterton even maintains that it has survived its own death. Several times in history the Church seemed to be done and destroyed. But it is still here. It has survived its own death, says Chesterton, "because it had a God who knew his way out of the grave."
  • The history of Christianity is the history of the Catholic Church. The Church has not only carried the faith through history, it has carried the whole culture. The monasteries preserved the texts of the ancient world, keeping open our only windows to the past. When iconoclasts were smashing statues, Catholics preserved the art of sculpture. Catholic artists even brought sculpture inside paintings, giving them depth and dimension. They wrote music that we can still sing. The castles built in the medieval times are now museums or ruins. The Cathedrals built at the same time are still being used for their original purpose.
  • All other Christian sects are a reaction against or a splitting off from the Catholic Church. They are always something less than the Catholic Church, never anything more. They lack something, whether it be a pope or a priest or a pronouncement. Whatever partial truth they cling to is something that they have received from the Catholic Church, whether it be the Bible or baptism or "bringing in the sheaves."
  • History's greatest people, the saints, are Catholic ... Read all.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Into the Clearing

I OFTEN IMAGINE A BOY who, not unlike Prince Caspian of C. S. Lewis's book, had a love for lore, for stories and legends of romance and greatness and great sacrifice for great causes, who chanced upon a clearing and structures ruinous the origins he knew not. It is my favorite kind of story.

Imagine my immense surprise when in my advancing years I found myself the protagonist in that story. It followed years of struggle, of having that kind of Story excised right out of me in the relativist blather of a "liberal arts education" followed by a different kind of relativism - a left-leaning form of Christianity that I call New Age Zen Protestantism.

And yet, here I stood at the age of 47, newly confirmed into full communion with the Holy Catholic Church. The words of Evelyn Waugh - fellow convert - were one with my own heart and mind:

“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.”

To this moment, I have found nothing to contradict either the words of Waugh or the wonder of coming into the clearing of the Catholic World from the dark and cruel forest of derelict, atrophy, parody, and sin. And lo - what I had taken for a structure ruinous was not so at all. Rather, it was deeply old and immensely ancient, yet as new and vibrant as a fresh day of Spring and heart's ease. And at its center a lamb as though slain ... and His Mother, our good Lady, His most faithful and first and best disciple.

With all my days - however many or few there are - the best life, the only life, is to serve our good Lord and His good Lady in fealty and service. There is nothing for it but this. For I did not find my way in the Clearing. I got pulled into this Romance, undeservedly. And for that I am grateful.

Last Lecture or First Homily

Seminarian Philip Johnson from Deacon Watkins on Vimeo.
From Father Z

In the past I have asked for prayers for, Philip Johnson, a seminarian with an inoperable brain tumor.
A reader alerted me to a video of a talk that he gave at Catholic High School called St. Thomas More Academy, in Raleigh, NC.
He covers four major points:
1. His conversion story. Not being a great Catholic in High School. Looked forward to fraternities and parties in college. Ultimately went to the Naval Academy. It was there that he went to Mass again and began feeling called to the priesthood. He explains this call and talks about time he spent in France, especially at Lourdes.
2. His vocation story which is ultimately intertwined with his cancer diagnosis and being released from the Navy.
3. Being diagnosed with a terminal and inoperable brain tumor and reacting to this news.
4. Embracing this cross and talking about the value of redemptive suffering.
See post by In Caritate Non Ficta.

MSM Follies, Crowds and Power

Simply astonishing. That is how anyone with even an amateur's knowledge of Girard's mimetic theory would describe the preposterous naivete of the progressivist news organizations covering the Egyptian revolution.

It is indeed fortunate that Ms. Logan, the CBS correspondent, who was assaulted survived with her life. Does anyone even cursorily understand crowds and power?

And, lest anyone think this is a case unique to the Scimitar street-mob mentality, do not forget this close to home.

Pearce - The Pub

Joseph Pearce waxes poetic on the origins, joys, and necessity of the English pub here.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Athos' Excellent Adventure

Happily, gentle reader, old Athos wound his way to the television studio of Marcus Grodi's The Journey Home last Monday. The interview for the television show went well, I think. I had the added pleasure of discussing the seventh chapter of St. Paul's Letter to the Romans (12-25) with Mr. Grodi for his radio program, Deep in Scripture. I did, of course, work in the vital topics of Marian chivalry and a means of avoiding distraction from the reality of our mortal life.

The television interview will air on Monday, February 28.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Wolves Circling in Winter

Ah, yes. It is certainly about time for some muckraking by the NYT. It asks in its hand-wringingest-best smarmy self-righteous mode, Sex-abuse scandals involving priests have shaken Ireland to its core. The reaction has been fierce, but is that enough to break the grip of the Catholic Church?

Any guesses how the NYT would like to answer that question?

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Song of the Strange Ascetic - GKC

I'm heading off to Ohio to be interviewed by Marcus Grodi for his EWTN show. God bless, gentle reader, and keep me in your prayers. I'll leave you with my personal favorite poesy by dear ol' Gilbert Keith:

If I had been a Heathen,

I'd have praised the purple vine,

My slaves should dig the vineyards,

And I would drink the wine.

But Higgins is a Heathen,

And his slaves grow lean and grey,

That he may drink some tepid milk

Exactly twice a day.

If I had been a Heathen,

I'd have crowned Neaera's curls,

And filled my life with love affairs,

My house with dancing girls;

But Higgins is a Heathen,

And to lecture rooms is forced,

Where his aunts, who are not married,

Demand to be divorced.

If I had been a Heathen,

I'd have sent my armies forth,

And dragged behind my chariots

The Chieftains of the North.

But Higgins is a Heathen,

And he drives the dreary quill,

To lend the poor that funny cash

That makes them poorer still.

If I had been a Heathen,

I'd have piled my pyre on high,

And in a great red whirlwind

Gone roaring to the sky;

But Higgins is a Heathen,

And a richer man than I:

And they put him in an oven,

Just as if he were a pie.

Now who that runs can read it,

The riddle that I write,

Of why this poor old sinner,

Should sin without delight-

But I, I cannot read it

(Although I run and run),

Of them that do not have the faith,

And will not have the fun.

- Gilbert Keith Chesterton

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Understanding Egypt (deuxième partie) ...Battling to the End

... and as soon as you are done reading Rene Girard's "Things Hidden" go immediately to ...

Battling to the End

[Stressing the importance of Girard's work and his total reliance on the Christian revelation, Battling to the End is a must read.]

The Escalation to Extremes

"Christ took away humanity's sacrificial crutches and left us before a terrible choice: either believe in violence, or not; Christianity is non-belief."

"However, we actually have to go back several thousand years.  This is the effort we have to make to discover what violence is all about.  This is why there is an anthropological interpretation of original sin: original sin is vengeance, never-ending vengeance.  It begins with the murder of the rival.  Religion is what enables us to live with original sin, which is why a society without religion will destroy itself.  Vengeance does not exist among animals; they never place themselves in such danger.  Only the conjunction of intelligence and violence makes it possible to speak of original sin and it justifies the idea of a real difference between animals and humans.  This constitutes the greatness of all religions, with the exception of Christianity, which abolishes the provisional function of sacrifice.  Sooner or later, either humanity will renounce violence without sacrifice or it will destroy the planet.  Humanity will be either in a state of grace or in mortal sin.  Thus, we can say that religion may have invented sacrifice, but Christianity takes it away."

" one ever begins anything, except by grace.  To sin means to think that one can begin something oneself.  We never start anything; we always respond.  The other has always decided for me and forces me to answer.  The group always decides for the individual.  This is the law of religion.  What is "modern" exists only in the obstinate rejection of this obvious social truth, in clinging to its individualism."

"We also have to point out the other face of human relations: violent mimesis.  We have to show that it is at the root of all institutions, which are based on the scapegoat mechanism...  Mimesis is thus both the cause of the crisis and the means of resolving it.  The victim is always made divine after the sacrifice.  The myth is thus the lie that hides the founding lynching, which speaks to us about the gods, but never about the victims that the gods used to be.  Rituals then repeat the initial sacrifice and repetition of rituals gives birth to institutions, which are the only means that humanity has found to postpone the apocalypse.  This is why peaceful mimesis is possible only in the framework of an established institution that was founded long before.  It is based on learning and maintaining cultural codes." p 21-22

Holderlin's Sorrow

"The Psalms reveal that violent people are not the ones who talk about violence, but that it is the peaceful people who make it speak.  The Judeo-Christian revelation exposes what myths always tend to silence.  Those who speak of "peace and security" are now their heirs: despite everything, they continue believing in myths and do not want to see their own violence."

"The positivity of history should not be eliminated, but shifted.  The rationality that mimetic theory seeks to promote is based entirely on the shift.  Saying that chaos is near is not incompatible with hope, quite the contrary.  However, hope has to be seen in relation to an alternative that leaves only the choice between total destruction and realization of the Kingdom." p 118-119

Understanding Egypt

I have heard some remarkable blather about the protests in Egypt and Tunis from a priest who should know better than to equate what is going on there with the work of our Lord in the days of His flesh.

This article is an important one. So is this. And for further reference, there is Canetti's Crowds and Power. But ultimately pull down your Things Hidden From the Foundation of the World if you would really understand the protests.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011


The star marks where we are.