Monday, April 12, 2021

Did Charles Coulombe Go Too Far?

I gather, from the latest episode of Off the Menu, that Charles Coulombe is once again being attacked as an occultist.  I’m not clear what prompted the hue and cry this time—unfortunately, Off the Menu tends to assume, erroneously, that everyone is plugged into the Twitterverse—but it is not the first time that Coulombe has been so accused.  Part of the basis for the accusation is that Coulombe knows how to read tarot cards and has publicly done so on a number of occasions.  He addressed this in this latest podcast, as he has on previous episodes.  Another part that was not addressed is Coulombe’s alleged association with certain esoteric/occult groups.

Full disclosure: I am a big fan of Charles Coulombe and Off the Menu.  I like to listen to Off the Menu during my long commutes to work and to Sunday Mass.  I enjoy it because the content is solidly Catholic; Coulombe’s knowledge of history is encyclopedic; he is blunt and plain-spoken; and, above all, while he doesn’t candy-coat the crisis in  Church and state, his overall attitude is one of joy and hope.  Instead of raging about the things that are wrong, to the exclusion of all else, he focuses a lot on the things he loves; and he finds much to love about the Church, the United States, the places he has traveled and the people who make them all work.  He is a monarchist, which causes many to dismiss him as a crank, despite the fact that his arguments in favor of monarchy are well-reasoned and backed by historical events, including recent U.S. history, and despite the fact that he readily acknowledges the extreme improbability of his hopes for a monarchy coming true in these United States.   It is true that Coulombe grew up in Hollywood and comes from a show-business background — both his parents were actors, and he himself was once a stand-up comedian — so there is a chance I could be completely wrong in thinking him a devout Catholic.  On the other hand, the possibility that a person is not in the least who I think he is is a chance I have to take in dealing with anybody.  I have listened to many hours of Coulombe’s talks, both on Off the Menu and elsewhere, and I have read several of his books, and have found no evidence that he is out to undermine the Church or even covertly promote the occult.  Even a really good actor has his limits and must at some point let the mask slip.

Coulombe has reiterated what he has said before about being an occultist and using tarot cards: he denies the former, and says that the latter has been for purposes of evangelizing those who are interested in such things.  In light of the many talks of his that I have heard, and the many words he has written that I have read, I see no reason not to take Coulombe at his word on this.  So the question becomes one of whether his prudential judgment on these points has been sound,and whether his attackers are really in a position  to condemn him.

Frankly, the question of how far is too far in the pursuit of fulfilling our Lord’s Great Commission that is binding on all Catholics is one that I have long wrestled with myself.  Specifically, how far do I go, not merely in risking my physical well-being, but also my spiritual well-being?  What if, going too far, I sin?  Is it possible to worry too much about keeping my skirts clean and pressed and starched?  At what point does prudence become cowardice?  On the one hand, if you hang out with certain types of people, you could be dragged down; on the other hand, to bring them into the Church, it is necessary to go to where you will find them, and to associate with them.  If these are the people that, by dint of my background and circumstances, I may be well-suited to evangelize, would I be right to decline the risk?  In a real way, spreading the Gospel is a battle to the death, especially if the people in question are also determined to bring me around to their way of thinking.  When the rubber meets the road, it’s them or me, and I have to walk onto the field of battle open-eyed, knowing that.

I also have to come prepared.  I have to do this first by frequenting the Sacraments as often as possible, and having a solid prayer life.  Second, I have to know what motivates the people in question, what they are looking for, what their expectations are, and how to respond to their questions and objections.   If I’m really serious, that is going to involve making a study of the things that interest them.  Therein lies a big danger.  Coulombe says that he has studied tarot cards in order to be able to use them to reach a certain class of people and interest them in the Catholic faith.  Was that a wise idea?  I don’t know.  Certainly the Dominicans under St. Raymond of Penaforte took their chances studying the Talmud in order to convert the Jews; Bl. Raymond Llull took his chances studying Islamic philosophy in order to convert the Muslims; Bl. Bishop Clemens von Galen took his chances studying Nazi literature in order to combat their ideology.  I myself would not mess with tarot cards; but then, my background and upbringing are such as lead me to a different prudential judgment than Coulombe came to.  I grew up in the Los Angeles area, like Coulombe did, but I was not well-acquainted with the show business set or how they function.  I do not have the same type of personality that Coulombe has.  Above all, I do not have the same kind of background as a Catholic as he has.  Coulombe grew up in a solidly Catholic home, with solidly Catholic extended family, and a solidly Catholic ancestry stretching back generations and rooted in what was once a solidly Catholic society.  This, coupled with the frequent use of the Sacraments, probably gives Coulombe a lot of security of a sort that is frankly foreign to me, and probably to a lot of other traditional Catholics in an age when we have hirelings in place of shepherds.  

If we are honest with ourselves, one of the ways in which this lack of security manifests itself is in our hair-trigger readiness to condemn other Catholics.  Forgetting the scriptural admonition to put not our trust in princes, in the children of men in whom there is no salvation, we have been disappointed again and again by priests and bishops and Catholic authors and commentators who turn out to be no better than they should be, to the point where now we expect to be disappointed.  In fact, it is almost as if we are disappointed any time we are not disappointed.  When some Catholic public figure does something we don’t like, we pounce on him, shouting “AHA!  I always KNEW this guy was a crook!”  We are almost gleeful at revelations that one of our co-religionists is less than perfect.  Then, whenever anyone defends that person, or even merely refrains from joining the chorus against him, we pounce on that person too for “siding with the enemy.”  Is this really how Catholics ought to behave?  If Coulombe is really a public violator of the First Commandment, wouldn’t the proper Catholic response be to mourn over his fall and try to win back our brother, rather than gloat over how much better we are than he?

Has Charles Coulombe gone too far in reaching out to the tarot-card-esoterica-gnostic-occult set?  I don’t know: given his stated intentions, which I see no reason to either disregard or disbelieve, the prudence of his methods is between him and God.  But surely Coulombe deserves credit for caring enough about the tarot-card-esoterica-gnostic-occult set to think they deserve to hear the Gospel, and to try to bring it to them in such a manner as to make them more open to receiving it.  He has judged himself up to the task, given his personality, his circumstances and his background, and he has not shrunk from trying to accomplish it.  That I personally would not do what he has done does not mean that he is wrong; it only means that I am probably meant to try to bring the Gospel to a different set of people with different needs that I am better equipped to meet.  I hope I will not shrink from trying to accomplish it.

What Do the Modernists and the Trad Catastrophizers Have in Common?

 Both factions act as if God is not in charge or even factors into the equation.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Milo Yiannopoulos

Gay conservative bad boy Milo Yiannopoulos has announced that he has returned to the Catholic faith and abandoned the gay lifestyle, crediting the intercession of St. Joseph for what he calls his “U-turn.”  John Henry Weston’s interview of Yiannopoulos can be found on LifeSite News.

I have to admit to not knowing a lot about Milo Yiannopoulos.  I have long been aware of him, his homosexuality and his conservative politics, but I have never been a fangirl.  I have not read many of his writings nor listened to any of his talks except the LifeSite interview.  As Yiannopoulos is a fellow creature, made to God's image and likeness and whom Christ died to save, I do hope he is sincere in his conversion.  If so, he still has a long way to go.  This is clear from the LifeSite video, in which he portrays himself as a crusader, a knight in shining armor on a mission to rescue other young men trapped in the homosexual lifestyle and to take down those responsible for promoting that lifestyle.  Although his professed desire to help others and conquer evil is laudable, even the post-conversion Milo pretty evidently still has a monumental ego, and still attaches a vast deal of importance to his own powers and his own self.  These are typical wounds that a life of vice leaves behind.  There is also the fact that Yiannopoulos is still living with his male sex partner, a situation he compares with an invalidly married couple living as brother and sister for the sake of the children.  To be fair, he admits the comparison is awkward; but regardless, even if there is no longer anything sexual going on, the public persistence in these living arrangements is still an open scandal.

Of course, when our Lord delivers a man from a life of crime, He is perfectly capable of healing all the secondary effects of that life.  But very often, He does not.  Certainly, He does not do this in the ordinary course with Baptism, which cleanses us of original sin but still leaves us with the wounds left by original sin so that, with the help of His grace, we can battle through them and gain merit.  Life is tough enough with just the effects of original sin to deal with, but years and years of entrenched mortal sin on top of this seriously distort the intellect and leave major scars on the soul.  Just as there must be a period of physical recovery for a body that emerges from a life-threatening illness, so there must also be a period of spiritual recovery for a soul that emerges from a long state of habitual sin.  Even after a person has repudiated a long-standing vice, he still has a lot to learn, and, above all, to un-learn.  To a man who steps from a prolonged period of absolute darkness into the light of one candle, that one candle seems as bright as the sun.  Yet, however much of an improvement one candle is over total darkness, it is still not, and can never be, the sun.  You cannot see as far or as clearly by the light of one candle as you would by the light of the sun.

Milo is still in recovery and, whether he wants to acknowledge it or not, really should be treated as such.  We have to also step back and consider the quality of our own judgment in this matter.  We ourselves suffer terrible wounds, not only from our personal sins but also as the result of being governed by little men in both Church and State who care only about fattening their own purses and don't give a damn about our welfare.  So badly are things going, with one anvil after another being dropped on us by our rulers from on high, that we prize highly the paltry crumbs of comfort that in better times we would have ignored.  So bereft are we of real shepherds and true fathers, that we are apt to make heroes out of persons who, in better times, deserve to be nobodies, simply because they happen on some occasion to refrain from hurting us in some way.  As Proverbs 27:7 puts it: "A soul that is full shall tread upon the honeycomb: and a soul that is hungry shall take even bitter for sweet."

So at this stage, we still need to pray and do penance for Milo, as for all others similarly situated, and to refrain from making a hero out of him before he is ready to be a hero.  We would be doing both ourselves and him a great disservice by fawning over him, showering him with plaudits, hanging on his every word, and otherwise feeding his ego.  Before he can become a crusader and do good to others, Milo has to attend to his own wounds.  Otherwise, his crusade becomes just another distraction for him to avoid his real business of growing in holiness.  

And he and we both need to remember that our real Savior is not Milo Yiannopoulos, nor any other mere mortal, but Jesus Christ.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Those That Are Going In, You Suffer Not to Enter

I have been thinking about the following verse from Scripture a lot over the last year, and it comes to my mind with every new anvil our shepherds in the hierarchy drop on us.  Matthew 23:13:

“But woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; because you shut the kingdom of heaven against men, for you yourselves do not enter in; and those that are going in, you suffer not to enter.”

Everything from the campaign to abolish the traditional Mass after Vatican II to locking our churches in our faces and cutting us off from the Sacraments during the coronapanic seems to come under the heading of this verse.

Why do so many of our shepherds shut the kingdom of heaven against men?  Because so many of them, not believing, do not enter in themselves.  They will not suffer us to enter in because they do not love us.  

Believers do not force belief on unbelievers; or at least, if they do, it is an excess not in conformity with the Catholic faith.  On the other hand, unbelievers cannot abide belief and do all they can to stamp it out.  If they are out of power, then their efforts are aimed at subverting and undermining believers; once they are in power, then their efforts are aimed at compelling unbelief by main force.  In our time, both Church and State are dominated by the godless, whose goal is to force everyone to be like themselves.  They use their power and authority to smash and destroy, and rob their subjects of everything that is good, true, beautiful, worthwhile and that makes life worth living.  Some of them are deluded enough to think they are rescuing us from backward superstition, and believe our reluctance to be so rescued makes their mission all the more urgent.

Obviously, our Lord foresaw all this, which is why He said what He said.  And He predicted woe upon these unbelievers, if they fail to straighten up.

Which brings us to another thing that keeps coming to my mind: Psalm 36:35-36.

I have seen the wicked highly exalted, and lifted up like the cedars of Libanus.  And I passed by, and lo, he was not: and I sought him and his place was not found.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

The Debt We Owe to Cartoons


In an age when children of single-digit age can easily access porn and are groomed in school for early sex via "sex education" programs, we are suddenly worried about the "rape culture" "promoted" by Pepe le Pew, a cartoon character that generations of kids have watched without growing up to become rapists.

It makes sense that the New Puritans, out to scrub our culture of anything that is human and worthwhile and that keeps us in touch with our patrimony, should target cartoons.  It is in no small part owing to cartoons -- especially Looney Tunes cartoons -- that generations of kids have been kept in contact with touchstones of Western civilization: history, literature, classic cinema, classical music and even opera.

Back in the '70s and '80s, the days of my far-off youth, Looney Tunes cartoons from the '30s through the '60s were a staple.  Television stations broadcast them uncut and unexpurgated.  Even the cartoons where characters shot themselves in the head, took poison, or -- gasp! -- smoked and drank; even the old World War II propaganda cartoons; even the cartoons with racial caricatures and stereotypes; even Pepe le Pew and his romantic misadventures: all of these I watched regularly.  It never occurred to me, from watching these cartoons, that I should play with guns and explosives.  It never occurred to me that persons of other ethnicities were inferior to myself.  Somehow, to this day, I have never smoked; I seldom drink; and the "N" word has never become a part of my working vocabulary.  In my eyes, so little resemblance did the caricatures of black people in cartoons bear to real black people, that it was years before I finally realized that they were supposed to depict black people.  The last thing on earth I got out of Pepe le Pew was that rape is okay.  What I got out of Pepe le Pew's encounters with the ladies was that he was totally clueless and his methods were highly ineffective.

The real takeaway that I got from cartoons was my cultural heritage.  Cartoons, even more than school, gave me my first tastes of great books, great films, great music, and history.  In some cartoons, the characters from books on a shelf came alive at night and did zany things together.  There were books I read primarily because I had seen the titles on these cartoons.  Cartoons introduced me to classic movie stars like Bogey and Bacall, James Cagney, Bette Davis, Peter Lorre, Sidney Greenstreet and Erroll Flynn.  There were bits of classical music that became familiar to me because I heard them in cartoons.  Who doesn't remember the Elmer Fudd and Bugs Bunny takeoff on Wagner?  A lot of themes and characters in cartoons didn't make sense unless you knew some history.  Cartoons had a lot to do with sparking my interest in World War II.  

In short, the cartoons from the salad days of Looney Tunes represented the interaction of Christendom and the playful part of the popular imagination.  They were the great things of Western civilization applied to daily life.  Not everything about them was good or perfect, by any stretch, and there is no question that they contained themes that were -- and should be -- over the heads of us average kids.  But they were not sterile or banal.  They dealt with difficult subjects, mostly in a lighthearted way, without being preachy.  They came from a world where there was room for fun and laughter and parody and satire, instead of the bestial seriousness sought to be cultivated by today's cultural commissars.  

These days, nobody is allowed to laugh at anything, especially our Elders and Betters who profess to be Servants of the People but who actually rule over us with an iron rod.  The campaign to re-shape our ethical system into one where pornography and the slaughter of the unborn are moral, but beloved cartoon characters are not, went too far the day it started.  If we hope to reverse the tide, or at least preserve anything worthwhile for our posterity, now is the time to push back.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

An Open Letter

Dear Idaho Lawmakers, Senators and Representatives:

You currently have in the House of Representatives a piece of proposed legislation, H195, that, if passed, will outlaw what it calls “targeted picketing” — protests staged in front of the home of a government official.  The text of the bill reads as follows:


Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Idaho:

SECTION 1. That Chapter 64, Title 18, Idaho Code, be, and the same is hereby amended by the addition thereto of a NEW SECTION, to be known and des- ignated as Section 18-6411, Idaho Code, and to read as follows:

18-6411. TARGETED PICKETING. (1) Any person who intentionally engages in picketing or otherwise demonstrates on the street or sidewalk in front of a person's residence or dwelling place, or the adjacent residence or dwelling place, with the intent to harass, annoy, or alarm another person commits targeted picketing. The provisions of this subsection shall not apply to a residence or dwelling place used as the principal place of business of an individual.

(2) Any person who engages in targeted picketing shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

SECTION 2. An emergency existing therefor, which emergency is hereby declared to exist, this act shall be in full force and effect on and after its passage and approval.

One of the lawmakers who sponsors this bill declares that there has been an uptick in protests that cross lines and engage in intimidation tactics.  She asserts that this bill is meant not only to protect civil servants from intimidation tactics to but to protect regular citizens.  “Your voice,” she said in an email to me, “should not be drowned out by the loud but hollow voice of intimidators.”

To begin with, this is a statute that could impermissibly impinge on constitutionally protected activities, namely, speech and the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances.  There are already laws on the books to deal with behavior that goes too far.  Disturbing the peace (section 18-6409, Idaho Code) and disorderly conduct (various municipal ordinances) are misdemeanors that carry maximum penalties of up to 180 days of jail and $1000 in fines.  Rioting (section 18-6402, Idaho Code) may, depending on the circumstances, be either a misdemeanor carrying up to a year of jail and a $5000 fine, or a felony carrying 5-20 years and a $25,000 fine.  There is no need for yet another crime on the books.

Secondly, I do not accept that this bill protects my constitutional right to petition my government for the redress of grievances.  Public servants know the difference between writing, emailing, carrying signs and testifying before committees on the one hand, and lighting fires on the other.  Public servants also know that they are not entitled to disregard my peaceful petitions just because others happen to be rioting.  It appears that lawmakers and other officials who support it are just trying to further insulate themselves from the pesky plebes.  Indeed, they try to assume privileges for their homes that even monarchs have not had.  Where would citizens in a monarchy go to air their grievances with their politicians?  To the king’s residence: the palace.

For the record, I have never protested at anyone’s home, nor do I plan to.  I don’t like breaches of the peace or anything that threatens the peace.  But I can understand people resorting to this tactic, even while I disagree with it.  I think it ought to give pause to remember that regular working stiffs (as distinguished from professional leftist storm troopers) really do not want to set aside their lives and their business to engage in protests; so, if they feel provoked into doing so, there must be something seriously wrong.  A bill like this does nothing to address the root causes of why these protests happen.

I would submit that, instead of trying to shut down protesters, our elected officials should devote their energies to considering why it is that citizens are protesting outside their homes.  The answer is that the citizenry perceive that their elected officials are not listening to them.  Year after year policies are imposed on us that we don’t want and that go against what we know to be right.  If there is one thing that the events of the last year in particular have made clear, it is that our elected officials view us, not as citizens whom it is their duty to serve, but as economic cows to be milked; yet they have not got the sense to give us even the minimum of cultivation that cows require.  Our officials are responsive, not to the voices of their constituents, but to the dollars of private, powerful, moneyed interests, to the inflow of federal “emergency” money and to the strident voices of leftist activists who often do not even live here.  All over the country over the last year, we have seen mayors and governors failing in their God-given duties of governance.  They have treated their own people like the enemy, depriving them of their livelihoods, excoriating them for trying to go about their legitimate business without jumping through hoops, and all while coddling leftist storm troopers who were bussed into their communities to burn, loot and destroy monuments.  They have walked all over their people, because they can.  In our own city of Boise, we have had the spectacle of Mayor McLean identifying with these same storm troopers while deploring her own citizens who want nothing more than to be left in peace to go on with their lives.  This sort of bad governance provokes decent people to take their grievances to their officials’ doorsteps, since they are not being listened to in any other forum.

The real solution to protesters outside the homes of government officials is for those government officials to stop provoking their citizenry by their arrogant disregard of their legitimate needs and interests, to stop abusing their powers, and to start engaging in good governance.  Right now, we are being treated as though the obligations only flow in one direction, from us to our masters.  They don’t.  Our masters also have obligations to us, and they will be held responsible before God for their failure to fulfill these just as much as we will be held responsible for our failure to fulfill ours.

For these reasons, this bill should be rejected.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Random Observations Near the Close of February


- February 25th is my mother's birthday.  She would have been 72 this year.  Her mother's birthday was February 12th.  She would have been 104.  Please say a prayer for the repose of their souls.

- “Put not your trust in princes,” says the Psalmist, “in the children of men, in whom there is no salvation.” This is an admonition we need to keep in mind during this time when all our props and stays, from Donald Trump to Rush Limbaugh to Cardinal Sarah, are, one by one, taken away from us, and fewer and fewer humans mediate between us and the tyrants who own us.

- I listened to Rush from the early ‘90s on and can say definitely that the portrait painted of him by what he called the drive-by media was pure caricature, had nothing to do with reality, and could only be taken seriously by persons who never listened to his program and didn’t care to find out the truth.  His enemies dismissed his success on the basis of his being an entertainer, the same way they dismissed the popularity of Ronald Reagan.  He was an entertainer, and a very good one; but he was also an acutely intelligent businessman and an astute analyst of current events and the people behind them.  Most of all, he gave voice to what millions of Americans were already thinking.  His show was the opposite of racism, bigotry and rage porn.  And those who rejoice in the death of this man who never did them any harm, hoping that he is now burning in hell, need to sit down and seriously ponder what their eternal destiny would be if they themselves were to die right now.

- Many Catholics, seeing the wanton destruction wrought by our bishops from the Pope on down, and seeing that the Orthodox have maintained the apostolic succession and seem not to be having a liturgical silly season, like we in the Roman Rite are, are tempted to jump over to the Orthodox camp (or camps: there is no one “Orthodoxy”).  However, for as long as the Orthodox remain outside of communion with Rome, it would be a mistake to think they have it all together.  As Charles Coulombe puts it, the West will tolerate any amount of heresy but no schism, while the East will tolerate any amount of schism but no heresy.  If you leave the Catholic Church for an Orthodox church, you will only be exchanging the heretical excesses of the West for the mind-bogglingly complicated schismatical excesses of the East.  Besides, if you are tired of the inanities of the West, and want to give the East a shot, there is no need to leave the Church to do it.  The Orthodox churches that are outside the Catholic Church have their counterparts that are within the Catholic Church.  Instead of leaving the Catholic Church, outside of which there is no salvation, stay within her and pray for the healing of this breach between East and West which has done so much to weaken Christianity down the centuries, but which we are so used to that we are insensible to just how tragic and grievous it really is.

- 2020 was a year of revelations; 2021 is shaping up to be a year of more revelations.  We are finding out, among other things, that popular sovereignty is a sham, and that our Elders and Betters recognize no limits at all to their powers.  Not even a tyrant like Henry VIII ever dreamed of getting away with the things our current rulers are doing to us right now; and yet, we pride ourselves on having overthrown George III, a king who didn’t come close to the excesses of Henry VIII.  And now we have fallen into the hands of a governing class that doesn’t come close to  approaching even the intellectual caliber of those who overthrew King George.  Our owners today are evil enough to view us as nothing more than economic cows to be milked for their own gain, but too stupid to give us even the minimum amount of cultivation that cows require.

- Another thing that is being shoved in our faces in this eye-opening era is the perniciousness of the Calvinism that lies at the heart of America’s founding.  Under Calvinism, persons are not considered to have value in themselves; rather, they are valuable only insofar as they can be “productive.”  How have we been treating the “unproductive” in the face of the coronapanic?  Is it possible that this whole utilitarian attitude toward our fellow man has made it that much easier to treat him as if he were a biohazard?

- On March 8th, after almost exactly one year of working mostly from home (to “flatten the curve” for “two weeks”), we are being called back to the office on a full-time basis.  About this I have mixed feelings.  On the one hand, the work I do does not lend itself easily or ideally to not being in the same room as my clients (although virtual court will continue).  Also, it will be good to be with my friends and colleagues again.  I have long realized that, despite my introverted nature, it is not good for me to be alone all day, every day.  On the other hand, I have enjoyed the three-second commute to my home office; being surrounded by my creature comforts; not having to wear a damn face covering; not having to get up before the sun to make it to work on time; being able to crank up the heat as much as I want; and saving wear and tear and gas money on my car.  It really is time to go back to the office; still, while the spirit is willing, the flesh is weak.

- I hasten to add my acknowledgement that the foregoing qualifies as First World Concerns.  I am very thankful to have a means of supporting myself.  I realize that many have been deprived of theirs.

- Some people like society’s current state of affairs and approve of the coronapanic measures.  Some people think the coronapanic measures don’t go far enough.  Some people deplore the current state of affairs.  Many of the most vocal people in all these camps talk as if God does not somehow factor into the equation.

- Last month I read, for the first time, C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy (Out of the Silent Planet; Perelandra; That Hideous Strength).  The Space Trilogy should be required reading in our time.  Lewis’ theology was flawed, but here he launched into a fruitful exploration of Christian themes, like the implications of cooperating with grace, and not cooperating with grace; fallen sentient nature versus unfallen sentient nature; trust in God; self-sacrifice; the nature of God and those who are with Him in heaven; divine providence; and — a theme most fully developed in That Hideous Strength — the logical outcome of living as though there is no God.  One very striking point in That Hideous Strength that we should pay attention to in these times is the ultimate outcome of an inordinate desire to be free of pathogens.  In my opinion, one of the great lessons of these books is how, left to our own devices as fallen men, we cannot help making things very much harder than they need to be.

- In my experience, nothing kills Lenten resolutions quite as effectively as talking about them; therefore, I am not going to tell you what I am doing for Lent.  But I will make a couple of suggestions.  First, have recourse to the Sacraments as often as possible.  If your bishop still won’t let you have the Sacraments, or makes you jump through all sorts of humiliating hoops to get them, and you have have the SSPX in your area, put away any scruples you have and go to them.  Second, pray the Rosary every single day.  In our time, great graces and promises are attached to the Rosary, because we really need them.  If you already say the Rosary every day, say an extra one to pull the weight for those who never say it.  

- I’ll close out with an item of good news.  The tabernacle and baldacchino at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist have, since the Era of Wreckovation, sat in a corner in the Gospel side transept.  Bishop Peter Christensen of the Diocese of Boise has decided to undo some of the wreckovation and move the tabernacle and baldacchino back to the high altar, front and center where they belong.  (I am under the impression he is also replacing the ugly ‘70s tabernacle.)  This is not all the damage that needs to be undone at the Cathedral, but it is a huge and very important first step.  May it be an earnest of other things that will soon be given back to Our Lord and His people.

- And one other note about this last item.  A year ago, Bishop Christensen earned a great deal of opprobrium, within and without the diocese, for issuing a letter to the priests cracking down on traditional practices of devotion like kneeling for Holy Communion and celebrating the new Mass ad orientem.  Now, the same bishop who, at that time, ordered priests to stop setting up kneelers for parishioners who want to receive Communion on their knees, is restoring the Blessed Sacrament to Its traditional and rightful place at the heart of the Cathedral.  This should prove to us the critical importance of praying for our shepherds.  They may not listen to us, but God still does.

Wednesday, January 06, 2021



Is it a coincidence that disastrous events in our nation have fallen on this day?

Today the Church celebrates the Epiphany.  According to Dom Gueranger in The Liturgical Year, January 6th was a date for celebrating the Nativity of the Lord until the year 376, when the Holy See decreed that the Nativity was to be restored to December 25th.  Since January 6th was a pagan Roman celebration of a triple triumph of the Emperor Augustus, the Church replaced this celebration with the triple triumph of the immortal King whose divinity was manifested today: the adoration of the Magi, representing the Vocation of the Gentiles; the Baptism of the Lord, when the Voice from Heaven acknowledged Him as the beloved Son of God; and the miracle of the water and wine at the wedding of Cana.

The point about today is that it is about the divine Kingship of Jesus Christ.  This Kingship we as a nation have explicitly rejected.  Even the overwhelming majority of Catholic bishops seem to have rejected it.  Today’s events are the result of this rejection.  We wanted to have things all our own way, and God is honoring our desire.

But maybe we have been allowed to reach our tipping point today, of all days, so that we could be reminded of our duty, and of what could be if we would turn to God instead of rebelling against Him.

None of us has any control over what the Great and the Powerful do — it becomes increasingly clear that We the People never did.  But we do have control over what we ourselves do.

We ourselves can repent and convert.  And pray the Rosary every single day.  It has not been laden with extraordinary graces for nothing.

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Events Aplenty: 2020

There is a word we use in legal briefing to denote a case or statute or other document that is cited so often throughout the brief that it would be too cumbersome to list in the table of authorities all the pages on which it appears: passim.  This word aptly describes the many disastrous events that repeated themselves so often throughout this tumultuous year that it would take up an inordinate amount of space to list every occurrence below.  For example:

Draconian responses to the coronavirus...........passim
Assaults on President Trump............................passim
Assaults on representative government............passim
Violent assaults on individual persons.............passim
Media whipping up panic.................................passim
Economic consequences of the coronavirus....passim
Authorities showing themselves tyrants..........passim
Church leaders colluding with tyrants.............passim
Constitutional rights trampled.........................passim
Crass stupidity prevailing................................passim

As always, I have used Wikipedia to refresh my recollection, and focused on those items which were of particular note to me.  So, if this Year in Review smacks of parochialism...oh well.


2: U.S. forces kill a high-ranking Iranian general in an air strike, in retaliation for attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.
7: CNN settles with Nicholas Sandmann, one of the Covington Catholic school kids dragged through the mud over being confronted by Nathan Phillips in front of the Lincoln Memorial in January of 2019, who sued it and other news organizations for defamation.
8: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, “step back” as senior members of the Royal Family.
16: Beginning of the bogus impeachment trial of President Trump.
22: The Oakland Raiders officially relocate to Las Vegas.
26: A helicopter crash kills Kobe Bryant, his teenaged daughter Gianna, and seven other people.
27: 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
31: Three and a half years after the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, Brexit is finally accomplished.

Deaths: Mary Higgins Clark; Fred Silverman; Marj Dusay; Kobe Bryant; Jim Lehrer; John Karlen; Terry Jones (Monty Python); Christopher Tolkien; Sir Roger Scruton; Stan Kirsch (Highlander).


2: An Islamic terrorist attacked two people on Streatham High Road in London with a machete before being shot dead by police.
3: Rush Limbaugh announces that he has stage 4 lung cancer.
4: President Trump awards Rush Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the State of the Union address.  A butt-hurt Nancy Pelosi tears up her copy of the address.
5: President Trump is acquitted of the two bogus articles of impeachment against him.
12: Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation on the Amazon Synod fails to deliver the goods to modernist clerics pushing for married priests and women deacons.
18: President Trump pardons former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich.
20: Beginning of a major stock market crash, from which the coronavirus panic served to divert attention.
24: Sexual predator and all-around creep Harvey Weinstein is convicted of rape in New York.
26: The city of San Francisco declares a public emergency over coronavirus, before ever there has been a reported case there.  Also: murder spree, Milwaukee, Wisconsin: a fired employee opens fire at the Molson Coors brewery in Milwaukee, killing 5 before turning the gun on himself.
29: The first coronavirus death in the United States.

Deaths: Bill Britten (Bozo the Clown); Kirk Douglas; Orson Bean; Robert Conrad; Joseph Shabalala (Ladysmith Black Mambazo); Kellye Nakahara; Ja'Net DuBois; Hosni Mubarak.


1: During the month of March, jurisdictions all over the country begin shutdowns and stay-at-home orders and endless states of emergency.
2: An outbreak of 13 tornadoes in Tennessee kills 25 people.  Also: MSNBC host Chris Matthews is abruptly removed for complimenting women on their appearance and comparing Crazy Bernie Sanders' campaign to the Nazi invasion of France.
5: After a fourteen-year restoration, Egypt re-opens the stepped Pyramid of Djoser.
8: The Italian Bishops' Conference suspends all public Masses due to the coronavirus. Before long, all the world’s bishops will follow suit.
13: President Trump declares a state of emergency over the coronavirus.  Also: Shooting death of Breonna Taylor during police execution of a warrant.
18: A magnitude 5.7 earthquake hits Salt Lake City, Utah.
23: Colorado abolishes capital punishment.
27: Pope Francis gives a special Urbi et Orbi blessing in an empty St. Peter’s Square.  Also: discovery of Comet NEOWISE, which was visible to the naked eye through the month of July.
31: Public announcement of the Bishop of Boise’s directives to priests cracking down on traditional observances at parishes.  Also: A magnitude 6.5 earthquake strikes near Challis, Idaho, and is felt all over Idaho and into neighboring states.

Deaths: James Otis; Barbara Martin (the Supremes); Max von Sydow; Johnny Yune; Lyle Waggoner; Kenny Rogers; Curly Neal (Harlem Globetrotters); Tomie de Paola; Bill Withers.


7: The High Court of Australia vacates George Cardinal Pell’s child sex abuse convictions.
8: Joe Biden becomes the presumptive Democrat nominee when Bernie Sanders suspends his presidential campaign.
11: Eruption of Anak Krakatoa in Indonesia, a remnant of the island of Krakatoa that was destroyed in an explosive eruption in 1883.
20: President Trump announces an executive order suspending immigration into the United States.
21: Due to the rona, the city council of Pamplona cancels the July festival of San Fermin, which includes the running of the bulls.
23: Facebook removes “pseudoscience” and “conspiracy theory” as options for targeted ads on its platform, allegedly in a bid to prevent misinformation about the rona.

Deaths: Ira Einhorn; Honor Blackman; Linda Tripp; Danny Goldman; Kenny Young; Brian Dennehy.


7: The Department of Justice drops its prosecution of Gen. Michael Flynn for allegedly lying to the FBI; the presiding judge tries to keep the case alive notwithstanding the government’s unwillingness to press the charges. 
15: Amid the coronapanic shutdowns, J.C. Penney files for bankruptcy.  Also: The state of Nevada is hit with a magnitude 6.5 earthquake, the largest since 1954.
17: NASCAR becomes the first major sports enterprise in the U.S. to resume events since the coronapanic began.
21: The University of California system begins phasing out the use of SAT and ACT scores in making admissions determinations.
25: Death of George Floyd while being restrained by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Beginning of nationwide rioting.
28: Cancellation of the Boston Marathon due to the rona.
29: President Trump takes the United States out of the World Health Organization.

Deaths: Little Richard; Jerry Stiller; Rolf Hochhuth (author of The Deputy, the play that calumniated Pope Pius XII); Fred Willard; Ken Osmond (Eddie Haskell on Leave It to Beaver); Richard Herd.


3: Murder by rioters of David Dorn, retired police chief, while he was protecting a pawn shop from looting.
4: The idiot governor of Virginia orders the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee in Richmond.
7: The Minneapolis city council passes a resolution to abolish the city police department.
15: The U.S. Supreme Court interprets the 1964 Civil Rights Act as including sexual orientation and gender identity.
23: NASCAR determines the infamous Bubba Wallace “noose” is just a garage door pull that had been in place for many months.
28: The Mississippi legislature votes to remove the Confederate battle flag from its state flag.

Deaths: William Sessions; Tariq Aziz; Dame Vera Lynn; Sir Ian Holm (Bilbo in The Lord of the Rings); Joel Schumacher; Julian Curry (Claude Erskine-Browne in Rumpole of the Bailey); Johnny Mandel; Carl Reiner.


2: Arrest of Ghislaine Maxwell, girlfriend of the slimy Jeffrey Epstein, on charges relating to aiding and abetting his sexual predations.
4: Black Lives Matters thugs tear down a statue of Christopher Columbus in Baltimore, Maryland and cast it into the harbor.  Two days later, private citizens hired a dive team to rescue the statue.
8: The U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of the Little Sisters of the Poor in their battle against the Obamacare contraception mandate.
10: Turkey turns Hagia Sophia, which started out as a church was later turned into a mosque, and was until this date a museum, back into a mosque.
11: The historic Mission San Gabriel near Los Angeles is damaged by fire.
13: The Washington Redskins announce they are going to drop the name “Redskins,” without having first come up with a substitute.  Ridicule abounds.
18: A fire, apparently arson, destroys the 400-year-old organ in the cathedral in Nantes, France.
21: In a world where allegedly free societies are pressuring their citizens into wearing face muzzles, the German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg bans Islamic face coverings for all school children in the state, on the grounds that the practice is incompatible with a free society.
22: The U.S. House of Representatives votes to purge Confederate statues, as well as a bust of Supreme Court Justice Roger Taney, from the Capitol.
31: The First Circuit Court of Appeals vacates the death sentence of Boston Marathon bomber Dzokhar Tsarnaev and remands for a new sentencing.  Also: Beginning of the Apple Fire in California.

Deaths: Hugh Downs; Charlie Daniels; Mary Kay Letourneau; Kelly Preston; Mike Adams; Regis Philbin; Olivia de Havilland.


6: The city of Los Angeles announces that power and water will be shut off to properties hosting large parties.
9: North Carolina is hit by the biggest earthquake since 1916 near the town of Sparta.
11: Kamala Harris is chosen to be the Democrat party’s vice-presidential candidate.
13: Announcement of the normalization between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, in exchange for Israel suspending West Bank annexation plans.
21: Lori Laughlin and her husband are sentenced to five months’ imprisonment for their role in the scandal of elites employing fraud and corruption to get their kids into choice colleges.  Also: Serial killer Joseph De Angelo, the Golden State Killer, receives multiple consecutive fixed life sentences for 13 counts of first-degree murder.
23: Shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, touching off riots in that city.
25: 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhaus shoots three rioters, killing two, in Kenosha.  Video footage shows the rioters attacking him before he opened fire.

Deaths: Wilford Brimley; Brent Scowcroft; Trini Lopez; Jack Sherman (Red Hot Chili Peppers); Tom Seaver.


4: A report emerges that a young priest in the Archdiocese of Detroit discovered, via videotaped evidence, that he was not in fact a priest due to his never having been baptized.  The deacon who "baptized" him 30 years earlier messed with the form of the Sacrament, rendering it invalid.  The priest was validly baptized and had all the subsequent Sacraments, including Holy Orders, properly administered.
13: Two L.A. County Sheriff’s deputies, one a mother of a six-year-old, are shot while sitting in their patrol car in Compton. 
16: A second priest in the United States, in the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, discovers that he is also not really a priest due to his having been invalidly baptized.  He too properly receives all the Sacraments.
18: Death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.
27: Publication of the New York Times’ claim that Donald Trump only paid $750.00 in taxes in 2016 and 2017.

Deaths: Kevin Dobson; Diana Rigg; Ed Bearss; Helen Reddy.


2: President Trump announces that he and the First Lady are positive for coronavirus. 
8: 13 men are charged in an alleged plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
9: Vermont legalizes recreational marijuana.  Also: the second presidential debate is cancelled after President Trump refuses to engage in a “virtual” debate.
12: The Michigan Supreme Court puts the kibosh on coronavirus measures by Governor Whitmer.
13: Scientists determine that mountains on the planet Pluto that are apparently covered with snow are actually covered with methane frost directly condensed from the atmosphere.
19: A magnitude 7.5 earthquake strikes the Alaska Penninsula.
21: Pope Francis apparently comes out in favor of civil unions for same-sex couples.
25: Pope Francis announces the forthcoming elevation of the extremely liberal +Wilton Gregory of Washington, D.C. to the college of cardinals.
26: Confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court.
29: Islamic terrorist attack at Notre Dame de Nice in Nice, France, in which three people are murdered.

Deaths: Margaret Nolan; Johnny Nash; Eddie Van Halen; Rhonda Fleming; Jerry Jeff Walker (“Mr. Bojangles”); Sean Connery.


3: The Election, in which news outlets, including Fox News, drop any pretense at fairness, balance, objectivity and letting their audiences decide what the truth is based on the facts. 
7: In an attempt to make news rather than report on it, the news networks call the election for Biden/Harris, despite Trump campaign challenges and widespread evidence of voter fraud in key states.
9: The Trump campaign files electoral fraud lawsuits in key battlegrounds states.
12: Israel begins the process of legalizing weed.
14: Huge crowds turn out in D.C. to protest the attempted theft of the election from Donald Trump.
18: Three Republicans in the Michigan House of Representatives introduce a resolution calling for the impeachment of Governor Whitmer over her pandemic measures.
25: The U.S. Supreme Court puts a check on Governor Cuomo's restrictions on religious observances in New York State.  Also:  President Trump pardons Gen. Michael Flynn.

Deaths: David Prowse (the guy in the actual Darth Vader costume); Abby Dalton; David Dinkins; Alex Trebek; Norm Crosby; Geoffrey Palmer; Elsa Raven (the "Save the clock tower!" lady in Back to the Future).


4: The U.S. House of Representatives, sensing the need to keep the restless plebes in bread and circuses, votes to legalize weed.
11: The Supreme Court rejects Texas v. Pennsylvania.  Also: Boko Haram kidnaps hundreds of boys from a boys’ secondary school in Kankara, Nigeria.
13: The Cleveland Indians announce they will be changing their name.
14: The Electoral College elects Biden.  Republican electors also show up to vote for Donald Trump, to preserve potential legal challenges.
15: Hungary bars same-sex couples from adopting children.
16: Spain decriminalized euthanasia.
18: Switzerland legalizes gay “marriage” and the changing of sex on official documents.
21: Kilauea volcano in Hawaii erupts.  Also: The Great “Christmas Star” Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn.
25: Three people are injured in an RV explosion in downtown Nashville, Tennessee, which authorities believe was deliberate.  Strangely, the RV blared out a warning to evacuate for a period of time before it exploded.
29: Convicted spy Jonathan Pollard moves to Israel.
30: Argentina, the home country of Pope Francis, legalizes abortion to the frenzied acclaim of crowds of feminists.

Deaths: Walter Williams; Valery Giscard d’Estaing; Rafer Johnson; Chuck Yeager; Paul Sarbanes; David Lander (Squiggy); John Le Carre; Charley Pride; Ann Reinking; Barbara Windsor; Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett); Chad Stewart (Chad and Jeremy); Fr. Reginald Foster (renowned Latinist); Pierre Cardin; Dawn Wells.

I hope and pray 2021 turns out to be a better year.