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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Lady Gaga

You know, if you would have offered me a thousand dollars to say something nice about Lady Gaga yesterday, I would have told you to keep your money. I had never listened to a single thing she'd done, and had no intention of starting.

But, someone wants to interview me about Lady Gaga's latest song, "Judas" so I felt honor-bound to at least look at the song and find out how stupid it was so I could comment intelligently.

Now, the video has not yet been released, and I'm sure it will be horrific.
The release date (Easter) is chosen to maximize Catholic outrage and, therefore, generate free Catholic advertising for sales.

But, the lyrics.... well.... I'll let you be the judge on that.
I promise you, this is worth your time.

Here's how they start.
I'm in love with Judas, Judas

[Lady Gaga - Verse 1]
When he comes to me, I am ready
I'll wash his feet with my hair if he needs
Forgive him when his tongue lies through his brain
Even after three times, he betrays me.
"Typical vomit-inducing stupidity" thought I to myself. "This isn't going to be fun to wade through." Judas is the symbol for the worst betrayal and sin, so falling in love with Judas and parading that love is just raw ugly marketing to a depraved culture.
I'll bring him down, bring him down, down
A king with no crown, king with no crown
Now she's comparing Judas to Jesus.
On Easter.
Just lovely.
I'm just a Holy Fool, oh baby he's so cruel
But still I'm in love with Judas, baby
I'm just a Holy Fool, oh baby he's so cruel
But still I'm in love with Judas, baby

[Lady Gaga - Verse 2]
I couldn't love a man so purely
Even prophets forgave his crooked way
I've learned love is like a brick you can
Build a house or sink a dead body
Then we have this "love is like a brick"?
"You can build up with it or tear down with it..."
That's just stupid.
It shows a complete failure to understand love.

At this point, I'm dying, trying to figure out how I will be able to say anything but "this stinks."

Of course, she's not done.
After a few more of senseless repetitions about loving Judas, she goes on a journey of self-discovery.
I'm in love with Judas, Judas

In the most Biblical sense,
I am beyond repentance
Fame hooker, prostitute wench, vomits her mind
But in the cultural sense
I just speak in future tense
Judas kiss me if offenced,
Or wear an ear condom next time
So, she admits she's just doing what she does for fame, and essentially calls herself (in addition to a money-grubbing wench) a cultural, secular prophet.


And says if you don't like the way she's described herself, don't listen to her ("wear an ear condom"). Sadly, I'm reading the lyrics, honey. I'd have to put a towel over my eyes.

Now, there's an implication in that stanza that the whole of society is headed down the crapper and she's just imitating it or it is imitating her - which it is, is not clear.

And, up to this point, I'm intending to write all of this off as pretentious crap.
But then .... then she throws this in:
I wanna love you,
But something's pulling me away from you
Jesus is my virtue,
And Judas is the demon I cling to
I cling to.
"And now," think I to myself think I, "I can't believe I'm saying this, but I may have to apologize to Lady Gaga. Maybe I mis-judged her. Maybe she understands things a lot better than I thought she did."
I'm just a Holy Fool, oh baby he's so cruel
But still I'm in love with Judas, baby
I'm just a Holy Fool, oh baby he's so cruel
But still I'm in love with Judas, baby

I'm in love with Judas, Judas

I'm in love with Judas, Judas

Judas! Juda-as Judas! Juda-as
Judas! Juda-as Judas! GAGA
Isn't this song the story of our lives?
Insofar as any of us commits a sin, isn't it the case that we are ALL in love with Judas?

We cling to Judas even after "he betrays" us.
Our sins betray us.
Our sins never bring us the happiness they promise, but we cling to them wash their feet with our hair, love them to death.
Our death.

And that's what she means by "love being a brick" in the prior stanza.

It is all clear to me now.
You know what?
This isn't pretentious crap after all.
She is saying our love of Christ can build up the house of God.
But our love of Judas, of sin, can bury us in the sea, like the millstone draped around the neck of those who offend the littlest one.

The "Holy Fool" nonsense in the chorus is a nod to the predominant Protestant theology in America today, and I think she can be forgiven that phrase, given the way she's encapsulated the rest of her message.

Lady Gaga insists she got this message straight from God.
Right now looking just at the lyrics (and God help us with how bad I'm afraid the video will be), I'm thinking... maybe she did.

Lady Gaga Outrages Catholics During Holy Week:

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Lights, Camera, Roll Film... Action!

As we prepare to enter Holy Week, orthodox Catholics should be checking their cell phones to make sure they understand video recording capabilities and their cell cameras are ready for action.

Get video and audio of the most popular liturgical abuses:

For Palm Sunday - is your priest allowing lay people, especially women, to read parts of the Gospel reserved for the priest for the lengthy Palm Sunday readings?

Get it on video and send a copy to your bishop!
Maybe with a box of microwave popcorn so he can really enjoy the show.

If your bishop is allowing it, get a copy and send it to the papal nuncio and/or the Congregation for Divine Worship. They won't need popcorn - they've got their own.

For Holy Thursday - is your priest washing the feet of anyone other than men?
Roll camera!

For Good Friday - is your congregation doing anything other than walking forward to kiss the cross? Maybe their passing a cross through the crowd, or having a Living Stations in place of or during the Gospel reading?
Roll film!

For Holy Saturday - is there applause for the choir, or applause encouraged from the pulpit at any point in the liturgy! Get it all on film!

Yes, these are the high holy days of the Catholic Church, so these are the days that abuse is most rampant. The more video your bishop gets, the more interested he will be in doing something about it.

In the Middle Ages, patrons subsidized the creation of high art.
With modern technology, we can film performance art with the click of a cell button.
Sure, it ain't liturgy, but it might end up being entertaining for all involved!
Let's find out!

Friday, April 15, 2011

How to Excommunicate Your Priest

Some people are wroth with Michael Voris. It seems he has given a mildly acerbic one-minute summary of what Archbishop Burke praised a book for explaining - that Catholics priests and bishops are driving people away from the Faith by abusing their positions and abusing the Mass.

Now, the usual suspects in the Catholic Media (tm) are attacking Mr. Voris.

Why would anyone attack Voris for his remarks?

The reason is obvious - the usual suspects are interested in maintaining their income, and their income is based in no small part on being smiled upon by bishops, so commentators who attack Voris are playing to the deep pockets they hope is their base: the bishops.

Such commentators take great pains to explain that only the bishops are the Magisterium, and Michael Voris is not a bishop. And yes, it is true that Michael Voris is not a bishop. But these commentators do NOT point out another relevant fact: neither are parish priests bishops. And, they fail to point out yet a third fact: to be honest, even bishops are sometimes not bishops.

You see, it is unfortunately the case that, while any bishop (or anyone else, for that matter) may wield the Magisterium, the bishops are not necessarily part of the Magisterium. A bishop is only part of the Magisterium when that bishop teaches in union with all the bishops who have ever lived (always keeping in mind that the Pope is the bishop of Rome). Insofar as any bishop doesn't teach in union with the Magisterium, he has no authority over any Catholic, since he then teaches on his own authority and not Christ's. And, a bishop can easily step back and forth across that line several times in the same homily.

So, a bishop might be part of the Magisterium at noon, be out of step with the Magisterium at 12:15, and back in union with the Church at 12:45. We are bound to follow his orthodox teachings from noon to 12:15, bound to ignore his lunatic posturings from 12:15 to 12:30, then bound to obey him as he returns to orthodoxy again from 12:30 to 12:45. That's life for a Catholic.

But, have our usual suspects explained any of that?
Of course not.
It wouldn't be expedient.

You see, when the usual suspects caterwaul about people not being the Magisterium, there is usually only one reason they scream: the person they attack has taken a position they don't like but can't refute, and they are trying to curry favor with a bishop who doesn't like that person or that person's position.

What's Not To Like?

And it's understandable why no one wants to take on Michael Voris' position directly. No one has succeeded in pointing to an error in anything he said for a simple reason: in this video, Michael Voris hasn't said anything wrong.

If your priest or bishop finds Earth Day a more important topic to preach about than Easter, then your priest/bishop is a freaking heretic, whom even Arius and Nestorius would have tossed out of church for blasphemy. After all, even theological nutcases like Arius and Nestorius recognized Jesus as divinity and both recognized His death and resurrection is the source of our salvation. Even those unrepentant heretics would have found the idea of elevating Earth Day over Easter to be a return to pagan insanity.

Catholics don't worship Gaia.

Now, what of Michael Voris' advice to "resign your parish"?

Well, when we consider that 80% of Americans live in urban areas, Voris' advice is not unreasonable. If you live in such an area, and you hear your priest preach such elevation of our earth over Our Lord, you should immediately resign from that parish, stop all contributions to it, and find another Catholic parish to attend.

Unfortunately, of course, you might be part of the 20% of the American population who live in rural areas and who therefore have no real access to another Catholic parish. Indeed, the bishop may have exiled the heretic to your parish precisely because your parish is out of the way, and he doesn't want that priest affecting larger portions of his diocese. Bishops often send their most difficult priests to the farthest reaches of the diocese. You can often tell what kind of a bishop you have by examining what kind of priests have the small rural parishes.

Now, if you are trapped in such a situation, you obviously should continue attending Mass and confession (the priest may be a heretic, but the sacraments are still valid). However, you should stop all donations to that parish. Give your money directly to Rome, or to a reputable seminary or Catholic charity somewhere else in the world.

We are required to support the work of the Church, not the work of the local parish, especially when the local parish is headed by a semi-pagan nutcase who preaches Earth Day instead of Easter.

But, what if your bishop falls for this insanity?

It would seem unlikely that any bishop would be stupid enough to publicly preach Earth Day instead of Easter. Cell phone evidence is all too easy to send to Rome these days.

But if he is, you would of course stop giving to the diocese directly, and also consider curtailing donations to the local parish, since every parish in every diocese has to pay a "diocesan tax" to support the diocesan chancery office.

Again, we are bound to support the work of the Catholic Church, not necessarily the work of the local diocese, especially if the local bishop is theologically insane.

Michael Voris may not be the Magisterium, but what he teaches in this video is precisely and exactly correct. The only thing pagans really understand is money - cut off their supply and they suddenly get religion.

In fact, since the priests and bishops who fall for this insanity worship liberal "theology" and the money that comes from being in step with it, you are really dealing with a case of idol worship.

In that sense, you can think of cutting off their funds as your opportunity to personally excommunicate a heretic for purposes of bringing him back into communion with the Faith.

If you have a nutcase for a priest and don't want to keep him, there's an even quicker way to get rid of him then cutting off your donations.

Video him with your cell phone as he makes atrocious remarks or engages in liturgical abuse, then send a copy of the video to your bishop. If the bishop isn't impressed, send a copy on to the apostolic nuncio or the CDW.

Technology is going to shine a light on the reptiles in a way never before possible.
The heretics will not last much longer.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

On Burning Books

Much has been made of Terry Jones' trial and immolation of a Koran. Many people thought the act distinctly un-Christian. While Terry Jones is most assuredly not Catholic, and while good Christians can certainly hold different opinions about the prudence or utility of the act, it is undeniably the case that his act is well within the bounds of Catholic faith.

Of the 21 ecumenical councils of the Church, at least five of those councils were directly associated with the burning of books - the penultimate, Constance, is not only associated with the burning of books, but also the burning of the heretic who wrote several of them:

1st council of Nicaea - "Arius and his writings were also branded with anathema, his books were cast into the fire, and he was exiled to Illyria."

Council of Ephesus - Although the 431 AD Council did not itself require the burning of Nestorius' works, "The bishops who were suspected of being favourable to Nestorius were deposed. An edict of Theodosius II, 30 July, 435, condemned his writings to be burnt. A few years later Nestorius was dragged from his retirement and banished to the Oasis."

Council of Chalcedon - "The writings of the Eutychians were to be burned; their authors, or those who spread them, were to be punished with confiscation and banishment. Finally Eutyches and Dioscurus were both banished."

Council of Constance - "In this session forty-five propositions of Wyclif, already condemned by the universities of Paris and Prague, were censured as heretical, and in a later session another long list of 260 errors. All his writings were ordered to be burned and his body was condemned to be dug up and cast out of consecrated ground (this was not done until 1428 under Bishop Robert Fleming of Lincoln)....

John Hus’ books were burned by order of the council (24 June)…. He refused to retract anything and so was condemned as a heretic, deposed, and degraded, and handed over to the secular arm, which in turn condemned him to perish at the stake, at that time the usual legal punishment of convicted heretics. He suffered that cruel death with self-possession and courage and when about to expire cried out, it is said: "Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on us!" His ashes were thrown into the Rhine."

Council of Trent – The council (1545-1560) did not need to expressly order Luther’s writings burned, because, following the pontifical bull Exsurge Domine (15 June 1520), book burnings of Luther’s writings took place in Louvain, Antwerp, Ghent, Utrecht, Bruges, Hertogenbosch, and Deventer. The pontifical vice-chancellor of Rome, the Legate of the Low Countries, Jerome Aleander, boasted of having burnt 400 of Luther’s books, 300 of which were seized in bookshops and 100 from individuals. Tyndall’s Bible was similarly burned. And no wonder: Exsurge Domine confirmed that heretics can licitly be burned, and ordered that all heretical works, where ever they might be found, also be burned.

(If it's any consolation, the Protestants burned books and heretics with equal zeal. Consider the fate of Michael Servetus, for instance, who was burned along with his book by Calvin, or Martin Luther, who famously burned the papal edict condemning his heresies. And it isn't just a Christian thing. The Buddhist emperors of China burned Taoist books with the same zeal).

And the Church didn't restrict Herself to burning just quasi-Christian people or books. During the Spanish Inquisition, thousands of Muslim theology books were burnt, including hundreds of copies of the Koran. Indeed, in celebration of the removal of the Moors from Spain, there was a grand book burning of at least 5000 Muslim volumes at Bibarrambla.

And it wasn't just the Koran that burned. During the Middle Ages, the Talmud was frequently targeted for the fire by Church authorities precisely because of the numerous blasphemies concerning Christ and the Blessed Virgin that it contains. Throughout Europe, the book was formally put on trial and censored or burnt, in much the same way Terry Jones tried and burnt the Koran.

As the Renaissance unfolded and the printing press dramatically increased the number of books, the number of book burnings carried out by the Catholic Church also dramatically increased.

Of the 15 to 20 million books printed before 1500, 12 million were in Latin. By 1530, there were more books in the vernacular than in Latin. The printing press permitted a modern Tower of Babel. Politically, it fractured Europe into various vernacular "nations" which contributed to the rise of the nation-state. Theologically, it allowed pretty much anyone to set out their own musings in an easily disseminated format. The Church tried to crack down on this via book burnings, but without much success.

The Point of the Flames

And here we must entertain the question of prudence. When there is no printing press, where there is no such thing as paper, a book is a very expensive undertaking. It requires much vellum or papyrus, both of which require intensive labor for production - vellum not only requires labor, but large herds of sheep or cattle, for vellum is made from their skin. Even today, real vellum is expensive and hard to find. And, once the vellum is located, you have to find someone literate to hand-copy the book that you want made.

In a society in which even the leaves of books are expensive, the skill it takes to inscribe those leaves with the correct encoding of ink is a very expensive and arcane hobby, much like the skill of flying a helicopter is today.

Most people don't know how to pilot a helicopter because they have no likelihood of ever owning or using one. Helicopters are too expensive. Similarly, in a pre-printing press society, books are simply too expensive, they require too much labor to produce for most people to own one or even learn the skills associated with correctly using one.

So, when a book is burned in such a society, the ideas expressed in the book will probably not long survive the fire. That was the theory, but it rarely worked in practice.

As we can see from the examples above, the very first ecumenical council of the Church burned Arius' writings, but that really didn't stop his ideas from spreading. The Church spent the next several hundred years trying to stamp out the heresy, and never really succeeded. Today's Jehovah Witnesses teach pretty much what Arius taught all those centuries ago.

How Effective?

So if book burning didn't even work back then, how effective is it going to be today, when printing presses around the world can turn out books faster than anyone can burn them? Indeed, what is the point of book burning at all, given that the Internet makes it literally impossible to touch the source text?

Book burning, both then and now, is a statement, a declaration of war against a specific idea. Just as certain people fight hard to keep "unsuitable" books out of the science classroom, so other people fight hard to keep "unsuitable" books out of other classrooms. Whether we are talking about the banning of a textbook on intelligent design or the burning of a book by Mohammed, we are ultimately discussing the attempt to condemn a certain set of ideas.

Now, many people say that, rather than burn or ban books, we should engage and refute the ideas expressed within them. And we should, indeed, engage and refute ideas. But engagement and refutation have many aspects.

Know Your Enemy

For instance, to someone raised in a Western Judeo-Christian culture, an idea is engaged and refuted by using Aristotelian logic. But for someone raised in an Eastern non-Judeo-Christian culture, Aristotelian logic has no special compulsion.

Islam, for instance, famously teaches that Allah is not rational, that rationality is beneath Him. Allah is greater than rationality, He is not bound by laws of any kind, not even His own word. In the war to maintain His glory - and all Islam sees it as a war between Allah and the forces of darkness - Allah is the greatest of deceivers.

So, when we demand that Westerners should "engage and refute" Islam, we implicitly demand that Muslims adopt Western Judeo-Christian standards of debate, that they adopt and treasure Western Judeo-Christian concepts of value and culture. We imagine seriously orthodox Muslims use the same Greco-Roman, Judeo-Christian standards we use.

They don't.

Now, sure, Islam preserved the Greco-Roman heritage for us (although, it should be noted, they did not preserve Aristotle's Logic for us - we always had that book), but Islam never really used any of those books. What time they spent with the Greco-Roman classics was largely spent trying to make those works cohere to Islamic thought, much as Aquinas spent years trying to baptize Aristotle.

The difference? Aquinas ultimately showed that Aristotle's work could, indeed, be baptized. Muslims never managed that for Islam. That's why they ultimately never really did anything with the foundations of Greco-Roman thought. Islam stagnated because it couldn't think it's way out of the hole its theology had placed it in.

Precisely because Islam does not see Allah as a rational being, it is irrational for us to assume that logical debate will win over orthodox Muslims. The natural law may, indeed, be written on their hearts, but as Aquinas points out, that doesn't mean it is easy to discern or clear.

A priest friend once told me, "In order to start a conversation with some people, you must first break green lumber over their heads." Burning a Koran is certainly the theological equivalent of that attention-getting action.

Becoming a Soldier of Christ

But it isn't just a matter of getting attention. Given the Muslim propensity for irrational violence, the act of burning the Koran is a very personal declaration of war. It places the person doing the burning at very real and central risk of becoming a target for Muslim violence.

In short, the burning of a Koran makes you a soldier in the current war. Just as the Internet has made burning books old hat, so Islam has made travel to the Army recruitment center unnecessary. In this war, you don't have to pass a government physical or train in a government boot camp to become a combatant. Just burn a Koran, and you're in.

In fact, you don't even need to do that. Simply being a living, breathing non-Muslim makes you a combatant. In this sense, there is a real logical consistency, a real and positive motivation for burning a Koran. Muslims have already demonstrated that every non-Muslim is a target, that civilian casualties are not only not to be avoided, civilian casualties are to be encouraged.

So, when a civilian burns the Koran, he or she is not just saying, "The Koran is a blasphemous book", rather, he or she is saying, "I realize that you recognize me as an enemy combatant. I realize that you consider me worthy of nothing but enslavement and slaughter unless I convert to Islam. I refuse to convert."

Now, in agreeing to see themselves as a soldier, the civilian who burns the Koran has, in a very real sense, accepted at least some of the premises of Islam. Such a person essentially agrees that there is such a thing as the Dar al-Harb, the House of War. Such a person agrees that we who are non-Muslims are in that house.

So, in this sense, the burning of a Koran is a very Muslim act. And, for this very reason, a Christian might say "I cannot burn a Koran, for I do not accept that there should be such a House of War. I do not accept the Muslim worldview." And this is a view that is also accurate. It cannot be discounted or downplayed.

Still, for a people who feel themselves rendered impotent by a series of wars against Islamic radicals that are never-ending, by a president whose pro-Muslim sympathies are painfully and frighteningly clear, by a level of Muslim violence which cannot be controlled or managed, the burning of the Koran is an act by which any Christian can symbolically center themselves. It is a declaration of war against an increasingly chaotic universe, a Mahdi-inspired universe.

By burning a Koran, we tell the Muslim radical, "Here I stand. You shall not pass."

It may not be prudent, it may not be useful, but it is a stand worthy of respect.