Random Quotes

I know my body’s of so frail a kind,
As force without, fevers within can kill;
I know the heavenly nature of my mind,
But ’tis corrupted both in wit and will:

I know my Soul hath power to know all things,
Yet is she blind and ignorant in all;
I know I am one of Nature’s little kings,
Yet to the least and vilest things am thrall.

I know my life’s a pain and but a span,
I know my Sense is mocked with every thing:
And to conclude, I know myself a MAN,
Which is a proud, and yet a wretched thing.

~ John Davies (1569 –1626), Nosce Teipsum (Know Thyself).

* * *

This shameful font of indifferentism gives rise to that absurd and erroneous proposition which claims that liberty of conscience must be maintained for everyone. It spreads ruin in sacred and civil affairs, though some repeat over and over again with the greatest impudence that some advantage accrues to religion from it. “But the death of the soul is worse than freedom of error,” as Augustine was wont to say. When all restraints are removed by which men are kept on the narrow path of truth, their nature, which is already inclined to evil, propels them to ruin. Then truly “the bottomless pit” is open from which John saw smoke ascending which obscured the sun, and out of which locusts flew forth to devastate the earth. 

~ Gregory XVI, Encyclical Letter Mirai vos (1832).

* * *

But the people have not come back to him who struck them,
they have not come looking for the Lord of Hosts;
hence the Lord has cut head and tail from Israel,
palm branch and reed in a single day.
(The ‘head’ is the elder and the man of rank;
the ‘tail’, the prophet with lying vision.)
This people’s leaders have taken the wrong turning,
and those who are led are lost.
And so the Lord will not spare their young men,
will have no pity for their orphans and widows.
Since the whole people is godless and evil,
its speech is madness.
Yet his anger is not spent,
still his hand is raised to strike.

Yes, wickedness burns like a fire:
it consumes briar and thorn,
it sets the forest thickets alight
and columns of smoke go rolling upwards.
The land is set aflame by the wrath of the Lord of Hosts
and the people are food for the fire.
Not one spares his brother,
each devours the flesh of his neighbour.
On the right side they carve and still are hungry,
on the left they devour and are not satisfied.
Manasseh devours Ephraim, Ephraim Manasseh,
and both hurl themselves on Judah.
Yet his anger is not spent,
still his hand is raised to strike.

~ Isaiah 9:13-21.

Black Trump supporters

What is it about black Trump supporters that warms my heart?

I’m white and my parents separated (later divorced) when I was very young. My mom later took up with a black man, who eventually moved into our house and, years later, married her. I lived with my stepfather longer than my natural father, and he was more of a father to me than my “real” dad.

He had a son, my stepbrother, who lived with us part-time and became close to me and my sisters. We’re still in touch and see each other a few times a year (in non-pandemic years).

I had three girlfriends while growing up, none of whom were white. My first and only white girlfriend was in my twenties. After that I dated two other non-white women, the latter of whom I married.

A funny thing happened to me after I grew up: I became a Republican. Does this mean I became a racist? Race never entered the picture; it was all about abortion. When President Clinton was up for re-election, although I had voted for him the first time, I couldn’t do it again. So I voted Republican for the first time, but not for Bob Dole. I still had this anti-conservative residue in my psyche that made Dole unpalatable; he was too much of a typical, old conservative. So I voted for a black (and Catholic) Republican named Alan Keyes. Again, it was never about race.

Since then I’ve voted for every Republican presidential nominee, with one exception: Trump. I just couldn’t do it. He was too crude, lewd, and petty. Too playground-like with his name-calling and verbal pigtail-pulling. I didn’t sense any strong principles underlying his policy positions and his conduct. He struck me as a loose cannon, and with his hands on so much power, what might he not do?

Still, he was right when it came to immigration. On that topic as on others, he was crude and puerile. But he was the first serious presidential candidate who dared to say outright that immigration was out of control and needed to be reigned in; that it was absurd that anyone who managed to get across our border, legally or not, was entitled to benefits at our expense; which, logically, meant that the American taxpayer owes benefits to the citizens of any and every country on earth, so long as they manage to set foot on our soil.

I was also sick of being told that my position on immigration made me a racist. And it seemed to me that the main reason Trump was called racist was because of his immigration stance. So I sympathized with him.

For all that I don’t like Trump and his style and seeming lack of principle, I didn’t like Hillary’s style and lack of principle either. And Trump at least is willing to appoint people who are openly anti-abortion to cabinet positions and judgeships. So I didn’t cry when Trump won.

Lately I’ve been watching YouTube videos of black Trump supporters. Of course everyone has heard of Candace Owens and I like her alright. There are other black conservatives too who post videos regularly and have fairly large followings. But what I’m talking about now is interviews of black Republicans on the street and at rallies and so forth, as well as #WalkAway videos by black conservatives.

[NOTE: The original video linked in this post was removed from YouTube, I’m guessing as part of The Purge. I’m linking another video below that includes the same interview that was featured in the original one.]

They absolutely warm my heart. Why is that?

I think it stems from the constant accusations of racism against white conservatives by the media and academics. Trump’s election was a surprise largely because whites (though not only whites) were shy about expressing support for him, in polls and otherwise, so that his support was underestimated. People hide their support for Trump for fear of being harassed or boycotted, or of harm to their careers. This is because the overwhelming message from news outlets and social media is that Trump is racist, and therefore all other Republicans are too.

But along come these black Republicans, and put the lie to the accusation that only a racist could support Trump. The more blacks come out publicly in support of Trump, the harder it gets to support that insinuation.

There’s a second element to it as well. Since the ubiquitous message is that Republicans are racist, and 90% of blacks vote Democrat, it follows (or at least it feels like it does) that 90% of blacks think I’m a racist. Therefore black people are off-limits when it comes to discussing politics. They’re people with whom I need to tread lightly, not only because they oppose me politically, but because they themselves are the victims of the racism inherent (as they see it) in my political views.

What’s happening, of course, is that I’m racially profiling blacks. But is that due to my own racism? Not at all. It’s because of the message that has been drummed into me by the liberal media and academia, that the mere fact of my being a Republican will (or should) be deeply offensive to virtually any black person I might meet.

But if there are black Republicans, then this doesn’t hold water. This means there are blacks that I don’t have to tread lightly around, but can talk politics with like anyone else. Liberalism has created a situation in which I’m brainwashed into thinking of blacks as “other” — because they purportedly see me as “other” — but when I see a black Republican I no longer see “other,” I just see a guy. I can be myself with him because I don’t have to assume that he thinks I’m a racist.

And that’s a beautiful thing.

When I was a little white kid going to backyard barbecues at my black relatives’ house in South L.A., I never worried about this stuff. I had a black cousin close to my age, and we were like peas in a pod. I loved his mom and dad (my aunt and uncle) dearly. We might have a gang of 10 or 11 kids running around playing football or hide-and-seek, of which me and my sister were the only white kids, in a virtually all-black neighborhood, and the idea of race, or any kind of uneasiness on account of it, never entered our heads. Those ideas don’t occur naturally, they’re drummed into us.

Nowadays, it’s not conservatives who are doing the drumming.

The funniest thing I’ve ever seen in my life

Education Department opens investigation into Princeton University after president deems racism ’embedded’ in the school

In short, the president of Princeton published an open letter in which, like a good politically correct academic, he self-accuses the university of being racist. So the Department of Education opened an investigation which, in part, seeks the names of “each person who has, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, been excluded from participation in, been denied the benefits of, or been subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance as a result of the Princeton racism or ‘damage’ referenced in the President’s Letter.”

‘Cause, you know, if they openly admit they’re racist, there’s a good chance they’ve broken some civil rights laws. If so, let’s nail ’em.

This is moving their abstract notions of racism into the world of the concrete. They’re put in the position of having to either prove they’re racist, in which case some people are going to be in real trouble; or admit that they can’t find evidence that their racism has affected anyone in concrete ways.

Thank you Lord for letting me see this day.

There be dragons

Politics is first philosophy for us. All real questions are political, and the liberal pretense of excluding questions of ultimate meaning from public deliberation only reinforces this habit of mind. We do not look or think beyond liberal order because for us there is no beyond. There be dragons.

Michael Hanby, “A More Perfect Absolutism,” First Things magazine, October 2016.

Courage and public witness

Went to confession for the first time since the lockdown. Wow!!

Later the same day, was walking into a store as a priest was walking out. “Hi, Father!” You don’t often see priests wearing their collars in public nowadays. Like policemen, I like to give them a little moral support when I do.

Afterwards the image of the Roman collar stuck in my mind. This is the symbol of the priesthood of my faith. Regardless of the man wearing it, it stands for the power of the Faith, power to forgive sins and offer the Holy Sacrifice of Calvary.

It takes courage to wear the collar in public in this time and place. Speaking of which:

Catholic youths heroically stop California mob from tearing down saint’s statue

Maybe “heroically” is a bit much. But courageously, sure. I’m going to guess that some of these young people were students of Thomas Aquinas College in Ventura County. These kids don’t take the Faith lightly. Also, one was a priest in a Roman collar.

The current trend being to punish people posthumously for historic misdeeds and violations of political correctness, how long before we’re called to stand in front of our churches the way these people stood in front of the Serra statue?

 

Days of anguish and tribulation

In her voyage across the ocean of this world, the Church is like a great ship being pounded by the waves of life’s different stresses. Our duty is not to abandon ship but to keep her on her course.

The ancient fathers showed us how we should carry out this duty: Clement, Cornelius and many others in the city of Rome, Cyprian at Carthage, Athanasius at Alexandria. They all lived under emperors who were pagans; they all steered Christ’s ship – or rather his most dear spouse, the Church. This they did by teaching and defending her, by their labours and sufferings, even to the shedding of blood.

I am terrified when I think of all this. Fear and trembling came upon me and the darkness of my sins almost covered me. I would gladly give up the task of guiding the Church which I have accepted if I could find such an action warranted by the example of the fathers or by holy Scripture.

Since this is the case, and since the truth can be assaulted but never defeated or falsified, with our tired mind let us turn to the words of Solomon: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own prudence. Think on him in all your ways, and he will guide your steps. In another place he says: The name of the Lord is an impregnable tower. The just man seeks refuge in it and he will be saved.

Let us stand fast in what is right and prepare our souls for trial. Let us wait upon God’s strengthening aid and say to him: O Lord, you have been our refuge in all generations.

Let us trust in him who has placed this burden upon us. What we ourselves cannot bear let us bear with the help of Christ. For he is all-powerful and he tells us: My yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Let us continue the fight on the day of the Lord. The days of anguish and of tribulation have overtaken us; if God so wills, let us die for the holy laws of our fathers, so that we may deserve to obtain an eternal inheritance with them.

Let us be neither dogs that do not bark nor silent onlookers nor paid servants who run away before the wolf. Instead let us be careful shepherds watching over Christ’s flock. Let us preach the whole of God’s plan to the powerful and to the humble, to rich and to poor, to men of every rank and age, as far as God gives us the strength, in season and out of season . . . .

A Letter by St. Boniface, Office of Readings, Friday of 9th Week in Ordinary Time.

The banquet is ready

Christ speaks to Adam in Hades:
Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.
From an ancient homily for Holy Saturday, Office of Readings, universalis.com, April 11, 2020.
christ harrowing of hell

People who advocate for uploading ourselves into computers …

People who advocate for uploading ourselves into computers in order to live indefinitely, admit that the soul is immaterial; or in other words, our bodies are not ourselves. If our bodies were ourselves, then transferring our minds from one physical medium to another would make us different persons.

 

The very idea of transferring information from one physical medium to another and having it remain the same information, entails that the information itself is not physical; otherwise it would be different information in every instance in which it is physically manifested.

Truth and practicality

With the abolition of the vita contemplativa and its transcendent order of nature, being, and truth, thought inevitably becomes a mere instrument of action. The distinction between a theoria that seeks to understand reality and a practical reason aimed at the achievement of some practical good all but disappears, leaving a void that is inevitably filled by politics, the science of power, which is as dominant in the Church as it is in the rest of modern life. Truth, being, and nature in their traditional, metaphysical sense are replaced by the functional truths of the sciences and what Machiavelli called the effectual truth (verità effettuale) of politics: what is needful for securing and maintaining power or even for achieving some legitimate good, such as the unity of the Church. What really matters within this paradigm, then, is control over institutions and personnel, influence over public policy, and, above all, message control and skillful management of the media. Images become more important than reality, seeming more important than being. The stage is set for a culture of falsehood long before there is ever a secret to conceal and before the time of trial arrives to test the virtue of men.

Michael Hanby, “A False Paradigm,” First Things magazine, November 2018.

I work for a large corporation and I see this all the time. Influence over public policy, message control, media management, images more important than reality. It’s a great company in some ways, led by people who I really think are decent and well-meaning. But you just can’t do business in a big way without this sort of functional and effectual, i.e. non-transcendent, truth. And the Church has fallen into the same trap. You get in the habit of “managing the message” and thinking in those terms, and what happens to truth for its own sake?

A whole new life

My mom had a stroke. She was in the hospital for a short time, then in a skilled nursing facility, then in acute rehab. Now she’s living with me.

Mentally she’s all there, though impaired in her speech and attention span. Physically she’s bedridden and wheelchair-bound. One leg and arm work normally, the others do not.

Some of her friends and loved ones lament what she’s lost, or rather what they’ve lost in her, and now miss. I for one like the new Mom. She’s softer and gentler and, frankly, cute as a button. She no longer cares about making herself up to look young and pretty, and as a result she’s even prettier, with fluffy grey hair and glowing white skin.

My life is now filled with her life. It used to be important to me to carve out some “Me time” each day, an hour or two for sitting on the couch and watching mindless TV if I wanted to. I thought I needed this unwinding in order to function. Now there’s no Me time. Any extra time I have between work and bedtime and running necessary errands, is spent sitting with Mom, talking with her, adjusting her in bed to be more comfortable; or else making appointments or arrangements of one kind or another on her behalf. I may get 15 or 20 minutes of Me time after work, which seems to suffice nowadays.

Sometimes if she has a visitor I get more free time, since they’re there to tend to her needs; a couple of hours, sometimes three or four, though occasionally interrupted with requests that only I can fulfill, since I know just how she likes to be positioned in bed, or have the blanket wrapped around her legs in the wheelchair. Sometimes I have the burden of entertaining the visitors, who may spend an hour with her and then an hour with me — an hour during which I’m distracted, worried about Mom being neglected, lonely and bored, vegetating in front of the TV by herself in her room, while her “visitor” is out in the living room with me, talking and robbing me of my free time.

But I can still function. It’s a whole new life, one which I never would have thought I could live. But I’m living it, and it’s fine.