Archive for October, 2014

A Brief Respite

I think my post-Vatican II head has stopped spinning. Maybe the mayhem wrought by those seeking to hijack The Church has merely slowed? In any event, the recently concluded Synod on the Family has seemingly stuck a stick in the sand; tho maybe only a small stick. Maybe only an effort to change the water and not throw it out with the baby?

When I entered The Church, the altar boys had to learn Latin. Going to Mass now, it is unusual to see any males up there, other than the priest (thank GOD, that hasn’t changed). Nobody was trying to water-down Catholicism – attack, demolish, eradicate, maybe – but not transform it into the namby-pamby pablum that other (heretical) Christian sects are trying to do. You see, for me, the “old” Church fits. I sang “kum-by-yah” at one time, I don’t now.

The quintessential counter-cultural figure of all time was Jesus Christ. He founded an institution based on the frailties of the creatures it exists to save. Pretty much a mandate of “You will come close to drowning many times; but I won’t let you. Furthermore, while you are trying to save yourself, you must also save others.” Rather much the antithesis of: “if you see someone in distress in the water (in the old days that would be “drowning,” but of course we don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings now-a-days), the first thing you do is NOT jump in.” The modern version is more like: “if you want to be in distress in the water, don’t bother me.”

So, based on the Founder’s example, The Church is also counter-cultural. When it discards all it stands for, it stops being The Church. This is not religion of any kind: this is logic.

I want a corpus on a cross. I want a Crucifix. Sure, it is fabulously wonderful that Christ conquered the Cross, and celebrating the empty cross is a good thing. But, not at the expense of recalling what it took to get there. In the Garden of Gethsemane, remembered as the First Sorrowful Mystery of the Rosary (for those of us blessed to pray the Rosary – sorry about you other heathens), Christ cried. Very poetically, “like drops of blood.” Why did He cry? “For being done too soon,” as Neil Diamond sang? Perhaps. Maybe more out of frustration that His sacrifice (wanna talk “mortification of the flesh”?) would not save us all. Oh, it could, of course. Let there be no doubt that, if it wasn’t up to us (us and our damnable free will), that Crucifixion would have been more than enough to save us all – all of us, forever.

And so, I wear a Crucifix on a chain around my neck. I have a short memory; I need the reminder. And, I wear it on the outside of my shirt; I don’t want anybody asking me if I’m Catholic (obviously, if I was a lot more saintly, others would know I was Catholic by my behavior and they would not need a chunk of metal on my chest to tell them. What can I say? I’m a sinner. Sue me.)

I want a Church that helps me not be just another lemming, following the crowd, obsessed with sensual gratification, instant reward (and the less I have done to earn it, the better), the accumulation of toys (news flash: the person with the most toys definitely does not “win”). Yeah, I try to avoid eating meat on Fridays; but then, I try to avoid eating meat every day. The other six days, I try to avoid meat for me, for my health, for consciousness of how little others around the world have to eat, for awareness that the American love affair with beef is not environmentally sustainable. I try to avoid eating meat on Fridays not for what I am, but for who I am. Six days a week, I am concerned about physical health, one day a week I am concerned about spiritual health. (Actually, if the truth be known, I am not a foodie: food is only a fuel, not a life altering event. Honestly, I seldom think about food. Sorry, Scott.)

I’m all for priests not marrying. I do love the irony: looking at my life, it is clear the only way I could have kept my jeans zipped was to die trying. So, it’s something else? Yeah: lack of distractions. I have tried keeping one foot in the secular world: being married, providing for a family (i.e., having a job, even a job I detest); and trying to put the other foot into the camp of salvation: more prayer time, more study of the Bible and other writings (sometimes called “commentaries,” or Tradition – no, the capital T is not a typo; old Catholics know what I’m talkin’ ‘bout). The day just is not long enough for me; but then, I’m slow.

Y’know, when your tooth aches, you want your dentist right now. You don’t want to hear an answering company say that he/she is taking a much deserved holiday in the Bahamas. When you get a letter from the IRS, you don’t want you accountant to shuffle thru his calendar and tell you he’s got an opening on April 16th. When you go to the emergency room at 2 o’clock in the morning with a racing, pounding heart, you don’t want the single on-duty receptionist (in the old days, that would be a fully qualified nurse) to take her time finding the right forms for you to fill in. I don’t want my priest, my spiritual advisor to have other things on his mind. Laser-focus, that’s what I’m after.

GOD love him if he wants a wife and kids; Jesus’ first miracle was at a wedding (yes, beyond doubt, a heterosexual wedding). GOD love him if he just can’t devote every moment of his life to the greater glory of GOD (GOD knows I haven’t). But, if he’s going to claim to be a priest, I want a priest of the old school – the order of Malchizedek. He’s going to be dependable. Maybe not instantly available; but when I call (e.g., every Sunday), I know what I’m getting. And what I’m getting, I’m getting only in a Catholic Church. The last thing I want to hear from the pulpit is “I’m ok and you’re ok and that’s ok.” For Heaven’s Sake: I’m a sinner, you’re a sinner, now what are we going to do about it?”

I want to be associated with an institution that says that ending human life is always a bad thing. Bad, bad, bad. Period. End of discussion. As a Marine, this is the most difficult Teaching I have to deal with. But, I never killed a child, or to my knowledge, an unborn baby. Small consolation perhaps; but also reality. So, it makes me want to reach for my Kabar when someone wants an abortion because that human life yet unborn is inconvenient. You want “inconvenient”? You might find your blood on the floor terribly inconvenient.

Who you fuck is your business, just get it out of my face. Dunno which is worse: current society’s obsession with sex, or making it the most important thing in the world. Beyond the constant reminder that some people define themselves by their “sexual orientation,” I find homosexuality both revolting and interesting. Kinda like the “mad scientist” who enjoys watching rats in the maze he’s constructed, but would never want to be in that maze himself.

Revolting because as a supremely devout heterosexual, I can’t imagine anything more disgusting than having sex with another man. And this, keeping in mind that GOD did not make every woman to look like Angelina Jolie. I mean, projectile vomiting comes to mind. Ok, so you say po-tay-to and I say po-tah-to. Fine, just get it out of my face. Puh-leez.

Interesting in that supposedly intelligent people can think it could possibly be intelligently rational. Whatever else you might think, each and every species of every living thing there ever was needed to reproduce itself. (The opposite of reproduce is “extinct” – in case you slept thru 9th grade biology.) Granted, some species don’t need other members of their species to reproduce; but it might be safe to say those species were, um, shall we say, anomalous? Statistically, there just aren’t many of them. And, scientifically, there might be some justification for that ability (like: simple lack of mates – something I submit is not the case with human beings).

Which leads us to the question of how homosexual human beings propagate. Physically, they don’t. Pretty simple. Absolutely irrefutable. If homosexuality is somehow “normal”; how come they can’t “normally” make more of their own kind? Think about it.

Birds fly, fish swim. This is called “natural law.” Every creature, plant or animal, has characteristics, or attributes. Human beings are intelligent enough to fabricate flying machines and swimming machines, but it is still a machine with a human in it. And, frankly, I kinda like that. And, I think my wife kind likes the idea that when we go to bed, I’d rather be with her than a goat. Or, duck-billed platypus. I like a church that says I might enjoy observing, or preserving spotted owls, but I am not one.

While I make my way thru this thing called Life, and I am assaulted with things that just don’t feel right, I like the rock that is my Church. Was it ever perfect? Did it ever do everything right? Hell, it doesn’t now. But, as a believer, I believe there is more than just “this Life.” Unlike an atheist who spends his life looking at this shoes, I spend by life looking at the stars. Unbelievers believe in the finite; I believe in the Infinite. Meanwhile, I have to roll up my sleeves; I have work to do. Thanks for reading. I hope to see you again. All comments are always welcome – life is a dialogue. And, eternity is a long time.

Bake a cake

Years ago (in another time, another galaxy), I had a wife who would bake a “German Chocolate Cake” for me, for my birthday. As it turned out, her father’s favorite was the same; but since neither of us knew that at the time, I don’t think that is why he let me marry her. In any event, a “German’s Sweet Chocolate” based cake is not a matter of opening a box, adding some water and throwing it in the oven for forty minutes. It’s not really a difficult cake to make, but it is involved and takes some effort time, and above all, a recipe (read: plan).

The ingredients are: 1 pkg. (4 oz.) BAKER’S GERMAN’S Sweet Chocolate; 1/2 cup water; 4 eggs, separated; 2 cups flour; 1 tsp. baking soda; 1/4 tsp. salt; 1 cup butter, softened; 2 cups sugar; 1 tsp. vanilla; 1 cup buttermilk; Coconut-Pecan Filling and Frosting (personally, I think using frosting out of a can is not only cheating, but rather defeats the point of a made-from-scratch cake). Yeah, not a box cake; but one that requires forethought and planning (I know my kitchen doesn’t have even half that stuff sitting on the shelf right now); and some time and effort when it comes time to bake. Being a triple layer cake, the temperature of the frosting is important (think Goldilocks and her search for the perfect bowl of oatmeal).

But, this posting is not about baking or the culinary arts.

There I was: 1:30 in the morning, siting (well, actually reclining) on the sofa, with a glass of wine (need you ask?), a candle (another given), and chant squeaking thru my smart phone. Enjoying the quiet and the steady strum of falling rain (it’s early days in the rainy season here in Seattle; ask me about enjoying the rain six months from now). When I was able to get my brain around this whole “creationism versus Darwinism” thing (musta been a recent reference to “Inherit the Wind” on Edmund Stone’s “The Score” radio program about the famous – yes, very famous, if you don’t know the story, shame on you – “Monkey Trial” of 1925 in the State of Tennessee).

I’ve never doubted that GOD created it all, everything, every-little-thing. And, I’ve always loved science; I’m not from Missouri, but I do enjoy a good proof.

Perhaps out of ignorance I accepted both the possibility that GOD did create and that things evolve. Maybe out of ignorance, but I slept just fine. In the vernacular: “It’s works for me.”

But, consider the cake: the right ingredients (my favorite herb, basil, just doesn’t fit), the right amounts and mixing (dry with dry, wet with wet, then combine – but is it combine the wet with the dry, or the other way around?). Let the chemistry begin. Add some heat, if you please; but not too much and not too long. And presto! What went into the oven is definitely not what comes out of the oven.

And some would argue: Stasis! The cake, once out of the oven, doesn’t change…doesn’t evolve. But, for those in the know, we know that anything made with butter tastes better the next day (altho this particular cake seldom lasted that long, if there was anyone else around to help me eat it).

So, GOD created, not objects, but a system. An ecosystem. However inconvenient that might be to some people. The ingredients that came together continue to work together. We can muster all of the fancy tools of science to see that our world is not static; there are geologic as well as climate changes all around us to see every day. Did GOD create today’s “global warming” (the angst is definitely man-made)? Science has proven, as only science can, that the earth’s climate does shift from warm to cold – there is nothing to refute that. Yet, we are surprised. Is the globe getting warmer (or, is it colder; I forget) because GOD stuck his fingers in the pie (sorry, cake) and “made it so”? More likely, GOD created a system that is dynamic, not static. A geological world that is constantly changing (sometimes fast – we can see it; sometimes slow – we can imagine it). A meterological world (I wanted “climatic world” – but that just didn’t fit, altho the pun is almost irresistible) that is clearly “weird”, if nothing else.

And, within this system, this Divinely Created System, there are creatures (I guess, if you’re gonna have a Creator, you gotta have creatures) and objects. The system is Divine and so everything in the system is the result of GOD’s Plan (or, recipe, if you prefer). Do we human beings change? Do you read the news? In my lifetime I see behaviors that were unimaginable forty years ago. And I see activity that should have died out long ago.

I’ve never doubted GOD, or the existence of GOD. I have always loved learning; I have always loved science. For me, they have never been in conflict. In fact, if science (which comes, of course, from the Latin for “I know”) proves anything, it proves the existence of GOD.