Saturday, April 30, 2011

Mikey Bustos: Introduction

Mikey Bustos is a twenty-nine year old singer-songwriter from Toronto, Ontario. Born to Filipino parents, he is growing a cult following both in North America and in the Philippines.

He came on to the Canadian pop scene in August of 2003, when he placed as seventh runner-up on the first season of Canadian Idol. This was despite a significant fan base that grew from his performances, and the way he completely overwhelmed the judges at his audition, described by one critic as “a slightly strange looking young man with a shaved head and the voice of an angel.”

His original song “Everytime My Heart Beats” has become a YouTube sensation -- the singing actually starts at 09:47 -- but perhaps its most unique contribution to the viral world, is his series of videos on various aspects of Filipino culture. Beginning tomorrow, and every day through Mother's Day, a certain mother of three devoted daughters, who is now on the other side of the planet, will see this series dedicated to her.

I didn't really have anything else planned, and if I did, she wouldn't be here anyway. One does what one can with what one has, don't you think?

Or don't you?

(Tomorrow: The Filipino Accent Tutorial)

Friday, April 29, 2011

FAMW: Being Your (Damn) Self

On the first of May in 2009, we featured this song by Men Without Hats. It was a joyous tune to welcome in the spring, as is done throughout the British Isles on that day. Meanwhile ...

At the high school I attended back in Ohio in the early 1970s, the idea that one could be honored for anything other than athletic or academic achievement was completely foreign. Nothing else brought honor and glory to the school, so what was the point? Maybe it was just the school I attended. Actually, I'm pretty sure it was. The good news is, they've wised up since then. I believed it happened in the 1980s, when Huey Lewis announced to the world that it was finally “hip to be square!”

I don't usually watch the TV series Glee. I can't even remember what network it's on. Watching a series is an investment. You have to stick around for the next episode and see what happens to so-and-so, and I just don't have that kind of time. But I did have time for this number, which could happen at any time, at any shopping mall, on the part of those who have the right to be themselves. You may hear about kids with same-sex attraction being bullied, and how serious the problem is. It's not the whole story, not even close. You never have to be different in sexual proclivity to be bullied. All you really have to be ... is different.

And so, we celebrate being the way God made us, with the hope of living according to His plan, during this Octave of the Resurrection of His Son, and for this week's Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy.

And "thank you for letting me be myself ... again."

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Married But Not With Each Other: A Call For Entries

(Apologies to Barbara Mandrell for the title.)

You are a single woman in your late twenties or early thirties, introduced to a gentleman at a party. You have seen him on occasion in a distant pew when you go to Mass. He is by himself tonight as well, near the buffet table, nursing a drink. He is handsome, well-dressed, and good humored, and you wonder why no one else is paying much attention to him. But for the moment, you don't care why. You are left to continue the conversation. You talk about how you each know the host(ess), your respective occupations, the weather, all in no particular order. And then you make the leap of faith.

"So, are you married?"

"No, actually, I'm divorced. She and the kids left me for the mailman some years ago. Haven't seen them since."

"Oh, that's ... terrible! (You pause, as he is rather matter-of-fact about it.) So, you've got an annulment, right?"

If he can be cavalier about it and say, "Oh, sure, got that a couple years ago," the conversation moves on, for obvious reasons. But what if it doesn't? What if he says, "Well, I tried, actually. Didn't have a case. So it goes."

After a very pregnant pause that lasts barely a second, you look over his shoulder at a completely blank wall across the room. "Would you excuse me, I just saw someone I know. It was very nice meeting you." He is also not stupid, of course, as you leave him at the buffet table; him looking at his watch, you listening to your biological clock.*

+    +    +

Most written works -- no, make that damn near all of them -- about Catholics and divorce will at least assume the prospect that the failed marriage will be decreed null and void. They're handing such decisions out like candy, right? Never mind that it takes six to eighteen months and you end up tearing your guts out remembering things you thought you repressed for a very good reason. Be that as it may, a "petition for declaration of nullity" -- some are quick to point out that is what they're actually called, but people use a single word to save time, so get over it already! -- is touted as part of the healing process, the key to moving on in life.

But what if you can't? What if you don't? How do you move on without ... moving on?

If you are a Catholic man who is in this situation, who endeavors to be faithful to his obligations, and would agree to be interviewed, I would look forward to hearing from you, and doing a piece on that aspect of your life; how the marriage failed (the short version will suffice), how you learned that you did not have a case for nullity, how you learned to move on, social interaction, relations with women, assorted advice, et cetera. While I would certainly consider interviewing a woman, I am citing a preference for a man, because men do not bond with one another as easily as do women, thus are deprived of one avenue of solace. There is also less likelihood of having child-rearing responsibilities in common. Not having a particular interest in playing or watching sports is another plus, as that is about the only way most men ever bond, if you can call it that. Men with same-sex attraction cannot be considered. This is not a poor reflection on their particular challenge, rather that attraction to women is unlikely to be an issue.

There is no deadline for this, and you will remain anonymous throughout the process. This piece will only appear on the blog, so I will not get paid. (Like that's gonna happen here, right?) But if it is picked up by anyone who does pay, we will split the predictably paltry earnings, just to be fair. I'm keeping my day job.

I'm also not holding my breath.

* Actually, no, this hasn't quite happened to me. I tend to look for a better class of people. They're not always Catholic.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

How to Avoid the Royal Wedding (and Find Inner Peace)

Kathy Shaidle draws our attention to a handy guide from Rick McGinnis of Landmark Report, on how to avoid the impending celebrity nuptials:

1. Avoid all media.
2. Avoid British people.
3. Be a dude.

I can work with this.

Art-For-Art’s-Sake Theatre: Phoebe Snow (1950-2011)

Time once again for our usual midday Wednesday feature.

American singer, songwriter, and guitarist Phoebe Snow died yesterday, from complications related to a cerebral hemorrhage she suffered this past January. She was 60.

Snow is best known for her 1974 debut single, "Poetry Man," shown here in a 1989 comeback performance. It reached number five on the Billboard Hot 100 that year, and earned her a nomination for a Grammy Award for Best New Artist. She made ten singles, sixteen albums, three compilations, and was a featured guest on three other singles. For all that, her later years saw were mostly out of the public eye, to care for a severely brain-injured daughter, who died in 2007. She released one live album the following year.

One overlooked aspect of Snow's abilities, was as a guitarist. It is only in recent years that women have been highlighted as instrumentalists in their own right, but in a performance of "Poetry Man" on NBC's Tonight show at the time of its release, the guitar was barely audible, due to a technical oversight by the studio. Thankfully, fewer women have to contend with this today.

Rest in peace.

Canaanites Revisited

As this is published, the annual National Catholic Prayer Breakfast and Neo-Con Lovefest is underway here in Washington, DC. Yours truly couldn't make it this year, and there's a reason.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Random Thoughts About T-shirts

They started life as men's underwear. Then farmers and minors in the late 19th century started taking off their shirts when the weather got hot. In the early 20th century, the underwear-as-outerwear was associated with manual labor. Then along came Marlon Brando and James Dean in the 1950s, and underwear simply became outerwear. Then outerwear became a billboard, for an event, a message, or ... who know's what else?

I have several drawers full of t-shirts, some of which I haven't worn in years, and not just because they no longer fit. They come from folk dance weekends in the early 90s, cajun-zydeco dance camps in the 00s. There is one featuring an icon of the Madonna and Child, and another with the American flag done up in an antique appearance. Too many memories go along with them to part with them, although most of the cajun-zydeco set got pitched, on behalf of memories of drunken idiots behaving badly after you work your @$$ off for them I would sooner do without. I even designed a t-shirt once many years ago for a folk festival. It was so popular, the following year someone took a whole bunch of them in different color choices, and made a quilt out of them to raffle off at the same event. Nothing like that has ever happened since. Ironically, they stopped asking me to design their t-shirts.

That was twenty years ago. I still don't get it.

Even the scriptures make reference to "putting on the new Man." It is a reference to Christ, but the metaphor of clothing is meant to convey to us, the identity of our vesture with ourselves. "Clothes make the man" as the saying goes. In more recent years, t-shirts have carried a message which ostensibly speaks truth to power, or is meant for the comprehension of a limited audience. It is easier than a secret handshake, which is more convenient when lost in a crowd. It is meant to send a message across that crowd.

Sometimes it sends the wrong message, especially when approaching or Holy Communion, and the priest wonders if you understand your own message, or if he needs to send YOU one. It makes you want to ask yourself ...

Obligatory Head-Covering-For-Women-In-Church ... Thing

Is the canon law that women's heads must be covered in church still in force?

The short answer is ... NO.

The almost-short answer is ... for the Ordinary Form of the Mass (the "Novus Ordo Missae"), NOT EXPECTED; for the Extraordinary Form of the Mass (the "Traditional Latin Mass," the "Tridentine Mass," or the "Old Mass"), CUSTOMARY. Further, the original requirement did not narrow the head covering to a mantilla, nor was there a requirement regarding color. A woman's head covering could be an Easter bonnet (you know, with all the frills upon it), any sort of hat to match your outfit, or simply (believe it or not) a facial tissue held on top of your head with a bobby pin.

The longer and most definitive answer is ... at

In any case, men may NOT wear a head covering when in church, except for specific clerical headgear (biretta, mitre, zucchetto), and then only under specific circumstances.


Monday, April 25, 2011

Dude, we missed Earth Day!

Yeah, we did. It was last Friday, but we were too busy worshipping the Creator, as opposed to the Creation. That's how we roll here at mwbh. Meanwhile ...

It has been reported that, in order for the rest of the world to have the same standard of living as the United States, it would require the natural resources of at least six planet Earths. We read that there's a sci-fi film coming out about a parallel earth that shows up out of nowhere, and judging from the trailer, that sounds complicated enough, never mind having five more showing up behind it. It's something to think about while we're paying through the nose for a tank of gas.

And we can think about this too. In 1981, this writer payed $12.50 for filling the tank with about ten gallons. Now, that comes to $1.25 per gallon. Consider the prospect of eventually paying $4.00 per gallon (which would be, uh, right about now). Adjusted for the consumer price index (CPI), paying $1.25 back then is like paying $3.07 now. And when you also factor improvements in gas mileage over thirty years, the REAL cost of a tank of gas for the average American hasn't risen that much -- yet.

Yes, we must all learn to get by with less, but it does not require draconian methods. Nor does it require listening to the loser who is the subject of this video. For more about him, and other cake-eaters like him, click here.

Or consider an alternative by corporate takeover whiz and all-around rich dude T Boone Pickens. Whatever.

Will the GOP play the “Trump Card” in 2012?

Syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin strongly suggests otherwise.

I'm a South Jersey gal who was raised on the outskirts of Atlantic City in the looming shadow of Trump's towers. All through my childhood, casino developers and government bureaucrats joined hands, raised taxes and made dazzling promises of urban renewal. Then we wised up to the eminent-domain thievery ... Championing liberty begins at the local level. There is nothing more fundamental than the principle that a man's home is his castle. Donald Trump's career-long willingness to trample this right tells you everything you need to know about his bogus tea party sideshow.

In his 1928 dissent to Olmstead v United States, Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis famously defined privacy as "the right to be left alone." Those who are discontent with the current administration need to ask themselves if, for all the public display, Donald Trump is the viable alternative he professes to be.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Random Thoughts at Resurrection

It was on an Easter Sunday, and all in the morning,
Our Savior arose, and our heavenly King.
The sun and the moon, they both did rise with him,
And sweet Jesus we’ll call him by name.

+    +    +    +    +

Ye humble souls that seek the Lord,
     Chase all your fears away;
And bow with rapture down to see
     The place where Jesus lay.

I awoke early this morning, around 7:30. The History Channel was showing a documentary on the practice of crucifixion in ancient times, a preview of which is shown in this clip produced by one of the actors in the piece. (CONTENT WARNING: Violent scenes and graphic images.) You always think you know how gruesome it was until you watch something like this. It was hard enough watching scenes from Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, and even that was a mild representation. Imagine a system of belief rising up against the face of terror. It is one that has shaped the fate of the world for two millennia, and has yet to be defeated.

Thus low the Lord of Life was brought,
     Such wonders love can do;
Thus cold in death that bosom lay,
     Which throbbed and bled for you.

This year, the Paschal Triduum went on as usual. As it is a celebration of the entire parish, the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite is used -- the "Novus Ordo Missae" -- albeit in Latin and English, with the altar "ad orientem" (facing east, or as it is incorrectly termed, with "the priest's back to the people"). I was an advisor during the rehearsals, but during the Mass was transitioned from the usual Master of Ceremonies role to being a "Privy Chaplain." In more solemn celebrations of the Mass, with multiple high churchmen in attendance, one or two minor clerics would be on hand for each prelate to attend to his needs, especially in light of either their rank, or their degree of infirmity. So I didn't do much, and I still got a good seat with the "clerics in choir." The music, the chant, the saga of passion, death, and resurrection -- it was awesome.

But raise your eyes and tune your songs;
     The Saviour lives again:
Not all the bolts and bars of death
     The Conqueror could detain.

One factor in all this, was a young seminarian from the parish, soon to be ordained to the diaconate, whose presence warranted a leadership role. He's been with us for the last few years at this time, and while I am no substitute as a mentor for a parish priest, I do have the opportunity to help familiarize them with the various liturgical books and ceremonial details. I rather enjoy that part of the job, and one after the other will come and go, and be the next generation of priests. It's like being an assistant to the steward of the vineyard, and enjoying the bearing of fruit just the same.

High o'er the angelic bands He rears
     His once dishonoured head;
And through unnumbered years He reigns,
     Who dwelt among the dead.

With Sal out of the country, the rest of the day was rather quiet. Even the local Target superstore was closed on Easter Sunday! And here I thought the forces of secularism had won. But I went to the local family restaurant in McLean for a brunch of steak and eggs, topped off by a Bloody Mary. Well, actually, TWO Bloody Marys. Back in Ohio, a few of the clan gathers at Mom and Dad's for at least part of the day. I have no family here, of course, only the benefit of a phone line. But after twenty years of this life, you get used to the idea. At least it's not very high maintenance. But things will pick up fairly quickly in May. I'll be MC'ing both a priest's anniversary Mass, and a wedding. Each has a story of its own, and hopefully they'll find a place here.

With joy like his shall every saint
     His vacant tomb survey;
Then rise with his ascending Lord
     To realms of endless day.

I also get photos from the Philippines via Facebook, of someone obviously very much in her element. We talk via Skype about every other day. Manila is just twelve hours ahead of the eastern USA, so it's easy to figure out the best time to connect. Still, it's not the same, and she never calls when she's supposed to. I could just be sitting here minding my own business, when ...

Philip Doddridge (1702-1751)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

“Now it was the day of preparation ...”

“Remembering, therefore, this salutary command, and all that was done in our behalf: the cross, the tomb, the resurrection on the third day ...”

(From the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom)

Friday, April 22, 2011

T S Eliot Explains It All For You

The dripping blood our only drink,
The bloody flesh our only food:
In spite of which we like to think
That we are sound,
    substantial flesh and blood --
Again, in spite of that,
    we call this Friday good.

(H/T to Steven Schloeder.)

Miserere Mei

This depiction of Diego Velázquez's crucifixion is accompanied by the setting of Psalm 50(51) composed by Gregorio Allegri (1582-1652) - both masterpieces of the 1630s. Allegri's setting was originally deemed so sublime, that it was only ever performed annually on Spy Wednesday and Good Friday in the Sistine Chapel. Transcribing it or performing it elsewhere was punishable by excommunication.

Miserere mei, Deus:
    Have mercy on me, O God,
secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
    according to thy great mercy.
Et secundum multitudinem
    And according to the multitude
miserationum tuarum,
    of thy tender mercies
dēlē iniquitatem meam.
    blot out my iniquity.
Amplius lavā me ab iniquitate mea:
    Wash me yet more from my iniquity,
et a peccato meo mundā me.
    and cleanse me from my sin.

Meanwhile, the faithful keep watch, preparing for the great Vigil.

Good Friday

It was on a good Friday,
    and all in the morning,
They crucified our Savior,
    and our heavenly King.
And was not this
    a woeful thing
And sweet Jesus,
    we’ll call him by name.

From "the third hour" until "the sixth hour."

From sext to none.

From noon until three in the afternoon.

Scripture tells us that our Lord was dying on the cross at this time, culminating in the words “Consummatum Est” (“It is finished”).

When we were kids, growing up in Ohio, we would either go to church for Stations of the Cross or some related devotion, or if we were at home, Mom would turn the radio off, and we would be admonished to be quieter than usual. It marks the consummation of the ultimate act of sacrificial Love, that of the Bridegroom with His bride.

Elsewhere in Cincinnati, a venerable custom dating a century and a half still takes place on this day. Rich Leonardi of Ten Reasons provides the details, and the Passionist Historical Archives elaborates on the legacy of “St Mary’s of the Steps.”

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Ad Completorium

Sam and Dean Winchester ask the same question repeatedly, without appearing to get an answer. Will they ever find it?

Ecce quam bonum et quam jucundum habitare fratres in unum. "In our times of conflict and economic distress, Psalm 133 is like water on parched ground. People who are divided and estranged from one another need God's call to 'live together in unity.'" (Nancy Koester,

(VIDEO: Featuring "Ad Completorium: Pslamus 133" by the Cistercian Monks of Stift Heiligenkreuz, "Evil Awaits" from Supernatural, and "Horrible Theme" from Dr Horribles Sing Along Blog.)

Clean Livin’ and Fancy Footwork

[The following was first published in the spring of 2005. In light of some dioceses going on record as "winking" at variance from correct practice for Holy Thursday's foot-washing ritual -- my hometown Archdiocese of Cincinnati is no exception -- we present here our annual reprint, with slight editing for clarity, or sudden inspiration. All that, and I've got some new people in the audience. -- DLA]

“Mandatum novum do vobis: ut diligatis invicem, sicut delexi vos, dicit Dominus. Beati immaculate in via: qui ambulant in lege Domini ...”

(“A new commandment I give unto you: That you love one another, as I have loved you, says the Lord. Blessed are the undefiled in the way: who walk in the law of the Lord ...”)

For the Christian world (both East and West this year), Holy Week is upon us. As with every year, the Mass of the Lord's Supper on the evening of Holy Thursday (this year on April 21), will be highlighted by the Washing of Feet.

The traditional number of participants with the priest is twelve, and the rubrics are specific that they be men (in Latin, viri selecti). Since most liturgical functions of the laity are open to both men and women, the significance of this restriction is lost on the general Catholic public. What's more, the exception is difficult to justify or explain at the parish level, and even parishes which are otherwise steadfast in devotion to Church teaching and practice, are known to allow women to have their feet washed.

Defenders of the practice, in addition to underscoring the need for fidelity to Church discipline in and of itself, are quick to point out the significance of the apostles' all being men, thus the connection with the institution of the ministerial priesthood is reinforced by only men's feet being washed.

While this position appears worthy of merit, it could be sufficiently challenged, given developments in liturgical law following the Second Vatican Council.

We should be reminded at the offset that the sanctuary, or presbyterium, as the place of presiding, was traditionally limited to men. Since a typical parish church did not have the benefit of a complement of minor clerics, men and boys of the parish would act as legitimate surrogates. (Some can still remember when a layman would be pressed into service at a Missa Solemnis as a "straw subdeacon.") Strictly speaking, and in the official ceremonials, this is still the case. It is only by legitimate indulgence in certain parts of the world (including nearly all of North America), that women perform liturgical functions -- reader, acolyte, and so on -- within the sanctuary. These indults were not instituted all at once, but at one time or another, in the last few decades of official liturgical reform.

Once exceptions were made (beginning with women as lectors, at the celebrant's discretion, in 1971), it was only a matter of time before others would follow, whether at the initiative of the Holy See (as in the case of extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, where a female Religious is actually preferred over an unconsecrated male), or an acquiescence to prolonged disobedience. What some defenders of the current directive fail to recognize, is that the connection to the ministerial priesthood was the traditional justification for all liturgical functions being restricted to men. This even applied officially to choristers until 1925, and ushers until 1969. (By the way, how often do we see female ushers at parishes which use altar girls?) The only significant exception that has not been made, is a practice that occurs only once a year, on Holy Thursday.

As to why the current practice of washing only the feet of men is still recognized as proper, the reasons vary. One is the perception that a change would be one more reinforcement of "caving in" to those who violate liturgical directives in Catholic worship. This sends the wrong message to those who endeavor to be compliant, whatever the discomfort. The allowance of female altar servers in 1994, which is said to have occurred against Pope John Paul II's privately expressed wishes, is a case in point.

There is also a matter of propriety. Depending on the setting, even the age of the priest, it may be considered inappropriate for a man to wash the feet of a woman with whom he is not on sufficiently familiar terms, let alone in public. Again, the sensibilities of those assembled may vary from one region to another, even one parish to another. I know there are people in "enlightened" parts of the world, especially in "über-enlightened" North America, where this is hard to believe. They should really see more of the world, or at least watch the National Geographic Channel.

Meanwhile, some parishes apparently feel the need to prove something to everybody, and will substitute the men-only foot washing with a Washing of Hands amidst the entire assembly. This is rather troubling, when you consider that it was Pontius Pilate who ceremoniously washed his hands in the presence of the crowd, to declare his resignation of Our Lord's eventual fate. If symbols are to have any enduring power, their meaning must be inherent, as opposed to being subject to whatever spin their manipulators (the staple of most parish liturgy committees) wish to impose on them. Or have we forgotten what happened to the Emperor who listened to his tailor, at the expense of his own good judgment?

Aside from whether we are to assume, that the original premise for the footwashing in our tradition is intended to remind us of the institution of the priesthood (and there is evidence to doubt that), it is best to follow the correct discipline of the Church in this matter. Even in our politically correct day and age, we have not entirely evolved beyond the separation of roles for male and female, and not just for setting preferences in the lifeboat. We are also obliged to set an example for ourselves and others. If I am a pastor who can play fast and loose with how the rules apply to me, how can I expect others to listen to me? Who determines what rules are okay to break or not to break?

“Charity in all things” is more than simply being nice. It is also a reason for doing good and avoiding evil, which means setting a proper example. And it is that example, which was the inspiration for our Lord washing the feet of his disciples.

It's not too much to ask for one evening of the year, don't you think?

Or don't you???

Maundy Thursday

It was on a
    maundy Thursday,
        and all in the morning,
They planted
    a crown of thorns
        on our heavenly King.
And was not this
    a woeful thing,
And sweet Jesus
    we'll call him by name.

Today begins the Sacred Triduum. We'll have more on this subject later today, including our oft-printed piece on the Ritual of Foot Washing and its place in Catholic liturgy. It is quiet here at Chez Alexandre, with preparations to be made, errands to be run, and ... more writing.

For a Catholic, as much as some try to deny it, the next three days are not business as usual. The whole of human history -- before, during, after -- turns on the events we remember this week.

Today’s meditation is from a poem by Jalaludin Rumi. It is translated by Coleman Barks and John Moyne, with music by David Wilcox and Nance Pettit, and is produced by Bob Carlton.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Divine Mercy: Understanding the Sacrifice of Christ

For Immediate Release
Contact: Sabatino Carnazzo, Director
Institute of Catholic Culture:

Arlington, VA (April 20, 2011)— On Wednesday, April 27 at 7:30 PM, the Institute of Catholic Culture will host a lecture entitled, “Divine Mercy: Understanding the Sacrifice of Christ” featuring Father Benedict Groeschel, CFR, as speaker. The lecture will be held at Saint Leo the Great Catholic Church, 3700 Old Lee Highway, Fairfax, VA.

The great feast for all Christians is the day of the Resurrection of the Lord, Easter Sunday. And at the heart of this glorious day is the person of Jesus Christ, who, by his passion, burial, and resurrection has destroyed the power of death and given eternal life to mankind. In recent years, the Roman Catholic Church has focused the attention of the faithful on the mystery of our Lord’s life-giving death by celebrating “Divine Mercy Sunday” on the first Sunday after Easter.

Join the Institute of Catholic Culture and world renowned spiritual master, Fr. Benedict Groeschel, for this evening study of our Lord’s “Divine Mercy,” and discover the hidden plan of God for you and for all mankind. All are welcome. No reservation required. Free Admission. For more information, please visit or call (540) 635-7155.

Art-For-Art’s-Sake Theatre: The Cardinal (in 8 Minutes)

Time once again for our regular midday Wednesday feature (if a little behind schedule, like everything else lately).

The Cardinal is a 1963 film starring Tom Tyron as a fictional Irish Catholic priest, Stephen Fermoyle, and spanning the years from his ordination to the priesthood in 1917, to his elevation to the cardinalate on the eve of the Second World War. The film was based on the novel by Henry Morton Robinson. It was shot on location in Boston, Rome, and Vienna. The Vatican cooperated with the production of the film, through its liaison, a young Bavarian priest named Josef Ratzinger.

Seven minutes into this clip, we see the Catholic people of Austria defying tyranny through nonviolence, as well as their singing of the "Alleluja" from Mozart's "Exsultate, Jubilate."

One of our faves here at mwbh.

Spy Wednesday

It was on a Holy Wednesday,
    and all in the morning
When Judas betrayed
    our dear heavenly King.
And was not this
    a woeful thing,
And sweet Jesus,
    we'll call him by name.

This day in Holy Week is known among Western Christians by the above title (or among Christians in the East, Μεγάλη Τετάρτη, in case you were wondering), as tradition commemorates this day for when Judas Iscariot conspired with the Sanhedrin to betray Our Lord, in exchange for thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 26:15). Was that a lot of money in those days? The term in the original language, "arguria," simply means "silver coins." Historians disagree as to what form of currency is described. They could have been either staters from Antioch, tetradrachms from Ptolemy, or shekels from Tyre. (Nothing about Greek drachmas, which were either bronze, copper, or iron. Just so we're clear on that.)

Closer to the present, it is also when we here at man with black hat interrupt our usual blogcasting in order to focus on the Main Event. That said, due to the backlog of work from the last two weeks, we may be moved to make exceptions, at least for today and tomorrow. Stay tuned ...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

“Hail Mary” Banned at Brown

You can see these men in their red crusade banners and matching shoulder capes, leading the charge at the annual March for Life in Washington every January. They also play marching drums and blow long trumpets, like they've got this whole medieval crusader schtick going. It's pretty sharp, actually, if you're into that sort of thing.

This is a video of American TFP (Tradition, Family, Property) Student Action, demonstrating on behalf of traditional marriage at the campus of Brown University. The video does not show the extent of police protection, which is just as well, since the "enlightened" student body manages to assault the young men in more than one instance. The examples of insincere "tolerance" on college campuses and in the political arena are already legion, and are going to get worse in the years ahead.

Just ask these guys.

Manila Calling

After a flight from Dulles to Seoul, and a four-hour layover before heading to Manila (nearly 24 hours), our little jet-setting Sal has arrived. For once, she forsook her prerequisite foot spa for wining and dining with Chinese, then off with her three girls to a slumber party. (I wasn't invited. Of all the nerve ...) We spoke briefly on Skype. Our little Pinay Princess is in high spirits, despite being very tired. Here are the four of them together, staying up way past their bedtime. You guys already met the youngest one.

We're gonna reconvence on Skype tonight. Manila Time is exactly twelve hours ahead of Eastern USA Daylight Time, so it's not hard to compute for most of the year. I hope I'm up to writing stuff that actually matters. Meanwhile, my BP is up again, so I came home for a nap.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Joe Plumber’s Economics

[This reprint from October 2008 is in light of all the enthusiasm towards "more taxes for the rich," which many assume would solve a lot of problems, as opposed to creating a host of other ones. I realize some people may be tired of Joe the Plumber, don't ask me why. Just remember, someone running for President may decide to trample on YOUR front lawn some day. I rest my case. -- DLA]

Recently, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama got an earful from a plumber in my native Ohio. That plumber, Joe Wurzelbacher -- wouldn't you know, his name is Joe -- was interviewed later by Fox News Channel's Neil Cavuto. It seems that Obama's tax plan for those making over $250,000 a year, would have an adverse effect on small businesses throughout America. And even though those businesses provide a lot of jobs for Americans, what matters most of all here is Obama's stated intentions for redistributing the wealth of America, a plan which amounts to socialism.

Right about now, I wish I were Neil Cavuto, because I could then explain better why Obama's plan is a recipe for disaster. But since I'm not, I'll have to use an example that's been floating around the internet of late. Here we go ...

+ + +

Let's suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, [Pay attention, kiddies, here's the part where we do the math.] it would go something like this:

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay $1.
The sixth would pay $3.
The seventh would pay $7.
The eighth would pay $12.
The ninth would pay $18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

So, that's what they decided to do.

The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement until one day the owner threw them a curved ball (or is that a curved beer!). "Because you are all such good customers," he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20."

Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men - the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his "fair share?"

They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, [Okay, here's where the plot thickens.] then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer.

So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay. And so:

The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).
The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33% savings).
The seventh now paid $5 instead of $7 (28% savings).
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).
The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But once outside the restaurant the men began to compare their savings.

"I only got a dollar out of the $20," declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man, "but he got $10!"

"Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man. "I only saved a dollar too. It's unfair that he got ten times more than me!"

"That's true!!" shouted the seventh man. "Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!"

"Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison. "We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!"

The nine men surrounded the tenth man and beat him up. The next night the tenth man didn't show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. [Okay, here's where all that counting on our fingers and toes really pays off.] They didn't have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

Now, there are all kinds of proposals as to how our tax system can be completely overhauled. One is the so-called "flat tax," another is a variation with three levels based on income bracket. There have even been proposals to eliminate the federal income tax altogether, and go with the national sales tax. Some of the states have been using that for years. Then again, they don't have much of a defense budget, do they? All that aside, though, the above is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy and they just may not show up anymore.

In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.


(Tip of the Black Hat to the Pertinacious Papist, who looked the other way when I stole this. As always, I have no shame.)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

“I’m too sexy for my church, too sexy for my church, so sexy it hurts...”

[I have read that today is Pope Benedict's birthday. We've got Holy Week gearing up here, which makes us really desperate for ideas to mark the occasion. Here's one from March of last year (or what it the year before, I don't remember). If you can handle Photoshop images of him or his predecessor riding a surfboard, you shouldn't get a burr in your saddle over this one. In fact, this may be just right for starting Holy Week. Ad multos annos, Holy Father!-- DLA]

Lately we've read a lot of how the Vatican has created terrible public relations blunders, by making nice with Jewish leaders, by lifting the excommunications of separatist bishops, by pissing off Jewish leaders... the list goes on. The Cornell Society for a Good Time wants to know "Should the Holy Father be 'with it'?"

It is a good question, and an article worth reading. Depending on the answer, it can lead us down the wrong path. Some traditional Catholics believe that the late John Paul II tried too hard to cultivate a "rock star" image. I ask myself that question, whenever I walk through a Catholic bookstore these days, wondering how it is possible to add five mysteries to the "traditional" rosary, without reinventing the term "Our Lady's Psalter." (If you have to ask what that means, you're in no position to challenge it. Alas, another story for another day...) I also wonder about it when people attempt to assign delusions of grandeur to the very different man who is our current Pope. If this is how excited we get when an 80-year-old priest is seen in public wearing sunglasses, we’ve got a bigger problem with ourselves than the Vatican does with its public image.

I suspect the Holy Father gave up trying to second-guess the quirks of skeptics and unbelievers a long time ago. If you want to see a REALLY bad bungling of a popularity contest, read the sixth chapter of John. Obviously the subject of that episode should have paid better attention to his handlers. Likewise, when the excommunications of the four SSPX bishops were lifted, the Holy See had no control over who would or who would not “get it” when it came to what did and/or did not happen. In the overall scheme of things, it really doesn’t matter whether an empty suit on the evening news, or a certain nearly-bankrupt major daily newspaper makes of it. Those who want to know the real deal, know where to look, and where not to.

“We preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews indeed a stumbling block, and unto the Gentiles foolishness.” (1 Cor 1:23) Did we really think we’d have better luck with anything else?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Jon Stewart Revisited

For this Saturday night, as the backlog of actually-written articles continues to accrue, here's a palate cleanser for all you reluctant Jon Stewart fans. Not only does our pseudo-pundit take a few shots at people who take a few shots at Paul Ryan (and we'll have to deal with that old "tax cuts for the wealthy" canard one of these days), but he shines a light on the Newspeak in the President's speech. George "Read My Lips" Bush the Elder had his "revenue enhancement" moment, and just when you wondered if anyone could top that ...

(CONTENT WARNING: Mature subject matter in last ten seconds.)

Friday, April 15, 2011

FAMW: “Everybody in the house of love ...”

From the folks who brought you what are perhaps the finest flash dance mob productions in the known universe, comes this rehearsal for an upcoming wedding procession of a certain prince to a commoner. Although they managed to find a host of royal look-alikes, to the tune of music from East 17, I imagine they were able to secure the real Rowan Williams, the Anglican Communion's Archbishop of Canterbury. I wouldn't put it past him.

And as much as we wish the best for Prince William and Miss Kate, the closest we here at mwbh will ever get to coverage of the royal wedding, is our selection for this week's Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Guitar Workshop: “I’m Yours” Reconsidered

For today, we have yet another departure from the guitar, to a similar instrument, for those of you who like to spread their wings, and their collection.

Lately this writer has been shopping around for an ukulele -- not one of those really cheap ones that music stores used to sell, the ones that really don't play at all, but the ones that music stores now sell, some of which play well, others of which play very well. It seems that, where the accordion was the "dark horse" choice of instrument for musical geeks the 1980s, the ukulele is playing that same role in the 2010s.

Those of you who remember yesterday's piece on Jason Mraz' "I'm Yours" will remember our including a clip from the original version, played on the ukulele. I looked at dozens of tutorials, and they ranged from fair-to-middlin' to just-plain-awful. Those who weren't still on the learning curve themselves obviously never saw themselves on video, or they'd put bags over their heads to preserve their family's honor. But we did find one that simply shows the fingering for the "fiddly bits" which are best viewed in full screen mode:

2 - 4 2
2 - 4 2

2 - 4 1
2 - 4 2

2 - 4

3 3 - 4

... then the four-chord progression ...

4 3 2 2

3 1 2 1

1 3 4 2

4 4 0 2

... and a fifth chord for the climactic pause break at certain climactic places in the song.

1 1 1 2

With respect to the second video clip, it is probably better to learn the chord progression first, so that the sliding parts will make more sense. So, study the second clip, play along with the first clip, and for your next gig, have at it.

UPDATE: We would like to welcome the readers of The #ukulele Daily. We usually cover lots of other stuff. Sometimes we cover this stuff. And so it goes ....

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Art-For-Art’s-Sake Theatre: Rebecca Black Re-Revisited

Time once again for our usual (albeit a bit delayed) midday Wednesday feature.

Jeffrey Tucker of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, and scholameister/author of The Chant Cafe -- now there's a combination you don't see every day -- waxes eloquently on the libertarian allegory, in the video that has earned nearly 100 million hits.

Lovers of liberty are often drawn to such scenarios because they highlight the unknowability of the future, the unpredictability of human choice, and the way in which the intentions of the planners (in this case, the producers and writers) are easily upended by consumer choice, which is the driving force of economic progress.

But for all of that, as this clip will demonstrate, there is so much more.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ask me how’s the weather ...

... and I'll concede that I'm feeling under it.

My blood pressure was rather high this afternoon, the highest it's been in over a decade. As it was at "stage 2," the public health nurse urged me to go home. I'm on schedule with my medications, and it was not a particularly stressful day. At least not at work.

I have to admit, it has been all I could do to avoid biting some people's heads off lately. The weather has been up and down -- hot for two days, now suddenly cold -- so maybe that's it. I also tend to set high expectations for myself, then chastise myself if I don't meet those standards. There have also been some family tensions lately. My siblings, to their great credit, are not the type to hold grudges. But every now and then, you get the feeling there's some unfinished business from before puberty. Or something. Our parents are getting on in years, and from what I've seen from other families in the same situation, this may be the calm before the storm.

But enough of that already. If you can afford me "a wee bit o' prayer" before the day's end, I might get through the night alright. I expect Sal will look in on me tomorrow morning, as I don't have any family in the area, and I anticipate being confined to bed for much of the day. What would I do without her, I wonder?

I always have a rosary handy. This is Tuesday, the day for the Sorrowful Mysteries. It's getting to that time of year, you know. My usual schedule of publishing will continue tomorrow.

I hope.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Blognic at the Vatican (and why we should give a rat’s ...)

To coincide with the beatification of the late Pope John Paul II (sometimes referred to as "John Paul the Great" by those with misinformed enthusiasm), the Vatican has decided to invite a convocation of weblog authors -- "bloggers," if you will -- to the Eternal City on May 2. Katrina "The Crescat" Fernandez is actively engaged in a campaign on Facebook to be invited, and wants you to send them an e-mail and get them to invite her. Her cause may be lost, as events like these are generally reserved for what we could call "the usual suspects" -- bloggers who are either priests, well-established authors in print, or authors of dramatic conversion stories who know how to "speak to the kids of today." Groovy.

Those who attend the approved event will speak truth to power, or at least the truth those in power want to hear, kissing their rings (or whatever happens to be exposed for veneration) as they deliver their message of faith, hope, and mass consumption.

Meanwhile, Father Zuhlsdorf calls our attention to the "other" bloggers' event, also to be held in Rome, where the really KEWL kids are gonna be, namely at Scholar's Lounge Pub, Via del Plebiscito, 101b, and which is organized by our own Hilary Jane Margaret White. It is surely the preferable of the two events when it asks ...

"Do you suspect that they found your work just a leeetle too ... err... forthcoming about the bishops, the Church, the state of things?"

... and Father Z is no dummy. Yesterday, he announced he would attend the latter of the two "based on donations over the next few days before flights become too costly." That is all his loyal following of Z-Bots need to know. As of today, he's on the RSVP list as a "yes."

So, you must be telling yourself: “Aw, c'mon, O Mighty Black-Hatted One, you're just jealous because you aren't going!” Ah, my little minions, what fools you are to underestimate me. Were I to be in attendance, it would be at the same time that "Sal" is back in the Philippines, so the whole point of going to Rome would be to make HER jealous.

Barring that consideration, one must note that neither of these individuals gives much of a reason why YOU should spend your hard-earned money to send THEM to Rome for a vacation. Do you see that happening here? HELL NO! In fact, here are seven good reasons that none of you should even think about sending me a dime via my PayPal account using my familiar Yahoo address so that I may shamelessly attend this event:

1) Any form of mass communication relies on what is known as "the formula." This is especially obvious in commercial radio, but it shows up elsewhere as well. Producers and purveyors look for the comfort zone of their target audience, and aim toward the middle. To that end, I don't exactly fit the Roman-Catholic-poster child-mold. No, I don't mean that I'm a sinner and others are not, or that I'm not and other are. That's beside the point. I don't have that fresh-shaven face and button-down demeanor, with an adorable, devoted wife and five or six obedient children wearing matching outfits. There are also no stories in passing of loading the kiddies into the van for soccer games, or staying up nights to watch the youngest one with a cold. Never mind our uniqueness in the eyes of God. It's not how we're different from the viewer that draws them to read us by the thousands; it's how much they identify with us. I'm fifty-six years old, divorced, with a grown son who says he's no longer Catholic -- personally, I think he's bluffing -- who lives with his fiancée in another city. Not the kind of guy the Knights of Columbus will nominate as "family man of the year" anytime soon. Where is the inspiration in that, I ask you?

2) An occasion to remarry in the Church is obviously the result of an "automatic" process where tribunals spit annulments out like a Pez dispenser -- a process which, in turn, would have been undertaken while forsaking that of praying for ten or twenty years that my wayward spouse would return to me. (Hey, YOU try living with her!) In the meantime, I am very likely up to every manner of wickedness, which all of you are too polite to mention (and for which I am grateful, by the way).

3) I do not have some dramatic conversion story involving either a perilously misspent youth around glamorous people, or any number of years as a High Priest of Satan, which I can now parlay into a book deal and a lecture tour on how I saw the light of the True Faith, and how you after buying my book and reading every lurid detail can do the same. Truth be told, my quest for holiness has been very, very dull, hardly the stuff for mass consumption. It could be because I never stopped going to Mass, not even while in college. Could be, mind you. We may never know until ... well, you know. After all, the jury is still out on my level of virtue.

4) In fact, I don't parlay much of anything into a book deal and lecture tour. Not that I wouldn't want to someday. But many years ago, before the internet, I made the conscious decision to pursue a professional career with a large institution, one that provided for a wife and family, later one that provided regular child support payments for fourteen years, and now provides for regular mortgage payments, and an eventual retirement. Trying to live the faith while living a normal life without hanging around a rectory every other weeknight for a meeting or a conspiracy to "reform" everybody but myself. Knowing that at no time before the Second Coming will some guy wearing the famous Black Hat -- birettas not included -- will ever appear on EWTN. (Ain't gonna happen. Trust me.)

5) I don't jump on every story that hits the Catholic blogosphere within the same news cycle. Don't ask me how, but others have time for that. There appears to be a demand for posting links to a dozen stories a day and connecting them to clever witticisms, and doing that day after day. Maybe I just don't have the gift. What I do have, is the unmitigated gall to wait until they've all finished re-hashing the press releases, not to mention each other, and then provide some semblance of a thoughtful analysis. Occasionally something that a few people have missed, like ... oh, the big picture, maybe. In fact, if you didn't know better, you would think that I had done some serious reading on the subject. Or even had a mind of my own.

6) When it comes to assisting at Holy Mass, I'm not exactly groovin' to that rockin' Steubenville Sound (and some of you know exactly what I mean), nor am I totally in with the Tridentine-Mass-or-die crowd (although being a Master of Ceremonies for such occasions for the past three years can merit a few points). When it comes to matters of Catholic worship, I am clearly one of those "reform of the reform" guys, employing a term obviously coined by some crackpot theoretician to prolong worthless polemics and otherwise reinvent the wheel (and who, the way, is now the Pope.) So there goes two target audiences right there.

7) My weblog (I hate the name "blog", and use it only reluctantly) is not generously decorated with pictures of the Holy Father, Mother Teresa, and every other Catholic luminary on the fan-club curcuit. (As the Good Book says: "Put not your faith in princes.") It is, however, decorated with me, if sparingly. In fact, to know this was a "Catholic" blog, you'd probably have to break down and read it, as opposed to viewing a lot of pretty pictures, the posting of which involves relatively little skill (and a lot of bandwidth). That's when you'd discover that being Catholic, in the words of writer Thomas Storck, "can involve more than avoiding sin and exercising virtue." There is also the danger of actually learning something about the Faith that comes from actually reading more than a pithy paragraph.

So there you have it, kiddies; seven good reasons not to send me to Rome.

But ... were it to happen, those assembled would run the risk of hearing something truly original, as opposed to whatever's been regurgitated for the last three years on YouTube, and/or the last three decades in The Wanderer. Besides, if they really wanted to hear from me, the place has free wi-fi, and they undoubtedly have heard of Skype in Italy.

Let's see them show their cutting edge with that, and let you save your disposable income for the collection plate, or ... oh, maybe ... just maybe ... a REAL charity!!!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Whither Violet Veils?

Today, the Western church celebrates the Fifth Sunday of Lent. This was known in the traditional Roman calendar as “Passion Sunday.” The reading of the Gospel is the account of Our Lord being confronted by His detractors. This is excerpted from John 8:46-59:

The Jews therefore said to Him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?" Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I am." They therefore took up stones to cast as Him; but Jesus hid Himself, and went out from the temple.

For this reason, it is customary to cover all crucifixes and images of angels and saints with violet shrouds. The images of the crucifix are unveiled on Good Friday, while the others are left covered until the Easter Vigil.

And yet, for the reformed Roman liturgy, the following Gospel accounts are read for the three-year cycle of the lectionary.

Cycle A: John 11:1-45. Jesus learns of the death of His friend Lazarus, visits his tomb, and raises him from the dead.

Cycle B: John 12:20-33. As Jesus and His followers prepare to enter Jerusalem, He indicates to them the fate that awaits Him. "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified ..."

Cycle C: John 8:1-11. The scribes and Pharisees confront Jesus with a woman caught in adultery, in an attempt to trip him up, and the tables are turned.

None of these accounts have anything to do with the veiling of sacred images. Believe it or not, I did not realize this omission existed until now, and while I am not one to engage in "Novus Ordo-bashing," this does give me one more reason to prefer the Traditional form of the Roman Mass.

But hey, that's just me.

Friday, April 08, 2011

FAMW: Let the Rebecca Black Impersonators Have At It!

This is the video of Stephen Colbert singing “Friday” with Jimmy Fallon one week ago. Due to a bunch of candy-@$$ lawyers and their copyright restrictions, this video is reverse-view, so hold up a little mirror and watch "through a glass darkly" if it bothers you that much. You also have to skip to 0:40 to watch the video because YouTube only analyzes the first 40 seconds of the video for copyright purposes (as if they'll never catch on to this at some point).

Notice also the cameo appearance by The Roots, American Idol sensation Taylor Hicks, a dance troupe whose name I didn't get, and some black guy who's pretending to drive a car. All this because Jimmy Fallon promised that if $26,000 was raised for some charity whose name I also didn't get, Stephen Colbert would sing the number in question on Fallon's show.

What the hell else did you expect for this week's Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy?

(Copyright 2011 by NBC Universal. Reproduced here without permission or shame.)

Thursday, April 07, 2011


As this is written, that shanty-Irish son of a b!†©# who still managed to get re-elected as my Congressman, Jim Moran, is holding an "emergency" town hall meeting nearby, to discuss how the increasingly likely government "shutdown" is going to affect our area. Everyone in his district is invited to attend, if they can find any seats leftover from the union lackeys bussed in from out of state to stack the place.

It's not just Federal workers like yours truly who are affected by all this; it's government contractors, merchants and restaurants, especially those where Federal buildings are concentrated, not to mention everybody converging on the city this weekend to watch the cherry blossoms come into bloom, and who won't be able to visit any of the monuments, or any facilities run by the National Park Service.

We'll be providing more on the lowdown tomorrow. That's when everybody at my agency finds out who is "essential" and would have to come to work anyway. But you can just read the continuous Twitter-feed, and find out from all the would-be pundits for yourself:!/search/#ifgovernmentshutsdown

This all assumes that Congress and the President don't reach an agreement by the end of tomorrow night. Apparently they're hung up over whether we should have to subsidize Planned Parenthood. That's what all this comes down to, people -- free abortions for everybody. Watch the video; this is not about women's health.

It's a wonder this nation is still standing. God have mercy on America.

Guitar Workshop: “Heading for Nowhere”

We featured the band from Victoria, British Columbia, known as Jets Overhead, in a piece last August. This week for our Guitar Workshop, we're going to show how their hit "Heading for Nowhere" is played on rhythm guitar, featuring frontman Adam Kittredge. Our first clip is the "official" music video featuring the entire band.

This second clip is an acoustic rendition, with one Kittredge on guitar, backed by co-vocalist Antonia Freybe-Smith, on the CBC-TV series Q. The success of "unplugged" performances of otherwise "plugged-in" bands, shows how the song itself stands out on its own, free of the instrumentation and scale of production that can fill an arena, but is strictly overkill for an intimate setting.

As part of the "how-to" segment of the show, Kitteredge demonstrates how to play the song. This is suitable for the advanced beginner, someone who knows the basic barre chords, and isn't afraid to venture up the neck with them. It doesn't hurt to be able to sing either. Add the bass player doing the continuous eighth notes, a snare drum with a brush to round out the rhythm, and you have one more staple for the coffeehouse circuit.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

What Women (Don’t) Want

If you are to believe such drivel, Gay Hendricks, Arjuna Ardagh and a group of alleged "conscious men" from around the world grovel their apologies for what they call "thousands of years of imbalance between masculine and feminine energy, as well as vision of a new era of co-creation."

(Hang on, this gets better.)

Since it has been released, the embedding for the video has been disabled. The "men" who produced it announced on YouTube that ...

We have received thousands of comments, and many of them are highly abusive or offensive. We are happy to welcome all points of view, but not expressions of violence or hatred.

... which is New Age-speak for "You obviously see right through us for the over-educated weasels that we are, yet we lack the testicular fortitude to admit it, ergo this recourse to our typical passive-aggression."

Oh, snap!

As a younger man, I dated women from all over the world, women of many races and creeds. I was even married to a woman once. (Don't ask.) If there's one thing I can tell you -- JUST one -- that they all have in common (with one exception, see below), it is that they would agree with another woman named Lori Ziganto, who says that ...

If I ever – EVER – saw any alleged man doing or saying the things in this video, I’d call him Josephine then teach him how to stop being a little b!†©# ...

... as would about ninety-nine percent of the female population, including the ones who insist they have a right to be in combat with men to further their military careers, and still want first crack at the lifeboats when the ship is going down. An entire generation of women have been taught that they can have it both ways. They eventually discovered, that having it both ways means having it all. Some of them learn the hard way, that having it all is a lot of work. At some point, biology kicks in, and a woman discovers that her husband, no matter how much she wishes it were otherwise, is never going to be the one to get pregnant, and the natural division of labor sorts itself out from there. Fortunately, a new generation of women (or at least some of them) know better. The species may yet survive its recent collective errors.

If any woman says that the weenies in the video are what she wants in a man, she is either lying to the man in her life, or to herself (either being the aforementioned exception, see above). If the former, the man needs to run, not walk, from that dangerous excuse for a woman, while there is still time. If the latter, the woman will eventually emasculate the man, and then resent him for her success at so doing. That man should run even sooner, and obviously much faster.

Our sexuality is not just a biological construct, but an ontological one, something that no amount of artificial surgery will change, something ironically glossed over in all that yin/yang schtick you hear in the video.

Does this mean women should never go to college, have a career, or stand up to their husbands now and then? No, it means just what the hell I said it meant, that you cannot have it all.

It is also more than that. Men do not have to be brutes, and women do not have to be doormats. The history of Christendom is one of conveying this message, and that of God's plan for each to live in harmony, one with another. The instruction of Saint Paul to the Ephesians that husbands “love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (5:25) not only tells men what to do, but how. It is an obligation that is not imposed on the woman, but is a call to submission on the part of the man, and on its own terms. Catholics do not have to look to some fabricated "eastern" religion for this; it lives in their own back yard. If most converts in the early Church were women, that would have been a reliable indicator, don't you think?

Or don't you?

FOOTNOTE 1: Dom Bettinelli has some words of wisdom to impart on the subject as well, which we last shared with our captive audience this past August. Read it and weep, girls!

FOOTNOTE 2: The original alpha male responds. H/T to JCElephant.


Art-For-Art’s-Sake Theatre: “I’m Yours” (Jason Mraz)

It's time once again for our usual midday Wednesday feature. “I’m Yours” is the first top ten single for a Virginia-born singer-songwriter, now living in San Diego, named Jason Mraz. The song peaked at number seven on the Billboard Top 100 in 2008, and was nominated for a Grammy in 2009. There is more than one recording; at the least, a conventional studio version with full instrumentation, and an acoustic release. It still gets a fair amount of air play.

Our first clip is a live rendition of the latter, shown in Korea on EBS Television, and featuring singer-percussionist [insert name here]. The first half is the song itself, while the second is a pre-emptive encore and ... oh, almost forgot. There's also the original ukulele version, which is featured here on the second clip, along with the lyrics. Singing in two parts with the alternation of lyrics is the fun part, and for those of you on the coffeehouse circuit, it's one way to get the audience in on the act -- unless they've heard it a million times already, and that would be bad.

Of his childhood, Mraz has said:

My hometown of Mechanicsville was very American. There were white picket fences, a church on every street corner, low crime and virtually no drug use. It was a good place to grow up.

More recently, he announced his engagement last December to singer-songwriter Tristan Prettyman, but won't close the deal until gay "marriage" is legal. Since his intended is a woman, one wonders how this affects him personally.

And so it goes ...

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Your More Fears

On the first of the month, the first campaign television spot was unveiled by the committee seeking to re-elect the President. With the opposition yet to get its act together, this would indicate that the incumbent begins with a significant advantage. At the very least, we know where he stands, and what we can expect. So ask yourself, America: are you better off now than you were three years ago?

At least he's bringing America together.


DISCLAIMER: Actually, this is an ad designed by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, who is showing its good sportsmanship by giving the opposition a head start, and heralding a new era of civility in our political conversation. Or something.

THIS JUST IN: Politico via Sister Toldjah: "More popular than the real thing."


Monday, April 04, 2011

The Human Person in a Whole New Light (or, the Only Explanation of the Theology of the Body You Will Ever Need)

by Mary R Joyce, MA

In his theology of the body, Pope John Paul II stated something new in our way of thinking about us as human beings. Many people have welcomed his person-based view, but mistakenly thought, and still insist, that it should allow the "right to control my own body." Their concept of a person's body-control, like that of most contemporary personalists, includes contraception, abortion, assisted suicide, homoeroticism, and other such behaviors. So they simply decide that the Pope in inconsistent and not to be taken seriously.

But their form of personalism is extremely subjective. As a result, they see the human subject relating to the human body as to an object, and the subject as free to do with this object whatever the subject chooses. Most of the influential philosophers from Descartes (17th century) onward saw the human subject in a split subject-object way. With Sartre (20th century), this inner chasm became unbearably extreme. Contemporary personalism is strongly influenced by Catesian-Sartrean "schizophrenic" subjectivism. But John Paul II is no subjectivist.

As a follower of St Thomas Aquinas, the present Pope affirms the intrinsic oneness of soul and body in the human person. He does not see the body as an object to be managed by a "liberated," controlling subject. He and St Thomas agree on that point; on the same point, hoever, they also differ.

Different Points of View

St Thomas, following Aristotle, saw the soul-body union through the body. From this point of view, the soul exists in the body and is body-based.

In the light of the "image and likeness of God," Pope John Paul II sees the soul-body union from the opposite direction. He sees the body through the soul, which means that the body exists in the soul as the soul's intrinsic self-expression. The result is a definite shift in perspective, but with identical moral conclusions -- to the great disappointment of today's pro-choice personalists.

New Growth in the Roots

Because of its shift in perspective, the theology of the body implies new growth in the roots of metaphysics, the philosophy of being. In an age that challenges everything traditional, this further development is needed to strengthen the philosophical support for our religious faith. Without added depth to its metaphysical roots, especially in its first intuitions and intuitive judgments, the traditional philosophy of Aristotle and St Thomas is like an evergreen tree that is leaning heavily from prevailing winds and storms, and is losing its vitality. In this weakened condition, the great philosophy has been unable to prevent or deter the culture of death that is emerging from contemporary personalism and its background in history. Only by new growth in its roots can the "evergreen" increase its vitality and intensify its cultural influence.

From Nature to Being

Seeing the soul through the body is proper for the philosophy of nature, which approaches the spiritual through the material. But it is not proper for the philosophy of being, which approaches all things as beings -- material and spiritual -- through their relationships within themselves and with all others.

In the light of being (the first intuitive principle of reason recognized by the traditional philosophy), we can see all beings differently than we see them as objects in nature. As an object in the material world, the human being has a body-based immortal soul, and is definable as a rational animal. but nowhere does Scripture say, or even imply, that we are basically animals. Instead, we are like God (Genesis 1:26-27) and a little less than the angels (Psalm 8:5). When this supernatural light shines on our natural intuition of being, we can better see ourselves as persons. In the resultant metaphysical light, we can begin to see that we do not have a biology-based personhood, but a person-based biology. Everything within us, even our most animal-like functions such as eating and sleeping, belongs to a person. While we are like animals, we are even more like other persons: angelic and Divine. They are our primary and eternal companions in being; the animals are our secondary and transient companions in this world of cosmic nature.

Even if evolution is somehow involved in our appearance among the animals, no human soul was infused into an animal body. We might better interpret the way in which the human being began in this world. In an instant, the soul assimilated sufficiently-evolved genetic material into itself, and simultaneously transformed this material into its similar-to-the-animals, yet entirely different, self-expression.

Through the philosophy of nature, we can know that God and the human soul exist, but we cannot know much about them. Through the philosophy of being, illuminated by divine revelation, we can know much more. We can see that, in the community of human-angelic-divine persons, we differ from all others, by having bodies, and we can naturally wonder what this means.

What is a Person?

A person is a substantial being that differs from all others by being able to relate, through knowing and loving, with being as being. This knowing is intuitive and immediate; this loving is spontaneous. The ultimate purpose for the existence of all persons is love. Thus, God is love.

All persons -- human, angelic, and Divine -- know intuitively (immediately) and love spontaneously. Angelic persons differ from Divine Persons by being finite. And humans differ from angels by being sensient and rational. Though we are primarily intuitive, the intrinsic bond of our intuitive intellects with our bodily senses requires the rational functions of abstraction, judgment, and reasoning.

A person might be defined, then, as an intellectually intuitive, volitional being whose relational nature either is love or is fulfilled in love. On this person-base, the human being might be defined as a bodily (sensient-rational) person.

Person-Based Rationality

Our most specific difference from the animals is not our power to reason, as the "rational animal" definition indicates, but our intellectually intuitive power to know the begin of anything as a being: this is what it is. Without an immediate intellectual intuition of the being of a thing we are sensing (through, beyond, and simultaneously with our sensing), we could not wonder what that thing is. Without the intuition of being we could not think and reason about anything; it would be impossible. Thus, we have a person-based rationality.

Well before we begin to reason, we humans have this extremely simple, but absolutely momentous, intuition of being -- even unconsciously in the womb. When our rationality finally becomes somewhat developed, we are still overwhelmingly intuitive, and minimally rational in comparison. Most of this intellectual intuition, like the largest part of an island, is below the surface. That is, it is not conscious. But it is the generating source of the conscious, above-the-surface processes of reason. Conscious thinking begins, ends, and is constituted within deep and powerful preconscious, intellectual intuitions.

Person-Based Sexuality

The sexuality of a bodily person is not the same as that of a "rational animal." When, in the context of nature, we approach the soul through the body, we see our sexuality soming primarily from our body and affecting our soul. But when we perceive our body through our personhood, as does John Paul II, we experience our sexuality primarily in our spiritual soul. Consequently, our sexuality is seen as our soul intrinsically expressed in our body.

What Difference Does It Make?

A big difference! Try becoming aware of your body as an intrinsic expression of your person. Because they are so objectifying, your eyes are likely to interfere with this awareness. So, close your eyes, and mentally absorb your body within yourself. It's like coming home to your being as it really is. When we are at home with our being, we experience our personhood and our sexuality as sacred.

Understanding our body as person-based makes a big difference in our sense of us as persons. Our self-concept becomes more profoundly interior, and, at the same time, more relational and open to other beings as beings. We become better able to relate respectfully and carefully with our needs and feelings. We diminish our inclinations toward manipulation by either suppression or over indulgence. We become more sure of what we naturally intuit to be true in the light of our faith, even though we can't always explain it to ourselves or to anyone else.

One of the greatest advantages of the new perspective is its further strengthening of traditional morality. Instead of lessening the value and significance of the human body, the person-based body is experienced as much more integral to the person, and less of a biological object. In this increased light of inner unity, any subject-object "freedom-of-choice to control my own body" is more unacceptable than it was before. Thus, the person-based theology of the body is opposed to contraception and its syndrome of perversions, rather than open to them, as other forms of personalism tend to be.


Thanks to Pope John Paul II, reflections such as this are possible not only in the Church, but in the culture at large. Much more could be explained. The intuitive roots are sinking deeper and becoming stronger, and the prospects for further development are immense. Beyond the decadent personalism that is now driving the culture of death, we can see and experience our personhood in a whole new light -- a light as ever ancient (Gen 1:26-27) as it is ever new.

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Mary Rosera Joyce, MA, is a philosopher and author from St Cloud, Minnesota. Her husband, Robert E Joyce, PhD, is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at St John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota. This piece first appeared in The NaProEthics Forum, July, 1990(?), Vol 3, No 4, which is published by the Pope Paul VI Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction in Omaha, Nebraska. Both Mrs Joyce and her husband are listed on its Board of Advisors. This piece is reproduced here in its entirety, without permission or shame, adding only the parenthetical subtitle. -- DLA