Saturday, April 06, 2013

Trailer for The Battle of the Black Sea

I do have some things to say about David Hart's essay in First Things on natural law. Edward Feser has written a response to T. Kozinki's essay responding to some of Hart's critics. I must say that I am rather disappointed in how the combox discussion at Edward Feser's blog has turned out. It had started off as a polite exchange between Mssrs. Hart and Feser, but then a certain internet personality (known as someone who strenuously attacks Catholics he deems to be anti-semitic) introduced a tangent into the discussion which lead to various comments being made about "conspiracy theories" and conspiracy theorists. While there may be some merit to Feser's contention that the modern state bureaucracies of "western liberal democracies" are incapable of pulling a conspiracy off, that does not mean that a modern government, or some part of it, is not capable of executed a limited action while deceiving the public about the nature of the resulting event. Kozinski is more correct in defending his healthy skepticism as being tied to some version of epistemological humility.

Catholic public intellectuals may say that they must be circumspect in what they say or publish on the internet, so that they do not become obstacles to conversion for those who are not Catholic. But if they are bound by political correctness or certain secular orthodoxies or the fear that their rejection might have adverse consequences on their professional life or career, then what use are they, really? Better to be part of that Christian "cult" and focusing their energies on building the kingdom consonant not only with circumstances of overt hostility or persecution, but with the order of charity as well.

Perhaps there is another reason why Christian "intellectuals" (i.e. teachers and preachers) should be primarily monks, religious, and clerics - they do not have to worry about protecting a career and a livelihood.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

But He Will Probably Have More to Say on the Issue

He has reportedly made some feminists upset, though, with his comments yesterday during the Wednesday audience: The fundamental role of women in the Church. An unexpected bit of controversy this early in the pontificate?

In the professions of faith of the New Testament, only men are remembered as witnesses of the Resurrection, the Apostles, but not the women. This is because, according to the Jewish Law of the time, women and children were not considered reliable, credible witnesses. In the Gospels, however, women have a primary, fundamental role. Here we can see an argument in favor of the historicity of the Resurrection: if it were a invented, in the context of that time it would not have been linked to the testimony of women. Instead, the evangelists simply narrate what happened: the women were the first witnesses. This tells us that God does not choose according to human criteria: the first witnesses of the birth of Jesus are the shepherds, simple and humble people, the first witnesses of the Resurrection are women. This is beautiful, and this is the mission of women, of mothers and women, to give witness to their children and grandchildren that Christ is Risen! Mothers go forward with this witness! What matters to God is our heart, if we are open to Him, if we are like trusting children. But this also leads us to reflect on how in the Church and in the journey of faith, women have had and still have a special role in opening doors to the Lord, in following him and communicating his face, because the eyes of faith always need the simple and profound look of love. The Apostles and disciples find it harder to believe in the Risen Christ, not the women however!

Annie Staninec was guest performer at the Good Ol' Persons reunion concert tonight - an added bonus to an already wonderful musical treat. It is delightful to see someone so enthusiastic about the music.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Shakespeare on PBS

Shakespeare Uncovered



The Economics of Happiness Conference 2013 - Plenary 1

The Economics of Happiness Conference 2013 - Plenary 1 (1/3) - Localisation: The Solution Multiplier?

Parts 2 and 3

Mark Sisson's Review of Paleofantasy: What Evolution Really Tells Us About Sex, Diet, and How We Live

Is It All Just a “Paleofantasy”?

The Gun Control Debate with Peter Hitchens

He links to it:

See also Morality is Central to Political Economy.

Vox has some criticisms of Mr. Hitchens in relation to his recent post on mass immigration. (Vox will start a series on his national libertarianism.)

Alain de Benoist on the Old Right

The Intellectual Vacuity of the Old Right
In the beginning, what was the best that the Right had to offer? I would briefly say: an anti-individualist and anti-utilitarian system of thought, together with an ethic of honor, inherited from the Ancient Regime. Thus it was opposing head-on the ideology of the Enlightenment, whose driving forces were individualism, rationalism, self-evident individual interests, and the belief in progress. The values that the Right claimed were aristocratic and popular at the same time. Its historic mission was to fulfill the natural union of the aristocracy and the people against their common enemy: the bourgeoisie, whose class values were precisely legitimized by Enlightenment thought. But this union was fulfilled only during very brief periods.

For the Right, Man is naturally social. However, it never forged its own consistent theory to explain community or social connectedness. Nor did it seriously explore opposition to the ideal liberal types, the autonomous individual and the “social man.” It has never been able to formulate a genuinely alternative economic doctrine to the mercantile system, either.

Instead of supporting the workers’ movement and nascent socialism, which represented a healthy reaction against individualism that the Right was also criticizing, it all too often defended the most dreadful human exploitation and the most unjustifiable political inequalities. It sided with the wealthy, objectively participating in the class struggle of the bourgeoisie against the would-be “redistributors” and the “dangerous classes.”

There were exceptions, though rare ones. The Right’s theoreticians were more often led by their audience than leading it. Defending the nation, the Right rarely understood that the nation is above all else the people. She forgot the natural complementariness of aristocratic and popular values. When the workers’ right to an annual holiday break was passed into law, the Right railed against the “vacation culture.” It always preferred order to justice, without understanding that injustice is a supreme form of disorder, and that order itself is very often nothing but an established disorder.

The Right could have developed a philosophy of history founded on cultural diversity and the need to acknowledge its universal value, which would have led it to support the struggles in favor of autonomy and liberty in the Third World, whose peoples were prime victims of the ideology of progress. Instead of that, the Right ended up defending the colonialism that it had once condemned, while complaining about being colonized in turn.

The Right forgot that its only true enemy is Money. It should have considered everything opposing the system of money as its objective ally. Instead it gradually joined the other side. The Right was better equipped than any other force to reframe the anti-utilitarian values of generosity and selflessness, and to defend them. But, little by little, the Right acceded to the logic of interest and the defense of the market. At the same time, it fell in line with militarism and nationalism, which is nothing but collective individualism, something that the first counter-revolutionaries had condemned as such.

Nationalism led the Right to the metaphysics of subjectivity, this illness of the spirit, systematized by the Moderns. This estranged the Right from the notion of truth. It should have been the party of generosity, of “common decency[1],” of organic communities; but it all too often became the party of exclusion, of collective selfishness, and resentment. In short, the Right betrayed itself when it began accepting individualism, bourgeois lifestyles, the logic of money, and the model of the market.

Political Economy for Embodied Souls
The Conservative Mind - An Act of Recovery?
How to Lose a Republic

A Darwinian Competition for Mates

One of the weapons is makeup...

It's to the point whee I don't "trust" my eyes, especially if the use of makeup is obvious, witholding judgment as to how "beautiful" a woman is and shrugging it off even if I am swayed to look.

With Korean celebs especially there are certain familiar, overused patterns. (I am thinking of the eyes, in particular.)

Do men need a reset of expectations? Men may be more willing to "settle" in some ways, but for the sake of knowing reality and also for simplicity wouldn't it be better it we divested ourselves of these visual illusions?

Show and Tell

On Sunday I caught part of Mr. Selfridge - Jeremy Piven is trying to play him as a showman but I thought Selfridge was too much like a contemporary Uhmerican. (How different is his acting here from that for the show Entourage?) Piven's accent probably didn't help ground the performance in a specific period, either? Did the creators intentionally create a critique of 20th century empire and consumption? Because much of the story and details lend themselves to that. Or were they honestly trying to honor the development of the 20th century department store? I was reminded how that model was emulated in Japan and in Hong Kong.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Attended the live rehearsal/workshop with the Choir of New College and the Stanford Chamber Chorale - there was an interesting discussion by the director, Edward Higginbottom, about the value of the notes and other technical aspects of performance. The two ensembles did merge to perform a piece by Byrd - the voices of the boys blended well with those of the women, showing that one need not exclude boy choristers in a schola that has women? What would we Catholics do without the English cathedral choirs as a model of singing excellence?

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Still a Problem.

America’s Honeybees Are Dying Off Faster Than Ever

The Land of Absurdity

While I was walking near Market St. in San Francisco last month after the special liturgy at the shrine, I passed a hotel which was hosting a wedding or wedding reception - the wedding party was on the steps having photos taken and such. I don't think there was a single woman in the bridal party who was without a tattoo. Did the bride herself have one? What sort of man is willing to marry a tattooed woman? (That is to say, couldn't he do any better?)

Men who tolerate the ridiculous instead of having what it takes to stand up to and resist such trends, not rewarding women for poor behavior...

Just today at 5G (yeah, I really need to quit that place) I saw a female patron with a rather large tattoo on her back, near her shoulder.

Tattoos are correlated with being low-class or having an underdeveloped character, women who make poor choices and have no foresight or consideration about their future. Or they are rather vain and project what makes the bad boys attractive unto themselves, hoping to attract those bad boys. Is the traditional stricture against tattoos needed for the young, impressionable, and/or stupid women [and men]?

One American Catholic apologistt has said tattoos are morally permissible, but I have to disagree with his argumentation. The body is not a canvas, and our body is not our property, as if we could do whatever we want with them. We do not have absolute ownership or sovereignty over our bodies. That apologist says it is no different from the application from make-up, but make-up is not permanent, even if it is vain, and make-up serves to mimic certain physical attributes which are enhance physical/sexual attraction. Is the same true about tattoos? I do not think so. War paint or tribal markings made with paint (clown make-up?) would be more comparable. (I do think such being temporary can make for a significant moral difference - such are not intended to be permanent changes to the appearance of the body, but temporary, and whether it is done as an aesthetic enhancement or for another purpose. Cosmetic make-up alters the appearance to enhance beauty/attractiveness, clown make-up to alter the appearance for the sake of creating a different persona for entertainment, war paint for a religious purpose, or to identify one's self as a member of a tribe, or to create a fierce appearance to frighten the enemy.)

An opinion offered by a Catholic deacon.

Tattoos can be decorative, they can also be a means of making a statement or marking one's identity, among other uses (commemoration, and so on). Tattoos can signify what is important to us, and a means of idolatry, indicating what is most important for us, if not our own vanity. What, then, of "religious" tattoos, an image of the rosary or Our Lady of Guadalupe or of the crucifix? We are "marked" with an "indelible" spiritual mark through baptism - God knows who belongs to Him. He doesn't need a reminder. But is it licit for us to use such a reminder for ourselves? It may seem a bit presumptuous to do so. (It certainly would not be a sufficient motive for abstaining from sin, apart from grace.)

Are tattoos a form of deliberate disfigurement, even if they are aesthetically pleasing to some? What if tattoos "objectively" harm or destroy the beauty of the human body (which is willed by God)? Is there an objective standard of physical beauty, apart from what is tied to sexual attraction? It would seem that the ancient Greeks and Romans did not approve of the practice as a way of improving physical beauty but to mark criminals and such. It was even banned by Constantine and Pope Hadrian I? (It would seem that tattos for men do not make them more physically attractive, but it's the association with certain character traits or assertiveness or rebelliousness that makes the tattooed man attractive to some women.) Perhaps we who should follow culturally in the footsteps of the Greeks and Romans (rather than the barbarian tribes) should pay heed to their standards of beauty? Is there anything wrong with the Greek ideal?

Is it the case that tattoos should be prohibited because they diminish from the perfection that we should strive to preserve in the human form, according to which standard vanity would be not the desire to preserve the standard, but to do so in a way that is counter to reason? We may find that it does not take much effort to do so? Fighting against the effects of aging may be prohibited because they are futile and/or costly - but it is not wrong to do what we can to stay fit and in "shape" and follow a healthy diet and lifestyle. (Beauty as a sign and consequence of health.)

The moral object that pertains to tattooing may differ in accordance with the aim - it's not just the physical act of permanently dyeing the skin, but the purpose that it fulfills - whether it be for adornment or beauty, or solely for identification or for commemoration (or for some other purpose). (It may be very unlikely that someone would do it solely for the latter reasons, without some aim at beauty with them. It does not seem realistic with respect to human psychology - to do such a thing even though one considers it ugly, even if the meaning of the act, and not the image itself, is what makes it beautiful.) The argument against tattooing on the basis of beauty would apply to the first reason (there being a "contradiction" of sorts) while the argument on the basis of using the body not being suitable matter would be more applicable for addressing the other two purposes. (Tattooing being against the "dignity" of the human body, so to speak.)

At the very least, on the grounds of prudence, a prohibition against tattoos should be given to women seeking quality men. (Men suffer less from having tattoos when it comes to attracting women - it may even enhance their attractiveness among women, though it may be detrimental to their employment prospects in certain professions or work environments.)

That we as a "society" no longer understand why we should not get a tattoo does not mean that such a prohibition is not of the natural law - we may be culturally conditioned to be unable to grasp it.

What about the Copts who have a small cross tattooed on their wrist as a sign of identity and as protection against kidnapping and forced conversion by Muslims?

Actual branding for the purpose of identifying one's self as a Christian was employed in a previous age:

One should note the contrast between the martyrdom of the early Church (and the conversion of the Roman Empire) and the suffering of Christians in Muslim territory, under a power that is truly hostile to Christianity. Why has the suffering of Christians in occupied lands been insufficient to lead to conversion of Muslims?

Maybe it is still a sin, but a minor or venial one? (Which might be the case any way for "innocuous" tattoos.)

["civilized" versus "barbarians"]

Brittany Haas, Paul Kowert, and Jordan Tice at Freight and Salvage

April 9

I do not know if the trio will be playing old time/bluegrass or more contemporary Americana... they'll also be playing at Don Quioxte's on April 10.

Brittany Haas, Paul Kowert, and Jordan Tice - FB

Urbi et Orbi Pascha 2013


Symbols adjusted on papal coat of arms

Growing Pains or Serious Concerns?

Learned about this website about the Institute of the Incarnate Word while reading the comboxes discussing Pope Francis. That priests were leaving the Institute was apparent from what was going on at their local apostolate. How deep are the problems?

By the way

I note that the group that was the audience for Archbishop Gomez's speech probably does not offer great opposition to immigration "reform" or immigration, legal or illegal. So why preach to the choir? Besides the Uhmerican Catholic version of the proposition nation, Archbishop emphasizes that the fiction of the Judeo-Christian tradition is its foundation:
And that vision is Jewish and Christian in origin. It is a vision that we find on the first page of the Bible and it continues through the Law of Moses and the writings of the prophets and it continues in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the writings of the first Christians.

America's "creed" is based on the biblical teaching that human life is sacred and has great dignity — because God made men and women in his own image. It gets expressed this way in the Declaration of Independence — that all men and women are created equal by God and endowed with God-given rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

This Judeo-Christian creed has helped make America home to a flourishing diversity of cultures, religions and ways of life. As a result, we have always been a nation of nationalities. E pluribus unum. One people made from peoples of many nations, races, and creeds.

Are they persuaded by such appeals? There are a few orthodox pro-life rabbis who might do so, but I suspect for most Jews in positions of power or authority this is laughable. If we commit the sin of idolatry to a mere man, why would they want to be associated with Christianity or Christian teaching? (For the Jews who take their religion seriously.) As for those who are religious liberals, they are probably aware that Christianity had been opposed to liberalism for some time, and any recent and apparent capitulation to liberalism is a sign of weakness.