Thursday, December 29, 2005

Kenny Memes

In response to my sending him the Christmas meme, Kenny Ignatius Augustine gives us . . . Christmas in Singapore!

Oh the weather outside is tropical
And Bak-Kuah's so delightful
We don't have anything called snow
To the barbeque we'll go!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

I Meme Myself

Hot chocolate or apple cider? Apple cider, hard cider if available.

Turkey or Ham Oh these Mericans! It's seafood all the way, baby. Maybe Beef Wellington on Christmas day or thereafter.

Do you get a fake or real you-cut-it-yourself Christmas Tree Neither. We get a real tree somebody else cut.

Decorations outside of your house? No. Electric candles in the window is it.

Snowball fights or sledding? Both. Speed and mobility are the essence of warfare.

Favorite Christmas Song? "People Look East," "O Holy Night," "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," & "Ihr Kinderlein, Kommet." I also like "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" because that's what Nick Fury, Agent of Shield would listen to while drinking scotch and feeling sorry for himself in a tough sort of way about his difficult life.

Do you enjoy going downtown or shopping? Sporadically, while I forget the whole "Christmas downtown" thing has as much authenticity as a Civil War re-enactment.

How do you feel about Christmas movies? I think it would be great if they made one. Until they do, I'll struggle along with Die Hard, It's a Wonderful Life, and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, in that order.

When is it too early to start listening to Christmas music? Anytime before the middle of December.

Stockings: Before or after presents? We don't do stockings. We hang them, but I see them as a plot to increase commercialism hatched by a malign intellect who read Tolkien's description of Hobbit meal-times: "There's First Present Opening, then Stockings, then Second Stockings . . . . ." culminating, no doubt, in the Christmas Present Palette delivered by Roadway.

Carolers, do or do you not watch and listen to them? See Do you enjoy going downtown or shopping? above. Dickensian period dress is an infallible recommendation of street-crossing; Dickensian carolers are usually the ones singing "Jingle Bells," "Rudolph," and "Let it Snow."

Go to someone else's house or they come to you? Usually we go to visit my parents and my wife's widowed mother.

Do you read the Christmas story? No.

What do you do after presents and dinner? Long for collapse, play with the Irresistable Force that is my three-year-old daughter instead.

What is your favorite holiday smell? If there's lots of snow, and it's also snowing, and it's very very cold, then I love the smell of silence at midnight.

Ice skating or walking around the mall? Walking around the Mall makes me want to don sackcloth and start preaching the penitential part of Advent. I don't ice-skate. I could watch people ice-skating as long as there were a comfortable place to sit and drink while doing so.

Do you open a present or presents Christmas Eve, or wait until Christmas day? Christmas morning, of course.

Favorite Christmas memory? The first midnight mass I attended at St. Boniface, our church. I never knew Christmas could be celebrated with such joy, dignity, and reverence.

Favorite part about winter? See What is your favorite holiday smell?

Ever been kissed under the mistletoe? No.

I now meme Kenny Ignatius Augustine of The Sleepless Eye

Saturday, December 24, 2005

My Favorite Christmas Reading

The twenty-fifth day of December.
In the five thousand one hundred and ninety-ninth year of the creation of the world
from the time when God in the beginning created the heavens and the earth;
the two thousand nine hundred and fifty-seventh year after the flood;
the two thousand and fifteenth year from the birth of Abraham;
the one thousand five hundred and tenth year from Moses
and the going forth of the people of Israel from Egypt;
the one thousand and thirty-second year from David's being anointed king;
in the sixty-fifth week according to the prophecy of Daniel;
in the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad;
the seven hundred and fifty-second year from the foundation of the city of Rome;
the forty second year of the reign of Octavian Augustus;
in the sixth age of the world,
the whole world being at peace,
Jesus Christ
the eternal God and Son of the eternal Father,
desiring to sanctify the world by his most merciful coming,
being conceived by the Holy Spirit,
and nine months having passed since his conception,
was born in Bethlehem of Judea of the Virgin Mary,
being made flesh.
The Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Prospect of a Dialogue

A few days ago a fellow with blog called Mystery Achievement ("MA") stopped by the Dossier. He didn't much like what he saw here, as you can tell from this review. After that, Mark Shea took off after him in a post called "When Jingoes Attack.

I appreciate Mark's unsolicited support. He and I have some similar, but by no means identical, views on a few issues, including some aspects of American foreign policy. Those views aren't always happily synchronized with the program of conservative American politics. That makes some people nervous, other people angry, and still other people roll their eyes at the spectacle of misapplied Catholic and conservative values. Sometimes Mark and I get disagreeing comments which are trenchant, important, and thoughtful. Other times we get called names, not infrequently by people who don't know what the hell they're talking about. I realize that comparing my writing to Mark's is like comparing an oil-drum-and-driftwood raft to the U.S.S. Missouri. But differences in quality and scale aside, it was good to have an old friend who's been through much worse stick up for me, and to see him do it on principles we both share. Thanks, Mark.

Mark's commentary sparked off some back-and-forth in the comments boxes between MA's author and some bright people who disagree with his approach to what I've written. Predictably, MA's author has invited me to stop by his blog and discuss the whole thing in the comment boxes there. I say "predictably" because one of the last things anybody in the blogosphere, including me, wants to do is appear to be unwilling to engage in a match of wits and words. We're all here because we fancy ourselves wits, we like writing, and because we believe strongly enough in some things to publicly employ them on behalf of our causes. For one of us to decline an invitation to "discuss" things always leaves a bitter taste.

MA's author has, from what I can tell, decided that I'm guilty of several greivous sins. I'm no friend of my country, he says, and I also have decadent views that pretend to courage, but which will ultimately appear as what they truly are -- excuses that allow me to accomodate evil while striking a self-righteous pose. MA's author has decided that I believe Saddam Hussein should be reinstalled as Iraq's leader, so that he can kill people by shoving them into plastic shredders (as he did). My view on the project to create an Iraqi democracy are, in his opinion, adequately summed up thus: "Better a psychotic dictator in a country full of ignorant brown-skinned folk who neither deserve nor are capable of better than a bunch of Smirky McBurtonchimp clones running around chattering about freedom and democracy." More than that, I appear to be an anti-Semite who believes that Jews, Rosicrucians, Freemasons, and other "usual suspect" groups are involved in a giant conspiracy to destroy civilization. My supposed hatred for Jews is so great that I've allegedly threatened them with pogroms.

Now these are important issues, and dire charges, and it would certainly edify me to have to defend myself against them in dialogue with someone who is vehemently opposed to my positions. Scripture tells us, "He who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him." Proverbs 18:17 (RSV-CE). For my part, I'd like to demonstrate that none of this is true, and that MA's summaries of my beliefs have been produced by a pretty thick layering of presuppositional filters and un-necessary conclusions onto text that won't support them and (for want of a better term) a history which actually contradicts them. This is especially true when it comes to that business about my being an anti-Semite. Anti-Semitism is a rank sin that cries out to Heaven for vengeance, and that vengeance will come. I would hate to be a subject of it. I also believe it's possible for men to sin in guilty blindness; the dullness of mind that comes from wicked habit can achieve that blindness, as can vanity and arrogance (MA's author also accuses of of self-righteousness). Anyone, like myself, who would reject out of hand the possibility that he is himself blinded in that way, and refuse to submit his views to the scrutiny of a hostile witness, is surely on the fast lane (or at least the on-ramp) to Hell whether or not the immediate accusation is well founded. Even if I were so vain and stiff-necked that whatever real flaws MA might be able to find in my views went unacknowledged by me, the proof of his indictments would be there for anyone else to see and profit from.

The initial problem was that MA's author seemed the sort of fellow with whom rational discourse is impossible. The trigger there was his having declared his intention to be personally insulting:Warning: This post contains Bad Words deployed with the intent of Insulting Someone. No, seriously." I don't have a problem with someone who claims my opinions are pieces of excrement, although I would tell him that the splenetic vehemence of his words might well obscure the justice of his cause. I have to admit that, on occasion, I've been as bad when I lose my temper. Sometimes I'm lucky enough to have a moment of clarity before I hit "submit." Sometimes I'm not. And sometimes I think "poltroon" and "moron" are apt descriptions and won't change my mind. It happens. But whether I'm worse or better than MA's author (a subject which is fit for God alone), nobody has a lot of time to waste hashing things out with somebody who thinks name-calling is an argument. When someone, like MA's author or me, is in that mood it means our anger has crippled us and we can't do justice to the subject. If there are two subjects which demand justice, it's America and anti-Semitism.

I was therefore very glad to learn that MA's author has regretted his invective about me personally, although he stands by the objective accusations that accompanied it:
I was very angry when I first wrote this. (No, really.) I am sorry for insulting S.A.M. the way I did. But I stand by my assessment of his posts. And the next time I read a blog post that denegrates our efforts in the GWoT, or insinuates ideas about Jews that sound like someone channeling Pat Buchanan, I'll probably get mad again. But I hope that if that does happen, I'll be able to exercise more self-control.
This proves, of course, that MA's author is a far bigger man than I am. I'm pretty sure I have one or two unpaid debts of apology in my wake. But no matter. MA's author (who I think goes by the name of "someguy," as I also use a sobriquet) has shown himself to be a Christian gentleman whose love for his country and hatred of anti-Semitism -- if not his ability to recognize when either principle is being contradicted -- is unquestionable. That's good news.

It's good because it means that I have misjudged him. He's not a witless snipe. He's a doughty fellow with important things on his mind. (He also wields a serious pen). Still, the questions are complicated on a rhetorical level because if one accepts, as "someguy" appears to have done, that any opinion of the Iraq war and occupation which does not eagerly and entirely approve of everything the U.S. has done is anti-American, then I'd have to concede the "judgment" while protesting the unfairness of its criteria. The same thing goes with anti-Semitism; if we define anti-Semitism as the ability to hold adverse opinions about the fairness and wisdom of anything the ADL or the State of Israel might do, then I'd have to make the same reply. If that's the case, then perhaps "someguy" could tell me beforehand and we could part peaceful company -- he, confident that he's run across some wicked beliefs and I, equally-confident that I've found some foolish ones -- and let readers judge when and as we write in future. If not, I'd be interested in going further with the exchange. The only problem I'd still have is time. To me, these are both huge subjects that require a lot of writing and re-writing.

So if this conversation seems agreeable to us, I can only promise to do the best I can in the time I have. For the time being, I provide these links to prior posts so from which some sort of response might appear, in the hope that "someguy" (who seems only to have looked at the offerings for November, 2005) can peruse them and see if I'm the sort of person who he thinks would be a worthwhile interlocutor:
Posts About Christianity, Jews and Islam
The Passion, the Jews, and the Teaching of Contempt

Canadian Cowardice

Letter to Loretto Girl

Musings on an Islamic Apologia

Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose

The Catholic Church and the Nazis
Posts about Church Matters
Commentary on the Burbling Church

Commentary on the Burbling Church (2)

Notes on Traditionalist Views of the Ordinary Magisterium

Army of One Interview

Butterflies, Traditionalists and Training Wheels

Miscellaneous Musings on Fr. Pater and ST. PIUS X
Political Miscellany and the War
Cry Havoc! And Let Slip the Dogs of War

The US Through Foreign Eyes?

I Support the Troops?

Notes for Catholics Who Can't Tell the Difference Between the Democratic Leadership Council or the Heritage Foundation and the Magisterium.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

And in the Darkness, Bind them . . .

At Harvard, they're convinced that "apocalyptic visions of armies of cloned soldiers are just fantasy . . . ." Why? I guess it's because nobody would ever be seriously interested in such a thing. Besides, Stalin's dead, and all the evil he represened went with him.

That evil isn't part of the human experience, it's not something to be guarded against in every generation. Its enduring presence is a fantasy, like this one: By foul craft, Saruman has crossed Orcs with goblin men. He's breeding an army in the caverns of Isengard. An army that can move in sunlight and cover a great distance at speed. Saruman is coming for the Ring. . . . .

Nobody's coming for the Ring. Nobody's going to cross Orcs or apes with men, goblin or otherwise. People just don't think like that. At least we don't think like that. Our motives are good. That makes all the difference. Doesn't it?

Sunday, December 18, 2005


Conspiracy theories would fade a bit if we started thinking of bad ideas as the expected results of a common human fallibility that will attend mankind through the ages, and stopped thinking of bad ideas as though they were living beings that exist and influence conduct without regard to human will.

If one thinks of bad ideas as mental lapses, then one can accept that a man can have 2 mental lapses and 6 mental successes. In that world, von Balthazar can take something from Hegel and not necessarily become identical with anything that is objectionable in Hegel's thought. But if one thinks of bad ideas as plague bacilli, then they infect everything. Just as someone who stands next to a plague carrier is "contaminated," so is someone who read an "infected" book. The presence of malice and stupidity in the human race therefore eventually places everyone inside the Grand Infection.

Hence the ever-shrinking circle of illuminati who can detect and understand the Infection -- people inevitably have something to do with each other -- literally, figuratively, and intellectually. It only requires time until the "infections" that are "proved" by proximity and rough similarity are discovered, and discovered again, and over and over again, until finally one "proves" that one's cat is a Rosicrucian agent.

One of the things that keeps the delirium alive is the continual provender of "fresh" proof by what is really a sort of obsessive-compulsive repetition of the same cycle in which the mind discovers proximity and similarity. One discovers that some of the Founding Fathers were Masons. One discovers that they helped write the Constitution of the United States. One then realizes that Masons and the American project profess a belief in similar things. Since ideas are living beings with an irreducible nature, human beings are powerless to judge, modify, repudiate, or accept them. They are either present or absent, and once a similarity exists their damning presence is proved beyond any doubt. And so the United States Constitution is a Masonic manifesto for the perversion of the world and we have to stop paying our taxes and move to Idaho. At the very least, we can't abide the United States, its Constitution, or any of the satanic devices which are eo ipso contained therein.

The result is that the conspiracist almost always concludes that there are more of "them" than there are of the righteous. This naturally produces anxiety, which in turn encourages the conspiracist to redouble his efforts at "uncovering" members of the evil party -- proximity and similarity are easy to prove, and so the conspiracist arrives at the conclusion that the "heresy" under consideration has an incredible power to "infect" by the slightest form of contact. The result is a series of choices by which one accepts, as proof of "infection," "similarities" which are more and more general in nature, which further fuels the cycle of fear and despair as the generalizations widen and embrace more of humanity. The Vatican, for example, accepts money from the Knights of Columbus, who are American and believe in Americanism; Americanism has already been proved part of a Masonic conspiracy for world apostasy; therefore the Vatican is part of the plan for world apostasy.

At the same time, the conspiracist's efforts to remain "uninfected" become increasingly logical and Procrustean. Convinced that the slightest breath, the merest proximity to an ever-expanding list of contaminated generalities, proves the presence of evil, the conspiracist must logically decide to sever contact with anyone who has been infected. Remember, the bad idea is an infection that exists independently of human will. It is simply impossible to have a relationship with an infected person and remain uninfected oneself. This is the logic which drives the ever-widening view of the conspiracy, and when it is turned inward its own logic compels the cessation of virtually any intercourse which might provide contrary information.

Eventually, the very presence of contrary information is taken as proof of infection. If a conspiracist were given enough time, he would cut off one of his legs before uttering an anathema against bipeds.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Anybody Good with Graphics?

Are any of my readers (yes, all six of you) good with graphics programs? Here's what I need to get done in 2006. I am working to make a super-deluxe version of Axis & Allies. I need to make a map of the world. It has to be a realistic color map, mercator projection only, with terrain features like mountains, coastlines and so forth. It has to have the board game's spaces ruled onto it, and then some graphics I've designed in WordPerfect put onto the different countries and sea zones. "Real life" borders and boundaries need to be eliminated from the map.

Once finished, the map needs to be printed on vinyl and applied either to wood or plastic. The map should be about 10 feet long and 4 feet wide. And, unfortunately, the map can't be to scale. Britain and Japan have to be 2-3 times larger than they are in real life, and Europe has to be larger too. South America and Africa can be shrunk.

Anybody interested? There may be a small amount of money involved. Email me. Thanks.