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02 August 2002  

Busy busy beaver. Your friendly neighborhood goliard is going to be entering another insanely busy phase of Real Life in the next week or two, so don't be surprised if postings are even more sporadic than they've already been lately (if not nonexistent) between now and the middle of the month. My sincere thanks to all of you who have stopped by, read my various writings, and responded with e-mails and comments on my new comments boards…it means a lot to me.

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01 August 2002  

ON OTHER PAGES

Wow, pretty pictures and everything. A technical crisis over at Gerard Serafin's Catholic Blog For Lovers reminds me that I haven't mentioned that fine page for awhile…and I really should. The most recent post is a nice picture and meditation on St Alphonsus Liguori, whose feast is today. Further edifying posts and pleasing pictures, discussing the canonization of St. Juan Diego and the feast of St. Ignatius Loyola, appear right below that.

I mentioned technical problems…Blogger, lovely Blogger, has been refusing to let Serafin update his page today, so he has set up a temporary blog at this address where he will be posting until the other one gets straightened out.

UPDATE: Serafin reports that as of the wee hours of this morning his main blog page is working again.

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On the black hat's purple blog. I still have to copy his longer posts into WordPad in order to read them without getting a headache, but David Alexander's blog man with black hat has nonetheless been worth checking out today. There is, for instance, a good recommendation of a new/old way of praying the Rosary along with links for learning more, and a personal story that makes clear just how much we will be relying on spiritual gifts and other divine help in protecting our young and changing AmChurch for the better.

To slightly adapt one of Jonah Goldberg's favorite sayings: Don't just do something, stand there...and pray.

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SHOPTALK

If you haven't checked out the comments to the Spong post below yet, I think you'll want to do so. Among other things, your humble author's primary contribution to blogging for today is to be found there. (I hadn't realized before how much fun having a comments function can be.)

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The Universal Crossword, by…guess who? Your friendly neighborhood goliard is so very proud of himself today. Click here to see why (and enjoy!).

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31 July 2002  

FAITH

No number of Spongs can make a right. A blogger who posts under the name "Bible Geek" has, in response to yesterday's piece about the Church of England and disbelief, published a most helpful post on famed heretic-bishop John Shelby Spong, complete with useful links. I think I understand this particular dissident's shtick much better after reading what Bible Geek and others have had to say; but I doubt that very many of those Church of England priests who aren't quite sure about the Virgin Birth are quite as radical, or as forthright, as Spong; and so my broader confusion and astonishment remains.

Former bishop Spong is, after all, rather clear in signalling that he is rejecting practically all of historical orthodox Christianity, and is attempting to construct an alternative "Christian" religion according to his own particular opinions and desires, and especially his idiosyncratic take on what this Jesus fellow was really all about. (Of course, this causes one to wonder why he stuck around as a member of the Episcopal hierarchy as long as he did…and what could possibly have been going through his mind when he recited the Creed or performed liturgies out of the Book of Common Prayer.) Surely not all dissenters are as breathtakingly arrogant as Spong, who seems quite content to propose that pretty much every Christian thinker of note for two millennia got most everything completely wrong, so thank God the likes of him came along to straighten things out. Aren't there some who try earnestly to square their dissenting opinions—an advocacy of homosexual marriage, say, or doubts about whether some of the events described in the Gospels really happened—with the first two thousand years of Christian history? Or are the Greeleys and McBriens and Willses really, deep down, no different…do they all think that the current Zeitgest, joined together with their own enlightened sensibilities, is enough to trump St. Paul and Aquinas and John Paul II and literally everybody in between?

Or, perhaps, is it more common for those of unorthodox principles and morals to believe that most questions of theology and morals simply don't matter all that much?

Postscript: Right below his post on Spong, Bible Geek fires a shot at Emily Stimpson, whose very pretty blog many of us shall be sorely missing starting tomorrow. Now it is understandable that Bible Geek would disagree with Stimpson about the merits of being in union with the See of Rome; but when he leads the piece with "And then Ms. Stimpson writes this junk", well, this goliard simply must say a few things to him in defense of her honour:

1) What she wrote is most certainly not junk. A post such as "This news story shows why Prots suck" would be junk. What she posted, by contrast, was a nice, concise, theologically literate meditation on the consequences of separating from Rome.

2) Your response does not really engage her points very well. You are aware, aren't you, that our ultimate faith as Catholics is not in fallen men, and our reason for clinging to the Barque of Peter is not our faith in Peter but our confidence in Christ's promises? And do you not perceive how strong a case we have that Catholicism is much less dependent on the judgement and opinion of any individual man than most Protestantism?

3) Her lovely and talented self has made it quite clear that it should be Miss Stimpson, thank you very much; and I strongly suggest you abide by the lady's wishes in future. :-)

4) Any of the above notwithstanding, peace be with you, fellow Christian.

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SHOPTALK

Join in the fun. Huzzah! Netcomments has started accepting new signups again, and so your humble author has seized upon the opportunity to add a comments feature (increasingly popular in Blogland) to The Goliard Blog. The link for commenting appears at the bottom, right after the author tag and permalink. Readers can comment using their own names, and even provide e-mail addresses and homepage links if desired; or they may use noms de blog if it suits them better. All your friendly goliard asks is that readers make sure their comments are always suitable for posting on a general-circulation website; and he advises that he reserves the right to cut from, or delete entirely, comments at his sole discretion. Also remember that your mileage may vary, all sales are final, and no portion of this telecast may be rebroadcast or retransmitted except under the express written consent of the Commissioner of Baseball.

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30 July 2002  

FAITH

No Virgin Birth for us please; we're English. Over the news wire from London comes yet another story about the dissolution of the Christian faith in the British Isles. In a recent survey of Church of England clergy, over a third of the respondents said they disbelieved or doubted the physical resurrection of Our Lord, while half gave a thumbs-down on the Virgin Birth. The clergy did a bit better with the doctrine of the Trinity—only a quarter said they rejected it.

Denial of core Christian beliefs was more common among women priests, only a third of whom professed belief in the Virgin Birth. This does not surprise The Goliard Blog…nor does a predictable suggestion for improving the state of affairs which appeared in one news story: "The Modern Churchperson's Union told the paper the church had to reassess complex doctrine in the face of increasingly educated congregations." What a neat mix of the condescending ("we're all just too sophisticated to believe that stuff anymore") and the nonsensical (if people reject your doctrines, just change them…yeah, that's the way to demonstrate that your teachings are true and should be believed).

I suppose that this makes dissent on matters such as sexuality more understandable. Why should a priest stick his neck out in favor of something as deeply unfashionable as traditional sexual morality if he isn't even confident that Christ rose from the dead? But it raises two other questions: Why on Earth would one be a member of the Church of England, much less become ordained by it and serve in its employ, if one doesn't believe in its core tenets? And if one doesn't believe in orthodox Christianity, what does one believe in, and in what is it grounded? Your humble author has no good answers to either of these questions, as he sees no point—or honor—in professing to be a member of an organization when one rejects its core beliefs; and he just plain doesn't comprehend those who blithely reject whichever longstanding tenets of Christianity don't suit them, yet don't see any problem with remaining Christians.

Please note that this is not a condemnation of people who think and believe differently than myself (many of whom are no doubt better people than I am), but rather a confession that I don't "get" how these peoples' minds work and how they arrived at the conclusions they seem to have reached. The reason for my lack of understanding is that: a) If I stopped believing in Christianity, I would join the ranks of the atheists and agnostics, and certainly wouldn't bother to walk through the doors of my local church on Sunday; and b) to my mind at least, the rejection of things which have been taught quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus qualifies as stopping believing in Christianity. If I did not believe in the resurrection of Christ I would consider it impossible for me to be a Christian. If I did not believe in the Trinity I would consider it impossible for me to be a member of a non-Unitarian church. If I supported abortion, or believed that homosexual acts were morally licit, I would consider it impossible for me to be a Catholic.

Perhaps someone out there in the Blogsphere can help this confused goliard understand those who not only consider it possible to remain in a church, but to remain a clergyman, in such situations. And how it is possible for one to invent one's own Christology or sexual morality or whatever, and still sleep at night with all the cognitive dissonance.

Your humble author would also love to learn, from those who urge the Church to "get with the times" and change its opinion on any number of subjects, precisely how they envision that the Church might ground its new teachings (is there an actual coherent theology out there that, say, disputes the Virgin Birth and supports homosexual marriage?), and how it should explain the change to the world, and how it can manage to command respect for and assent to its new doctrines, and how it should treat those who have believed in the old doctrines and intend to keep believing in them, and how it should (or should not) defend these new doctrines against attempts to change them in time. Perhaps if I just read Father Richard McBrien or Garry Wills more closely I would figure all this out…

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29 July 2002  

SOCIETY

BRAAP BRRA-A-A-AP BRAP BRAP. I am quoting from a Mattel advertisement from the 1960s that I recently ran across. Both the ad and the product it promotes would be unthinkable today. Click on the link, take a look at it, and marvel at how our society in general, and boyhood in particular, has changed.

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Crunchiness from John Madden. In his interview in the latest Sports Illustrated, former coach, longtime EA Sports mascot, and new Monday Night Football commentator John Madden takes note of the dissolving of place and the chainification of America:

SI: What are some of your favorite places to stop during your travels across America?

JM: Down in Mississippi I've got a seafood place I go to. In Van Horn, Texas, it's Chuy's. We always call ahead, and Mama Chuy makes a chicken dish with beans and rice, and she makes her own tortillas. In Georgia there's a place called Georgia Pig.…It's in this tiny little town, I don't even know what it's called.…I like to go into the small towns and find a new place that's not a franchise. When I first started doing this, it was easy, but it's getting harder and harder. I mean, you go into a truck stop now, and you'll find a Taco Bell.

Madden has travelled a gazillion miles by land across this country ever since he swore off air travel as a rookie broadcaster in 1979. He knows the contours of this country as well as anyone (except, perhaps, for Michael Barone). Take seriously the warning in his words above.

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MUSIC

Play that funky music, white boy. Back on Thursday I appeared to let Gregory Popcak talk me out of a Funk Mass for Hammond B3 Organ and Choir. A loyal Goliard Blog reader wrote in, invoked the names of "SS. George of Clinton, Bernie of Worrell, and Bl. Bootsy of Collins", and begged me to reconsider:

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Don't even think about dropping it!!!!! We need the
funk…And then you can do a Western Swing Mass (AhhhhhhhHahhhhhh!)

As a son of the Mountain West, the Western Swing Mass—or, as my correspondent titles it, "Missa solemnis pro fiddlae duibus guitarusque acierus"—sounds like a capital idea to me. (I'd best check Musicam Sacram first to make sure there aren't any rules against yodeling in church.)

But of course the effort to keep the funk alive is even more urgent. The degeneration in the "urban" music scene over the last 30-40 years has been dismaying. Whenever I hear a young moron drive past with his rap record turned up absurdly loud I wonder how we got from the giants of blues and Motown and funk to this low, profane, and profoundly unmusical point.

Bootsy Collins stands head and shoulders and chest above P. Diddy, and it's not just on account of the groovy platform shoes…

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