New Blog!

I am starting the process of migrating everything over to the new blog, The Mechanical Dragon. I’m in the process of migrating over everything like blog recommendations, bio, and stuff like that, but from now on if you want my insights, go here, like, follow, what have you:

Happy trails!

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Three pieces of advice that aren’t useful

Recently I asked for advice in finding a wife. Most of the responses I got were sympathetic and helpful, but three stood out to me as counter-productive and pointless.

  1. “Looking now? You should have started when you were 18!”

Not really, no. You did not know me at the age of 18. While ideally at the age of 18 I’d have been in a position where it made sense to look seriously for a wife, speaking practically I was very much not.

Do I regret not being in such a position? Yes, obviously. But I am where I am now, and that’s what I need to deal with, so if you have useful advice, that would be great.

2. “Actively looking for a wife? You’re doing it wrong. Focus on your mission and if a woman doesn’t want to join you on that mission, drop them.”

Comments like this are a misread of my personality at best. First off, the reason I am asking now is that I AM focused on my mission before God. I work full time, with a respectable job and respectable salary, and in my free time I focus on creating art and improving myself. I take my religion extremely seriously as well. In what way am I not focused on my mission?

Maybe I’m focusing on the wrong thing. I should be “asking if a woman wants to join me on the mission!” Except, great, I’m back to square one? Where am I finding women to ask? How do I approach them? What should I be doing? Where should I be going?

This sort of thing simply does not come naturally to me; if I seriously dedicated NO time and NO effort to finding a wife and just “focused on the mission” I would simply never speak to anyone because I’m that naturally introverted.

So please; where do I approach women to ask if they want to join me? How should I speak to them? Dress, act, approach, all of that fun stuff. Because “just focus on you” isn’t going to work, and now you’re just back to giving me normal advice like I originally asked for.

3. “Why are you searching for a wife? Shouldn’t you only be getting married if you’re burning with lust for another person? Isn’t it better not to be married?”

I get it. I read the Epistles too. I’ve thought long and hard about this; you apparently don’t agree with the conclusion I’ve come to. In that case, your option is easy: Don’t give me advice, but my mind is made up. I’m going to search. We’ll debate Paul at Bible study.

Every time these things have been said to me people have meant well, but I thought it needed to be said.

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Quick Thoughts on Making More Money

I just got a job, for the first time, with a salary that isn’t embarrassing to say out loud in public – I’m not going to say it here, but I’d use the words “decent money”.

I have friends – good, intelligent people, God bless them – who hear my salary and think “You did it! You’re set!” because they haven’t “made it” yet. They’re still searching for that first full time job that’s finally going to be somewhat respectable to talk about in public. So they hear what I make and their response is “That’s amazing! Your money problems are finally over!”

The money I make is not crazy high. Heck, in NJ, it’s probably just touching middle class, MAYBE. But to them it’s more money than they’ve ever seen in their lives. It’s a crazy high amount of money that would solve all of their problems.

It isn’t and it doesn’t. It helps, a lot, but I still would be in trouble if I suddenly racked up big emergency expenses, and I still have loans to pay, and who knows if I’ll have this job next year, but to them all of this feels academic, alien. I make nearly triple what they make per year – how can that possibly not be enough?!?

I think this is our problem when we see disputes like the one going on in baseball right now, and classify it as “millionaires arguing with billionaires”. There’s a difference, a big one, between millionaires and billionaires but it’s very hard for people who are SO FAR below that level like most of us to grasp it.

This is where you get tone-deaf comments from the mega-rich who say silly things like “If you just gave up your one Starbucks latte a day, we’d have solved world hunger by now.” Such comments could only be made by someone who does not understand what it means to be middle class.

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An Update

I feel a little bit better about not updating this blog since, unlike many people who do this sort of thing, I have NOT disappeared. In fact, if anything I’ve become more visible. Look up Pinkerton’s Ghosts; I write and narrate the Sean Russo stories. I also comment under various usernames all around the net.

As for this blog, the simplest reason for why I’ve neglected to update it is that I don’t feel my opinions on politics, religion, or current events are really worth a damn. No, this was not a traumatic thing for me to realize; it’s true of the vast majority of people. Just a matter of me growing up. I did start this blog as a teenager after all.

Personally, I’m doing fine. Writing-wise, things are going up, up, up, and I expect 2022 to be a big year.

I may swap blogs to a writing-centered blog I started awhile back and never updated, The Mechanical Dragon, because while I’m no expert author I am a working author. I come out with a written and narrated short story once every three weeks after all. And I was even paid once for it! Real money too.

I owe a debt of gratitude to the superversives, who have changed my life in a variety of ways and who I count among my friends. You know who you are; I’m glad you exist, and I thank you.

If I swap blogs I’ll update it here and let everyone know. No fanfare – nothing sad, no major change of direction. It’s just focusing on what I should have been focusing on all along.

Here’s to a better 2022, ladies and gents!

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A comment on voting

It is easy to say, and true, that we can’t vote our way out of this and a uniparty is running everything.

That said, as well and good as it may be in the abstract, when the people in charge are directly affecting me and how I live my life, it is hard to ignore it as irrelevant theatre. When the play ends I can go about the business of living; not so after the election.

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Calling a Spade a Spade

What I’m about to write may be the single most controversial thing I have EVER written, but here goes anyway.

Saying that the novus ordo is “just as valid” a form of the Mass as the TLM and that preference for one or the other is just a matter of opinion is misguided. Here is the real truth:

The historic traditional Latin Mass of the western church is more reverent, more holy, and more beautiful than the novus ordo, when both are performed as reverently as they could possibly be.

And what’s more, this is incredibly obvious to basically anybody who has been to both.

I’m tired of being gaslighted on this point. Yes I have been to reverent and beautiful novus ordo Masses. They are nothing – absolutely nothing – like a truly reverent TLM.

The galling part is the latin has almost nothing to do with this! Sure it’s a fancy sounding language and learning a whole separate language for the liturgy does show a certain respect absent if you’re just using the vernacular. But I have been to Divine Liturgies in English that have had none of the issues of English novus ordos. Nobody is calling for the Divine Liturgy to be said only in their native languages.

They don’t need to, because the english version of the Divine Liturgy is just the regular Divine Liturgy, only spoken in English.

People who are pretending – and I see a lot of people like this – that this has to do with Latin are missing the point, and probably intentionally. It really has very little to do with Latin. It has to do with the fact that the historic Mass used for 1000 years by the majority of western Christianity was gutted in the 60’s in an attempt to be made more like Protestant worship services, with the predictable result that the new version is much less reverent, much easier to abuse, and much less holy than the traditional latin Mass.

The main thing, I think, is the music; low Masses don’t hit the same as high Masses, and I can confirm this having been to both. The Gregorian chant is truly gorgeous, and while a good choir is a blessing it’s nothing to beautiful Gregorian chant.

But that’s not the point. The point is that really, the whole thing is disingenuous. At Vatican II they obviously didn’t believe that the TLM was a “valid alternate expression of the Mass” or they wouldn’t have created an alternate version, then spent the next several decades trying to eliminate it. If the concern was the language, why not simply do as they did with the Divine Liturgy and translate the Latin to English?

We know the answer.

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The one and only defense of the Pope’s newest letter I’ve seen

Here you go.

Why am I completely unsurprised it’s Dave Armstrong? Those who read Dr. Feser probably recognize the name.

Helpfully, Armstrong writes out his argument in list form for me in the article, so all I need to do is quote it. Obnoxiously, my laptop is just not letting me copy-paste from this site, so I’ll have to paraphrase to a point. The argument goes like this:

  1. Both traditionalists and radical Catholic reactionaries desired a return to the pre-1962 Mass
  2. Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI agreed to grant wider availability and access to this Mass, under the logic of “Worship and let worship”
  3. Summorum Pontificum was the most notable effort along these lines
  4. Pope Benedict XVI saw both Masses as valid expressions of the liturgy, and by attending one this was not meant to be a license to thumb your nose at the other
  5. This is, however, what happened; the freedom of worship has lead to too many people having a quasi-schismatic attitude towards the new Mass, leading to people denigrating the novus ordo as objectively inferior to the TLM or even in the most extreme cases calling it invalid
  6. After undertaking a study, Pope Francis decided there was too much increasing division, elitism, and rigorism, and many people used the TLM Masses and parishes as an excuse to reject Vatican II,
  7. Therefore, to try and keep the Church more unified, he is restricting the celebration of the TLM.

The argument is eloquently made, and seems an accurate summary of what the Pope was saying. I of course have an issue with it, as you could probably guess.

Obviously the TLM is open to that sort of abuse. But why?

Seriously. Ask yourself this. What was causing people – in theory the people MOST faithful to the Church, who MOST loved the Mass – to have these sorts of reactions?

You’re gonna have to trust me here, and I think most of you will, but the novus ordo is incredibly easy to abuse. If anything there are probably almost as many Masses of the novus ordo performed improperly or disrespectfully as done well. And in these parishes, you get modern priests – like mine – straight up denying that something like the flood COULD even have happened, and openly speculating about alternate theories for why the story was included, in the homily. In a parish where we have maybe 20 parishioners per Mass – naturally my congregation has shrank – still we have extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion.

So respect for the Eucharist is dropping, to say nothing of the horrifying statistic that over half of American Catholics don’t believe in the Real Presence.

NONE of these are issues in TLM Parishes. And not only that, instead of shrinking they are growing. Indeed, they are bursting at the seams, and entirely organically. I went on a random Sunday once and was forced to stand. Not Christmas. Not Easter. Just Sunday Mass. I have literally never seen that anywhere else except the time I saw a Mass said by Cardinal Burke.

And it is THESE parishes and THESE Masses being targeted. This is the serious problem Pope Francis – and the bishops! – are seeing that is causing the Pope to act. He said not a word about the Panchamama incident – scratch that, he apologized after someone threw the statue in the Tiber – he refused to say a word to clarify his weird footnote in Amoris Laetitia, he refused to elaborate on any of the odd and frankly contradictory things he’s said about gay marriage despite Cardinals issuing statements because THEY were concerned Catholic teaching was being misrepresented, he has shuffled around rumored sex abusers and done next to nothing to the German bishops…

…But people having an issue with Vatican II and pointing out hey, maybe the novus ordo is way too open to abuse and the TLM was the historic liturgy of the western church for 1000 years *for a reason*, espite the fact that the people attending these parishes and attending these liturgies are MORE orthodox and faithful on average…

…Well, that’s DIVISIVE!

Well, no duh it’s divisive. It’s divisive to point out that yes, what you are offering is actually, in fact, more holy and more faithful than the watered-down stuff next door is. Because it is, obviously.

We currently have in office a very bad pope. This is not new; it’s happened before. The difference now is we have the internet. But let’s just call a spade a spade here – the pope is bad, and this was a massive mistake that is only going to lead to a schism.

What this just did, was turn moderate traditionalists celebrating their Masses into radical extremists. If Pope Francis wanted to calm down the dissent, then needless to say *confirming the Vatican’s hostility to traditionalists by cracking down on the celebration of the latin Mass* was probably the wrong way to go about it.

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Chastek and Crude on Parallel Churches

Crude recently commented on James Chastek’s article on the upcoming rumored suppression of the FSSP.

Short answer: I agree with Crude, and have some of my own commentary to add. Note that would respond to Chastek directly, but he does not allow it. C’est la vie.

Chastek says this:

As a rule, the lived experience within a traditionalist parish is of leaving the diocese, which latter is often caricatured as a Sodom of clown Masses, modernism, and Masons.

Hmmmmmmm. Well, my local parish, which I am mostly quite fond of, is not like that. I would go as far as to call my Priest a very good man. He is also a man who once gave a homily on Noah’s Ark that straight up said that God would never kill anybody in a flood, the very idea was preposterous, God was a God of love, so there must be some other reason the story was included. This happened; I was there. It was no caricature.

That said, the Priest at the Blue Army Shrine to Our Lady of Fatima is staunchly traditionalist, yet only says one Latin Mass a week. It varies, but traditionalists are not making up what they see.

Chastek also says this:

My wife and I couldn’t break into our last traditionalist community simply because – as far as we could tell – we were in perfect agreement with everyone about everything except homeschooling, exclusive traditionalism, or attending the parish school. 

This paragraph strikes me as extremely strange. There are a couple of things to note about it:

  1. Chastek emphasizes homeschooling as a major source of disagreement
  2. At the same time, he also mentions separately from homeschooling attending the parish school

Something very weird is going on here. The parish can’t BOTH be incredibly intolerant about homeschooling AND incredibly intolerant about people not attending the local parish school. That would be straight up contradictory! So Chastek can’t be right about this – they’re clearly very much okay with people choosing to opt out of homeschooling.

What they have an issue with – and this is speculation on my part, but educated speculation – is the decision for children to attend public schools. My guess? Chastek didn’t want to pay to send his kids to private school, but also didn’t have the ability to homeschool, and got heavily criticized for this.

The problem I have with Chastek’s response is that this is not a small issue! This is not some tiny insignificant detail that you can just agree to disagree about. How you raise your children is critical to the very core of the entire traditionalist project. Chastek’s reaction of “I don’t get it! That’s all we disagree about and they still have a problem with me!” in fact gets to the very heart of the problem – he doesn’t even grasp WHY the traditionalist movement has an issue with putting children in public schools. In fact, having your children indoctrinated for 35-40 hours a week by public servants is something the traditionalists ABSOLUTELY should have a very vocal issue with – in fact, I’m rather heartened to hear that they didn’t let it go.

I don’t really have anything else to add, except I fully co-sign Crude’s commentary. Just wanted to make a point about this aspect of it.

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Part 3: The Best Evidence Against the Thesis

I take no pleasure, none whatsoever, in the theory that Joan of Arc died having denied her voices. It is a depressing end, more depressing than the burning.

Still, there are things that point away from it. The testimonies of Manchon and Ladvenu are often cited by people who believe Joan kept her faith in the Voices to the end; Francis Lowell, who wrote the wonderful biography I keep linking to and referencing, claims she had regained, or possibly never lost, her faith in the Voices because she called on St. Michael while in the flames.

Not to be rude to Mr. Lowell, but this strikes me as a particularly pathetic defense. One does not need to believe they are being spoken to by Voices to pray to Saints. It is a defense that could only have been penned by a non-Catholic; I can imagine myself doing much the same as Joan did.

But there are real points against this. Ladvenu is her Confessor, and he claims twenty years later Joan did not deny her Voices; it’s possible she revealed as much to him in her final days.

We also have this classic quote from Joan:

 “Ah, Rouen, I greatly fear that you will have to suffer for my death.”

This was said on the day of her execution, and in it we see some of Joan’s old confidence. It relates to the case like this:

Clearly, Joan believes she is innocent, and more than that, is convinced she will be vindicated after her death. Surely such an attitude doesn’t fit with the revelation that Joan admitted her Voices could not be trusted. Right?

The main stumbling blocks here are twofold:

  1. Accounts that say Joan did NOT deny her Voices only appear 20 years after the fact
  2. The last word we get from Joan herself on the Voices is her saying she will no longer trust them

These are big issues. Manchon may not have known about the denial (though I’m skeptical of this) but Ladvenu certainly did; indeed, he played a very big part in inducing it.

And yet this is the best evidence we have that Joan did NOT deny her voices: Ladvenu definitely knows all of the facts, was there for her final days, and still says Joan did not deny her Voices; and Joan is definitely convinced of her innocence even in the very hour of death.

It is certainly plausible Joan said something to Ladvenu that convinced him she still held faith in the Voices; but of course it is equally plausible Ladvenu saw the writing on the wall regarding the results of the trial and left of the bit that made him look the worst.

Her bravery at the end is undeniable, of course: She dies looking at a Cross, calling on the name of Jesus and the Saints. I have seen some sources scoff at the account of the executioner who claims he fears greatly that he will be damned, because he has burnt a Saint; however this is brought up in multiple places, and it seems quite probable that it happened.

So what were Joan’s last thoughts on the Voices?

I’m a broken record here, but the answer is “We aren’t sure, but probably she denied them.” C’est la vie.

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Thesis Challenge: Father Ladvenu

Father Ladvenu, a Priest sympathetic to Joan, provides arguably the greatest challenge to my thesis that Joan died denying her voices, and I apparently missed him completely. Like Manchon, Fr. Ladvenu claims Joan held fast that her voices came from God until she died; but there are several things about Ladvenu’s testimony that make it distinct from Manchon.

First and most importantly is this:

On the day of her death I was with her until her last breath.

So Ladvenu is much closer to Joan than Manchon. He is also, of course, her Confessor, and has a unique insight into Joan’s soul that is impossible for Manchon to share.

He has this to say:

When I was with her, and exhorting her on her salvation, the Bishop of Beauvais and some of the Canons of Rouen came over to see her; and, when Jeanne perceived the Bishop, she told him that he was the cause of her death; that he had promised to place her in the hands of the Church, and had relinquished her to her mortal enemies.

Up to the end of her life she maintained and asserted that her Voices came from God, and that what she had done had been by God’s command.

There are a couple of very interesting aspects to this little quote. Joan famously says to Cauchon that “I die through you” when he sees her, which seems to be what Ladvenu is referring to. What is often left out of adaptations, however, is that this was not the end of the exchange. Cauchon takes this moment as his opportunity to get Joan to deny her voices. He manages to at minimum get Joan to admit she was deceived by them; according to the Lowell biography she at least stopped short of claiming they were demonically inspired, but it was a moment of major victory for Cauchon nonetheless. This is the reason he allows Joan to receive Confession and Eucharist – it is tantamount to her admitting that she is submitting to the Church’s (meaning him and his men’s) judgment on the voices.

But there is more to take away from Ladvenu’s testimony at the original condemnation trial:

Replied: Pierre Maurice, Nicolas Loyseleur, and I exhorted her to save her soul, and asked her if it were true that she had these Voices and apparitions? She replied that it was indeed true, and she continued so to tell us up to the end, but without stating decidedly, at least, so far as I understood, under what form the apparitions came to her. All I remember is that she said they came to her in great multitude and in the smallest size [in magna multitudine et quantitate minima]. Besides, I did at this time hear Jeanne say and confess that, inasmuch as the Clergy held and believed that if they were spirits who came to her they proceeded from evil spirits, she also held and believed as did the Clergy, and would no longer put faith in these spirits. And as it appeared to me, Jeanne was then of a sound mind.

Something is very weird here. This is the same person saying on one hand that Joan held “to the end” – and he was there at the end – that the voices came from God, and on the other hand he claims that Joan said she would “no longer put faith in these spirits”. Which is true? Is there a contradiction?

One way to explain it is that, like is possible with Manchon, at the nullification trial Ladvenu is simply leaving things out that make Joan look bad. This is not implausible.

The most I can say about Fr. Ladvenu in particular is that as Joan’s Confessor and, at the end, her constant companion, his words regarding her attitude towards the Voices do carry particular weight – and it is possible Joan revealed something to him in Confession, or in private conversation, that convinced him that Joan did not repudiate her voices. As is, it’s definitely the best evidence we have for that particular position, and I was mistaken for not including it.

With that said, if you want my personal opinion – unsubstantiated though it is – 20 years on when all favor was towards Joan of Arc, in her nullification trial, I think Fr. Ladvenu simply left out the bits that made Joan look bad. Look, it’s not as if it would have changed the outcome of the retrial. It just…makes Joan look a little better.

And perhaps more importantly, it makes HIM look a little better. Now that it looks as if Joan is going to be declared innocent, manipulating Joan in a moment of terrible emotional weakness, having just learned she would be burnt at the stake and excommunicated, into denying Voices sent by God is perhaps not how you want people to remember you.

Or maybe Ladvenu knows something we don’t, and can’t reveal it, due to his role as a Confessor. That also isn’t implausible! I leave the question open to your consideration.

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