What I Think We Should Do

I am not alt right, but believe it or not I think a lot of their concerns are quite valid in terms of the effects of minorities on populations, immigration, the evil of Islam, etc.

Where I (mainly, among other ways) differ is in response. I simply see no way in which mass deportation can be considered moral at this point. We would be dragging people out of their homes – legal citizens – at gunpoint and forcing them on pain of death to them and their families to settle in lands utterly foreign to them. It is not right. It is not moral. It is not just. There is no recourse to just war here: You would be the aggressor.

Might this mean that war is coming eventually? Maybe! So what do we do about it?

Unlike most people, I am willing to say that there is simply no good answer. Deportation is not a magic bullet. A radical change of the school system is not a magic bullet. Stricter immigration laws is not a magic bullet. Trump is not a magic bullet. There are no magic bullets.

What we can do is this: Sell your cloak and buy a sword. Maybe war is coming. Maybe not! Live out the faith in word and deed. Perform the corporal works of mercy. Try to contribute something good, true, and beautiful to society. Repent. And pray without ceasing.

Will this prevent war? Will this solve our many other issues?

Probably not, really. At least not for a long, long time. But that’s life. As Tolkien once said, we are in for the long defeat. Take heart – the final victory is assured. And in the meantime we muddle through as best we can.

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Not Very Catholic of Me

My local parish is very small. It was small when I arrived in my town 18 years ago and has shrunk since then. When I got confirmed, there was somewhere in the ballpark of twenty other confirmants. This year, there are 8. At the Vigil Mass, there was one single catechumen. I went alone to the Mass (for scheduling reasons), and I got a pew to myself, in the front of the Church, not the annex. It was not the only empty pew.

The Church building itself is quite tiny. It is a small wooden building with a small main section and an equally small annex. CCD classes are taught in a little house next door, literally just a small house bought out by the parish and used to teach Catechism classes to the kids. The Church has a tiny basement that used to be used for this as well. I’m honestly not even sure if it’s needed anymore.

We have a single Priest. He is not the first Priest since I arrived in town – the first Priest was as I remember him a fine man as well, incidentally – but he has been there for probably 15 years at least, and is getting well up there in age. He is a wonderful man and an orthodox Priest I am proud to call our leader.

Everything here is made of wood, and the big money-making splurge – and I remember this as being a BIG deal – was the creation of a prayer garden, a small gray brick circle set out about ten to twenty feet away from the church with a nice looking bench on it. It is literally just an alternate route to the church annex, connected to the pathway.

This was where the Easter Vigil Mass was started – the candles were lit in the prayer garden and after that was done with we walked inside to finish the Mass. Anyone who’s candle hadn’t been lit was to have it lit by other parishioners in the church proper, and in that way the flame was spread. The candles only stayed lit for maybe twenty minutes to a half hour of the two hour service, but it’s a beautiful idea all the same.

I wish our congregation was bigger. I may even be volunteering soon to help out with things as simple as keeping our website up to date, and I do love Cathedrals and beautiful church architecture. And yet despite all of that there is, I think, something worthwhile about the particular sort of fellowship fostered in a tiny wooden church with a single Priest and a prayer garden within spitting distance of the doorway. I don’t know most of these people very well, but we are united in Christ, and the fact that we are alone in this together, so to speak, comes across particularly vividly when your setting is as humble as ours.

This is not very Catholic of me to say, I suppose, but it is my honest opinion.

Ever since I have been here rumors have flown that the diocese was on the verge of shutting us down (not unreasonable with two other larger parishes in spitting distance). And yet here we stand, dwindling congregation and all, the Parish ready to celebrate its 70th anniversary in September.

While I would certainly understand why someone would make the call to shut us down, I hope they don’t. Whether they realize it or not something significant would be lost if the tiny wooden church with a prayer garden connected to the backdoor walkway ever closed its doors. I only pray the rest of the world realizes this before it’s too late for us and we have to close our doors at last.

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Divine Liturgy!

I am a Roman Catholic with no Latin Masses near me, so to the Norvus Ordo I go. I’m not going to complain; the Priest at my church is very orthodox anf not any type of “innovator”, and that alone is worth its weight in gold.

Still, there is one thing I have always wanted to do, and that is attend a Divine Liturgy. I have few Orthodox churches near me, but several Byzantine Catholic, interestingly enough. Good for me – I can receive the Eucharist without asking the Priest first for permission.

I, at least, find the Byzantine church fascinating. They are strikingly similar in some ways and utterly alien in others. It is also surprisingly difficult to find digestible information about the Divine Liturgy. The only guide I found was 88(!!!) pages long and had a history lesson stuffed between what actually happened; not overly useful for a guy trying to not get lost in the service.

I also found it nigh impossible to figure out how they do Confession. Best I can tell they do it right before Mass at the front of the Church in full view of the parish (though quietly enough that nobody can hear you). Whether the Confession does anything to venial sins is apparently a matter of some debate. Go figure.

The best I can gather is that the Liturgy involves a lot of singing, a lot of incense, a lot of standing, and a lot of very specific rituals. It also looks to be very striking and memorable.

I had been looking for a nearby Byzantine Catholic Church for awhile now, the nearest being somewhere in the ballpark of a half hour away – not impossible, of course, but considering the three Roman churches within ten minutes from my house and a third 17 minutes away…not convenient.

Then I found one ten minutes away. A rather nice one too!

How did I miss it? It has no website and doesn’t update its Facebook page. Best I can tell after some digging it was nearly shut down in the 80’s until the other Byzantine church a half hour away absorbed it. Except nobody actually advertises its existence!

In any event the exterior is striking. I will be going to my local church for Easter, but I think I’ll be making a stop next week. I will report back on the experience in due time.

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“Rosanne” is everything wrong with the American right

I want everyone to pretend it’s five years ago. Just five!

Imagine Rosanne Barre comes out with a show where she pushes little kids cross-dressing, surrogate motherhood and selling your own eggs for money, and mocks traditional Christian values (a staple of “Rosanne” – they even did a black and white throwback episode that was designed specifically to mock the sorts of shows that pushed those values).

And conservatives are falling over themselves to praise it…because Rosanne gives a lukewarm semi-endorsement of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

This is the actual real situation we are in today, right now.

We should all stop, right now, and think about what has happened here. It isn’t good.

 

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2nd Amendment Response

I got some good responses to my last post; let me see what sort of mileage I can get from them.

Let me try to restate what seems to be the most common objection to my argument in list form:

  1. The government can become illegitimate for various reasons. Let’s grant the premise, it seems uncontroversial.
  2. Force may be required to fight back against an illegitimate government
  3. People have a God-given right to be able to defend themselves, including in cases when the government becomes illegitimate
  4. Therefore the state must recognize the right of citizens to bear arms to fight them in the event they one day become illegitimate
  5. An example of this in action is the Battle of Athens (this is not actually a premise of the argument but it does help illustrate it)

This is pretty good.

The Battle of Athens was about the subjects of the rightful sovereign fighting against rebels who attempted to oust the sovereign in place of their own, illegitimate sovereign.

Let’s replace election with “King” and see how it looks:

After the death of the king, the rightful king is meant to be the king’s son, Joe the 4th. But the nephew of the king, Bob the 2nd, makes a power play, and claims he is the rightful king, even though it is well known that this is not how the line of succession works. So Joe the 4th leads his subjects to take back his rightful throne from Bob the 2nd. He does, and we all live happily ever after.

If the 2nd Amendment is interpreted in such a way I don’t see an obvious problem with it.

Except…

Let’s take a look at the Civil War, or again, a certain interpretation of it.

The Southern states did not see themselves as rebels. Rather, they saw themselves as keepers of the proper, original government of the United States, which had been ousted by an illegitimate leader in Lincoln (let’s ignore for the moment whether their view was actually correct). In their view the leaders of the government were usurpers of the rightful sovereign. Therefore they were fighting to let the rightful, sovereign government keep control at least of their half of the country.

The fighting of the Civil War itself seems to indicate some issue with this interpretation of the second amendment; at the very least it is hard to see how the government can possibly recognize it in practice, since it will always judge those fighting against them to be illegitimate usurpers.

The only way the second amendment can possibly work is if a legitimate sovereign actually backs those bearing arms. If the U.S. federal government had stepped in and declared the original election legitimate, like it or not the fighters of Athens could do nothing about it.

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An Argument Against the Logical Consistency of the Second Amendment, by Certain Interpretations

  1. There is a certain interpretation of the second amendment, commonly quoted and possibly correct as to the amendment’s original intention, that says its purpose is to make sure the citizens of the nation are protected in case they need to defend themselves from a tyrannical government
  2. One way to refer to this is that in the event the government becomes tyrannical the citizens have the ability to engage in an armed rebellion.
  3. But an armed rebellion is always by definition illegal – it is an act of defiance against the current governing authority
  4. Thus, this interpretation of the second amendment would require the government to be sanctioning illegal action against itself
  5. This is self-contradictory, as if it’s illegal it cannot be sanctioned
  6. Therefore the second amendment under this definition makes no sense

I am in favor of an armed populace.

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Spoiler talk of “To the Moon”

I have now reviewed the game twice, once just after I played it and once after some distance. Both times I tried to avoid spoilers because it’s so important to the experience not to know what’s going to happen next, but it severely hampers my ability to analyze why it’s so freaking great. So I’ll talk about it here.

I mean, yeah, I love “To the Moon”. But I really want to talk about the impact it had on me.

There is no reason TTM should have affected me as much as it did. Its themes of romantic love and the importance of memories should both be alien to me (incidentally, these are two themes common to John C. Wright and I must confess to not yet having been affected by him on the same level).

But it didn’t matter. TTM used those things as a vehicle to hit upon something universal to the human experience. Even for a young guy like me the fear that you’ll go through life knowing that you could have, should have been better, that you made mistakes that hurt not just you but the ones you love, is a very understandable one. You get Johnny’s motives. They make sense. And Kan Gao does a hell of a lot of work helping the player understand what makes him, and his relationship with River, tick, and by understanding this you empathize with Johnny.

Several moments in the game were executed so well that they hit like a sledgehammer. The reveal that Johnny had a brother, who his mother ran over? I gasped. I had bought into the game hook, line, and sinker, and it so perfectly explained so many odd things in retrospect, so many little aspects of Johnny’s character, that it felt like an organic part of the story.

And when Neil reveals Eva’s plan to remove River? Pure horror. “Everything’s Alright”, played to the backdrop of River disappearing from Johnny’s life, is an astonishingly tragic scene, and has practically gone down in legend for its emotional effectiveness.

And when River shows up again! The way Kan Gao plays it out, with Eva slowly dropping hints, a ten or so minute break to help convince you this is for real, the short freeze in the music before River walks into the room accompanied by a soft instrumental reprise of “Everything’s Alright”? Absolutely, jaw-droppingly stunning. To say nothing of the final scene!

But what’s really brilliant in retrospect is just how well Kan Gao managed to pull all its disparate elements and plot threads together. The game, for all its emotion, is not manipulative. It doesn’t ignore plot points in order to get a good cry out of you. It earns that payoff. By the end of the game Kan Gao has not only managed to explain every mystery, big and small, not only raised valid, complex philosophical questions about the importance of truth and memory, he has masterfully, retroactively made even the smallest actions and motivations of the characters make perfect sense, and without telling you straight out, trusting you to make the connections yourself.

Of course River would rather pay to finish the house and have Johnny watch over the lighthouse rather than save herself. That first meeting with Johnny is what makes their whole relationship make sense in River’s mind, what justifies their communication gap and the sacrifices they both make for each other. It’s worth her life if Johnny can one day understand that. Of course Johnny would become unhealthily obsessed with standing out from the crowd; his mother mistakes him frequently with a twin brother he can’t remember, and this would naturally have an effect on him. And that scene at the beginning that seems played for laughs, when River doesn’t appreciate that he named a song after her? Once you learn about Johnny and River’s difficulty in communicating with each other and how much Johnny craves tangible expressions of River’s love that scene retroactively becomes terribly sad.

And to do all of this while ALSO being funny, sometimes hilarious? And while introducing a high concept sci-fi plot device effortlessly at the same time? And to follow it up with a sequel that’s nearly as good?

Look, guys, you have to play this game. At least watch Cry’s Let’s Play of it. Or anybody but Pewdiepie’s really, he’s a terrible fit. It’s so, so good. And if you’re a fan of John C. Wright’s work I think you’ll find a lot of its themes familar.

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