Thursday, May 16, 2013

Since we're on the topic of Walker Percy

Chris Blogger posted this conversation with Walker Percy a few years back. I like it for two reasons: 1) Percy's sentiments match mine, and 2) reminds me of Dylan interviews where the interviewer is looking for the wrong answers and keeps getting the right ones.

Q: What kind of Catholic are you?
A: Bad.
Q: No, I mean are you liberal or conservative?
A: I no longer know what those words mean.
Q: Are you a dogmatic Catholic or an open-minded Catholic?
A: I don’t know what that means, either. Do you mean I believe the dogma that the Catholic Church proposes for belief?
Q: Yes.
A: Yes.
Q: How is such a belief possible in this day and age?
A: What else is there?
Q: What do you mean, what else is there? There is humanism, atheism, agnosticism, Marxism, behavioralism, materialism, Buddhism, Muhammadanism, Sufism, astrology, occultism, theosophy.
A: That’s what I mean.
Q: To say nothing of Judaism or Protestantism.
A: Well, I would include them along with the Catholic Church in the whole peculiar Jewish-Christian thing.
Q: I don’t understand. Would you exclude, for example, scientific humanism as a rational and honorable alternative?
A: Yes.
Q: Why?
A: It’s not good enough.
Q: Why not?
A: This life is too much trouble, far too strange, to arrive at the end of it and then to be asked what you make of it and have to answer, “Scientific humanism.” That won’t do. A poor show. Life is a mystery, love is a delight. Therefore I take it as axiomatic that one should settle for nothing less than the infinite mystery and the infinite delight, i.e., God. In fact, I demand it. I refuse to settle for anything less.

Emphases mine. Percy was a true Catholic convert. Of course he wouldn't settle for anything less. As a convert to Catholicism myself, I considered Eastern Orthodoxy, but ultimately chose against it, even though I admire their traditions. Why? Because it's less than Catholicism.

What I read first today

...and what I will likely be thinking about for the rest of the day is Oengus Moonbones's latest work in progress, The Relics. For some reason, the man from the "Land In-between" just draws me into his stories. There's an honesty in his fiction that you don't always see in the non-fiction of others. Here's how The Relics begins:

The story I want to tell you begins with a funeral, my funeral actually.

It's funny how the end of your life can circle back around to near where you began. That was the case with me when they held a funeral for me at the Crystal Cathedral, over in Garden Grove. It is a nice town, much like the rest of the towns you find in southern California. When I was very young, my grandmother Edith would take me to Sunday school at a small church not far down the road from where the Cathedral is located. Back then I would never have dreamt that just down the street they would finally bury me. But I guess you don't think about those kind of things when you're little.

Anyhow, my funeral was a sight to behold. I mean it was a really big funeral, bigger than anything I could imagine happening. All sorts of people came. There were some that I knew in life, but most of the people who came I had no idea who they were or where they came from. Isn't it strange that when you're still around, not many people will even talk to you. Once you're gone, though, you discover you've got all these friends you never knew you had.

The story isn't finished, but I hope he writes more. I remember a few years back reading his quirky and very humorous Belinda at Starbucks, which I can't seem to find on Lunar Skeletons anymore. What's up with that, Oengus?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

"If it's trouble you're looking for you're going to get it."

Carol McKinley takes a well-aimed blast at self-proclaimed "à la carte Catholics" like Kevin Cullen from the Boston Globe. She hits her mark, as always. Read the whole thing; here's an excerpt:

This is the stupidest caricature of Catholics who reject Church teaching, and consequently their own salvation, I have ever read. All Catholics sit in the pews and struggle with Church teaching.

Some struggle with accepting the teaching. Others accept the teaching but struggle with practice.

That's what we are all doing there.

What Catholics will not accept is when a struggling Catholic uses their presence to encourage others to reject Church teaching, tempt and draw them into celebrating and taking pride in immorality and sin. The Unitarians down the street love that kind of stuff and you are most welcome there. You're not welcome to do it where our families sit to learn how to make choices that affect their salvation. If it's trouble you're looking for you're going to get it.

Thanks, Carol. Reading your stuff is always a breath of fresh air, with just a hint of napalm.

Smells like... victory.

Biden Gives Advice to Perform Illegal Actions

Then someone actually fires his shotgun through the door and gets arrested for it. Can anyone make this stuff up?

WaPo gives Obama Four Pinocchios on Benghazi

This fact check piece on whether or not the President called the 9/11/12 attacks on Benghazi an "act of terrorism" is worth reading. Excerpt:

During the campaign, the president could just get away with claiming he said “act of terror,” since he did use those words — though not in the way he often claimed. It seemed like a bit of after-the-fact spin, but those were his actual words — to the surprise of Mitt Romney in the debate. But the president’s claim that he said “act of terrorism” is taking revisionist history too far, given that he repeatedly refused to commit to that phrase when asked directly by reporters in the weeks after the attack. He appears to have gone out of his way to avoid saying it was a terrorist attack, so he has little standing to make that claim now. Indeed, the initial unedited talking points did not call it an act of terrorism. Instead of pretending the right words were uttered, it would be far better to acknowledge that he was echoing what the intelligence community believed at the time--and that the administration’s phrasing could have been clearer and more forthright from the start.

Michael Medved pointed out on his show that Obama contradicted himself within his own statements on Monday, May 13, since he claimed at other points that they weren't "clear" (his word) about the nature of the attacks. I think the word he meant to use was sure, not clear, and perhaps that was a Freudian slip. So they didn't know if it was an act of terror, but they said it was right away.... which is it, Mr. President?

A little review of Little Way and some little remarks

I'm still not ready to write my full review of LWoRL. But I enjoyed this short review from Audrey.

I liked Ruthie but I was not crazy about her brother, the author. He brought too much of himself and his religion into his story.

I commented on this review positively. There was a negative reaction stating "Why would you criticize an author for bringing in his spirituality when it is very obvious, from reading the description of the book or the jacket/back cover, that this is going to be a major topic within the book?" So my reaction was to clarify why someone might be nonplussed with the manner in which religion is brought into the story.

This is the reaction most people I know have to the book. The story of Ruthie is basically used a delivery system for the author's own political ideologies and religious experiences. And while I don't doubt the possibility of real supernatural phenomena occurring to some people, all the people I know who feel compelled to trumpet them come off as pretty arrogant. That's my assessment when reading about his personal visitation by the Virgin Mary and the postmortem vision he has of his sister. The former doesn't add one thing to the story, the latter feels entirely contrived.

So Audrey agrees with one of my two main thoughts about how the book is flawed—it's too much about the author. This is my other main thought: I still don't think Rod Dreher understands his sister, Ruthie, and mischaracterizes her motives by superimposing his own belief system on hers. Maybe this will help explain what I mean....

Here's Dreher on Andrew Sullivan's Vimeo Channel. Try to ignore the weird visuals here, stifle your guffaws, and concentrate on what he is saying.

He starts off by saying that Ruthie had a bad attitude about Rod having left the old homestead to go live elsewhere. I think this misses the main point; I think Ruthie was irritated with her brother because of his endless vocal contrarianism. He told his father that he was a socialist, he sat inside watching VH1 instead of going out hunting craw-daddies, he read books and hung out with the town "liberals", and all evidence points toward his having no unspoken thought on any topic. This habit would unfortunately inexorably link his plans to bolt from his hometown with his hating everything about it, not a reasonable pursuit of his fortune or his education or whatever. After that, each call back home would probably be an announcement of some new, big-city experience—discovering some new food or restaurant, seeing someone famous, etc. This is commonly known as bragging which, when coupled with contrarianism, is not a good formula for winning friends and influencing people. Numerous examples in the book bear this out, believe me.

And we know what happened when he got the big jobs in the city. He went all contrarian at National Review and flipped out because people teased him about shopping at the farm market. He started all these arguments about how small towns were great and authentic and all the stuff that ended up in his first book. That's why it rings hollow when he claims he learned all these things from his dying sister; he had been going on about all this stuff for years.

It's ironic to me that one of Rod's oft-touted proofs for the greatness of his sister's "little way" is the big line at her wake. When discussing the topic of the many friends the Lemings had who helped them through Ruthie's illness with his wife, she points out to him that they have a lot of friends, too. But he retorts that they don't have a "deep bench". This struck me as a strange remark until I realized that it is a sports analogy. Could Rod's use of this analogy—probably subconscious—demonstrate that his relationship to his sister is still primarily a competitive one? Well, now that he's moved back, the line at his funeral better be at least as long as his sister's, dammit! (This is the point Kathleen is trying to make here, by the way.)

Like I said, I'm still not ready for a full review. For now I'll let Keith, Pik, Diane, Kathleen, SVS et al state more reactions to my thoughts below.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

At least we might be permitted 15 round magazines . . .

Our twice-elected Vice President actually wrote this:

If we had guns that shot chocolate, not only would our country be safer, it would be happier. People love chocolate

Tell you what, Joe.  I'll keep my .45 hollow points, and we'll let the criminals shoot chocolate.

P.S.  Too bad Akein didn't send chocolate on Mother's Day.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Flashback: 1983

Was going to post Angry Samoans tunes, but saw this and thought, "No, this is better."

My grandmother always had Pepsi in the fridge, we always had Coke. I have no idea why.