Friday, December 6, 2013

More PIE

Now dead, Nelson Mandela is unable to flee baptism by the dependably incontinent Rod Dreher.


Today's quiz: who said this?

Hey, kids, here's today's quiz. What prominent Catholic said the following:

...I always knew the questions in advance. They concerned the ordination of women, contraception, abortion and other such constantly recurring problems.

If we let ourselves be drawn into these discussions, the Church is then identified with certain commandments or prohibitions; we give the impression that we are moralists with a few somewhat antiquated convictions, and not even a hint of the true greatness of the faith appears. I therefore consider it essential always to highlight the greatness of our faith—a commitment from which we must not allow such situations to divert us.

Hint: one of my favorite d00ds.

Facts on Catholic clergy sex abuse

As always, the latest release from the Catholic League will irritate some people, but there are no denying the facts. So I republish them here.

Now that Pope Francis has set up a commission to study priestly sexual abuse, Bill Donohue urges reporters to get their facts straight:

Myth: Children have been the main victims of priestly sexual abuse.

Fact: Since more than 95 percent of all the victims of priestly sexual abuse, as reported by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, are not prepubescent, that means that adolescents have been the primary victims.

Myth: Pedophile priests have been the problem.

Fact: Homosexual priests have been the problem. Proof: 81 percent of the victims have been male, and more than 95 percent have been postpubescent. When males have sex with postpubescent males, it is called homosexuality.

Myth: The problem is on-going.

Fact: The homosexual scandal took place mostly between the mid-1960s and the mid-1980s. In the last ten years, the average number of credible accusations made against 40,000 priests is in the single digits.

Myth: The Church’s repressive teachings on sexuality are the problem.

Fact: It was liberals outside the Church who pushed for the sexual revolution, and it was liberals in the Church who abetted the revolution in the seminaries. Moreover, it was liberals who promoted therapy as the way to deal with molesters, instead of using punitive measures.

Myth: The Church has done nothing about the problem.

Fact: Pope Benedict XVI made it more difficult for active homosexual priests to enter the priesthood, thus getting directly to the source of the problem. Also, steps have been taken in every diocese to ensure that anyone who works for the Church must participate in a training program aimed at curtailing the abuse of minors.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Erin Manning goes Andrew Sullivan

By which I mean for the duration of Advent her blog will consist only of her posts, without comments.

Now I don't orbit by Erin's blog that often, mostly because the inside baseball Catholic stuff she usually posts about is simply outside my wheelhouse, but when I do, I read it for the comments, to the extent of ordering the posts I read by the number of comments they receive.

Why? Probably that basic human being social animal thing: it's the interaction among people that's the most interesting thing to me, not Erin Manning's sole thoughts in and of themselves (I don't know her, so why would I care what she thinks any more than I care about what anyone else I don't know thinks?) I'm interested in how the only objective measure of what she tried, the grasp and judgement of others, measures her success or failure from the beginning of whether she is even being articulate to the end of whether she has ended up being convincing or not. I'm interested in where her public thoughts fit into the multi-person human world, not in what she and Sullivan are now doing, tight-beaming their special individual mind dumps to Alpha Centauri.

When a blogger blogs without comments it seems to me they're saying a number of different things, either outright or implicitly:

1) I didn't have enough space anywhere at home to keep this private diary, so I'm using this public platform I stumbled across as a last-ditch makeshift workaround. If-ay I-yay ew-nay ig-Pay atin-Lay, I-Yay ould-way even-ay ite-wray it-tay ere-hay in-nay at-thay oo-tay eep-kay it-tay even-ay ore-may ecret-say, but I don't.

2) What I have to say is so important in its own right that it doesn't even matter if anyone reads it, so I don't need to know by way of someone commenting if anyone did read it or what they thought.

3) I already wrote 2) just now. Any comment could only spoil that, don't you agree? Don't answer.

One of the reasons Erin gives for her experiment in isolation is that there is a completely unknowable "depressingly large number of people in the world who feel free to put all sorts of sludge in your comment boxes," which suggests, a bit too facilely it seems to me, that anyone not positively reviewing Erin's output could be suspect of being an inhabitant of that vague and infinitely elastic purgatory.

But Erin is not Andrew Sullivan, so just as with her self-published book output - I think she just finished churning out her fifth or so 50,000 word manuscript in the series, the book(s) her mentor Rod Dreher has yet to even acknowledge exist - what she has effectively done is abandon her blogging now as well to the same sort of private self-publishing for that safely known audience of herself and anyone in her inner circle who considers her special enough that they will phone her or text her or email her personally about it.

This isn't really narcissism, it's more like a self-imposed sort of autism, and it seems to be a way of coping with the internet: people want to be noticed by the public, but only on their own, unilateral terms. So, in between isolated bursts of tight-beaming, they rock to and fro, in self-imposed isolation.

Frankly, it seems to me that a better course for anyone like Erin, even for a raging narcissist like Sullivan who, unlike Barbra, has only achieved first name status in-house, would be to take a closer look at why they are so allergic to the knowable public responses of others to their output.

If the comments Erin actually gets really is disproportionately a depressingly large amount of "sludge", what is she doing to generate those terrible results, and what could she do differently to achieve better ones?

If the problem is feeling rejected at anything short of adoration, that, too, begs for corrective action, action which can only be undertaken and guided in response to the very same feedback that is being preemptively rejected.

In short, a better experiment for Erin might be to explore in more depth why as a public author and blogger she seems to be having trouble getting along with her readers. Solving that social problem might put her further along the path to being a more successful author on top of being a happier blogger.

Yeah, I didn't link to Erin's experiment. Why would I? By her own hand, she's designated it as not really something for public interaction.

[NFP: But I am linking to Ms. Manning's post so I can see if it shows up in her "Links to this post" section. Mwa-ha-ha.]

[NFP2: In this context, NFP stands for Note From Pauli, not "Natural Family Planning". But you all knew that.]

Monday, December 2, 2013

A "revolution in the self-understanding of the Catholic Church"

George Weigel on Pope Francis. Excerpt:

He is a man of broad culture, well-read theologically but more given to literary references and illustrations than to scholarly theological citations in his preaching and catechesis. Thus one of his recent daily Mass sermons praised Robert Hugh Benson’s early 20th-century apocalyptic novel, “Lord of the World,” for raising important cautions against dictatorial utopianism, or what the pope called “adolescent progressivism.”

Pope Francis also grasps the nature of the great cultural crisis of post-modernity: the rise of a new Gnosticism, in which everything in the human condition is plastic, malleable and subject to human willfulness, nothing is simply given, and human beings are reduced, by self-delusion, legal definition or judicial dictums to mere bundles of desires.

And the conclusion:

As he wrote in “Evangelii Gaudium,” Pope Francis is not a man of “political ideology.” He knows that “business is a vocation and a noble vocation,” if ordered to the common good and the empowerment of the poor. When he criticizes the social, economic or political status quo, he does so as a pastor who is “interested only in helping all those who are in thrall to an individualistic, indifferent and self-centered mentality to be freed from those unworthy chains and to attain a way of living and thinking that is more humane, noble, and fruitful.”

Pope Francis is a revolutionary. The revolution he proposes, however, is not a matter of economic or political prescription, but a revolution in the self-understanding of the Catholic Church: a re-energizing return to the pentecostal fervor and evangelical passion from which the church was born two millennia ago, and a summons to mission that accelerates the great historical transition from institutional-maintenance Catholicism to the Church of the New Evangelization.

I agree with Weigel's summary.

The Children's Crusade

Just about anything I could write would subtract from the sheer joy and magic of this narrative, so, as we aspiring scholastigators like to say, just read the whole thing:

Hard Sell: Going door-to-door for Obamacare

If you're drinking something in front of your computer, swallow and put it down. If you have a cold, blow your nose first.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Premature Intellectual Ejaculation (PIE)

If you're a narcissistic charismatic writer prone to spontaneous blogging emissions requiring you to immediately follow up in comments with six (6) or more corrective NFR's to make your original point compelling or even intelligible, maybe because your reader isn't reading you closely enough, perhaps because they're low in openness, or maybe just because you yourself are guilty of disingenuously [e]liding so basic a fact about your own beliefs and work with an accusation against his reading comprehension, you may be suffering from a chronic case of Premature Intellectual Ejaculation, or PIE.

When your brain spontaneously starts that windup toward "uuunnnNNHHH!!!" and your hands get itchy on the keypad envisioning how Downton Abbey is really a metaphor for a French cassoulet which is really a metaphor for Dante's Divine Comedy which is really a metaphor for your own gluttonous eating like pigs in shit - STOP.

Just stop. Stop, run some cold water over your head, and see if it is possible to use it for some semblance of systematic rational processing for a change rather than just as a warehouse for your limbic, Komodo dragon-like carnal appetites.

Premature Intellectual Ejaculation is curable, but it requires a specific, disciplined regular exercise we commonly call thinking. However, if you do these thinking exercises faithfully, you will find yourself far less likely to impetuously and embarrassingly blurt out something like how The Apostles were the original Smurfs and your writing as a result will probably require far fewer panicked NFRs to correct someone else's alleged failure to read your professional writing closely enough.

Premature Intellectual Ejaculation (PIE). It is curable, but you must first put your reader's satisfaction ahead of your own spontaneous urges to emit.