Happy Feast of All Saints, everyone.
for Jonathan Potter
Telling it ruins it.- Walker Percy
If time’s axes could be measured by x’s and y’s,
Weightlessness would hit the moon and comes up short
As typical astronauts would goof on graffiti
That beats them to the punch – “Clapton is God,”
The lunar lithograph exclaims. The pretensions
Are less than literary and more than time allows.
This message from the stars came back as reverb,
A name renamed, distortion, a bending of chords….
The same for seeing Israel dimly touching goatskin
On a TV talk show – “That’s Esau, or my name’s not Ishack!”
He touches his nose and suddenly all of Egypt knows
The shivering of naked bodies, all twisted by weird news –
Assemble on a hardwood bench before a swimming pool,
Olympic-sized, its water cold with catharsis. A sauna
Awaits an answer, scalding hot with cleansing steam.
The swimming instructor presumes to know their ἕποι
Let’s count them off – a madwoman who bent herself
Into a chimney and another into a ventilation shaft:
Both waited to die, discovering what we’ll never find out
Unless we interpret their deaths as more akin to life;
A man who chewed away at the face of another man,
Strong with the urge to prove that human flesh must eat,
Faceless, drug out from shadows, out into light,
Miami’s hot sun, in plain view, faceless, nothing new….
A boy who burnt his parish church down to see Christ
The night He was born. His innocent match lights the hay,
The statues, altar, body, blood, soul and divinity.
Still another boy who greeted mother as a corpse
Every day for seven weeks after school, alone, together,
And not knowing death, only sleep and love;
He took direction from her ghost until the matrix
Decided enough was enough; then there was the last,
So lost in numbers among forceps and lawful blood,
The airlock of bickering rhetoric, a silent scream,
This one, he or she, counts, observable, if only for Rachel.
Remember Rachel? “Who is Rachel? What is she?”
My guitar gently weeps.
Well, look at that, Alphonse (and other attempts at getting at the infinite mystery and fragile pricelessness of personhood through fiction) isn’t kid’s stuff, after all… At least, not if we’re to believe what the esteemed and delightfully grumpy Thomas Fleming has to say about Philip K. Dick…
One link leads to another.
Mr. Burrell of All Manner of Thing recently added Bad Catholic to his blogroll, which prompted me to take a fresh look at Bad Catholic. Then I noticed “Heaven Speaks” on the Bad Catholic menu bar. Marc, the proprietor of Bad Catholic, says: “A year ago, my life was changed by the grace of God, through a little pamphlet written by Anne, a Lay Apostle, who claims to be receiving interior locutions (private revelation) from Jesus, Mary and the Saints.” Marc offers to send you one of said pamphlets if you drop him a note.
Marc’s endorsement made me curious, so I Googled “Anne lay apostle” and found Anne’s website, Direction for Our Times: Official Resources for Lay Apostles of Jesus Christ the Returning King. I read Anne’s “Introduction Letter” — a little goofy with the mention of vague illnesses and such, but possibly genuine. She also mentions Medjugorje, which I’m pretty fond of, but which might be enough to cause other Catholics I know to spit on the ground and turn away. So I found my way to Anne’s online library. After poking around a bit, I discovered that the documents overlap. The “pamphlets” and “volumes” are compiled and organized into the “books” — so I gravitated to the latter, starting with the first one, Climbing the Mountain. Now I’ve read the first thirty pages or so of Anne’s account of getting a tour of heaven with Jesus Himself as the tour guide, and involving casual encounters with Anne’s grandmother, St. Clare, St. John of the Cross, St. Peter, St. Bernard, St. John the Apostle, Our Lady, and others. Heaven is vast, with mountains and streams and rooms, gathering places and places of solitude where souls absorb and learn from Jesus, festivals of celebration, and meetings where saints strategize about how best to usher in the renewal of the world and the return of Christ as King. “Jesus said that we live in an age of disobedience, which means that many souls are living in rebellion to God’s will. He says that we are moving out of this time, toward an age of obedience, when most souls will live in unity with God’s will. The time we are in now is a transition period.” It’s pretty heady stuff, exciting, astonishing — maybe even genuine and not just Anne’s own personal excursion into a creative writing project that got out of control … maybe!
So I returned to Google. Hmmm… “Claims of Private Revelation: True or False? An Evaluation of the messages to ‘Anne,’ a lay apostle” sounds possibly useful. Someone by the name of Ronald L. Conte Jr (his CV, of sorts, here) concludes that Anne’s messages are the genuine deal, to wit:
These messages do not contain any of the characteristics of false private revelation. In truth, they show every indication of being true private revelations from God. These messages are entirely in keeping with the messages found in the Gospel. In my humble and pious opinion as a faithful Roman Catholic theologian, the claims of private revelation to Anne, a wife, mother, and lay apostle, are reliable and trustworthy.
Hmm … side trip to his blog … whoa … okay, whacky, but … interesting. Back to Google and Anne. Okay. Here’s something. Semper Fi Catholic’s Letter to Anne’s Bishop. One a them wacky* forums you find on all sorts of topics. This one is an exchange wherein Anne’s real identity is supposedly revealed, someone provides a link to private emails someone else dug up between Anne and someone she was counseling to divorce her husband in 2001, etc. Supposedly this demonstrates that Anne is a fraud, etc. Oh boy. But I’m still leaning towards accepting Anne as the real McCoy.
* Or perhaps not so wacky; see comments below. And why did I spell it “whacky” just a few lines earlier, but “wacky” here? Speak to me, O Spellcheck. “Whack!”
Take it away, Father Rutler!
So apparently, someone in Japan made his own version of Augustine’s Member.
Which, for whatever reason, reminds me of this awful passage:
Francis woke in his room, shivering. He had kicked the covers off – no, he hadn’t. Why so cold? Irritated out of his wee-hours grogginess, he glanced over at his window – closed. Then he saw it. In the corner opposite from his bed, just behind the damp city-light drifting through his window, sat a quivering pile of something that did not belong. He tensed and sat up, gripping the sheet with his fists, then leaned forward, squinting into the dark.
Whatever it was, it was about three feet high and three feet across, a rounded, lumpy mound. Lumpy – it seemed to be comprised of nothing but lumps: small lumps, big lumps, firm lumps, flaccid lumps, round lumps, tear-drop lumps, lumps squeezed together, one against another, lumps upon lumps… and on top of each lump, a darkened point… Francis’s face looked he was gagging, like he had just swallowed something designed to make him vomit. What was in his corner was a jiggling pile of women’s breasts.
A voice slipped out from somewhere within the pile: “Hello, Francis.”
Oddly, the salute made Francis feel better. Once the thing had spoken, he had been reassured of his safety – here was something he could engage.
“W-What are you?”
“I’m surprised you ask. Weren’t you at the Timken a few days ago? I never made it into the paintings – a touch vulgar for serious art, I’m afraid – but I can assure you that Bosch was well acquainted with me. As for my name, you may call me Buub-el. I know it’s an awful joke, but it was felt that you would appreciate it.”
“What are you doing here?”
“That’s right. What am I doing here? Why aren’t I in heaven? Wake up.”
Francis woke up; it was morning. Over breakfast, he gathered up the stray bits of lore he had received concerning the fall of the angels. Lucifer, God’s favorite, had rebelled with the cry of Non serviam – I will not serve. Better to be a king in hell than a slave in heaven. He had committed the sin of pride, the root of every sin, putting himself before God. A third of the angels had joined his revolt; there had been a war in heaven, and St. Michael had cast Lucifer down into hell. But why? Why would someone who looked God in the face ever suppose that there could be something better?
Merry Kristmas, Kollektiv and Korrektiv Korrespondents!