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Archives for September 2009

Healthcare Reform and Abortion Funding Explained

This is a helpfully clear and succinct explanation of what needs to happen if Obama’s healthcare reform plan is going to be palatable to the majority of U.S. citizens who identify as pro-life.

Bullet List

The Korrektiv Kanine

Because of the high tech world, info is not getting relayed

May Contain an Occasional Seed

First Son, Film Critic

9 was like a sloppy mosaic. The director had lots of great pieces that were awesome to look at, but he didn’t put them together carefully.”


Third Son: “The Spider-Man pants are really comfy.”

Visualizing the Bible

Yesterday’s News Today, but this is really kind of cool: Visualizing the Bible. Writes Chris Harrison: “This set of visualizations started as a collaboration between Christoph Römhild and myself. Christoph, a Lutheran Pastor, first emailed me in October of 2007. He described a data set he was putting together that defined textual cross references found in the Bible. He had already done considerable work visualizing the data before contacting me. Together, we struggled to find an elegant solution to render the data, more than 63,000 cross references in total..We set our sights on…something more beautiful than functional. At the same time, we wanted something that honored and revealed the complexity of the data at every level –- as one leans in, smaller details should become visible. This ultimately led us to the multi-colored arc diagram you see below.

The bar graph that runs along the bottom represents all of the chapters in the Bible. Books alternate in color between white and light gray. The length of each bar denotes the number of verses in the chapter. Each of the 63,779 cross references found in the Bible is depicted by a single arc – the color corresponds to the distance between the two chapters, creating a rainbow-like effect.”

Go check it out.

Poetry Happens

So the Original Interlocutor (along with a couple of compatriots) was over at Casa Godsbody on Saturday, and it got to be a certain point in the evening, the point where people start reading poetry. (Future guests take comfort: I only ever pull this kind of nonsense when guests have expressed a desire to participate in it.) The Wisconsin Poet once gave me a great fat volume of Robert Lowell’s Collected Works, and he was a Catholic for a while, right before he went a little loony. (Wags, please insert jokes about the timing of said turn for the loony Here.) So hey, if the straitjacket fits…

For George Santayana (1863-1952)

In the heydays of ‘forty-five
bus-loads of souvenir-deranged
G.I.’s and officer-professors of philosophy
came crashing through your cell,
puzzled to find you still alive,
free-thinking Catholic infidel,
stray spirit, who’d found
the Church too good to be believed.
Later I used to dawdle
past Circus and Mithraic Temple
to Santo Stefano grown paper-thin
like you from waiting….
There at the monastery hospital,
you wished those geese-girl sisters wouldn’t bother
their heads and yours by praying for your soul:
“There is no God and Mary is His Mother.”

Lying outside the consecrated ground
forever now, you smile
like Ser Brunetto running for the green
cloth at Verona – not like one
who loses, but like one who’d won…
as if your long pursuit of Socrates’
demon, man-slaying Alcibiades,
the demon of philosophy, at last had changed
those fleeting virgins into friendly laurel trees
at Santo Stefano Rotundo, when you died
near ninety,
still unbelieving, unconfessed and unreceived,
true to your boyish shyness of the Bride.
Old trooper, I see your child’s red crayon pass
bleeding deletions on the galleys you hold
under your throbbing magnifying glass,
that worn arena, where the whirling sand
and broken-hearted lions lick your hand
refined by bile as yellow as a lump of gold.


So. A kind soul recently inquired about the unpublishable book two, and I directed her to this bit, which was to have served as the opening.

She replied:

“Here’s what struck me:

‘…Conversion can mean upheaval and uprooting – a break with loved ones, the sacrifice of a common culture, the crucifixion of old, familiar habits. And to hear Alexander tell it, conversion could mean a skewed vision that threw things out of proportion. If there was a cradlish tendency to treat the faith as just another part of life, it seemed there was a converted tendency to treat it as the only part that mattered. And such a tendency could take its toll.’

And I believe this is true of reversion, as well. I’ve been thinking about it quite a bit over the last few years – and even more over the last few months. (Maybe too much time in the blogosphere?) It’s that increasingly diminishing (? oxymoron alert!) sense of proportionality, which is fundamental to human interaction, it seems to me. Without it, we are reduced to babbling tribes, recognizing nothing human in those with whom with we resolutely disagree.

Here’s the concrete take: When I was a young university student, wholly in the thrall of the ‘Spirit of Vatican II’ and all its fuzzy ecumanist/humanist feel-goodness, the people I simply could not abide were the ‘orthodox’ liturgical prescriptionists, who I derisively and regularly referred to as the ‘Pre-Vat-II’ set. Two of them were my roommates, and I called them friends even so. But their reactionary, un-nuanced (to me) mindset I found to be one of the arguments against ‘the True Faith,’ effectively preventing me from engaging the principles to which they so ardently clung (rightly, though at the time I could not see that). So fast forward a decade, give or take, and suddenly lo! various life-changing events conspire to bring me around to a position pretty much identical to my reactionary friends’. And lo! I have become exactly like them in my disdain for all things smacking of the ‘Spirit of Vatican II.’ And I hear myself making the same kinds of contemptuous proclamations about the Masses at St. Thus-and-such and the committees behind the workshops at Catholic Group Retreat.

So I am asking myself – what has happened here? Does the embrace of Truth as a real thing necessarily do away with one’s ability to hear/speak to/celebrate/love The Other? Why cannot we acknowledge Truth=Beauty; God=Love without invariably continuing on through to Us Vs. Them? Because it seems to me more and more unlikely (speaking for myself, though the culture would suggest as much). And I do not see anyone within or without Holy Mother Church who has any answers.*********”

To which I replied, rather grumpily:


I haven’t gotten into an online dustup over Catholic Crap in years, because I don’t want to go to hell for hating my fellow Catholics. I almost broke that policy last night, after reading a bunch of The Orthodox go to work on a priest who dared to criticize a BROTHER PRIEST (gasp) for telling parents to PULL THEIR KIDS FROM SCHOOL RATHER THAN LISTEN TO OBAMA’S SPEECH. The critical priest runs a parish of 10K in the South, hears confession six times a week, quotes Evangelium Vitae from the pulpit, but don’t you know it, he’s a liberal traitor to Christ because he watches American Idol and suggests that sermons ought to avoid this kind of bs isolationist scolding.

I am so grateful that I have known holy men and women whose embrace of the faith has been so complete that they are able to be orthodox and yet continue to love the Other.”

p.s. Why do I consider attending the Trid Mass at St. Anne’s? Not in the least because of liturgical prescriptionism. Because I want to AVOID it. Because I would like to attend a Mass where I can worship instead of being tempted to critique. Liturgy matters, but I hate the prescriptionism, the discussion of failure. Or rather, I hate myself after doing it/listening to it.

p.p.s. On a practical level, what has helped me, prosaic as it sounds, is keeping Christ as the center of my attention, and not His Church.”

To which she replied:

“Well, yes. And weekly adoration (and Mass) is the principal reason I’m still doggedly pursuing heaven, in spite of the nagging knowledge that in all likelihood, if I ever get there I’ll be standing next to … that guy.

But the question that still troubles me is…WHY do Catholics suck? Why, if we are the heirs the Tradition, Truth, sacraments, grace, countless saints? C’mon God, what is it about Catholicism that makes us MORE likely to become imitators of Lucifer than his Enemy? Hm, maybe the answer is there and I just haven’t read the right books (that’s what [mutual friend] would probably say). Of course it’s a given that I haven’t read 90 percent of the Bible: I was catechized in the Spirit of Vatican II!

One of the things that I found so appealing about postmodernism is that I think its hesitancy to acknowledge truth exhibits a kind of humility that is lacking in modernism and POMO’s totalitarian offshoot, relativism. I think Waiting for Godot has heart and humor–and even the potential for hope, though that often depends on the staging. What it doesn’t have–and what too much of Orthodox (TM) Catholicism has in spades: Disdain for The Other. And maybe this is one reason Catholics suck in general: They don’t understand art, nor do they make any effort to do so. They either fear it or they think it needs to Be Important or Uphold the Faith, but they mostly just ‘know what they like and don’t like.’ Us Vs. Them.”

To which I replied:

“Art is dangerous, sister – there’s a reason so many of the sterner saints warned against attending the theater. It’s dangerous because it deals in particulars, and particulars are a lousy place to search for universal truth and affirmation of doctrine.

Tribalism flourishes in lots of places – the [REDACTED] have built higher walls than we ever will. Their own music, their own novels, their own worlds in those [REDACTED]. [REDACTED]l authors make more money because they have a captive audience. So I don’t know if we’re worse than everybody else.

When you get to heaven, you and that guy will both be lovely people. So that’s all right then.”

So. There it is. Thought it worth sharing, if only for my interlocutor’s observations.

UPDATE FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF MAKING THINGS CLEAR: Yes, I homeschool. Yes, I think the President has a right to address children in public schools. No, I am not a fan of President Obama. Yes, I think parents ought to be able to pull their kids if they want to. No, I don’t think a priest should suggest that letting your kids listen to the President give a speech on education is tantamount to leaving the gate open for the wolf. Yes, I think he has the right to say that, even if he’s wrong. I also think a fellow priest has a right to criticize it without being tarred and feathered by God’s loving family. Great line from an old Jesuit: “Do I not conquer my enemy when I make him my friend?”

Why we work.

Kids in the yard, Fall 2009

Today in Porn, "Something within me, long sickening, had quietly died" Edition

Hugh Hefner has filed for divorce from his wife of 20 years, Kimberly Conrad. Now maybe he can get out there and have some fun before he dies, hm?

[Thanks to the Wisconsin Poet for the heads-up.]

Alphonse Issue Three.

Let me explain. As of today, any new project put up on Kickstarter has to pay a 5% fee – the site is out of its startup phase, and is (understandably) looking to make some money. So they sent out a heads-up to all their early adopters, your humble Mr. Godsbody included, saying that Sept. 14 was the last day to slap something up for free. I took the nudge, and slapped something up, even at the risk of seeming presumptuous/greedy (what with issue two not even finished yet). (That’s a bit from the issue two pencils up above.)

I’m hesitant to mention it on the blog, since many Godsbody readers proved wildly generous in the funding of issue two, and I am most certainly not trying to crack open the same set of wallets here. If you already donated, please ignore this. Just trying to get the word out on behalf of the little guy. Thanks, all.

Little Flower, Rose Window, St. Therese Church, San Diego

The Children are Listening.

Me: “Well…”

Third son: “…how did I get here?”

What lies at the bottom of the ocean and twitches?

We’re going to hire this kid to organize Korrektiv’s 5-year blogiversary bash coming up in November.

"…like some kind of low-rent Narnia…"

Lamppost, Casa Godsbody.