Kiss me, I'm Catholic.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

T.S. Eliot wrote Harry Potter?

From Cacciaguida: The Waste Land becomes an HP filk.

What are the plot-threads that clutch, what subplots grow
Out of this pulpy rubbish? Son of James,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
Your third-person limited perspective, where your adverbs breed,
And the caps lock gives no shelter, the chapter no relief,
And the seventh book no sign of surcease. Only
There is a horcrux inside this dark cave,
(Come into the waters of this dark cave),
And I will show you something different from either
Your battles fought previous where someone did help you
Or your battles to come which you must face alone;
I will show you fear in a cupful of juice.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Now We Are Sophmores

Well, I'm finally back on my feet at Christendom College. My jetlag is gone, my stuff has been redeemed from storage, and I am painfully adjusting to the insane weather and giant bugs. Would you believe that it can be hot and foggy at the same time here? One should only be able to observe this phenomenon in the shower, but today I went outside at 7:30 in the morning and encountered a mysterious vapor that was more steam than fog. To make it even more hellish, these crazy Easterners keep their buildings at about 40 degrees farenheit all the time, so that your brain freezes over in Latin class and your glasses fog up when you come out.

Ah well. Soon it will be fall again, the bugs will die (yessssss!), and the trees will do that thing they do on this side of the country. Every tree will look like an upturned paintbrush and the Blue Ridge mountains will go Red with turncoat abruptness. It will be my second real Fall, far from the autumn of California "where the leaves fall not - land of my people forever." At Christendom there is a different aspect of Elvendom to be found. Soon I will be walking through the dark towards a star of fire tangled in the trees like the solitary lamp in a dark church, and between the falling leaves I will discern notes and spectral voices. When I reach the clearing, though, this forbidding air of Faërie will disperse, and there will be Peachy with his concertina and Sheila with her tin whistle and, if she can be summoned, Christina with her harp that the wind plays when she's not looking, that breathes inanimate music and reveals the architecture of the air. In Christina's hands that harp becomes a tower full of bells, or a wheel spinning thread out of flame. When the song ends a bodhran will strike up a running rhythm in the shadows, and my violin will turn fiddle and dance a reel instead of a minuet. And then there will be the singing of a score of voices while the sparks shoot starward. Let 'The Four Green Fields' be sung, and 'The Black Velvet Band;' and may Peachy and I get through all ten verses of 'The Old Orange Flute' without people throwing things at us.

::shocked silence::

Come on people! It's a funny song!

Friday, August 12, 2005

Outlaw Catholicism!

Wow. Now I understand why Canadian Catholics always sound so apocalyptic. Victor Morton posts about a retired Canadian professor who went on Radio Canada and basically called for Catholicism to be outlawed. The transcript of his modest proposal may be found here.

This guy is fascinating. He's like the missing link between Relativist Man and Fascist Man.

SecretAgentMan! Help!


Men and women within the Roman Catholic faith are still hoping that the church can change to more accurately reflect the World in which we live.This week-end, for example, an international conference will be held in Ottawa to support women's equality in religions. WOW, or Women's Ordination Worldwide, is fighting for the ordination of women in all Christian Churches. It says it wants to open a global debate on the issue.

And some were hoping for reform during the period when the old pope was dying and the new pope was being anticipated.

Bob Ferguson is a retired professor from the Royal Military College. He believes that Catholics are unlikely ever to see changes in policy on birth control or on the question of married or female priests. In fact, he says change won't come until the churches are forced to comply with the same human rights legislation that affects the rest of society.

Bob Ferguson:

Given the inertia of the Catholic Church, perhaps we could encourage reform by changing the environment in which all religions operate.

Couldn't we insist that human rights, employment and consumer legislation apply to them as it does other organizations? Then it would be illegal to require a particular marital status as a condition of employment or to exclude women from the priesthood.

Of course the Vatican wouldn't like the changes, but they would come to accept them in time as a fact of life in Canada. Indeed I suspect many clergy would welcome the external pressure.

We could also help the general cause of religious freedom by introducing a code of moral practice for religions. They will never achieve unity so why not try for compatibility? Can't religious leaders agree to adjust doctrine so all religions can operate within the code?

I am an engineer so the model I am thinking about is rather like the provincial acts regulating the practice of engineering. For example, engineers must have an engineering degree from a recognized university or pass qualification exams. They must have a number of years of practical experience and pass an ethics exam. The different branches: mechanical, electrical, civil and the like have a code of practice that applies to everyone. Why can't religious groups do the same?

I envisage a congress meeting to hammer out a code that would form the basis of legislation to regulate the practice of religion. Like the professional engineers' P.Eng designation, there would then be RRPs (or registered religious practitioners). To carry the analogy to its conclusion, no one could be a religious practitioner without this qualification.

I won't try to propose what might be in the new code except for a few obvious things: A key item would have to be a ban on claims of exclusivity. It should be unethical for any RRP to claim that theirs was the one true religion and believers in anything else or nothing were doomed to fire and brimstone. One might also expect prohibition of ritual circumcisions, bans on preaching hate or violence, the regulation of faith healers, protocols for missionary work, etc.

Now what is the point of proposing this? I do it because I am worried that the separation between church and state is under threat. Religion is important in our lives, but it can become a danger to society when people claim that the unalterable will of God is the basis for their opinions and actions. Yes religion can be a comfort and a guide, but we cannot take rules from our holy books and apply them to the modern world without democratic debate and due regard for the law.

Disturbing Quizzes

You scored as Severus Snape. Well you're a tricky one aren't you? Nobody quite has you figured out and you'd probably prefer it stayed that way. That said you are a formidable force by anyone's reckoning, but there is certainly more to you than a frosty exterior and a bitter temper.

Severus Snape


Remus Lupin


Albus Dumbledore


Ginny Weasley


Ron Weasley


Hermione Granger


Harry Potter


Sirius Black


Lord Voldemort


Draco Malfoy


Your Harry Potter Alter Ego Is...?
created with

Well... that... was freaky. But not entirely unexpected. So how did I manage to get Lucy Pevensie over at this Narnia quiz?

As Lucy Pevensie, you may be quite timid and shy, but your heart is in the right place! You make sure you tell the truth, even if it results in embarrassment.

Narnia Personality Test

It actually took me a few tries to get Lucy; I kept getting Puzzle:

Puzzle is a well-meaning, good-hearted donkey. He’s not very intelligent and is extremely gullible. Usually he just does whatever he’s told, because he assumes others know better. Still, he wants to do what’s right and never means anyone any harm.

I beg to differ with the "not very intelligent" part... but the rest is pretty on the money. Erm, yeah. The synopsis doesn't mention that Puzzle happened to be the pawn of the Antichrist, though. I never liked The Last Battle as a child; it was so frustrating that no one could stop that stupid Ape and burn down the stable. So the world had to come to an end. The only things I liked about the book were the last few pages - and King Tirian.

If I could be any Narnia character, I'd be King Tirian. He's like C.S. Lewis's take on Faramir. I guess it's something to work towards...

Oddly, Snape has always been one of my favorite HP characters. I don't like him per se, but he's just so enigmatic, infuriating, and pitiable. You're always wanting to get to the bottom of him, but he continues to... er... surprise you.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Life Imitates Blog

(I should have written this two weeks ago, but so much has been going on... oh well. Here it is anyway.)

When I was in New Mexico a couple of weeks ago, I went to see Ainadamar at the Santa Fe Opera House. I had just finished translating Lorca's Romance Sonambulo. And what turned out to be the opera's subject? Why, Lorca, of course! My mom had chosen the opera because it was a recent work, and therefore cheaper to see.

The Santa Fe Opera House is unique. It is in the middle of a big lonely ranch with only the dry mountains for miles around. Its sides are open so that you can see the lights and the lightning on the mountains at night, and sometimes the rain and snow come in. There is a reflecting pool curving around the edge of the orchestra pit which throws a watery light on the stage and helps the acoustics somehow. I would hate to be in that orchestra pit in winter - they cover it to keep the snow out, but I bet it's still cold.

The opera itself was a mixed bag. There was some excellent singing and memorable music, but the plot was vague, the costumes were boring, the staging was stupid, and the libretticist was a cretin. Seriously, a lot of the dialogue sounded as though it had been transcribed from mouldering Soviet propaganda posters. Once again, Lorca had become a symbol of gay this and leftist that, and scant attention was given to his poetry. It was sad. The scene of Lorca's execution was so drawn out that there was something of a perverse delectation in it. They had Lorca cowering and crying at the approach of the soldiers, which definitely angered me. I don't think that Lorca would have given them that satisfaction. There were ham-fisted allusions to the Passion of Christ, but they didn't add up to a real spiritual insight. Still, there was one scene which managed to catch something of Lorca the poet. Lorca and Margarita Xirgu are in a bar in Madrid, talking about his new play, Mariana Pineda. Margarita congratulates Lorca on writing such a useful political work, but Lorca protests that the play is not political. He sings of how he fell in love with Mariana's statue when he was nine years old, and how her lips turned red in the moonlight outside his window.

I will never be political. I am a revolutionary because there are no true poets that are not revolutionaries. Don’t you agree? But political, I will never, never be.... I am on the side of the poor.

Ironically, Ruiz Alonso had the most stunning music in the opera. When he came to arrest Lorca his voice was like a bonfire roaring in the wind, flickering with innumerable quarter tones. His singing has been compared elsewhere to the call of a muezzin. The song that the chorus kept singing - "How sad it was in Granada, the stones began to cry..." - was good, and I still remember the tune. But someone needs to tell the stage director that if he wishes to have the effect of a Greek chorus, he should eliminate the silly hand motions from the song. These ladies are not in kindergarten anymore, and the song is perfectly comprehensible without the gestures. If the girls in the chorus are going to move at all, their motions should be suitably rigid and tragic. Oh, and put some long sleeves on those black dresses, because it looks really stupid when everyone's arms are all white and bulgy looking:

I wonder if Erik Keilholtz has any opinions about Lorca... or his fiery translator, Roy Campbell - that soldier and maker of satirical epics. It must have been all those broadcasts of Franco they used in the opera that made me think of that question. ::cough::

After the opera there was an amusing incident. My mom spotted a car in the parking lot with a prolife bumpersticker and another sticker that said "I (heart) the Old Latin Mass," and she goaded me into asking the driver where he had found it. (No idea how she managed that...) I went over and peered quizically into his window, and he jumped in alarm. He looked to be a college student, and there were at least two other people in the car, all of the same age. (I'm not sure because it was dark and I was suddenly feeling silly.) The girl next to him convinced him to roll down the window, and I asked him sheepishly where he had purchased his vehicular proclamation of POD'ity, to which he answered, "San Ignacio in Albuquerque." I thought of adding, all in one breath, that I was not a crank and that I had been put up to this by my mother, but I knew that it would be no use. So I thanked him and went back to our truck. (Nor did I tell him that my family is going to move to Albuquerque in the near future, and that we are thinking of joining the parish of San Ignacio! Wow, I wonder if he would have called the police? ^_^ )

All this makes me wonder, though, if that gentleman is one of the parishioners of St. Blog's and I met one of my favorite writers by accident! He certainly seemed like he could be a Catholic Blogger.

"Long time ago in the faraway galaxy..."

This is hilarious: a bootleg Chinese DVD of Revenge of the Sith with wacked-out English subtitles. "Revenge of the Sith" is rendered as "Backstroke of the West," "the Jedi Council" as "the Presbyterian church," and there are mysterious references to elephants and augury. At first I thought it had to be a fake, but apparently there are plausible explanations for the weirdness: for instance, the Chinese word for "West" sounds a lot like "Sith."

A Bit of Dialogue

BATTLE DROID: Superior, they have escaped a day after the fair.

GENERAL GRIEVOUS: I should really feeds you all dog.

ANAKIN: Space general, you and not equal to I think severe.

Combined with the screen shots... well, let's just say that it leaves "All Your Base" in the dust. Whew.

Monday, August 01, 2005


Via Philokalia Republic, Kevin Grace trounces the latest Ex-Irishman with a Ponderous Memoir of Life in Neolithic Eire. It's a bad sign that it took me more than five seconds to realize that this was a parody:

A great tramping, barracking, bollocking man was our Father O'Pression. His writ ran the length and breadth, the highways and the byways, the up hill and the down dale of County Tooraloora. And to be sure, any of us boys at Saint Miseryguts had only to whisper a hint of a glimmer of a fancy of what we all wanted to do to witty, pretty Kitty McMahon behind Finnegan's cowshed, when then, as sudden as the rains that fell from the shimmering, slatey-grey clouds above, he would appear before us, as tall and as terrible as old Finn MacCool himself, stinking of the bacon sandwiches he stuffed in his soutane, of the Jameson's he swigged from a battered pewter flask and of the lack of the deodorant he damned as a wicked Protestant innovation, the wrath of a thousand Dies Iraes in his eyes, etc etc.

The sample from the actual memoir is rather more muted, but it still runs through the same checklist used by everyone writing a crappy knockoff of Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Let's see...

1. Random emotional breakdown and flight from Creepy Irish School, intended to be both funny and damning. (Hint: is neither.)

2. Casual yet Significant mention of girls playing by convent school.

3. Picturesque superstition concerning ghosts of executed Irish rebels.

4. Picturesque superstition concerning Catholicky things (i.e., the narrator's mother, in the midst of hanging laundry on the line - oh! the medæval darkness! the patriarchy! woe! - exclaims "Jesus Mary and Joseph!" on seeing her son appear in the back garden).

5. Precious description of some household artifact that can probably be purchased in a kitsch-mongering catalog titled "Celtic Treasures" or the like.

Slap a re-tinted black and white stock photo on the cover and you're ready to go! Wow, now I'm wanting to write one myself...

Oh, and get this: the tome's title, "A Great Feast of Light," refers to the light pouring from the gazillion new televison sets that apparently descended like a cathode-ray Pentecost on the darkling isle of Eire and swept her clean of priestcraft. Perhaps Doyle will write a sequel in praise of the enlightenment that will ensue when Paddy discovers the joy of scarfing a box of Krispy Kreme dougnuts in his SUV and buying crates of cheap Chinese junk at his local big box.

Would somebody fisk the review? Pretty pleeeeeeeeeeeeeze?

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