IT STILL SITS as the second highest grossing movie ever: James Cameron’s 1997 Titanic, by James Cameron. $2,186,772,302.00 and change. Not a great flick, but a good one. Personally, I’m just as impressed by the fact of James Cameron’s one-man submarine trip down 7 miles to the bottom of the Marianas Trench…
Our world is the Titanic: and what you think is going on in life or the life of the world depends very much on what part of the voyage you focus on. I explain.
For some, we’re on a journey in a mighty vessel to the new world, just over the horizon. Full speed ahead! What could possibly go wrong? Look.. all the best people are here, and agree with us! Moar caviar!
Not long after, the speeding unsinkable shears off countless cold-brittle rivets on an iceberg. The designers had not imagined such a thing, nor prepared for it. As the bow settles, water will keep moving backwards over the watertight bulkheads, until.. doom.
Me, I’m a “life is bow-settling” guy. Death– the water– is creeping up surely and unavoidably. Order is breaking down, people are scrambling for lifeboats, and while some are going full-panic or full-denial, others are trying to abide by their duty, and to help as much as possible, as the Great Ship Utopia begins to founder in earnest into the icy North Atlantic.
Utopia, Right Ahead!
For many modern day Utopians– this-worldly salvation true-believers– it is in human reach and wisdom to make heaven on earth. Human beings are basically good, and just need enough browbeating, herd-mentality, and extra rules, and we will make a perfect world out of our super-duper selves.
Bizarrely, the very hubris of the modernist movement that built the Titanic and infected politics, and has also infected the Catholic Church. The clueless notion that the 1960s Church would “Listen to the World”, that we needed no redemption just a little buffing, and all would progress together in a la-la-land journey of common purpose and happy thoughts.. the Denial-As-Faith it took place in an actual sinking-Titanic world.
Consider– at the same time as sin and sacrifice and salvation were being thrown overboard, and a mind-boggling naiveté about human goodness and perfectibility was put on the altar, let us remember that the 20th century was the century of blood; of genocides; of industrial slaughter, of two catastrophic world wars with hundreds of millions dead, injured, made refugee.. plus, with technology abroad to have a third and very final War.
Even as the faux-clever theologians and happy-thinking bishops were trying to remake the faith into something unChristian and unrecognizable, the ovens of Auschwitz were not 20 years cold; Soviet Gulags and Chinese death-camps were brimming over; that World War Three had nearly begun a couple years before over Cuba; that despite the rush of technology and Western prosperity, that fallen human nature had not actually changed, and that we needed the Cross of Christ and His risen life more than ever.
Even the ancient pagans knew better: “Those whom the gods would destroy” they warned “they first drive mad.” Denial is a sweet addiction: but reality is always best.
Living In Dreams
As if it were 1905, and a perfect world was just ahead, out went the old religion, the Latin, the rosaries, the relics, the art and architecture: come now the felt banners and camping songs, the puppets & clowns, the moralistic therapeutic deist sermons (with a dash of revolution), of a new and sinless humanity feeling its oats in experiment and innovation and… “Iceberg, right ahead!!”
Mortality? Still with us. Human failing, cruelty, blindness, and evil? Check. Our limitations, blindness, and failed good intentions? Yup. Hurting one another, deliberately and just because? Pretty much. Violence, false belief, unspeakable deeds, a foolish naivete? Mass murder? Warfare? Always & everywhere.
Only, for all these abiding and tragic realities of our bent human nature, progressive religion has no answers, having treated as flotsam and jetsam the faith of our fathers, the wisdom of 20 Christians centuries and 15 Hebrew centuries before that; the riches of Roman Law and Greek philosophy and theatre; and all the good things of Western Civilization. Yard sale.. we have shiny new plastic things!
So the next time some smirking collar tells you all is well, celebrate yourself, God is (only) love, and love is probably God, hug a warm puppy and be happy– realize he’s trying to sell you a berth on the sinking Titanic, has no answers, no salvation to pass on to you, and is not in touch with the Real, or Jesus, or God– nor the reality of life and death and sin.
There’s more wisdom and human feeling and recognition of sin in the following Scouting campfire song than in a modernist post-Christian hymn or sermon.
The Titanic (Husbands And Wives) Camp Song
Oh they built the ship Titanic
To sail the ocean blue
And they thought they had a ship
That the water would never go through;
But the Lord’s Almighty hand
Said that ship would never land,
It was sad when that great ship went down.
Chorus: It was sad. It was sad. It was sad when the great ship went down. (to the bottom of the…) Husbands and wives, Little children lost their lives It was sad when the great ship went down.)
They were off from England
And not very far from shore
When the rich refused
To associate with the poor
So they sent them down below
Where they’d be the first to go
It was sad when that great ship went down.
The boat was about to sink,
And the sides about to burst,
When the captain shouted, “All
Women and children first!”
Oh, the captain tried to wire,
But the wires was on fire,
It was sad when the great ship went down.
Oh, they swung the lifeboats out
O’er the deep and ragin’ sea,
When the band struck up with,
“Nearer My God to Thee.”
Little children wept and cried,
As the waves swept o’er the side,
It was sad when the great ship went down.
~ SO THERE WAS your humble WebElf, reading (online) the Pusey translation of The Confessions of St. Augustine (Book VIII), and I came across pre-saint Augustine’s comments about how deeply moved he was by the book, The Life Of Anthony (of Egypt). Quotation below.
My brain is.. well.. not unlike a goofy hamster on caffeine, so away I went to find a copy of the said other book, and started reading that.. before having finished Confessions... which I promptly forgot to finish. Welcome to my world.
What’s not to like? A book written by a saint.. about a saint, which inspired another man to eventually become a saint. Doesn’t that insta-rate five stars.. or, perhaps, haloes?
The Book Itself
Written by St. Athanasius of Alexandria, The Life Of St. Anthony of Egypt, primary founder of Christian monasticism, is a readable, gripping, and inspiring Christian classic. St. Augustine, in his confessions, describes reading it along with his friends, and being deeply moved by it.
None of us knows the effect of our lives, actions, words– or failures in the same– on our neighbours and times, or those to come. For St. Anthony and St. Augustine both knew that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is faithful, and sow they spiritually sowed their seed and cleared the fields of rocks in their times. Lo and behold, those earlier heroes of the faith inspired one of the great Church Fathers in his day and age to fight the battles, the good fight of faith, in his day and age.
A reminder to abide faithful, however hard the slog or dark the times.
Binks, Elf of Web
14. Upon a certain day, then, Nebridius being away (why, I do not remember), lo, there came to the house to see Alypius and me, Pontitianus, a countryman of ours, in so far as he was an African, who held high office in the emperor’s court. What he wanted with us I know not, but we sat down to talk together, and it fell out that upon a table before us, used for games, he noticed a book; he took it up, opened it, and, contrary to his expectation, found it to be the Apostle Paul—for he imagined it to be one of those books which I was wearing myself out in teaching. At this he looked up at me smilingly, and expressed his delight and wonder that he had so unexpectedly found this book, and this only, before my eyes. For he was both a Christian and baptized, and often prostrated himself before You our God in the church, in constant and daily prayers.
When, then, I had told him that I bestowed much pains upon these writings, a conversation ensued on his speaking of Antony, the Egyptian monk, whose name was in high repute among Your servants, though up to that time not familiar to us. When he came to know this, he lingered on that topic, imparting to us a knowledge of this man so eminent, and marvelling at our ignorance. But we were amazed, hearing Your wonderful works most fully manifested in times so recent, and almost in our own, wrought in the true faith and the Catholic Church. We all wondered— we, that they were so great, and he, that we had never heard of them.
15. From this his conversation turned to the companies in the monasteries, and their manners so fragrant unto You, and of the fruitful deserts of the wilderness, of which we knew nothing. And there was a monastery at Milan full of good brethren, without the walls of the city, under the fostering care of Ambrose, and we were ignorant of it. He went on with his relation, and we listened intently and in silence.
He then related to us how on a certain afternoon, at Triers, when the emperor was taken up with seeing the Circensian games, he and three others, his comrades, went out for a walk in the gardens close to the city walls, and there, as they chanced to walk two and two, one strolled away with him, while the other two went by themselves; and these, in their rambling, came upon a certain cottage inhabited by some of Your servants, poor in spirit, of whom is the kingdom of heaven, where they found a book in which was written the life of Antony. This one of them began to read, marvel at, and be inflamed by it; and in the reading, to meditate on embracing such a life, and giving up his worldly employments to serve You….
HAPPY FATHER’S DAY! — This morning whilst walking Wee Wallace The Wonder-Poodle (one cat, no dogs, no birds to startle), I prayed for my own father, and my father in-law; my grandfathers and great-grand-fathers, and forefathers before that, giving thanks for them, and praying that they were resting in peace. I’m also a Dad, of twin young men.
THE Father– self-naming in revelation– is the source of all things, and Fatherhood, the Trinity itself, all creation, all living creatures; and all human fatherhood is a shadow and pointer to that original archetype.
“For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, For whom all fatherhood in heaven and in earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.”
These are the True, the Real things.. to align with them is like a compass pointing North, a bird homing for nest or breeding ground or Winter home; to try and unmake or remake God’s Fatherhood in our own image and likeness is madness, destruction, and a huge part of our current crisis in marriage, youth, and society.
As I did the drive-through at Tim’s this AM, I asked the window-girl (whom I tease constantly in a fatherly way) what she was up to for Father’s Day. She said ruefully: “My Dad’s in Digby.” That said it all. Whatever the cause, some fathers go rogue, yet their kids still need and crave fathering and fatherly love and guiding. Some Dads are not very noble or dadly; and modern family & divorce law torture fathers in particular, making it even harder to be faithful if a marriage goes awry. As always, the kids go wanting, and suffer most.
Our clever bossy people talk of countless gender-identities and social constructs and #BanFathersDay, and are too earthly-minded to grasp that they are dealing with heavenly and eternal mysteries, great things which cannot be bent or broken by human will or evil or madness, only half-forgotten, in ways which leave broken lives and hearts amidst our ruins. Or, that those great mysteries are dealing with them. You cannot break or bend God, or his truth, only yourself.
Pray this day as well for those called to spiritual fatherhood as clergy or monks: by God’s name and grace, they can be conduits of grace to make whole what nature and life may have scarred or left wanting. Pray for their courage, leadership, and adherence to the truth in love, for we are in the midst of near-apocalyptic battles in Church and society, and the very foundations themselves are shaken.
There is a war afoot, and men and fathers and fatherly men of all kinds must set down their effing smartphones: there’s work to be done. Learn up & pass it on, love and defend the truth, follow God, and set to fixing & saving All The Things. It’s what we’re supposed to do: show up, and Get ‘Er Done, and not sit around waiting for approval, thanks, or the enemies of the good just to become good, somehow. The kids are watching, and waiting.
Sniff. I love you, and I miss you, Dad, Grampa George, and Grandpa Bill, and all my forefathers. You all helped make me who I am as a person, a man, and a father. Thank you– and God bless and keep you.
Réquiem ætérnam dona eis Dómine; et lux perpétua lúceat eis. Requiéscant in pace. Amen. ~
~ ITEM:RUGGED ROSARIES® = The spiritual strength, durability, and reliability of the Holy Rosary PLUS the proven strength, durability, and reliability of paracord.
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~ WORD HAS IT that many persons of a popistical sort have no end of problems with their cool prayer-tool: the rosary. Knotted up in tangles; spontaneously breaking into a pocket full of beads and broken wire; just wearing out.. and for Catholic men, having, well, rather girly-looking jewelery in hand.
Well, no more!
Witness two new products for the prayer-warrior in these troublous times: the military paracord rosary, and the World war reproduction rosary (seen at top)! That’s right, actual military parachute cord, able to support up to 550 pounds of weight, and ever-useful in survival, fishing, and emergency situations to tourniquets and the like; and metal bead on chain rosaries given to U.S. Catholic soldiers in two world wars, meant to survive just about anything and everything.. actual military service, travel, hiking, construction sites, rough handling, small children, and more.
For the manly Catholic men out there, both give the lie to the old saying that “rosaries are for old women”, and that they must look like tacky Victorian costume jewelry, fit for a dowager. The para-cord ones are especially suitable for military personnel, and can survive a great deal of rough accidental usage; they can hang off your belt, in your car, off your ruck-sack, or (OK, ladies, you can have one too) in your purse.
Listen TO MC Hammer!
Why? We got to pray, as noted cultural philosopher and performer of musical tunes MC Hammer has noted in one of his songs. As the chaos rises, as the persecution of Christians (especially Catholics) grows under secular regimes, and Jihadi attacks, as out souls thirst for the living God, we need the power, peace, and comfort.. as St. Paul commanded.. “Pray Without Ceasing”. Part of why our civilization is so sick? We’ve ceased to water it, ourselves, or our neighbor and various problems with patient, persistent, and powerful prayer.
Surely Binks has sold his soul for this one? Nope. The WebElf gets no Vatican kickbacks, bribes, inducement, incentive, pay-off, graft, sweeteners, sop, backhander, enticement, hush money, payola, allurement, or corrupting gift for praising up this gear, nor do I own either (yet). I just surf the web, and come across interesting answers to age-old problems, get enthused, and start talking about it online. Squee!!
What Are You Waiting For?
So drop a line to Fr. Richard Heilman and ask about his awesome 1916 Military Combat Rosary and mini prayer-manuals; or over to the paracord people of Cordbands.com’s Rugged Rosaries®, for their wide & interesting line of paracorded holy gear, and other stuffs. They have a lot of different products, scattered over several pages, so check out the entire site if you’re interested.
N.B.: Please read the very helpful comment below by Pete B.
~ YOU KNOW PEOPLE who live with chronic pain, and some of them you don’t even suspect of it. We can look fine; sound fine; but behind the tight smile and the subtle tension in our body lies the reality.
I have been in some form of chronic or recurrent pain & various diseases since I was a teen. It’s gotten worse since then.
Any of us get little bruises, cuts, headache, a broken bone, minor surgery, sore throats and the like. We then have a swift return to our normal largely pain-free life. We forget what the pain was even like, glad to be well again.
That’s not the life of someone with chronic pain, disabling, or disease– whatever the cause. Pain is the norm, relief the occasional thing.
Sometimes, it keeps you awake at night, trying to find a position where the break-through pain does not ruin whatever sleep you can manage (chronic pain can push away deep, restorative, dream-sleep).
Often, it blights an entire day if you don’t manage to distract yourself with video or audio or busy-work, and the sweet embrace of pain-management. It ranges from aches and throbs, stings and stiffness (think the morning after a really hard exercise day) all the way to– well– pondering suicide to just make it stop. And no, I’d never make a nurse or doctor or clinic co-guilty with my self-murder.
Loved ones try to sympathize, understand, help us– but after a while, it gets exhausting for them, too. Just Get Better! Man Up! Rub Some Dirt On It! Is It Really That Bad? Get Over Yourself! Might this be a cure? Oh, What Now?!
Or, with the vultures hovering about in the euthanasiac movement: Surely Death Is Better Than This! It’s the very voice of Satan, promising false peace.. for a moment. “Did God really say….?“
Be Vewwy Vewwy Quwiet
People in chronic disabling pain get used to keeping secrets, forcing smiles, not wanting to bother or burden others, keeping everything to themselves– it’s like a double-punishment sundae with a cactus on top: (1) the pain, (2) then the feeling bad for being in pain, and (3) the stress and depression and anxiety and disappointment of a pain-filled life, then– (4) keeping most of it to yourself, and not wanting to be a bother.
Sometimes, it’s just easier not to say anything much.
If it were not for my wife, reading, prayers, my dear dog Dr. Wee Wallace, some blogging and some online friends, and video/ movies/ computer games, my life would be immeasurably more unpleasant than it is. I have blessings.
It’s one of the reasons I object to Social Justice Warriors trying to rewrite, forbid, whitewash and fiddle with pop culture, literature, the gaming world, and whatever else they can toxify with ideology. Or the euthanasiac death-merchants, selling damnation and suicide in one fell swoop.
As I’ve remarked before, for me that’s a lot like asking how much poop I’d like in my soup. None please, and Go The Eff Away, Thank you very much.
Take It Up
Until I die, apparently I have some suffering to do. Some offering up of prayer, pain, joy, peace, all of it, until all my sins are burnt away, and I am refined in the furnace of eternal love.
This is my cross and burden, to bear with love. This is the cross burning into my flesh, crucifying me to My Saviour, and Him to me.
This is my cross and calling, and I will not shrug it off, or run away, nor seek to set it down until He tells me that it’s time to do so. ~
IN 2007, CANADIAN astronomers in Binky’s home town were astonished when something apparently came OUT of a black hole. Yup. Escaped.
According to all the postulated ideas of physics, models of what black holes are and how they are supposed to work– as collapsed super-dense star-cores operating like giant cosmic vacuums sucking up everything nearby (including stars, and even light itself)– this new observation just makes no sense.
Now, all the rules and assumptions and theories have to be reworked. Once again, reality and what is smashes through our ideas of the universe and what should be.
Kinder, Gentler Black Holes?
Could it be that these monstrous whirlpools of cosmic doom called black holes might also be, somehow, giant engines of creation? That’s a comfort, since there’s also thought to be a ginormous black hole eating away at the star-crowded heart of our own Milky Way Galaxy. Black holes may giveth, as well as the more obvious aspects of black holes taketh-ing away.
Another Mighty Mystery
An event changing everything, forever– just like the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
Easter is more than a day, it’s a whole church season. It’s more than a past event, it’s an omnipresent engine of recreation, new birth, the operating principle of the spiritual universe, the underlying power: Christ’s bodily resurrection from the dead on Sunday, April 5th, A.D. 33. It’s not just a past-dead-written-in-a-book moment, it’s a present and powerful principle of the transformation of all things.
For Christ is risen from the dead: He lives in and through his church & people, and his new creation a-borning. In Him, all of creation is groaning and awaiting the remaking of all things into a new heaven and a new earth.
Christ arose, transformed and shining with eternal life— and as he is, we shall be. Jesus was first seen by Mary Magdalen, then by 10 apostles; He appeared on the road to the town of Emmaus to two disciples, walking and talking with them. Later he was seen, the Bible said, by above 500 Christians at once. He preached, comforted, and taught, preparing his apostles for their work, following after His promised departure into heaven, and He & the Father sent the Holy Spirit on Pentecost-Day. BOOM.
The Heavenly Ground Zero
Where is the tomb of Jesus? St. Helena the Mother of the Emperor Constantine toured the Holy Land in A.D. 326, and founded several churches on various holy sites remembered by the local Christians down the years as the original places where events connected with Jesus took place. Some may be uncertain, but one is not– the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
The Tomb of Jesus has survived burial by the pagan Romans; excavation by the Byzantine Christians with the erection of a glorious basilica and rotunda; the AD 614 invasion by the Persians (destruction of the basilica), then waves of Jihad; next a near-total demolition in AD 1009 ordered by Fatimite Khalif al-Hakim, the Caliph of Egypt (one of the indirect causes of the Crusades); then a rebuilding by the Crusaders, then further earthquakes, fire, and the like. The current building and tomb sure doesn’t look like it originally did– but it’s been through a lot over almost twenty centuries.
The original Tomb was uncovered by the Byzantines, and cut away from the small hill it was cut into. That small building was surrounded by a beautiful rotunda, after which the Dome of the Rock was directly copied from the Rotunda (see ‘Finders, Keepers‘) by a later Muslim ruler over Jerusalem, for fear that the overwhelming beauty of the Christian building would draw Muslims to be converted (or in some cases, to return) to Christianity.
That rotunda was deliberately demolished, and the very tomb itself beaten with hammers and burnt with fire until only part of the funerary-bed and a low wall remained. The crusaders built a small building around what was left, called ‘The Edicule‘. The remaining original stone of the surviving Tomb of Christ is covered and faced with medieval marble, to protect it.
Some Protestants are piously and deeply enamoured of a more ‘original’-looking site designated in the 1860s by a British army colonel, called ‘Gordon’s Tomb‘, but it is of the wrong date, and location. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, shrines and chambers and icons, just doesn’t feel right. Plus, it’s full of Catholics, and exotic Orthodox Christians.
How do we know that the Church of The Holy Sepulchre really is on the right place where Christ was buried and rose again? It’s simple, really. Some other surrounding tombs: and because these tombs are pointed mostly the wrong way. What-now?
More specifically, there are many small early 1st century Jewish-Christian tombs near the Tomb of Jesus. They are not oriented according to proper Jewish custom, West to East, the heavenly East the direction from which the Messiah is supposed to come. From their various encircling locations, these ancient tombs all point, like compass needles seeking True North, towards the central Tomb. This is where it all happened.
“These burial shafts (kokhim) date to the time of Christ’s death and thus attest to some kind of burial ground in the area. Bolen writes, ‘Combined with the evidence from tradition, this church is most likely the true location of the Christ’s death and burial.'”
That is– no need to point East, awaiting Him who is to Come: He has come, he has lived, was crucified and died, and risen again from this very place. This is the new centre of the world, where all things began to be made new; the spot where heaven begins, where new life broke forth from the broken tomb, where angels sat atop the great door-stone and declared “Why do you seek the living amongst the dead? He is not here, he is risen, just as he said.”
This, then is truly the very place and supernatural heart of the great explosion of love that is the new creation– the hub of the world, as it used to be depicted on ancient Christian maps. Like creation, the Resurrection is both a moment, and an ongoing life-giving divine energy and re-creative process, of the Father indwelling the Son, and the Son indwelling us, and we indwelling him. God is making all things new: a new creation.
By comparison, the unlimited and eternal energy, living power, and unfolding consequences of that first Easter make even a super-massive black hole look like a pop-gun. ~