The Difference
Ian and Sylvia: Tomorrow Is A Long Time

Mid-Week Miscellany

Toby D'Anna sent me this interview with Don and Karen Peris of The Innocence Mission. They sound just like the nice somewhat shy people you would expect them to be.


The American Library Association is having its annual "Banned Books Week." I prefer to call it "Librarians Hate It When You Question Their Judgment Week."


A question of perennial interest to American Catholics is "Why was the apparently strong and stable pre-Vatican-II Church so weak and unable to resist the destructive trends of the 1960s?"  A brief book review by Mike Potemra gives an interesting possible answer: an overly authoritarian structure was commandeered by revolutionaries and turned against itself. I think there's something to this, although no single simple explanation ever accounts for big historical shifts like this. Perhaps even more intriguing is Potemra's prediction that a golden age of Catholicism is yet to come: "when the bold Vatican II stances on ecumenism, interreligious dialogue, and religious liberty — and the general openness to the insights of Protestantism and other elements of modernity — will be integrated with a Wojtylan/Ratzingerian love of 'the religion of the heart' (traditional liturgy and devotions, accompanied by a vibrant sense of Catholic esprit de corps)." I think that's entirely possible. Entirely. 


Today is the feast of the Archangels. I've recently begun praying the prayer to St. Michael--I had to re-memorize it because it had been so long since I'd used it. And I didn't know until fairly recently that Raphael is considered the angel of happy meetings. I rather like that: "...lead us toward those we are waiting for, those who are waiting for us." I just spent ten minutes or so looking around for some appealing images of the angels, and couldn't find any that I really liked, either in the classical or modern vein. I'm sure that says more about me or about the art. And I'm not sure what I think an angel should look like; I just know it's not what I usually see.


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I read, or more precisely, started to read Geoffrey Hull's The Banished Heart. I read 98% of the books I start from cover to cover. It's temperamental. The book has to be v. bad for me to stopped. I stopped reading The Banished Heart c. p. 150. I just couldn't go on. It is an excited rant against papal centralization, from the late Patristic era on. Anything and everything serves as an example of it. I would be open to the thesis that too much centralization in the 20th century was turned against itself at VII (which is why I bought the book), but a onesided rant against the centralizing papacy from the 7th century onwards, which never inquires whether in any of the cases it discusses centralization was a necessary evil, was ultimately self-defeatingly unbelievable. It reminded me of that website which used to exist in the late 1990s, (I think it has disappeared and only shards of it are still around on the web) which was a parody of Rad Trad Websites (FACT!: FACT!:), only for the parodist/web owner, the breaking point when everything went wrong was the translation of the Mass from Greek into Latin in the 4th century AD. It was spot on and extremely funny.

Re ALA: Very funny.


Probably a good thing you couldn't find good pictures of the archangels because they would make us afraid.


You're right, Janet. I'm sure you recall that scene in Perelandra where the angels make themselves visible.

I don't have an opinion about the book itself--had never heard of it or the author. It crossed my mind that it might be the sort of thing you describe.

Your "I would be open to the thesis...but a one-sided rant..." could serve as a pattern for my reaction to about 80% of what I read on any controversy. E.g. the recent one about the so-called Ground Zero Mosque.

I just googled "radtrad parody" and the 8th entry is your comment. Alas, I didn't find anything that fit your description. Sounds very funny.

The Catholic college at our local university has a quadrangle that contains a 'sculpture' of St. Michael. See it here. It is known colloquially as 'St. Alcan'.

I asked a techno nerdo friend of mine (that's what you get for being able to navigate the web and doing it for me free of charge - you are called 'a techno nerd friend of mine') to seek it out. He remembered it well and did, but all he found were some shards. I've got them in an email he sent me, and, naturally, I've no idea how to turn that into a combox comment. It's way too long (it's supposed to be the entire website of this organisation) to go into a combox.

Go ahead and paste it in--TypePad is pretty good about recognizing a URL and making a link of it. If it doesn't, I can (being a techno nerd--but I thought the term was "computer boffin"--I found that one very funny, I think because it sounds a bit like other funny things, like "puffin" and "muffin.")

That's truly scary, Craig. It wouldn't be if one didn't know it was meant to be St. Michael. I think I would have said St. RoofingMaterial or St. Sheetmetal.

It was a website with pictures and things. All my friend could find that remains is this reference to it on another site:

That's rather horribly funny. Here is another copy of it, which one might or might not find more readable. At the bottom it lists the link you have as the source, and if you google "Society of St Pius 1" that one is what you get. So I guess the Society either disbanded or found some real catacombs to disappear into.

For those of Hull's ilk, Potemra would be, of course, just a 'neo-Cath'. I wish I could believe a 'golden age' is coming. Perhaps I should pray to St. Jerome for the virtue of hope!

I would never commit myself to something so rash as "a golden age is coming." More like "there's a possibility of a golden age."

I'm almost certain I've seen Potemra describe himself as a Protestant. If so, I think he must be a former Catholic--he seems to have too much of a feel for what the Church is like.

The Perises seem to be the most non-self-promoting musicians I've ever come across.


I quite like this for an image of an angel.

Well, it meets the somewhat scary (or at least quite intimidating) criterion.

I love Tobit. Another reason why I couldn't be Protestant.


Lordy, I love the book of Tobit too! And the Society of St Pius I - hilarious!

I have a friend who says he has "seen" angels (I assume they made themselves in some way visible). All I remember is that he said they were about 7 feet tall.

What is the "Banned Books Week," Maclin?

Well, I'm tempted to say "don't get me started..." But here'stheir story. It may not be clear why it annoys me so much. Suffice to say that book banning in any serious sense does not occur in the United States, which is what they're talking about. The "bannings" are nearly all quarrels about what belongs in a library, typically a school library. It's an abuse of language and sense and a gross display of smugness and unjustified self-congratulation.

Other than that, it's a wonderful thing.

It's an abuse of language and sense and a gross display of smugness and unjustified self-congratulation.

That's pretty annoying.

I can never stomach the bizarre notion that books are somehow sacred.

I often think that about 95% of all books (in English) ought to be burnt! But that's probably just me. :)

We are reading/translating a story about an angel in my German seminar this term, and I couldn't find a really good picture to advertise it on posters. Same problem for my Contemporary Doctrine class, I wanted an angel for the course leaflet, since we do angels at some point, and I was tired of the one we had a few years back. For that I used a picture from the Silmarillion, since we are reading it at some point.

"I often think that about 95% of all books (in English) ought to be burnt! But that's probably just me. :)"

Um, yeah, that's just you...or anyway not me.:-) I'm actually in sympathy with the ALA on the actual point. But their use of the word "banned" is borderline fraudulent. If somebody thinks Huckleberry Finn is not something she wants her fifth grader to read, she may be mistaken, but she's not trying to ban the book.

I'm not sure why this annoys me so much. They do it every year so you'd think I'd be over it by now.

What picture from the Silmarillion, Francesca? I don't remember it one of Tolkien's?

What makes Banned Books week so irritating to me is that they put up this display of books that someone "banned" as though they are our saviors--protecting us from ignorant bigots, and they do it completely without context. We don't know who wanted the book removed, or why, or if there was a good reason. And, of course, the library bans book all the time by pulling from circulation the books that the library powers-that-be think are unsuitable. I'd like to see those on display,too--on their own table with a sign that says banned by this library system.


O dear, that did not work out so well!

This is probably what you meant? Yeah, that definitely gets the idea across--better than some, anyway.

Yet I do think a really good depiction of an angel ought to include sublime beauty in addition to the scary/weird quality. This is much longer on those.

I can't say I was all that heartened by Mike Potemra's prediction of a new Catholic golden age. The particulars he foresees -- "general openness to the insights of Protestantism and other elements of modernity" plus "traditional liturgy and devotions, accompanied by a vibrant sense of Catholic esprit de corps" -- sounds a lot like Anglicanism to me. And we all know what a golden age they're having....

I'm not too worried about that. Potemra may or may not care about doctrinal authority, but I'm pretty confident it will be there, and its absence is the fundamental problem with Anglicanism. I doubt that there will be another trough in fidelity such as we've had for much of the past 40 years. Not that the Church at large will necessarily be more faithful, but I don't think there'll be as much apostasy within the ranks of the clergy & theologians.

I meant to reply to Janet's comment earlier: "...the library bans book all the time..." Yes! YES! Grrr...I'm getting all torqued up...must calm down. I'm willing to bet there are no Ann Coulter books in the library where my office is located. CENSORSHIP!!!!!!

I have to walk by one of those displays at least twice a day. Makes me grumpy.

Something makes you grumpy?? NO!


Well, it does make me cross that the library doesn't tend to have anything much that I'm interested in. I'm not sure they even own a copy of "1984" which I was very much wanting to read.

If you can't find 1984, read Brave New World instead. It's more applicable to the way the world is going. I used to say that the struggle in the modern world was between those who wanted to implement 1984 and those who wanted to implement Brave New World. The latter is definitely winning now.

It's true, Janet, sometimes extreme provocation can make me grumpy. Pretty rare, of course, but it does happen.

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