52 Poems, Week 52: The House of Christmas (Chesterton)
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The Last Sunday Night Journal, December 30, 2018

And this time I really mean it. (But I'm going to continue the blog; more on that in a moment.)

It's always funny to see someone make a decision, then change his mind, then change it back again. Those who have been reading this blog for a long time know that the Sunday Night Journal ended in 2012, then was brought back in 2017. Those who have been reading the SNJ for a really long time know that it started in 2004, and that Light On Dark Water was not a blog, but rather a hand-coded web site, created partly so that I could fool around with HTMLc which i needed to do for my job. (Here is the very first post: my review, if you want to call it that, of the movie The Return of the King.) I turned it into a blog in 2006, and I think it was then that I began doing miscellaneous posts apart from the SNJ. So Light On Dark Water in its several incarnations has been around for fourteen full years now.

Anyway: that 2012 ending also occurred on December 30. And the post that announced it still serves reasonably well as a description of the general movement of the times, and my opinion thereof: here it is

Since then the book I mentioned has been published, by me, designed by one of my children. It's called Sunday Light and there is some good stuff in it, though it's a miscellany and so not very unified. Few copies have been sold. It was never going to be a big seller, but if the author had made some sort of attempt at promotion it might have sold somewhat more. Or maybe it still will--here's the Amazon listing, and your local independent bookstore can order it at a better price from Ingram.

I've completed another book, a sort of combination of memoir and socio-cultural observation revolving around the cultural revolution of the '60s. It's tentatively titled Som Great Thing (sic) and is currently being read by a small publisher, and I have a sinking feeling that its both-fish-and-fowl nature leaves it not very tasty as either.

That post discussed the significance of Obama winning a second term. I did not of course so much as imagine, much less predict, the Trump phenomenon. Still, I think the general drift described in the post has continued: "it would seem that the future of Christianity in the United States appears to be troubled at best."

Three years later the Obergefell decision made it the law of our land that the word "marriage" no longer refers to something which intrinsically, by its very nature, involves the union of man and woman. I think one of the deep psychological currents of our time is a desire to deny and escape reality, and this decision is a landmark in that movement. One could go on at length describing phenomena in which this desire plays a role, but the sex-related ones are particularly emblematic, because sex is the great obsession of our time. 

Many cogent arguments against this change in the concept of marriage have been made. But from the time the debate got really serious, around the same time I started this site, I thought the opponents (of whom I am one) were going to lose. I remember a specific moment when this hit me: when a Catholic commenting on a post on a Catholic blog (Amy Welborn's) scoffed at the opposition with the question "How does same-sex marriage damage my marriage?" It's a flippant and essentially irrelevant response, a cousin of "If you don't like pornography, don't watch it," but apparently it  seems telling to a lot of people. If Catholics, and not just any Catholics but readers of an orthodox Catholic blog, were looking at it this way, what hope was there?

It seemed to me from the beginning that if you did not instantly and intuitively see that the idea that two people of the same sex can be married in any reasonable sense of that word, that men can have husbands and women can have wives, is a contradiction in terms, and therefore implied the redefinition of the terms, then there was probably almost no chance that you could be argued into changing your mind. A few experiments supported this perception.

Since then this particular front in the sexual revolution has advanced in two ways. There is the transgender movement, which takes the defiance of reality much further, insisting that a man can become a woman simply by declaring that he is one, and vice versa. That might seem only a bit of lunacy, except for the other advance, toward coercion. The activists who are pushing these efforts to redefine fundamental human realities are now attempting not so much to gain acceptance of their ideas as to quash dissent from them. I suppose this was inevitable. Since you cannot actually change reality by changing the words you use to describe it and the concepts by means of which you think about it, and since a quite large number of people won't willingly cooperate, you have to resort to a sort of force.

Progressive activists have the support of the most powerful and influential segments of society--entertainment, journalism, the academy, and apart from the Trump anomaly the government. They've been pretty successful at setting themselves up as Martin Luther King v. 2.0, and happily branding any opposition as bigotry, which is the greatest of evils and must be suppressed. In accordance with this logic, they will not only attempt to deprive an opponent of his livelihood and as far as possible ruin his life, but feel a warm glow of virtue when they do so. Rod Dreher's blog at The American Conservative documents a continuing stream of accounts of intimidation and suppression against people who dissent on these and other progressive issues.

This is the reality that Christians are going to have to live in, and as Dreher constantly and plausibly insists, it's only going to get worse. For Catholics, the continuing discoveries of corruption, especially corruption related to homosexual activity within the priesthood and the episcopacy, mean that the Church may not feel like much of a help in this struggle. 

We're living through a new phase in the long metamorphosis of Western-Christian-Euro-American civilization into something else. What that something else is going to be, I don't know. The signs point to something like Huxley's Brave New World, but I doubt that such a thing is really possible. The tension between the desire for that thing and the intractable nature of reality is going to be intense, already is intense, with effects that I can't even guess at.

The faith will survive, though as so many have said, we are not promised that it will survive among great numbers of people. Still, who knows but that a flight from the flight from reality will begin, perhaps sooner than we think, though at my age I can't expect to see a significant change.

Back to the blog: I did consider giving it up altogether, the better to focus on other writing. But I really would miss it, especially the conversations. I extrapolate from my own experience that when more than a week or two or three goes by without new posts on a blog, readers tend to abandon it. So I'm going to try to post at least once a week, but not on a strict schedule. It's really the strict schedule that's causing me to stop the SNJ. And I'm going to try to stick more closely to the books, music, movies subject matter that I set out as my emphasis in the beginning--seen, as always, through Catholic eyes. I'm sure I'll give vent now and then to commentaries like this one, but when I get the urge I plan to ask myself, in a very skeptical tone, "Do you really need to write about this?" .


Oh, and by the way, about the whole business of any opposition to the goals of LGBTetc activism being labeled "bigotry": that really doesn't work on me. I've often laughed silently to myself while listening to some young progressive talk about older people being "bigots" on this matter because they've "never known a gay person," and so on. I usually don't say anything, partly because I know that attempting to defend oneself against such charges only makes the accuser more indignant and more certain that you're guilty. And partly because--and I'm sorry, I know this is not nice--it amuses me a little that he or she is in fact speaking very foolishly but doesn't know it. 

But I'm going to say this, just once, to get it off my chest: I started college in 1966. I was very much a part of the bohemian, literary, artsy, left-wing, counter-culture scene. I continued to live in that same college town and to socialize in the same circles for the next ten years and more. To save you the trouble of calculating, I'll point out that this included the early and mid '70s, the years when David Bowie and glam-rock were wildly popular and gayness was very fashionable. 

Do you really think I didn't know any gay people? Do you think I didn't have any gay friends? If anything I tend to rather like gay men than not--I mean, I'm fairly far off the norm myself, in my dull way, and there's a better than average chance that we have some common interests. Whenever this matter comes up, my memory for some reason immediately goes to a moment in the Chukker, a Tuscaloosa bar famous as a bohemian hangout. I was sitting with a lesbian friend when a pretty girl walked by and we burst out laughing because we realized that we were both ogling her. God bless you, Beth, wherever you are. 


Just another sunset.

JustAnotherSunset (2)


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This makes me feel sort of odd. I didn't expect that.


Odd in what way?

Well for one thing, every Monday morning some time or other I think, "Let's see what Maclin has to say today." So, it will be like the morning paper not showing up, except that we don't get the morning paper.

And then, any kind of change makes me feel odd.

Even when I quit my last two jobs, I was happy to be quitting, but it felt so weird not to go to work.

It's not that I think it's the wrong thing to do or anything like that.


At first glance I thought you said that it makes you feel old, which would be quite understandable. It makes me feel both old and odd. It's sobering to grasp that I've been doing this for almost a decade and a half.

I hate to give up the SNJ, for a number of reasons. Not liking change is not the biggest reason, but it's in there.

You should give yourself some credit for knowing that it's Monday, by the way. :-)

Sometimes I don't know until you post on Facebook, so there's that, too.


I've been thinking lately about Solzhenitsyn famous essay "Live not by Lies" in relation to the tyranny of relativism we now live under. Our system now seems even more insidious, if possible, than his era. It's so easy to conform.


But like the little boy, maybe repeating that this particular emperor is buck-naked (even, maybe specially with humor) and not backing down is the best response.

"Live not by lies" is an essential admonition for the times. I think it's important to be in touch with other people who recognize the lies for what they are. It *is* very easy to conform. And tempting.

A couple of days ago I got a message requesting a substitute for the 11pm Dec 31st hour at the Adoration chapel nearby. I accepted and am really looking forward to bringing in the new year that way.

That is very nice.


Happy New Years, Mac! Looking forward to whatever you decide to post on your blog. May God continue to bless you and your family in 2019.

Happy New Year. I don't know when I started reading this blog. Maybe 2007 or 2008? Anyhow, all the best

Thanks, Stu and Grumpy, and Happy New Year to both of you.

Happy New Year, everyone, and blessed feastday.

I've been thinking about how the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God comes on the heels of, perhaps, the most bacchanalian night of the year. It's like your mother has to come behind you and clean up your mess. ;-)

Our big evening consisted of assembling puzzles with our 8 & 4 year old grandchildren, listening to the end of Sycamore Row on an audiobook, and going to bed at 10:30 p.m.

It was nice to go to Mass this morning.


". It's like your mother has to come behind you and clean up your mess."


I never have been big on NYE partying, but then I'm not big on any kind of partying.

Happy New Year! And happy feast of the Mother of God. And feast of the Circumcision.

Thank you, and likewise to you.

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