Sunday, February 29, 2004

Saturday, February 28, 2004

Violence in The Passion

Christians have not adquately addressed the accusations of sadomasochism in the film. Maybe it's because we're unclear of it ourselves. Typology is the lost key in popular interpretations of Scripture. Historicity has replaced it, and how bland it's been ever since. The modern obsession with historicity-as-ultimate-truth keeps us boxed in with red herring questions like, "who really killed Jesus?" or "did the Romans nail Jesus through the palms or through the wrists?" Through the lens of "the historical Jesus," the violence draws too much attention to itself and begs too many distracting questions. Mel doesn't make sufficient provisions for this modern anomaly, but that's not really his job.

However, through the lens of typology, we become more freely disposed to absorb theological meaning from the violent content. Example: Grunewald's Isenheim altarpiece of 1515:

This one sent its own shockwave through society for its gruesome depiction of Christ's contorted, diseased, and tormented body. But the issue was NOT over the picture's historicity! Obviously, John the Baptist who flanks Jesus on his left, was long dead by the time of the Crucifixion, yet he's there. Why? Typology. Oh, then the controversy must have been over the exclusion of any reference to the Sermon on the Mount or the Resurrection! Wrong again. A typological and allegorical sense, instead, would have drawn Grunewald's contemporaries to meditate on Christ's intimacy with their sufferings in the midst of plague and political unrest. Liberal critics today can only see a disgustingly inhumane aesthetic. The people of faith saw solace and solidarity with their decaying God on the Cross.

Other works, through this "fuller sense," express judgment (as opposed to solace) which is what I think is the "form" of the film's violent "matter." The nefarious displays of torture reflect back to us moderns our own sadomasochism, which we've rationalized and euphemized under the banners of "freedom of expression" and "human development and progress." Liberal revulsion to the bloodshed derives from a subconscious denial of modern America's bestiality, sugar coated with carmelized rights-language.

Only idiocy would believe that Jesus' blood in the Catholic imagination refers to nothing more than the red juice in his body that spurts when someone whips him really hard. In a day when even Catholics turn the Eucharist into just another self-affirming ritual, I can't expect many to understand that the violence is not about some "outdated atonement soteriology" but about the BLOOD OF CHRIST we encounter and consume in our bodily communion with God. Still, before critiquing Mel's Passion, people would do well to learn a little medieval iconography, eucharistic theology, von Balthasar's theological aesthetics, and Flannery O'Connor's gothic surrealism. Hey, I can dream.

Christians get it wrong when they praise this film as the "most accurate" or "most literal" film about Jesus. The campaign to market it as an evangelistic tool will only engage the left-brain and divert souls away from contemplation of the Paschal Mystery. Liberals are completely in the clouds when they condemn it for not showing more of Jesus' teachings or his Resurrection. Even Mel himself is not the best articulator of all that's going on in his film, since the story and even its visual interpretation aren't really his. The framing and staging of the violence proves to me that the film only makes sense as a work of Eucharistic and Lenten devotion, with its call to confession, penance, and conversion of the heart.

Maybe Kerry & Co. should try this

The independence party DPP today successfully organized a protest linking hands down the length of Taiwan--all 310 miles of it--in defiance of Beijing's one-China policy. Between Chen Shui-bian (DPP) and Lien Chan (KMT & UChicago grad!), it's looking close.

In related news, I just learned that the Jesuits were commissioned by the Ching dynasty to make the first maps of Taiwan using Western cartography. A.M.D.G.!

Downloadable Vulgate-Douay Rheims

Just found this neat and free site for a downloadable Vulgate-Douay Rheims interlinear bible. It's 14MB and uses a low-quality edition of the Vulgate (hence the price), but it's nice to have a Bible in the language of Jerome, Augustine, and Aquinas accessible on the hard drive. The guy's working on completing an edition that uses the more polished Clementine text, scheduled for 12/04 release, God bless his heart.

Liberals & Conservatives - flip sides of the same Gnostic coin

This is already well-trodden ground in theological circles, but catching an NBC Dateline piece that nauseatingly presented a suburban, middle-aged white couple as noble souls struggling through the epic drama of the husband's sex change operation reminded me that America still has yet to set foot thereon. Leander Harding, rector of St. John's Church (Episcopal) is aptly quoted by Fr. Richard Neuhaus in the latest First Things:

"The quintessential American Religion is the quest for the true and original self which is the ‘pearl of great price,’ the ultimate value. Finding the true self requires absolute and complete freedom of choice unconstrained by any sources of authority outside the self. Limits upon personal freedom and choice are an affront to all that is sacred to the American Religion. When the self-determining self finds ‘the real me’ salvation is achieved and the ultimate self has achieved contact with the ultimate reality. Finding your true self is to the contemporary Gnostic the same thing as finding God. For the Gnostic the purpose of the religious community is to facilitate the quest and validate the results. The contemporary Gnostic church, which can appear in both conservative and liberal forms, is the community of those who know that they have found God because they have found their own uncreated depths. Both devotees of the New Age and many in some ‘conservative’ Christian circles see salvation as purely a matter of personal experience, which can only be validated by those who have had similar ‘deeply personal’ experiences. Notice how perfectly the contemporary presentation of homosexuality fits the American Religion. A person who discovers that he or she is gay has recovered his or her true self and ‘come out’ and come through what the Gnostics called the ‘aeons,’ in this case levels of personal, familial, and social oppression that hinder and constrain the true self. It is a heroic and perilous journey of self-discovery which would be familiar to a first-century Gnostic like Valentinus. That the means of liberation is sexual practice is even a familiar theme. Some ancient Gnostics were ascetic but others counseled sexual license. Both stratagems can come from the same contempt of nature and are different ways of asserting the radical independence of the self. Here is the point. Gene Robinson was elected Bishop of the Episcopal Church in New Hampshire not in spite of being gay, not as an act of toleration and compassion toward gay people, but because he is gay and as such is an icon of the successful completion of the quest to find the true and original self. He has been chosen for high religious office because he represents high religious attainment. He is being recognized and receiving regard for being an accomplished practitioner of the American Religion. According to this Gnostic logic, divorcing his wife and leaving his family to embrace the gay lifestyle is not some unfortunate concession to irresistible sexual urges but an example of the pain and sacrifice that the seeker of the true self must be willing to endure. That natural, organic, and conventional restraints must be set aside is time-worn Gnostic nostrum. From the point of view of this contemporary Gnosticism, if the Church does not validate such a noble quest for enlightenment then it invalidates itself and shows that it is no help in the only spiritual struggle that counts, the struggle to be the ‘real me.’ Because Gene Robinson has ‘found himself’ he has according to the Gnostic logic of the American Religion found God and is naturally thought to be a truly ‘spiritual person’ and a fit person to inspire and lead others on their spiritual journey which is to end in a discovery of the true self which is just so the discovery of the only real god, the Gnostic god. Seeing the elevation of Gene Robinson through the lens of the mythos of the American Religion explains some of the fanaticism of his defenders, explains why so many bishops of the Episcopal Church including the Presiding Bishop would be willing to take such institutional risks. Here is a paradigm of salvation that echoes deeply in the American soul and promises to restore a sense of purpose to a mainline church which has lost confidence in the story of salvation told by the orthodox tradition of the Church. Inclusion becomes the fundamental value for the Church because it allows the Church to have a real purpose of validating that people have indeed found their true identity, and thus found God. Gay people become icons of hope. To celebrate gays in the life of the Church, not accept but affirm and celebrate, is to celebrate the Church as a truly spiritual community with real spiritual power which can facilitate and validate the salvation of souls. The church leaders who are risking everything for Gene Robinson are in their own way and according to an heretical but powerful vision trying desperately to find a spiritual vocation for the Church that has some liveliness and connects deeply with the deepest yearning of the American soul. The Presiding Bishop and his company of supporters think they are regaining the lost keys of heaven. That these newly discovered keys are not the real thing but Gnostic imitators of the keys of St. Peter will be lost on those who are drunk on the promises of the American Religion of the true, free, and uncreated self." (above italics mine)

Friday, February 27, 2004

A Taiwanese-Godfather connection

Aha! I found one! NPR today played tapes of an adorable 5 year-old Sophia Coppola being interviewed by her father, Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola. It was reminding me of a recording my dad made of me blabbing at the same age when, while chatting about her "Chinese" language instruction, she starts rattling off a bunch of numbers. But to my surprise, they were in Taiwanese not Mandarin! How's that for "lost in translation?" She also performs a fluent rendition of the Filipino national anthem (must be from when they were filming Apocalypse Now). Very cute piece.

The shepherd is a warrior

"But David said to Saul, 'Your servant used to keep his father's sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it. Your servant has killed both lion and bear.'" I Sam 17:34-35
When did our models for the ordained shepherd become so far removed from David's example? When did shepherding become so romanticized and defanged? My required pastoral ministry coursework in div school, though good on many levels, restricted our pastoral vision to ideals of self-fulfillment, self-realization, self-actualization, self-empowerment, self-esteem, self-expression, self-recovery--get the pattern? A masturbatorial spirituality does not make warriors of Christ's love willing to lay down their own lives for the flock. Maybe the hyper-militarism infecting conservative Christians in this country is an overreaction to the vacuum created when we abandon all pugilisitic virtues in our spiritual culture, when the study and practice of Christian virtue gets relegated to history courses cordoned off from ministry. St. Ignatius of Loyola (and Pamplona!), pray for us.

Where's the leftover ashes?

We Catholics could use some, lots of it today. 10,600 victimized minors, over half a billion dollars spent to clean up the mess, 84% of all accusations ignored by the church, the moral authority of our bishops razed to the ground. A good day for the anti-Catholics of the world. Read the damage report here. Let there be a bull market in the sackcloth and burlap industry.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Mariological Literacy

I still find the enthusiasm of evangelicals for Mel's very Catholic film a bit perplexing. Christianity Today wonders, what's so Marian about his movie? David Neff acknowledges Gibson's high Mariological beliefs only to casually dismiss them as barely visible and snugly compatible with evangelical attitudes. To Neff, Mary in the Passion is sympathetic as, and only as, a mother helplessly watching her son suffer, like any other mother who has suffered for her child. While that's certainly not trivial, this interpretation of Mary's function in the movie highlights once again the innocent myopia of so many evangelicals when it comes to Catholicism. I almost can't believe he fails to see her theological magnitude in the film (I even felt at one point that Mary stole the show).

This is where visual faith makes a difference. Catholics can't watch the film without it automatically setting off images of Mary in the mysteries of the Rosary, in the "deisis" and pieta iconography, all etched deeply into our collective memory. Her gaze and bodily expressions are direct translations into moving form of Immaculate Heart and Theotokos imagery. Even the precise way her hand rests upon her son's dead body as she stares out at us, the audience, is a detail that cannot be glossed over by the Catholic eye. We have been trained to watch Mary because she draws us more intimately into the mystery of her son. She is a living sign and prototype of the Church itself. When John early in the movie addresses Mary as "Mother," our first thought is not the fact that she's not his biological mother, but that she is our Mother through Christ as well. How the disciples regard Mary is how we regard the Church. What Mary does in the film is archetypal for what the Church does. This is what makes Catholics and the Orthodox "Mariologically literate." To not see this at work in the film is like watching The Matrix and thinking Neo's just another existentially-tormented action hero.

Neff also suggests that a more explicit Mariology in the film would have the disciples kneeling before Mary reciting Hail Mary prayers with rosaries in hand or something--this is a typical misunderstanding of Marian piety. Mel says it's a Marian film, but Neff thinks he knows better--okie dokie. Nonetheless, Neff unwittingly succumbs when he says almost in passing "we see much of Jesus' agony through Mary's eyes." Indeed, not only his agony, but his entire mystery.

What "War Against Asian Male Masculinity"???

Asian men are always celebrated by mainstream media for their full-blooded manliness...aren't they? Once again, our posterboy is another testosterone-challenged engineering/math whiz who's got no groove on, but good for a few laughs as our multicultural court jester.

Here's a film fighting the power. And I can't forget Mad TV's hilarious coverage of this unsung cultural war we're in. The AA activists crying bloody murder over Bobby Lee's characterizations of AA males on Mad need to review the concepts of irony and satire.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Wheat from chaff

I saw "it" this afternoon in the South Side with a predominantly black church crowd, which gave my viewing a pentecostal feel. For the Christian, it's not a movie to like or dislike, or to love or hate. I feel "sifted;" it unsettled and disturbed me greatly, forcing me to reconsider some things about Christ that I may have willfully ignored or dismissed for too long (divinity school can do that to you). The questions flying through my head made me realize that like Peter, I, being a living witness to the Passion, am a defendant under trial as well. The searing yet comforting gaze of Mary was all-enveloping, a reassertion of her passionate advocacy for me, her son through grace.

The violence is often excessive, some of it completely unwarranted on even Scriptural grounds, but it doesn't swamp the overall picture. It's a stunning attempt to transfer traditional iconography onto the silver screen. But I have to say "The Passion of the Christ" demonstrates how film remains an inferior (though effective and seductive) medium for communicating the breadth and depth of the Christian faith.

Three articles that stand out amidst the incessant chattering of keyboards over this film:
Kenneth Woodward of Newsweek and Russell Hittinger/Elizabeth Lev from First Things, and the Office of Film & Broadcast in the US Catholic Bishops Conference, all writing calm, balanced, and historically and theologically informed assessments of the film, and of our reactions to it. It's the context, stupid.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

More DPP shenanigans

Protest the KMT, protest mainland China, now protest the dude who allegedly kept Sean Connery from lending his kilted and beknighted presence to the Hands-around-Taiwan protest. At least Scotland has a few homegrown treasures the Brits don't. And Scottish fervor for independence wasn't fueled by love for some anti-British empire, unlike the fervor of the Nippophile Taiwanese elite. If the Taiwanese had something of unique global worth besides huge foreign reserves (like Scotch whisky!), then independence ideology might have some authenticity. Until then, these attempts to enlist the Sons of Scotland as kindred spirits in separatism just make us look like idiots.

Remember the 2-2-8 Incident with reverence, not political grandstanding. Or consider some intriguing revisionist theories.

The Passion of The Foul Ball

Here in Chicagoland, religious fervor is building not only over this Passion flic but over the infamous foul ball, which will be ceremoniously executed Thursday on TV screens across the nation and Canada. Betrayed for 113,824 silver dollars and tried by the sons of Harry Caray, the ball's threat to the stability of the Cubs will finally come to an end. Gov. Blagojevich has washed his hands clean of this affair, apparently refusing to grant clemency to the innocent piece of cowhide. There will even be a via dolorosa, passing by Wrigley Field. "O daughters of Wrigleyville, weep not for me, for unlike Christ, I will be getting a pre-execution pampering at a luxury hotel." Hopefully in its case there will be no Resurrection.

Monday, February 23, 2004

Enduring Faith indeed

My props to WYCC (local Chicago PBS station) for airing Enduring Faith, a fascinating and unsettling documentary on the history of African-American Catholics. It's narrated by one of my faves, Andre Braugher (Homicide, Glory), who exudes even in his voice a shifty moral toughness in all the characters he plays that I think betrays a Catholic education. The documentary is remarkably fair for a film funded by the official church bureaucracy in DC, neither glossing over the sins of the Church nor demonizing the Church.

The struggle of Black Catholics and the Josephite order to hold fast to the faith despite widespread complacency and racism in the American hierarchy is nothing short of heroic. The question I kept asking myself is why any black Catholic would remain in such a hostile fold when his faith would have been so much more warmly received and supported by the black Protestant churches. If that's not evidence of the resilience of the Catholic faith, then Sts. Felicity & Perpetua were scardycats.

My parish (St. Thomas the Apostle) has thankfully been printing in each Sunday bulletin Cardinal George's pastoral letter on racism in commemoration of MLK's death. It's full of wonderful exhortations and insightful social analysis. But after seeing EF, I wish there was a more concerted effort by the American church to remember, in imitation of JPII's Jubilee call to penance for the Church's historical failures, her specific history of apathy and cooperation with the Jim Crow status quo.

The story of the Josephites should be held up as a model of moral witness to and within the Church. The documentary also illustrates the shaky political tightrope that drove visionaries like Frs. John R. Slattery and John J. Plantevigne to the point of spiritual collapse, caught in a schizophrenic limbo between Rome's admonitions for integration and the American church's spineless opposition to it. Modern-day tensions between Rome and the US can be traced genealogically to the Americanist controversies of the postbellum church. Our ignorance of this history only gives American Catholic stubbornness a stronger foothold against the authority of the Holy See. Read the unsung history of Black Catholics here and here.

Mel and the (purple) Dragon

Mel's Passion is turning out to be as much a litmus test for intellectual honesty as it is a devotional work. Listening to Andy Rooney on 60 MInutes' last night and reading the NY Post's review of David Denby's New Yorker review today, both blasting Mel with bird-brained ad hominems, I can't help but wonder at the cosmic design in this public spectacle. It's as if everyone is dutifully performing their preassigned role--it's the real passion play unfolding before us. Our modern high priests of the Temple of Liberal Pharisaism drip with smug self-assurances in their anathemas of anything that violates the the Gospel according to Barney. They're effectively crucifying Gibson which only transforms him into more the suffering servant symbol than his ego can crave. Don't these cultured despisers know they're only feeding the persecution complex their opponents thrive on?

They'll praise the most vicious sex and violence so long as it's offered to the god of meaningless art-for-meaninglessness' sake. But violence in religion is so gauche.

Perhaps the secular liberals aren't so much to blame as the theological liberals of the post-Vatican II era, both Protestant and Catholic, who have not only neutered the faith in liturgy and catechesis, but drained it of all its blood. Note my problem is not with Vatican II but with its kidnapping from birth by hippie boomers. The Amber alert has yet to be sounded in mainstream Christianity, mainly cuz we're all accomplices.

Friday, February 20, 2004

Context is everything

Though his message hasn't changed much, Pat Buchanan is a different man when his antagonist is the Bush Administration. Goes to show you the wonders of ideological consistency. I actually like the guy now. Scary.

Monday, February 16, 2004

DPP is so politically Protestant

With my dad booking tickets to Taiwan just to vote for the next president, I've been trying to follow the campaign battles between the dominant competitors, the DPP and the KMT. The theologian in me can't help but notice how the ideological divide between the two parties rests on identity issues that resemble the Protestant-Catholic divide. The DPP wants to codify indigenous nationalism and independence from China, while the KMT still clings to the hope for reunification with the mainland. Perhaps I'm oversimplifying. But then this article shows how factionalism is spreading within the DPP's ranks in its southern strongholds. It's so reminiscent of the church divisions that metastasized among the Taiwanese Protestant churches I grew up with in NY. What bugs me most about the DPP is their naive and simplistic glorification of "Taiwaneseness" as something diametrically opposed to Chineseness. It's so Protestant. Then there's the mantra of KMT corruption, as if they had some monopoly on political corruption. Again, so Protestant. Corruption is a serious matter, but what's it got to do with Taiwan's non-Chineseness? But it's not just about corruption; at its core is a hatred/fear of anything Chinese (which Taiwanese ethnically are). The DPP ideology of independence and the referendum demands a historical and cultural amnesia, just like, you guessed it, Protestantism. It's no surprise that the Presbyterian and Reformed churches in Taiwan are all religiously pro-DPP. The Catholic Church in Taiwan is dominated by the mainlander expats and the aborigines--the socioeconomic bookends of society. I find that assemblage much more interesting than the petty bourgeois attitudes of the DPP.

Trumping feminism

Trump's show The Apprentice fascinates me despite my disgust with every other reality TV show that has preceded it. It exposes in high relief the New Feminism, which has yet to be coherently explained to me as an evolutionary improvement on the classic feminism of the 60s. Slate has a great article that outlines some of the unnerving trends in gender and identity politics the show reveals. Women's bodies are still being exploited except now the only difference from the past is that women are willfully participating, panegyrizing, and profiting from it just as much as, if not more than men. It teases men's obsession with sex sure enough, but there's something "de-masculating" about it all too. Feminists pull out all their guns to ensure that the destruction of fetuses continues unabated but will sit docile as cows as mass media razes the dignity of women to the ground. Maybe they enjoy seeing men degrade themselves into dry-humping beasts and reaping financial rewards for it. But then I thought women hated men who have no mastery over their libidoes. I fail to see how you can have it both ways.

The Entrepreneurs of Evangelicalism at it again

The Southern Baptist Convention (one of my former denominational incarnations) is in missionary blitzkrieg mode again, this time in Manhattan. What gets me is two things: 1) the marketing tactics and 2) the marketing mentality that they rely on.

1) They can't even openly admit to being "Southern Baptist" in the names of their church plants, opting for hiply coded monikers like "The Journey," which I freely associate with the 80s rock band more than with anything Christian. Sounds a lot like Philip Morris not putting its name on its Kraft cheese packages. Who would buy cheese from Big Tobacco? It's smart marketing, but I'm not sure what it implies about fate of the Southern Baptist brand.

2) They try assuage the concerns of non-SBC faiths that the SBC will aggressively proselytize and "prey" upon their respective flocks. Then the SBC goes ahead and does it anyway. But hey, religion is a competitive sport. You've got to have "brass balls" and your ABCs ("Always Be Closing!" as Alec Baldwin exhorted his salesmen in Glengarry Glen Ross). So forget real immersion and solidarity with people and place. Recruit secular capitalism's champions like Krispy Creme, Starbucks, and MTV as mercenaries of evangelization.

Marketing treats humans as manipulable, mechanistic objects (which we are to a large degree). I just don't think I need religion treating me as such.

Saturday, February 14, 2004

Fortitude & Fear

"Fortitude presupposes in a certain sense that man is afraid of evil; its essence lies not in knowing no fear, but in not allowing oneself into evil by fear, or to be kept by fear from the realization of the good." (The Four Cardinal Virtues, Pieper)

I can't stand Michael Moore, but one thing he's on the mark about is America's culture of fear. With the War on Terrorism and the Patriot Act, we're becoming more like Michael Corleone than we'd like to admit:
TOM: Alright -- just consider this Mike -- that's all, just consider it. Now Roth and the Rosatos are on the run -- are they worth it? And are they strong? -- is it worth it? -- I mean you've won -- do you have to wipe everyone out?

MICHAEL: I don't feel I have to wipe everyone out -- just my enemies -- that's all. You gonna come along with me in these things I have to do -- or what? Because if not you can take your wife, your family, and your mistress -- and move 'em all to Las Vegas.

--From The Godfather, Part II

The vice of making an "ASS out of U and ME"

Tom over at Disputations once again putting into clear, concise words what frustrates me to death about debating with people. Okay, I guess I'm guilty of it too...sometimes.

Sacred Silence

Cardinal McCarrick of DC has a nice reflection on the role of silence in liturgy and life.

Friday, February 13, 2004

Pinoy-Catholic Pride

The first Filipino-American was ordained a bishop in the U.S. Catholic hierarchy this past Tuesday in the LA Archdiocese. However, Bishop Oscar Azarcon Solis is not the first Asian to be episcopated in the States. That title goes to Bp. Ignatius Wang of the Archdiocese of San Francisco. Both are foreign born, immigrating to the US after their respective ordinations to the priesthood. It'll be a long time before we're able to put a mitre on a native-born Asian-American Catholic. Just ain't enough of us out there.

Van Morrison puts the V in Valentine's

It's hard to find love songs that aren't drenched in either schmaltz or pheromones. So listen to lots of Van Morrison. Put "Crazy Love," "Tupelo Honey," most of Astral Weeks, and Veedon Fleece on repeat and dance the night away with your "lahvah." Don't even think about his lyrics--they don't amount to any coherent message or story; they're just part of the instrumentals. What stands out about VM is "a conceit that would become the philosophical and emotional cornerstone of all of Van's subsequent works: the belief that love between a man and a woman is the closest mortal, earthbound beings like ourselves can come to experiencing Heaven (at least in this life)." Another "aesthetic" reason for why I cannot accept the moral equivalence of homosexualism.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Honk for Poulenc

It's sad how few American Catholics seem to be aware of great Catholic individuals who have made contributions to the "high arts." Such awareness might go far to improving our collective sensitivity for quality liturgy. Francis Poulenc was part of the great French "ressourcement" era anticipating Vatican II, and became one of the great religious composers of the century. His opera Dialogues of the Carmelites is being featured in Rochester, NY at a local church. From amywelborn.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Identity Politics & Aesthetics Disclosure

* Roman Catholic convert (from evangelical Protestantism)
* Theological sympathies: nouvelle theologie, Eastern Orthodox/Patristic
* Theological Godfathers: Hans Urs von Balthasar, Henri de Lubac, Walter Kasper, John Zizioulas, John Milbank, Stanley Hauerwas, Avery Dulles; Aquinas, Augustine, Maximus Confessor, Pseudo-Dionysius, Irenaeus, Cyril of Alexandria, Gregory of Nyssa
* Liturgical sympathies: St. Mary's Church in New Haven; high Novus Ordo; the Ordinary should be done (better yet chanted) in Latin; Eastern rites
* Political sympathies: Radical Orthodoxy; Catholic Worker; St. Thomas More, Abp. Oscar Romero; James Madison; Lincoln, RFK; One-China policy
* Literary Godfathers: Graham Greene, Flannery O'Connor, Dostoyevski, Andre Dubus, Raymond Carver; W.B. Yeats, G.M. Hopkins, Li-Young Lee, Czeslaw Milosz,
* Musical Godfathers: Mozart, Brahms, Beethoven, Palestrina; John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Sinatra; Johnny Cash, Jimi Hendrix, Van Morrison
* Visual Arts Godfathers: Rembrandt, Vermeer, Caravaggio, Cimabue, Giotto, Chagall, Rouault, Wyeth, El Greco; Sebastiao Salgado
* Directing Godfathers: Akira Kurosawa, Howard Hawks, Alfred Hitchcock, Elia Kazan, Philip Kaufman

St. Blogs rocks

I converted to Catholicism while I was in graduate school, meaning I was imprinted by "university Catholicism," a strain very different from "popular Catholicism." Since graduation, I've been struggling to adjust to the bland, "bingoistic" (bingo+jingoistic) side of my faith family. Discovering St. Blog's Parish of the blogosphere has made the transition bearable. The glory days of being a university-born Catholic don't have to remain fossilized in the ivy-covered past!

What a corpus permixtum of the good, the bad, and the ugly is this parish!

My favorites: Amy Welborn, Disputations, Catholic and Enjoying It!, A Catholic Page for Lovers, Old Oligarch

The Vatican -- Taiwan's only Eurobuddy

Who knows how much longer the Vatican will hold out on its official recognition Taiwan? In case it's not evident, the Vatican is the only Western state to acknowledge Taiwan's political existence, effectively giving Mainland China the big birdie in a time when the nations are pining to get more of their noses up China's ass. Sure it's easier for the Vatican to buck the trend, since it has practically zero trade with China, but that's precisely another reason I'm Catholic.

Read the Pope's address to the new Taiwanese ambassador here.

Monday, February 09, 2004

I'm skeptical I'll be able to keep this blog going for long. Let's see how this goes.... I may very well post stuff just to post stuff.