Monday, November 30, 2015

Pope Bows to Mecca -- Why It's a Big Thing

Pope Francis bowed to this, just like a Muslim.
The Bear has not seen much of interest in the Pope's visit to the Central African Republic. We knew he was going to talk to Evangelicals about "the ecumenism of blood" and "the scandal of division within Christianity." We knew he was going to visit a mosque and do whatever politeness requires. So, at first, he was inclined to skip over the whole... thing. (The Bear was searching for a word; if "PR Stunt" could be used in the best possible way, meaning no disrespect, that would capture it.)

There's no reason to suppose the Holy Father is insincere about any of this. If anything, he may be one of those people who are too sincere. "Fanatic" would be too strong a word, of course, but something like that. Perhaps "enthusiast."

What compounds that problem is that he lacks an organic approach to issues. With Pope Francis, everything feels bolted on. 

Mercy! What that adds or expresses about the mercy always available from the Church is unexplained. It is like if I told my wife, "Starting December 8, for a whole year, I'm going to love you!" She would be justified in wondering what that implies about the "normal" time outside of the Year of Love. One suspects more PR: focus the people's attention on the mercy of the Church. The Bear supposes this is not such a bad thing, but it does make it sound "new and improved!" Still, the Bear is inclined to withhold judgment until we see it in action.

Similarly, we witnessed the determination for divorced and remarried Catholics to have access to Holy Communion, come Hell or high water. That implicates several doctrines of the Church, but as far as the Bear knows, none of the brilliant minds at the Synod even tried to finesse the issue. Again, an idea seized Pope Francis, and he was prepared to bolt it on any old way, as long as it got stuck onto the Church.

The Bear said, "he lacks an organic approach to issues." Perhaps a better way of saying it is that he does not connect the dots. Maybe he can't. Maybe he just doesn't see the need to bother.

When the Bear read that the Pope bowed toward Mecca during a visit to a mosque, he didn't get very excited. Why of course Pope Francis would do that. He did it in Turkey last year.


But the more the Bear thought about it, the more of a problem he found. Fine, take your shoes off, but does bowing in the direction of Mecca differ qualitatively? Sure it does. If you bow toward Mecca like Muslims do, you are performing a religious gesture. Of course, Pope Francis realizes this, unless he really is Chauncey Gardener. No Muslim would genuflect in a Catholic Church if he understood the significance of the act. (Or kiss a Bible, but that's ancient history.)

Being Pope of Rome should be enough. Of course he should be cordial to other religions as chief example and head of state of the Vatican. But adopt their practices in whatsoever small degree? Christians have died rather than do that. Pope Francis has an idée fixe about the essential unity of all religions -- especially the Three Amigos Great Abrahamic Religions, only one of which has any valid notion of God and salvation. (That would be the Catholic religion for those among you who have not been properly catechized or are popes.) 

This is emphatically not Catholic at all. Would it be going too far to say that Pope Francis possesses praiseworthy humanitarian instincts, but not ordinary Catholic instincts? That would explain why he simply doesn't understand why a Catholic should be at least uncomfortable bowing toward Mecca, if not violently resistant. Would you? Ah, what's a bow, Bear? Ah, what's a pinch of incense, Holy Father?

It isn't just a bow. It's a window into the very scary mind of Jorge Bergoglio, who became the Bishop of Rome, and who joked about his "neuroses." What he really thinks he is is anyone's guess, but the Bear bets "Bishop of Rome" doesn't begin to cover it.

Humility is the most unstable virtue. It can flip to pride in a heartbeat. And pride's motto is, "Such concerns do not apply to me."

See also: Mahound's Paradise. Pope Francis says don't get bogged down in small issues like contraception until poverty is eliminated in the world. The man is hopeless. Patience.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Why the Canaanites Don't Run Hollywood



NOTE: Go to American Catholic for a wonderfully appropriate animated music video.

Scene: Canaanite Hebrew Refugee Welcoming Commission Headquarters.
Dramatis Personae: Bazar, a minor functionary; Tukal-Baal, vice chairman.

Bazar -- Vice Chairmen Tukal-Baal, there's something I feel I should bring to your attention.

Tukal-Baal -- Will it take long? We have hundreds of thousands of Hebrew refugees on the way. Did you hear that they crossed the Red Sea? Probably thousands lost on over-crowded papyrus rafts. That kind of determination to seek a better life moves me to tears.

Bazar -- But there's a problem, sir.

Tukal-Baal -- Problem? What kind of problem?

Bazar -- A copy of their holy books fell into our hands. It's not good.

Tukal-Baal -- Not good? Their god will fit in with ours, I'm sure. It's good that we have their holy books. It will help with our interfaith efforts.

Bazar -- Sir, their holy books say they intend to wipe us out, man, woman, child, and livestock. Even our pets.

Tukal-Baal -- Wipe us out? That's ridiculous. I'm sure you're misreading it. Perhaps there is a symbolic interpretation. They're refugees for Baal's sake. All they want is a better life. We owe them that!

Bazar -- Listen to this, right from their holy books: When the Lord your God brings you into the land which you are entering to take possession of it, and clears away many nations before you -- I'll skip the list of our neighbors, but include "the Canaanites" -- and when the Lord your God gives them over to you, and you defeat them; then you must utterly destroy them; you shall make no covenant with them, and show no mercy to them." That's what it says. And may I respectfully again invite your attention to the mention of "Canaanites?" And look, sir. "Utterly destroy them," right here, and "show no mercy to them," there. That's why I said it's not good. I mean, you can read it right there in their holy books!

Tukal-Baal -- And you think a bunch of four-year-old refugees looking for a better life are going to pay any attention to that? Seriously? Our civilization is destined for immortality! They'll just be assimilated like everyone else.

Bazar -- These are the same determined people who broke free of Egyptian slavery, crossed the Red Sea, and spent forty years in the desert, sir. And I'm not so sure they used papyrus boats to get across the Red Sea. It is suspected they used nuclear weapons in the devastating attacks on Sodom and Gomorra centuries ago. These people don't fool around.

Tukal-Baal -- You really believe they're going to bother chasing down Buster after they've slaughtered me and my whole family?

Bazar -- They take orders from a reclusive cleric named Moses. Moses has a military lieutenant named Joshua. We know their spies have scouted out our defenses. At best this has terrorism written all over it, if not outright conquest. They are as numerous as the sand of the sea.

Tukal-Baal -- That many? Well, all the more reason to stop this nonsense and redouble our welcome efforts! Next you'll be saying they'll stamp out Baal worship and impose their god over everyone! [Laughs.] Maybe build a temple in Jerusalem! And why not a king, as well? [Laughs uproariously.] You can't take these things seriously, Bazar. They're just pitiful refugees. Put those Hebrew holy books away and attend to your regular duties.

Bazar -- Yes, sir. I'm sure you're right.

Tukal-Baal -- Of course I am. Like Hebrews are ever going to amount to anything, anyway. You forget. We're Canaanites! We're not afraid of refugees! [Pause.] By the way, book a vacation for me to one of the Mesopotamian resorts. Maybe Sandals.

Bazar -- They're all Sandals, sir, but I'll take care of it.

Tukal-Baal -- Make it a long one. Better include my family. And all my livestock. Yes, livestock vacations are the latest thing.

Bazar -- And  Buster, too, of course, sir.

Tukal-Baal -- Of course. Buster, too. I'm sure you can manage if the Hebrews, er, should arrive before my return.

Tukal-Baal exits stage right.

Bazar -- Somebody else can manage. I've already bought my own livestock vacation. [Hangs up an enormous, gaily decorated placard that says "Welcome Hebrews!"] Our work is finished here. [Addressing audience.] Oh, yours has just begun.

Advent!

Last night, Advent began with a turn of the pages of Christian Prayer, the version of the Liturgy of the Hours we use. We're now back to the beginning of the book, and a new liturgical year begins. It's Advent! Christ is coming! The warrior babe is born of the Virgin mother! The King is returning for the reconquista of planet Earth! It's time to get ready to welcome Him. The Church gives us four candles on our Advent wreaths to prepare.

Today we will take ours to Mass to be blessed. The Bear is delighted with our Advent wreath. We light the proper candle each evening for vespers. He's like a little kid about it.

Our Church gives us so many reminders of her seasons, and invites us to participate.

May they help us to forget the temporary squabbles of mortal prelates, and to focus on the eternal realities that the Church celebrates, that unite us all who are privileged to bear the name Catholic.


The Bear's Sicilian Circus

[NOTE: This was appended awkwardly to a previous post, resulting in excessive length and muddled topics. The Bear is much more comfortable publishing it alone. The ending is more complete.]

A Bear In Sicily

The Bear does not know how much Sicily has changed since his time there in the 60s. The Bear was sold to a very small circus out of Messina whose big act was "una Donna Elettrica." She would employ static electricity to dramatic, but harmless, effect. A hoary old act going back to the 20's, at least.

The Bear quickly ascertained that her revealing costume was the real attraction, and she would serve equally well as a brave and slightly clad Bear Mistress, complete with a stage revolver and baton. Of course, the Bear's selective revelations of his cleverness easily won him top billing as "Incredibile Orso," while the the former electrical woman pretended to induce me to perform tricks. In reality, yours truly did whatever amazing feat he felt like, and she would pretend she had something to do with it and throw me fish. Truly, una Donna Elettrica was a dim bulb. Of course she hated the Bear, but the Bear had finally achieved his dream of top billing! It wasn't the London Hippodrome, but everyone knew the people were paying their money to see Incredibile Orso.

Thinking back, maybe that was a dirty trick with una Donna Elettrica. The Bear hated leaving England, and felt it was rather shabby to sell him off to a bunch of third-rate Italian carnies. But he fell in love with Sicily and its natives. Sure, there was garbage everywhere, but that's not necessarily a downside to a Bear. The Bear even reached an understanding with the kid whose job it was to feed him. Some nights, the Bear's cage would be left unlocked and he was free to explore the villages and slopes of Mt. Etna. Needless to say, he was back long before sunrise. The Bear is a Bear of honor, and everyone respected omertà.

The Bear's stay was only a couple of years but they were good, warm ones. One day he walked away from Incredibile Orso and took one giant leap for mankind. It would be hard on his little circus to lose their star attraction. But there was always una Donna Elettrica, and her costume.

The Bear was headed to America. The Black Hills Bear Park would have a new attraction, and the little Messina circus would profit handsomely to take the sting away from losing Incredibile Orso. And just who was the broker for this deal? If you haven't guessed, the Bear sold himself.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

How Bears Act in Nature


Of Fox Traps and Fiction


Fox Traps

We got the fox traps in the mail yesterday. The Bear was, frankly, horrified. They looked exactly what you imagine a Bear trap looks like, only smaller, with the trigger plate in the middle of two metal semicircles that pry apart and are delicately held that way until SNAP! Reynard steps in the wrong place and his leg is gently gripped with the rubberized arms.

The Bear can hardly stand looking at the picture.

Actually, at its current setting, it snaps chopsticks in two. The Bear doesn't mind trapping the chicken-killing fox, but isn't sure he wants to wander out to find a howling fox with a broken leg. There's a way to set the force of the trap, supposedly, but, at the moment, color the Bear skeptical. Fox hunting is on hold for the time being. The Bear is thinking we should have gotten a cage trap.

The Bear was delighted that his wife found an old short story the Bear had written, entitled "The Funeral Disaster Story." It's a wry distillation of Sicily, or perhaps, Sicilians, at least the Bear's view of his years there. Lot's of flavor, and true to its title, although not, perhaps, as you might expect. It starts something like this:

The Funeral Disaster Story

Filippo Martoglio and Guiseppe Grimaldi hated each other all their lives. God decreed, therefore, that their sons would be unable to claim one had outlived the other by so much as a breath. Through humble instruments such as The Red Man, a group of German tourists, and Movimento Socialista Italiano candidate Alfio Drago, their feud was brought to a decisive and holy end. It was both a disaster and a miracle, very much like every day in Sicily.

The circumstances surrounding the deaths of Belpasso's two most eminent citizens were remarkable enough, and remark the good people of the town did. The entire community joined together to embroider the facts of the common catastrophe, and the history of their rivalry, until the epic lay over the town like a fantastic tapestry those two long Sicilian summer days before the funerals. But as sure as amen follows nunc in hora mortis, each conversation would end with a sigh and an acknowledgement that at least now it was finally over.

Everyone was wrong.

More to come. It will be posted as a PDF with the other fiction, in the right-hand column.


Friday, November 27, 2015

Send Out the Clowns

Welcome Pewsitter visitors. Won't you consider bookmarking the Bear for your future enjoyment? There's nothing else quite like it -- the Bear.

If there's one thing the Bear knows it's circuses. The Bear has always lurked about the habitations of human beings. (He still does; sorry if that sounds creepy.) People are entertaining, and always have food laying around. Especially now.

The problem is that people find Bears entertaining, too. While a prime specimen of ursus arctos, or brown bear, can run 21 miles per hour, this particular Bear is 1300 years old. Over the centuries he's lost a step or two. And as upset as St. Corbinian was about his horse, the Bear can only imagine how mad he'd be if the Bear really did bite a person in the face. (Not that he wouldn't; must keep everyone unsure, you know.)

All of this comes back to circuses. Well, that, and Bear-baiting, but we don't talk about that, except to say the Bear -- miraculously -- is undefeated. The disgraceful truth is the Bear, who can't run very fast, and won't bite pursuers in the face, has never been particularly hard to catch. If follows that he has spent a good many years in circuses.

The Bear always enjoyed performing, because it seemed to make people happy. Being endowed with an intelligence far greater than other Bears, he was able to mitigate the crueler aspects of the business. Except in Turkey, where they seemed to just enjoy torturing Bears. You will excuse the Bear if he retains to this day a dislike of Muslims. He has never met one that does not say the most astonishingly vile things when he feels safe to do so.

It's about the clowns.
The Bear tenders himself to the court as an expert witness in circuses, and trusting there is no objection, finally gets to the point of this essay, which he can express in one word; clowns.

Clowns, as we know them, are a late invention, going back only to the 19th century.  The Bear spent most of his circus days in the British Isles, finding the English to be the kindest and most civilized people in the world. He was with the best of show people. He knew the Payne Brothers -- wonderful clowns -- and spent thirty years with the fabulous Pablo Fanques circus.

The Bear being personally acquainted with the Hendersons and Mr. Kite, imagine his delight when the Beatles made their famous song, "For the Benefit of Mr. Kite." Alas the Bear is forgotten. Even so, it brought back fond memories.

Pablo was an equestrian. That meant that horses were the star attractions. You may imagine the torture of appetite the Bear suffered as he watched them circling the ring from his cage. Not only that, it was galling to be limited to Bear bits when he could have stood on his hind legs and recited limericks while smoking a cigar! But the Bear always knew his real capabilities were a secret between him and St. Corbinian.

They didn't have many clowns. The truth is, the Bear has not met anyone who actually likes clowns. Some people actually fear them: coulrophobia. A good circus keeps clowns to a minimum. They're more of a distraction than an entertainment.

The Bear has observed the Vatican as if it were a circus, and if it were, an immediate change of management would be in order. It's a circus made up nearly entirely of clowns. Who wants that?
  • Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, papal preacher
  • Fr. Federico Lombardi, press secretary who is absolutely not a homosexual
  • many German clowns, including Cardinals Reinhard "Kirchensteuer" Marx and Walter Kasper (Germans make the absolute worst clowns: destructive and humorless.) 
  • Vatican functionary Krysztof Charasma, who jumped out of his little car, said he was gay, to no applause, and was fired
  • American clowns: Bishop Robert Barron, who used to do a good job as the Carl Sagan of Catholicism; Archbishop "selling aborted baby parts is bad, but no worse than unemployment" Blase Cupich, and Cardinal Timothy "Bravo" Dolan. 
  • Oh, and the USCCB stands for "United States Clown College for Bishops."
The Bear hopes this exercise is not as tedious to read as it is to write. If the Bear views the Church as a circus, there are too many made-up, floppy-shoed clowns who are love with their own antics and don't care if the crowd grows uneasy and the boos begin. One suspects they're not real circus folk at all.

Just who's running this circus, anyway?

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The greatest Star Trek scene ever filmed as a Thanksgiving treat from the Bear. And it has a lesson. Clearly, we need the Vatican's prefix code!



Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Blogger Meeting

Saturday we drove to the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows, in Belleville, Illinois, and enjoyed a delightful lunch with a fellow blogger from the Rad Trad, and his lovely girlfriend. The couple was very well educated, and we enjoyed talking on various official blog business and other topics.

The Bear suspects they mainly wanted to confirm that your humble author is indeed a Bear, albeit one that makes a nice appearance, minds his manners, and speaks excellent English. (German is his native language, however.)

The Rad Trad isn't particularly Rad, and is more literary than most. The Bear heartily endorses a visit for a change of pace. You can read a brief article on the visit here.

For Those Who Are Sick of Our Church

This morning during lauds, "Red Death," the Bear's former driver, bodyguard and factotum, a.k.a. "The Shepherdess," the Bear's mate, said this during the intercessions:

"And bring healing and comfort to those who are sick of our parish."

The Bear burst out laughing. Of course, she meant it in the sense of "the sick who are of our parish." On the other hand, maybe it isn't a bad prayer for all of us.

On another topic, the Bear has further considered the Bishop of Rome's bizarre Florence "soft flesh" of doctrine speech. The Bear feels sorry for the Holy Father. The Bear wonders if we are witnessing an impaired man thrust into the limelight. What is sad about this is that he is clearly out of his depth. Worse, his delusions, obsessions and apparent pettiness are made a public spectacle in the classic "The Emperor has no clothes" fashion.

The man can barely speak a coherent paragraph, although he's good enough for a classic three-point homily on morals. His more ambitious addresses are filled with oddities that make you think "who the heck talks like this?"

Was he put forward at the conclave by a sinister cabal who knew Jorge Bergoglio would be a pliable tool? Or was "Team Bergoglio" laughing up their sleeves as they watched someone who is sadly impaired let loose upon the Church, hoping that it could only advance their agenda?

There are foxes in the Church, torches tied to their tails, and themselves tied tail to tail, as old Samson did to burn the crops of the Philistines. And there is the Bishop of Rome ("oh, no, I'm much too humble to be called the Pope, please note that down.")  Liberal by constitution, Modernist by choice, and probably impaired due to no fault of his own, clapping his hands like Nero in childlike delight as the pretty flames burn up everything.

In the end the Christians, rather, the "fundamentalists" will be blamed.

Bring healing and comfort to those who are sick of our Church.

And may the Church survive Mad Pope Francis. Better to think him mad than the other alternatives.

It will. We don't know what form the restoration will take. We don't know when it will happen. Maybe everything will be burned down by the foxes, until there is nothing left worth fighting over. Except the truth, which Team Bergoglio could care less about. Jettisoning doctrine from the Barque of Peter and dialogue for the sake of dialogue. (Whenever the Bear hears the word "dialogue" he reaches for his revolver.)

There are two things the Bear knows.

Nail your foot to the floor in front of your favorite pew and die there.

But don't forget to shine your little Catholic heart out! (Maybe you can outshine the flames.)

Make your own personal fortress out of prayers so the foxes can never reach your heart, and the troublesome men may never discourage you for long. Their clocks are all running. And so is yours, for that matter. Either way, we won't have to put up with them for long. That's the thought you should be fixed on, and be ready.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Fox Traps



A fox got into our chickens last night. At first we thought we had lost three, but found two of the missing birds hiding in different places. The Friendliest Chicken in the World is believed to be among the survivors. It is not known what part Hermes, our rooster, took in the incident. Other family members have accused him of dereliction of duty, but the Bear is inclined to cut him some slack against a fox. Besides, if the hens had been in their henhouse, where they belonged, they would have been safe. They were in the enclosure, but foolishly decided to perch on the roof.

We've known there's been a fox because we've seen the sly devil up close. Unfortunately Zoar is a no-fire zone due to foolish neighbors building within range of Zoar's defensive gunnery.

"Humane" Fox traps are on order.

This is war as only a Bear can make war.

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Feast of Christ the King

The Feast of Christ the King is not a relic of Europe's monarchical past. It was established in 1925 by Pope Pius XI. To be sure, there were still a few kings and queens, but the First World War had swept most of them off the playing board.

Kaiser Wilhelm II, Emperor of Germany and King of Prussia abdicated and lived to witness the beginning of WWII from exile in Holland. Charles I of Austria reigned from 1916 to 1919 after succeeding the tragic Franz Josef I, Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary. Charles I was beatified in 2004, having "renounced participation in state affairs," rather than abdicate. Tsar Nicholas II was cruelly executed with his entire family at Yekaterinburg  by Bolsheviks in 1917.

It would seem we don't know what it means to have a king. The idea seems quaint, outmoded, if not dangerous. After all, didn't America have to defeat the lunatic tyrant George III to win liberty? We have a republic, although we don't seem very pleased with it.

There is an element of kingship that belongs above the tyrants and imbeciles that have sometimes occupied thrones. Something that our presidents, for all their power, do not reach. G.K. Chesterton found an ethical realm in fairytales, and one, moreover, that reveals our own world as a startling and wonderful place. The 2003 movie based on J.R.R. Tolkien's book, Return of the King, tied Titanic and Ben Hur for most Oscars at 11. A wandering warrior returns to claim his rightful throne. Why does that still resonate in our republican hearts?

The answer is simple: the story is true.

The last of the line of David, nearly extinguished, rises from obscurity to assume His rightful throne.

The Feast of Christ the King asserted Christ's rule over a Europe that had seen a terrible war, and over the hearts of each person. So in that sense, He is the Prince of Peace. In The Lord of the Rings, the hands of Aragorn are the hands of a healer. Yes, we intuit, kings are like that. They put things right.

[Addendum: There is also the 1981 John Boorman version of the Arthurian legend, Excalibur. Most people seem to like it better than the Bear does, but it does show a appreciation for the truth of the legend. In the trailer, at the 1:00 mark, you can see King Arthur riding forth to battle, and as as he does, trees burst into blossom. In some mysterious way, even the health of the land is linked to the king. As our representative, he stands before God for weal or woe.



Interestingly, while the period of the judges were an utter disaster, God was reluctant to put a king over His people. It was only after their incessant clamor that God gave into their demand. Their first king, Saul, was unstable and homicidal; their second king, David, was a murderer and adulterer; and their third king, Solomon, began with a bloody palace coup and by his old age had collected a thousand wives and concubines -- and their gods. And that was the end of the great united kingdom. From then on, Israel split off in the north, leaving Judah separate in the south.]

However, on our part, we owe something to our king: loyalty. Of course good subjects are loyal to their king. We know from fairytales that the relationship between the subject and king is more than a legal one. It is a covenant, where there are duties between persons on both sides.

Fairytales only tell us what we already know. They reflect the grand heavenly drama in homely settings: a cottage, a forest, and sometimes a castle. (A proper king lives in a secure castle, not a decadent palace.) So we don't really need to be told about the meaning of Christ the King. We learned it during our childhood.

Christ's kingship extends across the entire universe, encompassing everything and everybody. And somehow, deep in our hearts we wouldn't have it any other way.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Word On Fire to Bloggers: Drop Dead


Update: After the recent Bishop Robert Barron parody, I happened to run across this piece from a year ago.. People who have the power hate bloggers, or at least what we do. They have the same elitist, monopolistic mind-set as those who take it upon themselves to dictate what qualifications bloggers must have. Power, money and ego drive the establishment, no matter what form the establishment may take.


Fr. Michael Cummins: Bloggers would go to Hell if there were a Hell.

Catholic means “universal.”  I do not believe that there is space for narrow-casting in the Church.  In fact, I wonder if it might even be a sin against the unity of the Church.  Seife lays out the fruits of narrow-casting: lack of true information, radicalization and isolation.

So writes Fr. Michael Cummins in Fr. Robert Barron's Word on Fire blog.

You see, back when three networks held a monopoly on the news, they had to be fair and balanced (no, really fair and balanced) or they would lose credibility and audience.

Say again?

How quickly we forget the bias and inanity of those Big Three days. Seriously, in this day and age, Fr. Cummins holds up Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw and Katie Couric as the model for news?

Nowadays, every Tom Dick and Bear with a computer and an internet connection can set themselves up as a purveyor of things Catholic. No doubt it is irksome for Catholic establishment outlets like there's-a-reasonable-hope-that-Hell-is-empty Word on Fire has to compete with faithful amateurs who refuse to dumb down the faith.

Fr. Cummins' piece is a perfect example of why we have alternative sources of news and commentary.

Call me crazy but I have a hunch that Pope Francis knows what he is doing and that the Holy Spirit is in the midst of the Church.  Maybe our United States “American” (I say this because this is the only cultural context I can speak to) tendency to interpret an event (i.e. the Synod on the Family) only by catering to a particular viewpoint is more of a reflection of a deficiency in our culture than a reflection of what actually transpired in Rome?  Maybe we have become more conditioned by narrow-casting than we realize?

Call the Bear crazy, but maybe the truth isn't somewhere in the middle, or found in the official story, or in vague pious hopes, or beyond us as Americans.

How about the truth is just the truth, wherever it resides? And, also importantly, maybe error is error no matter where it issues from?

No doubt the Catholic independent media does tend to target two different audiences.

There are liberals and moderates who, either boldly or slyly, serve up a sort of Catholicism Lite. If there were only an establishment Church media, it would not achieve truth and balance any more than did the Big Three networks of yore. It would be bland and culturally accommodating. It would be full of reports on global warming, gun banning, and big, wonderful ecumenical meetings. Perhaps there could be Kasper's Korner, where each week a new permutation of couplings could be justified as holy matrimony. There could be Bravo! a show where Cardinal Dolan demonstrates how to value homosexuality.

Americans believe competition is a good thing. We have thought the best remedy for bad speech -- if that is what Fr. Cummins thinks this blog is -- is more speech, not censorship. Frankly, the Bear thinks the Holy Spirit knows exactly what He's doing in giving every Catholic a printing press at a time when the Church itself is manufacturing a crisis.

We already have plenty of Fr. Cummins' brand of "broadcasting." That is why there are conservatives who maddeningly just will not shut up about the ancient faith, even when the fumbling Catholic clergy lash out at them as sinners, SINNERS! (At least it's refreshing to know a priest's mouth can still form that word.)

If the legacy media were doing a good job, there would not have been such a demand for the Pajama Media. Similarly, faithful Catholics have to search outside the establishment Catholic media to find the faith in its fulness. Did the establishment Catholic media criticize a backroom synod that wanted Catholics to "value" the homosexual orientation and welcome adulterers to the communion line?

Fr. Cummins, if you want a unified Church without the occasional Bear tracking in mud and smelling up the place, then there is a simple solution. Promote real Catholicism. If you wonder why bloggers are "narrowcasting," with all due respect, look in the mirror.

If the clergy got its act together, the Bear promises that the vast majority of current conservative Catholic blogs would be retooled overnight into vehicles for trading cookie recipes.

Well, the good news is, if Word on Fire is right, bloggers won't have to worry about going to Hell.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Pope Francis Revealed in a Flash



Pope Francis Encourages Lutherans to Take Communion

As if to underscore the concerns just raised by the Bear, Pope Francis told a Lutheran woman married to a Catholic man to "talk to the Lord" in order to discern whether she should receive communion with her husband.

Pope Francis distanced himself from his own statement by saying it was "not my competence" to give permission, leaving the matter entirely up to the Lutheran woman's conscience. 

(Should anyone need reminding, Lutherans do not believe the same as Catholics believe, that Our Lord is really present under the appearance of bread and wine.)

The Bear has seen some conclude that Pope Francis simply doesn't believe the Catholic doctrine. After all, communion for divorced and remarried -- whom the Church has always considered adulterers -- has never posed a problem for Pope Francis. "A little bread and wine do no harm," is what he was reported to have told the Argentine woman back when he was cold-calling Catholics to give advice straight from the top.

But the Bear doesn't believe that conclusion necessarily follows. More likely, Pope Francis is simply advancing his vision of a Church with soft rules, where doctrine yields to the needs of people, and Jesus does not use His Church to quench the smoking flax.

There will now be Lutherans receiving communion -- with or without a prior talk with the priest -- based on the encouragement of Pope Francis. Who am I to judge?

The Revelation of Pope Francis

The Bear had a genuine flash of insight into Pope Francis. Like lightning, it starkly illuminated a forbidding Church encrusted with rules and doctrines that did not meet the real needs of God's people. There was the angry spirit of the Law, a spirit that delighted in saying "no," and "that is not possible," and was never happier than when ordinary people lived in constant terror of Hell. And the Bear realized that this is how the Pope sees the Church.

And at the same time, the Bear saw the heart of Pope Francis, and how desperate he was to inaugurate a new Church, where people listened to the Church as a kind and wise mother, even where opinions might be tentative, but then made up their own minds after talking to the Lord. Where the Church would have us say, with astonished joy: "Come, and see a man who has told me all things whatsoever I have done. Is not he the Christ?" (John 4:29).

In the End We Will All Stand On Our Own Before God

Let the dead bury the dead bury their dead, and their divisions with them. Why not grant a Lutheran access to communion and let it be between her and God? After all, that is what everything comes down to. Will God be harmed, even if her understanding remains imperfect? Is our own disposition always perfect? Ever perfect?

The Bear will not deny that in that flash, the New Church of Pope Francis was appealing. The Church is not a fortress for a wrathful, easily offended God, but, yes, a field hospital, a hospice, a temple, a hostel for pilgrims. The Bear could live joyfully in such a Church, and develop more responsibility and a deeper relationship with God.

The Flash is Over

But the flash was over, and reality reasserted itself. Even if it did make a healthier Church, it would not work. Lack of instruction, ill-formed consciences, psychological factors and plain old self-interest make all but the very best of us bad guides for ourselves. And the "soft flesh" that would replace doctrine would bend one way in Paraguay, and another way in some other place.

The strong girders of doctrine, the dressed stones and great flying buttresses hold the Church together. The Church says "No!" because it retains an acute sense of the reality of sin. The Church imposes discipline because it is the Church Militant, not a playground. Under Pope Francis' vision, Luther's "great Pope, Self" would reign. The Bear is not sure what would result, but it would not be the Roman Catholic Church. It sounds a lot like Protestantism in fancy dress.

Chauncey Gardener Strikes Again

Once again, we must invoke the character of "Chauncey Gardner" from the 1979 movie Being There. It's about an imbecilic gardner whose simple-minded utterances are taken as profundities, leading him, at the end, toward the White House. Or at least that's what the Pope's off-the-cuff remarks seem like. But is he playing his old open mic game of shaping opinion?

He is after all, the Pope, and the answer is not difficult. He could have clearly told the woman that, sadly, that was not possible at the present. He could have invited her to join her husband in the Catholic Church (although that would have been proselytizing). Instead he flat-out encourages her, while winking at his own advice.

Pope Francis' vision still burns behind his eyes. His resolve has not faltered. He has many allies and great power. His recent statements about doctrine being the "soft flesh" of Jesus, and his encouragement of the Lutheran women to take communion should remind us that we are dealing with a persistent, coy reformer, whose vision for the Church is not Catholic as we would understand it.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

New Seer Rocks Church


A new seer has attracted much attention in the Church recently. He or she is surrounded with mystery, but the messages have enthused many, already. The Bear takes no position on their legitimacy, but passes them along as a news item only.

Message channelled by The Servant of Light, J.B. November 19, 2015.

My children, my heart is sad for many reasons. The planet cries out in great distress. Hatred is increased as the cycle of violence returns wrath for wrath, mirroring the heat with which man's furnace boils the very seas, melting the ice caps. The final, gurgling growls of drowning polar bears mingle with the despairing groans of unemployed youth, and the lonely sighs of the forgotten elderly. I can hear all these things, my children.

I can hear the machinery of death as arms makers produce weapons, and hear them laugh as gold rains down upon them from the hands of corrupt politicians. And I hear the clamor of millions of immigrants, trapped by borders. Yes millions of men age sixteen to thirty shouting "Allahu Akbar," wanting nothing more than a peaceful place among new neighbors in a new land with good social benefits.

I can hear the cries of the Malvinas, crushed beneath the jackboot of British imperialists.

But what most grieves me is that people do not sufficiently honor my servant, through whom I send these messages to my beloved children. How sad to see him opposed by small-minded fundamentalists. They sift his every word so they may mock him! Blogs engage in the terrorism of gossip! Promethean neo-Pelagians and fomenters of coprophagia!

Be good children, not afraid to laugh, to dance, to embrace each others' soft and warm, yielding flesh and shower one another with the kisses of your tender mouths! Love one another, my children, and tear down the ancient walls that separate you! Just as any cup is like unto all cups, so all cups are one cup, and there is but one chalice for all of my children. Do not be bad children who say, "No, this is my chalice, and you may not drink!" We know that good children share their things!

I do not give this by way of commandment, my children, but as encouragement to learn, and talk to The Holy, and decide for yourself in joy. Your hearts, my children, will be your guides, and you will enter the new Church of flesh: soft, warm, pulsating and filled with the liquid music of life! The cathedrals of hard, cold stone stand as relics of a hard, cold age that, behold! is passing away!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Bear Apple Pie... mmmm



Unfortunately, the Bear can only show you, and there wouldn't be enough to go around, anyway.

It feels like the Bear has been working around the clock the last couple of days. He feels like he's earned at least a cheap fish, maybe some mackerel.

Has Pope Francis Finally Lost It?

As regular readers know, the Bear is a veteran of the United States Navy, where he was a JAG Officer in such dangerous places as the Holiday Inn of Manama, Bahrain swimming pool, where he defended lesbians from the U.S.S. Samuel Gompers. (And, yes, that improbable sentence is meant to be read exactly as written.) As it was, technically, in theater during the first Gulf War, the Bear did qualify for several medals. Never has one Bear given so little for so much.

Today the Bear wishes to evoke an ursine and nautical version of Colonel Blimp. "Gad, this Argentine fellow of ours would be safer commanding a rubber ducky than navigating the Barque of Peter!"

As reported in The Guardian, Pope Francis made what may be the last word of his papacy. Without wishing the Holy Father the least harm, one might wish this were literally true, but here it means the sum and substance of Bergoglioism, a philosophy sharing some characteristics with Roman Catholicism.

"That's what I said. We take the
ship over the mountains!"
Let it be asserted that Lieutenant Bear, USN (Reserve), currently on a meager veteran's disability pension from his aforesaid Gulf War exertions, is in enthusiastic union with His Holiness, happy to lend his professional services as the Barque of Peter meanders up the Amazon to explore the peripheries of sanity. It's like Fitzcarraldo performed by a cast of senior citizens.

That out of the way, let us examine the Pope's statement.

"Christian doctrine is not a closed system incapable of generating questions, doubts, interrogatives. But it is alive, knows being unsettled ... it does not have a rigid face, it has a body that moves and grows, it has a soft flesh: it is called Jesus Christ."

This is what the sheep are fed in the "unsettled Church" Pope Francis wants. Sheep don't like to be unsettled, though. They like to be safe and at peace. That's the whole idea of the Good Shepherd. Or any shepherd. Our Lord told Peter, "feed my sheep." Not tie balloons to their tails and watch them chase around in panic and confusion.

The Pope's statement doesn't really say anything. Like so much in this papacy, Church teaching issues from the idiosyncratic thoughts and beliefs of Jorge Bergoglio, always and exclusively whenever he finds himself in front of a microphone. The sense of it seems to be that doctrine has to be thrown overboard and replaced with Pope Francis' personal WWJD feelings.

However, the sheep like doctrine. This is that, that is good, this is bad. They like certainty and coherence. The Bear does not believe Pope Francis grasps this, or if he does it doesn't matter to him. He pretends to be the people's Pope, but he's the Pope of professors, of the intelligentsia, like his atheist friend Scalfari, of La Revolucion.

What gives him away, though, is that he does not talk in language the people can understand. Re-read that brief quote if you wish. The Bergoglio papacy is not a revolution, but just another South American coup. The Great Leader will reshape our world for us. The Bergoglio papacy fancies it offers Hope and Change, a New Deal, a Great Leap Forward. It's going to change the essence of Catholicism from a solid structure to soft flesh. Pope Francis can channel divine messages every day to tell us what we are to believe, and tomorrow something else will seize his imagination.

The Bear is drawn back once again to the threat concealed in the badly poetic language about soft flesh. There is a name for a person who rejects Catholic doctrine. The Bear suspects Pope Francis has crossed that line and is now just struggling how to say it without causing a fuss. 

For now, Lieutenant Bear will play Van Johnson's role in the Caine Mutiny, and will dutifully look for the missing strawberries, although it is dawning  on him that Captain Queeg may pose issues. (And bloggers are all appropriately played by Fred MacMurray.)






Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Framing of Vatican II

Vatican II

The Rooster Who Caused the Sun to Rise

You will be familiar with the logical fallacy of post hoc ergo propter hoc. When one thing happens after another thing, it is easy to assume that the first thing caused the second. Our rooster, Hermes, like Chanticleer, no doubt believes his crow causes the sun to rise.

The great Church council known as Vatican II was held from 1962 to 1965. Its resulting documents were different from those produced by all previous councils. They were meant to be "pastoral." For the first time, the Church wanted to sit down and chat. The documents were long, equivocal and unclear in application. It is not recorded that anyone read them since.

In fact, they were compromise documents produced by a well-organized "Rhine Alliance" over a strenuous, but, ultimately doomed conservative rearguard led by Cardinal Ottaviani.

The lack of clarity of the council documents (due to their gaseous style as much as compromise after acrimonious debate) allowed differing interpretations. Between the cracks of fact and logic in these documents sprouted "The Spirit of Vatican II." 

Nearly everything we don't like about Vatican II, from ecumenism to Marty Haugen are fruits of these noxious Vatican II weeds. The ritual smashing of the altar rails on Wednesday, December 9, 1965 -- after the official close of the Council -- became a symbol of the destruction of the Church. By 1970 the Roman Catholic Church had ceased to exist, all because of Vatican II.

This is the accepted story, at any rate.

The Bear, however, has always wondered about this. 

Which Came First: The Church Collapse Chicken or the Vatican II Egg?

If we don't like Vatican II, we must concede that there existed a sizable body of thought within the Church that proposed the things Vatican II approved. There were important movers and shakers, and, in the end, a majority of the council fathers who went along with it all. If the Church is rotten, it was rotten in those halcyon days before the council it gave birth birth to.

Father Patrick "The Family That Prays Together Stays Together." Peyton ran the "Family Theater" television program from 1947 to 1957. In 1961, a year before Vatican II opened, Fr. Peyton packed a half-million people, including dignitaries, into San Francisco's Golden Gate Park for one of his famous rosary rallies. And, at the exact same time Vatican II was destroying the Church (at least according to the story) there rises the comforting image of Emmy-Award winning Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen on the small screen. His final program ran from 1961-1968, neatly bracketing the council.

The Bear would like to pause and highlight two points:
  • Only a Church already deranged could have produced Vatican II
  • The popular, high-profile Catholicism that we think of in the pre-Vatican II Church -- as exemplified by Fr. Peyton and Venerable Archbishop Sheen -- was a coat of Catholic paint on institutions that were already flying strange colors. 
Something else happened in 1968, besides the Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen's final program. Pope Paul VI rejected his own Pontifical Commission on Birth Control and took a hard line against birth control. As "The Fulton Sheen Show" ended for the last time with its trademark, "Goodnight and God bless," the Catholic Church blew up.

Here, in the premeditated rebellion to Humanae Vitae is where we first get the synod on the family's now-familiar "consult your own conscience," "pastoral," voo-doo theology, backed by the best theologians, and promoted by the Catholic chattering class. The Pope was so demoralized by the revolt that he never issued another encyclical. The Bear would not dare say the Humane Vitae reaction was worse than Vatican II, but it sure impacted the Church in two ways Vatican II didn't.
  • It hit Catholics where they lived and fostered a spirit of revolt.
  • It demonstrated to common folks that the inmates were running the asylum.
Who Is the Guilty Party?

The Bear is not scholar enough to trace the timeline of this titanic catastrophe, but has no doubt that someone with an open mind could. But he will state plainly that it is impossible that it started with Vatican II, or that Vatican II was to blame. Oh, the majority of council fathers were guilty enough within the scope of their own stupidity, cowardice and malevolence. But they have been unfairly left holding the smoking gun over the body, when they were only stealing the silver plate. 

As to the real culprits, the Bear is confident they could be discovered with diligence and a small research staff. And he doesn't mean conspiracy theories like "the freemasons," although he does not doubt their involvement. 

How far back do we have to go? Back at least to the beginning of the 20th century and St Pope Pius X, who wrote the famous denunciation of Modernism in the 1907 Pascendi Domenici Gregis. Is there anyone who doubts we are still dealing with Modernism today? St. Pope Pius X noted how tricky Modernists are. When the Church is alert, they go underground. When their day arrives, they wave the red flag in your face. They're like T.S. Eliot's feline villain:

McCavity, McCavity
there's no one like McCavity.
he's broken every human law,
he breaks the law of gravity.
His powers of levitation
would make a fakir stare.
And when you reach the scene of the crime,
McCavity's not there!

But like most good villains, they're proud. The Bear is sure there is a paper trail. His hypothetical research project would probably start with the Index of Forbidden Books. By the way, did you know that was abolished in 1966 by Pope Paul VI? By that time inclusion was probably a badge of honor.

On second thought, such a project would no doubt unravel into antiquity, perhaps all the way back to Judas' fraudulent books. Perhaps Modernism is ever emerging from the Spiritus Mundi to seize like minds on the faculty, in the chancery, in the synod, and anywhere weak souls are captured by the proud promises of a new age. 

Every age is is on the cusp of the it's own "modern" age. Our age is worse off because our Modernists have so many bad ideas to choose from, and, at the moment, sponsors in high places. In our tiny slice of time it seems Modernists have carried the day, and perhaps they have.

The Bear looks back and sees no substantial difference in outcome, whether there was a Vatican II or not. Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen may have had the ratings, but the Modernists held the key positions behind the scenes, and the trend of the times was with them. Every dog has his day and we have the misfortune to live Modernist Dog Day Afternoon. But if anything, we're better off today because the enemy is in plain sight. And while Yeats' "image out of the Spiritus Mundi" draws closer to Bethlehem, the "indignant desert birds" are all blogging, and sometimes Bears.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Multi-Post

The Unknown Reader

Every once in awhile the Bear will go to blog command center and see that someone is reading old posts. Blogs are sadly ephemeral. You work hard and produce what you think is a good article, and in a day or two it's old news. In three it is forgotten forever. The Bear's not complaining. That's just the way it is. That's why it is so delightful to find someone has resurrected a piece from the past. Thank you.

Facebook French Flag

The Bear has changed his Facebook picture with a tricolor overlay. He cannot speak to the motives of others. The Bear's seem weak. It's something. Maybe it will keep the memory alive a bit longer. Maybe it raises the Bear's information-action ratio slightly, and makes him feel less helpless.

The Bear urges everyone to talk about this. And not in the "Three Amigos Great Abrahamic Religions" BS we get from the effeminati in our Church, God love it. Tell it like it is. The Bear is not Muslim friendly because people can't help being affected by a religion of Satanic origin. You can hold hands and sing Kumbaya all you want and Muhammad will still be a false prophet in a cruel religion utterly alien to every other faith on the planet.

The Bear has traveled the world, and Islam is a cultural cyclone-cum-earthquake. Where it seems to be prospering, it is only on account of oil plus western know-how and imported labor to do anything useful. And pill boxes around the state residence of Mulai Ahmed er Raisuli because he's a Sunni and the majority Shiites can't stand Sunnis or some crap. Where Muslims are free to be as Muslim as they want, you get ISIS, where their equivalent to a day at the ballpark is watching human beings get butchered. Afghanistan is a poor Muslim country, and the pinnacle of sanitation there is voiding their bowels in the middle of what passes for main street.

As the denizens of Zoar would say, "That ain't right." No one prospers, or approaches civilization under Islam. Our leaders need to realize ISIS isn't the problem, Iran isn't the problem, and the most evil optometrist in the world, Bashar Assad isn't the problem. Islam is the problem. Follow the logic wherever it leads.

Recurring Donations

The Bear believes he has resolved the issue where recurrent donations would be skipped. And may all the Bear's kind donors be rewarded. Two separate buttons, pretty self explanatory. In addition to the much-needed material assistance, you can't imagine how it feels to find a donation and think, "wow, someone thinks what the Bear is doing here is worth something!" Honestly, even a small donation buys a whole, fresh fish. It helps keep SCB going not because there's staff to pay, but it keeps the Bear's morale up. (The Bear's amanuensis and agent works for free.)

The Bear would like to thank his commenters, too. Does the Bear sometimes growl? Maybe. But that's what you come to see the Bears for, isn't it?

Bishop Robert Barron Guest Column

Guest Column by His Excellency Bishop Robert Barron

When Islamic terrorists commit terror, it is easy to be moved to anger. That is why it is important to remember the context of these acts that seem so horrific to us. We must also not forget that some of these terrorists lost their own lives. It is easy to feel compassion for the victims. When it comes to the terrorists, we must push through our initial feelings, and into the truth of love and forgiveness that allows us to hold both up to God, equally.

There will be those that will claim these are not true representatives of Islam. I trust Catholics will not be so patronizing, and so false. The terrorists that perpetrated the awful carnage were, in fact, Muslims, and were, in fact, following their religion. As 17th century French philosopher Marquis Jean Chistophe-Gaubert said, "Comment avez-vous trouvé la pièce?" And as Hans Urs von Balthasar insisted, we must, above all, respect their authenticity.

This is an excellent moment to realize that when we say all have a reasonable hope of avoiding Hell, we mean the villain of the day, as well. Indeed, we should find joy in the fact that a man who is not Catholic, is not Christian, and dies as a mass murderer, has every reasonable hope of going to Heaven, however he has been culturally conditioned to understand that experience. Once we accept the near certainty that Hell is a non-existant phantom of the Medieval imagination, we realize there is no third alternative. If Hell does not exist, there is only Heaven, for everybody.

Even you.

What do we call people in Heaven? Saints. A Catholic who cannot with joy invoke St. Mohammed the Prophet is missing something vital in the Gospel. Even out of terror, good may come if Christian and Muslim may reflect on their own contributions to this tragedy, and understand whatever our differences on Earth, our final destination is the same. Albeit with more sensual pleasure for Muslims.

Note: Between the sheer idiocy and the (albeit small) "Parody" tag, the Bear thought he was covered, but perhaps not. Bishop Barron did not really write a guest column for SCB. This is a parody of Bishop Barron's well known "we may have a reasonable hope nobody goes to Hell" theology, published at a particularly teachable moment. Poe's Law strikes again.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Surprise Story of Year: Moslems Kill a Bunch of People

To read the Vatican statements, one would never know who perpetrated these latest atrocities.

"This is an attack on peace for all humanity, and it requires a decisive supportive response on the part of all of us, as we counter the spread of homicidal hatred by the West's ancient enemy, Islam," said Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi.

Sorry, the Bear made a series of typos. Scratch "by the West's ancient enemy, Islam," and substitute after hatred, this: "in all its forms." After all, we can't focus on just one hate group here. France is a seething cauldron of monarchists, French nationalists and snooty waiters. It's just unfair to single out Moslems every time Moslems kill people in the name of Islam.

And for the record, it is not "an attack on peace for all humanity." It is an attack on the French, and, more broadly the Christian West. Obviously, it is not an attack on the Moslems who did it, or cheer it or remain silent, or start in with turning the tables and making themselves the victims of "backlash."

Ironically, the world's most evil optometrist, Syria's President Bashar Assad, had no qualms about speaking frankly of the the killers, and even had the bad taste to add an "I told you so." He pointed out that three years ago he warned the Wests's policy of supporting terrorists in his country was a bad idea.

Syria is starting to look like a replay of the Crimean War, which was fought just before the U.S. Civil War. The Bear cannot recall the exact quote, but England and France went to war against Russia, it was said, to protect the Turk's right to mistreat Christians. Russia indeed had intervened to protect Orthodox Christians -- a recurring historical role that Russians take very seriously -- and the Western Powers fought on the other side. If it is remembered at all, it is for the disastrous "charge of the light brigade," and Florence Nightingale.

We know Pope Francis is a huge fan of mass importation of Moslems into Europe. In February, he singled out the poster child for open immigration's failure, Sweden, as a shining example of tolerance in the matter of Islamic rape gangs or something. 

On the issue of immigration (i.e. invasion in slow motion) one detects the same giddy disconnect with reality one finds in global warming or any leftist fad. (As a leftist, Pope Francis' imagination is often captured by impractical Big Ideas, and he is blind to their cyclonic effects.) The Bear doesn't pretend to know the particulars of Europeans' policy to sweep in as many ungovernable Moslems who hate them as possible. Cheap labor? Deliberately extinguishing Europe's cultural identity? Importing a ready-made dependent class for political purposes? All he knows is that the broom should be sweeping in the other direction.

The Bear is relying on his go-to answer for most problems: low birth rates. A birth rate of 2.1 is required merely to maintain a population level. France was just under two on January 1, 2014. We call that "dying." To put it bluntly, a country has to have a population to work and support retirees. The Pope might consider extolling the virtues of traditional large Catholic families, rather than importing Muslim "workers." Yes, Holy Father, there's nothing wrong with Europe that some good old fashioned "rabbits" wouldn't fix.

From the Book of Ecclesiasticus: "Who will pity an enchanter struck by a serpent, or any that come near wild beasts?" (12:13)

Remember when we were all Charlie Hebdo? Well, we can all be French, now, but somehow the Bear doubts that will do any good, either.

The Pope is right about one thing. He has said similar violence and destruction is part of a "third world war;" the Bear would add, "apparently against a mysterious and unnameable enemy." We are still waiting for our Churchills and Pattons. We are still wondering if our age is even able to raise them up. We can't even manage a Florence Nightingale.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Champion of Insults: Pope Francis or Martin Luther?

Background and Fighters

When it comes to Christians slinging insults, two heavyweights come to mind. First, of course, is the reigning heavyweight champion of the sour science of insult. The Bear gives you the pride of Saxony, the Heresiarch of Haymakers, the Raging Bull himself: Maaaaartin Luuuuuther!

And in this corner, a real up-and-comer, and a big surprise, the Pontiff of Punching, the Argentine Bombshell, and you know what's coming! The Bear can only mean: Horhaaaaay Bergoliooooo! The 266th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church!

Luther started the Reformation in 1517, which split the Church under Bergoglio's predecessor, Pope Leo X. Although the two camps have tried to keep the smack talk dialed down lately, you just have to know this is a 500-year-old grudge match.

Will Luther keep the title he's held onto for half a millennium? Or will the antipodean upstart pull off an upset? There are no rules, and low blows are encouraged. So let's watch the Pope and the Heresiarch go head to head to find out who is the more insulting. The two fighters will square off over ten rounds, each with a different theme.

1. Johnny, Take That Out of Your Mouth!

Pope Francis: "Fomenter of coprophagia!"

Martin Luther: "You are like a magician who conjures gulden into the mouths of silly people. But when they open their mouths, they have horse (dung) in them!"

Bear -- the two statements are similar, but Luther's earthy clarity beats the Pope's spectacular display of vocabulary. Round One: LUTHER.

2. Say Again?

Pope Francis: "Self-absorbed promethean neo-pelagian!"

Martin Luther:  "You sophistic worms, grasshoppers, locusts and lice!"

Bear -- here the Pope's vocabulary dazzles, even if nobody understands it! Luther already looks tired in this round. Round Two: POPE FRANCIS.

3. Animal Crackers

Pope Francis: "Creed-reciting Parrot Christian!"

Martin Luther: "For you are an excellent person, as skillful, clever and versed in Holy Scripture as a cow in a walnut tree or a sow on a harp!"

Bear -- Wow! What a comeback. Pope Francis is clever, funny, and right on target, but Luther's humorous and memorable imagery demonstrates why he's the champ. Round Three: LUTHER.

4. A Few Beads Short of a Rosary

Pope Francis: "Sloth-diseased, acedic Christians!"

Martin Luther: "You people are more stupid than a block of wood!"

Bear -- Pope Francis may be getting a little cocky. He sounds like a doctor, here, and falls back into his tendency to use jargon that lacks impact. On the other hand, Luther connects with the simplest insult imaginable, but good enough to put the Pope on his heels. Round Four: LUTHER.

5. Prelates

Pope Francis: "Airport bishops!"

Martin Luther: "As for the signs of your peculiar priesthood, we are willing to let you boast of these mean things, for we know it would be quite easy to have, anoint and clothe in a long robe even a pig or a blog of wood!"

Bear -- Here we see the difference. Pope Francis lands a popping jab that's effective. But Luther just overwhelms him with an impressive combination relying once again on concrete, humorous imagery. He even slips that "block of wood" punch in again. Round Five: LUTHER.

6. Wings

Pope Francis: "There are Christian bats who prefer the shadows to the light of the presence of the Lord!"

Martin Luther: "You are a bungling magpie, croaking loudly!"

Bear -- This one comes down to bat vs. magpie. The judges are going with bat! Round Six: POPE FRANCIS.

7. Skin-Deep Christians

Pope Francis: "Christians in appearance! Made-up Christians, because when the rain comes the make-up comes off!"

Martin Luther: "You have set out to rub your scabby, scurvy head against honor!"

Bear -- two great fighters, but choices must be made. Pope Francis was very understandable this round while Luther struggled a bit with clarity. Round Seven: POPE FRANCIS.

8. Don't Let Appearances Deceive You

Pope Francis:  "Pagans with two strokes of Christian paint, so as to appear like Christians, but Pagans nonetheless."

Martin Luther: "You are an extraordinary creature, being neither God nor man. Perhaps you are the devil himself!"

Bear -- Luther is bold, as always, but may have tried too hard, here. As in last round, Pope Francis is crystal clear, and the imagery is simple and memorable. That insult is going to sting for a long time, while Luther's is something of an eye-roller. Eighth Round: POPE FRANCIS.

9. Talking Behind Your Back

Pope Francis on the "Terrorism" of Gossip: "It's the sickness of cowardly people who, not having the courage to speak directly, talk behind people's back."

Martin Luther: "You say what comes out of your mouth must be kept! I hear it. Which mouth do you mean? The ones from which the farts come?"

Bear -- Luther had Francis on the mat with this one. But the Argentine Bombshell is back on his feet. Ninth Round: LUTHER.

10. Freestyle

Pope Francis: "Children! Afraid to dance! Afraid to cry! Afraid of everything!"

Martin Luther: "You are desperate, thorough arch-rascals, murderers, traitors, liars, the very scum of the most evil people on earth! You are full of all the worst devils in Hell -- full, full and so full, that you can do nothing but vomit, blow, and throw out devils!"

Bear -- A good ending by Pope Francis. But Luther unleashes his trademark frothing-at-the-mouth insult combinations. Tenth Round: LUTHER.


And the Winner Is...




MARTIN LUTHER WINS! Luther's wild, unrefined, and even crude style of pure insult overwhelmed Pope Francis' sometimes more cerebral style. This is not to say that the Argentine Bombshell couldn't put together simple, concrete imagery when needed. Indeed, in the middle of this fight, Pope Francis looked like he might pull off an upset. Luther, though, was so over-the-top with both memorable images ("a cow in a walnut tree") and sheer crudeness, the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church couldn't quite take the championship away from Luther.

Sources included the Pope Francis Little Book of Insults and the Luther Insulter, with which you may be insulted by the heresiarch himself, as well as its companion list of Luther insults. Martin Luther, though undeniably crude on occasion, was a man of his times, and we should perhaps not be so ready to judge him the same as someone of our age.

As far as Pope Francis, most of his "insults" have a point, which he makes directly, memorably and maybe with a bit of a sting. The Bear guesses they were more appropriate, or at least understandable, in their original context, rather than in a decontextualized (where have the Bear's readers seen that word before?) collection.

Monday, November 9, 2015

How Bears View the Church



Bears are always on the outside looking in, which gives us a different perspective on human institutions. In the case of the Church, the Bear sees a combination of a multinational corporation and a university, on a global scale.

It is like a multinational corporation in that
  • its top man sets the tone
  • the top man is assisted by a circle of high-ranking officials
  • it has a practically ungovernable bureaucracy
  • it has offices in many countries, and, perhaps, branches in every town
  • it enjoys good press, and hates catastrophes or scandals
  • its wealth and influence gives it political clout
  • it enjoys sponsoring programs and issuing news releases
  • it is very wealthy
It is like a university in that
  • it is insulated from the world ("ivory tower")
  • it is subject to capture by intellectual fads and popular causes
  • its scholars like to push pet, often absurd or harmful, theories
  • professors sometimes flatly oppose the supposed ideals of the university
  • it is a nest of perpetual politics, unseen by the public
  • it is unresponsive to public input
  • professors are nearly impossible to remove
  • it enjoys sponsoring programs and issuing news releases
  • it is leftish due to O'Sullivan's Law*


The Church as Multiverse

The Bear remembers that this "mulitiverse" Church is less a monolith than a global collection of interests, each with multiple agendas. There is a caucus for every cause, some more powerful, some less. There are sub-cultures within the Church, such as the infamous "gay lobby." What goes on in public may not give a clue to what goes on in private. 

Are there Modernists? Practically everybody! Are there Masons? Sure! One-worlders! You bet! Jesuitical schemes? Almost certainly. Satanists? A few.

Today, all institutions of any size are going speak out against global warming. In the same way, they will all be for homosexuality. All large institutions get carried along by the zeitgeist as sure as boats float down the river. (Of course, the Church will have to be careful here, but must at least feint gay.)

Then, of course, the Church is subject to O'Sullivan's Law, just like any large institution.*

It's disappointing that the Church is not immune to worldly pressures and allurements, and often looks like just one more natural institution, scheming and spinning, and floating with the current. As we shall see, however, thats not necessarily all bad.

Pope Francis

The Bear marks Pope Francis as "Exhibit A" and moves that he be entered into evidence and published to the jury. Evidence of what? A plot, of course! Or call it a campaign, if you will. But a collection of interests that no blogger or even professional journalist fully understands combined to make Jorge Bergoglio pope.

Oh, the unholy curiosity about how many votes Jorge Bergoglio would get if the election where held today! Institutions do not like unpredictability, and one has to wonder how many enemies Francis has made. But Francis is Pope, full stop.

Sometimes the Church even acts for the good of Christians. It is unknown how many of the Church's personnel wake up with that thought. Oh, not that they're all plotting evil schemes. The Bear suspects that, like all of us, they are concerned with their own problems and interests.

In other words, the Church is unique, but incorporates elements familiar from secular institutions. What we see, now that we are plugged in 24 hours a day with news and blogs, is exactly what we would expect to see. The Church is a complicated, powerful and conflicted global institution that in some ways combines the medieval and modern worlds.

That is, we see a mess. Pope Francis seems to thrive in it, but one wonders about the everyone else.

Why the Multiverse Isn't All Bad

Why does the Bear take comfort in such a cynical view? 

Because what we're seeing is not necessarily a good vs. evil battle with the Church itself at stake. Who can deny that the Germans are worried at least about the kirchensteuer (church tax) revenue as they are motivated by compassion for the divorced and remarried? The Bear would much rather deal with greed than heresy. 

The Bear suspects that no party within the Church will push so hard as to break it (were that possible). They all share an interest in the prosperity of the Church, and won't risk schism.

But what about Francis? St. Malachy's "Peter the Roman?" (That would be "Peter" Sellers in the quirky 1979 hit Being There about a simple-minded gardener whose vacuous statements are assumed to be profundities by a fawning circle of power brokers.)

One suspects that within his breast beats the heart of a Latin revolutionary. But as we saw in the Synod, even popes don't always get their way. No one will ever convince the Bear that the power players completely understand, therefore trust, the man they put into power.

Checks and balances.

And one prays that the Holy Spirit, if it does not burst into the room with tongues of flame as at Pentecost, can at least seep through the ancient cracks and make sure the Church doesn't get lost in the Multiverse.

*Any organization or enterprise that is not expressly right wing will become left wing over time.

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