Thursday, June 30, 2016

la trahison des clercs (The Treason of the Intellectuals) Part II

When hatred of culture becomes itself part of culture, the life of the mind loses all meaning.
 -- Alain Finkielkraut, The Undoing of Thought
Today we are trying to spread knowledge everywhere.  Who knows if in centuries to come there will not be universities established to establish our former ignorance.
-- Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742 - 1799)

Benda May Have Been Too Optimisitic

The Bear is an intellectual.  So are all of his ephemerists friends.  This is not a boast, it is simply the correct name for people who pursue the rewards of a life of the mind, as opposed to "realism," as our friend Julien Benda (la trahison des clercs) uses the word.

Although Benda was remarkably prescient in Treason of the Intellectuals, he did not get everything right.  The great evil that Benda saw was intellectuals abandoning their age-old calling of insisting upon the universal when it came to mankind.  In Benda's mind, the danger was that intellectuals were building philosophies based upon national differences. The German Völk, Italian Art, French elan, the English Empire.  They got their hands dirty, and became "realists," not as opposed to "realism," but concerned with practical outcomes.

It is true that we passed through that stage - disastrously.  It is just as true that patriotism seems to be a spent force in the West.  One would be embarrassed to express patriotism in the United States.  No longer do children perform the ceremony of innocence before the schoolroom flag, hand over heart.

How Benda Was Right

However, Benda turned out to be right, after all.  Intellectuals of today support ever-smaller divisions of humanity.  As  Benda specifically predicted: people wish even to be distinguished by their vices.  There is no eccentricity so rare as it does not have an intellectual spokesman -- or, spokesperson -- and political lobby.

Benda also observed that politics had become the concern of everyone, and that neighbors would wage an unending political war against one another.  This has come to pass.  It is a fairly recent historical development, although we can scarcely imagine it.  People have been concerned with politics all throughout history, but in fits and starts.  Never before has the vast majority of the West identified themselves by their political views, and never stopped banging the drum.

Humanity has been shattered into a thousand pieces by the treason of the intellectuals.  Yet the fragments tend to gravitate toward one of two poles: the Right and the Left.  Political people - almost everyone, that is - are comforted because they can look up and see one or the other of the great umbrellas that loosely unites and protects them.

Intellectuals Right and Left

In general, the Right is the philosophy of true conservatism.  True intellectuals of the Right preach a centripetal philosophy.  They are the true champions of mankind, because they advocate for man in general.  They do not feel compelled to tinker with history, to stick a name on part of mankind and champion The Worker, The Homosexual, The Refugee.  The intellectuals of the Right are mostly true and faithful, if few.  They know that when an intellectual is tempted to "realism," i.e. results, he will inevitably chose sides, and thereby lose the legitimacy of the universal.  He will, in other words, commit treason.

It is precisely by engaging in special pleading, that the intellectual of the Left commits treason.  "I raise this man up, and put all other men down."  They have a pact with one another that they will not step on each others' toes.  The intellectual of the Left is always modern.  "I celebrate today only; I erase the past."  There is always that fatal choice.  We come down to arguing with a straight face whether a man should use the ladies' room, because such practical absurdities are the inevitable tragicomical end of Leftist intellectualism.

By the way, the Left has won everywhere, if you have not noticed.  The Right, who are not "realists," in Benda's sense of the word (practical) cannot match the passionate intensity of a thousand people fighting for a thousand special recognitions.  Mankind has been more thoroughly fragmented than at Babel, and the past is forgotten.

When Facebook has 71 genders, you have to admit you're fighting a desperate rear-guard action for civilization, if not sanity.

Benda Wrong by 196, but Right by 7 Billion

But what would Benda say about the great supranational movements, where the old states of the West are giving up their independence and identity?  Does this not disprove Benda's thesis?  No.  First of all, this is a new development, and we do not know if it will last, or if national particularism will will reassert itself. But Benda might well point out that a mere 196 nations without nationalism are nothing compared to 71 genders,  1000 religions, 25,000 parties, 250,000 blogs, and people who shell out over a billion-and-a-half dollars for tattoos per year, in the U.S. alone.  Anybody can be a constituency.

So maybe Benda missed by 196 nations.  He still wins by 7 billion people, if everyone has their own individual party.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Bear Suffers Comedy of Medical Errors

The latest in medical technology.
Last week, the Bear suffered pain and swelling in a bone in his right hind-paw.  By the time he saw a nurse at the VA on an unrelated matter, the Bear's sore paw -- which had actually started to get better -- became Of Medical Interest based upon the most improbable speculations the Bear has ever heard.  He declined further attention.

Today, he got a call from his Nurse Practitioner (who is more properly concerned with the other end of the Bear) who absolutely insisted that he come in and be seen, or he would probably be dead of sepsis in 24 hours from his sore paw.

The Bear's paw had been elevated to a Medical Emergency.  The Bear admits to being flattered by the concern  and he went into the local VA clinic and was seen by Dr. Tong.  Dr. Tong does not speak a word of English, although no one has ever had the courage to tell him so.  Even the Bear hesitates making his primary care physician hate him.

Dr. Tong apparently agreed with the Bear that whatever made his paw sore, it was getting better. Nonetheless, having been seen by Dr. Tong, he was obligated to send the Bear to the regional VA hospital for an x-ray.  Apparently, just because, but the Bear will never know for sure.

His sore paw x-rayed, the Bear was free to go.  The x-ray table is very hard, and it is quite awkward for a Bear to remove himself except by doing a sit-up.  In all honesty, the Bear does not do very many sit-ups, relying on his natural animal fitness.

So, remember, the Bear had just gotten an unnecessary x-ray for a sore paw Dr. Tong had already declared (the Bear believes) a non-issue.  He should never have been there in the first place.

In rising from the x-ray table, the Bear popped an old hernia repair.  Congratulations, VA, you have now caused a real medical problem by playing around with an imaginary one.  So now the Bear walks to the Emergency Room, holding his guts in with a pot lid, like in Apocalypse Now.  Well, not quite, but still...  (See how things can quickly escalate once you place yourself in the hands of the VA?)

An hour and a half later, the Bear leaves with his arm bandaged for the "rainbow draw," you automatically get at the ER, and a surgery consult that might result in a phone call in a month or two. Or not.

The Bear is something of an expert in hernias (is this oversharing?) having had his stuffing popping out in various places so many times no surgeon will touch his hernial areas with a ten-foot-pole. Apparently, after a couple of surgeries, the surgeon has no "landmarks" to go by and is completely baffled on how to sew up a hole from which your intestines are coming out of.  Ridiculous!  This is Teddy Bear Surgery 101 that the Bear's mate could do!

The ER nurse said to just buy underwear a size smaller.  Seriously.  Can you imagine the Bear in his too-small Walter White tighty whities?  (If you actually did, the Bear is a little frightened.)  Does that even sound comfortable, let alone effective?

The advances in medical science today amaze the Bear.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Speaking of Airplanes...

If there's one thing the Bear loves better than horse meat, it's airplanes. Few parts of an airplane are edible (the Bear has tried most of them), but they go much faster and higher than horses.

Nothing is more fun than flying an airplane. Be jealous. Believe it or not, the Bear even flew one backwards. This is not one of the Bear's tall tales. It's easily possible in a Skyhawk on a windy day. The airplane doesn't know forwards from backwards, it just knows air flow. So fly into a wind blowing at a greater speed than your airplane is going, and you can look down and watch the world creep underneath you the wrong way.

Anyway, Pete had a great link to some marvelous pictures from the Golden Age of Aviation. In the Bear's enthusiasm he wrote a too-long comment, so is going to expand it here.

Death Traps of the Golden Age of Aviation

Boeing B377 Stratocruiser (Great airplane if the propellors stayed on.)

Romantic yes, safe, no. In the 50s and 60s commercial airliners were deathtraps by today's standards. The most glamorous of them all was the four-engine propeller driven Boeing B377 Stratocruiser, which boasted two levels, like today's 747. It had numerous fatal incidents, some due to problems with the propellors, like coming off and going "runaway," a very bad thing.

B377 Stratocruiser ditching near weather ship. Everyone survived.

In one case, a B377 orbited a weather ship with only two working engines until daylight, then ditched, making for a dramatic photograph. Everyone survived.

One of Aviation's Greatest Mysteries: Pan Am Clipper Romance of the Skies

The B377 Pan Am Clipper Romance of the Skies (Pan Am always had the greatest names for each of their aircraft) went down on November 9, 1957 between San Francisco and Hawaii. Some wreckage and few bodies were found. Some recovered bodies showed trauma; others had apparently drowned. Most had lifejackets on and were without shoes.  Clearly, the flight crew knew they were going down and people had time to prepare. Toxicology showed elevated carbon monoxide levels, but today that is not believed to be significant.

There were three plausible theories, not one, but two of which included foul play. A disgruntled purser who blew up the plane, a ex-Navy demolition expert who took out several insurances polices on himself and blew up the plane, but possibly never boarded it.

The third theory was mechanical: a "runaway propellor"- a pilot's nightmare in those days. Imagine a propellor magically turning into a solid disk. That's not what happens, but it illustrates the effect.  It is very difficult to fly an airplane whose aerodynamics have been so deranged. To this day it remains one of the greatest mysteries in aviation. See more of this fascinating story at here.

British Death Trap: The Comet

"BOAC: Better On A Camel."  Beautiful airplane, but fatal design flaw.

The British began the jet age with the de Havilland Comet.  In 1954, two separate Comets mysteriously broke up and fell into the sea with no survivors.  Unfortunately, it was another deathtrap due to bad design, The square windows developed microscopic cracks at the corners due to pressurization and depressurization.  The area around the windows had been punch-riveted instead of drill riveted, as designed. The British commercial aviation industry never recovered (although Rolls Royce continues to make engines).

Commercial Aviation Today

The industry learned from every crash, though, and today airplanes are amazingly safe, but much, much less glamorous. The Europeans even gave us the name "Airbus." Today's "glass cockpits" have done away with dials, and everything is presented to the pilot in easily digestible form on a bank of screens. Modern jetliners literally fly themselves, and can even land.

However, pilots sometimes take the automation for granted. The Asiana 777 that crash landed in San Francisco in 2013 was a mess. The crew came in too high on approach, then tried to get back on the glide path by changing the autopilot setting. However, the selected setting did not control airspeed, something the captain apparently didn't know.  The flight crew, incredibly, did not monitor airspeed on final! Nobody was controlling or even watching airspeed until it was too late. They went to full throttles and attempted to climb, but they were too low and too slow. Asiana's policy discouraged pilots from landing aircraft themselves, by the way, which may have led to over-reliance on automation and degraded airmanship. (This is not an unusual policy. Airlines prefer not to have ham-handed human pilots abusing their airplanes . That was sarcastic, by the way.)

The Connie, and the Kansas City Airline Museum

Lockheed Constellation: Graceful and Distinctive.

The Lockheed Constellation is arguably one of the most beautiful airliners ever made. It has four piston engines and three tails (technically, three vertical stabilizers on the empennage). Some of them had a glass dome so the navigator could use a sextant. (Which could be very dangerous.)

Aviation was still not mature, and the Connie was involved in many fatal accidents, including two famous mid-air collisions, one over the Grand Canyon.

The Golden Age was not the Age of Airline safety.  Many lessons had to be learned the hard way.  Procedures were changed, and safety technology had to be developed.  To put things in perspective, there are thousands of Boeing 737s in use.  Boeing estimates that, on average, 2.2 737s take off every second!  Crashes are extremely rare these days.

They have a Connie at the wonderful little aviation museum in Kansas City. Well worth a tour to get a feel for those days. She was flying on the airshow circuit, where the Bear first saw her, but has been grounded for some time.  She is reportedly progressing on her inspections and they hope to get her in the air again. Still nice to visit ,though, and walk through. (They also have a static Lockheed L1011, a great old "three-holer" from the 70s that set new technical standards. One of the nicest jet airliners ever made.)

A lot of people died in the Golden Age of Aviation, but commercial aviation is exceedingly safe today from the lessons learned.

BREAKING: Pope Says Nutty Stuff In Airplane

For those of you who are still interested in Francis' Papal Mile High Club comments (get your mind out of the gutter), you can read them from Julie at Connecticut Catholic Corner.  The Bear couldn't care less.  He did think it hilarious, however, that the Turks were auto-yammering about Francis the Crusader.  Fortunately, the West is not the only part of the world losing touch with reality, although Islam has seldom been within shouting distance.

Apparently, the Church needs to do some more apologizing.  Ah, yes.  Because nothing makes a person feel better about themselves than apologizing for junk they had nothing to do with.  Big man. The Bear hereby apologizes for the final episode of LOST.  No, really.

The Bear's interest in aviation will be well-known to readers.  He has received confirmation from an Alitalia Airbus pilot who wishes to remain anoymous, that it is a tradition among captains of Pope Francis' airplanes to raise the cabin altitude to induce hypoxia whenever Pope Francis speaks.  Bragging rights go to whichever flight crew can get him get him to say the stupidest things.

Another mystery solved.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Francis Is Not Pope (In Cauda Venenum)

Your bribes will not save you from the Bear this time.

Oops, I Did It Again, I Played With Your Faith, Got Lost In the Game

Jorge Bergoglio is not a pope. He is not even a priest. How does the Bear know this? Because Jorge Bergoglio admitted as much himself. The Bear shall now give the most compelling argument ever before seen for the non-popeliness of this curious penguin from Patagonia, Jorge Bergoglio. And it doesn't even rely on the "expanded petrine ministry." And now, for Discriminating Catholic Ladies and Gentlemen, an SCB exclusive: Francis is Not Pope (In Cauda Venenum).

"The vast majority of our sacramental marriages are invalid," he recently, infamously opined. Catholic couples do not enter into them with the proper understanding of permanence and commitment.

Fr. Federico "Mouth of Sauron" Lombardi, later admitted the Pope's statement was the stupidest thing he had ever heard, which, in Newspeak sounds like: "It has been officially revised by the Pope, all by himself - really - to a mere undefined 'portion' of marriages are invalid." As if that fixed anything anyway.

To start off, "portion" means part of a whole amount. "A vast majority" is a portion. However much of the mashed potatoes the Bear decides to eat is a portion. But we know Pope Francis - er, Jorge Bergoglio - has long held the opinion that anywhere from half to more than half of Catholic sacramental marriages are invalid. We just don't know if the upper limit is 60% or 99%.

Here's the best illustration the Bear can come up with.

Tamaño 6 No, Tamaño 0 Sí

Let's say a husband is hosting a backyard barbecue with his lovely, fit wife, who is a size 6.  He calls for everyone's attention, then announces to the assembled family and friends that the vast majority of his wife's clothes make her look fat.  Into the shocked silence he lobs the opinion that size 0 is the only proper size for a real woman.

No one says a word as his wife's face turns red and her lower lip begins to tremble.

A quick-thinking friend of the husband finally says, "What George really means is that only some undefined portion of his wife's dresses make her look like a beached manatee. Which, in all fairness, could still be a vast majority, by the way!"

Problem solved. Everyone smiles and nods in agreement, and the relieved wife throws her arms around her husband and kisses him, right? Perhaps in some alternate universe, but not in this one. The husband remains an ignorant and insensitive moron who lacks the slightest clue how to be a husband. Definitely one of those marriages that aren't valid.

Invalidity: Not Just for Sacramental Marriages Anymore

But it is not just marriage that Catholics approach provisionally. In the same extemporaneous (i.e. Jorge Bergoglio revealing what he actually believes) comments, he talked about problems with clergy, remarks which did not get nearly the coverage. Jorge Bergoglio said this.

“I heard a bishop say some months ago that he met a boy that had finished his university studies, and said ‘I want to become a priest, but only for 10 years.’ It’s the culture of the provisional. And this happens everywhere, also in priestly life, in religious life,” he said.

In other words, in context, Jorge Bergoglio is saying the same thing about Holy Orders that he said about Matrimony.

Now, a priest makes a whole lot of promises when he gets ordained. A lot more than in the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. He promises to worthily and wisely exercise the ministry of the word, and teach the Catholic faith.


Franciscan Sacramental Theology: a Revolver That Points Backwards

You see, if the vast majority of couples don't really understand marriage, and therefore the hoo-doo of matrimony doesn't work (Jorge Bergoglio's sacramental theology being slightly less developed than a cargo cult), a fortiori, the commitment and greater need for correct education and understanding to become a priest must mean that even more ordinations are invalid.  Especially when you consider the deplorable miseducation priests receive at most seminaries, leaving aside any other troubling reports.

So, according to Jorge Bergoglio, since the vast majority of sacramental marriages are invalid, therefore nearly all (because what is greater than "vast majority?") ordinations are invalid, too. The candidates were not truly worthy, therefore the mojo did not flow. They walked out of the cathedral looking like priests, being called priests, rising in the ranks to the very highest offices, but they lacked sufficient commitment and understanding. No mojo, no valid orders.

Of course, just as it is difficult to say which sacramental marriages lacked sufficient hoo-doo to become valid, one might suppose it would be equally difficult to discern which men did not get the mojo of Holy Orders.

However, to recapitulate, we may start with the a fortiori argument that since the vast majority of sacramental marriages are invalid, then a fortiori, nearly all ordinations must be invalid, due to the higher standards of education, formation, and special commitment to worthily transmit the Catholic Faith, as compared to matrimony.

Therefore, it actually becomes easy to pick out from among the nearly all pretend priests, those priests who actually care for their flock, of whatever size, and faithfully transmit the Catholic Faith, free from their own eccentric opinions. If you are thinking, "that's not very many these days," you are exactly right.

Did Jorge Bergoglio Possess the Requisite Qualities for a Valid Ordination?

Therefore, we must ask, is Jorge Bergoglio among that blessed, tiny minority who are true priests? Did he have sufficient understanding, formation and commitment when he was ordained way back in 1969 for the mojo of Holy Orders to flow?

Led Zeppelin released their first album in 1969. Can we truly say that Led Zeppelin seminarians were capable of valid ordination? We know that Jethro Tull's 1971 Aqualung album fascinated the then-35 year-old priest. But aside from rock-and-roll, has Jorge Bergoglio demonstrate the fidelity to Church teaching, and true humility that that requires, to mark him as one of the perhaps five to ten percent of validly ordained priests?

The answer is clearly, no.

By Jorge Bergoglio's own sacramental theology and statements, it could not be clearer that he cannot be Pope, because he is not a priest.

But No One Believes What He Said,
So His Dodgy Sacramental Theology Doesn't Matter

An excellent counter-argument is that Jorge Bergoglio is simply wrong in his long-held idea that most sacramental marriages are invalid, because of the lack of understanding and commitment of couples. If he is wrong about marriage, then the argument cannot be applied to holy orders. This is a good argument, to which the Bear must give a fair hearing.

What if Pope Francis simply has no idea what he is talking about when it comes to something as fundamental as marriage, a matter of faith and morals that affects nearly every Catholic? Suppose for a moment, that he slept through all his sacramental theology classes, and later pieced together an essentially Protestant, or animist, understanding of the sacraments? What if he is so reckless to think it a light matter to call most Catholic couples fornicators, and their children bastards, just because he happens to hold eccentric views that could not be further from Catholic truth? 

What if Pope Francis simply does not understand the Catholic Faith, opposes those doctrines that he must admit to be Catholic, in any case wishes to replace all of them with his own eccentric, often heretical notions, and distorts the Faith on a nearly daily basis to the ruin of souls and the demolition of the Church?

In that case, the Bear must admit that his argument that Jorge Bergoglio is not Pope fails.

In cauda venenum. (Latin for "Sucker Punch.")

Friday, June 24, 2016

The Bear and the Rebellious Sheep

Angry Sheep
The recent account of the bad shepherd put the Bear in mind of another bad shepherd several years later.

A little bird told the Bear that there was a strange man in the woodlands, and offered to lead the Bear to him. Sure enough, the Bear found a man with a shepherd's crook trapped in a briar patch. In response to his request for help, the Bear told him that having found his way into a briar patch, it was by far the best for him to find his own way out.

The Bear watched him gingerly work his way through the briar patch, with many a stick and scratch, which he bore patiently. Eventually he was free, and introduced himself to the Bear as Barcala the Shepherd. He sought the Bear's assistance in a rather delicate matter. Much to his embarassment, his sheep had rebelled against him.

"Having met you in a briar patch and wasted half an hour watching you extricate yourself, the Bear wonders how you expect to lead sheep if you cannot lead yourself!"

Barcala the Shepherd hung his head, and examined the scratches on his arms. "I was leading my sheep, and when I looked back they were gone, and I was unlucky in finding this briar patch," Barcala explained.

"But the Bear doesn't see any sheep," the Bear observed, unable to keep a tone of amusement out of his voice.

"No," Barcala confessed. "They have not been listening to me lately, and apparently stopped following, and I had not noticed. I was hoping you would come back with me and discuss the matter with them, since everyone knows you are a guide and protector of animals here about."

"Most sheep don't trust Bears, but let's see what we may learn."

It was a long walk out of the woodlands and through scrubby land less than ideal for sheep before we found the flock. If sheep can look defiant, these were rebel sheep.

"Alright," the Bear said, "what's the problem here?"

"Not shep-her-her-herd," several of them cried.

"He's got a shepherd's crook, and unless the Bear is mistaken, that's a sling around his waist. He claims you as his flock. He looks like a shepherd to the Bear."

"Not shep-her-her-herd," the sheep repeated, more this time.

The shepherd was dismayed. "Ask them why they don't consider me their shepherd. Are they disputing my hire? Are they rejecting the normal sheep-shepherd relationship? They must be able to articulate some grounds, some theory for rejecting a shepherd who is officially provided to take care of them."

The Bear looked at the shepherd and had to chuckle. He did ask the questions the shepherd wanted him to ask, however.

"Not shep-her-her-herd," the sheep bellowed.

"Do you know anything about sheep, Barcala? They don't formulate rights and theories, or argue the niceties of the law of shepherding. They're sheep. Now, the Bear hates to tell a shepherd his business, but it is the nature of sheep to follow shepherds. Always has been. They are not one of the rebellious species. So, Barcala, if your sheep won't follow you, the fault lies with you."

"But I am their shepherd!"

"The Bear hates to break this to you, but a shepherd whose sheep don't listen to him is, by definition, not their shepherd. You will recall the Bear met you in a briar patch. If you had been paying attention, you would not have stepped foot into those briars. Also, you had traveled a long distance before you even noticed you had lost your flock! And here are these poor sheep now, with almost nothing to eat, and no water at all. The Bear does not care by whom or how you were placed in charge of these sheep, but you are done."

"Done? You can't -"

"The Bear didn't. This is just a fact. Like briars are a fact. These sheep will be temporarily cared for by the hospitable creatures of these woodlands. You will go and find the owner of these sheep and explain the situation to him honestly, and without leaving out the slightest detail. Tell him the Bear protects his flock, but he needs to send a real shepherd."

"You're firing me?"

The Bear shook his shaggy head in exasperation. "What did the Bear say? You're not a shepherd! Nothing the Bear could do, no magic words he could utter, could make you any less of a shepherd than you are. You are not a shepherd. You are now the Bear's messenger boy. That's all." Then, to soften the blow, the Bear added, "But that's something."

Then the Bear stood up on his hind legs, put a great, clawed forepaw on Barcala's shoulder, and looked down at him with a frown. The blood drained from the lad's face. "And don't even think about not doing exactly as the Bear has told you. If a proper shepherd does not arrive in one moon, the Bear will hunt you down. Every bird, every honeybee, every deer in the forest and every rabbit in the grass will be watching you."

"But my master will not be happy," Barcala whined.

"Why should he be happy?" answered the Bear. "Better him than the Bear. What made you think you were a shepherd anyway?"

"I thought I'd be good at it. And I've got this shepherd's crook and this sling. And they called me a shepherd."

"Look at the Bear," the Bear said with sudden fierceness. Barcala did. "Do you see a maybe Bear? A raccoon that wants to be a Bear? A man in a Bear suit? No. The Bear is real. As real as sudden death. There is no doubt. You are now his real messenger.  Beyond that the Bear does not know what you are. But taking care of sheep is a big responsibility. Don't fool anyone in whatever you decide to do next. Which will not be a shepherd. Or involve responsibility for any animal, not so much as a hen. Understand?"

Barely two weeks had passed when the new shepherd arrived in the woodlands. The sheep recognized him at once. He gave the Bear a bag of gold for his trouble. "You know, people think sheep are stupid," he said before they set out for home. "But I find they are an excellent judge of character."

The Bear nodded. "Sometimes, yes. And sometimes I have seen sheep follow a moron because they cannot imagine not following the man with the shepherd's crook. By the way, what happened to Barcala?"

"Oh, him. He's running for the village council. The lad's got a gift, they say."

"Or people are dumber than sheep." The two laughed, and the Bear felt glad he was home in his own woodlands.

HBO Series Game of Popes

HBO's Game of Thrones intro.

What if the last 50 years of Church history took place in 
Westeros, the fictional land of the hit HBO series, Game of Thrones?
Never heard of Game of Thrones? Might not make much sense. But it
doesn't always make sense even if you have watched it from Season One, either.

Nothing whatsoever to do with the story. But cool. Maiden fair fights Bear with wooden sword.
Don't worry, the Bear survives.

Our Story So Far

The Treason of the Maesters

People still speak of The Mad King, the Last of the Targaryens, because they remember the wildfire and destruction that swept through Westeros. However, the true story, like all true stories, remained secret. It was written only in the whispers of Small Council members, and the schemes of the Most Devout, who conspired in the dim and empty corridors of King's Landing.

Its public face was the Great Council of the Seven, convened shortly before the last Targaryen died. It was hopefully known, unofficially, as "The Red Wedding," due to the coming together of so many different ideas, and, of course, the distinctive red clothing worn by the Most Devout in their hundreds. It was immediately hijacked by a new sect, however: the Sparrows.

The Sparrows first arose in Riverrun, to the north of King's Landing. They quickly spread as wildfire of a different kind. "Sparrow" was a reference to the ostentatious humility practiced by their devout, especially their unofficial leader, "The High Sparrow." It also meant the smallfolk.

The Sparrows claimed to bring reform to the Faith of the Seven, by "opening the windows of the Sept and letting the sparrows in." However, many, including Maester Alfredo, who sat on the Small Council, saw instead the coming demolition of the faith.

There ensued an upheaval known as The Treason of the Maesters. Riverrun was the intellectual center for the Sparrows, if "intellectual" is the right word. The Sparrows hated tradition, and, in practice, they hated thought itself. "A single sparrow may swallow the greatest contradiction," they boasted contemptuously. Their influence would spread beyond the Faith, and eventually corrupt every institution of Westeros. They were too numerous and well-organized for Maester Alfredo and his party, but the old Maester nonetheless ensured that the Great Council's teachings were seeded with contradictions and ambiguities.

On the last day of the Great Council, Maester Alfredo and the others of his party were shot down with crossbows from the choir lofts of the Great Sept. Despite public mourning and investigations, no one was charged with the crime. It is generally believed Lord Frey supplied the soldiers at the request of Lannisters. "The Red Wedding" took on the entirely new meaning we are familiar with today. Westeros woke up to a fait accompli. The time-honored practices of the Faith were changed overnight.

King John Paul Arryn, Second of His Name

The death of the Mad King occurred some time after the Council, and a war for the possession of the Iron Throne ensued. The fearless and noble Benedict Stark led a large army from the far north, and fought House Lannister in the final battle for King's Landing. The Lannisters were defeated by the unexpected arrival of a large cavalry force led by John Paul Arryn, Lord of the Vale, a province to the east.

The victors agreed upon the dashing and proven John Paul Arryn, Second of His Name, as King of Westeros. Benedict Stark was named Hand of the King. As Hand, Benedict had authority second only to the King. Benedict Stark had sided with the Sparrow faction at the Great Council, but repented of his error after The Red Wedding and following abuses.

During Benedict's long term as Hand, he discovered much corruption in the capital. He carefully compiled evidence of grave misconduct by certain Lords of Westeros and their confederates, especially the powerful but sinister Lannisters. The Sparrows were up to their necks in it. King John Paul, however, believed that moving against the corruption would be a distraction from his chief business, which was to improve the political landscape, roll back the influence of the Sparrows, and restore reason to the maesters.

King Benedict Stark, First of His Name

King John Paul had a long and popular reign. It is said that he ruled Westeros without a single sword being drawn from its sheath. But some thought he did not do enough to correct the Great Council and suppress the Sparrows. Upon his death, his faithful Hand, Benedict Stark, Lord of Winterfell, was named king by acclamation, John Paul leaving no heir.

King Benedict, unlike King John Paul, was not universally loved. The Sparrows despised him, especially his "reform of the reform," which included an option for the ancient rite of the Seven. He was mocked by many, and his efforts were largely ineffectual where they were not simply blocked outright. He never felt he had the strength to go after the corruption he had uncovered as a younger man, while King John Paul's Hand.

When he grew very old, he was given an ultimatum by the Lannisters. He would abdicate the Iron Throne, while retaining some ambiguous royal prerogatives as "King Emeritus." From Dorn, the uttermost south, an unknown Lannister would be installed upon the Iron Throne before anyone could do anything about it. [Dorn? You don't remember Dorn? Neither does anyone else.]

King Francis Lannister, First of His Name

The smallfolk of King's Landing literally woke up one day to find that Benedict Stark was no longer king, and their new king was Francis Lannister, First of His Name. He was young, and had the blond Lannister hair, just like his aunt Cersei and uncle Jaime, as well as a streak of sadism. He named Lord Kasper Frey as his Hand. Some, those not familiar with the rules of the Game of Popes, were shocked, given Frey's connection with the Red Wedding. Others were simply confirmed in their suspicions: Francis Lannister and the Sparrows had not just blown in through the window together by chance.

Initially, nearly everyone was charmed by King Francis' simplicity. It was said he slept naked in a pile of dung spread over iron spikes beneath the stars, no matter the season. He ate nothing but sawdust wetted with vegetable broth, while servants beat him with canes. These, at any rate, were such stories as he enjoyed hearing about himself. He did not wear shoes, famously saying, "carnival is over," and so was rumored to be a Sparrow.

Benedict Stark publicly turned over all the evidence he had been collecting over the years. Rumor has it that King Francis personally burned it with wildfire as he sat upon the Iron Throne, repeating, "burn them all," as he watched the flames erase history.

"Here We Stand." (But Not For Long.)
The smallfolk loved their seemingly common king. However, the great houses, and many of the uncorrupted Most Devout and maesters were alarmed at his ignorance of the fundamentals of The Seven. "I've been all over the world, and everywhere I go people tell me about 'the true God.' They all think they've found the right one!" he once said, speaking extemporaneously to a huge crowd. Within an hour, ravens were carrying his scandalous message to the four corners of Westeros.

He also suggested that The Seven, the Old Gods, the Drowned God, and the Lord of Light were all just different names for the same, true God. He even said, "the Six themselves worship The Stranger, therefore, so must we as our One True God."

A small, but growing movement began wondering how Francis Lannister had come to be made King, and what should be done about his increasingly bizarre ideas. Some even began remembering The Mad King. The Lannisters are not the most genetically hygienic, shall we say, family. When Ser Eddard Burke publicly, but respectfully, challenged King Francis, the King demanded Ser Eddard's head on a spike. However, his Small Council advised him not to make a martyr of Ser Eddard. Instead, he was exiled to Bear Island, far to the north, and awarded the mocking title, "Admiral of Ice Bay," where he remains to this day.

Preview of Game of Popes Seasons 7 & 8 -- Bears

Benedict Stark had many children. The bad guys have been hunting them down, one by one, but there are still plenty left, and they're pretty angry at everyone kidnapping and killing them. Even the youngest daughter, Arya, not yet a teen, is a trained assassin who has killed about fifty men and one girl in single combat.  They and their allies remain a force in Westeros far greater than their numbers suggest. (Exception: Rickon -- serpentine, kid, serpentine!)

A new Targaryen threatens from across the Narrow Sea with dragon fire and barbarian horsemen. Beyond the wall, undead are stirring in the north.

And forgotten on freezing Bear Island, Sir Eddard Burke finds an unexpected ally. [SPOILER] Thousands of Bears. (Seriously.)

Who just happens to be from Bear Island? Everybody's favorite Friend Zone dweller, Jorah Mormont, weird father figure and advisor to Daenerys Targaryen, First of Her Name, The Unburnt, Mother of Dragons, Khaleesi of the Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains, Genetically Predisposed to Pyromania,  etc., etc., etc.

So it is entirely possible that after the fleet finally brings the Khaleesi's army across the narrow sea, Jorah Mormont nips up to Bear island, picks up Ser Eddard Burke and loads up on lots of Bears. So maybe it's dragons, Dothraki horsemen, the Unsullied, Second Sons, whoever else Daenerys manages to pick up along the way, and thousands of Bears versus Francis Lannister. But who will wind up on the Iron Throne?

Since we know everyone is going to be killed by ice zombies in the final episode, it doesn't matter. Not the Bears, though. They go back to Bear Island and live happily ever after.

Winter is Coming. The North Remembers. The Night is Dark and Full of Terrors. This Show Has Too Many Tag Lines.

Game of Popes has been renewed for two more seasons. With Bears.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Beaver Dynamite and Zoar Manor Not Up to Code

Word has reached the Bear that while he is being fêted in Moscow, the River of Reality has become obstructed at The Shallows, blocking vital salmon supplies. Hopefully, the issue has been resolved. (That was Beaver setting off a charge of dynamite you heard a bit ago.)

Donors who found their generous gifts of salmon washed up on the bank or caught in the fallen trees, should not worry They won't get double-charged for resubmitting a previously rejected donation.  Hopefully, there should there be no more spoiled salmon just sitting on the PayPal wharves.

A regular supply of fresh salmon is very important through the summer. Without it, SCB cannot [snort] well... just can't [ha ha ha ha]... quite impossible, you know [BWA-ha-ha.] Okay, the truth is, whether the Bear sees another salmon or not, SCB will "roll on, thou deep and dark blue ocean, roll." (Wonderful phrase. Try it, out loud, as dramatically as you can, rolling the R's. Seriously. You'll thank the Bear.)

We both know nothing can stop the Bear from providing original and varied (read erratic) content nearly every day. The spice will continue to flow. So why pay for something you're going to get for free anyway?  Surely, the Bear does not have to explain why people toss fish to adorable-looking begging Bears, does he?

The Bear s not troubled in the least by begging for salmon. After all, when a Bear does his trick, he is entitled to his treat. It is the ancient compact between Bear and Man, nearly as old as the First Law, almost complimentary.

Moreover, the Bear does not spoil your visit by a barrage of pop-ups demanding that you turn off Adblock; explaining why your failure to donate will personally and forever put the fall of Western Civilization on you and you alone; or play the old protection rackett like: it would be a shame if sumpin was ta happen ta yer nice blog yer readin' heyah cuz yer didn't makes yer donation.

The Bear figures once you're inside the tent, you should be left alone by the hawkers. This, however, is unvarnished, straight-up, honest begging, in which the Bear rarely engages. And this time, he shall spare you the sob story he could honestly tell.

A proper animal begs.

Better to just look you in the eye once in awhile with a smile and say, "Hi there! Hope you're enjoying yourself. Just had to buy a new router for $286. Did the Bear mention how, um, hardish he works on this disreputable Turkish Seal Show known as St. Corbinian's Bear? The Bear would be ever so grateful if you tossed a kipper his way."

Yes, that is an expensive router. Zoar Manor is an old two-story farmhouse the Bear wired himself by nailing cables all over the walls and ceilings, then adding a couple hundred 40 watt bulbs for that Sicilian street fair vibe. On favorite saint days we hold roman candles in our hands and shoot them out the windows along with bottle rockets. We also do some dangerous things.

You seriously do not want to know what we do for Lepanto Day. (Hint: it always ends with the sheriff, volunteer fire department, and people drowning. Okay, almost.) With the twins back home from Uncle Sam's foreign watches in Afghanistan and Korea, we chew through a lot of bandwidth around here.

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Bear, the Shepherd, and the Lord


The Bear Meets the Shepherd

One day the Bear was patrolling the edges of the woodlands, far to the south, when he spied a great many sheep approaching. Knowing that there was nowhere to pasture or water such a large flock nearby, he approached the shepherd. The shepherd was accompanied by a number of wolves.

"Good afternoon, shepherd," said the Bear.

"Peace be to you, Bear," replied the shepherd, leaning on his staff.

When the Bear observed that he had never seen a shepherd with wolves before, the shepherd announced that they were not wolves, but highly trained mercy dogs all the way from Germany. "I am certain I would lose even more sheep but for them."

The Bear looked at the wolves suspiciously. "The Bear is afraid that there is nothing for sheep in the woodlands ahead. No pasture. No water. No shepherd has ever approached from this direction. But the Bear would be happy to help you find someplace more suitable."

The Bear and the Shepherd Argue

"Oh, Bear, I'm afraid you don't understand. I am the shepherd of these sheep. They are mine.  I am their shepherd and do not need advice from a Bear!"

"Be that as it may," the Bear said, feeling a little irritated by the shepherd's tone, "it is a simple fact you are leading your sheep into the woods, where they will find little to eat, nothing to drink, and many animals that enjoy the flavor of sheep."

"Are you a shepherd?" the shepherd snapped.

"No. Well, the woodland creatures may, some of them, look to the Bear as a sort of protector and guide. But in the strict sense of the word, no, the Bear is not a shepherd."

"So you admit you are completely ignorant about sheep and their needs, and have no authority whatsoever over me or my sheep!"

"The Bear admits no such thing," he growled. "The Bear knows sheep well enough, and it is you that know nothing about the woodlands where you would lead poor, trusting ruminants."

The shepherd barked a laugh, then barked another. He sounded quite like a dog. "You ignorant beast! I am a shepherd. I know everything! For example, I know that just beyond the skirt of yonder woods of which you are so protective, there is a huge meadow that stays green all year round, and watered by crystal falls of lemonade. How dare you suggest a shepherd does not know how to lead his sheep? Anathema! Anathema!"

The Bear walked up to the shepherd, and raised himself on his hind legs so that he towered over the old man, who began beating him ineffectually in the ribs with his staff, crying "Anathema! Anathema!"

"Please stop."

The shepherd stopped and leaned on his staff exhausted. "I suppose you're going to martyr me now," the shepherd said with a smile. "Go ahead, beast. Grind my bones to flour with those great teeth of yours. My name shall live forever! Behold, I lay down my life for my sheep!"

The Bear Addresses the Sheep

Argument the First. The Bear sighed and walked past him toward the sheep, and stopped. "Sheep. The Bear is lord of these woodlands. Your shepherd is bad, perhaps mad. The Bear can never tell with humans. But there is no pasture, no lemonade. Life is hard here. Animal helps animal. We believe as our ancestors did. But real is real and we do not much go in for make believe  All you will find here are trees that will leave you scattered and lost, and woodland creatures who will justifiably sate their appetites on animals so foolish as to follow your so-called shepherd."

"Baaaa," said the sheep. "He's our shepher-er-er-erd," they bleated.

Argument the Second. The Bear rolled his eyes and sighed. "Listen to me, sheep! The Bear cannot protect you if you follow this man. He has no idea what he is talking about. You won't last two days in those woodlands. Survival in these parts takes cunning and courage, and a strong sense of reality. And you are sheep. Go back to wherever you were before the bad shepherd brought you to this pretty pass." Behind him he could hear the old shepherd cackle.

"They won't listen to you, beast!" cried the shepherd shrilly. "You know nothing. You have no authority."

"Baaa," said the sheep in agreement with the shepherd.

Argument the Third, and the Final One. The Bear decided to give the sheep a third chance (which is three more than a Bear usually gives) because his heart was moved to pity for them. He roared, and sheep backed away from him.

"Now you listen to the Bear and listen good, sheep," he snarled. "Surely there are at least a few of you who will wait with the Bear until a better shepherd comes along. No, the Bear is not a shepherd, but he knows the lay of the land, and cannot lie."

"Now, it is true that there are lush, old pastures," the Bear continued, "and ancient running streams. But they are far away and your shepherd does not know the way. It will not be easy.  It means breaking from the flock, who will bleat at you. And you shall miss your shepherd, whose regular beatings you have become accustomed to. You would have to learn the ancient woodland lore."

The Bear looked at the sheep, and the sheep looked back with the same, identical, uncurious expressions. Nonetheless, the Bear concluded. "Brother beasts!  Listen!  Before you stands Great and Baptized Bear the Deathless, Lord the of  the Woodlands, King of the Mountain Without a Peak, and Speaker to Men. He is ready to lead you to real grass that tastes like you remember, and pure streams untainted by the poison of bad shepherds. Today, the Bear sets before you life and death. Will you choose to come with the Bear and live?"

The Bear had to admit in all modesty that it was one of his better speeches.

"No-o-o-o," replied the sheep.

The shepherd began chirping and clapping his hands together while hopping from foot to foot. The Bear returned to his side.

"Alright," said the Bear to the shepherd. "Let's go. Take your sheep into the wood, where you will die with them. But these sheep belong to someone. They are not yours to lead to destruction. One day you will be held to account."

The old shepherd stuck his tongue out at the Bear and led the flock into the woodlands.

Not all died. Some learned the woodland lore, and became creatures under the protection of the Bear. Others escaped and found protection here and there beyond the woodlands. But most of them uttered one last "baaa" and died, dreaming of their shepherd, and lush pastures with crystal falls of lemonade. The last time the Bear saw the shepherd, he was sitting among the branches of a sycamore tree giving a speech to a half-dozen squirrels. The Bear chased them off with a stern warning.

The Lord

Much later, a great lord with a retinue splashed across the River of Reality at The Shallows. News of his arrival was quickly carried to the Bear's ears by woodland creatures, and he went out to meet the lord, bending the knee. The lord enquired about his sheep. The Bear recounted his meeting with the shepherd. The lord was not pleased. The Bear gathered the pitifully few sheep that were under his protection and presented them to the lord, who grimly thanked him.

They had begun to ride off, herding the remnant of the flock, when the lord turned his horse around and looked at the Bear. "What did you do with the shepherd?" the lord asked.

"Nothing," the Bear answered. "He seemed pitiful enough. The Bear helped whom he could help."

The lord charged toward the Bear, furious, then checked his mount. "Those were the King's sheep, Bear. Is there no law in your woodlands?"

"With all due respect, my lord, the Bear keeps the law. But your servant has no jurisdiction over humans. It is the First Law, as all beasts here know. Recite the First Law," the Bear roared.

Many of the woodland creatures had crept into hiding where they could observe the grand scene without being noticed. But they all stepped into view and said with one voice: "And God blessed Man, saying: Increase and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it, and rule over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and all living creatures that move upon the earth."

The lord nodded. "You are lucky you are not a human, Bear."

"The Good God made a Bear, my lord, and he is content."

"Expect a few of my men in your woodlands. You will hardly notice them. They will find this hireling and bring him to justice at my hand."

"My lord's writ runs here, as all good beasts know."

"Remember, you are only a Bear," the lord said sternly, then smiled. "Make the most of it." He turned his horse and led his party splashing across the river with the surviving sheep.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Bear and the Earthquake

One night the Bear was sound asleep in his cave when there was a great earthquake. Trees fell, rocks crumbled, fissures opened in the earth and the River of Reality ran backwards. (That's not some sort of metaphor -- it's just what the Bear named the river that runs by the woodlands.)

When the Bear awakened, he saw a full moon washing the twinkling stars overhead.

Almost immediately, Mole popped up, a piece of turf on her head like a hat decorated by a single clover blossom. "Evening, Bear," Mole said. Mole was not the least disadvantaged by the night, although the full moon was bright enough for everyone else.

"Good evening Mole," the Bear replied. "I trust your tunnels did not collapse."

"Mole doesn't know," she answered, not sounding very concerned. "Can always dig them again. Quite fun, actually. Digging through the soil, finding worms and grubs to eat. You might try it. But what are you doing out here? Why did you leave home?"

"Leave home? Mole --"

"What's wrong with you, Bear?" It was Badger. "Running away from home? Abandoning us! Here you are, sneaking out in the dead of night. That's cold, Bear. Anyway, can Badger be in charge since you're running off?"

"The Bear is not running off!" he exclaimed, beginning to feel exasperated.

"You should be in bed in your own cave this time of night," Badger announced with a tone of triumph.

"The Bear was! He was fast asleep, and the next thing he knows, he's out here, and his cave is --" the Bear looked around -- "over there!"

"Bear is leaving, leaving, leaving, Bear, Bear!" called Nightingale from a nearby tree.

"Bear is not -- will everyone please just be quiet and let the Bear talk?" Then he growled, which he seldom did, at least at the woodland creatures. The only sound was the distant, monotonous chirp of frogs that had resumed. The Bear rose to his hind legs, making a very imposing sight in the moonlight. By now other woodland creatures had begun to arrive, attracted by the fuss.

"The Bear laid down in his cave and went to sleep, as always. Next thing he knows, he's here, and his cave is there. But he didn't move! Look -- here's his bed!"

"Bear is playing a trick on us," Fox said with amusement. Receiving a fierce look from the Bear, he hastily added, "or perhaps not."

"Who, who, who is this that darkeneth counsel without knowledge?" came an authoritative voice from above. Everyone looked up to see Owl, silhouetted against the full moon.

"You know he stages this," Fox whispered to Mole, who shrugged, because she could not see Owl, staging or not.

Thus said Owl. "Bear is here, Bear's cave is there, and Bear between them did not move. Bear cannot lie, as we all know."

"Bear cannot lie," recited the woodland creatures together, if a little raggedly.

"Therefore, it is not the Bear that moved, it was his cave that moved."

The woodland creatures erupted into argument, some of them shaking their paws at Owl. Owl did not care, secure in his tree, and his own wisdom. Mole, encouraged by Flea, who was never heard and seldom noticed, clambered up to the Bear's ear. The Bear seemed to listen. The Bear motioned with this forepaws for silence, and the woodland was once again given over to the frogs. Then the Bear spoke.

"Mole knows more about the earth than any of us," the Bear began. "She says that there was an earthquake. She says earthquakes shake things up, shift her tunnels, collapse others, and can even move a Bear's cave from here --" pointing to the ground beneath his feet -- "to there," he finished, gesturing dramatically to the cave's new location, several yards away. "The Bear did not move; It was his cave," he concluded in a tone that brooked no argument.

"So Bear will be moving back into his cave, er, over there," suggested Beaver, her tail slapping the ground softly, as was her habit when she was nervous.

"No," said the Bear flatly.

"Have you lost your mind?" exclaimed Badger, who was one of the few woodland creatures the Bear permitted to address him in that sort of tone, because she was a Badger, and the Bear knew she could not help it. "You have a perfectly good cave over there. Well, okay, maybe there are a few cracks and it will will require some cleanup, but it's still your home."

"No," the Bear repeated. "This is the Bear's bed. This is where the Bear laid his head down earlier tonight. That cave may move wherever it pleases, but a Bear knows his own home. He knows where he belongs. What sort of cave gets up and moves in the middle of the night while your asleep, anyway? What if decided to move to the other side of the River of Reality, or to the Unicorn Pastures? Would you expect the Bear to tag along, and leave his beloved woodlands and friends? Very suspicious that cave," the Bear concluded, and made a sound somewhere between a growl and a "hurumppph." that meant the discussion was over.

"Bear will get rained on," predicted Badger with relish.

"Perhaps," answered the Bear with a show of non-concern. "A little rain never killed a Bear."

"What, what, what about your things, things?" called Nightingale.

"The Bear's home is where he stands. That cave over there," he continued, gesturing in the moonlight as if toward the next county, "still holds many of the Bear's things. There is no reason to abandon it, even if it lets you down. But it isn't my home. My home is right here. Where it always was. It was my cave that moved."

Francis Saying Same Thing About Marriage Two Years Ago [Update 3]

"The vast majority of marriages are invalid, Walter!"
"I know, Jorge. We must not rest until they all are."

Kasper Two Years Ago: Francis Says 50% of Catholic Marriages Invalid

The Bear thought there was something familiar about the ludicrous claim by Pope Francis that the vast majority of marriages were invalid. His Vatican handlers have tossed the Pope's marriage claim down the memory hole by omitting it, and a couple of other embarrassing statements from the official English summary. (h/t Edward Pentin tweet.) (Query, what does one make of an 80-year-old man with disinhibited speech who must have people follow him around erasing his verbal mishaps?)

By the way, does this mean the vast majority of Catholic couples are fornicators, and that the vast majority of Catholic children are bastards? Nice. What could be more destructive of marriage than to question the validity of "the vast majority" of them?  The statement is not just wrong, it is wrong-headed and damaging.

And please, just stop with the "no official Church teachings were harmed in this latest debacle." If Pope Francis said he was hiding a family of Martians in Santa Marta, that wouldn't change Church doctrine. But it would change our valuation of the credibility of Pope Francis generally. The only possible answer left to the question of why we should listen to Pope Francis is "Pope Magic." Seriously. That is what the greatest religious institution of the West has been reduced to in our day.

Anyway, sure enough, two years ago, the Bear had written on Cardinal Kasper's similar claim about the Pope from Lifesite News.

Asked about the situation of marriage in a largely post-Christian world in which most people are at best “baptized pagans,” Kasper said, “I’ve spoken to the pope himself about this, and he said he believes that 50 percent of marriages are not valid.” 
“Marriage is a sacrament. A sacrament presupposes faith. And if the couple only want a bourgeois ceremony in a church because it’s more beautiful, more romantic, than a civil ceremony, you have to ask whether there was faith, and whether they really accepted all the conditions of a valid sacramental marriage—that is, unity, exclusivity, and also indissolubility.”

Someone else more qualified that the Bear is welcome to point out Kasper's (and Pope Francis') bizarro sacramental theology. [Update: See comment 1, by Lurker.] In May 2014, the Bear satirized this under a headline, "Half of All Catholic Marriages to End Sunday."

Cardinal Walter Kasper, acting on, he claims, secret orders from Pope Francis, instructed every Catholic couple to flip a coin before Mass next Sunday before a priest to see if their marriage is valid. If tails, the marriage was invalid and the couple must go to confession before communion. More significantly, their marriage is automatically annulled. 
"Is not such a big ding," the prelate said. "Dere is nutzing to keep dem from gettingzun married again if dey feel like it. But fur all dose couple fur whom der schpark is kaput, it is a wunderbar opportunity to trade up."

Pope Francis' Crypto-Protestantantism

[Update] You see, Francis believes everything comes down to the unmediated personal encounter between God and human. You can have the grace of the sacrament without the form, and you can have the perfect form of the sacrament yet not receive the grace because of an imperfect appreciation of its purpose. It is thus easy to understand why he devalues the Church. It may or may not be of assistance, depending on the individual Catholic's appreciation of its (ever-changing) mission and purpose. But it is not necessary, since a Protestant, or Muslim, or an atheist may be better disposed toward God than an ignorant or uncharitable Catholic.

Protestants teach that there is "an invisible Church of believers," a teaching rejected by the Catholic Church. Similarly, Pope Francis believes there is "an invisible community of valid marriages," which is not one and the same with Catholic sacramental marriages.

Not an Off-the-Cuff Blurt, but Long-Held, Considered Opinion

Pope Francis has firmly held this marriage idea for a long time, and has spoken about in private and in public. It is intellectually dishonest to pretend that it was just something that just now boiled up in his brain during rambling off-the-cuff comments. Could one not instead argue that a firmly held opinion discussed with high-level theologians and taught in public is part of Pope Francis' ordinary magisterium? Assuming, that is, that he has one to exercise?

The Bear is reminded of Roger Waters' song "Watching TV" from the Amused to Death album. "They bought the front row seats on Calvary / they are irrelevant to me." Key word, "irrelevant."

The Bear does not feel the need to argue the point, or tie it all up with some official theory. There are some things that are too slippery for argument, or at any rate would just create a tar baby. He's just a disreputable old show Bear, after all, le jongleur. But he is reminded of the famous observation about treason: "Treason doth never prosper. What's the reason? For if it prosper none dare call it treason."

Almost none.

Ed Peters, Phil Lawler and Fr. Z -- Showing a Bit of Fatigue?

Go here for learned commentary from Ed Peters. He also reminds us that toward the end of the Pope's incoherent ramblings, he actually said that, on the other hand, many co-habitating and civilly married couples DO enjoy the graces of Holy Matrimony.

[Update] Go here to see Fr. Z's tired defense of Francis. (Mainly in the sense that one gets the impression Fr. Z is tired of having to spend his credibility constantly stamping out the same brushfires.) Realize that Phil Lawler from Catholic Culture is being quoted for almost the entire article. Mirabile dictu, neither offers an apologia for Pope Francis. When Fr. Z and Phil Lawler seem tired of Francis, the Pope has a problem.

However, Fr. Z. goes the expected route of "doesn't officially change a thing," and tries to shrug it off with a bit of biting humor intended to put his readers in their place. With sincere respect, the Bear thinks it falls flat. More clerical condescension is the last thing we need. We aren't the problem. Francis is. Having said that, Fr. Z has a difficult task, not fundamentally different from the Bear's. Trust the Bear on this. He knows whereof he speaks. We are both trying to acknowledge that everything is not peachy, but that doesn't mean you can even think about leaving the Church.

The Bear is not only a Bear but a free agent who depends on his readers for salmon. The  Bear answers to no man. Believe the Bear: Fr. Z is one of the good guys, although he can be frustrating sometimes. He's kind of what the Bear would be if the Bear had to be responsible.

What if Pope Francis Were on Parole?

Back to Francis. To put it in terms the Bear is familiar with, your parole officer quickly gets tired of the same excuses for the same infractions, be you ever so winsome. Francis would have been violated a long, long time ago.

Once again, visitors, friends and woodland creatures. This is not a slip during off-the-cuff comments. This is a belief Francis has held for at least two years, discussed with top theologians, and presented twice to the public First through Cardinal Kasper and now personally.
"If this be treason, let us make the most of it."

Friday, June 17, 2016

Pope Francis Falsely Suggests Most Marriages Invalid

In one of his infamous "off the cuff remarks," Pope Francis suggested most marriages are not valid, apparently because the weak hocus-pocus of the fake sacrament of matrimony does not overcome the failure of couples to truly subjectively appreciate the commitment they are making.

Once the Bear would have gotten excited about the latest from the Mouth From the South. However, not any more.

It is simple reality to observe what good Catholics are supposed to overlook: that Pope Francis is has no idea about anything he says. He lacks credibility, as in should not be believed. He (like so many) has no respect for reality. He's leading the Unicorn Cavalry in an all-out assault against the Catholic Faith.

If the Pope opens his mouth and pronounces on a matter relating to morality and a sacrament, it is teaching. He's the Pope. If he wants avoid misrepresenting the beliefs of the Catholic Church, he should end his pontificate or stay silent. Being "off the cuff" does not somehow magically change anything. If he said something equally as stupid about some socially sensitive matter that lefties cared about, you would see just how seriously the Pope gets taken in the teaching department!

If the Bear says something, who cares? He has no office, no authority, no recognition by the world. If the Pope says something, it's a different matter entirely, isn't it? Most people could not tell the difference between magisterial and a magpie. All they know is the guy that was chosen to head the Catholic Church said most marriages aren't valid.

The Bear's mate was 18 when we got married. Do you think an 18 year old fully appreciates the commitment involved in the sacrament of holy matrimony? Of course not. The Bear has already given notice that Pope Francis has declared our marriage void ab initio. (Red Death actually stabbed him, but that's beside the point. Her expertise in martial arts will probably chill others' interest in the Bear, sorry to say.)

In the treason of the clerks, Pope Francis is the chief traitor of our day. It is a simple, realistic observation, made without the least rancor. The Church is as riddled with traitors as are all the other institutions of the West. If nothing else, treason is the smart career move.

The Bear is getting choosier and choosier about who and what he takes seriously. He's a bad Catholic. Of course, despite his newfound pickiness, he still believes far more than most of the Catholic hierarchy, if that means anything. When the cleansing wind winnows the chaff, the Bear hopes to still be here, with his foot nailed to the floor in front of his favorite pew, no matter what nonsense a pope is teaching.

The Bear and the Sad but Predictable Demise of Mr. Ought

One fine day, the Bear was walking along the riverbank toward the The Shallows, which is one of his favorite fishing spots. He caught the smell of a man long before he saw him, and concealed himself in the woods. After several minutes, the man stumped up to the bank on the other side and stopped. Since he was not a hunter, the Bear revealed himself and called out a friendly "good morning."

"Good morning," the man replied amiably from the other side of the river. "I have never been to these woodlands before, and thought I might do a bit of exploring."

"You may do as you please," replied the Bear, "but you should know that the woodlands are inhabited by dangerous creatures. And the river is deep here, and the current strong."

"Thank you for your opinion, Mr. Bear. My name is Mr. Ought, by the way."

"Pleased to meet you, Mr. Ought," the Bear politely replied, for Bears have excellent manners when not annoyed.

"If you will but wait a moment, I shall wade over and we may converse without yelling," Mr. Ought announced.

"But, Mr. Ought, you cannot wade across here!" the Bear called back with alarm. "The water is deep and the current is strong. Walk along your side with the Bear, and we will come to The Shallows. You can cross there, and the woodland creatures will not harm you as long as you stay close to the Bear."

"I appreciate your advice," the man answered, then waved some sort of paper. "However, I have a map. It was drawn up by very intelligent men in positions of great authority. It says I ought to be able to cross here just fine."

"Stop!" the Bear cried. "Ought is not is! The water is deep and the current is strong. Trust someone who knows what he's talking about!"

"These men know what they are talking about," the man replied, shaking his map. A note of amusement in his voice carried all the way across the deep, swift river. "I am a man who listens to whom he ought to listen to, believes what he ought to believe, and does what he ought to do. You, with all due respect, are only a Bear. What credentials do you have to give advice about this river? Do you have a degree in topography? Are you an expert in watersheds? What authority do you have to tell a man where he should cross? Are you an important government official, or high-ranking cleric?"

The Bear was so baffled by the man's stubbornness that he had nothing to say before the man had stepped into the current, sank, and been swept away.

The Bear sprinted along the riverbank, faster than a horse, and leaped into the water. A moment later, he was dragging the half-drowned man out of the river -- on the man's original side.

"I beg your pardon, Bear," he spluttered. "What are you playing at? I ought to have been able to make it to the other side just fine without your interference!"

"The Bear just saved your life. You are annoying him now. He is leaving" The Bear entered the water, hardly making a wave, and easily swam to the other side.

"Is that a threat?" the man called after him. "Why, I ought to be able to manage ten Bears!"

The Bear caught his fill of nice salmon at The Shallows and thought no more about the foolish man, Mr. Ought.

Two days later, the Bear was once again walking along the river. He saw something washed up on the bank ahead.

Sure enough, it was Mr. Ought, or what was left of him. It appeared he had entered the river where it was deep, and where the current was strong, and had been drowned, washed up on the bank, and his body gnawed on by some of the less picky woodland creatures.

"Mr. Ought is no more," the Bear observed sadly. He buried Mr. Ought's body, as Bears are accustomed to do with dead things. Then, in the ancient Bear funerary tradition, he made up a limerick on the spot to appropriately mark Mr. Ought's passage.

Here lies the body of Mr. Ought.
Who was not nearly as smart as he thought.
"Is" did not matter,
He was mad as a hatter,
As are all who refuse to be taught.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Rum, Romanism and Rebellion! Hair & Bear 2016!

Rum, Romanism and Rebellion

Of course, there is the small fact that the Bear appears to be denied re-entry into the United States, but if push comes to shove, the Bear's coming home anyway.

And, having been born in A.D. 735, can hardly be a natural born U.S. citizen! However, our lawyers are working on a Constitutional challenge that a law that requires an impossibility cannot be valid in the Bear's case. Even if that doesn't work, Donald says he doesn't care. "Who's going to stop us?" he said. In so many words.

The Bear thinks we're a natural team.

Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear

The Bear knows many of you doubt the truth of much of what the Bear relates about himself. This is understandable, as the Bear is so awesome and leads such an exciting life.

However, consider this late bit of news.

The Democratic National Committee was hacked by two groups named "Cozy Bear" and "Fancy Bear." These hackers are alleged to have ties with Russian intelligence, which Russia denies. They were looking for DNC opposition research on Donald Trump.

As a Bear currently living in Moscow and enjoying access to the highest levels of the Russian government, the Bear states that it is quite impossible for Russia to be involved.

"But how would you know that, Bear?" you ask.

You may remember that back in May, the Bear was abducted by Turkish agents and held in an Istanbul zoo, scheduled for execution. (Another state -- very small -- was involved, the Bear believes, but he does not have sufficient proof yet to name names.)

The odious "Bunny Rabbit" hacked this ephemeris from a static I.P. address assigned to the Vatican. Now think. Who was it that hacked the hackers and put Bunny Rabbit out of business?


And who was it who rescued the Bear? A Russian landing ship that "just happened to be" transiting the Bosphorus when somebody -- who knows, maybe SPETSNAZ GRU commandos -- disabled the Turkish guards, blew the doors off the Bear's cage, and led him on a two mile chase through the streets of Istanbul under a hail of gunfire. (Seven, if anyone is curious. But you don't live 1300 years if you can be brought down by a few Turkish bullets. The Bear has had worse bee stings.)

Cozy Bear. Fancy Bear. B34R. Russia. Things that make you go hmmm.

Why would Russia go to so much trouble to rescue the Bear?

The Bear has no idea. Everyone knows Russia loves Bears. The Bear was able to get Morse code and shortwave radio messages off in the clear.  It is probably all a big coincidence that has nothing to do with Russian tensions with Turkey or the Bear's long-standing ties with Russia, and shadowy connection with every significant event in 20th century Russian history.

Of course, the Bear could have made it all up, and just made a lucky guess about the "Bear Group" of hackers with supposed ties to Russian intelligence. That's probably it. After all, if the Bear did know, do you think he would be blabbing? Unless someone wanted him to for some reason.

However, Russia was not involved in the hacking. Do not believe lies from the American press. Believe the Bear.

In an unrelated matter, the Bear is endorsing Donald Trump for President in 2016.

Do svidanya.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

La trahison des clercs -- The Treason of the Clerks

This is a rare, serious essay that continues to develop recent themes that have appeared in this ephemeris lately. The Bear hopes you enjoy it.

La trahison des clercs

In 1929, French essayist Julien Benda published a prescient attack on intellectuals called La trahison des clercs. The treason of the clerks. It is not a stretch to see the connection between "clercs" and "clerics." They have the same origin: the Latin clericus meaning "priest." One may go all the way back to 2nd century Greek, where klerikos had come to mean "clergy."

It is realistic to observe that Catholics have been betrayed by their clergy in countless ways, especially within living memory. Today the only way for a faithful Catholic to avoid scandal is to remain completely ignorant of Church news. We are spoon fed poisonous scandal every day by our treasonous clerics at all levels of the hierarchy.

But that is not exactly what Benda had in mind. In medieval times, clerc simply meant someone who could write. A scribe; by extension, an intellectual. So the actual translation into English is The Treason of the Intellectuals.

The Bear just wrote about French Benda's German contemporary, Oswald Spengler, who authored The Decline of the West. ("Optimism is cowardice.") The famous quote by British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Gray in 1914 also comes to mind. "The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our life-time." 

Sir Edward was optimistic. Despite our iPhones and ephemera, only a few of us are still waiting to see those lamps again. But it is realistic to acknowledge that night has fallen, and the moral luminaries of civilization are all but forgotten. Our great-great grandchildren shall not see them lit again. 

Pope Pius X and Pascendi

Let us not forget the startlingly prophetic 1907 encyclical of Pope Pius X, Pascendi Dominici Gregis which prepared the Church to meet a terrifying new heresy: Modernism, "the synthesis of all heresies." La trahison des clercs indeed. Although it is well before the period we are examining, Pope Gregory XVI's encyclical Mirari Vos stands in forgotten condemnation of our present treasonous clerics. 

Sometimes, a realistic Catholic might recognize contradictions, and could choose between popes with conflicting visions for the Church. It is not supposed to work that way, and the Bear cannot represent that as an officially sound Catholic practice. But if, hypothetically, he had to choose, he would go with Pope Gregory in his condemnation of, say, indifferentism. It would not be an arbitrary or uninformed choice, if a choice there had to be.

The Wicked Wind and Many Prophets

What is the Bear weaving here? The alert reader will have noticed that we are orbiting the general vicinity of WWI. WWI was far more historically significant than WWII, which was merely the bigger sequel, made nearly inevitable by the vindictive treaty that ended WWI. WWI took the heart out of Europe. 

The first real thing the Bear wishes to share is that the best minds of the age, in different countries, and varied positions, all sensed something wicked in the wind. 

The Bear believes they were right. It was not just an ill wind, but wicked indeed, and it blew through every institution in the West. La trahison des clercs captures it perfectly. Now every institution is in an advanced stage of failure, and they have all failed in the same way at the same time. Treason.

Passion Bearers Tsar Nicholas II, Tsaritsa Alexandra, Anastasia, Tatiana, Olga and Maria.

This achingly beautiful photograph of Tsar Nicholas II is the most haunting picture the Bear knows. It was taken about four years before the last Romanovs were awakened at 2 a.m. and told to get dressed. The date was July 17, 1918. (It is impossible to escape the gravitational pull of WWI.) This decent, close and devout family was herded into a basement and murdered in the most brutal fashion by the Bolsheviks. The wicked wind was howling across Russia.

The following year, 1919, Irish poet W.B. Yeats gave the same portents in The Second Coming. It begins with striking imagery of some strangely undramatic failure of a fundamental requirement of order. Yeats, in Ireland, felt the same wicked wind as other great minds of Europe. We cannot say we were not warned.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

The Bear believes God gives us prophets, and when we are unworthy of prophets, he gives us poets, and when we are unworthy of poets, there falls a terrible silence. What real poets do we have today?

14th of April, Ruination Day

We need to draw this essay to a close with a little space left for revisiting La trahison des clercs. If there is a symbolic beginning of the wicked wind that has swept nearly everything away, it rises in the cold, North Atlantic ocean at precisely 11:40 p.m. on April 14, 1912. 

The reality was that RMS Titanic had been warned by other ships of icebergs. As we have recently discussed, ignoring reality eventually invites consequences. Titanic stayed on course, full speed ahead. 

She struck the iceberg at 11:40 p.m. on April 14, 1912. It is a perfect image of the great achievements of Western civilization steaming into disaster in glorious folly and being taught a hard lesson about reality. One that the West paid not the slightest attention to.

April 14th is the same date that President Abraham Lincoln was shot in 1865. It is also the same date that saw the Black Sunday dust storm of 1935. This harbinger of the dust bowl swept down through Texas and blotted out the light as people huddled blindly in whatever shelter they could find. A perfect symbol for the the black and wicked wind that Pope Pius X foresaw in 1907, followed by so many others, who probably sensed they would be ignored. This essay proves in a small way that they were wrong about that.

La trahison des clercs captures the essence of the betrayal by the thinking class: 

Formerly, leaders of States practiced realism, but did not honor it; … With them morality was violated but moral notions remained intact; and that is why, in spite of all their violence, they did not disturb civilization.

In a word, the real treason of the intellectuals was to destroy "moral notions." It is true that states violated morality in the past, but at least they never denied the morality they were violating. And so, "they did not disturb civilization." Today, the moral consensus has been deliberately destroyed. All we have left is a disjointed collection of taboos imposed by the worst of us. "The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity."

Unthinkably, even the Church seems uncertain of moral notions. The treason of the clerics.

Restoration Day -- Unknown, Probably Not Soon

We -- who the Bear will boldly call "the best of us" in Yeats' sense -- must remain in the Church as witnesses at all costs. We must keep moral notions alive in the face of the ever-growing collection of taboos and special pleading encouraged by the grievance industry and other agents of evil. We must step up as our generation's intellectuals, as presumptuous as that sounds. We must mercilessly expose the clerks -- and clerics -- for what they are: hollow men and liars. We must have the courage to be real, and to fight for reality in our culture, and in our Church.

We are off to a surprisingly good start, considering the traitors control all the levers of power in every institution. We know what we're up against, and without any sort of plan we have formed our little platoons. We have to think of it as a movement, and consciously do what we can to make it grow. Always, if possible, cultural powers that avoid reality must be confronted by each of us in our own way. We will fight in the night, but we will not be without light.

The 14th of April, Ruination Day, is behind us. Never doubt that Restoration Day is coming.

Here is a haunting song by Gillian Welch called Ruination Day that weaves together the three disasters of April 14th. It is hard to understand, but she sings "the great barge sank," referring to the Titanic, and "the okies fled" referring to Black Sunday. "The Great Emancipator" is, of course Lincoln. The reference to Casey Jones (whose famous train wreck actually occurred on April 30) is a more Americana version of the Titanic sinking.

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