Wednesday, August 31, 2016

"Journalists," Please Don't Waste Bear's Time


If you're not going to talk about Pope Francis, then, please, do not waste the Bear's time with your ideas about anything going on in the Church today.

Yeah, it's great to talk about Australian priest, Father Tattersall standing up to the idea of an Australian synod. He wrote this, and more:

As in the case of the Synods on the Family, it will be carefully prepared and conducted so as to exclude - or at least marginalise - any views that do not conform to the clich├ęd expressions of worldliness that pass for insight and compassion, in a tired restoration of a Church adrift in the 1970s…. Any doubt about this should be dispelled by a keynote address recently delivered by Bishop Vincent Long (newly advanced by Pope Francis to the Diocese of Parramatta), who is always attentive to prevailing trends:

Whose creature was the Synod on the Family that Fr. Tattersall is so critical of? Who made Vincent Long a Bishop? Bishop Long who wrote this endless, loopy message?  (Warning, the Bear would rather have burning thorns stuck in his eyes before re-reading it.) If the Bear were Pope do you think he would appoint someone like that as a bishop?

It's the one person some who imagine themselves to be "journalists" will not mention. To those people, the Bear says, gently, you can make yourself look like journalists, but if you draw a line beyond which you will not go to reach the truth, you are decidedly not journalists. The Bear respects your scruples. But you do understand they disqualify you as a journalist, do you not? If you are really a journalist, how would you not understand this?

The Bear recently wrote how Pope Francis was irrelevant to him. A "journalist" whose scruples prevent him from writing honestly about Pope Francis, who is, journalistically speaking, driving much of what is so wrong in the Church, is doubly irrelevant to the Bear.

In truth, it is the Bear who is a journalist, or, more properly, a commentator, even though, as a Bear, he does not look anything like one. He does not have a degree in theology, but did earn a living as a small market radio news director. (He did not win any Emmys, however. He's not sure Bears are allowed to.) You think credibly delivering a farm report on pigs is easy?

The Bear would rather have his salmon delivered in small amounts from loyal friends, rather than someone writing a big check. Because if that were the situation, the Bear would totally write whatever some millionaire told him to. Just being honest; Bears have no scruples. The Bear's studio is wherever he puts his laptop down. His staff is a yorkie named Buster who contributes a bit of moral support to the mission. And Red Death, who contributes by not killing the Bear. Every day.

That's it. Which is probably why SCB is admittedly such a pathetic and slipshod example of an ephemeris. But the Bear will follow the evidence wherever it goes, and comment on it as honestly (and entertainingly) as he can. The Bear believes you know that, and that's probably why you're here.

Humble Yourselves in the Sight of the Lord

Perfect for the Bear, who is, as you might have noticed, rather full of himself.

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed,

Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being loved...
From the desire of being extolled ...
From the desire of being honored ...
From the desire of being praised ...
From the desire of being preferred to others...
From the desire of being consulted ...
From the desire of being approved ...
From the fear of being humiliated ...
From the fear of being despised...
From the fear of suffering rebukes ...
From the fear of being calumniated ...
From the fear of being forgotten ...
From the fear of being ridiculed ...
From the fear of being wronged ...
From the fear of being suspected ...

That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I ...
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease ...
That others may be chosen and I set aside ...
That others may be praised and I unnoticed ...
That others may be preferred to me in everything...
That others may become holier than I,
 provided that I may become as holy as I should…

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Thank You and Prayer Request

The Bear thanks the readers of this ephemeris for their unusual generosity. It makes a material difference to a 100% service connected disabled veteran on a pension. Just as importantly, it makes a difference in morale. People putting their money where their mouths are tell the Bear that he is doing something right. Bears enjoy making people happy.

Recently, a man made a extraordinarily generous gift. The Bear thanks him again. Some people have set up $10 a month automatic payments. Others toss $25 worth of the finest salmon to the Bear on a regular basis. Whatever the gift, the Bear is always happy to be remembered.

The Bear tries to keep up with sending thank-yous, but must admit he has not been as diligent as he should be in that department. He is confused about who he has thanked. His life has been consumed of late by the - what's the word - ambitious epic novel Judging Angels. And then there is Twitter, which is apparently essential to publicizing said novel. And last, but not least, there is this SCB ephemeris, which remains his first love.

The Bear has a neurology consult soon. If anyone wants to pray that the Bear does not have some horrible disease, he'd appreciate it. But God's will be done.

It's good to see brand new names in the combox. But it is wonderful for me to see the longtime creatures of these enchanted Woodlands, over which the Bear rules as a benevolent despot.

Gene Wilder is Dead; You Will be Too

Young Frankenstein

Gene Wilder made us laugh in the incredibly short spark of light he was given on this planet.

Having gotten that out of the way, is it bad taste to observe that even celebrities face the Last Things? The Bear had a period when the idea of Elvis being judged was a difficulty for him. Somehow the juxtaposition of a super-celebrity like Elvis Presley and God caused the Bear's imagination to fail, and so troubled his faith. Of course, nothing could be sillier.

The Bear has found that it is difficult for him to believe in things he cannot imagine. Like the Ascension. Oh, he readily assents to it, and it doesn't bother him too much, but even so, there's always that little weird feeling. Sometimes we can't help those, and we give our assent and move forward.

Anyway, Gene Wilder is dead, and so is judged exactly like all of us will be, very soon. It's later than you think. Are you ready right now? You might have a heart attack, and be dead before the ambulance even arrives. You might get murdered. You'd be surprised how many murder victims are ordinary people. They got up, did their morning routine, never knowing that it was their last day. The Bear remembers a murder in which the victim's keychain, found next to his body, said: "Today is the first day of the rest of your life." The rest of his life was pretty short that day.

Sometimes the Bear believes that irony is the true operating principle of the universe.

You may put your shoes on in the morning. But one day someone else will take them off.

A television show troubled the Bear. Big, tough Bear that he is, he could not view a simulated murder scene. It was too close to the Coleman murder case in which the Bear was involved. Sheri Coleman went to sleep in her own bed. We have no way of knowing what she was thinking before she fell asleep.

It was probably not that her husband would strangle her and their two sons with a length of twine that night.

God already knows everything there is to know about your death. When and how. He could show you a Polaroid picture, if He wanted to. We all carry a ticking bomb that will explode at a time unknown to us. And we're all judged. When was your last confession? What sins are you "struggling with?" Maybe you should win the struggle and put those sins behind you.

Celebrity counts for zero, the Bear is fairly certain. Your political opinions may not count, either. All the things you value may or may not mean anything, depending on what you value. The Bear says: everybody be ready. The Bear says while you're distracted by the shiny things, you can lose your soul in a thousand different ways. The Devil doesn't care.

"We are such stuff as dreams are made on; and our little life is rounded by a sleep." Poetry from Billy Shakes, the Tempest (that's what the Bear called him - it irritated the Bard) and not exactly correct. But the tone is right. Life is short. Even a 1300 -year-old Bear will close his eyes and not open them again.

The Bear's @@!/?!! Ephemeris

The Bear is, by now, not an inexperienced ephemerist. He has formed the opinion that if you want to learn the quality of a blog, don't look at the articles; look at the combox. That reflects the kind of people the ephemeris is attracting. The Bear's combox, for example, is full of smart, funny, good Catholics.

The Bear knows about the firing Marksim (Mark Shea and Simcha Fisher) from the NCRegister. He does not know much about them because he quickly formed an opinion that reading them would be a waste of time. The Bear gets that some internet bards want to be "edgy," and figures that is what happened with Simcha Fisher.

But if you want to keep your job, you need to know how far you can go with your employer. So, the Bear can't muster too much sympathy. For example, he would not write something he knew would upset his publisher. He understands that a professional relationship means either party's actions reflect on both. It's just professionalism and courtesy.

The amount of tears being shed at Catholic Answers forum surprised the Bear. Another site he seldom frequented, but still, he had a better opinion of it than that. 

Opinion revised.

No doubt they will land on their feet. There is a niche for their type of writing. The Bear won't characterize it, because he's not here to get into any arguments. If people want to read Shea or Fisher, they will. They will certainly not flock to the woodlands, although they should. And their comboxes may be fuller, but they won't have better comments than mine.

The Bear thinks it is just juvenile to use foul language.  Recall the Bear has been in both the Army and the Navy! The Bear is sometimes tempted, but has mostly resisted. ("Mostly" because the Bear's memory is bad and he can't be sure, although he is absolutely certain he never let something really bad slip through).

The Bear does not ever read blogs that use bad language. He thinks it says something about the ephemerist. Even if you're an angry blogger, you can make your points without it, if you have a good command of language and are a true wordsmith. To the Bear, it's a mark of laziness, and disrespect for the reader. If the Bear wants to shock you, he will really shock you with something original.

That's about it on this topic. It's not that big of a deal, and every blogger gets to run her own blog the way she wants.

How to Understand Pope Francis' Teachings

He is squirrelly, you are dogged. But you will never grasp the meaning in an orthodox way.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Terrorist Bear, and You too, There

Papal Airplane.

How can a man who says Catholics who actually believe the Church has the absolute truth are potential terrorists be Catholic? How can a man who apparently believes the Church holds only a partial and provisional truth that must be supplemented by non-Christian religions, be Pope?

Look. The Bear is just a Bear. Bears are very practical. All animals are, because they know if they screw something up in the wild, they will die. Humans, though, can survive, and even prosper as stupid. Sorry, but it is true.

Exhibit A: the latest Pope-on-a-Plane game. The elderly and ridiculous gentleman from Argentina will not condemn Islamic terrorism. Instead, he points out "fundamentalists" who "believe in absolute truth," who inhabit both Islam and Catholicism.

In other words, if you are an orthodox Catholic, you are a fundamentalist and therefore a potential terrorist. Terrorism is not an Islamic problem, but a fundamentalist problem all religions are subject to. (No doubt this is why when we hear of a terrorist attack, we immediately think of radical Christians.)

Thus spoke the greatest traitor to the West now living, Jorge Bergoglio. The most despicable quisling, and cuck-in-chief of the throw Western Civilization overboard, mutiny so more victims of a failed and violent religion can fit on the Barque of Peter, now on a course for the fabled One World Religion. Captain Queeg was a regular Admiral Nelson compared to this guy.

Being a practical Bear, not inhibited by superstitious dread of being struck by lighting for speaking the truth, he says "screw that." The Bear shall add "prophet" to his resume. That's what prophets do. Tell the truth.

The Irrelevancy of Jorge Bergoglio

There comes a point when a public figure makes himself irrelevant. Spiro Agnew's "nattering nabobs of negativity speech." The Dixie Chicks saying they were ashamed to be from Texas. Pee Wee Herman getting caught, um, let's say committing an impure act with himself in an adult theater. You get the point.

All of these transgressions, however, pale when set next to the tiresome game Pope Francis plays every time he gets in an airplane. Does he think God can't hear him spouting nonsense if he's in an airplane? He is denigrating the true Church to provide cover for Muslim terrorists, the most culturally protected group in the world. He is knowingly and deliberately lying about a very important problem for the West. (Or is suffering from a severe mental illness.)

He especially hates Catholics who actually believe in all that crap, i.e. believe they possess the absolute truth. Pope Francis calls faithful Catholics "fundamentalists," and puts them on a level with Muslim terrorists. See how easily the man lies? How can we trust anything a liar says?

We can't.

Yes. I believe the Catholic Church holds the absolute truth. If I did not, I would not - could not - be a Catholic.  If that makes me a terrorist, well, then I'm a Bearrorist. As for Jorge Bergoglio, he obviously doesn't believe in all that crap anymore. How can a man who says Catholics who actually believe the Church has the absolute truth are potential terrorists be Catholic? How can a man who apparently believes the Church holds only a partial and provisional truth that must be supplemented by non-Christian religions, be Pope?

Buh bye, Jorge Bergoglio. I don't know what you are, but I know what you aren't. Jorge Bergoglio has found the crack from which the smoke of Satan entered the Church and sits over it, breathing deeply of the fumes, like the Oracle at Delphi, so he can walk out and try to pollute Christ's Church with the open sewer of his always-open mouth.

Surviving the Quisling Occupation of the Church

Pope Francis smiling, Church dying.

What do you do when you can't take the Pope seriously anymore, and you're a Catholic? You know, it's not really that hard. You know how to Catholic. If you read this ephemeris, the Bear bets you know how to Catholic hard. Be Catholic. Be Catholic if your local parish is crappy, with dancing girls and idiotic homilies. The less attention you pay to that demented man in white calling himself the Pope, the happier you will be. It's all just PR, anyway.

Someday soon, there will be a popular uprising, and Pope Francis will be thrown into the Tiber. If not, he'll die, having ensured there will never be another nutjob from a southern hemisphere country that thought it could win a war using WWII ships bought from the U.S., against a first world country with nuclear submarines. 

Pope Francis disregards reality in the same way. If he were an animal, he would be dead. Beasts don't have the luxury of ignoring reality. But there is no human so stupid or wicked that he cannot be put upon the highest pinnacle by schemers smarter than him. "Oh, but he smiles, and he mentioned the devil a couple of weeks ago." Yeah, well, if you're so impressed by that, be glad you're a human, surrounded by other humans who help you survive, because if you were a beast that stupid, you would die.

World's Thinnest Books

You guys are having way too much fun with this still, so Bear is Featuring it. Let's hear some more!

  1. Muslim Contributions to Western Civilization
  2. Pope Francis' Guide to Actual Church Teachings
  3. Archbishop Blase Cupich's Qualifications as Telepathic Psychologist
  4. Church Growth Since Vatican 2
  5. Hillary Clinton's Guide to Computer Security
  6. The Rescue Mission in the Benghazi Attack
  7. Reasons Why We Should Invade Syria and Aid Terrorists
  8. Ways Barack Obama is Superior to Vladimir Putin
  9. Other Religions Cardinal Koch Has Not Sucked Up To
  10. Elements Within the Church George Soros has not Put a Tentacle Into

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

No Country for Old Men Review

I'm old. I'm going to be dead soon. Yup. That's all I got.

The McGuffin

The Bear just finished watching the film, No Country for Old Men (2007). If you haven't seen it, but might, there are SPOILERS here.

The Bear gives No Country for Old Men 2 Fish out of 5.  It's depressing. It will probably roll over your Cymbalta like a tank. It is well made, but hollow. Nothing matters. Blind chance rules over us. We are none of us in the movie we think we are. We are all stalked by the hitman with the bad haircut.

You may know that Alfred Hitchcock named the plot element that drives the storyline "the macguffin." It can be anything - a person, a thing - so long as the protagonist is after it. Frequently, it is not even that important.  No Country for Old Men makes the macguffin transparently inconsequential in the long run. It also defeats audience expectations by killing off nearly all the characters the audience cares about.

Yes the Bear knows it won academy awards. Why should the Bear care? Because Hollywood produces America's dreams. What does this film say?

The Plot is not the Story - It's About a Hopeless Old Dude Who Will Soon Be Dead

But who is the main character in the movie? Why, it's the guy who doesn't do anything much at all, and has very little screen time. The Bear doesn't even remember the name of his character, if he had one. The sheriff: Tommy Lee Jones. The guy with almost no lines, at the end of his career. He's not just looking forward to retirement. He's looking ahead to the end of his life without any consolation from religion.

At the end, the sheriff, now retired, explicitly describes his efforts at discovering God.  In words to this effect, he says he thought God would enter his life, somehow, but didn't. Doesn't sound to the Bear that the sheriff put much time and effort into finding God.

No Country for Old Men fools us into thinking it is about a big, rather standard adventure. Somebody stumbles onto a fortune, and wants to keep it. He turns out to be pretty resourceful, too: clearly a survivor. The hitman who stalks him is relentless and indestructible. He sometimes allows victims to call heads or tails before he kills them. A flip of the coin. Chance.

Only, the apparent protagonist dies off-screen, and we never so much as see his body in the morgue. Likewise his wife (sweet Kelly Macdonald). We only know she's dead because the hitman looks at the soles of his boots, presumably for blood. Woody Harrelson dies after maybe ten minutes screen time. Javier Bardem's homicidal weirdo with the bad haircut gets randomly T-boned at the end, and wanders off with a bone sticking out of his arm.  (Why didn't the Bear get any of these fascinating mad homicidal geniuses to represent? Pretty much a forgettable parade of mopes.)

Long before the end, you've forgotten about the money. The plot - weird homicidal hitman going around killing everybody - just sort of rolls along with a certain momentum until it slows and stops with maybe fifteen minutes of movie left. The evil guy is not brought to justice; the case isn't solved. It's all just futile.

And that's why, ultimately, the Bear didn't care much for it. He gets how a plot can essentially be the movie; or a skeleton to hang themes one; or even a lengthy misdirection while something else is going on.

Fair enough. But where is the inner story in No Country for Old Men? Tommy Lee Jones is a morose old man who recognizes his life is behind him. His life lessons don't really amount to much, since he has no spiritual life. He makes a glum joke or comment; he has an old man's shock at The Way Things Have Gone To Hell in a Hand basket. But even there, another old guy in a wheelchair tells him about a senseless Indian attack in 1909 that killed someone.

Sorry, Tommy, but you don't even get to have an especially bad period to have beat you down so badly. It has always been this way. He's just empty, looking ahead to only more emptiness. He's not sailing to Byzantium at all. He's merely shuffling off this mortal coil with a sour taste in his mouth.

Yeah, maybe for other people, but not for us.

The title is from Yeats' Sailing to Byzantium, which is nearly as depressing as the movie. Technically, it is a competently piece, but not Oscar-worthy.

Monday, August 22, 2016

We Don't Believe in that Crap Anymore

Readings Today

We're right behind you.
Sunday's reading is from Isaiah, 66:18-21. Here, Isaiah speaks of a dispersion of God's chosen to all nations, especially ones that have never heard of  God. Once they have fulfilled God's missionary designs, the faithful of the diaspora will be gathered to Jerusalem. It may be read as a type of the Church, as well.

And the Gospel is Luke 13:21-30.  Jesus is asked if many will be saved, and he challenges them with the narrow gate. The Gospel is pretty serious today. That narrow gate is a perfect image of salvation. Of the Church. Many aren't going to make it through. These people go to Hell.

So naturally, the homily was about American immigration policy, and not voting for "billionaire politicians who want to keep immigrants out."

Now, call the Bear crazy, but he doubts anyone ever went to Hell because of their opinion on immigration, or global warming, or fracking, or any of the garbage you see in those inane,  non-Catholic Pope Videos. 

But in the Bear's church, the homily was about immigration and not voting for Trump. But the Bear has everything finally figured out. Nearly any time a Catholic priest or prelate opens his yap, the Bear hears the same old song and dance. (As a former dancing Bear, the Bear has a sharp ear for familiar tunes. He heard the Bolsheviks singing it, too, when he was touring the hinterlands of Russia on a propaganda train.)

The Bear's Dream

[Dream transition effects from TV]

The Bear padded up to the priest on all fours (so as not to be too intimidating). The conversation went like this:

Bear: "Father, you missed a great opportunity to impress upon people that their salvation is pretty dicey and Hell is real. Your homily sucked. And am going to vote for Trump just because his election will make you and all your ancient V2 generation buddies have a stroke. Good riddance."

Father: " Salvation? Hell? Nobody believes in that crap anymore. I'm talking about real problems, here, on our planet."

Two other Priests: "Look at that Bear, Kitten. Kind of cute, but doesn't have a clue." "Oh, you're so right, my Dove. He is quite the bear, though. I think I'm falling in love."

Pope Francis: "Fracking is the most important issue the Church must address. The Bear's been telling these Medieval fairy tales for years. Why do you think we had our Turkish brothers and sisters Bearnap him? And we would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for those darned Russian spetznas commandos. Whoops, I shouldn't have said that. My mouth has a mind of its own, you know. Nobody believes in that crap anymore."

[Dream transition effects from TV again]

A Repurposed, Non-Supernatural Church

Look, humans. Nobody in your Church believes in that crap anymore. Understand that. Only an institution that had ceased to take seriously the smallest teaching involving the supernatural would be constantly talking about worldly problems instead of getting souls into Heaven.

Nobody believes in that crap anymore. Souls. Heaven. Last Things.

So, the question is, if you're running the Catholic Church, and you don't believe in that crap anymore, how do you remain relevant? They have to say something in the homily, after all. Hell? Medieval superstition. Heaven? "Pie in the Sky When you Die." Miracles? Puh-lease. We don't believe in that crap anymore. So the Church has been repurposed. Reinvented. "Rebranded," in the words of former Vatican spokeswolf Fr. Rosica. No more fairy tales. Fracking. Immigration. Global warming.

The Church has  become a model UN for elderly gentlemen to play at fixing real or imaginary worldly problems because they don't believe in that crap anymore.

Of course priests and prelates don't want to believe in Hell. It's because they know they would be going there if it existed. They are wolves in sheep's clothing. Even after nailing his paw to the floor in front of his favorite pew, it sometimes still takes three tranq just darts to get through a homily.

Nobody believes in that crap anymore.

That will be the epitaph on the gravestone of the Church of Rome as we know it today.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

You Need to Know About This!

The Bear is always on the lookout for salmon. Honey, too. But mainly, he strives to bring you more, and better Bear. Granted, putting the final touches on what will undoubtedly be hailed as the greatest novel ever written by a Bear, has made his output here slightly erratic. 

But there's this new thing called "Twitter" the Bear found out about, and wants to share with his friends. Stick with the Bear and you'll always be on the bleeding edge of tech. "Tech" is what we "techies" call "technology."

Yes, yes, the Bear hears you. "Not yet another thing to eat my life." But it's really pretty cool. The old ephemeris here is pretty well-edited. Who knows what the Bear might blurt out in 140 characters?  And you'll know right away whenever the Bear posts one of his slip-shod polysyllabic articles.

So to follow the Bear just find the follow button in the wonderful right sidebar.

The Bear is sure his - grrrrr - "tweets" will be... well, pretty much random misfirings of the Bear's 450 gram ursine brain. That sounds entertaining, doesn't it?

Imagine the Bear with as many followers as Milo Yiannopoulos, but without the whole gay thing. We could rule the world.

In other news, the Bear's enemies - you know, the same ones that Bearnapped him - are circulating a very misleading picture. The Bear was making the rounds of the villages neighboring the Woodlands on his annual drive to help orphaned cubs. He can hardly be held responsible for the dress of the women he was soliciting, nor, of course, their gleeful reaction to a visit by the Bear himself. 

Of course, neither can he can be responsible for Red Death soliciting a kidney for the orphan cubs, either.

"Hello. Can you spare some salmon for the orphaned cubs?"

Friday, August 19, 2016

To Men of the West: "Yell Allahu Akbar and Cut Your Own Throats"

What's the DSM-5 Code for Islamism?

All apparent terrorist attacks by Muslims are now routinely attributed to some sort of vague mental health issues. And without any evidence, either. But it's the template for all stories now. Now, that's some fine journalism.

There is no such thing as Islamic Terrorism. Muslims pose absolutely zero threat to the West.

The real problem is homicidal maniacs with possible mental health issues. Sure, they all seem to be Muslim, but that has nothing to do with anything. Statistically, it will average out soon enough.

The Bear did a lot of murder cases. One thing he never got to fly was an insanity defense. These guys yelling "Allahu Akbar" as they hack or shoot people are never going to be found legally insane. They are planning and executing terrorist attacks according to instructions and inspiration of Muslim leaders. There's nothing insane about it. Evil, yes.

Oh, Dear. The Bear Once Again Isn't Feeling Very Sorry for Humans

Malignant Pansyism. The men of the West have it bad, and there's scarcely one in a thousand who does not have a fatal case. Once again the Bear is trying to generate some sympathy in himself for humans who don't defend their territory, don't pass on the ancient lore, and don't even breed. And now, it is becoming increasingly clear they they don't really even care if they live or die. ("But, Bear! I don't deserve to!" --- Bear: "You know something? You're not going to get an argument from me.")

Muslims Could Kill Two-Thirds of Western er, Men in a Day

Oh, sure, if they can draw breath without offending someone, they might let themselves live. But the Bear guarantees you this: Muslims are wasting their energy. If they make the [Red Death made me take out the perfect word in current internet usage for unmanly men] that the Bear sees inhabiting the cultural ruins of the West feel guilty enough about anything at all, they can tell them to do this:

"Kafir, you were insensitive about something today.  Take a knife, yell Allahu Akbar and cut your own throat." One would think, "Oh, no! I was homophobic!" Another would say, "Please forgive me, I was Islamophobic." Then there would be lots of, "I don't deserve to live. I caused Global Warming."

And you know something? They'll do it, too. Muslims could eliminate three quarters of Western males that way in one day. So, Men of the West! Throw your knives, your guns and your razor blades and rope into the rivers and seas! Foil the plot the Bear foresees!

Bear Proves Devils Do Not Exist

The Devil's Greatest Trick - Not

"The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist." - Roger "Verbal" Kint, The Usual Suspects (1995) 

Or was it C.S. Lewis?

Actually, it was the French poet Charles Baudelaire, who said: "La plus belle des ruses du diable est de vous persuader qu'il n'existe pas." 

"The finest trick of the Devil is to persuade you he does not exist." Le Spleen de Paris (1862). "Spleen" as in melancholy.

The Bear is hear to set your mind at rest. There are no devils.

How We Know Devils Don't Exist

The Bear knows nobody believes in devils anymore. The Bear has never seen one, and neither have you. (And this is coming from someone whose yorkie has been known to  magically switch between a tiny dog and a gila monster before his very eyes.)

Look. Devils aren't real. Never existed. There is no such thing as possession, or obsession, or temptation from outside your own mind. In the Gospel, they didn't know about epilepsy, or mental illness, so they called them devils. The Bear is 100% positive there are no devils.

Why? Easy. If Christians were really facing a brilliant and relentless personal foe, the Church would be all over that. Do you honestly believe the Church is going, "Yeah, devils are just killing us out there, but, you know, we're going to keep it a big secret." Ridiculous. No, if devils were real there'd be some sort of special anti-devil prayer after mass. We'd be warned. If something really weird was going on in our life, the priest wouldn't play psychologist in the reconciliation room.

"But, Bear, the Catechism of the Catholic Church mentions devils somewhere, I'm pretty sure."

Maybe. But what they put out to satisfy the lunatic fringe is one thing. What we see the Church actually taking seriously is another matter, isn't it? A smart Bear watches what someone does, not what they say. No. What's real is Global Warming. How does the Bear know this? Because that's the threat that gets  talked about.

So, like a modern Catholic, the Bear does not believe in devils. (Or angels.) But you had better believe he's real worked up by Global Warming. Global Warming scares the Bear. And he's not even a polar bear. But he knows we're all gonna die on account of it. Devils? No. Private gun ownership? Let's not even go there. Now that's terrifying. As a rule, the Bear only takes worldly threats seriously. All that supernatural stuff is all right, he supposes. But he can't help feeling the Church doesn't take all that seriously. A pastoral here, an ad lib there, and then comes the big wink. 

Yeah, the Bear caught that. Wink: we don't believe all that crap, either.

Next: Tail Gunner Joe and the Myth of Communism.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Red Death's Response to Bear's Joke About Writing

Only seems fair. The Bear woke up to this suggestion for a new book cover. Actually, not bad. Not sure how Red Death posed for cover art back then, though. 35 cents seems a bit on the low side. BTW, Red Death is herself a beautiful redhead. Which reminds me of a joke.

Redhead and her husband go to the doctor. After the husband is examined, the doctor tells him to step out of the office, then turns to the redhead wife: "Your husband is very ill. He could die. You must take very good care of him. Give him breakfast in bed, fix nutritious meals, and make him feel loved in every way you can think of." The instructions went on in that vein.

The redhead leaves the doctor's office and her husband asks, "What did the doctor say?"

"The doctor said you're going to die."

The Horror, the Horror

The Devil's method is to distract you
To make you think some great drama is important. 
And all the while, 
he's getting your soul
in a hundred little ways
 you don't even suspect.

Apocalypse Now

Apocalypse Now is Francis Ford Coppola's 1979 masterpiece that examines the far horizon of war, where an American Army officer, Colonel Kurtz (played by Marlon Brando) has followed the ruthless logic of his vocation to his own dark corner of the Vietnam War. Although the rogue colonel is undeniably successful in fighting the Viet Cong, the higher-ups have determined he must be "terminated with extreme prejudice" -- assassinated. The job falls to Captain Willard (played by Martin Sheen).

Captain Willard is transported up the Nung river aboard a Navy riverine boat with a crew of four. Various episodes highlight the insanity of war until the river finally takes them to Colonel Kurtz's village. There, they are met by an American photojournalist (a manic Dennis Hopper) who has fallen under Kurtz's spell. Bodies hang from trees and (near the end of this clip) Willard comes upon severed heads. (More on the severed heads in a moment.)

The 7 minute clip begins with Captain Willard's ominous welcome by Colonel Kurtz's fanatical Montagnard tribesmen, whereupon Dennis Hopper's photojournalist steals the scene. As they enter the village, Captain Willard sees his eerie doppelganger: the previous assassin that has evidently decided to join Kurtz instead of killing him. (This is excellent film making, and worth a watch even if you have seen it before.) 

At the end the photojournalist sounds embarrassed for his idol.

"The heads. You're looking at the heads. Sometimes he goes too far. He's the first one to admit it."

Clip: "The Arrival" (rated R for severed heads and brief nudity).

If the only rule in war is victory, the only real strategy must look very much like madness. Colonel Kurtz matches the enemy in barbarity while taunting the generals he left behind for their own moral schizophrenia: they train young men to drop fire on people, but will not let them write an obscenity on their airplanes. Colonel Kurtz has unapologetically embraced horror. The movie ends with the dying Kurtz whispering, "the horror, the horror."

Apocalypse Right Now

Fast-forward 2016. ISIS is occupying the cradle of empires along the Tigris and Euphrates. The historically inclined might call them Babylon, reborn.

Where ISIS rules, there is no such thing as too many severed heads. Sorry to discuss this topic, but we are talking about a popular Muslim uprising, so perhaps you will forgive the Bear. They hang them from utility lines. They stick them on fences. Their Islamic clerics pose in front of them like they're at severed head Disneyland. ISIS probably makes regular head-cutting-off Muslims feel embarrassed for them. You can imagine bearded Taliban banditos or sand-chafed clerics wagging their beards. "The heads. You're looking at the heads." Sometimes they go too far.

Stalin said one death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic. ISIS has not reached a million heads, but insha'Allah maybe next year. But in terms of whatever it is they are trying to accomplish, is it working for them?  When you're hanging heads from telephone lines, you have moved beyond horror, and into wretched excess. You're not Jack the Ripper soaking Victorian London in pity and morbid curiosity for each mutilated serial victim. You're a freak show. And always the cameras, the Tweets. They're proud of their handiwork. It's what they have to show for their miserable lives' aspirations.

They're not a movement, they're history's largest self-sustaining insane asylum. Colonel Kurtz would feel at home.

They are dehumanizing themselves. They have cast themselves as the zombies in the Islamic version of World War Z. How else to get across the pestilential, mindless violence than to invoke zombies? Even Colonel Kurtz had a flicker of insight.

People don't saw off other people's heads. This is so basic you can't even articulate it without getting the tone wrong. Propaganda has always tried to dehumanize the enemy. ISIS is dehumanizing itself for us. If it wasn't easy to hate them before, their self-dehumanization makes it hard not to. Everybody knows it's okay to kill zombies. That is their function and attraction, if you care for that sort of thing, in zombie movies.

Even so, they ape their betters. Consider the latest videotaped beheading. Two cameras, a masked murderer with a London accent, slick editing and relatively high production values. Perhaps it aids in recruitment, but they're not scaring anyone. Ironically, as they try to be more "professional," they are adopting the technical arts of the despised West and looking over-produced, too slick, inauthentic, too Western. And of all the equipment necessary for the production, the only thing they can even dream of making for themselves is the knife -- maybe.

Perhaps Arabic has no word for "irony."

What is the highest cultural achievement of the new Babylonians in the 21st century? Severed heads. Congratulations, Islam. You win the FAIL award for all time. One is tempted to sing with the psalmist about the enemies of God: "I hate them with a perfect hate." Hold that thought.

The Secret Fight Against the New Babylonians

We're never going to "solve" the Middle East. The Babylonians had to run the course allotted to them by God, but not before they had destroyed Jerusalem, King Solomon's magnificent Temple, and taken captive thousands of the chosen people. Before that, in the Promised Land, God's solution was to wage a war of utter extermination of the Canaanites, right down to their animals. Perhaps Colonel Kurtz is thinking of this when he broadcasts:

But we must kill them all. We must incinerate them. Pig after pig. Cow after cow. Village after village. Army after army.

Even under God's orders, the Hebrew people did not finish the job. We do not have the mandate and are thankfully more civilized. Colonel Kurtz got results, but we don't want to be him. The Bear feels confident that below the righteous anger, his readers are not quite ready to endorse genocide. Not really.

Which raises the real point of this essay.

Islam: Vomited Forth from the Depths of Hell

The Bear, like you, gets very angry when he reads of his brother and sister Christians driven from their homes and churches, forced to convert to the false religion of Islam, sold into slavery, into marriage, into sex trafficking, tortured, killed, beheaded.

The Bear is confident in saying Islam is an impostor religion vomited forth from the bowels of Hell to accomplish from the outside by terror what Satan could not accomplish from the inside through error: the destruction of Christianity. The Bear believes that anyone who cooperates with or makes excuses for Islam is providing material assistance to the enemy in the real war, the very long one, whose first casualty was Eve. The Bear is so sorry if the interfaith sensibilities of anyone are hurt by that. But read what the Apostle John has to say about the Antichrist in his epistles.

Who is the liar? Whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Whoever denies the Father and the Son, this is the antichrist. No one who denies the Son has the Father, but whoever confesses the Son has the Father as well. 

New American Bible. (2011). (Revised Edition., 1 Jn 2:22–23). Washington, DC: The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

"Three Great
Abrahamic Religions"
If the Bible is not clear enough, there are, after all, the heads. Satan can't help but sign his work in blood. Wherever Islam gets to be as Islamic as it wants to be, from Muslim enclaves in Sweden, to Mosul, we have bad results. Yet the platitudes about how peaceful Islam is, and how it is one of the Three Amigo Religions of GAR (Great Abrahamic Religions) will never cease from the White House and the Vatican. The first casualty of interfaith dialogue is truth.

The Bear finds it to be a useful test for exposing those willing to lie to him about everything else.

In case, this is not clear enough, yes, the Bear believes President Obama and  Pope Francis are liars.  All agents of the Prince of the World are liars. It's how they operate. They know most people are stupid and wicked enough to believe them. Jews don't need Jesus. The Reformation must be celebrated. Islam is a religion of peace. We have some sort of plan in Afghanistan. These are all lies, of course. But at least they're truthful in their lies. They announce where their loyalties lie. The reveal their contempt for us. All you have to do is pay attention.

Satan: "Keep Your Eyes on the Heads, and I'll Just Take Your Soul."

Muslim terrorists want to scare us, but there is a more sinister, inhuman goal: to make us angry, to make us hate them. To fill us with hatred, and to make us kill them in our hearts. This is the real warfare, the strategic goal of their infernal master. Even as we sit far from the atrocities that break our hearts, we think we are safe, but in reality we are engaged in immediate spiritual warfare. If we're not careful, we may find ourselves agreeing with Colonel Kurtz, even if we lack the ability to carry out his ideas. We can become infected from the zombie's bite, and become one of them, a ghastly parody of humanity. A hater.

Yet Jesus demands the seeming impossible: that we love our enemies. Those enemies, perhaps without realizing it, are trying to lead us into a new Babylonian Captivity of hate.

Beware of hate.  The Bear is not standing on some mountain peak addressing you as your better. The Bear is a hater. It is the nature of a Bear to pitilessly rend and tear and proudly display the purp'ld muzzle. But, as he understands it, God expects more from humans. Not-hate is hard for Bears. It's probably not easy for humans. The Bear is a hater, it's true. Old habits, etc.

The Bear also knows the real story is always on the inside. The real headlines are made in the heart. The Devil couldn't care less how many heads ISIS cuts off, or how many people are murdered in your own country by Muslims shouting about how great their head-cutting-off god of blood is. The Devil's method is to distract you. To make you think some great drama is important. And all the while, he's getting your soul in a hundred little ways you don't even suspect.

The Bear would like to close this reflection on events in the Middle East with some thoughts he hopes may be of use to you.

  • If you're thinking things are weird, that something more than human evil is abroad, the Bear would tend to agree.
  • If you're tired of the State Department and professional "dialoguers" with the USCCB telling us this has nothing to do with Islam, welcome to the Bear's clubhouse.
  • As hard as it is to swallow, the murderers beneath the black flag of Islam are to be pitied -- fought and pitied. They are locked into a 7th century false religion whose only fruit is death. They are sons of Adam -- our brothers -- cursed to live under Satan's regime in this life and damnation in the next. The Church used to teach that such was the fate of those who deny Christ.  Another dogma of the indefectible Church that has been jettisoned to conform with the world.
  • We should recognize there is little we can do except support our government in taking ISIS pressure off the humanitarian crisis and supporting the threatened where feasible. Our government should be ready to welcome and resettle non-Muslim refugees, and not hold their inability to speak Spanish against them.
  • There are times our information age is more of a curse than a blessing. There are news aggregators we may need to avoid if they upset us too much. We don't have to read every story, or look at every picture. The Bear has deliberately kept them out of this article. We know what's going on; we don't need to get sucked into graphic stories and images that can only darken our hearts.

Movements of history, great and small, come and go. They are nothing compared to an eternal human soul. This is a time when prayer really does matter. We pray for deliverance of Christians and other non-Muslims, but we also pray that God strengthen and comfort them no matter what. We should pray for the conversion of Muslims, especially our enemies. We must immerse ourselves in prayer so that we do not become victims ourselves, victims of spiritual attack. If we read what inflames us, we shall be inflamed. We can stay informed without falling into the enemy's trap. Hatred is a choice, but, like all sins, we can find ourselves well and truly caught in the snare before we realize the danger. Our hearts are besieged fortresses in a dark age. May we all find help from God in whatever battles we must face.

[Revised and republished.]

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Judging Angels Finished! (For 37th Time)

Once again, the Bear knows the satisfaction of putting the last period in his epic novel of love and marriage. (And as much gunfire and explosions as he thinks he might get past his editor.)

Forget those other 36 triumphant moments. This time it's for real. Sure thing. No, really.

The Bear looked in the mirror for the first time in two months. He has turned into a scary grizzly bear.  Ursus Horribilis. He has lost as much weight as he does when he hibernates.

Next time, he will avoid chapters that take place on complex terrain, in the middle of the night, with a bunch of people running around doing different things, while poor Bear painstakingly makes sure they all hear the same number and types of gunshots and animals at the same time in their separate narrative timelines while trying to avoid too many flash-forwards and flash-sideways.

The Bear's driver, bodyguard and factotum, Red Death helps. "What about the atomic bomb that is set to go off. You just kind of forgot about that."

"Oh, shoot. You're right. But I don't want an atomic bomb any more. I'll just delete it."

"But I think you've had people talking about it, transporting it, setting it up, and stuff, since Chapter 1."

"No problem. I'll just use Word's find and replace function to change all references to the atomic bomb to 'the cake.'"

"That won't make any sense."

"Neither did the atomic bomb. Why do you think I'm getting rid of it?"

"And, by the way, I don't like the redhead character. I think you're weirdly too fond of her. Kill her off. Now."

"But, sweetheart, she's the eponymous character. I'd have to change the cover art and rewrite the whole thing from scratch. Besides, I just can't. In fact, there's something you need to know."

"Do not tell me you are leaving me for a character you invented."

"She says our marriage isn't valid. We were teenagers. It's a Pygmalion thing. You wouldn't understand."

"How does she get to make this call?"

"I made her a canon lawyer. Not hard. 'The redhead, who was a canon lawyer, sat herself upon the Bear's lap.'"

"This is the stupidest thing I've ever heard. Tell me. How does this work, I mean running off with your own character?"

"Easy. I wrote myself into my novel. 'And the Bear and the redhead lived happily ever after.' But don't worry. I wrote a happy ending for you, too. 'And Red Death and _____________ lived happily ever after, too.' Just write in whoever."

Red Death snatched the Bear's little MacBook and typed. "There," she said. "Both problems fixed. The Redhead drove the truck with the atomic bomb off the edge of the Grand Canyon, and it exploded, killing her. Red Death and the Bear toast her death and live happily ever after. Got a problem with that?"

Okay. Maybe things are getting a little weird in the attic of Bear Manor, where the Bear now lives and works, surviving on a pawfull of tofu once a day.

The Bear also came up with a name for the penultimate chapter. "Kissology."

Sunday, August 14, 2016

St. Corbinian's - Horse? In the News

Do they even know the story? Why would you name your show jumper for a horse that got eaten by a Bear? Guess they're not very superstitious.

The Bear's driver, bodyguard and factotum, a.k.a the Shepherdess, a.k.a. Red Death, his mate, used to jump. The Bear built her some low jumps and she would put on her cute little helmet, pull on her long boots, take her crop in hand (whew! It's getting hot in here) and ride around jumping Connemara ponies she trained.

The Bear had an enormous quarter-horse that Red Death hated. Dolly. Dolly would only pay attention to someone over a certain weight. She was a doll for the Bear, but every time Red Death tried to ride her, Dolly would pick a compass heading and canter in a straight line, ignoring obstacles. It was hilarious to watch her plow right through the hedge.

Riding horses is a lot of fun. But the Bear told his wife it would be cheaper to buy a Cadillac, fill it with fur coats, and set fire to it. A horse needs horse chow. It needs tack. It needs a farrier and a vet. It needs a barn to live in. Oh, an acreage for the barn, and a paddock besides. And you need to pay the doctors when you inevitably fall off and get brain damaged or break something.

Dolly loved to jump. She would just jump for fun without anybody riding her. Cantering around the paddock, taking the jumps on her own. Weird. Especially for a quarter-horse.

The Bear does not recall what happened to the horses and ponies. He thinks they all may have become quarter-horses. Maybe eighth-horses.

By the way, the Bear could easily win such a competition. He might even be able to make it over a jump or two. Corbinian would be an expensive meal, though.

Theology Is the Art of the Possible

[This was a fun one. A few reruns while the Bear recovers from his literary labors.] In a speech before South Korean officials, Pope Francis paraphrased Otto von Bismark by saying, "Diplomacy is the art of the possible." The original Bismark quote is "Politics is the art of the possible." The Bear's brain-gears whirred for a few minutes, then he made the connection: Evita!

High ranking officers play a series of games starting with musical chairs until only one is left (Juan Peron). The lyrics go something like (not exactly like) this:

One has no rules
Is not precise
One rarely acts
The same way twice
One spurns no device
Practicing the art of the possible

One always picks
The easy fight
One praises fools
One smothers light
one shifts left to right
It's part of the art of the possible

THE BEAR (on the air)
I'm only a blogger, in fact I'm a Bear
But as a pewsitter I wanted to share
We are tired of
the decline of
Our Church
with no sign of
A Vatican able to give us the things we deserve

One always claims
Mistakes were planned
When risk is slight
One takes one's stand
With much sleight of hand
Theology--the art of the possible

One has no rules
Is not precise
One rarely acts
The same way twice
One spurns no device
Theology--the art of the possible

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Judging Angels Cover Art Official

The Bear's own design for his - er, Tim Capps' - novel Judging Angels is official. (The Bear is a dab hand with the Photoshop, and his in-house art department is even better.) View it on Capps' author page here, and take a look at his obviously padded resume while you're there.

More Ripping Yarns From the Files of the Bear, Esq.

The Art and Science of Cross Examination

Cross examination is the greatest legal engine ever invented for the discovery of the truth," said John Henry Wigmore.  And he was right.

You may know that the chief difference between direct examination and cross-examination is that the lawyer may lead on the latter.  In other words, questions may (should always) be phrased as statements.  It is the most adversarial part of a trial that is itself the capstone of the adversary system of law. Continental countries prefer to use the inquisitorial system, in which a tribunal of neutral judges examine the evidence and reach a verdict.

Well, la di da.  

The genius of the Anglo-American system is that it allows both sides to fight it out, thus ensuring nothing will be left out, nothing left unchallenged. Assuming equal resources and skill of attorneys, and (most importantly) a judge who will allow real trial lawyers to do their jobs, the adversary system is fair, often dramatic, and always sporting.

Within this dramatic, adversary system, cross-examination is the crown jewel. Truly, the only way one may defeat an effective cross is to simply tell the truth.  How many times has the Bear seen a witness, say a police officer, implode on the stand, because he suspected every question was some sort of trick, and would deny the sky was blue before agreeing with the Bear on cross?

The Bear found that the best way to deal with an evasive witness is to patiently ask the exact same question, word-for-word, with the same inflection.  Yes, it seems weird, but everyone assumes the lawyer knows what he's doing. The witness will not understand, will become disoriented, then frightened, and will look like a liar.  Too many lawyers get into arguments with the witness on cross, which is throwing away your superior position.  Just pray you have a judge who appreciates the trial lawyer's role in an adversary system and doesn't just become impatient and tell you to move on.

You have a right to an answer to a fair question.  And when the opposing counsel objects, "Asked and answered," say, "Your Honor, that objection belongs only to the opposing side during direct, and in any case the witness has for reasons best known to himself, refused to answer my question." (Commenting on the witness' credibility like that might get you some pushback from the judge, but the Bear might not be able to resist, depending on a lot of things.)

Two State Police Detectives: Epic Fails on Cross

One time, an evasive state police detective turned to the judge in obvious distress, and pleaded, "But I don't know how to get around that question!"  No kidding.  Luckily, the Bear had a good judge who bit the witness' head off.

In another trial - this one for murder / death penalty -  the Bear's question was, "why did you interrogate Mr. Pontious on videotape?"  The detective kept doggedly answering, "to get to the truth," probably a stock answer they teach detectives at seminars on "Avoiding Wily Defense Lawyer Traps."

However, the police had clearly decided the Bear's client was guilty long before that, and, in fact, they already had the answers to all the questions they asked him on tape.  They had already interrogated him off camera, and this was just the production of the supreme piece of evidence against him: a videotaped interrogation.

Everyone - especially the jury - knew darn good and well the purpose was to secure a videotaped confession to use as evidence against the suspect at trial. Jurors are not stupid. If the witness had simply told the truth, the Bear couldn't have touched him.  But the state police detective assumed that since the Bear was asking, there must be some trick behind the question.  He was desperate to portray himself to the jury as a disinterested philosopher, who would never get his hands dirty by producing evidence for trial. Which is, of course, ridiculous.

For thirty minutes, the Bear kept pleasantly asking the same question, in exactly the same way, like a tape recorder, and the detective kept giving different evasive answers.  Talk about looking like Captain Queeg! One question. Now, it is true this was a sneaky Bear trick. The Bear had decided the detective was not very bright, and would fall for the most obvious trick: asking for a truthful answer to an inconsequential question.

The Bear had a very good judge.  If time was being wasted, it was the witness who was wasting it, not the Bear.  Obviously, that is what the judge thought. The jury was less than impressed with the detective's performance and ultimately he was blamed for losing a murder case. But that was a bit unfair. The jury just got that one right. With kind assistance from the Bear.

Adversary Does Not Mean Mean

Many people who have been taught by television shows - which must get the lawyer and the witness in one, tight shot - imagine the lawyer is in the witness' face, yelling, until the witness breaks down and admits to the murder.  Jose Ferrer's cross-examination of Humphrey Bogart in the Cain Mutiny is more accurate. Trial defense counsel is not friendly, but zeros in on the witnesses weak points relentlessly. There, the man on the stand himself revealed himself to to be unfit, which was the real issue at trial.

The Bear has no compunction about revealing the character defects that impact credibility in today's great issues, through argument, satire or agitprop. Mark this well, visitors, friends and Woodland Creatures. Controversy is not just about the rightness or wrongness of this issue or that one. Let others argue about each apple. The Bear would lay his axe at the base of the tree, provided it were a rotten tree, bearing bad fruit, and expect nothing but praise from men of good will. Now that he mentions it, he has a vague recollection of the same imagery employed by someone.

Only one time did the Bear actually elicit an in-court confession while cross-examining a defendant. It involved a homosexual groping, and the details are not edifying. The Bear lined up all the hopes and effort this young man had placed in his budding Navy career, and, after a sympathetic pause, simply asked why on earth would he throw it all away? The kid had been worn down by that time, and said he just couldn't help himself.

That was one of the Bear's very first trials, and the feat was never repeated.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Two Saintly Women

Nuns and television have a long history.
Since the 1200s.
Today is the day we honor St. Clare (1194-1253). She was inspired by the preaching of St. Francis and founded the "Poor Clares" order. She was a kindred spirit to St. Francis, with whom she worked, and assisted during his final illness.

In 1958 she was named the Patroness of Television by Pope Pius XII. When St. Clare was too ill to get out of bed and assist at Mass, it is said she could miraculously watch it on the wall of her cell.

In 1981, a Poor Clares nun known in her secular life as Rita Rizzo founded a television network. The nun is better known as Mother Angelica, and her network is, of course, the Eternal Word Television Network, EWTN.

Tomorrow (August 12) we celebrate the life of St. Jane Francis de Chantal (1572-1641). The chatelaine of the castle of Bourbilly was left a widow with four children at the age of 28. Just as St. Clare is forever associated with St. Francis, so St. Jane Francis de Chantal is associated with St. Francis de Sales, the Bishop of Geneva. He would be her spiritual director until his death. She founded the Congregation of the Visitation, which grew through her capable administration to 86 houses at the time of her death.

It is recorded that when she set out to enter religious life her son threw himself onto the threshold of their home. Although not without some maternal anguish, she stepped over the boy in a spirit of holy resolve (or perhaps the Bear's counsel of Holy Stubbornness). (She had provided for their care before embarking on that course.)

St. Jane Francis de Chantal is known to us from her writings and letters. She suffered from interior trials for much of her religious life. St. Vincent de Paul -- her spiritual director after St. Francis de Sales' death -- wrote:

She was full of faith, yet all her life had been tormented by thoughts against it. While apparently enjoying the peace and easiness of mind of souls who have reached a high state of virtue, she suffered such interior trials that she often told me her mind was so filled with all sorts of temptations and abominations that she had to strive not to look within herself...But for all that suffering her face never lost its serenity, nor did she once relax in the fidelity God asked of her. And so I regard her as one of the holiest souls I have ever met on this earth

The Bear does not know what she is the patroness of. Perhaps mail carriers? She is a reminder that practicality and holiness are not incompatible, and that even saints sometimes dare not look within themselves for fear of the howling darkness within. "For we walk by faith, not by sight." 2 Cor 5:7.

Also August 12 is the Bear's birthday. He will be 1314 1316 years old.

Just stack the presents to my left.
[IOriginally published 2014]

The Devil Visits the Woodlands

A Visit from The Chairman

"The Chairman's Choice:" Mercedes G-Class
The Devil arrived at the woodlands in a procession of black Mercedes G-Class SUVs. The red-and-black flag of our new one-world government fluttered from the hood. Demons in black suits and sunglasses stayed close to him, while others swarmed all over Zoar's five acres. Black helicopters patrolled overhead. The Bear was a little flattered, he must admit, to be visited by The Chairman, which is, as you no doubt know by now, what he calls himself.

He was not dressed in a suit. Instead he wore well broken-in  Reaganesque outdoor attire, with cowboy boots. Apparently he felt this appropriate to the rustic setting. In person, he was not the tall, forbidding figure you have seen on TV. He was shorter than the Bear expected, even for a human. The bear did not get any sort of "evil vibe" from him at all. The Bear did file away in his memory the security detail. Interesting implications.

He smiled as he walked up, and extended a hand. The Bear gave him a friendly pawshake. The Bear has lived for 1300 years in a man's world, and has learned it's always best to be friendly with whoever's on top at the moment. He made a joke about approving of the Bear's goats, and the Bear chuckled. We agreed goats were better than sheep.

The Devil's Security Protocols

Of course, the Bear invited him into Zoar Manor. The demon who was apparently the chief of his security detail informed the Bear that he would need to remove or cover any items of Catholic significance. ("You know, like the Pope covers up his cross on those videos.") Of course, the Bear considerately complied with his guest's request. A heavy metal box was brought in, and the Bear was politely asked to deposit anything blessed into it for temporary safekeeping. In went rosaries and medals.

The Bear's "Rouges' Gallery" and Cheesecake

Once the Bear's house had been sanitized, and the dogs locked away, the Bear showed The Chairman around. He seemed to be politely interested. When he saw the Bear's rogue's gallery of traitors to the West, he said the Bear had remarkable insight. The Bear does not know if it was flattery or sincere. Probably both.

The Bear's driver, bodyguard and factotum, Red Death, his mate, made fresh coffee and served cheesecake. (The Devil likes cheesecake, if anyone is collecting trivia.) The Bear has to say that the slavering caricature found in fiction like The Screwtape Letters is way off base. The Chairman was literally indistinguishable from any other statesman, and better company than most.  He kept two of his detail with him. They did not eat. The Bear couldn't blame the Devil. After all, he was in a room with a Catholic Bear.

The Woodlands Loophole

The Chairman and the Bear chatted about the last millennium. It was wonderful to be able to reminisce with someone even older than the Bear. He complained that he got blamed for so much that he had nothing to do with, but just shrugged. "Comes with the territory, I guess," he said.

The reason for the visit was interesting. With the entire human world now his, he noticed the woodlands alone had somehow escaped his control. He was quite complimentary about that, by the way, but the Bear could tell that The Chairman was a bit annoyed that even such an insignificant place as the woodlands was not within his grasp.

It seems that sentient animals are a horse of a different color. The Devil - or The Chairman - frankly does not know how to deal with us, since we are not sons and daughters of Adam and Eve. In other words, we seem to fall under a loophole that The Chairman's legal team has not been able to close. Since it appears that the woodlands and all its creatures fall outside of his jurisdiction, he was most anxious to establish cordial relations with the one, tiny, dot on the map that was not part of his One-World government.

That's right. The entire world is under the control of the Devil, except for a patch of woods in southern Illinois inhabited by talking animals. The Devil seems to take this seriously for reasons the Bear has not quite figured out. He was willing, however, to disclose much to the Bear during our long conversation, which he knew to be on-the-record. The Bear intends to share what he learned. He hopes he is not playing right into the Devil's hands somehow.

The Bear's First Question

For now, he'll just relate the first question. The Bear asked if there are any institutions that he did not control - outside the woodlands, that is. He shook his head and said no, I finally have every last one of them. The Bear carefully asked if the very highest positions were infiltrated by his agents. He smiled and asked what the Bear thought. His amused and proud manner confirmed the Bear's worst suspicions, although the Bear could not say he was surprised.

Expect more substantive articles on this historic meeting to come.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Please Pick Up the White Courtesy Phone If You See Your Name

Would the following readers please send the Bear an email? But only if interested in a top-secret assignment on official Bear business.

Jane Chantel

If you don't see your name, don't feel bad. The Bear knows these four to have extensive backgrounds in espionage, sabotage and badinage.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Judging Angels Update

The Bear once again apologizes for slacking off on the ephemeris lately. He has working hard on the final edit of Judging Angels.

The Bear hopes the readers of this ephemeris will want to read Judging Angels. Let's put it this way: if you enjoy St. Corbinian's Bear, you should enjoy Judging Angels. You will recognize the style (adapted for long fiction, of course).

If you like romance, you'll like Judging Angels. If you like adventure, you'll like Judging Angels. Same with mysteries, humor, horror, mordantly humorous observations about problems in the Church, Thomistic angelology, police procedurals, Ginger Rogers, crime sprees, heroes, villains, sensationalist news reportage, femme fatales, angels, redheads, demons, adorable ponies, roadside taverns, amazing jailbreaks, babalawos, clever teenagers, sleazy brain surgeons, poetry, blood, more blood, bar fights, pythonesses, dim detectives, sharp private eyes, Marines, rosaries, airplanes, knives, guns and other lethal weapons, DNA, fingerprints, and, of course, Hermann Goering's wristwatch.

And that's just Chapter 1. (Kidding!)

How did the Bear fit all that in? Because Bears weigh a lot more than human authors, and can just sit on the manuscript until everything is crammed in.  (And hope the editor doesn't realize before it's too late that the Bear dressed up in black from head to toe, snuck and and stole her blue pencil and razor blade.)

But we just call it a Catholic psychological thriller.

The Bear has been trying to score an interview with the author (rolls eyes), Tim Capps. So that's something that's coming, if Capps' publicist ever returns the Bear's phone calls. (The Bear's contract prevents him from acknowledging that he is the ghostwriter who actually wrote the whole thing.)

Anyway,  the Bear doesn't get to write in the ephemeris every day at the moment. He kind of feels like he's letting you down. But then he thinks about the novel he's buffing for you, and he's confident you'll consider it worth a few missed articles.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

How the Devil Won the War

The Bear writes this from the new, openly established kingdom of the Prince of the World. Not so long ago, we were still at war. Sure most of our territory was occupied, collaborators were everywhere, and it seemed there was a new beachhead or drop zone every month.

But the Bear has realized the war is over. Over at least as far as human efforts are concerned. There are rumors of fleet gathering for a counter-invasion, but few details are available.

There can be no mistake we've been conquered. We've seen the newsreel footage of demonic legions marching through Paris, New York, Rome, and other capitals. The old national ensigns have been hauled down, and the red-and-black flag of the Prince of the World flies everywhere.

The Bear has obtained - never mind how - a slightly singed document containing a Top Secret plan of the Devil. They called it "The Manhattan Project."

The Devil had the schematics for human beings. He knew we were like fish who could survive only in the sea of sacramental marriage. Sacramental marriage was he key to everything. Fidelity, family, culture, religion - in short, if he could destroy sacramental marriage, he could destroy everything. That's why they devoted most of their efforts into the Manhattan Project. Honestly, they took it more seriously and worked harder on this essential strategic feature than did our generals and officers.

His agents were placed in every important position, secular and religious, at all levels. Marriage was too hard, the Devil honestly believed. His agents sold something "realistic," suited for weak creatures like us. At some point, sacramental marriage had been entirely replaced by the Devil's easier version. The Bear can't say exactly when this happened. Just that it did, and that is why we are singing Hell's anthem now.

The Manhattan Project: not with a bang, or even a whimper, but with a moan of pleasure from damp sheets and a sigh of satisfaction. The Bear has heard demons call this "the greatest day since plucky old mother Eve declared her independence from the Man in the Sky." A few have taunted the Bear, and he has no response. They planned well, fought hard, and beat us fair and square. Well, with the help of a lot of collaborators and traitors, if that's fair.

Fortunately, the Bear supposes, the new regime is not oppressive. In fact, just the opposite. They don't care what we do as long as we're in Hell at the end of the day.

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