Thursday, August 31, 2017

Pope Videos: The Monthly Intention to Delude Catholics

Big Grandfather brings you a message from the Ministry of Truth.
(Could they have possibly lit the set in a creepier way?)

The Intention to Delude Catholics
Remember those cheesy Pope Videotentions of the Month?

Bear didn't. He forgot all about them and missed many articles that virtually write themselves. But then there's the latest.
First off all, the Bear observes that these so-called "intentions" are nothing of the sort. They are typical of the abuse of real religion we see in this pontificate. They are not asking us to pray to God for Him to protect or promote anything. They are propaganda in which we are told what to think.

Worse, what they tell us is always the same: there are no legitimate divisions among people. The Church is but one expression of brotherhood that includes Lutheranism, Hinduism, Islam, Masonry, Paganism, anything and nothing at all.

Music Brings Humans Together

Music is nice, especially outside where there are bugs. It is nice whether white people or black people or brown people play it, whether in Argentina, Africa, India or some other damned place. It is nice on real instruments and on crude foreign devices made of human bones and skin. It is especially nice when someone with weird bandages on his hands has dragged his piano all the way to the beach to play it, or, best of all, the recurring character of Pope Video Saxamaphone Player plays it.
HMS Conqueror
But not just music. Teenage girls writing how dreamy Kit Harrington is. Liturgical dancers practicing. Painters dancing while painting. Dancers painting while dancing.

Michelangelo? Mozart?

Dead northern white guys. Screw 'em and the island-stealing nuclear submarine they rode in on.
Gregorian chant? Even Marty Haugen and David Hass? Something, oh, Bear doesn't know... Catholic, maybe? No, you silly fundamentalist. Religion divides people.

I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke - New Coke, That Is
You selfish Western bastards!
And so the incessant Celebration of Everythingness goes on as the Church gives every human being (and possibly dolphin) a Good Sportsmanship Award in a cosmos where everyone's a winner except the poor polar bears you're stomping to death beneath your personal carbon footprint. 
I'd like to be the World's Pope and teach it what to sing, because the Church is no longer the Real Thing. New Church is like "New Evangelization" (which, when Bear runs it through his Ovaltine decoder ring, becomes "No Evangelization"). It will be the greatest success since New Coke. After all, didn't former papal press flack Fr. Rosica brag about "rebranding?"
And you didn't take him literally.
Pope John XXIII threw open the windows. Pope Francis is tearing down the walls. Yes, they define who we are, but at the cost of dividing us. That is the greatest evil, and where Christianity went wrong from the very start. In our enlightened age, we know we are all just humans being. We are the World. Imagine there's no borders, no religion, too. Etc.
Humankind's New Religion of Universal Brotherhood
You see a cheesy video produced with no imagination, repeating the same bland and non-Catholic message every month. Ah, but the Bear sees better with his nose. He smells a new gospel of universal brotherhood that transcends religion. Make no mistake. Pope Francis and his minions are very serious about this. Whether this is how a practical Church plans to remain relevant in a Godless future, or whether it has been hijacked by revolucionarios, the details are unimportant because it is directed by one ancient and malevolent will.

Bear happened to be reading John 17:16 before watching this latest New Age drivel.

"They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world."

Being "of the world" is not a compliment when used in the Bible. As for "rebranding," the Church already had a brand. In a world where brands are the vital public image of corporations, worth fortunes and guarded with armies of lawyers, the most recognizable, venerable and powerful brand of them all - the Roman Catholic Church - needs to be changed, we are told.
It's All Really Happening
If that kind of thinking does not scare you in your soul, friend, you do not understand what they are doing. Forget the delirious succession of sound bytes and odd Francisisms, the Little Book of Insults, wacky Bishops, and all the details dear to traditionalists. While you are distracted, they are replacing the foundation and mission of the Church with the world and the message of the world.
It's happening. Right in front of our eyes, something so huge we can't even see it, any more than we can see the Holy Planet we're standing on. Something guaranteed to make anyone who sounds the warning sound like a Bible-thumping loon.
"No, that can't be happening," you object. "That's Bible stuff, not for us. We're just ordinary hobbits. The great events of history are in the past, and the end of the world is a fable, or anyway, a long way off. This is just one pope. Don't go all apocalyptic on us, steady old Bear."
Let's all hope you're right.
But the Bear has decided that the Pope Videos are really no laughing matter.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Bear and the Man with Scroll - Part II

This is a work of Bear fiction, a fairy tale of a magical Woodlands ruled over by a benevolent despot - the Bear. Any resemblance to any persons, living or dead, described herein, is purely coincidental.

The Woodlands Belong to God

"The Woodlands belong to God. The Man had been given authority to guard it and keep it, to govern it with wisdom, thoughtfulness and charity. He did not have authority to so much as pluck a dandelion except for the good of the Woodlands and its creatures. "

"He told us he owned us," said a three-legged pony, whose story is a long one and must be saved for another time. (And do not imagine the worst about your Bear!)

"The Woodlands are different from a farm," the Bear explained. "We are all free creatures, not stalled and fenced and put to the service of man. A man owns a farm. But no man owns the Woodlands."

The Woodland creatures celebrated, each in its own voice. There were chirps and roars, and squeals and growls, and those who could make no sound at all, demonstrated their joy and agreement in ways left to them. Butterflies fluttered around the fire (but not too close), and earthworms spelled out "Long Live Bear!" with their bodies on convenient flat rocks.

"We live in the Woodlands, not on a farm," the Woodland creatures cried with joy. "We love the Bear, and the old ways."

"So what happened to the man?" someone asked after the hullabaloo had died down.

"Well, nothing," the Bear said.

"Nothing?" asked Badger. "That's a stupid end to your story, Bear."

"Perhaps," Bear said, "but it is true. He moved away. He still maintains he owns the Woodlands, writes its laws, and demands every Woodland creature bend the knee to him. We must believe everything he says."

He's just a man. Why are people
so afraid of him?
"But he's still just one Man," bubbled a salmon.

The Bear swept the frightened thing out of the stream and brought it up to his muzzle, where he looked at it down his nose. "You're right. He is just one man, but don't forget. He has armies of fanatical followers to enforce his will and punish those who would hold him to what is written in the scroll.

The Bear smiled at the salmon, showing his ferocious teeth, then tossed him back into the water.

The Free Folk of the Woodlands

"The Woodlands is one of many colonies of free beasts. We are all refugees now, in a way. But here, we do not forbid good beasts to learn to read and write. Most importantly, we do not forbid them from thinking."

"Thinking is scary," said the mole, who had nearly come all the way out of his hole until the mention of the word, "thinking.' "What if someone thought the wrong thing? Animals are not good at thinking."

The Bear growled softly, and a hush fell over the Big Clearing. Even the fire seemed to shrink at the sound. "Have you never seen Beaver's dam, or the tiny nest of the hummingbird, or the nest of the cormorant? Even Badger's, er, simple den is perfect for Badger. Why, our friends the crows are smarter than dogs. We animals are very good at thinking.

"And not only that," the Bear continued, "but we have noses! If men had noses, they would smell these problems. But it wouldn't matter. You see, they're afraid. They're afraid the Man will shake his scroll at them and burn them with fire. Even if that doesn't happen (and it never has, according to research of the Bear) his fanatic supporters will descend upon what they call 'fundamentalists' and much worse.

"Bear warns his beloved Woodland Creatures. Thinking is considered sedition. And, it is true, it is hard to think properly."

"But what about thinking the wrong thing?" the mole repeated.

The Bear shrugged.

"Anyone can think the wrong thing," he said. "The Man with the Scroll's claim to fame is that he cannot think the wrong thing. And yet, his thoughts are clearly not those of the Wise Woodsmen of the past. Perhaps if he tries not to think the wrong thing, he is given help to succeed. Perhaps whatever magic keeps his words true can be resisted by the Man with the Scroll.

The Bear does not know.


"What the Bear does know is that the Man with the Scroll and his henchmen have been seen in the Woodlands recently, baiting traps."

"Traps!" the Woodland Creatures cried out in alarm. "Those are horrible! We would rather be shot than left to die in a trap."

"There is no doubt, Bear fears. They are laying traps everywhere, and camouflaging them. Even the best of beasts might be caught. And they are baited with the best of baits, too. Lies that seem like the truth."

"But what about thinking the wrong thing?" the mole asked for the third time.

The Bear fixed the mole with his small eyes, twinkling in the red firelight. "It is possible to think a wrong thing, mole, even for your Bear. The question is, is it impossible for the Man with the Scroll to think the wrong thing?"

There was silence now, broken only by the snap of the campfire.

The Bear Remains Lord of the Woodlands,
But they are Owned by God

"But if he is careful, and takes into account the wise Woodsmen of the Past, and - now that he can read - the Bible, it is less likely. Certainly, Bear's best thinking is better than poorly-hidden traps baited with the stench of lies (humans do not have very good noses, and cannot smell their own lies, as we can).

"It is true, there is a risk in thinking. There always is, no matter who does it. That is why we must learn humility.

When Man has sawed down an ancient tree, we see rings on the stump. Each of those rings - so very many of them - are one year in the life of the Woodlands. We possess, friends of Bear, a few rings, but must always remember our rings are not more important than the older rings, just because they are new, or the Man with the Scroll threatens to burn us with fire. They may be our rings, but the rings of the past were rings of the Elders, who were wiser than we, and holier.

"The Bear would rather risk making a mistake with a good heart, than stick his paw into a trap that smells bad. At least his mistakes would be his own, and offered to God. At least he would not permit the Woodland Creatures to be caught in traps, or beaten by the fanatic followers of the Man with the Scroll. The Bear does not threaten to burn you with fire, or shake mysterious scrolls at you in order to frighten you to do his will.

"The Bear is Lord of these Woodlands by the consent of the Woodland Creatures and the dread charge of the Father to be constantly on the prowl for traps, and sniff the air without tiring for the smell of torches borne by fanatics."

"So, who will be Lord of the Woodlands after Bear," asked Raccoon.

The Bear sat down, and looked grave. "The Bear has always been Lord of the Woodlands, in the sense of its guardian. The Bear tore down the Halls of Man and rebuilt the Woodland Chapels of old. The Bear searched far and wide for good  and kind Priests to instruct the Woodland Creatures, although our status is irregular for the time being.

"He will be the Lord of the Woodlands unless he turns back into the dumb brute he was, thinking only of killing ponies. The Bear will stay with you until his fangs grow loose and fall out, and his arms wither, and his claws grow dull, and his nose loses its keenness."

"I'll bring Bear food when he grows that old," said a young fox. "I will chew it up for Bear, and somehow bring honey and tender salmon. Perhaps Raccoon can help." There was a chorus of agreement following the pledge.

 The Bear looked at the fox with love, and when he cast his eyes over the Woodland Creatures, they were filled with tears. "Ah, thank you fox. Bear is certain you would make a very good nurse. But all Woodland Creatures come to the day when they are no longer about to survive in their own home. The Bear is no different. Father will provide another guardian. Perhaps days will come when the need for Bears will be done."

"Not very likely," said Badger with a snort.

"But, for now," said the Bear, "the Woodlands are a safe enough place where Woodland Creatures may gather -" he paused for effect "- and say whatever they wish. They may discuss matters theological and share the locations of traps that our Raccoon sappers have not yet dismantled. The Halls of Man may have been torn down, but the fanatical followers of the Man with the Scroll yet hammer the supposed changes onto the doors of our chapels. Every day, we must all begin by looking for traps and use our noses to find the truth, or at least expose the lies."

"But most of all, we must do the simple things all Catholics must do. Pray. Read the Bible. Use the Sacraments. Help others, and follow our Rule, whatever that is for each of us. The Rule of St. Benedict is full of wisdom."

The Woodlands are Free, not a Farm; the Good Beasts
Are Not Owned Like the Cow and Pig

"This is the Woodlands, not a farm. You are free beasts, not slaves. We all serve the Good God with love and obedience, but obedience to the Ancient Faith in our time, in which the Man with the Scroll is but a part. When he gives us a piece that will not fit into the puzzle left to us, no matter how we try, we must choose how to respond."

The Bear began to notice yawns among the younger Woodland Creatures, and the fire was a bed of hot coals (perfect or broiling salmon).

"Let us rise, then free Woodland Creatures, and cast our thoughts toward the starry sky that is so beautiful tonight. We ask protection against fire and bullets. We ask that our offspring increase. We most of all ask that we love one another and our Father in Heaven, and his Son, the Great Shepherd of us all, and the Holy Spirit, who hovers over us and enlightens us and gives each of gifts for the good of all. And we bless him with our praise.

"And let us pray for the Man with the Scroll, as well, and his followers. May be make a good servant to the Father, and become a friend of the Woodlands, and may the setting of traps and stirring of confusion, despair and discord cease."

And and all the Woodland Creatures said "Amen."

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Chick Arrives in Style via TWA

BUT WAIT! IT GETS BETTER. Red Death went out to check on the chick. She had left the peeper in a chicken wire cage. The chick was gone!

Red Death searched all over, fearing the worst, but guess what? Broody had busted the chick out of chick prison somehow and taken her over to the statue of St. Francis! She is determined her baby will survive.

Broody and Chick

Broody hid this one until it finally hatched. That took a lot of cleverness on her part to defeat the remorseless reaper of children, Red Death. The only part of Checkers visible is the dark cap. Obviously a magical chick.

She is in a premium TWA Ambassador service cup and saucer. Of course, there has not been TWA around for a long time, and airlines do not aspire to the same level of class.

Monday, August 28, 2017

The Bear & the Man with the Scroll - Part I

The Bear Tells a Remarkable Tale

The Woodlands belonged
to a man?
The Bear had a belly full of salmon and a bowl full of honey to lick. The fire in the middle of the Big Clearing showed his small eyes by the red twinkle in them. It was one of those nights when the bowl of the sky seemed so black that ever fresh vistas of stars were unveiled.

The Great Bear, in particular, seemed to unusually bright. The Bear looked up to it and drew strength, thinking that God knew the names of every light, not just in the Great Bear but all of them. He was moved to awe by his God.

"The Woodlands were not always the Bear's," he began at the right moment, when anticipation was at is peak, and before boredom began to soften its edge. All the Woodland Creatures were there: Badger and Red Squirrel; Owl and Nightingale; Sheep and Wolf, and many others besides.

"They belonged to a Man," he said.

The gathered creatures breathed a collective gasp.

"You took the Woodlands from Man?" piped up mole, then popped down into his tunnel.

"Get back up here ya little earth rat," said Badger. "It's only a story."

The Man with the Magic Flame-Shooting Scroll of Bona Fides

"That's right," said the Bear. "It's only a story. And it happened a long time ago. This Man did whatever he pleased. He made fun of the Woodland Creatures he did not like, he refused to obey ancient customs, and even changed the sacred laws. It is more accurate to say, the Man claimed the Woodlands belonged to him."

"Why didn't anyone stop him?" asked the egret, who was out past her bedtime.

"He said the Woodlands belonged to him," the Bear said with a shrug. "He said he had bona fides. That is no small thing for a beast to challenge! Even a Bear."
Bear skeptical of bona fides.

"Bona fides? What are those," asked a young chipmunk."

"From the Latin, 'good faith,'" said Owl from his high perch. "In general it means tokens of authority. Reasons to hold a person in respect."

"That's right," said the Bear. "He had a long scroll, with an impressive red wax seal. Whenever the Woodland Creatures objected to something, he would shake his scroll at them and threaten to make flames shoot out of it and burn them with fire!"

"Ooooh," the younger creatures said in chorus.

"Indeed, there were fires aplenty in the woodlands, but they were the work of an arsonist, not his Magic Scroll." the Bear continued, "The Woodland Creatures could not read the writings, and were not permitted to study the scroll in any case. He became an object of worship by many Woodland Creatures. And the powers allegedly contained in his scroll were always growing."

"Did the scroll get bigger?" asked a Hen.

"No," said the Bear. "The funny thing is, the scroll never got bigger and yet all the while the Man who said he owned the Woodlands added more and more powers to himself. The more he exalted himself over them, the more his faction in the Woodlands held him in awe."

"So did you eat the Man?" asked a young wolf.

"Of course he didn't eat the Man," said Badger. "Er, you didn't eat the Man, did you, Bear?"

And the Bear left the Woodlands on a long journey.

The Bear Leaves the Woodlands

"No, Bear did not eat the Man. The Bear left the Woodlands and went far away. Perhaps the Man with the Scroll was right. He was a Man, after all. Perhaps there was no place in the Woodlands for a Bear. For many years, the Woodland Creatures waited for the Bear's return, but the supporters of the Man with the Scroll boasted that the Bear had gone forever. That he had probably died in the bear pits!

"And eventually, the Woodland Creatures forgot about the Bear."

"We did?" bleated a goat mournfully. "That was rotten of us."

The ancient oaks were
chopped down, and guns
were brought into the
"The Man with the Scroll invited other strange men into the Woodlands, until many animals had no place to live. The strangers burned down whole neighborhoods of the Woodlands, and harmed and even killed its creatures

"The Man with the Scroll lived safe in a tall fort, made of many tough old oaks he had his followers hew down. Many of your ancestors sat beneath those oaks and gathered acorns. The ax is just cold fire that works slow. He surrounded himself with many guards with guns. The Man, of course, condemned guns and all who made them or used them, but made an exception for himself.

"He ordered all the Woodland Creatures to assemble in front of his new 'Halls of Man' he built all over the Woodlands, and the day's changes in the ancient laws would be read aloud, But the Woodland Creatures were not permitted to ask questions.

"Every day, they were more confused and discouraged than the day before. The Man with the Scroll looked upon their downcast faces and said, 'Cheer up, my friends. See how happy I am? Unhappiness is a sin. Especially unhappiness about me. Unless you are joyful, I will burn you with fire from my scroll.'"

"What ever happened to the man?"

The Bear Came Back

"The Bear came back." answered the Bear in a matter-of-fact tone, as if were no big thing for a Bear to come back.

"Oh, so that's when you ate the man," said the young wolf.

"No, it is wrong to eat men," scolded the Bear. "But sometimes it is good to roar and to growl and to speak the truth no matter what. The Bear returned with something far mightier than even his powerful jaws, or his crushing arms, or his ripping claws."

"A cannon?" asked one of the Woodland Creatures.

"A regiment of Winged Hussars?" asked another.

"A squadron of fighter bombers?" asked a turtle sitting on a log in the pond.

The Bear smiled, and shook his head. He brought the honey bowl up and lapped the sweet and sticky golden gift of bees with his long tongue, keeping his muzzle neat.

"No," he said at last. "The Bear brought the one thing Man had always kept from animals."

"Clothes?" the spider asked in a thin voice, but was quickly shushed.

Bear can read - and think!
"Literacy," announced the Bear.

"Literacy? You mean like sandwich wrappers and plastic soda bottles tourists leave behind?" asked the wren in a scolding voice. She was clearly angered by the very idea. Everyone groaned, because they knew it would be a while before she calmed herself down.

"No," said the Bear, when the wren had wound down. "It means knowing how to read. The Bear recruited the ferret, who is very stealthy, to steal the Man's scroll. Well, it would be more correct to say he 'borrowed' it for the Bear. Since the Bear always intended to give it back to the Man."

"Didn't he miss it?" asked the Owl skeptically.

"No," said the Bear. "Ne never read it himself. It was just his bona fides, and something to shake at the Woodland Creatures to frighten them."

"So did Bear read it?" chirped titmouse.

"Indeed, he did," said the Bear with a satisfied look on his face. "He spent many a day and many a night working his way through the Latin. Months passed, and the Bear took his time, for it was important work. Owl helped, and others. Do you know what we learned?"

"No," the Woodland Creatures said in one voice.

"The scroll never said the Woodlands belonged to him,"

There was another collective gasp. "The Woodlands don't belong to the Man with the Scroll?" many voices asked at once. The Bear had to hold up a paw to restore order.

"No," he said, then there was another, shorter pause as he got onto his hind legs.

Part II - Coming Soon

Thursday, August 24, 2017



Sheep 1
Thom Tortise

What happened to:

Red Squirrel
Fredericka Vehteri

I have received emails from the first two. Since we have to have some sort of deadline so Bear can put this contest behind him, the ones highlighted in yellow need to send the Bear mailing addresses and autograph instructions by midnight Friday September 1st in order to complete the loop.

It doesn't matter. Since the Bear is feeling generous, he will send a copy to each of the FIVE lucky readers. All you have to do is complete the final step of emailing the Bear with your mailing address and autograph instructions to  with the subject line "I pledge my life to you, O Great Bear, and unquestioning ob -" Oh, wait. Wrong contest.

For this one, it is just "CONTEST WINNER."

(Shipping only within U.S., as stated, as it gets crazy expensive otherwise.)

This could be you! With adorably curly
red hair and hands tucked adorably into
sleeves of your sweater, reading your very
own copy of JUDGING ANGELS,
which is much, much thicker. (And, if
you're a guy, this could STILL be you.
Bear is not judgmental when it comes
to relaxing in fabulous gowns worn by
your favorite actress.)

SATURDAY UPDATE: Looks like some people are waiting until the last minute to enter the run-off (see below). If there are no further comments on the Bear's writing blog before midnight tonight (CST) the Bear will choose from remaining contestants by means of ailuromancy.

NOTE: Since Bear is going to need a means of paring excellent entries to just three, he is now going to change the rules. Due to the run-off requirement, the deadline is extended 24 hours to midnight, Saturday, August 26th (CST).

(Bear of Surprises changes the rules all the time, which makes him so dangerous to play with, but you knew that going into this game.) 

Or, call it a "run off" if you prefer. (Which is usually what people do when they meet Bear.)

In order to win, contestants must go to the Bear's other blog, which is just as entertaining and far less serious. The Bear speaks of his writing blog, which is where the Bear puts on his human suit and laughably tries to pretend to be one of you. Go there and leave a comment on the article you like best. If you want, click the bars in the upper left corner and look at the sidebar.

Buster is standing by to promptly ship copies to winners.
Or, whenever he gets over, uh, his distemper.

"Pfft," Bear hears you say. "Changing the rules? Now I have to go to another one of this stupid animal's blogs just to win an autographed copy of his dubious novel big enough to drop Father where he stands when he starts in on one of his interfaith homilies?" (Of course, no one would actually do that. It would risk damaging your copy, which will be worth a lot of money some day.)

Exactly. And that's how the Bear is going to separate the real men and women from the gender-confused masses unworthy to possess his book because if you do not understand how mating works between a man and a woman, a lot of it will be over your head, anyway.

Hey, each book is a $29.99 value, and the Bear pays shipping in U.S. How can the Bear do this? Easy. By making sure Red Death never finds out! Our little secret: you, Bear, and Buster our shipping department.

EBAY 2027!

JUDGING ANGELS, by Tim Capps, 1st ed. Moderate amount of smiting damage from being used as a missile during Mass. Cover has tiny symbols, apparently of successful strikes, similar to those painted on WWII aircraft. Priest 4; Choir Director 6; Altar Girls 2; Generic People 10. Coffee stains on pages from coffee squirting out of nose during fits of laughter. Otherwise in good condition. This is a very rare find. Inscribed in blue Flair pen with "Bear doodle" and autographed to [IMAGINE YOUR NAME HERE!]. New York Book Festival Honorable Mention sticker on cover. (Especially rare since the Bear developed a taste for the glue, and ate most of the stickers before they got on the books.) ASKING: $5000.

(Altar Girls? Wow. That's pretty cold even for a Bear.)


Read about it here. Deadline midnight (CST) Friday, 25th of August. Tough competition out there. And if you have read it and not reviewed it yet, please drop a ridiculously important review at Amazon.

The Dead Hand: Francis Invokes Magisterium to Make "Liturgical Reform Irreversible"

The dead had of the past will rise up to prevent any future
changes to "liturgical reform."

THIS JUST IN: New review of JUDGING ANGELS. "Dostoevskyan... theological climax." Good, meaty review if you haven't heard much of Bear's award-winning novel.


And with these words today, Pope Francis becomes the dead hand preventing future popes from altering the Vatican II liturgical reforms.

“We can affirm with certainty and magisterial authority that the liturgical reform is irreversible.” - CRUX, August 24.

Woodland Creatures and visitors are probably sick of hearing about Bear being a lawyer, even though he spares them from ripping yarns drawn from the files of Bear, Esq. But a good trial lawyer has a lot of tools that are hallowed by long use and preserved because they are effective.

In other words, Anglo-American jurisprudence FTW.

People get crazy with their wills.

The Bear quickly realized people got crazy with divorces, too, and property line disputes, and Workers Comp... in fact, legal matters make people pretty much crazy, period. At least in criminal defense, the secret wildness in the dark hearts of human beings is dragged out for all to see as the very subject of a trial.

But, the Bear was speaking about wills. There are the usual things, like squirreling away lists after a will has been made, saying such things as, "I want grandma Steuben's chifferobe to go to cousin Mary," etc.

Please. Don't make your lawyer bang his head on his desk. Once you sign your will, don't do anything about leaving anything to anyone. That's what your will is for. If you want to change something, remove all doubt and have a new will made, burning all copies of the previous one with fire.

Another thing people like to do is control people from beyond the grave. "The dead hand," is the legal phrase.

"I leave 50% of my stuff to my son William Beemer, provided that he graduates from welding school, oh, and marries that cute waitress down at the Dixie-Cue."

The law is for the living. It has little patience with the fond dynastic schemes of grandpa, and they are not going to survive a challenge, at least so Bear believes, who is not an expert in estate planning. (No bodily fluids = no interest.)

And yet, by invoking his "magisterial authority," the dead hand of Pope Francis will have an iron grip on the liturgy until Kingdom Come. Should a future pope decide the "liturgical reform" was a horrible idea and wish to return the Church to the glorious days of the old form, the dead hand of Francis will, like something from a B movie horror flick, revivify and grope for the microphone cord and unplug it.

What other changes does Pope Francis have in mind to make "irreversible?"

See? This is exactly what the Bear is talking about. On his death bed, Francis could whip out an entire list of "irreversible changes." The imagination boggles. It is one thing to give past generations a vote, as Chesterton said. It is quite another to cut off the franchise with them, and leave future generations without a say.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

But What About the Dead Raccoon in the Tub?

"Left" and "Right" or
"Principles" vs. "Evidence?"

"Left" and "Right" Still Useful
but Denying or Accepting Evidence is Baked In

Everybody knows what is meant by the political terms "Left" and "Right." They are sturdy terms that
have carried recognizable meanings for many decades. They may not be very descriptive, but since our country is polarized and the spectrum of opinion runs from black to white they do not need to be.

However, the Bear has noticed something baked into the old terms that gives a vivid new meaning to them today. It will sound pretty darned convenient when the Bear explains it, but maybe you will think about it. The distinction includes those who react on the basis of evidence, and those who react on the basis of principles.

Or, to put it another way, how we deal with facts, versus how we deal with what we think about the facts. It is almost like the Left views the world from one step back, and through a lens of buzzwords, pop science and big ideas.

Someone who cannot explain his local TV station's weather map, is passionate about global warming. Bear doesn't mean he just believes it, but he believes it with an almost religious fervor. It's part of his side's set of beliefs, but mostly it allows him to blame the usual suspects. (Not so long ago it was the new Ice Age. The particulars don't matter.)

Men and women can no longer be the reality of two simple, separate groups, because the big idea says there is a continuum of gender, and it all comes down to choice, anyway. At stake is separate restrooms, of all the crazy things!

Having gotten even mating wrong, humans have put nearly everything at risk, because marriage is still woven into our culture and laws, and constitutional protections meant for ex-slaves in the South are now extended to the richest demographic in the country - homosexual couples.

Reality is negotiable. The harsh light of the big idea generated by the human mind is supreme.

The Bear believes this same fundamental conflict is playing out in the de facto schism in the Church. If one side points to evidence, it is ignored by the other in favor of the principle.

Let's start with an everyday example of this way of thinking in general.

Terrorists acting in the name of their religion, Islam, killed an elderly priest in France.

Flying back to Rome from Poland, microphone in hand, as is his wont, Pope Francis found himself unable to unequivocally condemn the Islamic terrorism. Instead he said the sort of thing that those in power always say about Islamic terrorist attacks.

"I think that in nearly all religions there is a always a small fundamentalist group," he said, adding, "We have them," referring to Catholicism. "I don't like to talk about Islamic violence because every day when I look at the papers I see violence here in Italy – someone killing his girlfriend, someone killing his mother-in-law. These are baptized Catholics," he said. "If I speak of Islamic violence, I have to speak of Catholic violence. Not all Muslims are violent," he said.

He went on to blame the terrorist attacks on lack of economic opportunity for the young, who turn to drugs, alcohol or ISIS.

So, "Eh, terrorists. You got 'em, we got 'em, what are you gonna do? It's a problem with all religions, don't you see?"

Islamic terrorism is seldom, if ever, unequivocally condemned by those in power. Pope Francis' statement on the plane back to Rome is incoherent because he cannot confront the evidence and maintain the position that there is no such thing as Islamic terrorism per se. Not every Muslim is a terrorist, you see, therefore, Islam has no greater problem with terrorism as any other religion, including Catholicism.

Even assuming he has his reasons for dissembling, the fact remains that truth is so easily sacrificed, even ridiculous statements cannot pass the straight face test. This style seems to have become a habit of addressing the world in general.

The Fan Dance Without the Fan: "What are you staring at? 
It is against the law for me to be naked, therefore, I'm not naked."

Sally Rand, who adopted and improved
the fan dance of Ayn Rand.
The thing the Bear would like to focus upon, however, is the disconnect with reality, or disregard for evidence. It is just not true that "Catholic terrorism" is a problem in the same way as "Islamic terrorism" is. The entire point of "terrorism" is ignored by saying "people in Italy kill each other, too."

It is a problem worthy of serious discussion by the grownups. Not what Pope Francis (or substitute any other world leader) has to say about it.

It is fascinating to watch Leftists talk about terrorism, or just about anything. It's like watching Sally Rand do a fan dance without a fan, and just as entertaining, in its own, strange way. Or, if you want a less salacious image (which you should) it is the old story of the Emperor's New Clothes.

The Bear is pretty sure we see the same technique applied in the Church today.

The Church says it Cannot Err
Therefore, Only the Wicked Claim to Find Error

There is no evidence sufficient to induce Catholics whose religion is divorced from evidence to admit to the growing pile of at least apparent conflicts between Pope Francis and the Faith. Any time a problem with the Pope is pointed out, it is (1) flat-out denied; and (2) we get a lecture on the principle that the Pope cannot be wrong.

Examples could be multiplied to book length. It would not matter. Those who look at the evidence and who have studied the way Francis operates know what the Bear means. Going to Lund, Sweden, and worshiping with female "bishop" Jakelen in celebration of the Reformation, is the act of a pope whose religion Pope Gregory XVI (who condemned "indifferentism" in the 1832 encyclical Mirari Vos) would not recognize as Catholicism.

Personally, the Bear doesn't much care about what we think of Lutherans. If indifferentism isn't a problem anymore, then great. What the Bear does care about is what that implies about a religion that can supposedly not teach error - ever - nor change one "truth" for a "better truth" down the line.

Oddly enough, Bear seems to be the only creature in the Woodlands who understands the danger of this.

Most critics of Pope Francis are against the statements and actions in which they find error. They can make a catalog of them, and some have. But, the Bear is more concerned about the implications of the very existence of that catalog, rather than the individual charges and specifications. If Mirari Vos was right to worry that indifferentism detracted from the truth that the Catholic Church is the institution set up by God to help souls get saved, then the indifferentism of today, run amok under the label of "ecumenism," demands an explanation, doesn't it?

Does the Church still adhere to the encyclical of Pope Gregory XVI, Mirari Vos, in the particulars of indifferentism (now positively spun as the good of "ecumenism" and even "interfaith") and its hard line on marriage? Was it part of the ordinary magisterium of Pope Gregory that "proselytizing" was just about he most horrible thing ever, as it is, without question, part of the ordinary magisterium of Pope Franics? The answer is clearly "no," so how about explaining why that doesn't matter now? If Pope Gregory had his "ordinary magisterium," does Pope Francis have his "super-ordinary magisterium?" Is there an expiration date on encyclicals?

These are not "disrespectful" or unreasonable questions. They go to the heart of what we are to believe as Catholics. If we cannot even ask of the Church clarification on that, what teaching mission does she retain, anyway?

And, of course it is not just that one encyclical. To browse through 19th and early 20th century encyclicals is to find a Church as submerged from current view as Atlantis.

"Yes, we understand your hotel is five-star,
but what about the dead raccoon in the tub?"

Rejecting evidence in favor of principles may seem like the right thing for a Catholic to do. After all, they're right. The Church is full of teachings about it how it is indefectible, how the ordinary magisterium of a pope demands Catholic assent, etc. If it weren't we could all just blow off current problems.

The problem is, the Church has set very high standards for itself. So high, in fact, that some seem to view them as pretty gnostic balloons unconnected with gross matter and unanswerable to mere evidence.

So, those who argue from principles are right, but the rest of us digest what they say then hazard a "Yes, but...?"

It is as if you checked into a swanky hotel and found a dead raccoon in the tub. Every time you pointed it out, the manager answered by saying, "This is a five-star hotel. Five-star hotels do not have dead raccoons in their tubs."

Those who are not in the (dangerous) habit of ignoring evidence (facts) in the other areas of their life will at best merely become more distressed and confused by this disconnect. At worst, they may conclude that the scheme is so riddled with self-contradictions and impossibilities they will be tempted to chuck the whole thing.

The Bear believes the Church has nothing to fear from the truth. Those who defend Pope Francis and condemn his critics should not be afraid to face facts, either.

The Bear worries that setting any criticism of the Pope beyond the limits of what is permissible and failing to respectfully address the reasonable belief that the Church is - somehow, despite all the teaching on teachings - showing conflicts, will have the opposite effect from what those who argue principles rather than evidence intend.

Where is the compassion toward those who are frightened and confused?

The Bear has gotten to where he hates Catholic arguments, because the side which argues principles and ignores evidence is simply arguing past the real, agonizing difficulties held by many sincere ordinary Catholics. Those with evidence-based difficulties are learning only not to trust those good Catholics who argue from principles.

Those with difficulties have not, after all, spent years gleefully inventing lies to put Francis in a bad light just so they can have something to complain about. They would love to get back to a Church that did not detonate some bomb beneath them every week or two.

The ones arguing from principles believe they are being the very best Catholics they can be. They are defending the Church against all evidence in the language of the Church itself. (Sometimes the Bear wonders if the Church will survive all the Catholics out there being the very best Catholics they can be. Bears are pretty slack, normally.)

And, yet, although not deliberate, Bear is sure, there is such lack of compassion! Such a failure to respect those frightened by the evidence they see! Please, save the lectures on the Pope's magisterium. We're not stupid. Instead, explain to us why the evidence that troubles us so is not what it seems. Demonstrate how what appear to be conflicts in Church teaching on matters like divorce and remarriage and indifferentism and the existence and/or population of Hell, are not real. How they are just mistaken impressions on our part.

Maybe we've got him all wrong. Maybe some things appear worse than they are. Maybe we are in the echo chamber of Catholic blogdom and just repeat what we hear. (Not Bear, who seldom looks at human writings.)

Admittedly, a lot of what is usually included in his indictment are more properly "oddities." Let's face it, the man is quirky. We should be willing to limit the evidence of our criticism to things that really matter. There is a lot thrown at him that does not really touch on whether he is in conflict with earlier authority or not. There are many reasons to be fair to the man - including protecting our own credibility.

If the Church truly is indefectible, it should be easy to defend him on the facts. If the Pope cannot err in his ordinary magisterium, then the job is already almost done!

The Bear would nominate the person who set aside principles and satisfactorily addressed the apparent factual contradictions as a Doctor of the Church! Is there no one who will leave off condemning the critics of Pope Francis to actually defend that poor man?

Unfortunately, attacking his critics is infinitely easier than defending his actions and statements.

A Scorpion for a Fish

Hmm, I don't want to talk about evidence. But here,
have this nourishing scorpion!
And so, those who desperately need the fish of explaining the evidence are instead handed the scorpion of reproof. The Bear is certain these scorpion-handlers think they are doing the right thing. But he must challenge them to explain the evidence.

Many who are frightened and confused and have heard "gates of Hell" for the one-thousandth time will, the Bear fears, conclude that no one takes this task upon themselves because they know they cannot honestly and adequately explain the conflicts.

Bear means, if they could, they would, right? It is the most natural thing in the world when falsely accused to address the evidence, not to airily cite principles, such as, "It is impossible for a Bear to outrun a pony, as Pliny clearly states, therefore Bear did not eat pony."

So are all the criticisms of Francis false? What would be the motives of his critics? They are not all "trads." The Bear's own record in this ephemeris begins quite favorably toward Francis, even defending him over his choice of footwear and other early complaints. Why would the Bear eventually decide to go against Francis when it requires him to admit he was wrong about him all along and look like a gullible boob?

To Hell with Dialogue - at Least This Dialogue

And so we will continue to have two broad groups of Catholics talking past one another, never reaching the "dialogue" that is so valued when it comes to non-Catholics. If the principled Catholics spent one 100th of their time sensitively addressing the concerns of their own brothers and sisters as they do in "interfaith outreach" or ecumenical photo-ops. they might help heal the de facto schism in the Church.

And criticizing people who are convinced by evidence (even if they are wrong) is guaranteed to fail. How in the world is this supposed to help the Church?

The Bear sees no solution to this impasse, unless someone is willing to start addressing those with evidence-based concerns with respect.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Red Death at her Loom

Here's a video Bear made of his driver, bodyguard, factotum and lawfully wedded wife, Red Death, at her new loom. It all looks crazy hard to me.

So, we can officially go from animal to thread (by spinning) to cloth (by weaving) to clothing, by sewing.

Bear could not be more proud of his lovely red haired (and clever!) wife. Hope you enjoy.

Live Blogging Eclipse from the Best Seats in the House. WOW!

2 min 40 s totality in Bear's back yard.

Bear's live Tweets from the eclipse.

12:32 p.m. (all times CST) Intermittent clouds interfering with eclipse watching. Sizable bite out of disk when visible. Sky Bear eats the Sun! Send Bear salmon!

12:45 Now a grin with imaginary nose at 2 o'clock. Quality of light is different, sharper, animals oblivious.

12:47 Curious how moon is exact size and distance to obscure sun except corona, permitting scientific discovery.

12:59 Rooster crowing now. Bringing the hens in. Goats unconcerned.

1:05 20 min to totality. Amazing how light it is with only a sliver of sun. Even so, visibly darker. Chickens didn't lay today. In evening mode.

Our Eclipse Model, Red Death. Notice how green the grass is.

1:12 Now suddenly cooler and dimmer. Just a tiny sliver. Goats heading into barn for bed. 8 min to go.

She's starting to fade.

1:14 No long rays of red like sunset. Greens still green, just weirdly dim. Very eerie now. 4 min to totality.

You can barely see her. Getting dark and cool fast

1:22 Now. Spectacular corona goats run to barn cicadas... Amazing amazing amazing! (Note, the corona was so much more than Bear had expected. It was flashing out in glorious white angel wings, with a bright white ring around a very, very black disk. What a sight!)

You can barely see her now. It is  DARK as night!

Just. Wow. (Photo Arthur Capps)

1:23 And suddenly, LIGHT!!! WOW!


How will the Bear behave during
the Eclipse? Bear will report on
Eclipses have strange effects on animals, as is well known.

The Bear's email box has been flooded with thousands of emails demanding to know where the Bear went, why can't they see the Bear, what's wrong with the Bear, and so forth.

Well, perhaps not thousands, but there have been more than one, after which Bear math gets pretty fuzzy.

The Bear will be the Bear, however Bearish that may be. There has been a bit of confusion about that, but it has been resolved.

Gingrrr. Just because.
There are few people who are in the position of making someone's fondest dream come true. (Such as Ginger Rogers circa 1930.) The Bear admires his publisher and values his friendship with them.

The excitement of seeing one's first novel in print as a weighty tome between two slick covers is unlike any other.

Also, it has come to Bear's attention that some Woodland Creatures have not purchased their copy of Judging Angels. Perhaps you are on the periphery of the Woodlands, the unemployed youth, or former arms dealers who have gone straight and have not yet found a job that makes use of your talents, and cannot afford the $29.99 price tag, or even the $9.99 Kindle version. So, the Bear is going to give some away.

That's right. FREE! All you have to do is submit in the COMMENT BOX what you like best about St. Corbinian's Bear's Ephemeris. (Please, let's not be slackers and say things like "the Bear, of course!")

Three lucky winners, chosen by the Bear in an exercise of his benevolent and unfathomable ursine will, shall receive an autographed, trade paperback copy of Judging Angels FREE, and the Bear will even throw in shipping. Winners will need to provide a physical address and any special instructions for the autograph in an email to with the subject line: CONTEST WINNER.

Perhaps, after the Bear has reestablished his reputation as the most prolific one-Bear third-tier Catholic blogger in history, some of his Woodland friends will see fit to reinstate their vital shipments of salmon.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Is it Time for the Post-Rational Catholic Church?

The Rational Catholic Church

Is the intellectual rigor
of St. Thomas Aquinas
a relic that should be
quietly retired in our age?
Is the Catholic Faith rational? It has always been considered to be rational, with one or two exceptions by theologians who only prove the rule. It is one of the things that sets it apart from other religions. "Fideism" (or "faith alone" as the foundation for religion) has been a dirty word in the Catholic Church. She has gloried in the rigorous logic of St. Thomas Aquinas and other Doctors of the Church and leading thinkers.

The Church may (and does) contain "mysteries." These transcend the limits of rational thought, however, they do not defeat it. One may only go so far with the mystery of the Holy Trinity, but it is far enough to bring one's intellect into an appreciation of it, if not a comprehension of it.

The Church has always invited Faithful to enter into the riches of her teaching with their baptized intellects. The "check your brain at the door" sign was not often seen on Church churches.

Another long article. The Bear seems to see things with clarity now. Those who think only of Pope Francis have picked out one plank in the tornado. As the West changes, so change the institutions of the West, and the Church has not been immune. And, to paraphrase Steely Dan, "I cried when I wrote this piece - shoot me if I do not cease."

Are We in the Post-Rational Church?

The Bear hopes no one has beat him to that phrase, "Post-Rational Church." It could catch on, don't you think? It has a quasi-scholarly ring to it, doesn't it? Those are words one can easily imagine as the title of some influential book: "Being Catholic in the Post-Rational Church."

Let the Bear state up front that his use of the term is ambivalent. It is supposed to be accurate and descriptive, not polemical. And, as you shall see, the Bear is not certain it can be avoided without the Church remaining ossified in the past. At least, he can see how men of good will might reach that conclusion.

What would be the characteristics of the Post-Rational Church? First of all, it would thrive in a Western culture that no longer put put very much importance on thinking. It would appeal to people who reduced complex issues to agitprop fit for Facebook, and defined themselves with a handful of simple and well-known labels.

Shameful agitprop by Bear, who identifies himself as
"Bear." "Apex Predator." "Lepanto Catholic."

The Post-Rational Church would explain nothing, or at least nothing clearly. The direct and short encyclicals of the past would be replaced by ghost-written novel-length tomes no would would want to read.

Changes would be imposed without comment, on the basis of naked authority, possibly with a fig leaf from some modern writing. Perhaps Teilhard de Chardin or Valentin Tomberg (Meditations on the Tarot was big in Catholic circles at one time - Bear has read it more than once and it is a fascinating presentation of the French stream of Western Occultism. Oh, and heretical, if one is into rational categories like that.)

Who knows what strange flowers may bloom as the creepers of Post-Rationalism overgrow the Church?

The Curious Case of the Catholic Church's Love Affair with Occultist
Valentin Tomberg.

Back in the Rational Church: Mirari Vos in 1832

See. for example Mirari Vos, written by Pope Gregory XVI in 1832. It is easy to read the whole thing in a sitting, since it is quite brief and clear as a bell. (Feel free to skip the quotes, if you are already convinced popes taught the opposite of what the Church now teaches.) Note this from Paragraph 7 about changing doctrines:

Indeed you will accomplish this perfectly if, as the duty of your office demands, you attend to yourselves and to doctrine and meditate on these words: “the universal Church is affected by any and every novelty”[5] and the admonition of Pope Agatho: “nothing of the things appointed ought to be diminished; nothing changed; nothing added; but they must be preserved both as regards expression and meaning.”[6] Therefore may the unity which is built upon the See of Peter as on a sure foundation stand firm. May it be for all a wall and a security, a safe port, and a treasury of countless blessings.

There is also this, about marriage, in Paragraph 12:

Now the honorable marriage of Christians, which Paul calls “a great sacrament in Christ and the Church,”[15] demands our shared concern lest anything contrary to its sanctity and indissolubility is proposed... However, troublesome efforts against this sacrament still continue to be made. The people therefore must be zealously taught that a marriage rightly entered upon cannot be dissolved; for those joined in matrimony God has ordained a perpetual companionship for life and a knot of necessity which cannot be loosed except by death. Recalling that matrimony is a sacrament and therefore subject to the Church, let them consider and observe the laws of the Church concerning it. Let them take care lest for any reason they permit that which is an obstruction to the teachings of the canons and the decrees of the councils.

Finally, in Paragraph 13 indifferentism is harshly condemed; it is the old word for today's much-beloved ecumenism. (It just doesn't seem proper to use the word "ecumenism" without decorating it with flowers. It brings out the schoolgirl in the old Bear. Not in Pope Gregory, though.)

Bear's mandatory bouquet
to Ecumenism.
Now We consider another abundant source of the evils with which the Church is afflicted at present: indifferentism. This perverse opinion is spread on all sides by the fraud of the wicked who claim that it is possible to obtain the eternal salvation of the soul by the profession of any kind of religion, as long as morality is maintained. Surely, in so clear a matter, you will drive this deadly error far from the people committed to your care. With the admonition of the apostle that “there is one God, one faith, one baptism”[16] may those fear who contrive the notion that the safe harbor of salvation is open to persons of any religion whatever. They should consider the testimony of Christ Himself that “those who are not with Christ are against Him,”[17] and that they disperse unhappily who do not gather with Him. Therefore “without a doubt, they will perish forever, unless they hold the Catholic faith whole and inviolate.”[18] Let them hear Jerome who, while the Church was torn into three parts by schism, tells us that whenever someone tried to persuade him to join his group he always exclaimed: “He who is for the See of Peter is for me.”[19] A schismatic flatters himself falsely if he asserts that he, too, has been washed in the waters of regeneration. Indeed Augustine would reply to such a man: “The branch has the same form when it has been cut off from the vine; but of what profit for it is the form, if it does not live from the root?”

Note the continual appeal to previous authority, and the continuity Pope Gregory assumes. Note also
that his is a papal encyclical that specifically condemns novelty, any changes to the teaching of the Church on marriage, and "indifferentism." Now, was he a pope? Was he protected by the Holy Spirit from teaching error? Is what he says part of an identifiable continuous legacy of truth possessed by the Catholic Church?

Pope Francis and Bishop Jackelen in common worship
to celebrate Reformation in Lund, Sweden.

And, the most important question for us, does the Church today teach the very same? If it has changed, has it offered a rational explanation, good, bad, or indifferent?

People who ask questions like this are troublemakers. Only troublemakers would dredge up some 150-year-old encyclical to try to embarrass Pope Francis. Evidence and intellect have no place in the Post-Rational Church. The only answer fit for grumblers is silence.

The Methods of the Post-Rational Church

A Post-Rational Church could hardly abrogate the teachings of the past, for they are, after all, just as divinely-protected as the latest novelties. It could, however, allow disfavored relics to fall into disuetude. They would not be invoked or mentioned. If anyone brought them up, clerics would scratch their chins and look blank, then launch into the new view on that topic in the spirit of, "We have always been at war with Eastasia."

Eventually, such disfavored relics would become embarrassments. Their mention would produce smirks and eye-rolls. And yet, they would exist just as infallibly as any other dogma.

There is a wonderful quote by Chesterton about belonging to a Church 2000 years behind the times and gloriously unconcerned, versus belonging to a Church that is always puffing up ten minutes late, but the Bear could not easily find the quote with his slipshod research, so you'll just have to trust the Bear. There is something ridiculous about the image, and even filtered through a Bear's faulty memory, it retains its Chestertonian truth and power. (Probably from Everlasting Man, or Heretics.)

The Post-Rational Church would be easily captured by the zeitgeist and cultural fads, and would lend its credibility to the popular politically-left scientific theories of the day. It would be attracted to Leftism in a Post-Rational age because of the superficial resemblances between stated Leftist goals and the Gospel. That, and O'Sullivan's law: any institution that is not deliberately of the Right, will eventually become Leftist. For what it is worth, the Bear believes the institutional Church has turned to the Left, and will not change direction. He offers only one comment on that, because human politics are boring to Bears.

Questions of religion are growing more irrelevant among Westerners every year. The Church may try to maintain ties and relevance by increasing its interest in popularly worldly controversies.

But Bear does wonder why the Post-Rational Church should be more concerned about our temporary climate than the extremes of climate some souls are likely to experience when they die. "Saints preserve us!" the Post-Rational Church might cry, lest it be caught on the wrong side of any popular issue.

And if malcontents point to apparent conflicts, they would be met with the maddening certainty of phrases like, "One must never criticize the Pope; one must believe the Pope. The Church says so. If Vatican II documents are too hard for you to make sense of, you must trust the Church in her interpretation. There is no conflict. To question, is to put yourself outside of the charmed circle of the Church."

These are the sort of answers to sincere questions that surprise the Bear coming from the Church. The bland insistence on blind obedience just sounds odd coming from the mouth of the Church who declared St. Thomas Aquinas its Doctor. The Church would, once upon a time, have said, "I am so glad you are interested in this. Come, let us walk together, and I will happily answer your questions. You may not understand all of them right now, because reality can be frustrating at times, but you will profit from the time, I promise."

Since You Asked, Vatican II - One More Look

And yet, here we have long, gaseous compromise documents (see e.g. The Rhine Flows Into the Tiber and the documents themselves) that simply defy certain understanding. ("Subsistit in," anybody?) Yes, Lumen Gentium is one of them. So, do people go to Heaven through the Catholic Church, or does everybody get a free ride, and not even in a Christian way? And, if the rule has changed, now, since the old Tridentine days, why the "stinger" at the end, that some people might be deceived and go to Hell after all?

What the Hell does that mean? One may or may not be saved outside of belonging to the identifiable Church as constituted in society, but who's to say it's not bigger and more mysterious than it appears to be? So, sure, anybody can be saved, even atheists, but, then again, some might be deceived and go to Hell. ("Reasonable hope nobody will, though, just sayin'" pipes up Bishop Barron.)

That is the problem with compromise documents. They send inconsistent messages from which one may tendentiously draw this quote or that to support one's position. As a practical guide, however, after all the folderol, a soul remains in ignorance about his chances of salvation. The only people who seem Hellbound for certain are lapsed Catholics!

The gushing language of indifferentism, or the deadly Tridentine viper, after all. There was a reason the Council of Trent repeated brief anathema after anathema, and didn't send gooey love letters marked SWAK to the world. It may not be pretty, but at least an anathema is pretty clear. "Do X, and you are cursed, and going to Hell. Next!"

This is not to say anyone might not confidently make an explanation of Lumen Gentium. Or that another might just as confidently make a different explanation. The Bear does have some experience arguing fine points of complex legal reasoning, after all.

The Post-Rational Church in Action: The New Jew View

As the 50th anniversary of Vatican II document Nostrae Aetatae drew nigh, the Vatican panicked. They hadn't done anything new for Jews in five decades! So, they put together a photo-op with a very official-looking document and (pretending to speak as the Church) somebody said that Jews are good to go to Heaven by means of a special way that doesn't involve Jesus. Or, if it does, is in some mysterious way such as He might as well not be needed.

You can read about the New Jew View, just in time for the fiftieth anniversary. This was hailed as a significant accomplishment, as if, as non-magisterial, it resolved anything concerning Jews. The ADL praised it by saying, "Church admits it needs Jews, Jews do not need Church." And all concerned slapped each other on their backs, and felt warm, and were relieved that the fiftieth anniversary of Nostrae Aetatae was met with the historic admission that Jews do not need Jesus after all. Not editorials starting: "It has been 50 years since the Catholic Church promised to turn its back on a long and bloody history of antisemitism and recognize Judaism as a legitimate religion, but..."

It worked so well that it is a model for all sorts of "outreach" and ecumenical and interfaith works. Don't kill the buzz of the The Luther Festival. (Still time to catch the October wind-up!)

Bear gets confused by things like this. If the New Jew View is not the teaching of the Church, why make a big whoop-de-doo about something, then later say, "Um, no, while we wanted it to look as official as possible, it's really a load of bush-wah. Come on, Bear, you of all Bears pretend not to recognize public relations when you see it?"

One must also question the very concept of "magisterium" in a Post-Rational Church. Does it really play a role once the nitpicking intellect is banished? Who cares what you call it? It was a great day, and everybody can now think about Catholic-Jewish relations more positively, and twenty years from now, it will be quoted in an encyclical anyway.

Yes, Bear recognizes PR. He is just surprised when the Church uses it to mislead people. He supposes, though, he is over-thinking the whole matter in the Post-Rational Church. A warm "feeling" has been generated. "Ancient injuries" have been acknowledged. Not everything has to be "rational," Bear. Not everything has to be written down in ink in some Big Book of Truth. Just roll with it, Bear. It's the way we do things now.

A Post-Rational Pope?

Note that Bear has never said Pope is not Pope or Church is not Church. He has not denied Vatican II, which managed to do some very clear and helpful things when it did not let itself become embroiled in politics. The Bear thinks of the revision of the Liturgy of the Hours as a welcome change. And, whether you want to call it "the media council," as poor, confused, old Pope Benedict did (as a peritus, perhaps he felt he bore some responsibility) or "the spirit of Vatican II," it is a plain fact that the sledgehammers were put to the altar rails before the ink dried, and everything changed, practically overnight, as many still living can remember.

So many changes shrugged off now, as "excesses of the spirit of Vatican II," as if that somehow explained something. But it is all the explanation you're likely to get from the Post-Vatican-II-Post-Rational-Church.

Pope Francis is a wonderful example of the Post-Rational Church. 

While the science is controversial, and the politics decidedly Leftist, the Pope seems pretty firmly convinced on Global Warming, and wants Catholics to be, too. Is this an example of the Ordinary Magisterium at work in the Post-Rational Church? If not, why not? Does that question not even arise, and we are to pay attention in any case because Francis, the Pope, said it? The Bear thinks the difference between magisterial and non-magisterial was pretty important in the Rational Church, but can see why it doesn't matter in the Post-Rational Church.

Turn the foot-washing ceremony on Holy Thursday into a series of "messages" without explanation? Of course! 

Pope Francis speaks much, and uses every means the modern world makes available to him. We come away with an impression, and a buzzword or two. Periphery. Arms dealers. Polyhedron. You know them all. 

And yet, has he ever connected the dots on an issue so important to his ordinary magisterium as "arms dealing?" The answer is, "no." But in a Post-Rational Church, the intellect must starve so faith can feast and we must agree without the need for understanding. Yes, arms dealing is bad. It does hurt people. Bear is against it. Whatever it means. Small arms smuggled to fuel African civil wars? The latest U.S. aircraft carrier? Those bastards who build the British nuclear sub that sank the General Belgrano during the war over the Malvinas (Falkland Islands to the rest of the world)? Bear is not sure.

On more substantive matters of the faith, the dubia is forgotten somewhere, day 335 since its submission, a relic of the Rational Church that once welcomed and gladly provided answers. Bear must laugh. They don't understand why the dubia has no more relevance to the Post-Rational Church than this ephemeris. "You ask for a clarification of Amorous Laetitia? I'm not quite sure I understand, but how quaint."

Where are the Voices Who Respect the Truth and the Laity?

Where, then is the voice saying, "Shh, lambs, this may look confusing, but allow me to explain it and I'm sure your hearts will be at ease once you understand what Pope Francis said and how it is being accomplished in different parts of the world."

Or, where is the voice saying, "The Church used to teach a lot of things according to the circumstances of her day. Circumstances change. Problems change. Our understanding of human nature improves. Pope Francis is merely leading his sheep to new pastures because that is where they will best thrive as sheep of today."

Instead, the Pope is merely one voice, and the voices of Rome roar through the media like the sound of mighty waters. The only speakers who are checked are those who try to drag the Rational Church back onto the stage.

The Bear predicts if only clear and logical explanations would be provided for changes, troublemakers like the Bear would clap their hands, and Catholic blogdom would practically vanish. Blogs are no more than the last stand of reason in a Post-Rational Church. This ephemeris, and all those like it, are the past, stuck in the Rational Church of Pope Gregory. They will not survive their writers. A new West demands a New Church.

A Post-Rational Church for a Post-Rational Age?

Post-Rational Bear
Performance Art.
The Bear does have to admit that this does not seem to be an age of reason. Everybody can limit their reading to congenial sources. There is a lot of outrage and anger and hurt. Perhaps we have entered a Post-Rational Age in the West. The Bear would not be surprised. We have all seen how arguments get nowhere online. Everybody has already made up his or her mind. Bear suspects we have collectively ruined our organs of intellect. It makes a certain sense that an age such as ours demands the bold gesture, the simple repetition of a dozen buzzwords. The confidence that only the Post-Rational can know.

What the Bear is saying is, that, maybe rationalism has had its day. Trying to apply it to any Western institution, not just the Church, may be vanity and chasing after the wind. What does rationalism have to do with the photo-op? Nothing at all.

The Pope is the Pope, the Church is the Church. The Bear humbly suggests those institutions may have changed to remain relevant in our time. Are not most of us long past explanations? Aren't we challenged by a different approach to so many things? Shocked, even? Yet there is a reason the Bear did not take the vaudeville stage to lecture people on economics. He pedaled a bicycle and people would throw salmon to him. The Bear submits the 21st Century public is better suited to throw salmon at Bears on bicycles than worry their pretty little heads about what's in or out of some "magisterium."

Oh, and cats on Facebook.

Everybody can enjoy a Bear on a bicycle. And so, our Pope acts with bold gestures and almost magical incantations of evocative phrases - "arms dealers" - charged with evil or pathos: "Loneliness of the elderly." One does not explain these things, or need to. One explains nothing. One challenges.

Now, honestly, does the Church of Pope Gregory have any relevance to today? And, even if it did, would anybody listen to Pope Gregory's absolutes on marriage, on salvation, on ecumenism? Haven't those barques sailed long since? Answer truthfully.

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