Igitur non dormiamus sicut ceteri.

Modern Madness

My Boston–or, how to find your home

Thanks to Rod Dreher, there have been several discussions about finding and making a community lately; a theme that resonates a lot when the city I’ve come to love and reluctantly called home is attacked. I don’t know that I ever wanted to admit my love of this hard region, with the constant winters, the people and their famously laconic social skills, and the lack of real mountains. However, reading Dreher’s work and reflecting on how much New England has adopted me has certainly been a time of reflection and thus it’s overdue for some praise to my community.

Boston's Old North Church

Boston has a strange draw for us Lichens boys. I can recall being eight-years-old and being moved to tears that my oldest brother decided to leave Oregon for Boston. “Boston,” I thought, “Where is that and why would he want to leave?” Bob had just moved back in with the family and now needed a change; he needed to get as far away from Oregon’s spirit and geography as he could, and New England is as much a foreign nation to a kid from Cascadia as much as any other place. It seemed so weird to me, but I ended up following in his footsteps a good fourteen years later and would return to this region after my departure from grad school. Like Bob, I too needed to get out of Oregon but I never imagine that I’d feel the same affection that he did for this place.

My first impression of Boston was that it is an old city, carved by Puritans in a hostile place and refined by the toughest people I’ve ever encountered. New Englanders can come off as rude, with a huge chip on their shoulder. It can be mistaken as rudeness, but it is only their odd way of loving. They protect their hamlets, towns, neighborhoods, and cities much like the hero of The Napoleon of  Notting Hill. A boy growing up in East Boston or Bow, NH is likely to see their simple land as citadel worth protecting and loving. In fact, these last few days of carnage have reminded me that New England can teach the whole nations one simple truth: that a place is loved not because it is great but that its greatness is but a reflection of the love the people have poured out on it.

I may have been initially put off by the people, but I truly do love this region. Her old forests, colonial towns, and ages of folklore produce stories of ghosts, romance, and adventure and very often these same stories happen in the same few square miles. If you go to one town of a few hundred people you can plop down in a pub and feel the many ages of hopes and dreams that were poured out for generations even if not a single person will engage you in small talk. This is, after all, the soil which was tilled by the Sons of Liberty that helped plant the seeds for our many great poets and novelists.

“There are two ways of getting home,” Chesterton wrote, “and one of them is to stay there. The other is to walk round the whole world till we come back to the same place.” Chesterton was talking about seeing the familiar things made new, as if you found a new joy and adventure by gazing at the same hill you’ve walked one thousand times before. As I look at the videos of the Marathon Bombings I see the unspeakable horror of what a coward will do to maim and harm other but I also see the much overlooked simple kindness of people running back to offer aid and help to their fallen friends. Even in a place renowned for its less-than-friendly demeanor  there is still enough good in people that they will help when all common sense would say to run.

Boston and all of New England have so much beauty but it takes a second look before one can see it again. Here is my hope that I don’t forget the joys that this adopted land of mine teaches me.


When I Agree With Krugman, You Know It’s Weird

Paul Krugman is undoubtedly an intelligent and perceptive man, but I always have a hard time agreeing with him. Part of that is that he’s a DNC supporter who has trouble blaming his own party for ills, but actually will when facts get too hard to face. Also, Dr. Krugman tends to write almost as if his Fiat grants him the right to make claims without backing things up and when something doesn’t work he can fall back into the Keynesian excuse, “We just didn’t spend enough money!” However, in this short column I find Krugman makes some great points and some fair challenges. I still don’t agree with everything he’s writing in this column, but it is worth a read.

If you were shocked by Friday’s job report, if you thought we were doing well and were taken aback by the bad news, you haven’t been paying attention. The fact is, the United States economy has been stuck in a rut for a year and a half

Yet a destructive passivity has overtaken our discourse. Turn on your TV and you’ll see some self-satisfied pundit declaring that nothing much can be done about the economy’s short-run problems (reminder: this “short run” is now in its fourth year), that we should focus on the long run instead.

Read the rest at the New York Times.

The Episcopalians Steal Everything From Us…


Image from HuffPo

WASHINGTON (RNS) The Episcopal Church is rejecting charges that its top leader, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, mishandled the ordination of a former priest who is now accused of sexual abuse.

Jefferts Schori has remained silent on the matter, which surfaced after an alleged victim filed suit last month against a Benedictine monastery in Missouri where the priest, the Rev. Bede Parry, once lived.

Parry, a former Catholic monk, was ordained as an Episcopal priest in Nevada in 2004, when Jefferts Schori was the local bishop before her 2006 election as presiding bishop.

Her successor in Nevada, Bishop Dan Edwards, said Tuesday (July 5) that a thorough review of church records shows that Jefferts Schori “handled the situation perfectly appropriately.”

“The spin on this, that Bishop Katharine failed to follow the rules to protect children, is highly ironic,” said Edwards, who noted that the Diocese of Nevada has wrestled with problems of clergy misconduct. “She has done more to clean up this diocese than anybody.”

While the Roman Catholic Church has weathered years of allegations from victims and lawyers of mishandling abuse cases, the issue has not similarly roiled the 2.4 million-member Episcopal Church, or Jefferts Schori’s leadership.

If you have the stomach, please read the rest of this article at the Huffington Post.

If only the Episcopalians would allow priests to be married! If only they would listen to Maureen Dowd and let women be bishops and then none of this would happen!

The Authorities Take Zombies Seriously

The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention:

If zombies did start roaming the streets, CDC would conduct an investigation much like any other disease outbreak. CDC would provide technical assistance to cities, states, or international partners dealing with a zombie infestation. This assistance might include consultation, lab testing and analysis, patient management and care, tracking of contacts, and infection control (including isolation and quarantine).

From the CDC website

Something tells me that The Walking Dead inspired this little post. However, I just have to ask when the University of Chicago and the Windy City’s new mayor will have a plan.

I Have Little To Say About The Latest News

Do not react. Do not resent. Keep inner stillness.

N.B.: I’m posting this as a reminder to myself, not because I want to be preachy or anything. 

Yes, the news is in and I’m once again caught between wanting to celebrate the downfall of a mass murderer. And yet, there is something that makes me more than a little uncomfortable to have a street celebration when a person is killed. Perhaps I’m just too cosy in my Ivory Tower. All the same, I’m glad that Osama is out of the picture and I can now only hope that this leads us closer to peace and justice. Oh, and I do believe a snifter of brandy is called for while I think these things over.

St. Thomas More and St. Stephen of Hungary, pray for us all!

Friday’s Tremendous Trifles: Puppets and the Liturgy

UPDATE: Happy April Fool’s Day!

I love Sunday mass, but I have to admit that it is hard for me to be able to sit still for a length of time and not let my thoughts

Image courtesey of Bad Vestments, who I did not ask for permission as this needs to shared.

wander. Long time readers of this blog will know that I bear the cross of ADHD and thus every service, no matter what the feast day, becomes either a) a period for reflection on the divine or b) a time to think about how Battlestar Galactica could have ended, how I need to do my laundry, the best episode of How I Met Your Mother, or what I’m going to smoke when I get home. A and B are mutually exclusive and thus cannot correspond in the same mind at the same time. However, some groups are trying to find a way for me to be more involved in the liturgy.

Puppets are the answer! While growing up as an evangelical I would look forward to the puppet show that happened every Easter. Always entertaining and always ridiculous, but oh so much better than Pastor’s three hour sermon about not getting caught up in the world. I was glad, then, when after years of the Mass and even sitting through the full  Latin liturgy at S. Maria Maggiore in Rome, I found that the Catholic church was ecumenical and open to all.  Even our felt and wooden friends need not be excluded from the Liturgy!

The Orthodox have used images since time immemorial and they even defended the use of ikons to the death during that unfortunate period.  Even in the West we have been using statues and images and the Middle Ages showed that the Church could be a flourishing of the arts with the production of morality plays, liturgies written by influential composers from Helfta onwards, and not to mention the mosaics and statues.  So, in that tradition we in the post Councilor Church stand to contribute our own cultural excellence in the form of puppet pagentry.  See this video for the latest contribution by Catholics to the  culture at large:

Now, some say that puppets are inappropriate for the Mass and that they do not inspire the needed reverence.  I think the opposite, and in fact I believe that they inspire the necessary fear of God as described in the Book of Job.  Tell me, dear reader, if

Lifted up on Eagle's Wings!

you could sit through the Mass and not be afraid with this swooping over you?  Case made and the stick remains.


Will History Repeat Itself?

I don’t know what any of this means, but a rosary or two for America would be a good idea.

Holy Mother, Pray for Us!

Friday’s Tremendous Trifle’s: Disaster and Waves

With today’s news of the earthquake in Japan and the tsunamis that are sweeping the Pacific, I’m not sure what mood I’m in for talking about the trifling things of the world.  My own home state of Oregon got hit by waves and it looks like one man is dead as a result of the disaster in the home I remain in exile from.  International news and the cable news cycle allows us to be in a place so that no disaster will go unnoticed and our sympathy’s almost always follow.  The President of the United States has already pledged the U.S. military to provide aid and consultation to Japan and Oregon will receive help from FEMA; this is the only thing I can truly find amazing today.

In a few days there will be fund-raisers, missionaries of all stripes will go and offer help, and we will be asking the eternal questions of humanity and theodicy. I myself will be asking these questions in my own head while still needing to complete papers for finals, finish an incomplete from a previous class, and going about my business. Even in our daily business, though, we still care. This same technology that is such an occasion for sin can be used to focus our prayers and donate money to a good cause. Even the poser-luddite in me is in awe of how much can be done in such little time with the help of technology.

It is no secret that calamities can bring about best and worst of humanity. No doubt there will be stories of looting along with stories of heroism, and this earthquake will give another microcosm of humanity. While I wish no disasters on anyone and pray I never have to live through such a nightmare, I cannot help but to see the greatness of people when they are in the midst of calamities and choose to do good, help their neighbours, and generally act in a way that makes even the most cynical express amazement. That, it seems, is the most tremendous trifle I can find right now.

A Right To Choose (So Long As The State Can Kill’ya!)

Though I usually love, love, love saying, “I told you so,” in my rather usual cynicism, this is one instance where I really wish I was wrong.  Whenever I argue that ceding power to the hands of the few jeopardizes fundamental liberties in a way that can be spiritually and physically dangerous.  I’m usually then told that my cynicism is just too damn awful and I really need to learn to trust people.  Tell you, my dear utopian reader, when you can guarantee me that a right to euthanasia will not necessarily mean that doctors may decide not resuscitate me without informing my family of their rather grave decision, I’ll try try the trust route.  However, given this current post at Secondhand Smoke, you can understand why I’m a little less trusting of experts who want to control my every decision.


UPDATE: Lest anyone think that anyone is over-reacting:

Last month, the Star reported on the case of Douglas DeGuerre, another Sunnybrook patient who requested full emergency care, which was changed by doctors without consultation, according to allegations filed in court by his daughter.

His daughter, Joy Wawrzyniak, says she pleaded with doctors to save her father’s life as he was in critical condition two years ago.

They stood back and refused as he suffered an arrest, she alleges


Even though I am certain that he doesn’t appreciate my pirate jokes, I am enjoying the new- found blog by fellow bibliophile and beer enthusiast, Kevin Huges.   As someone who quaffs more than his average share of beer, I think his reviews are pretty straight forward and seems to agree with my tastes in the bitter stuff. Go forth and read, my beloved reader!

Along with this blog recommendation, I give you the greatest news for today:

A new paper in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research suggests that – for reasons that aren’t entirely clear – abstaining from alcohol does actually tend to increase one’s risk of dying even when you exclude former drinkers. The most shocking part? Abstainers’ mortality rates are higher than those of heavy drinkers.

Praise be to God, for HE loves mankind!