On the Roman Mass

Michael Davis does a fine job of elucidating the history of the Mass of the Roman Rite without a hint of bias or irony. He is quite straight forward so far as I can tell.

What I took to heart from reading this book was that the codification of the Mass by St. Pius V was the eventuality of the Council of Trent, which was the Church’s most significant and formal response to the Reformation. The Mass was meant to prevent Catholic liturgy from becoming infused with novelties and disparity that already existed to some degree. It was meant to put into rubrics the theology of the Church which must forever contest any and all other theologies.

Secondly, it is the oldest form of Christian worship around. I have been told that if I want old liturgy, I should just become Orthodox. Turns out, the Tridentine Mass is older because all it’s prayers and the canon itself originated from the earliest days of Christian life after Christ’s death.

Lastly, I was reminded that St. Pius V actually did leave the possibility for other rites to exist, so long as they had been practiced for more than 200 years.

All this clarifies what a stark difference there has been in the history of the Church with Vatican II as the divider between.

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Tru Azz Conservatism

From a source I have fallen away from reading lately, The American Conservative, here relayed as the positions of the anti-federalists:

They insisted on the importance of a small political scale, particularly because a large expanse of diverse citizens makes it difficult to arrive at a shared conception of the common good and an overly large scale makes direct participation in political rule entirely impracticable if not impossible. They believed that laws were and ought to be educative, and insisted upon the centrality of virtue in a citizenry. Among the virtues most prized was frugality, and they opposed an expansive, commercial economy that would draw various parts of the Union into overly close relations, thereby encouraging avarice, and particularly opposed trade with foreign nations, which they believed would lead the nation to compromise its independence for lucre. They were strongly in favor of “diversity,” particularly relatively bounded communities of relatively homogeneous people, whose views could then be represented (that is, whose views could be “re-presented”) at the national scale in very numerous (and presumably boisterous) assemblies. They believed that laws were only likely to be followed when more or less directly assented to by the citizenry, and feared that as distance between legislators and the citizenry increased, that laws would require increased force of arms to achieve compliance. For that reason, along with their fears of the attractions of international commerce and of imperial expansion, they strongly opposed the creation of a standing army and insisted instead upon state-based civilian militias. They demanded inclusion of a Bill of Rights, among which was the Second Amendment, the stress of which was not on individual rights of gun ownership, but collective rights of civilian self-defense born of fear of a standing army and the temptations to “outsource” civic virtue to paid mercenaries.

A lot of what I’ve read about Distributism echoes much mentioned here. Distrubitism seeks to distribute power as widely as possible, discouraging it’s coalescing into a central authority or bureaucracy. I am willing to bet if the right followed the tract initiated by the Anti-federalists above, the country would look a lot different, be a lot fairer, and most people would lean right as well.

More to the point of what I said on an earlier date about conservatives being definable as those willing to admit and respond to life’s tragic character, the article puts this fact in another light, namely the recognition of the law of unintended consequences.

 

…there is the conservative disposition, one articulated perhaps most brilliantly by Russell Kirk, who described conservatism above all not as a set of policy positions, but as a general view toward the world. That disposition especially finds expression in a “piety toward the wisdom of one’s ancestors,” a respect for the ancestral that only with great caution, hesitancy, and forbearance seeks to introduce or accept change into society. It is supremely wary of the only iron law of politics—the law of unintended consequences (e.g., a few conservatives predicted that the introduction of the direct primary in the early 1900’s would lead to increasingly extreme ideological divides and the increased influence of money in politics. In the zeal for reform, no one listened). It also tends toward a pessimistic view of history, more concerned to prevent the introduction of corruption in a decent regime than driven to pursue change out a belief in progress toward a better future.

“The kingdom is at hand.” “Read the signs.” Do you see the language I’m playing with here? I love this messianic concept that’s explored by some of the European philosophers. As the Silicon Valley technocrats might put it, “We’ve got it all figured out. It’s all perfect now. We’re all progressing towards it. Once we balance the equation, everything will just be perfect. There will be no more suffering; there will be no more evil. It will be the end.” That’s precisely the blasphemy maniacs like me utterly and completely reject. – John Maus

Dorothy Day, briefly, on Usury

“The Money is Not Ours”

City Treasurer: Dear Sir,

We are returning to you a check for $3,579.39 which represents interest on the $68,700 which we were awarded by the city as payment for the property at 223 Chrystie Street, which we owned and lived in for almost ten years, and used as a community for the poor. We did not voluntarily give up the property–it was taken from us by right of eminent domain for the extension of the subway which the city deemed necessary. We had to wait almost a year and a half for the money owed us, although the city permitted us to receive 2/3 of the assessed valuation of the property in advance so that we could re-locate. Property owning having been made impossible for us by city regulations, we are now renting and continuing our work.

We are returning the interest on the money we have recently received because we do not believe in “money-lending at interest.” As Catholics we are acquainted with the early teaching of the Church. All the early Councils forbade it, declaring it reprehensible to make money by lending it out at interest. Canon law of the Middle Ages forbade it and in various decrees ordered that profit so obtained was to be restored. In the Christian emphasis on the duty of charity, we are commanded to lend gratuitously, to give freely, even in the case of confiscation, as in our own case–not to resist but to accept cheerfully.

We do not believe in the profit system, and so we cannot take profit or interest on our money. People who take a materialistic view of human service which to make a profit but we are trying to do our duty by our service without wages to our brothers as Jesus commanded in the Gospel (Matthew 25). Loaning money at interest is deemed by one Franciscan as the principal scourge of civilization. Eric Gill, the English artist and writer, calls usury and war the two great problems of our time.

Since we deal with these problems in every issue of THE CATHOLIC WORKER since 1933–man’s freedom, war and peace, man and the state, man and his work, and since Scripture says that the love of money is the root of all evil, we are taking this opportunity to live in practice of this belief, and make a gesture of overcoming that love of money by returning to you the interest.

Insofar as our money paid for services for the common good, and aid to the poor, we should be very happy to allow you to use not only our money without interest, but also our work, the works of mercy which we all perform here at the headquarters of THE CATHOLIC WORKER without other salary or recompense than our daily food and lodging, clothes, and incidental expenses.

Insofar as the use of our money paid for the time being for salaries for judges who have condemned us and others to jail, and for the politicians who appointed them, and for prisons, and the execution chamber at Sing Sing, and for the executioner’s salary–we can only protest the use of our money and turn with utter horror from taking interest on it.

Please also be assured that we are not judging individuals, but we are trying to make a judgment on THE SYSTEM under which we live and in which we admit that we ourselves compromise daily in many small ways, but which we try and wish to withdraw from as much as possible.

Sincerely yours,

DOROTHY DAY

Editor, The Catholic Worker

From Catholicworker.org

You Think It’s Easy, But You’re Wrong

The real difference between a conservative and a liberal is not so much how traditional a person is. A correlation exists, yes, but many liberals are happy to maintain certain traditions in their own life and suggest broader populations enjoy those same or other traditions. Many liberals support traditions but call them culture, and they are especially suggestive of supporting these cultures when they belong to minorities or disadvantaged people.

Many conservatives are not religious, and many who are still find themselves saying they see nothing wrong with this or that group being afforded the “rights” they believe they deserve to have.

So the difference must be made along some other characteristic. Best I can tell at the moment, that characteristic is a optimistic belief about human nature. Liberals affirm such a belief. Now many will tell you they admit and know of a lot of evil and wrongdoings. They know that human beings are capable of grave harm, they know people shoot up masses of people, rob, lend for profit (yes, usury is still a sin), start wars, and so on. But that is not the same thing as believing human nature has a certain inclination towards evil. For this reason, I’d say even many conservatives are liberal. Christianity has become a means by which such optimism has been passed on and embraced. Christ has redeemed us, by His blood we are saved, God has already forgiven us and so on and so forth. Christianity, for these, means that one has no reason to suspect human beings are capable of such grave evil that they may do it as easily as waking up in the morning. Again, admission is not the benchmark. Plenty Christians admit to much evil, but at root, they believe human beings are inclined to behavior for the better.

And of course many people who are not Christian are optimistic about human nature. Some because they’ve been privileged enough to see so many examples of positive behavior, others because they have no faith in anything and consequently cling to the idea that people are capable of good and mostly want to do good. Still others accept such an idea because it’s popular and they’ve never really experienced enough to contradict it.

The motives are still more, but the point is that these people are liberal and find a value in being optimistic about human behavior, the interaction of corporations and the public, the policies of our governments and their application by large bureaucracies, the ongoing involvement of our military in the conflicts of other countries, deregulating the market as well as human behavior in general. I don’t wish to inform any litmus test for all that a liberal thinks, but these are major points of contention between them and conservatives.

A conservative, however, regards human behavior with significant prudence and caution. It is not so much that they are even pessimistic about human behavior. It is not a matter of being pessimistic or optimistic — it is about being either when there is cause, that moderate quality being perfectly worded by the virtue of hope which is an admission of good constantly thwarted by and at odds with evil. Those with hope know the latter tragically often wins out. As a result, they don’t become blind to it and suddenly disregard evil in hopes of encouraging more good simply by being optimistic all the time, nor are they foolish enough to think that anything good comes from succumbing to despair. These people are rarely those who come off as cheery and easily excited. They’re more often balanced and even tempered. They are weighing the good against the bad in any given situation.

Because they must always weigh things, they hold on to their traditions. They believe that something once good may never happen again, so it is best to maintain a form to once again produce the substance. This is one reason the Sunday obligation is more or less common sense and why daily mass is encouraged. Secularly, this is why people suggest to addicts and the lethargic routinizing their days.

Now, the distinction between conservatives and liberals that I have pointed out cannot be compared to any current understanding of how we are politically divided. I would argue that many people who I’d say are conservative identify as liberal. Nonetheless, liberals often support the things they do because they believe there can come no harm from them. Divorce, the right to marry, abortion, greater progress in the sciences and technology, workers rights, etc. are all agreeable to the liberal because these things bring overall good and only a negligible amount of bad. This is the precise way of looking at gentrification that I’ve heard from anyone not bewildered and distraught by it. Neighborhoods improve, they argue. I’ve also heard it from people about legalizing drugs. All of these things the liberal mind views as an expansion on human liberty that works for the better.

Hopefully I’ve made it clear how I would differentiate a liberal from a conservative. At the end of the day, a conservative may support many of the same things as liberals, but the reasoning is different. For this reason, we cannot, again, understand these frameworks based on how the terms are applied demographically in our current society.

Now the distinction may seem arbitrary to some, but given the name of this blog, I think a little more credit is due to conservatives. Over the last few years, perhaps since I saw Sicario, I’ve really been struggling — more like King David as he wrote psalms, not as an actor with drugs and fame — with the fact that I simply do find the more darker and tragic art more fulfilling. I won’t walk any present audience through that journey, but I can say that at the current moment I feel evermore with the day that tragic art and recognizing as well as embracing the tragedy in life is what people need to do. Maybe at all times, but, if not, especially now. The tragic provokes change while the joyful embraces the current reality. This acceptance of life’s inherent harrowing, heartbreaking, and hapless tendencies comes with a temperament and outlook that I’ve come to associate with conservatives. The whole nation has leaned left and lost this temperament and outlook. We think so highly of science, politicians, the wealthy, technology, capitalism (meaning economic actors acting without intervention), plenty of other systems too, and every other ideal we pursue. It is daunting to see the amount of faith people put in everything from an iphone to a BLM march. It doesn’t seem to make any difference what we’re cheering for, because we’re obsessed with the cheering. Causes vary, but in the end we’ve lost that prudent, patient approach. For the fact, we are thanked by conditions that worsen in all the expected ways and a few we didn’t foresee.

One of Joseph Sobran’s pieces raised the project of asking the Liberal, firstly, what kind of society would they be a conservative in — in what kind of society would a liberal believe we’ve settled in to a good place that we oughtn’t mess with too quickly. I don’t think anyone can say “Ah yes, our current society, of course,” but anyone who gives an answer to the question would inevitably hinge that ideal society’s perfection on it’s flexibility and ability to change, progress, and update. Broadly speaking, this means we can never say we want a society in which the average person really does have their say because the average person cannot effect the sweeping changes that the progress-minded want to see. More personally, it means we will always struggle with one another and our world like actors and singers trying to get used to a fleeting brush of success.

It

Yesterday I sat through It. Not a good movie. Whatever themes ran through it are inherent to the story itself, and the movie is a remake, so praising it for what it produced thematically would be superfluous. It didn’t dwell much on those themes, anyhow. Getting over fear and releasing it’s hold on you can indeed overcome much of the evil of the world, but the film doesn’t do a great job of that. It’s alright, I watched the movie approvingly acknowledging the message to myself, but so much takes away from that.

The shock humor, a la Seth Rogen’s hits and that dumb movie about the bear with Mark Whalberg I refuse to look up, was redundant and repugnant, not to mention immature. Literally. I don’t much, since I’ve mentally aged past 18, find placing sex jokes and crudity in the mouths of adolescents very funny. Not only does it absolutely repulse me, but it simply isn’t the way most talk. Teenage years are more vulgar, but the adolescent years are those where innocence and fragility still keep children from being willing to offend others as harshly as the ones in It did.

The humor was of course unfit for the actors’ roles, but it was also unfit for the tone. It seems like a very modern failure to engender a work of art that balances the different elements and features most films inevitably behold: humor, thrill, fright/tension, and romance. Insofar as the movie contains any of these things, they are out of proportion, lopsided. In a movie with allusions to pedophilia both as a human weakness as well as immediate consequence of the existence of evil, you get a girl not 16 laying down in a bra and panties while boys before boys whose voices haven’t even deepened fawn over her before awkwardly looking away once she notices. That kind of shit could only be found in a major feature or avant-garde trash. Maybe the writers figured themselves doing a bit of both.

The children are also minimized adults. I had the same conflict with Stranger Things, but ultimately the latter was able to indicate that childhood hadn’t evaporated yet. With It, you get to watch one of these kids rant ad nauseum about threats to his health a hypochondriac senior in college probably wouldn’t know, a chubby new kid who acts like he’s mimicking guys from romcoms, a vulgar nerd turned self-groping comedian who must have been written by all the douche frats a hollywood budget could afford. None of these kids felt like kids. It isn’t just that parents weren’t around, so the filter was off. It was that they were clearly adults trapped in the bodies of children. Replace all of the children with adults and you’ll get the same exact movie.

If you haven’t seen it, don’t.

How to blame yourself

What keeps me angry all these years is my refusal to believe that I am alone. To believe and then accept that one is alone is the seed of contentedness for many people. You begin to hold yourself responsible for your actions alone, you don’t get angry at other people because you’re indifferent to them, and you mostly learn to look after your own happiness or peace. I’m not capable of that. And every whiff I catch of it in my nose makes my soul cringe.

Which means I am often cringing because of conservatives and liberals both. Both might give the impression of accepting responsibility and encouraging individuals to do the right then at various points in time, but the fact that they both essentially defend the same individualism and only oppose different institutions should suggest they don’t know what they’re talking about.

While conservatives seem to suppose that people act responsibly and control themselves because conservatives believe in a certain moral system, usually Christianity, they are altogether at a loss of how to recognize why Liberals might have concern about institutional reform in various areas in our society. Conservatives emphasize the individual so much that the individual is essentially provoked to isolation. Isolation of the soul, that is; conservatives still suggest that community, family, and religion — all of which draw the individual outward — are good things. But at the end of the day, these things have suffered because they haven’t been properly, which is to say theologically, understood or supported. The focus conservatives put on the individual’s self-determination precludes any successfully broader defense of the necessities in life. If a person becomes bankrupt, homeless, addicted to drugs, terminally ill because of a condition they could have treated on their own, an immigrant or refugee, a high school dropout, etc., it is because the individual didn’t do enough. I won’t deny this is always to some degree true, but it’s a terrible starting point if your intentions are remote to improving society. If your intentions are to blame people for any and everything they do, then it’s a response consistent with your motives. But then one should wonder why conservatives aren’t harder on the wealthy.

Regarding Liberals, they are often blind to how society can also effect virtue for the better; they often miss how telling people they are free to do certain things can quickly become blaming them alone for their response, and as a consequence people become more atomized as well. Pro-choicers who hear of a woman being raped and having her child speak with confusion and animosity, claiming that was her choice and she shouldn’t go around saying it’s right just because it’s what she wanted. For years now, certain people will say that a guy looking at a woman dressed a certain way is himself seeing her in a sexual manner, for it is him who has the choice of how he looks at women. Speaking to a driver, Uber’s former CEO told the guy off because he was complaining about how little rideshare drivers are now paid. The former CEO said that some people don’t want to better themselves in life. Tell me you wouldn’t expect to hear that from a conservative.

Between the two major political parties essentially casting off concern for certain people (likely, in my thinking, because it is simply too difficult to sympathize with certain people, which depends on who you disagree with or what you despise), American society has ultimately fallen into thinking that people who do what they consider wrong have done it because they chose to. It would do us all one better to see that the individual is always bound to society, or at least to God. To do so would be to always take into consideration the effects that institutions and people around us have on the choices we make. I mean, God is doing that, although he expects us to do the right thing still. But his judgment is final, whereas ours should be responsive and corrective in hopes of sparing one another God’s harshest judgment.

Dancing on Ceremony

After watching the episodes of The Office leading up to and ending with Jim and Pam getting married, I have gotten the thought that what is wrong with Liberals is their willingness to dance on ceremony. Liberals seem to dance on ceremony like it was a grave, like they are free from imaginary chains that held them down.

 

The first episode of the pair where Jim and Pam are married deals with particular coldness the only character in the show thus far who might be considered socially conservative, Pam’s grandmother Sylvia (“Meemaw”). Pam and Jim warn the office staff about her before the wedding and hope to ward off any slip of the tongue that might inform her of Pam’s pregnancy. At this point, because Pam and Jim aren’t married, this would prove scandalous in the eyes of Sylvia. When Sylvia finally does find out because Jim misspeaks during a toast, her disappointment is met with Michael’s jokes and excuses, all suggesting Sylvia, this antiquated modicum of a remnant of an artifact of the past, is being uptight and should accept the fact that her granddaughter is pregnant before getting married. It would be have been fair and fine if Sylvia were disappointed and dealt with it, and was even comforted by Pam — if Sylvia got her chance to speak up about why she felt that way, instead of walking out of the dinner before the wedding, and shooting out some garbage defense of what America used to be that any citizen informed by the breadth of MSNBC’s wisdom could write, it would have seemed like she was a real person rather than the shell of the past which the future and progress has successfully emptied of being. As her and Michael talk, she is only coaxed into attending the wedding with a lie.

At that point, I had only begun to feel like the liberal bias in the show was showing. ANd I was content to ignore it. But the rest of the show really does trample some of the romanticism built around Jim and Pam’s, well, romance — their love. The attempts at and successful hookups are the main culprit. But their effect is obvious.

Through a mistake of Pam’s, she ends up feeling like her dress is ruined and that she looks terrible. She then calls Jim to meet and talk. Jim does some shit to his suit. They’re “even” now. And then they head out for a little trip to Niagra Falls as everyone awaits the wedding to begin. When they return, Dwight cuts off that old hag decaying into the dilapidation of decrepitude behind the organ — probably there only to play it, which is a no longer necessary task since these young hep cats got themselves an aux cord and an ipod — and puts on a modern pop song. To this song, everyone dances down the isle. The day is brought to fruition as people dance on ceremony. The vows don’t even show in the episode. All the audience gets is a taste of the many blunders that befell Jim and Pam.

Pardon me, but this all just felt forced. And because it felt forced, I was at least forced by extension to consider what motives there were in writing the episode the way they did. I don’t know if the writers were just happy to finally be getting Jim and Pam wedded off so other characters and plots can receive attention, I don’t really recall if this was the point when the writers’ strike was starting and the show got so unfunny I had to stop watching it. All I know is that they seem to make it plainly obvious that the pressure leading up to a major ceremony is unwarranted and you should just go with it, you should even dance on it to ensure you enjoy all the mayhem that may occur.

If this seems innocuous, it is because we are inundated in a culture that laughs at the past without understanding it. The arrogance is abundant in all the hysteria over statues as well. This is an age which has many and more of the comforts of the past, but no need to refrain from brash judgment like they might have.

This inherent problem is one liberals must face. It is one that can only be faced standing still, observing, ready.

More about them robots

Still reading Alone Together by Sherry Tuckle. It’s goin’ slow but picking up on a paragraph like this is sweet:

As infants, we see the world in parts. There is the good — the things that feed and nourish us. There is the bad — the things that frustrate or deny us. As children mature, they come to see the world in the more complex ways, realizing, for example, that beyond black and white, there are shades of gray. The same mother who feeds us may sometimes have no milk. Over time, we transform a collection of parts into a comprehension of wholes. With this integration, we learn to tolerate disappointment and ambiguity. And we learn that to sustain realistic relationships, one must accept others in their complexity. When we imagine a robot as a true companion, there is no need to do any of this work.