Monday, February 23, 2009

Death Toll. . .

Sometimes, we need to be shocked and outraged, to face what may make us uncomfortable in the day to day..

From now on, a counter will appear on my blog, counting off how many babies have been legally murdered since the page was opened. . .the numbers change at an obscenely rapid pace.

There is much to say about abortion, from many different viewpoints. I respect the opinions of many who disagree with me. . .but I cannot respect the consequences of these opinions; and the consequeces are that that counter keeps on rolling, that out country is still stained red with the blood of innocents.

I am not giving my full views on abortion now, simply because there is much to say, and I am as yet unprepared to give a complete case against it. . .but the following is some of what is nearest to my heart, especially regarding the Church and abortion.

I understand that abortion is not the only issue in American politics; but for me, it is the matter by which all the others are eclipsed. Maybe there are some more important issues. . .but if so, I can't seem to recall them. If this makes me one of the "Religious Right" that Liberals and "educated" Republicans laugh at, so be it.

I have no patience for Christians who scoff at the pro-life movement.

"I think it's stupid to vote based on Abortion. Just me, but I don't get what the big deal is"

So said a well-meaning Christian man to me one day, in between smiles and jokes about why we would lose the election. . .

In the end, I don't know if abortion is the greatest battle we face today. . .like most causes, it is probably just a great battle in the midst of this great war. . .but it is no consequence. Either way, it is a battle, and I will fight it.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

As For Techno. . .

I guess this is more specifically Techno/Rock. . .the band is And Then There Were None, new from Tooth and Nail. The video is crazy, but hey. It's fun stuff.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Chronological Randomness

Some days(like last week when I last tried to post) you find it hard to write because you have nothing to say, prey to that vicious disease of Writer's Block.

And some days you find it hard to write because you have too much to say.

Much of this shall be unrelated randomness, so I shall begin with the Feast of St. Valentine.

Now, I admit it: I have spent my fair share of time celebrating SAD(Singles Awareness Day). But I have come to deeply appreciate St. Valentine, and his holiday, despite the way our culture may have hijacked it.

Now as a long-time Christian, I heard from time to time that Valentine's Day had some Christian roots, but only vaguely, and this was mainly due to a fairly recent Adventures in Oddessey episode. At any rate, whatever St. Valentine's Day meant to Christians regarded happily married couples only. . .no value whatsoever to me, single and fifteen at the time. I was busy writing semi-emo songs and lamenting the romantic foibles of my then-crush, resentful of the fact that none of them included me. I was something like an adolescent wannabe-Dante(or, perhaps, Edgar Allen Poe?)

Anyway, as you can assume, that all changed(I now write like a wannabe G.K. Chesterton).

Like most changes in life, this one was facilitated by Torrey Academy. It was actually February 14th, and I was sitting in my seat, ready for Inklings Class to begin. . .

When Mr. Bartel walked into the room.

The legendary tutor of the Faith of our Fathers Class before ours, the class that read authors with only one name(Petrarch, Athanasius, Dante!);the imposing figure that was always dressed like an Oxford Professor; the legendary poet and hilarious joker: Mr. Bartel, the Master Tutor of Torrey Academy.

He walked in, and announced that he would be co-tutoring along with Ms. Maraldo for the purpose of giving us a Valentine's Day devotional. And he proceeded to do so.

So goes the legend of St. Valentine: A Christian Priest in Rome, he was performing Christian Marraiges when it was illegal to do so(some say the emperor outlawed it so that more men would become soldiers). St. Valentine was arrested, and told to renounce Christ. During his time in prison, he fell in love with the Jailer's daughter(who some say he healed from blindness, while some say that he healed the emperor's daughter, while some leave out the episode altogether). On the 14th of February, he was beheaded. But before he died, he left a note in his cell, and at the end he wrote:

From Your Valentine.

Now, the facts, apart from the legend(which I find no great reason to disbelieve) are that he was simply a martyr in Rome. My copy of Englebert's The Live's of the Saints states that there were two Valentine's, the early Roman and another, who have been condensed into one Saint. This might explain the confusion of details. At any rate, we celebrate his Martyrdom on the 14th, while there was a Pagan love holiday on the 15th, which was absorbed into St. Valentine's Day.

The fact is, the dude existed. Period. He might not have been intrinsically linked to Christian Marraige, but hey, I like legends, and I see no reason to disbelieve all of them except the universal cynicism our time is prey to. At any rate, he has become the Patron of Christian marraige. And I think he's pretty darn awesome, if I say so myself.

The legend really needed no explanation, but Mr. Bartel went on. I honestly can't remember the specifics, but I do remember the jist of it, and that one thing he did was set the story in modern times: "What if marraige was outlawed in San Dimas?" said he (From this, an astute mind might gather that the class met in San Dimas).

The point is, I, along with most of y'all who read this, are not married. Why should we care about how awesome Christian marraige is? But look at it a little philosophically: does a thing's essential quality change simply because of our relation to it or opinion regarding it? If I have refuse to believe in New York, does that mean it doesn't exist? If I have never been a Marine and cannot bring myself to believe that Marine's use M16 assault rifles, does that change the fact that they do? No. So while I have no personal experience with matrimony, I still revere it. It really would take Mr. Bartel(and a few great poets) to try and make someone understand why marraige is so great. I will leave it at this: A man's love for his wife is an image of Christ's love for His Church. Learning how to love another human being, romantically or platonically, is an essential part of being human.

And of being Christian, which I think is ultimately a part of being a good person.
But think about it. We might admire a pagan, a man who could not love God aright; could we admire a man who could not love a woman?

Anyway, like I said, I cannot do the wonder of St. Valentine's day justice. Someday I will write more about this. . .especially given Dante and Lewis' views on the matter. Ah, Beatrice.

A good transition.


I don't think I can impress upon you how much I love Dante.

I LOVE DANTE!!!!!!!!

Anyway, I was feeling somewhat depressed with human sinfulness, specifically my own. Feeling rather heartless, I spent some time in prayer, and although I felt secure in God's forgiveness, I still felt wretched. I heard the Spirit tell me:

Do you know I still love you?

Of course, a powerful word: but doubting the love of God never really occurs to me. Regardless of the beauty of God's forgiveness and unconditional love, my heart was still in a loathsome state. I knew I needed to glimpse an image of God's unfathomable love.

So I reached for Dr. Esolen's translation of Paradise.

I opened up to a random passage, and I discovered Canto 18, and oh my goodness! It is impossible to overstate my love of this passage:

E quella donna ch'a Dio mi menava
disse: "Muta pensier; pensa chi'i' sono
presso a colui ch'ogne torto disgrava".
Io mi rivolsi a l'amoroso suono
del mio conforto; e qual io allor vidi
ne li occhi santi amor, qui l'abbandono
non perch' io pur del mio parlar diffidi
ma per la mente che non puo redire
sovra se tanto, s'altri non la guidi
Tanto poss' io di quel punto ridire
che, rimirando lei, lo mio affetto
libero fu da ogne altro disire
fin che 'l piacere etterno, che diretto
raggiava in Beatrice, dal bel viso
mi contentava col secondo aspettp
Vincendo me col lume d'um sorriso,
ella mi disse: "Volgoti e ascolata;
che non pur ne' miei occhi e paradiso".

"When she who'd led me unto God began,/'Let your thoughts change, for I am near the Lord./ the One who lifts the yoke of every wrong.'/I turned unto my comfort when I heard/ her kindly voice, and saw such depth of love/ in her blest eyes, I give up, for no word / Can claim my confidence, and, even more,/ unless Another guides it, memory / cannot retutn from heights so far above / It's power. But as I gazed, my soul was free / of all it's many cravings to posess / anything else- for that much I can say, / because the everlasting winsomeness / shone upon Beatrice, from whose lovely eyes / reflected radiance contented me / Conquering with the flashing of a smile, / she said to me, 'Listen now, turn around- / my eyes are not the only Paradise'."

And, yeah, I cried. In truth, I find the statements "Real Men don't cry" and "Real men aren't afraid to cry" to be equally ridiculous. I think the matter of crying depends on what one is crying. Real men cry at great sorrow or beauty; For example, Charlemayn at the death of Roland. Real men do not cry over their stubbed toe or injured pride. I did not quite bawl or weep, but I am proud to own up to the fact that I did indeed cry.

I am unable to express how amazing this passage is. I might try someday, and elaborate on some of the other lines that moved me. But for now, just believe me, even if you couldn't tell:

Dante is awesome.

He will always be awesome, and no matter what Harold Bloom says, he will always be awesomer than Shakespeare.

That brings me to today. . .err, yesterday, since it's now 1:18 AM. I spent Monday reading literary criticism. . .and Harold Bloom is the second stupidest genius I have ever read(Phillip Pullman comes first. I think Richard Dawkins may top Bloom, but I haven't read him yet. Pullman stays number one). Anyway, yes, Shakespeare is awesome, but no, Mr. Bloom, he is not God. Bardolatry is worse than irreverent; it is stupid. Shakespeare may have written the greatest literature to ever be written in the English Language(correction: he did). But seriously. . . speaking purely as literary figures, Hamlet is nowhere near Jesus in importance, as Bloom claims. Shakespeare makes me want to be a better poet. . .but not a better person. Dante does both. Shakepeare at best can make me laugh a lot, or feel depressed. He cannot fill me with Joy.

Dante can.

Maybe a premature judgement, but I think it is one I shall hold to for a while.

Anyway, there is still much to write about(Finances, College choices, the correlation between Love and Money, Brave Saint Saturn's New Album, and my discovery of the first Techno band that I actually enjoy listening to!).

But it is late, and I want to read more Dante.

God be with you all.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Stuff to Share

First off, I never thought anything could raise George W. Bush in my esteem. . .seriously, I love the guy. And though I pray that God Bless President Obama, I really miss Dubya, and can't stand hearing all the mindless Bush-Hatred.

But politics aside, this Video makes him even more awesome:

And for some more mature entertainment, and as penance for my horrible poetry, here is Lepanto, by G.K. Chesterton

White founts falling in the Courts of the sun,
And the Soldan of Byzantium is smiling as they run;
There is laughter like the fountains in that face of all men feared,
It stirs the forest darkness, the darkness of his beard;
It curls the blood-red crescent, the crescent of his lips;
For the inmost sea of all the earth is shaken with his ships.
They have dared the white republics up the capes of Italy,
They have dashed the Adriatic round the Lion of the Sea,
And the Pope has cast his arms abroad for agony and loss,
And called the kings of Christendom for swords about the Cross.
The cold queen of England is looking in the glass;
The shadow of the Valois is yawning at the Mass;
From evening isles fantastical rings faint the Spanish gun,
And the Lord upon the Golden Horn is laughing in the sun.

Dim drums throbbing, in the hills half heard,
Where only on a nameless throne a crownless prince has stirred,
Where, risen from a doubtful seat and half attainted stall,
The last knight of Europe takes weapons from the wall,
The last and lingering troubadour to whom the bird has sung,
That once went singing southward when all the world was young.
In that enormous silence, tiny and unafraid,
Comes up along a winding road the noise of the Crusade.
Strong gongs groaning as the guns boom far,
Don John of Austria is going to the war,
Stiff flags straining in the night-blasts cold
In the gloom black-purple, in the glint old-gold,
Torchlight crimson on the copper kettle-drums,
Then the tuckets, then the trumpets, then the cannon, and he comes.
Don John laughing in the brave beard curled,
Spurning of his stirrups like the thrones of all the world,
Holding his head up for a flag of all the free.
Love-light of Spain--hurrah!
Death-light of Africa!
Don John of Austria
Is riding to the sea.

Mahound is in his paradise above the evening star,
(Don John of Austria is going to the war.)
He moves a mighty turban on the timeless houri's knees,
His turban that is woven of the sunsets and the seas.
He shakes the peacock gardens as he rises from his ease,
And he strides among the tree-tops and is taller than the trees;
And his voice through all the garden is a thunder sent to bring
Black Azrael and Ariel and Ammon on the wing.
Giants and the Genii,
Multiplex of wing and eye,
Whose strong obedience broke the sky
When Solomon was king.

They rush in red and purple from the red clouds of the morn,
From the temples where the yellow gods shut up their eyes in scorn;
They rise in green robes roaring from the green hells of the sea
Where fallen skies and evil hues and eyeless creatures be,
On them the sea-valves cluster and the grey sea-forests curl,
Splashed with a splendid sickness, the sickness of the pearl;
They swell in sapphire smoke out of the blue cracks of the ground,--
They gather and they wonder and give worship to Mahound.
And he saith, "Break up the mountains where the hermit-folk can hide,
And sift the red and silver sands lest bone of saint abide,
And chase the Giaours flying night and day, not giving rest,
For that which was our trouble comes again out of the west.
We have set the seal of Solomon on all things under sun,
Of knowledge and of sorrow and endurance of things done.
But a noise is in the mountains, in the mountains, and I know
The voice that shook our palaces--four hundred years ago:
It is he that saith not 'Kismet'; it is he that knows not Fate;
It is Richard, it is Raymond, it is Godfrey at the gate!
It is he whose loss is laughter when he counts the wager worth,
Put down your feet upon him, that our peace be on the earth."
For he heard drums groaning and he heard guns jar,
(Don John of Austria is going to the war.)
Sudden and still--hurrah!
Bolt from Iberia!
Don John of Austria
Is gone by Alcalar.

St. Michaels on his Mountain in the sea-roads of the north
(Don John of Austria is girt and going forth.)
Where the grey seas glitter and the sharp tides shift
And the sea-folk labour and the red sails lift.
He shakes his lance of iron and he claps his wings of stone;
The noise is gone through Normandy; the noise is gone alone;
The North is full of tangled things and texts and aching eyes,
And dead is all the innocence of anger and surprise,
And Christian killeth Christian in a narrow dusty room,
And Christian dreadeth Christ that hath a newer face of doom,
And Christian hateth Mary that God kissed in Galilee,--
But Don John of Austria is riding to the sea.
Don John calling through the blast and the eclipse
Crying with the trumpet, with the trumpet of his lips,
Trumpet that sayeth ha!
Domino gloria!
Don John of Austria
Is shouting to the ships.

King Philip's in his closet with the Fleece about his neck
(Don John of Austria is armed upon the deck.)
The walls are hung with velvet that is black and soft as sin,
And little dwarfs creep out of it and little dwarfs creep in.
He holds a crystal phial that has colours like the moon,
He touches, and it tingles, and he trembles very soon,
And his face is as a fungus of a leprous white and grey
Like plants in the high houses that are shuttered from the day,
And death is in the phial and the end of noble work,
But Don John of Austria has fired upon the Turk.
Don John's hunting, and his hounds have bayed--
Booms away past Italy the rumour of his raid.
Gun upon gun, ha! ha!
Gun upon gun, hurrah!
Don John of Austria
Has loosed the cannonade.

The Pope was in his chapel before day or battle broke,
(Don John of Austria is hidden in the smoke.)
The hidden room in man's house where God sits all the year,
The secret window whence the world looks small and very dear.
He sees as in a mirror on the monstrous twilight sea
The crescent of his cruel ships whose name is mystery;
They fling great shadows foe-wards, making Cross and Castle dark,
They veil the plum├Ęd lions on the galleys of St. Mark;
And above the ships are palaces of brown, black-bearded chiefs,
And below the ships are prisons, where with multitudinous griefs,
Christian captives sick and sunless, all a labouring race repines
Like a race in sunken cities, like a nation in the mines.
They are lost like slaves that sweat, and in the skies of morning hung
The stair-ways of the tallest gods when tyranny was young.
They are countless, voiceless, hopeless as those fallen or fleeing on
Before the high Kings' horses in the granite of Babylon.
And many a one grows witless in his quiet room in hell
Where a yellow face looks inward through the lattice of his cell,
And he finds his God forgotten, and he seeks no more a sign--
(But Don John of Austria has burst the battle-line!)
Don John pounding from the slaughter-painted poop,
Purpling all the ocean like a bloody pirate's sloop,
Scarlet running over on the silvers and the golds,
Breaking of the hatches up and bursting of the holds,
Thronging of the thousands up that labour under sea
White for bliss and blind for sun and stunned for liberty.

Vivat Hispania!
Domino Gloria!
Don John of Austria
Has set his people free!

Cervantes on his galley sets the sword back in the sheath
(Don John of Austria rides homeward with a wreath.)
And he sees across a weary land a straggling road in Spain,
Up which a lean and foolish knight for ever rides in vain,
And he smiles, but not as Sultans smile, and settles back the blade....
(But Don John of Austria rides home from the Crusade.)

That's all, enjoy!