Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year Musings: Eros and Unreality

With actress Linda Spall, New Year's Eve, 2000-2001.

So I'm on a tear today.  Looking back over 2014 can do that to you.

One of the themes in life that I've noticed this year, as I've noticed for many years, is our devotion as a culture (both secular and Catholic) to Unreality.  Unreality is my word for the Controllable Substitute for Reality that we flatter ourselves we can pull out of the air and live in.  Unreality is fundamentally Manichean and Gnostic, in that it is predicated upon denying the penetration of grace into nature: the incarnation, the crucifixion and the second coming must be denied, for they all deal with the life-altering experience of God entering the specific daily world around us.  When Gnostic Catholics like Christopher West attempt to sell a program wherein a sensitive and illuminated minority of believers experience the spiritual elements of sex to the exclusion of the natural realities and consequences of sex, this experience is divorced from the mundane reality of context, which is to say that Gnostic sex or "sex magic" denies that sex makes the family, with all of the daily ups and downs and crosses and joys that the family contains.  The family is too real and uncontrollable for our taste; "spiritual" sex, by contrast, is artificial and thus manageable.

And here's where Eros enters the picture.

The "Entirely Self-Referential" Church-of-the-Whatever

A friend of mine sends along this G. K. Chesterton quote, which is about Christmas ...

God is not bound down and limited by being merely everything; He is also at liberty to be something.

To picture God as being "bound down and limited by being merely everything" is to picture Him the way most of humanity has always tended to picture Him, and the way even most Catholics continue to picture Him.  This is Chesterton's ironic and humorous way of saying that when "God is everything" (a notion which is everywhere), we are, always and everywhere, in the presence of a vague and empty spiritism, a kind of cheesy pantheism that keeps God safe and distant and allows us to be condescending toward Him and toward our faith.   It keeps God Unreal.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Blessed are They who Mourn for the Church

Ezekiel, whose vision of abominations in the Temple is told in Ezekiel Chapter 8.

In the book of Exodus, the angel smites the firstborn of Egypt, but spares the Israelites whose lintels are marked with blood.

In the book of Revelation, the mark is not of blood, and it appears not on the tops of doors but on the human forehead.  At the End of Times, distinction is made between those whose foreheads carry the Mark of the Beast (Rev. 13:16) and those whose foreheads carry the seal of God ("Hurt not the earth, nor the sea, nor the trees, until we shall have sealed the bondmen of our God upon their foreheads." - Rev. 7:3).

The Mark, or seal, then, is a Sign of one's ultimate identity.  It reveals, whether it be a mark of blood atop one's front door, or a supernatural sign atop one's very face, the underlying loyalty of him who displays it.  Those loyal to the Beast (the great Liar) display this loyalty as overtly as those who are loyal to God, who is Truth.

When a Good Bishop Tries to Do the Right Thing

We pray and pray for bishops who give a damn, who care enough about children to protect them and
who care enough about the Faith to take a stand.  But things are so rotten in Denmark that even when a heroic bishop like Martino comes along, Rome, politics, the money trail and other nasty things will keep the Church seriously corrupt and deeply in need of reform. And the Latin Mass is no guarantee of either sanctity or common sense.  

Again, that even a good bishop who tried his best to do the right thing was unable to protect either children from sexual assault or adults from financial fraud is tremendously troubling.  Read the article.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Blonde Bimbo Bye Bye?

My brilliant performance in drag as a bimbo with a bad French accent talking about women and women's bodies and the Synod in Rome has been taken down by the Vatican, which is why the embedded video at my original post no longer works.

But Restore DC Catholicism has bravely saved a copy and links to it here.

The Magical Thinking of Devout Catholics

There was a potential murder mystery client that I was hoping to land.  He had worked with every other murder mystery company around, and at that time there were three or four others in St. Louis.  They all told me the same thing, "The man is impossible to work for."  None of them lasted more than a few years performing at his venue.

"But I can do it!" I said to myself.  "They can't work with him, but I can work with him!  After all, I'm more intelligent and sensitive than they are.  I do well with difficult people.  I'll win him over, get him to like me.  I can succeed where all others failed!"

We lasted three months.  He was a monster.

The Movie and the Meta-Movie: Reflections on "The Interview"

People don't realize how important we are to freedom.  The first thing a totalitarian society suppresses is its comedians. - Groucho Marx
John Lennon said something similar, which was that nobody would ever take him seriously enough to try to assassinate him the way they assassinate politicians, because he and Yoko were just fools - just comedians.  Of course, this was before he was assassinated.

Voegelin and the Two Ways

I am in the midst of reading a number of excellent books, including several by Eric Voegelin, a brilliant writer, who has been recommended to me before.  Blog reader Marianne Bacon is the latest to suggest him - and I'm glad she did, as I've been devouring whatever ebooks I could find of his since last week.  He gives a name to the nameless heresy of our age, and writes profoundly about what I've been calling Unreality, and he analyzes it philosophically, psychologically and historically.

I plan on writing about Voegelin at length and in detail soon.

But here's what he seems to be saying in a nutshell.

Warming Up to Show Biz

Here I am outdoors (under an overhang) at the Pizza Oven at Cedar Ridge Winery in Swisher, Iowa, quickly changing into Bing Cratchit, host of the Cratchit Family Christmas special.  This was last Saturday night, during our performance of I'll Be Homicidal for Christmas.  We perform inside the winery's large event room, but I have to run outside by the Pizza Oven to change, and it was pretty darned cold - down to 12 degrees that night.  I was happy that Bing was wearing a sweater!  Fifteen minutes after this, I had to dash outside and change into Bing's boss, Ebenezer Scrooge, which is why the make-up pencil and clown white are close at hand.

This picture is part of a feature on us that will appear in the Cedar Rapids Gazette.  The photo is copyright Cedar Rapids Gazette.  More photos here.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Peace on Earth

Riot police at Midnight Mass at our Cathedral Basilica here in St. Louis ...

Photo by my son Colin, who's at Mass as I post this.  He says the protesters, across the street from this, are peaceful.

Beginning at the Beginning of the Beginning

In Community Theater and even in a few semi-pro or professional productions, the question is typically not "How good is the show going to be?" but "Will the actors know their lines by the time the opening night curtain goes up?"

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Greetings

Merry Christmas from your Secret Santa and his Reindeer-in-Disguise.

My Latest Performance on Grunky

Apparently I recorded a new Grunky video without realizing it. I make a cute blonde in drag, but my French accent is pretty rotten. 

Thanks to Jim Ridley for passing this along.  It's the funniest thing I've seen in a long time ... though I don't think it's supposed to be.

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Pragmatism of the Faith

This will be my shortest post of the year.  It's simply this ...

The Motto of Liberal Catholics: "Let's Get Those Green Beans Off the Buffet!"

One of the readers of my latest post (It's Not the Abuse Crisis - It's the Neglect Crisis) somehow got it into his head that I was making the claim that only the liberals are to blame for the Sexual Abuse Crisis in the Church - which would be a pretty insane position for me to take.  Perhaps he hasn't read my criticisms of all of the so-called "conservative" bishops who have enabled abuse, such as Finn, Carlson, Niendstedt, Livieres, etc.

In fact, as everyone knows (but this lone reader), the Abuse crisis cuts across the Big Divide.  If liberals could point to hung-up conservatives as abuse enablers, they would, except that conservatives can point to loosey-goosey liberals as abuse enablers.  The problem continues to be so wide-spread that every single type of bishop is guilty - and while some of the worst are from the right, some of the worst are also from the left.

But this shows how strange our thinking is.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

It's Not the Abuse Crisis - It's the Neglect Crisis

The Abuse Crisis in the Catholic Church, horrible as it is, is simply the flip side of the Neglect Crisis in the Catholic Church.

What do I mean?

I mean that Neglect is a form of Abuse, and for the past fifty years, bishops, priests and lay Catholics have been neglecting the Faith, and the Vatican has accommodated this by neglecting the Neglect.  A predominantly homosexual clergy, covering and enabling a large number of child molesters, is simply one symptom of this Neglect.

The Sin of Enabling

Enabling is a sin.

We don't think of it as such, but we can't repent of sins we don't see or won't acknowledge.  So let me try to point the sinfulness of enabling out to you, my fellow enablers.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Pope Francis and Hell

Here are some highlights of a recent homily by Pope Francis, as reported by CNA.  It's noteworthy because the Pope touches on the least popular and most politically incorrect teaching of the Church today.  He doesn't use the word "damnation", but he's talking about it, about the mystery of our closed hearts, for hell is simply the eternal consequence of a a closed heart ...

... many Christians today ... feel “pure” simply because they go to mass and receive communion, the Pope noted, explaining that God asks for more.
“If your heart is not a repentant heart, if you do not listen to the Lord, if you don’t accept correction and you do not trust in Him, your heart is unrepentant,” he said, observing how the Pharisees were “hypocrites” for being scandalized at the attention Jesus gave to prostitutes and tax collectors.

This is a much more unpopular teaching than you'd expect, especially among the sort of Catholics who read this blog.  I call them Devout Catholics, or sometimes sarcastically "Super Catholics".  I know them well.  I am one of them.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Elves, Hobbits, Men and DVDs

There are two projects I've done with EWTN that, in my opinion, are the best things the Network has done, from a production and creative point of view.  The first is our Father Brown movie, The Honor of Israel Gow.  And the second is the show I mentioned the other day, Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings": Elves, Hobbits and Men.

It turns out the latter is available on DVD from the religious catalog - for only ten bucks!  Well worth the price.  You can order it here.

We also just found out that Season Seven of The Apostle of Common Sense, another series I appear on, is also now available.  Only $25 for 13 episodes on 4 discs.

These would make great Christmas gifts!

Filming The Honor of Israel Gow in Hanceville, Alabama.  That's me as Father Brown.

Sterility and the Future of the Church

I have not read the Vatican's report on the LCWR, the notoriously liberal, hateful and pro-abortion feminist collective of "religious" women (nuns and sisters) in the U.S.  Anyone who's had any dealings with any of these ladies knows that the Christian Faith is the furthest thing from their minds.  They worship the Pagan Power Goddess - and her name is not Jesus Christ and she does not demand that we carry a cross.  That the Vatican should back down from correcting this group and calling them out - which they apparently did back down from doing - tells you all you need to know about the Church today.

But I'm not commenting on that report, nor do I plan to read it.  Why?  Because these women are - quite deliberately - sterile.  They do not attract new vocations.  They are old, angry and bitter.  They are on their way out and there are no new "religious" to replace them.

But before we get all complacent about their impending demise, we are often in the same boat.

Searching for an Honest Poet

The Poet writes ...


Ugh!  Open mike night.

I'm just back from the Poet's Conference.  150 losers who look just like me.  It cost $200 to get in, but nobody paid, as we all managed to sneak in the back door.

It was dreadful.  Everybody kept talking about themselves and their "work".  "Work", however, is the one thing these fellows never do.

Elves, Hobbits and Men

I just saw one of the very best things EWTN has ever done.

"Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings: Elves, Hobbits and Men", hosted by Joseph Pearce and featuring yours truly as J. R. R. Tolkien, with artwork by Jef Murray, directed by Michael Masny, is a brilliant production.  Sadly, if you didn't catch it or record it yesterday, Dec. 16, when it aired, you'll apparently have to wait until the DVDs come out, as it's not scheduled to be rerun any time soon.

In this special, Joseph Pearce analyzes the Catholic elements of The Lord of the Rings, Jef Murray's illustrations add a wonderful visual flair, the photography is breathtaking, the CGI work very well done, and I even manage to pull off a better acting performance than usual.

All in all, this is a great special - and very profound, spiritual and uplifting as well.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Hello Santa!

This year I've been earning a little extra money and having a lot of extra fun by portraying Santa Claus for Hello Santa, a company owned by Jib Jab.

Seasonal Photos

Some photos taken during the fall and winter season ...

Backstage for Transylvania CSI

Thursday, December 11, 2014

What is "What-Is"?

Here's something Flannery O'Connor said,

"What the fiction writer will discover, if he discovers anything at all, is that he himself cannot move or mold reality in the interests of abstract truth.  The writer learns, perhaps more quickly than the reader, to be humble in the face of what-is.  What-is is all he has to do with; the concrete is his medium; and he will realize eventually that fiction can transcend its limitations only by staying within them."

The "concrete" is the spiritual embodied.  "What-is" is the consequential, the actual limitations of reality around us, not the Unreal make-believe that we think we can get away with living in.

But we religious folk don't usually understand that.  We think religion is a fine feeling we get on a Sunday, or a certain thrill we feel watching "Matthew Kelly on a headset" (as a friend of mine puts it).  Christopher West might make a tingle run up our leg, but his version of Theology of the Body has nothing to do with the ups and downs of sacramental marriage as it actually exists and is lived out day to day.

Pope Francis, Remarriage and Flag Burning

Here's a sample of what I've been emailing a few friends lately ...

In 1974, when I was 14, and still an atheist, I served as godfather at my nephew's baptism.  It was my first time inside a Catholic church.  I was neither novice nor professed in the Faith [to be professed in the faith is what the 1917 Code of Canon Law required for all godparents].  Had the parish priest been even minimally vigilant, he would not have allowed this.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

New Archeological Find - Report on Aaron's Synod!

Moses came down from Mt. Sinai with the Ten Commandments and found something he didn't expect.  His brother Aaron was holding a synod!

In fact, they drafted a document, which I republish in its entirety below.

I Grew Up in Ferguson!

I'll be on Mark Shea's Radio Show tonight, starting in about 20 minutes.  While I was sitting here in my office waiting to go on, my dad called me and reminded me that we lived in Norlakes Apartments back in 1965 and 1966, for about six months.  He had me check the address and it turned out it was in Ferguson!

So there you have it.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Integrated Catholics Disintegrating

Here's another repeat, an old post that expands on what I said earlier today about communion ...

Dialogue with a Puritan

In preparing for my upcoming radio interview (which starts in 14 minutes), the subject of which is "Bringing Literature to Life", and which will be directed at an audience of homeschooling parents, my thoughts drift to the challenge of all literature - which is putting life into its proper context.

With that in mind, here's an excerpt from a post of a few years back in which I dialogue with a Puritan about the comedy murder mysteries I write and perform, and in which I attempt not only to justify myself, but the whole point of comedy and drama ...

Trying God

I'm about to be interviewed on the radio on Homeschool Lifeline.  The interview will air on Radio Maria on Dec. 15.  The subject is "Bringing Literature to Life".

With that in mind, here's a post from a few years back on How to Read ...

The Real Divorce - The Pope Splits the Act from the Sign

Hamlet is mad that Claudius only pretends to repent
Pope Francis is not only publicly saying that unrepentant divorced and remarried Catholics need to be integrated into the Church, he is politicking for this big time behind the scenes.

He seems to think that the world above operates as does the world below.  Down here shuffling and equivocating pleases lawyers and other scoundrels.  But up above?

The Pope could learn a thing or two from Shakespeare's Claudius, who (villain that he is) recognizes that in heaven you can't win by redefining or by playing a shell game with Canon Law.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Jesus vs. the Dragon Sickness

"The dragon sickness serves the same purpose in The Hobbit as the Ring serves in The Lord of the Rings. It represents the addictive attraction of sin and its destructive consequences, best summarized in an understanding that the thing possessed possesses the possessor -- or, as the Gospel says, where our treasure is, there our heart will be also (Matthew 6:21)." - Joseph Pearce on the "Dragon Sickness"

So what is the Dragon Sickness?  It's that place that we guard and cherish, that secret and comfortable thing that we hoard in darkness - even though doing so turns us into miserable dragons, the way the ring turns Smeagol into Gollum.  It's the sickness that the Divine Physician addresses - if we let Him (which, I'm sorry to say, we usually don't).

Consider the following examples of otherwise good Christians acting like selfish dragons, of good Christians (like you and me) getting the sickness (like you and me).  I have changed the names, but the stories are all true ...

The Sting of Death

From The Sting.
 Now the sting of death is sin: and the power of sin is the law.  (1 Cor. 15:56)

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Day I Divorced Facebook the Hussy

"Doctor, I'm in a dysfunctional relationship."

"Tell me about it."

"She's abusive to me and I can't trust her."

"What's the woman's name?"


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

My Life in Show Business ... To Be Continued!

Dear Readers, you'll have to fork out the big bucks to hear the sequel!

Sex and the Virus that Makes Us Mad

Babylon was a gold cup in the LORD's hand, making the whole earth drunk. The nations drank her wine; therefore, the nations go mad.  (Jer. 51:7)

It's like a virus, this thing.  It infects you.  We drink of the wine of Babylon and we go mad.  We don't just get drunk, we go mad.

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Pope's True Agenda

Is the Pope's true agenda liberal or conservative???  Read the SHOCKING ANSWER here!!!

Christians and the Cowardice of the Indefinite

We prefer things blurry.

One of the reasons we are so cowardly, and why Christians have become salt without savor, bland,
lifeless, lukewarm and lame, is that we lack the courage
  1. to see that at thing is
  2. to see what a thing is
  3. to call a thing by its proper name

My Life in Show Business - Part 4

Little did I suspect that my "Living History"
experience would be dead.
Before I talk about how my actors and I were escorted out of Six Flags theme park by a security guard and told not to come back, I have to correct what may be a false impression I've been making.