Daily Archives: March 18, 2013
Pope Francis And Matthew Crawley
This absolutely stellar article from Patrick Archbold really touched a nerve. I am, in fact, rather ashamed of not having thought about the comparison myself, then I am a dyed-in-the-wool fan of Downton Abbey (first season most of all; the second was worse than the first; the third than the second; apparently there will be other two…).
This article is so beautiful that I will copy it here, with emphases.
Matthew Crawley! How could I forget him!
Matthew Crawley became heir to Downton Abbey and the its title quite suddenly and unexpectedly when the former heir died on the Titanic.
Crawley, a country lawyer by trade, had never known the kind of life lived at Downton Abbey. On the outside it seemed like a life of pointless privilege and unnecessary trappings.
When he first arrived, Matthew refused to let anybody help him do in anything. He had no use for the maids, the footmen, but he especially eschewed his valet. When his valet tried to dress him, Matthew wouldn’t allow it. When the valet tried to offer assistance in picking out a pair of cuff-links, Matthew dismissed the notion and his valet as silly. The valet felt useless and the pain of such dismissal was obvious on his face.
Matthew was simpler and he was proud of that simplicity. He had never needed anyone to help him dress before and he didn’t see why he would need one now. And the clothing, ugh, the clothing. Matthew much preferred his plain ol’ suit to tuxedos and tails. His initial instinct was that all these accoutrements and formality was mere flash and frippery and he would quickly dispense with it all.
Yet, Lord Grantham counseled him that while all this grand tradition might seem purposeless, it was not. He explained to Matthew that these traditions meant something, not only to the people blandished upon, but to the people who provided the service and to others as well. Lord Grantham explained to Matthew that when he dismissed it all as useless, he was dismissing the value of lives and livelihoods spent learning the craft and the legitimate pride taken in hard work and diligence. He suggested that the service of the servants served not only their masters.
Over time, Matthew began to realize that their was some truth in Lord Grantham’s words and being a kind and considerate man, he pondered it. Perhaps his insistence on simplicity was just another form of pride? Perhaps in accepting his new role, the truly humble thing to do was forgo his preference for simplicity, self-reliance, and plainness? In accepting his new role, he had a responsibility to others for whom these things meant a great deal.
And so, in an act of humility and kindness, Matthew asked his valet to help him dress and said, “Would you be so kind as to pick me out a pair of cuff-links.” The valet smiled from ear to ear. Good Matthew had never been so humble and so self-effacing as when he accepted the assistance and adornments expected of his new role.
Matthew learned that simplicity is not always humility and pomp not always pride.
As the coming weeks and months unfold, we would all do well keep this lesson in mind.
If This Blog Should Die
Today this blog was suspended by WordPress for what might have been half a hour to a couple of hours. Readers have, I believe, not noticed anything, but I found access to the blog blocked with an ominous message stating my blog was suspended because of violation of the user’s agreement, and WordPress takes violations very seriously.
There was no indication of which one the alleged violation was, nor was there any email in my postbox (which you haven’t, but they do) stating the problem they had.
The oldest readers of this little effort will remember this had already happened once, in January 2011, when the PR man of an English Bishop (Good Lord, the English bishops have money for such things? Will such waste survive the new wind of “Francistroika”?) threatened legal action against WordPress when I, if memory serves, published by mistake the photo of the wrong bishop. This “incident”, besides making me aware of people of astounding pettiness, and probably without anything sensible to do to justify their wage, also showed me a couple of things of how WordPress works: they are fairly rapid in blocking a blog for new messages as soon as someone threatens with legal action, but will rapidly “unblock” the blog when the problem has been resolved.
This time, though, it was different; there was no indication of where the problem was, and normal service was resumed fairly rapidly without the need for me to make any change to the blog.
Not knowing anything of these technical matters, I dare to think only one of two must have happened:
1. The blog was blocked due to a technical mistake, seen and remedied within a short time.
2. Some genius complained about the content of the blog (“hater?”; “homophobic?”) and threatened legal action. WordPress blocked the site as a matter of course, someone gave a good browsing, and then decided everything is all right.
The blog has been working all right for some hours now, and I might (or not) receive an email from WordPress explaining what happened (technical mishap, or third party complaint). Still, this was a wake-up call.
This little blog is not so little anymore, and Google & Co. (I think Google is absolutely dominant, though) spread the word everywhere in the blogosphere. With the number of those who chance to read this blog, the number of homosexualists will grow, and the latter category is the only one some of whose elements may well desire to silence this little effort.
I do not have great resources of time, money and technological prowess to dedicate to the setting up and operation of an autonomous, self-hosted blog comparable to the old “Kreuz.net”, and for little blogs like mine in danger of hacker attack a hosted solution with a big blog provider is at the same time the most practical, most efficient and only feasible solution.
This means that, should WordPress one day decide my blog is “homophobic” or “hater”, I would be in front of the alternative between stopping my little effort or switching to Blogspot; but as to my knowledge Blogspot belongs to Google and is sure to be more politically correct than WordPress every day of the week, I am at a loss to think how I would react to a situation of Gaystapo intimidating WordPress to the point of wanting to “moderate” blogs like mine.
I have, therefore, an urgent appeal to all Catholic bloggers out there, to spend some time to tell me what other feasible options are available out there. What I would be looking for would be an organisation:
1. Allowing anonymous blogs.
2. Big and professional enough to withstand hacker attacks.
3. Taking freedom of expression very seriously and therefore legally located in jurisdictions with a reputation in the matter (like the US, or Sweden, or Switzerland; you can forget Germany, where the Gaystapo is clearly in power).
Again, self-hosted solutions would not work, but the aesthetic factor is secondary.
I will continue to use WordPress, with which I am very satisfied in the end; but today’s experience showed me every day can be the last day here on WordPress. Therefore, I’d like to have a “Plan B” ready to go, but to be used only in case of need.
Every input, with or without personal experiences with the relevant provider, would be very welcome.
Pollyanna And The Grumpy Old Man
It might be, perhaps, useful to explain to my readers how I intend to report and comment the issues – which I fear will be numerous – concerning the new Pope.
Good or bad (or very bad; or awful; or outright heretical) the Pope is my Pope, and he will be until he proclaims an error as dogma. This means that before I criticise, I will do my best to examine what he says without any animosity or preconceived criticism.
If I find what he says or does is objectively wrong (a Pinocchio Mass has simply no excuse, none whatsoever) or highly questionable (the “poverty drive” and the awful whiff of populism) then I will express my criticism in terms which I see as respectful, but very open; and I will continue to go back on them as long as the issues themselves continue to exist.
I can safely say no one will ever suspect me of acquiescence to all the Pope says merely because it was said by the Pope; at the same time, cries of impending doom seem wildly inappropriate to me, and I have no intention whatever of starting my own little personal war against Pope Francis qua Pope Francis.
Instead, I will try to examine the single facts as they are presented to me, and do my best to provide a comment of which I hope Padre Pio would – taking account of my human shortcomings and of my rather emotional nature – not disapprove; and in doing so, I will try to say it straight – and try to inject some humour here or there – without, I hope, becoming all too heated.
If, therefore, you are hoping that this blog becomes an outlet of anti-Francis propaganda and resentment you will be disappointed, because I will endeavour to report what I think is good with the same zeal I report what I think is going wrong. Please also consider the good, gentle, and liturgically (somewhat) conservative Benedict was largely unable to be effective, but a strong-willed Pope will be able to do a lot of good at least in what concerns particular issues; though I am persuaded that if a Pope's theology is polluted by neo-Modernism – an issue from which none of the VII Popes are totally exempt anyway – this Pope will never be what is expected from him, and error will accompany him every day of his life.
Neither a Pollyanna nor a Grumpy old man, this is what I would like to be when I write on this blog. If you are looking for militant anti-papacy or sugary “who are we to judge” rubbish, your time is better employed away from this blog.
Don’t Believe The Rumours
Pope Francis was elected only some days ago, and the most savage rumours have begun to circulate.
First there was the Anglican chap reporting the then Cardinal told him “we need you as Anglican”, a senseless drivel that can only come from, erm, an Anglican.
Then there was the rumour that the newly elected Pope had given instruction to look for accommodation in a monastery for Cardinal Law. A prelate of the Church being involved, the Vatican has made officially known this is rubbish.
Thirdly, Cardinal Hummes has expressed his opinion that the Mass must be “changed”, in which way we are not told, and the Internet is aflame with fears of the upcoming Apocalypse. Last time I looked, the Pope’s family name was Bergoglio, not Hummes, and he seems a rather strong-willed man; a man of the type that is not so easily influenced as a more wavering man (like Benedict) would.
Lastly, the dreamers and nutcases are in full delusion mode, with Leonardo Boff (yes, he is still alive) abandoning himself to the most absurd heretic’s wet dreams because Bergoglio is now Pope and can, or so Boff thinks, “do what he wants”.
My suggestion is that we do not lose perspective and, in the evaluation of the Pope’s intentions, stick either to what the new Pope has demonstrably said and done, or to what appears reasonable interpretation from people who have earned a reputation of seriousness and credibility. The Pinocchio Mass is documented in video, as are the black shoes and the refusal to wear the Mozzetta. Cardinal Pell’s indication we would have “little to fear” are worth reporting as a reasonable forecast from a reasonable man. Savage fantasies about impending revolutions should not be cause of any worry.
The Franciscan Goose And The Papal Gander
Tomorrow is the day of the Inauguration Mass.
Dignitaries will fly in from all corners of the world.
The expense will be huge.
Also, the Pontiff will not be able to have proper meetings with many of them. For most of them, it will be a mere act of presence, with a short introduction at the most. Besides, we live in the age of Skype, and video conferences with members of the Curia can be organised in a very cheap way.
A new style, you see. A new papacy. The return to Franciscan poverty, and all that…
Should not Pope Francis have invited the foreign governments to please leave their representatives at home, send a message via Internet, and (please get very emotional here..) give the ooh money to the ooh poor?
Populist rhetoric is, indeed, a slippery slope…
Reblog of the day
Seldom have I read such pithy exposition of Catholic thinking from a non-specialised media outlet.
Try this (emphases always mine):
Wealth and poverty are catalysts for bringing the rich and the poor together in community, and community is the hallmark of the church’s mission on Earth. Government is not community. Government is one of community’s tools, a coercive one we use when it is necessary to force people to behave in ways they would not otherwise behave voluntarily.
Already these three lines are of devastating effect for all those – very many in old, tired Europe – identifying Government with “good”, and the vehicle through which every “good” must be, well, coerced.
It goes on:
But that word—voluntarily—is key, and it’s where Mr. Ryan’s religious detractors go awry: Charity can only be charity when it is voluntary.Coerced acts, no matter how beneficial or well-intentioned, cannot be moral. If we…
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