Prayer Requests

I’d like to ask for some prayers, if you don’t mind.

1. my aunt-by-marriage’s mother, who passed away last week
2. a different aunt-by-marriage’s brother, who passed away yesterday morning
3. a fellow-parishioner’s father, who passed away last night

Thank you, and God bless.

Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death, amen.

CleanBrowsing

For anyone that might be curious:

I set up a DNS content filter at home yesterday, first using OpenDNS, and secondly – after some upset with OpenDNS – CleanBrowsing, which I’ve been incredibly happy with.

OpenDNS is by the far the more popular option and it provides a lot of control over what content is being filtered, but it ran relatively slowly on my machine, cut out more than once, required disabling IPv6 support, wasn’t supported on my router – requiring per-device configuration – and didn’t cleanly handle https sites (it threw a security error because the underlying http site was blocked, but it’s not obvious then whether security errors are due to blocking or actual SSL configuration issues with the servers).

By contrast, CleanBrowsing provided almost no customization at all: unlike the 20+ categories of blockable content on OpenDNS, CleanBrowsing only has 3 progressively restrictive settings. (For free, that is. You get advanced customization for $5/month, which I’m considering.) However, it is blazing fast, handles https, and also forcibly enables the safe search settings on every search engine I tried as well as YouTube and a few other sites – without any option to disable it. This can be an issue in a household with mixed use requirements, but in my case it’s fine.

So while you get more for free with OpenDNS, I found CleanBrowsing to be easier to use, faster, and more robust in terms of blocking inappropriate content. Both are worth consideration, but if you have no idea what you’re doing and just want the filth out of your household, I’d choose CleanBrowsing. If you want to set up more comprehensive content blocking such as what you’d find at a school, OpenDNS may be a better option – though I’d personally see about a paid CleanBrowsing account first.

Full Knowledge

A notion I’ve never considered until reading this: despite the ubiquity of abortion since antiquity, it is only in the era of modern (post-18th C) medical science that we’ve been able to establish that embryonic life is in fact a developing proto-human. On some level, abortion as a grave sin undertaken with full knowledge of the act and what it entails is a modern phenomenon disconnected from its previous forms. No longer saved by our ignorance, the full evil of the act is now revealed to us. I wonder: how many of our ancestors would have still done it, knowing what we know now?

What Passes for Church

Welcome to what passes for church in Clown World.

The Rev. Dr. Amy Butler, the first woman to lead Manhattan’s famed Riverside Church, lost her lofty post amid complaints that she brought ministers and a congregant on a sex toy shopping spree and then gave one of them an unwanted vibrator as a birthday gift, The Post has learned.

Let’s run through it, shall we? It’s like a bingo card of liberal church bullshit.

  1. Female minister
  2. Inclusive, liberal church in NYC
  3. Abuse of church funds despite making $300k/yr and negotiations for an additional $100k
  4. Confusion about the ministerial role including a lack of boundaries between minister and congregants and a fearful / power-driven relationship (real or imagined) between minister and congregants
  5. Sexual perversity
  6. Sexual harassment claims despite previous association with #MeToo
  7. Gay clergy (this one goes in the center of the bingo card)
  8. Total lack of judgement, discernment, and common sense (see item 1)

Reading this story, I have to ask: what in the heck does any of this have to do with Christianity? Not even a rigorous, patristic analysis, just a common-sense folksy and straightforward reading of the New Testament would show any outsider that this is nothing but wealthy urban liberals using the veneer of Christianity as a means to add a moral and social dimension to their politics and existing – non-Christian – social milieu.

St. Jerome funded an entire lifetime of then-cutting-edge biblical scholarship off his coterie of wealthy Roman widows. Meanwhile this place is dumping 300 grand (a staggering number, even for NYC) into a dildo-shopper with less discernment than any random person holding down a career. What’s the damn point? That’s a lot of money to spend on a minister for people that don’t believe ministers are even necessary. No, really, what’s the damn point?

Bumbling Fools

One of the inhumanities of the current age is that we don’t even have respectable enemies. Case in point:

There were unsettling scenes at CBS Wednesday when top talent and execs hosted a peculiar “pep rally” for the revamped “CBS Evening News” — which left some staffers “embarrassed” and “confused.”

We’re told that as part of the morale booster at CBS headquarters, incoming anchor Norah O’Donnell, heavyweight news division president Susan Zirinsky and “Evening News” executive producer Kim Godwin starred in a taped “music video” set to a DJ Khaled song — complete with a dance routine.

These are the people that have the audacity to tell us what to think. Not a brilliant-yet-despotic caste of elites, but out of touch, bumbling fools living under the patronage of global capital. I mean really, this is like something out of The Office. I’m making a Jim face just reading this.

Jim face

You can’t even muster the will to fight them, because in a healthy society these people would rapidly fade away of their own accord; and yet, here we are, and these kinds of fools seem to only be gaining in influence as American society becomes increasingly farcical. I keep waiting for the adults to take over, but there are none. Just imagine how rapidly America is going to descend into chaos once the Boomers are gone. Gen X is a great generation, and greatly underappreciated – for now – but there aren’t enough of them. The adults haven’t just left, they’ve gone extinct.

Steepleless

This article on the merits of church steeples reminded me of the experience I recently recounted of my fishing trip, and seeing the steeples of the town as we returned to shore.

Like Troy, our steepled cities fell.  They were brought down by the Spirit of the Machine and the Spirit of the Meeting House, two avatars of materialist modernity.  The first was blind to transcendence, the second quite pitiless to incarnate man.  To the Spirit of the Machine, I am just a pampered farmyard beast.  I and my pen must be hosed down very frequently.  For that the water towers have been raised.  And my simple, sluggish soul must be soothed by silly songs and stimulated by sly slogans.  For that the broadcast antennae have been hoisted to the sky.

There’s something profoundly soothing and human about returning to a small town and seeing the churches poking up out of the forests and cheap boxy architecture. It’s a reminder that it’s still a town, and not just a commercial enclave, some generic, soulless outpost of late global capitalism. It doesn’t matter that the churches have no attendance, or that their interiors have been stripped empty, or that they exist now only as a piece of antique scenery: they exist, and through that existence they bear witness to a prior era when people really had faith, and despite their faults built not only functioning but wildly successful civilizations: family by family, community by community, nation by nation. It’s a powerful reminder of what we’ve lost, to those that have eyes to see.

I’m surprised they haven’t all been knocked down yet to make way for vape shops and dollar stores.

Fishing Trip

I was invited to go fishing yesterday, and I was assuming we’d have a small boat and a few rods and reels, but I was pleasantly surprised to learn that an acquaintance of mine had actually chartered a fishing trip on Lake Michigan with a captain and first mate for half a day. (It’s a nice setup: they get to go out on the water and play around, and we get to pretend we know how to fish.)

I haven’t been to the ocean in 5 or 6 years, and all the recent times have been in urban areas: Seattle, San Francisco, and New York. Looking out over the Pacific in San Francisco isn’t experiencing the ocean, but experiencing the experience of the ocean within San Francisco. Cities collapse all experiences into themselves. There is no transcendent experience of nature within one. Worse still, despite living within a day trip of multiple Great Lakes I haven’t been out on one at all, and haven’t spent much time at one since I was at a particularly scenic rifle shoot on a lightly inhabited shore of Lake Michigan, which was transcendent. (Why do we flee the transcendent beauty of nature? Why do we lessen ourselves? What can we gain from fleeing that which is of incomparable value?)

Being a romantic at heart, I couldn’t help but become excited as the boat sped away from shore. Staring out over the Great Lake I quickly remembered that boats angle up steeply at higher speeds as I recaught my footing, never taking my eyes off of the expanse. The sky was nearly the same color as the sea, making each of them seem larger than they already were. I could feel them devouring us and it was beautiful. The wind was gentle, lending the lake’s surface the appearance of a slate table. The fishing itself was rather poor until sunset, though we ultimately caught 5 large fish – mostly king salmon.

As we sped towards the shore I kept looking backwards towards the darkening lake until it became too dark to be an inspiring darkness and simply became night. Looking towards the shore I saw the lights of the coast guard base, the restaurants and bars, the campgrounds, and the small houses dotting the coast. Multiple church spires rose above them and I felt an instinctual love for the town, both as the town itself and as a type of all American towns everywhere. The love filled me with an instinctual urge to plunge into sensual pleasures: to go to a local tavern and stuff myself on food and beer; to laugh and dance; and to make love to my wife. I’m unmarried.

“What kind of work is there in town?” I asked the captain as he eased us down the canal.
“Oh, there used to be a furniture factory but it shut down a few years ago.”
“Why, what happened?”
“They moved it to Mexico. They had problems with it and then tried to move it back here recently but we told them we didn’t want them here anymore. We can make do without them.”

As I headed back home, past gas stations, fast food restaurants, and empty little rural towns, I thought: I love these towns. I love all of these towns. I love America.

Idiots

I’ve grown incredibly tired of idiocy. Idiots – like the poor – will always be with us, but it’s one thing to lack the power to reason and another thing to revel in it. I’ve been reading a book from the church library on Greco-Roman myth, dated to 1893 – aimed, as far as I can tell, at older children – and it is written at an intellectual level that surpasses anything I’ve read in the past year, at the least. I’m reminded of some clickbait article that made the rounds a few years ago about whether you’d get into college in 1900, and all the questions were so far beyond our current cultural training – especially in their focus on classical languages, great books, and philosophy – that essentially no one in America circa current year could get admitted. (Which is, ultimately, as it should be, though even our elites have let their standards slip.)

When I was an early teenager my family moved to Iowa, and we were living for the first few months in a camper at a campground that abetted a farm. The stink was overwhelming: everything smelled like manure and animals – but only for a week. You rapidly adjust to the smell around you. And I remember thinking back then: do I smell like manure and animals? (Of course I didn’t – it was just the specific smell of the farm in that season – but I was a young teenager and didn’t know any better.) Analogously, I now wonder: have I become an idiot? Has being around emojis, clickbait, social media, and video games dulled my intellect and cultural sense so grossly and completely that I barely even recognize the deformation of my own character and the squandering of my potential?

Unfortunately, I know, in my heart, soul, and mind that it most certainly has, and if I, an intelligent man, have been turned into an empty-headed fool, then what about average or dimwitted individuals? No wonder I look out daily onto further signs of social collapse: self-centered behavior and their associated philosophies; morbid obesity and other disregard for the body; violent and short-tempered behavior; hypersexualization in manners and dress – especially among the young; tattoos and other body modifications; general ignorance, inability to reason, distractedness, and emotional coarsening – likely driven by technological addiction; the rise of sexual/gender perversion; hatred of self, culture, and nation; and the total collapse of all meaningful cultural output (no, Marvel movies don’t count).

There’s nothing I can do about others – my sphere is limited to myself and my family, and maybe – at my most persuasive – my friends, but I can do something about myself. I uninstalled all my video games, disconnected from the internet except for necessary tasks and some daily news, replaced all the popular radio stations in my car with classical music and jazz, and began going to daily Mass. It’s not much, but it’s a start. Next up is reading a book a week and finally getting around to learning Latin.

I can’t let myself die an idiot.

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