Showing posts from October, 2015

Friday Fun: My Top Ten 90s Songs, #5

#5: "Lightning Crashes" by Live (off of Throwing Copper (1994))

I get why you don't like Live.  Believe me, I do.  You think they are pretentious.  You think they try way, way to hard to be "spiritual," in the most cliched manner imaginable ("hey, I just found this Sansrkit word 'Samadhi'--let's put in in the title of own of our albums!")  Their videos were often painfully earnest and high-concept, such as the video for "Lakini's Juice" off of Secret Samadhi  I discussed in some depth a few years ago.  Their formula was basically copied by Creed in the late 90s, making them indirectly responsible for the reign of Scott Stapp (I will say that Creed never bothered me particularly, but I understand that this is a minority position).  I hear you.

The thing is, I recognize and accept all of that, and I like their music anyway.  Live is sort of like, to use a baseball analogy, the pure home run hitter that hits forty home runs a ye…

The Joy of Being Wrong Essays, Part 2.2--the Problem of Confession

[Note:  Since it has been a while, the first post on forgiveness is here]

I will state up front that I have always struggled with the Sacrament of Confession (or Reconciliation, to give it the more modern label).  I have always found the experience both unpleasant and spiritually unsatisfying.  More specifically, I have never gotten a handle on what I am supposed to do with the Sacrament.  Either it turns into me reciting a laundry list of faults and failings, the recitation of which feeds into a tendency to view myself entirely through the lens of my failures and deficiencies.  Candidly, this state of mind sets me on the path to the dark home of my depression, a home from which the grant of absolution provides no escape.  Or, it turns into an unfocused counseling session, which the poor priest is not really expecting or prepared to engage in, leading to a frustrating and unproductive experience.  For this reason, it has been several years since I have been to Confession.


William Shakespeare's Final Thoughts on the Synod on the Family

Well, it's over.  Everyone has gone home, and the pundits--amateur and professional--now get to dissect what has happened and What It All Means.  I continue to maintain that we should not be distracted by the shiny object that is the final document produced by the Synod, and instead focus on whatever Pope Francis ultimately says or does with regard to divorced and remarried Catholics.  Still, I think that the Synod made a number of advances from a process standpoint, even if the product that was generated is not as important as it might seem.  And, inspired by Cardinal Marx's impressive use of Shakespeare to make his points, I too will draw from the The Bard.

"This above all- to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man."Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 3.  
With the possible exception of the handful of heads of religious orders, everyone who attended the Synod of Bishops was put into a high office in the Church (if …

Friday Fun: My Top Ten 90s Songs, #6

#6: "Walk on the Ocean" by Toad the Wet Sprocket (off of fear (1991))

It is cliche, but it is true.  There are songs that get locked into your consciousness and become associated with a particular time and place.  This is an example of such a song.  It reminds me of high school, and in particular early high school over-night trips for various competitions.  I hear this song and I am immediately 15 or 16 years old for a few minutes while it is playing.

The biggest problem with being a teenager, ultimately, is the information gap involved.  Lots of new and bewildering things are going on, and all of these things feel entirely sui generis, as if you are the first person to go through them.  This is of course entirely untrue--I don't believe there is a single person who has ever lived who has not struggled through adolescence on one level or another.  Perhaps there are teenagers who understand this fact, are not scared by it, and can just roll with the punches.  Perhaps, but…

The True Meaning of the Synod

I am going to make a bet with you.  Nothing that comes out of the Synod on the Family--no speech, no document, no pronouncement from the Pope--will prove to be as significant as the Pope's speech on Saturday.  The prompting for the speech was the 50th anniversary of the institution of the Synod of Bishops in the aftermath of Vatican II, and in the speech Pope Francis lays out in the clearest form his vision of the Church and the role of the Synods in that Church.  It is, I think, the most radical thing that Pope Francis has ever said.  If Pope Francis is able to implement this vision, the nature and operation of the Catholic Church will be different.  Not unrecognizably different, but different nonetheless.

There are at least three important take-aways from the speech. The first has to do with the final outcome of the current Synod on the Family happening in Rome.  Amid talk that the Synod was doomed to fail as a result of diminishing prospects for any sort of consensus among the …

Friday Fun: My Top Ten 90s Songs, #7

#7:  "Bullet with Butterfly Wings" by the Smashing Pumpkins (off of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (1995))

I initially had at #7 the song "Come as You Are," off of Nirvana's breakthrough album Nevermind.  I realized, in the course of attempting to explain why I had a Nirvana song at # 7, that I had done so out of some weird sense of obligation.  The general consensus is that Nirvana is the most important band of the 90s, the one that ended the reign of hair metal and ushered in a period where being rich and famous as a rock star was seen as a terrible burden to be avoided, as opposed to a cool lifestyle to aspire to.  All of that may be true.  But it doesn't necessarily follow that this makes Nirvana's music tremendously enjoyable or rewarding to listen to.  It's not that it is bad by any means--I like Nirvana better than the other titan of the Grunge scene, Pearl Jam--but I think it is at best really, really OK, if that makes any sense.  An…

Talking About Problems Versus Orbiting Problems

While I still maintain that we should Trust the Process and embrace the point of view of Nick Saban, I must say this Synod on the Family has proven more chaotic than even I had anticipated.  The various reports from the working groups after the first week are all over the map, making it difficult to see how consensus can be found.  Conservative provocateur Sandro Magister reported that a group of Cardinals have been complaining about The Process, a claim that a number of the alleged signatories have backed away from.  One can discern all sorts of fault lines of various kinds among the participants (along those lines, I should note that Michael Sean Winters, who I am often critical of, had a good piece on this topic today).

In looking at all of this, it seemed like there was something weird about the way the Synod was talking about and thinking about the family and family issues, but I couldn't put my finger on it.  Rereading Thomas Bushnell's essay on marriage (which I previou…

Friday Fun: My Top Ten 90s Songs, #8

#8: "Protect Ya Neck" by the Wu-Tang Clan (off of Enter the Wu-Tang [36 Chambers] (1993))

When I was in college, I lived in a fraternity house for two years.  Among the interesting and diverse cast of characters in the house was a guy named Aaron Markworth.  Aaron grew up not far from where I live now, in the Amish country of Eastern Ohio, and he was a funny and curmudgeonly guy.  At some point in our history as a fraternity, he was in charge of our social activities, a job for which I don't think he particularly enjoyed or was necessarily perfectly suited for, but on which he expended yeoman's efforts.

Our most notable social event under his tenure, at least in my memory, was the Ska Party we threw with the Delta Zeta sorority.  Our fraternity was founded during my freshman year, and by the fall of our sophomore year we had a renovated fraternity house to move into.  To celebrate it, we decided to throw a big party after a rare nighttime home football game.  I cannot…

Don't Let the Perfect be the Enemy of the Good

The funny thing about having an open conversation is that sometimes people take the conversation in directions you don't really want it to go.  Witness the currently ongoing Synod on the Family in Rome.  Pope Francis wants to talk about economic and social issues affecting families, and lots of folks want to talk about divorce and/or LGBT issues.  But then here comes Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher of Gatineau, Quebec, and he wants to talk about women.  Specifically, he wants to talk about two things.  First, he wants the Catholic Church to explicitly reject the idea that Paul's discussion of gender roles means that women must be subordinate to men--itself a big statement, and one that would undermine problematic complementarian ideas that still circulate in Catholic thought.  But the real bombshell is that Archbishop Durocher wants a full, public discussion of ordaining women as deacons.

Now, Pope Francis has gone out of his way to say that he supports (or, at least, feels him…

Quick Hitter: The Full Meltdown

Yesterday I wrote a post suggesting that Catholics should channel Nick Saban and embrace The Process.  Clearly, Michael Brendan Dougherty is not college football fan.

I guess I have two major take-aways from this piece.  One, I simply cannot fathom why people like Dougherty (and, to a less extent, Ross Douthat) think that so much is at stake with the so-called Kasper proposal specifically and the Synod discussions generally.  Prior to the coming of Pope Francis, the Catholic Church's position was that marriages are indissoluble in theory, but in practice in most dioceses in the world one could get out from under a failed marriage to remarry through the annulment process.  After Pope Francis's canon law reforms a few weeks ago, the position of the Church is that marriages are indissoluble in theory, but in practice in most dioceses in the world one could get out from underneath a failed marriage to remarry through the (now faster and more "user friendly") annulment pr…

How to Be a Catholic and Stay Sane, With Help from Nick Saban

When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Beware that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, “I am the Messiah!” and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumours of wars; see that you are not alarmed; for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places: all this is but the beginning of the birth pangs.

-- Matthew 24:3-8.

If you are a Catholic, perhaps you are a bit exhausted right now (I know I am).  It's been a busy ten days--Pope Francis comes, Pope Francis talks to all sorts of people, Pope Francis meets with Kim Davis, Pope Francis meets with a gay couple.  Conservatives are furious, liberals are furious; conservatives are cheered, liberals are c…

Friday Fun: My Top Ten 90s Songs, #9

#9:  "The Bends" by Radiohead (off of The Bends (1995))

The knee-jerk Radiohead album to pick in any 90s retrospective is 1997's OK Computer, the album that convinced people that Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood and the rest of them were geniuses.  The problem is . . . I don't really like OK Computer.  It feels like a transitional album between normal "rock band" music and the truly weird and amazing Kid A (2000).  "Karma Police" is a good song, but listening to the rest of it always me think of the other, better Radiohead material that came later.  Part of it, I think, is because I got into weirder, more experimental Radiohead stuff late (as in the last five years or so), so I sort of absorbed it all at once, rather than as it came out.

By contrast, I liked The Bends, the album that came before OK Computer, right from the time it came out.