Old Oligarch's Painted Stoa

Past Posts of Note
Substantative, in chronological order
The Sunday obligation and illness: question, research & my answer

Denial of personhood: Dei Filius & Terri Schiavo

On Modesty 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Differing with Dulles 1 & 2 on pro-abort politicians

Mad About Manuals 1 & 2

Absinthe recherches early, required reading, 2, 3, 4.

First time at an abortuary

The Maundy

TPOTC impact & analysis and more

Contraception reflections 1, 2

Meiwes, propheta, übermensch

Headship Loggerheads 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5

Matrix: Revolutions

Matrix: Reloaded
1, 2 & 3

Terrorist Attack Preparations, and follow-ups 1 & 2 & 3


Casuistry of Drinking

Review of Auto Focus

Parish Review 1

The Power of Shame

Biblical Hermeneutics

Ayoob on Guns

Against the Ordination of Women

Two Cents on Braveheart


Thematic Meditations

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oldoligarch @yahoo.com

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Any e-mail I receive is fair game for publication, with comments, unless you explicitly say so beforehand.

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Some Fun to Close Out the Year: The Medieval Figure Selector.

If I was Medieval, I would be:

#1 Clovis the Merovingian
#2 Fredrick Barbarossa
#3 King Arthur
#4 Richard the Lionhearted
#5 Robin Hood
#6 Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar (El Cid)
#7 Genghis Khan
#8 King Alfonso
#9 Justinian
#10 Pope Urban XVII
#11 Charlemagne
#12 Constanstine
#13 Pope Leo I
#14 Joan of Arc
#15 William the Conqueror
#16 Alcuin
#17 Zoe
#18 Belisarius
#19 Theodora
#20 Pope Boniface VIII

I made two replacements to remove the Moors: #16 was originally Saladin, and #20 was Mohammed. I'd rather be a pig's ass than Mohammad.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 12/31/2002 10:49:00 AM | link

The Black Esperanto of Winter Holidays
Ann Coulter put the smack down on The Founder of Kwanzaa, and Bush for embracing the holiday. I can't comment regarding the political history of the founder, but I agree with Lordmage of the Good's remark that maybe Kwanzaa will begin to look legitimate in 500 years. And what holiday has a "founder?" Only a post-Enlightenment weirdo would "found" a holiday to principles.

What I can't stand, however, is the cheeziness of the fabricated, collectivist "principles" and the trite rip-offs of symbols from other religious celebrations that happen to be contemporaneous: The "kinara"(=Menorah) and colored corn (Thanksgiving), etc. Although many modern Jews have amplified the celebration of Hanukkah simply because it falls near Christmas and the goyim are partying, Hanukkah has a legitimate origin in a miraculous event and its own legitimate historical evolution therefrom. In trying to foster its popularity by riding the coattails of Christmas, Kwanzaa takes the worst from the misplaced emphases of modern secular Christmas and Hanukkah celebrations ("Happy Holidays! Whatever they may be"). Moreover -- to me at least -- it smacks of an even worse trend: Just like American blacks turn to Islam because "Christianity is a white man's religion" (what do the Baptists think about that?), Kwanzaa further encourages a black separatist mentality in the one arena (religion) where transcending racial boundaries can be done on the basis of something substantive.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 12/30/2002 09:13:00 PM | link

Them Bones
Zorak thinks Life Gems might be a comforting memorial, prompted by this Wash. Times article. I don't know if I agree. Certainly more durable than an urn, and more portable than a traditional gravesite, and a more attractive and personal memorial than other means. My reservations, however, are several:

1) I'm just guessing here, but insofar as I understand traditional behaviors pertaining to sacred items, they are to be used for their appointed purpose, and never again used for any other end. For example, once you make gold into a chalice, and the chalice later becomes old, broken or otherwise unserviceable, that metal cannot be melted down or refashioned for any other purpose. The item must either be preserved somewhere or destroyed. Ditto anything else like altar linens, or Bibles. When they get raggedy and cannot be repaired, they get deposited somewhere (buried in a sacrarium) or reverently destroyed. I have always imagined that the same is true of the human body. The reason for burial is that the body itself is sacred (the vessel of the soul, blessed by the sacraments, and ordained for God's purposes on earth), and so the question arises: What to do with the body after it has died? The answer, it seems, is: nothing. Because the body has been rendered sacred, it cannot be used for any other purpose, which leaves scant little to do with it besides bury it in the ground, or (only now recently with Church permission) reverently destroy it by cremation, and treat the ashes in the same way: They must be given a "resting place" because they never are "called out of rest" to serve any other purpose on earth. The Life Gem seems to risk substituting an earthly purpose: ornamental, decorative, sentimental, for the sacrosanct purposelessness of once-holy but now defunct object.

Also, if I'm not out of my depth here (and I freely profess not looking any of this up), the primary reason why the Church opposes the practice of storing cremated remains at home in an urn is precisely because it risks blurring the distinction between the "un-usable-ness" of the sacrosanct with the "un-usable-ness" of the ornamental. The ornamental item does not admit of any everyday usefulness, yet it does serve another ultimate purpose, namely the aesthetic enhancement of its environment. In cemeteries, columbaria, mausoleums and the like, however, the situation is different. Unlike the home, the entire cemetery environment itself is set apart from any other purpose except honoring the dead. That's why it is blessed and set apart from other civic places where the business of the living is transacted. Moreover, the entire aesthetic environment of a cemetery -- the landscaping and statuary and memorials -- exists to honor and serve the presence of the decedents' remains, but the human remains themselves do nothing in terms of aesthetic enhancement of the place. They do not serve to enhance the environment, but are served by it.

If this reasoning is correct, the Life Gem idea would fall outside of the traditional Catholic understanding of piety accorded to the dead.

2) If my understanding of the process is correct: (A) Some of the cremated remains of the body is recaptured as carbon. What happens to the rest? (The ash is mostly calcium, phosphorous, etc.) (B) After that stage, only some of the recaptured carbon becomes graphite. What happens to the rest of the carbon? And how much of the resultant carbon is from the body, and how much is from the incinerants, which are also likely carbon-based? (C) After the graphite is made into a diamond, the diamond is cut. What happens to the rest of the diamond dust and fragments resultant from the cutting?

Insofar as I can tell, the deceased gets scattered from Chicago, where the cremation & carbon capture takes place, to Pennsylvania, where the graphite is fabricated, to Russia, where the diamond is made! How much actually comes back to the widow(er) remains to be seen.

3) A purely personal aversion: The whole idea of "recaptured carbon from the deceased" reminds me too much of how, in Huxley's Brave New World, they would recover the phosphorous from the cremated deceased. (When I'm angry, I tend to use this image like so: "What a jackass -- someone ought to recover his phosphorous and do us all a favor." I know, it's bad. Kyrie eleison.) Brave New World, in postscript format here, puts it so:

"Following its southeasterly course across the dark plain their eyes were drawn to the majestic buildings of the Slough Crematorium. For the safety of night-flying planes, its four tall chimneys were flood-lighted and tipped with crimson danger signals. It was a landmark.

"Why do the smoke-stacks have those things like balconies around them?" enquired Lenina. "Phosphorus recovery," explained Henry telegraphically. "On their way up the chimney the gases go through four separate treatments. P2O5 used to go right out of circulation everytime they cremated some one. Now they recover over ninety-eight per cent of it. More than a kilo and a half per adult corpse. Which makes the best part of four hundred tons of phosphorus every year from England alone." Henry spoke with a happy pride, rejoicing whole-heartedly in the achievement, as though it had been his own. "Fine to think we can goon being socially useful even after we're dead. Making plants grow."

My own wish, when the time comes (just to share with the whole world), is to go out refuting the wild amount of money spent in the vanities of modern funeral arrangements. I want to be buried in an unfinished pine box if possible. A good friend of mine (now a novice with the Legionaries of Christ) first pointed out how vain modern funerals are compared to the much more humble arrangments of times previous. Expression of the Catholic Faith, now called Why Do Catholics Do That?, (buy it here on Amazon.com) has a good chapter on how ornamental embalming for wakes and caskets with ten layers of automobile lacquer are departures from older Catholic piety.

I mostly agree with Ben Franklin's sentiment (probably the ONLY time you'll see me write that!), expressed in his original (but not final) epitaph:

"The body of Benjamin Franklin, Printer (like the cover of an old book, its contents torn out and stripped of its lettering and gilding), lies here, food for worms; but the work shall not be lost, for it will (as he believed) appear once more in a new and more elegant edition, revised and corrected by the Author."

Franklin wrote that at the age of 22, but later settled on the unadorned ""Benjamin and Deborah Franklin: 1790" instead.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 12/30/2002 08:39:00 PM | link

It lives.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 12/30/2002 07:38:00 PM | link

Before it gets buried in this torrent of blogging, do check out my post on Wiccan celebrations of the Winter Solstice, from today, below.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 12/28/2002 05:28:00 AM | link

This absolutely stinks: Lordmage of the Good is throwing in the towel. I know the blogosphere knows this already. I just wanted to add four points to the clamor:

1) Don't delete the blog! I haven't read half of it yet, and you never know whom your blog might help.

2) Too time-consuming? Update less often. It's easy. I'll show you how. 8-)

3) Even if you don't get the traffic of say, Eve Tushnet or Amy Wellborn, you are still reaching many more people than you would normally be able to meet on the street or converse with in real life. 100 unique visitors per month is many more than you could do in the same time spent otherwise.

4) More folks appreciate your work than those who actually tell you so. I know because I barely said a peep to Lordmage, but I enjoyed reading him. That' s because I rarely say a peep to anyone, unless they write me directly, and only sometimes do I reply even then, if work permits.

So e-mail him if you haven't expressed your laments already.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 12/28/2002 05:22:00 AM | link

Thanks to Fr. Matthew for an e-mail and a trip down Tandy (old computer) memory lane. I've never heard a priest compare the Pope to a modem, but I was delighted at the metaphor. (Tolle, clicke.)

I tend to make theological analogies to outdated tech or esoteric physics concepts on occasion myself, virtually guaranteed to generate a look of incomprehension in most company. Here's a brief example from this month, to a student who happened to be taking Calculus I and was asking about the Pope's personalism: "The Pope talks about traditional theological problems regarding the nature of man, except he uses a phenomenological analysis at times, rather than traditional Thomistic psychology. (Student follows so far.) It's like a vector-projection. The length and trajectory of the vector remains the same, but it can be projected onto completely different theological axes, using different conceptual "bases." (Head of student cocks over, face twists up.) The formulaic expression is different, and the relative prominence of certain concepts changes, but the object represented is the same. (Blank stare, smile.) Ok. Forget that. It's like translating something from Latin to German. The words change, but the thing talked about is the same. (Student goes, "Oh, OK" and politely flees while the getting is good.)

Surfing on from his Tandy computer page, I found an archive of historical Tandy stuff. I owned one of these babies (the EX), which goes about 475 times slower than my present computer. Vanity of vanities, saith Moore's Law:

Click for full size

(click for full size image)

Posted by Old Oligarch on 12/28/2002 03:48:00 AM | link

Posted by Old Oligarch on 12/28/2002 01:10:00 AM | link

Solstice, Schmolstice.
I used to work at a college in CT which had a surprising number of Wiccan students for a predominantly Catholic population, and at least one Wiccan faculty member. I distinctly remember them getting ready for the Winter Solstice, which happens a few days before Christmas.

Inevitably, one of them would wish me a Happy Solstice. I've picked up on all their lingo, so whenever I hear "Merry Meet" or "Blessed Be," the first thought that springs to mind is "Go shove it up your a**." I've since learned to quash that instinct and counter with "Mary Keep" (which only works effectively in writing), or "Blessed Be His Holy Name," which particularly irks gyno-wiccans.

One day in the computer lab, I met the Wiccan faculty member. (She sported a doctorate in "family studies" -- what the hell is that? Shouldn't any mother of 5 get one?) I wished her a Merry Christmas by default, not knowing she's Wiccan at that point. Encouraged at the smallest opportunity to kakangelize (to announce the Bad News), she proudly divulged that she's a Wiccan, barely able to conceal the implication that she had arisen to join the Enlightened Few. Once she found out I had a background in theology, she did the predictable: "So then you know that the celebration of Christmas was designed to replace an originally pagan ritual?"

Now it's one thing if I am in a bad mood, and you accidentally set me off with a "Merry Meet." But in this case, we have the dialectical equivalent of walking up to the "Detonate" button on my brain, flicking off the safety, and poking it repeatedly to see what happens. The short answer to her question would have been: "Yes, in the same way in which the automobile replaced the horse and buggy."

The sarcastic response followed instead. I could tell immediately she knew next to nothing about authentic, historical paganism, like many other Wiccans I met there. (This has changed a lot in the past 5 years, by the way.) I was happy to heap up a bunch of options for her and let her choose, since she had only the vaguest familiarity with ancient civilizations. "Do you mean Saturnalia? (Which was a week long.) Or the Mithraic festival of Sol Invictus? Or the Egyptian practice of the burial of Osiris? Unless you're one of those modern Bible interpreters who put the original Christmas in early Spring -- in which case you must mean the Roman festival of Lupercalia instead."

She stated the obvious by saying she wasn't really concerned with the details of the ancient Roman practices, but instead with what was really important: How Christmas was originally a worship of nature. (Why the hell anyone would want to worship nature has always been beyond me. Would you worship a rock or a bird? How about if I threw in a river? No? Holding out for an ecosystem before things get sufficiently mysterious? Respect nature, yes. Be fascinated by it, sure. Worship it -- please. Worship is reserved for things which are above us. In any case...)

She earnestly continued telling me how at Solstice, the gradual disappearance of the sun during Fall and Winter reversed itself. In the darkest part of winter, Solstice celebrated the rebirth of light in the days of the season to come. People loved Solstice so much, she explained, that the Christians had to figure out some way to "get in on the action" and therefore "created" a holiday to take place during that very time.

A factual debate about the dating of Christmas would have mired us down. (The ascendancy of Mithraism under Aurelian in the 3rd century, and the Church's reaction to it.) Moreover, I wasn't willing to defend a hard-and-fast dating of the day of Christ's birth, since I'm not sure we know it with any reliability. That's not the point.

The point is that the Church has always possessed a spirituality of nature that runs much deeper than the pagans, and frequently trumps paganism at its own game. Catholic liturgy layers together level upon level of allegory to tell a tale symbolically -- a tale that has been millennia in the making, and begins at creation. Thus at Baptism, we can simultaneously recall the vision of Ezekiel 47:1-12, the water flowing from the side of Christ, the Exodus through the Red Sea, and God's primordial transformation of Rahab's waters of chaos into the waters that bring forth life in Genesis. Catholic liturgy rests on the belief that God is both the Author of Nature and the Author of Salvation History. Our Skillful Author has arranged for us to live in a natural and historical world full of symbols which tell the story of our salvation in Christ. It was designed that way on purpose. It is the original acheiropoietos (icon not made by human hands) pointing to Christ, the complete acheiropoietos. Resonance requires attunement. Attunement requires design. If something resonates within the human person at the image of the sun overcoming the darkness and death of winter, that note is struck on a harp tuned for playing the melody of Christ. Of course, one cannot affirm this conclusion without a deep conviction in God's Lordship over nature and history.

But the mere description of this belief is sufficient for dealing with the pagans. The Church is not playing second fiddle to a pre-existing custom by celebrating the birth of the Immortal, Invincible Son of God in place of the sol invictus. She doesn't "appropriate" naturalistic imagery to "appeal" to paganism. She does something bolder, and much more frustrating to the pagan: She claims to be the original and exclusive owner of the basis of all naturalistic religion. She affirms that the mysteries of nature point to the Creator, and His plan. Christ alone is the truest, most complete meaning of the Light in Darkness. He signals the beginning of our Spiritual Springtime. To go further and to be even more audacious (why not? The Fathers certainly were): He's the whole reason we have Winter and Spring in the first place! Thus, it's only right to take advantage of a human institution centered around the rebirth of the light and turn it back toward the Ultimate Meaning to which this compelling natural phenomenon was supposed to point.

Personal moral worth, the trajectory of salvation history, and the role of nature in our spiritual life are all affirmed in the Catholic worldview more deeply than the pagan, which merely allegorizes the meteorological fact that it's going to get brighter and warmer now, so we can all be happy because the unchanging cycles of nature inevitably favor our creature comforts once more. From the Catholic perspective, the pagan "spirituality" of nature is that of a child: aware of the existence of signs, but ignorant of their referent. It knows individual letters, but does not grasp the meaning of words.

From the pagan perspective, the Catholic view doubtless seems incredibly cavalier: It can potentially lay claim to anything good in human nature and history as a token of God's providence. How convenient. Of course it will be convenient: It's convenient because it is designed, and to be designed means to be convenient for the user! Too many modern Catholics are intimidated by skeptics' observations that this worldview "too conveniently" co-opts natural and human history for theological purposes. Don't capitulate to this position! One is essentially "pushed" into admitting that it is "too good" to believe that natural and human history are lit up with signs which point to truths more fully exhibited in revelation. (I'll let you know when God is too good!) It is always tantamount to a denial or limitation of God's love or power.

Of course, liberals are uncomfortable with this traditional Catholic view of nature and history because it undercuts the great divide so carefully architected first by Luther, and then by the Enlightenment: To know the truths of faith by revelation alone, and to know the truths of nature by reason alone, and never the twain shall meet. To reject this dichotomy is also to implicitly critique the traditional basis for religious toleration in the West, so liberal nerves are doubly jangled by threats to its largely unchallenged ascendancy.

Which is why, of course, things got interesting with me and the Wiccan in the computer lab that afternoon. She never talked to me again. (Hey, she asked for it.) She was primarily angry because I wanted to spoil her stupid fun: running around in druid's robes, getting woozy over the idea of a god with big boobs, and so forth. Hopefully she took away something more: If you want to publicly assert the naturalistic origins of the Christian religion, there is no room for polite neutrality. You better be well-read and prepared for battle, not for a meaningless exchange of office niceties. In Churchill's words, "I decline utterly to be impartial as between the fire brigade and the fire." Would that more Catholics would do the same in the face of pagan attempts to "reclaim" (=degenerate) the meaning of Christmas.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 12/28/2002 12:37:00 AM | link

Somebody else loves the Glock 23!

Posted by Old Oligarch on 12/27/2002 05:21:00 AM | link

Those creative Jesuits
Eileen brightens up the drear of my endless time grading by sending me a weighty e-mail about a moral theology class she is taking at a Jesuit university. Given the recent dearth of theological commentary on the blog, I decided it would be best to share. The excerpt begins in medias res, with Eileen in italics:

...In my moral theology class, there has been much talk about how the magisterium has hijacked the realm of moral teaching from the moral theologians.

A common rant, but unjustified. The magisterium has been making authoritative proclamations about concrete moral issues of private human behavior ever since St. Paul condemned sodomy and the Didache abortion. The Charlie Curran generation likes to paint a picture of the "two magisteria" -- that of shepherds (bishops) and teachers (academics). You can connect the dots, and imagine what a church whose doctrine was decided by academics would look like: It's an end-run towards total doctrinal ambiguity, and in its wake, widespread toleration of just about any kind of behavior. The corrupt Jesuit casuists of Pascal's day make a good example of when things go so far afield that moral theologians can be stereotyped like the Johnny Cochrans of our time: their whole job consists in introducing enough doubt into any moral case by whatever means necessary so that the defendant must be permitted freedom.

On issues where there is not a prior binding precedent (teaching of a Church Council, Papal encyclical, judgment of the CDF, etc.) then the magisterium at times may make prudent use of the work of moral theologians who debate cutting-edge issues or difficult cases, but the ultimate value of their work depends on whether it is adopted magisterially. Don't believe the anti-hierarchical hype. [O.O. notes: Yes, this is a Public Enemy reference.]

I think the main idea in this class rests on probabilism (which, considering the Society's fondness for it, is not surprising), ....

It's precisely the slide from equiprobabilism to probabilism that led to casuistical decadence. Equiprobabilism states that if two differing opinions about a moral issue are equally strong cases, of equal weight, then the believer is at liberty to choose his interpretation, which means, for all intents and purposes, he is free to what he wants to do. I think this principle was called canonical equity - when two conflicting laws applied to a situation, the believer was at liberty. Plain ol' probabilism came afterward, no longer insisting that the merits of the cases needed to be equal before the believer enjoyed canonical equity. Simply introducing a dubium to a case was sufficient. Thus, you had some unscrupulous casuists who would be willing to construct some kind of possible counter-argument to a fairly straight-forward moral case in order to weave a veneer of justifiability for their clients bent on this or that immoral action. One, if I remember correctly, was nicknamed "The Lamb of God" because he could take away the sins of the world, given enough time and casuistical creativity.

Some interesting reading might be Jonsen and Toulmin, An Abuse of Casuistry: A History of Moral Reasoning. Servais Pinckaers is also good.

[The professor in my moral theology class maintains] . . . that while the magisterium's "advice" is to be taken very seriously, it is still up to the individual Christian to form his conscience and decide whether or not the teaching is compelling, and compare it with other theological opinions. Slippery slope to relativism, I fear.

That sounds like the typical application of unrestrained probabilism. Fortunately, the teachings of the magisterium aren't on par with the creative suggestions of a case lawyer, and even if they were, it's not clear to me that it is the individual himself who gets to decide the objective merits of the objections to the magisterium, and whether they are sufficient to provide canonical equity. The tempted sinner is always able to find himself some shred of justification. Of course, he can be assisted by some handy accomplice who usually inserts himself to muddy up the relative status of magisterial teaching.

The parable about the millstone around one's neck was given for moral theologians. -O.O.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 12/19/2002 03:43:00 PM | link

Grading, grading, grading...ah, when will it end?

Posted by Old Oligarch on 12/17/2002 04:35:00 AM | link

Ever get one of those Nigerian e-mail scams where some rich man's widow or third-world dictator needs to transfer millions of dollars into a US bank account, and is willing to give you a heap of money in exchange for your bank account number? I've always wondered if that has ever worked. Apparently, 16 dolts lost $345,000 last year, and a few have even been whacked in Nigeria, according to this Wired article. In the process of poking around the web, I found a sadistic prankster who likes to write back to these people, and when they write back, he writes again and again. (Warning, the end of the e-mail exchange is crude and blasphemous.) Most of the website is filthy humor, but it also has this story about a crazy postal worker and a gun. I'm sure The Rat would like the article just for this commemorative stamp:

I also heartily support any website that collects strategies about how to humiliate, annoy, and otherwise get revenge on telemarketers. My friend Trav has one of my favorite exchanges:

Telemarketer: Hi! Can I interest you in buying some random piece of junk?
Trav: You're selling those? Really? Yeah! I'd actually like to buy a few of them.
Telemarketer: Great. How many would you like?
Trav: I'm going to buy a few. But listen. I'm really busy right now and I have to run. Can you give me your home number? I'll call you back tonight.
Telemarketer: I'm sorry, sir, you can't call me at home.
Trav: You're CALLING ME at home!

Posted by Old Oligarch on 12/14/2002 05:45:00 AM | link

Et macula non est in te

-Cant. 4:7

Happy Feast of the Immaculate Conception!

Salve Regina, Mater Misericordiae,
Vita, Dulcedo, et Spes Nostra!

Posted by Old Oligarch on 12/09/2002 01:13:00 AM | link

Starting buying as many weapons as you can, before California has its way.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 12/06/2002 11:05:00 PM | link

How To Help Randall Terry?
Zorak and I get all sorts of solicitations from pro-life organizations in the mail, as does anyone who has ever given to any pro-life cause. We get pretty hardcore ones, too, since we have given in the past to groups like Operation Rescue. (See the website for some truly shocking information about abortion.) I've always had great admiration for unapologetically front-line opposition to abortion, and groups like Human Life International and Operation Rescue are some of my favorites. I've had the occasion to meet some of the bigger leaders in these organizations, including Randall Terry, the founder of Operation Rescue.

Today I received a hand-addressed letter, ostensibly from the desk of Alan Keyes, asking me to give to the "Terry Family Trust Fund." The Fund seeks to provide sustenance for Terry, from whom "everything has been taken" because of 14 years of lawsuits against him by Planned Parenthood, NOW, and the ACLU. You can get the gist of the longer letter by reading "The Cost of Battle" on RandallTerry.com.

It is true that pro-abortion militants, whose hands are covered in the blood of children, have cost Terry thousands and thousands of dollars through litigation. It is true that Terry has given more to the pro-life movement than many, many other people, and has suffered for it for years. The letter claims a figure of $200,000 in personal losses, not to mention all the time he has spent in jail, threats he has received (I've heard one in person), and heaps of verbal and physical abuse. If you want to see how tolerant a liberal is, tell him you oppose his or her right to kill children! It also says that Terry's home has been sold, and his equity given to the pro-abortion forces who have sued him.

It neglects to say that Terry's home was sold because in August 1999, he separated from Cindy, his wife of 18 years, whom he later divorced. Terry then "married" a former assistant, 16 years his junior, and has been living with her in a small home not far from the former Terry family residence. Terry has been excommunicated from the Landmark Church community to which he belonged during most of his notable pro-life efforts. You can read his former pastor's letter of censure and plea for prayer online. The pastor has elsewhere summarized the issue: "A difficult marriage that he had no time for and didn't take time for. And rather than do the godly thing, he bailed out." After the divorce, Terry took a year-long sabbatical, supported in part by an earlier public campaign for financial support, which ended up looking like another earmark of a mid-life crisis: he spent his time and money recording some country-western music in Nashville. The whole thing is very sad. You can get the rest of the details from the pen of the enemy, who writes an article about the aforementioned "Sabbatical Fund."

Terry is an incredibly brave and articulate man. I've met him, had dinner with him, and even helped to host an appearance he made at Yale. (THAT was a incredible evening. Can you imagine the sheer number of pissed-off leftists? And he handled them all quite astutely.) I greatly regret the fact that he has been persecuted and crushed by the pro-abortion movement. But I also have a hard time supporting a man who has turned from his wife of 18 years to marry a younger woman. In the 1995 book he wrote from prison, The Judgment of God, Terry stated:

"We have become a sex-crazed society. Women are viewed as sex toys to be used and discarded by vile, pathetic males (I shall not call them men); families are destroyed as a father vents his mid-life crisis by abandoning his wife for a younger, prettier model."

I also have a hard time with the fact that the letter conveniently neglects to mention that the Terry Family supported by the "Terry Family Trust Fund" is Terry & his new wife, rather than Cindy and their children -- unless, of course, part of the funds go to pay child support and alimony.

The letter was hand-addressed. Perhaps Terry would read it himself. I don't know how to reply to it. I'm thinking of sending him a Mass card (if he cares for such things!) and a personal pledge of prayer, but also a sound admonition to return to the wife of his youth, to whom he made an irrevocable promise. Any thoughts?

"I hate divorce," says the Lord God of Israel -- Malachi 2:16.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 12/06/2002 07:40:00 PM | link

Zorak's in New Haven all weekend. Suddenly, the whole house feels empty.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 12/05/2002 08:46:00 PM | link

A Scripture passage for those enduring final exams this week or next. It's also a sobering reminder to academics:

"Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh." -- Eccles. 12:12.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 12/05/2002 02:28:00 AM | link

Question for the experienced mixers among my general readership:

Next month, I will bartend at a large function at which Absinthe will be served, among many other things. I'm looking for some creative recipes, ideally ones which you've tried. We only have a small quantity (US Customs being what it is), and the intention for using it is primarily nostalgic. I already plan on making Sazerac cocktails. Also I'll hopefully have the equipment to prepare it according to the traditional method, using only cold water, a lump of sugar and a slotted spoon. The only other two ideas I've come up with just sitting around the bar are:

Orange Absinthe Fizz
In a tall glass:
2 shots Triple Sec, and a squeeze of lemon
(or Sour Mix, which I never bother to keep around the house)
1 shot Absinthe
Fill with club soda and ice.

Kir Royale Absinthe
First, in a shaker, with ice:
1 shot Creme de Cassis
1/2 shot Absinthe
Dash of lemon juice
Shake, strain into champagne flute, fill with champagne.

All quantities are approximate, since I've long abandoned using a measure. Right now, I'm using Absente to mix. In January, it will be Staroplzenecky Absinth, which I expect will be somewhat more bitter than the pastis I'm using due to the actual presence of wormwood. Any advice would be appreciated.

Disclaimer: 1) I see nothing wrong with trying the drink once. 2) I didn't import it, someone else did. 3) It's negative effects on health are greatly exaggerated, and only occur with repeated, intoxicating consumption. If you eat a salad or desert with a sage or rosemary reduction, you're probably consuming something which exceeds the US customs limit on thujone content.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 12/04/2002 01:42:00 PM | link

According to George, the Panda is a marsupial, and not a bear. I stand uninterested, but corrected. In my defense, a zillion people call it a bear, and it looks like a bear. So substitute "Giant Panda Marsupial" for ursus and "bear" below.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 12/04/2002 12:00:00 PM | link

My way of preserving the Panda

Posted by Old Oligarch on 12/02/2002 03:38:00 PM | link

Welcome to the Google searcher looking for "Bowflex lyrics." Umm, it's a gym. It doesn't have lyrics.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 12/02/2002 02:48:00 PM | link

Welcome to the Google searcher looking for "Mory's Cup Recipies." Google was right to bring you here, my friend. I know all of them. But such knowledge comes at a price!

Here's a tip to get you started: Mix equal portions of cheap champagne (Cooke's) and ginger ale for base. Dump in some rum. Add a liqueur of your choice for flavor. You're halfway there. Mory's delicious liqueur combinations are trade secrets, however, and not to be revealed.

I would, however, be willing to trade almost any cup recipe for an accurate recipe for Baker's Soup -- that most delicious of Mory's edible (as opposed to quaffable) concoctions.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 12/02/2002 05:11:00 AM | link

When you feel truly gloomy about the world and almost everything in it -- as I have for the past few weeks -- these kind of articles cheer me up like nothing else can. Read about Mother Theresa's "Dark Night of the Soul," courtesy of The Lady of Shalott. More from Rosa Mystica, from the Postulator of Mother Theresa's cause, on Zenit here and here.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 12/02/2002 05:04:00 AM | link

All But Dissertation rags on the NAB, as she is wont to do. Some day, I will compile a short list of my top 10 gripes about it, but not this hellacious week. Although I don't share quite so many of her criticisms about the way the Lectionary operates, I wholly sympathize with her points about the NAB's enormous tendency to bias translation away from anything harsh and socially challenging said by or about God. Add to that a strand of anti-supernaturalist bias, especially in the notes. I take that back: It's not a bias. It's a consciously-executed gloss, presented as a translation.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 12/02/2002 05:01:00 AM | link

I've already mentioned how Panda bears are ridiculously expensive idols to Chinese communism, born out of America's random desires for cute and cuddly crap (if you call that thing cute). I've also mentioned how they are too stupid to mate. Thus, the Red Chinese have made Panda porn, and now, a Panda dating service.

Is there a service that can pair one of these beasts with my 30-06 and nice, shellacked trophy plaque for my living room?

Posted by Old Oligarch on 12/02/2002 04:50:00 AM | link


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