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

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Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/29/2004 12:30:00 AM | link

Ok. I am losing my mind. Another reader writes to say that the chicken thing isn't real either. Shows you what happens to my sanity when the wife leaves home. I did so well vs. the Turing machines the first time.

No more blogging for two whole weeks until I get enough work done that I can distinguish fact from fiction. I've not had a good track record today.

In reality, what's happening is that I am grading two different exams, working on a lecture, a potential journal article, a book outline, and poking a recidivist prof who keeps forgetting to sign an absolutely vital piece of paper I need, all while trying to clear enough space in the weekend to go to New Haven with my wife. So when I get tired of looking at any one of those options (or all of them), I blog -- apparently deliriously.

One reader writes: "I'm pretty sure the site is a sort of variation on the Turing machine: it plays prerecorded video clips in response to commands the creators of the site have anticipated. This is why some odder commands don't get any real response, not even puzzlement (though of course they could've recorded a shrug or some such as the response to "unknown command")."

It did shrug at me when I asked it whether it likes its job. And I did manage to get it to read the Bible -- or at least some such big heavy book it took from the bookshelf. It does not know how to dance the waltz, but it will dance.

Think about how many people they would have to employ to respond to all internet users if the thing takes off in popularity!"

That would be a problem, which I assume they would solve (if it were real) by just refusing to let it connect. A few times, when I've tried it, the chicken has been doing other things before I typed anything, in response to what I assumed were previous user's commands.

I've followed the webphone / webcam / CUSeeMe thing out of sheer technological interest in circumventing long distance charges, and I know how it has been snapped up by the prurience industry. I'm sure volume isn't a major limitation, since there are now thousands of rooms of people who do the same thing for hundreds of thousands of internet users a day, except that they are not dressed in chicken suits. Unless all those folks are fake too? Never really gave it much thought.

"I'm also guessing the link to Burger King is, let us say, highly unofficial."

So yes, here I am willing to admit, I am losing my mind. Better stick with something closer to reality, like Quake, for a mild distraction.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/20/2004 02:09:00 AM | link

Well, I've been burned by taking a scrappleface article on Kerry seriously. I was looking at the print-out on my desk, and saw their "News Fairly Unbalanced. We Report, you decipher" logo and realized something was wrong.

You see, I always see Zorak reading it, and so I assume it must be a news website, because she consumes news for entertainment. (I don't get this. News at best annoys me.)

I logged onto Yahoo, and sure 'nuff, four of you kind-hearted readers wrote to say I had made a mistake.

Scary thing is, a student once said a similar thing to me, so when I saw the Scrappleface article, I thought "This line of thought really gets around...where do people come up with this stuff?"

Chagrined -- certainly not the first or last time...

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/19/2004 11:23:00 PM | link

One blogger has far surpassed my earlier challenge with a score of 85%. Kudos to Flambeaux. The promised drink on me will actually be purchased today, in situ, by a close personal associate. ;-)

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/19/2004 06:13:00 PM | link

Another from Inferno XV. I'm warning you right now, wait before you click on the next link.

The Burger King Subservient Chicken.

I first thought it was going to be a flash animation or something. The chicken is cute when it first comes out walking into its living room. But then I realized it is actually some poor person on the other end of a webcam who acts out whatever you tell them to do.

I don't know about you, but as soon as I realized it was a real person, I felt creepy typing in basic commands like "jump up and down" or "wave hello" for some anonymous stranger to read on a teleprompter and discharge. I wished him a nice day and left.

(Update: Ten minutes later, I realized I had actually spawned two windows by mistake, and I left the poor creature standing there at attention for ten minutes while I did nothing. Double creepy.)

This is even more ineffective and mildly disturbing a marketing trend as the recent ploy at our local McDonalds, where they put a person out behind the restaurant where the drive-through speakerbox is, to take your order face-to-face. I first thought the normal apparatus was broken, and then the employee said no, this was their "new idea." I felt sorry for the person sitting under an umbrella, in the middle of a parking lot, clearly making the best of it, in order to satisfy some bizarre conflation of "connecting with someone" and utterly unnecessary, humiliating labor.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/19/2004 05:45:00 PM | link

What the heck? Found this on the YPU website. And their mascot is a camel? You'd go bactrian too out of necessity, I suppose, if they were successful. Women's rights (whatever that means), environmentalism and the "Good Templars" is also thrown into the mix.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/19/2004 12:21:00 AM | link

Pollen count has been 11 to 11.8 out of 12 this week for my allergen at Pollen.com.

But thanks to Claritin -- and a HEPA filter and an ionizer in the house -- you'd hardly know it looking at me. Yay! I did not sneezed once all season until we opened the windows all day yesterday, which was probably a bad call (but such a lovely day), but even then, the Claritin works great. They've just made a steady customer out of me.

I think Zyrtec may work better on my indoor (much, much milder) reaction to lots of dust, but forget seeing a doctor and doing the prescription dance every time I want a refill. And since I didn't use Zyrtec for that long, I'm not sure how it stacks up to Claritin's outdoor-allergen abilities.

And forget Benedryl. We use that for sleeping pills around here. (If you compare most over-the-counter sleeping pills, you'll see they are really just Diphenhydramine, the generic drug name for Benedryl.) The commercials for Benedryl may be right: it is a more powerful antihistimine -- but they should be required to add: if you want to slump around all day like a grumpy, stodgy old bear who has been shot in the @ss with a tranquilizer dart.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/18/2004 10:20:00 AM | link

Following up on an earlier post, Time magazine reports there has been justice for Ekeh: he has been fired from the USCCB. I hope he is the first of many to lose his job because he betrayed the teaching of the Church for the sake of abortion rights. Time writes:

"Already, one employee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington says he has lost his job as a result of his political activities on Kerry's behalf. Ono Ekeh was a program coordinator for the conference until last month, when he says his supervisors there confronted him with what he had written—sometimes using workplace computers—on his Yahoo discussion-group website, Catholics for Kerry. What alerted them to his postings, he believes, was a mass e-mail by activist Deal Hudson, editor of a Catholic magazine, Crisis, and a close ally of the Bush White House. Ekeh, 33, had criticized the bishops' recent edicts that Catholic politicians should vote according to church teaching. "

On other controversial fronts, this story is old, but instructive about the state of "ecumenism on the right." (The article is also mistaken on some details about the SSPX, but anyway.)

The SSPX is wrong about many things, and members gravely endanger their souls by persisting in schism. However, I must say that they are absolutely right to protest Buddhist monks being given the sanctuary of a Catholic basilica to use for a Buddhist chant performance when the SSPX cannot use it to celebrate the Tridentine Mass. How this can fail to send the following message to traditionalists is beyond me: "Occasional Buddhism in the church? Sure. Traditional Latin-rite worship? Never!"

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/18/2004 09:00:00 AM | link

Zorak will not believe this, but:

Grammar God!
You are a GRAMMAR GOD!

If your mission in life is not already to
preserve the English tongue, it should be.
Congratulations and thank you!

How grammatically sound are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Also from Inferno XV:

Molvania, the land untouched by modern dentistry. Yes, this is pretty much how most Americans see small countries in "central" Europe, which is what we call Eastern Europe when we are being nice. But since I'm an anti-modernist, these kinds of little jibs at baroque language, "boring" native culture and world-historical irrelevance aren't really insults.

Lastly, scientists settle another important, long-standing problem. Now if they could only figure out the rings that occur when you add milk and Tia Maria.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/17/2004 02:33:00 PM | link

John Henry Newman, Marian apologist and "feminist:"
(I put "feminist" in quotes because the word no longer means anything.)

"Sts. Basil and Cyril seem to have participated with Ambrose, Jerome, and other Fathers, in that low estimation of woman's nature which was general in their times. In the broad imperial world, the conception entertained of womankind was not high; it seemed only to perpetuate the poetical tradition of the 'Varium et mutabile semper.' Little was then known of that true nobility, which is exemplified in the females of the Gothic and German races, and in those of the old Jewish stock, Miriam, Deborah, Judith, and Susanna, the forerunners of Mary."

    -- Newman's Letter to Pusey, Note III

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/15/2004 12:08:00 AM | link

white lies vs. not getting along
a golden toilet vs. the quadratic equation
the periodic table vs. a large joint
Spiro T. Agnew vs. baby formula
locker mirrors vs. current temperature map
burgertime vs. the ampersand
baphomet t-shirt vs. recycling
morse code vs. laughing cow cheese

All these choices and more on Eve's newest internet timewaster, whatsbetter.com, which she inflicted on us during our repast last Monday.

An etymological note on "baphomet," which is apparently one of these new bands which takes a Satanic name. While "baphomet" generally means nowadays a Satanic image or demon, it actually is a corruption of "Mohammed." (Mohammed --> Mahomet --> Baphomet, as it travelled from Palestine, got Latinized, went through N. Africa and into Spain.) Its connection with a Satanic image or idol is obscure. One hypothesis suggests idols were made of the prophet in certain outlying Moorish regions, and then "baphomet" became synonymous with any pagan idol in the period following the crusades. Some people tell this long story about the knights Templar, but I've never been into all that jazz.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/14/2004 11:00:00 AM | link

Yesterday was Wet Monday, a tradition of Jonathan Edwards College at Yale, adapted from the Polish custom of Smigus Dyngus, with sophomores taking the role of the men, and freshmen the women. In the Yale version, however, there is no 49-days' worth of reciprocity from the freshman class.

I was always amazed at the amount of property damage the administration was willing to tolerate in the name of this holiday. We had three inches of standing water in the basement of Farham hall my freshman year, and water cascading down the stairwells for hours. This was surely not helped by four freshmen who stole one of those large orange-and-white plastic road-marker barrels the size of a 55-gallon drum, and filled it with water to avenge the unsuspecting sophomores heading up for one final assault.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/13/2004 11:17:00 AM | link

Oh no, Aaron is trying some of my bizarre mixology ideas.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/11/2004 03:56:00 AM | link

Resurrexit sicut dixit! Alleluia!

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/10/2004 03:37:00 PM | link

Just another miscellaneous benefit of being a Gentile Judeophile:

Go to the store the weekend after Passover and score:
A huge leg of lamb for $14. 5 boxes of matzohs for $2! Potato kugel, pancakes, etc., are all on clearance. Man, are we going to have an Easter feast.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/10/2004 11:14:00 AM | link

To be with the Lord in the tomb today, I went to the abortuary in Falls Church. It was my first time going to a clinic to pray, and about as difficult as I expected.

There was quite a large turnout, about 30-35 people, and Bishop Loverde came, too, together with Fr. Bashista, the vocations director for the diocese who came to local attention after refusing to be a Second Judas by handing over the Body of Christ to a known pro-choice Virginia Catholic politician. It was heartening to have the shepherd of the diocese present with us, at something which, by all outward appearances, can look like a "fringe movement" despite being from the heart of the Church.

We arrived early, at 6:45, since the place opens at 7. The first female abortuary worker we saw arrived in a black volkswagon bug with "1 wckd wtch" for the license plate. Shortly after 7, about eight "clinic escorts" filed out of the building wearing optic orange vests to cluster around where we had lined up for the rosary, about 15 feet away. No words were exchanged, but you could tell they were hardened to our presence. They tried to put on airs like they were laughing and joking and having a good time while we carried on in prayer, but I didn't buy it. It seemed fake, designed to try to show us that their consciences weren't concerned by what we were doing. I tried to make eye contact intermittently, but they refused.

Noting the large crowd, one of them said, sacastically: "Heh! Christmas and Easter." (I.e., referring to the tendency of all-but-lapsed Catholics to come to church only twice a year, on Christmas and Easter.) What a stinging barb to my heart. I know it's better to go once than never, but what a choice of words to use to reproach the consciences of people you know are church-going Catholics! The words were so poorly chosen for her purpose, I wondered whether the Lord in His Providence meant this as a sign for all of us to come more often.

Two couples came to the clinic while we were there. The last-minute struggle for an innocent baby's life was joined. An Hispanic couple in a pick-up truck drove in, but hesitated at the entrance where there were many people. One of the men on our side who was a sidewalk counsellor approached the truck with leaflets and words. Another middle age woman holding a small baby stood quietly just behind him and beside him. It wasn't long before the clinic escorts swooped in, the fattest woman of them standing in front of the woman with a baby to block her from view, and the others trying to direct the driver's attention to enter the parking lot, where we could not go. After a few minutes, the couple backed out, and turned around, leaving the side street to the parking lot. The driver was agitated, and talking on the cell phone, but the priest standing next to me caught his eye, and blessed him with the sign of the cross. They drove down the road. I thought, Perhaps, this was all it took?

They returned five minutes later, having regrouped their resolve in a 7-11 parking lot, and entered by another entrance. The woman walked alone through the door, face sad, stern, looking down, resolute. I assume this meant she would butcher her child.

Fifteen minutes later, a second, black couple drove in quickly and went to the rear of the building, before really anyone of us could talk to them. The driver had sized up the situation quickly, and cut right through the crowd.

At the end of the rosary, I discovered, through Zorak's keen powers of observation, that the familiar-looking priest standing next to us was Fr. Euteneuer, the director of Human Life International. I wasn't surprised to see him praying at an abortion clinic, but I was surprised to see him there. Zorak introduced us, and he invited us to visit HLI someday, which we very well may do.

As we were leaving, we spoke to a number of the other people who had gathered to pray, including a man about my age who remarked that he had been to his first prayer meeting at an abortuary on Holy Saturday, too, two years ago. He told us how the doctor who used to work in the abortuary had recently been arrested for nearly killing a woman by perforating her uterus, and then he continued to practice after his license had been suspended. The young man had been coming to pray regularly for the past two years, and he is now a sidewalk counsellor.

I truly admire those people. I'd feel awful if I blew one of those harried, traumatic encounters. I'm not good in sudden on-the-spot encounters. I can barely think straight when a student asks an unexpected question, nevermind trying to get on the same terms with an abortion-minded woman in the 2 minutes you have before the "escorts" descend on her. And when I flub a theology question, I'm mentally reproaching myself for the rest of the day. How would I feel if I made a mess of sidewalking counselling a woman? But if someone's not there, who will be?

Thirty-five people was a large crowd today. What does that mean for other Saturdays?

If you want to feel directly involved in a movement that needs you, try praying in front of a clinic. Anyone can do it, and when some mother comes, you will learn how to exert yourself in prayer. The sidewalk counsellor we spoke with said three clinics had closed in DC this past year, and traffic was noticably slower at this one.

Maria, Causa Nostrae Laetitiae, ora pro nobis.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/10/2004 10:00:00 AM | link

Today, Holy Saturday, Bishop Loverde of Arlington is spending his morning praying in front of three abortion clinics. Zorak and I plan to join him.

Please pray for our bishop and his courageous witness, so that his brother bishops may follow his example.

Keep NPM, JPH, and ASH in your prayers. They are being received into the Church tonight! It is hard to convey the exact feeling one gets when a dear friend receives the Eucharist for the first time.


Some thoughts from Good Friday.

I saw The Passion of the Christ again between Stations of the Cross and Veneration, and thought I would be a Big Tough Guy the second time around and ended up even more torn up by it than the first time, certainly in part because of the day. Here again, men and women, teens and adults, were clearly moved to tears all throughout the theater. The dark theater is almost like a confessional: people forget about each other's presence, and are simply there with the Lord, despite the human intermediaries. I think that's part of the reason for the long pause before people are ready for face-to-face encounters in the daylight. They don't want to talk about the movie yet. They're still with the Lord.

Later that evening, the priest at Veneration preached and briefly mentioned TPOTC and the public debate about anti-Semitism. Fr. Wooton on "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.": "The only difference between us and the Jews is this: We know what we are doing when we add to his sufferings by our sins."

The narrative gospel has always been a ritual dear to me. I remember as a boy being shocked at the fact that we, the congregation must read out the parts "Crucify him!" and "We have no king but Caesar!" I never wanted to say it, but I did, because that was the liturgy, and I struggled to understand what now makes sense to me as an adult.

Today I thought of those truly open-minded, but concerned Jews, who are worried about how Christians view Jews in TPOTC. Would they be reassured -- even a little -- by knowing that yesterday, certainly the second most solemn day of the whole year, Catholics worldwide put themselves in the place of that angry, 1st century Jewish crowd and make themselves, liturgically, the accusers and crucifiers of Christ?

It's a tradition which has been going on for well over 1,400 years. It's also present in the moving once-a-year, Good Friday-only chant, the Improperia or Reproaches, which is basically a Christian inversion of the Dayenu song from Passover where the Savior accuses the congregation of repaying every great deed in salvation history with a cruelty of His Passion. For more detail, you can read a paper I wrote long ago on The Origins of the Reproaches. It's not well organized, but you'll get the idea.

Lastly, the back of the T-shirt worn by the woman standing in front of me at the Stations:

An image of the Savior on the Cross, with caption:

"Aristotle said: Know yourself.
Freud said: Love yourself.
Jesus said: Deny yourself..."

Where does one find a T-shirt like that? Turns out, she's the mother of a boy in seminary in Lincoln, Nebraska. I assume that means the FSSP.

Blogging will be short for the next two days, for obvious reasons.

In case you've already forgotten: Keep NPM, JPH, and ASH in your prayers. They are being received into the Church tonight!

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/10/2004 01:56:00 AM | link

The Washing of the Feet

The liturgy is a great deposit of doctrine in symbolic form. Lex orandi, lex credendi. In a robust Catholic environment, it can be the source from which all things flow and to which they return. As Pickstock attempts to remind post-modernists, ora et labora meant that every labor was sanctified by a closing act of prayer, even in the schola, thus the subtitle of her book, "the liturgical consummation of philosophy." The spirit of the beginning and the end had a fundamental impact on the tenor of what was done in the middle, whether it was scholastic philosophy or politics "in the world," but that is another story.

In an age like ours, when Catholic culture is receding, we often fail to notice the meaning of liturgical symbols which once animated the piety of our forefathers. This is one reason why it is incredibly important not to change the liturgy simply because we would like to see it streamlined, or because something doesn't make sense to us, or indeed, to many modern Catholics. Such streamlining, done in the name of short-term gains of "intelligibility," often means, in fullest perspective, that the last vestige of a liturgically-expressed belief has been made a palimpsest.

Such is the case with the washing of the feet on Maundy Thursday. I know it is too late now for liturgists to change their game plans (not like they would care to), but I felt the need to blog about this in advance of Triduum, when this beautiful ritual is often glossed over with some bland remark about serving others.

I can still remember the time when parishes would re-enact the Washing of the Feet using 12 priests, and failing that, supplementing the priests with religious. The trend now-a-days, however, has been to use laity. (Too much sacerdotalism, and all that.) The primary symbolism presented by this act is driven by an interpretation of the Washing of the Feet as an object lesson in charity. Facile liturgy is thus designed according to facile exegesis. There's a better interpretation of Jn 13:1-20, and a deeper meaning to this unique Lenten ritual.

(The starting point to this investigation, in case you're wondering, is the Lord's enigmatic question in Jn 13:12 and Eugenio Zolli's few pages on it in The Nazarene. Zolli has an eye for overlooked passages. I am also aware that there are many variations in the 14-centuries-old ritual of the Washing, and that using laity is licit.)

I think a full understanding of the passage rests on three points:

1) For a Jew, commanding someone to wash your feet was a gesture of great self-abasement. Talmudic legislation forbade Jews from commanding this action of anyone but a Gentile slave, the lowest of the low. By washing the apostles' feet, Jesus takes on the form of a slave, in anticipation of the total humiliation of Good Friday, in accordance with St. Paul's words in Philippians 2:7-8: "Christ emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross."

2) Many Patristic authors see a preparation for the proclamation of the Gospel in the washing of the feet, in accordance with Isaiah 52:7: "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings the Good News." This is the passage in Isaiah from which we get the very word Gospel, and which goes on to predict what this Good News will look like: the death of the Suffering Servant (Is 52:13-53:12) and the restoration of the covenant through the sending of the Logos (Is 54-55), which immediately follow it in the book of the prophet and the evangelist.

Christ washes the apostles' feet to make them beautiful in preparation for announcing the consummation of the divine plan. The Washing is thus an act whereby Christ invests the apostles with evangelical authority, as part of their episcopal office, as He explains in Jn 13:20: "Amen, Amen, I say to you, he who receives any one whom I send receives me; and he who receives me receives him who sent me." Think of Matthew 18:18, not only Matthew 22:39.

3) We already have a basis in (2) for thinking about a connection between the Washing and ordination. This is, of course, reinforced by ancient Christian custom which celebrates the institution of the Christian priesthood during the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord's Supper, since, just after the Washing, Christ commands his disciples: "Do this in memory of me," giving them the mandate to celebrate the Eucharist which is the reason for their priesthood.

The last piece of the puzzle comes into view if we read Scripture with Jewish eyes, awaiting the Old being fulfilled in the New. While sometimes it was customary to offer guests the means to wash their own feet before dining, we know that the Passover must be eaten shod (Exodus 12:11), so this would be the one meal where such a custom wouldn't have been necessary. Why does Jesus do it?

Exodus 30:18-21 tells us that Aaron and his sons, the High Priests of Israel, must wash their feet before entering the Holy Place to minister before the Lord, just as God Himself instructed Moses directly "Put off your shoes from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground" (Exodus 3:5).

Holy things are for the holy, not the uninitiated. When Moses had finished creating all the implements necessary for divine worship and the tabernacle, he then turned to ordain Aaron and his sons as the first High Priests of the old covenant. Remember from (1) the great indignity of a Jew washing another's feet. To my knowledge, there is no other passage in the OT where one Jew washes another's feet except Leviticus 8:6: Since Aaron and his sons cannot wash themselves to purify themselves for their ordination (because they are not yet priests), Moses does it for them as part of their ordination ritual.

This gives us the full meaning of the Washing of the Feet:

Christ is preparing His apostles to be His first priests. Christ chooses a symbol of great self-abasement to underscore the nature of this priesthood in imitatio Christi. Sharing in Christ's priesthood means sharing in his kenosis, His self-emptying, His self-sacrifice. Just as Aaron and his sons were the first priests of the Old Covenant, Christ washes the feet of the Apostles to be the first priests of the New Covenant. They have "already been washed clean" (Jn 13:10) of sin in Baptism. Now, they receive a special washing, proper to their ordination, so that they can worthily enter the New Tabernacle -- the first Tabernacle to contain the Eucharist, the Upper Room.

Such, IMHO, is the meaning of the Washing of the Feet: priestly, sacrificial, mysterious. The new covenant fulfilling the old in its figures. So if you get another lazy, banal homily on "serving others" or some such permutation of the importance of being nice, you've been shirked. Pray for more from your priest. Christ did. More than any other day of the year, this day should spur priests to recall the meaning of their vocation, so encourage them to break open the word and to feed you. Wash off the dirty exegesis of vague communitarian motives, so that the Gospel, not niceties, can be spread across the mountain tops.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/05/2004 05:02:00 AM | link

We want Palms!
My dear wife is still scandalized by the boatloads of people who show up on Palm Sunday. "Why do they all turn out today?", she asked me. "You get something today. It's like a happy meal. Everybody comes to get their palm," I explain, with the jadedness of a cradle Catholic. For more, see Fr. Jim: "Offer them Jesus, and they're not interested. Offer to smudge some dirt on their foreheads, and they'll line up clear to the Potomac."

Yet there is something to appreciate in the garish spectacle: Nihil sub sole novum. The Gospels this week are permeated with wonderful divine ironies. (The judge of the world being judged by Pilate. The Logos being asked "What is truth?") Palm Sunday is all about facile crowds coming to greet Jesus for the easy payoff of welcoming the glorious Messiah with fluttery palms. One would think that anyone with any reflection at all would realize this, and be doubly chagrined at showing up for this Sunday out of all the Sundays in the year. There's a reason why the narrative Gospel makes us say, "We want Barabbas." If ICEL was on the ball, they should have added, "And give us some palms, too, while you're at it!"

Thanks for this image, Quenta Narwenion.

Today is World Rat Day. I hope this blogger knows.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/04/2004 04:07:00 PM | link

O.O.: Look at our trash. It's like the Argonne Forest in there.
Zorak is puzzled.
O.O.: Three bottles of good Scotch, fallen in one day!

(Granted, all three were nearly empty.)

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/04/2004 01:35:00 AM | link

I'm sure He'll rethink that now.
Zorak: I think God should have made woman first.
O.O.: Why?
Zorak (pauses): I would have.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/03/2004 04:43:00 AM | link


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