Monthly Archives: September 2009

Catholic T-Shirt Company T-Shirts

All right, I have to admit I find this St. Patrick T-shirt amusing. Highly suitable for your March 17 and Celtic festival needs.

But heck, nobody is likely to hassle you about it, if you go out wearing this ferocious and beautiful picture of St. Michael. The St. Michael prayer is on the back, which will come in handy if anybody behind you has demon troubles.

(Actually, that would be pretty amusing for a horror gaming campaign set in the modern day. Team members could wear T-shirts full of printed cheat sheets. I guess you’d want to print the prayers upside-down on the front of one, to be useful to the person wearing it.)

Here’s a Rosary T-shirt. Note the characteristic Hispanic/Mediterranean wearing of the Rosary around the neck, which has lately become something of a pop fashion statement with non-Catholics. This is a nice shirt,
but it’d probably be nice to have a non-neck version for other cultures. :) Also notice the huge honkin’ crucifix, pointing out that the Rosary is all about the Christology. :)

I like the Annunciation illustration on this one.

And they say nobody practices mortification anymore, when people wear this out in public…. I like the mirror letters and the sentiment, but it would take a brave and troubled person to do it justice, much less conceive of it. Impressive.


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The Matter of Catholic T-Shirts

One of the features of evangelical culture is wearing all sorts of God-oriented T-shirts. These are supposed to help evangelism, and they often feature parodies of famous advertising slogans. They are also supposed to keep the people wearing them mindful of God at all times.

On the one hand, I think a lot of these are witty, and certainly the intention is good.

But on the other hand… well, it strikes me as a tad disrespectful, or respectful in a wrongheaded way, to print the name of God or Bible verses on a piece of daily clothing. I mean, think about catsup or mud getting all over it. Think about God’s name getting ripped, or rotted out slowly by sweat and wear-and-tear.

So I’m sometimes made uncomfortable by Catholic t-shirts. A lot of the small companies out there are copying evangelical t-shirts which are copying normal t-shirts, and that’s way too derivative. You’ve got more Bible verses, more use of the Name, and tons of holy pictures on top of that; so the potential for damage is high. Sometimes, it appears a bit presumptuous to wear those shirts.

But on the other hand, the medievals and folks of other times did wear articles of clothing with holy pictures painted on them. Usually as holy festival gear or as part of some confraternity, but there is some precedent.
Also, there’s a lot of different cultures inside Catholic culture. Hispanic folks are apparently very fond of wearing T-shirts of the Guadelupana, for example. Nothing disrespectful, totally normal in their culture. So I don’t want to put anybody off, when they have legitimate freedom to do something.

And hey, I don’t have any misgivings whatsoever about people wearing pictures of saints. It’ll annoy the Jack Chick crowd, which is a bonus. :)

Just don’t wear a holy T-shirt to the point that it’s holey, okay?

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Thomist T-Shirt, Etc.

Though I’m sure you could improve it with some Latin propositions and argumentation on the back….

There’s also a T-shirt for everybody’s favorite biology monk, Gregor Mendel.

History mavens might like this Marco Polo t-shirt.

Also, a Flannery O’Connor t-shirt to send your favorite English major, and a Tolkien t-shirt. (Although it’s not that good of a pun, if you pronounce the name the way J.R.R. pronounced it.)

I’m sure folks realize that secular Internet T-shirt sites sometimes include some off-color material, so don’t be all surprised by other stuff on the site.

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100 Views of the Moon by Yoshitoshi. Annotated.

Oh, this is awesome. Awesomely awesome.

There are a lot of Japanese print series, and most of them are beautiful. The problem is, you don’t necessarily know what they’re about, and the captions in Japanese calligraphy are not all that helpful, to us gaijin.

So look at this site. All of Yoshitoshi’s prints in One Hundred Views of the Moon turn out to be moments when the Moon appears in famous stories, true or fictional. He draws them with the eye of a filmmaker or director of a play, as well as that of an artist. Check it out!

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References That Gaijin Fans Just Don’t Get, #7057.

In the live-action mystery series Tantei Galileo, the physicist/part-time detective is Yukawa Manabu.

His given name, Manabu, means “Learn”, and is written with that character. It’s a fairly common name for Japanese men today. (No pressure in school, kids!)

But his family name, Yukawa, is the same as Japan’s 1949 Nobel Prize winner, Yukawa Hideki — the guy who predicted the function of the pion in 1935, before it had even been discovered. There’s even a Yukawa Institute of Theoretical Physics.

So yeah, this is like naming your detective Learn Einstein, or at least Learn Feynman. (Or even Galileo, although that’s a fairly common nickname for physics guys. At least, that’s what they called my older brother in college, thanks to a certain rock song.)

And I didn’t get it until tonight. Sigh.


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Erin: A Lovely, Wholesome Fantasy Epic

Erin (Kemono no Souja Erin, or Beastplayer Erin) is the story of a little girl in a fantasy kingdom, whose dream is to become an animal healer like her mother. But though she’s lived in the village a long time now, her mother is still an outsider from another people, and some resent her. Her presence is only permitted because she has the skill to heal and raise dragons. Dragons are the tanks of this fantasy kingdom, and breeding and maintenancing them is the village’s sole reason for being.

Erin, however, possesses an even greater skill with dragons than her mother, as the kingdom will soon learn. She has the magical power to direct dragons and other animals to do her will, as if they were a musical instrument and she were playing upon them. So a girl who wanted nothing better than to become a veterinarian will soon become a veteran of the kingdom’s wars.

This is one of those series drawn with beautiful backgrounds and worldbuilding clearly influenced by Miyazaki.
It’s based on a series of fantasy novels by Uehashi Nahoko, who was also the author of the Moribito fantasy series. (Two of the books, Guardian of the Spirit and Guardian of the Darkness are available in English translation, in a very beautifully illustrated edition.)

I haven’t seen much of the show yet, but it looks good. You can watch it, free and legal, on (With commercials, of course.)

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Messing with Mahjongg

For some reason, mahjongg seems to be in the air for me this year.

There’s a fun anime called Saki that’s all about high school mahjongg tournament play in Japan. (I like the characters and story, but unfortunately it’s got tons of “fanservice” for the male viewer — jouncing breasts, panty shots, offcolor innuendo, etc. So this is a show only for those experienced in ignoring all this pointless supposed comedy.) It reminds me a lot of King Arthur’s knights in the Mabinogion, as every player has a different specialty which manifests as a sort of psychic ki superpower. (But only during mahjongg games. Mostly.)

Anyway, I’ve always liked the look of the mahjongg tiles and playing the inevitable computer matching games, but I’ve only gotten a chance to play the game once. This show gives you a lot of good visuals of how things work (albeit under Japanese rules), which you can then match against rules and descriptions online. It also is good at conveying a sense of excitement and love of the game, strategies and tactics, and the fun of guessing other players’ hands and coming moves.

There’s a fun urban fantasy (real urban fantasy, not supernatural romance) trilogy coming out from Jane Lindskold with an interesting mahjongg-based magic system, and folks with the powers of the Chinese zodiac animals. I recommend Thirteen Orphans highly. It’s a good fun read, with solid writing as its foundation. You’ll really enjoy it. (The second book, Nine Gates, just came out in hardcover.) I plan to hit the library and read her backlist, because clearly I’ve been missing something.

Finally, it turns out that the US military’s primary mahjongg variant is played under “the Wright-Patterson rules“, which were actually developed at McCook Field back in the day. I find this nifty.

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Tres Leches con Everything

The Anchoress linked today to Ree, the Pioneer Woman, and her terribly delicious looking recipe for tres leches cake.

In the comments, way down in the comments, a lady from the Dominican Republic advised that one go to her blog and read the recipe for sweet beans. It’s a pretty exciting recipe, because it just proves that anything can be a dessert if you add enough of tres leches — in this case, evaporated milk, coconut milk, and sweetened condensed milk. (And about a zillion pounds of sugar.)

Sweet beans are a traditional Dominican Easter dessert. I love the idea of associating beans with the Resurrection, because beans always seem to have something about them of the promise of new life.

(All that soaking probably damps some of the traditional bean-related problems.)

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A Prayer for the Dead

Munged together from various sources, in the traditional Catholic magpie way…. :)

In honor of Brian Martineau, a man I never met in this life, and hope to meet in the next.

O most merciful Jesus, lover of souls,
we beseech You
by the agony of Your most Sacred Heart
(and by the sorrows of Your immaculate Mother),
that the souls of those sinners who died on this day
may have been washed clean in Your Blood.

Almighty and merciful God,
in whose hand is the lot of man,
absolve the souls of your servants from all sin
that although surprised by sudden death,
they may not lose the benefit of the repentance which they desired to make.

Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them.
May all the souls of the faithful departed,
through the mercy of God,
rest in peace.

We ask these things through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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Praying toward the East: St. Macrina Edition

In The Life of St. Macrina, by her brother St. Gregory of Nyssa, Greg recalls that before she died, “Her couch had been turned towards the East; and, ceasing to converse with us, she spoke henceforward to God in prayer….”

This was in AD 380.

This gives you an idea of how much the early Christians preferred to pray toward the East, the direction of the Ascension and of the Bridegroom’s second coming. I mean, turning the bed around when a woman is about to die, so that she can pray without getting up and turning around — that’s a strong preference.

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Help, Help! I’m Being Oppressed!

Over at Rich Leonardi’s invaluable blog, he’s been following a story in our archdiocese about Sr. Louise Akers, who’s been taken off the diocesan list of approved speakers and teachers for being an activist for women’s ordination. An opinion writer for my local paper called this being “muzzled”.

But wait! I’m not on the diocesan list of approved speakers, either.

Okay, so I never asked to be, or tried to be. But clearly, I must also be “muzzled”. Yes, tragically, I cannot speak my mind! I have no venue to express my thoughts and dreams! The archbishop is keeping me chained in his basement, just like the rest of you who aren’t on the list. Billions of people, all muzzled. Ah, such tyranny!

Fight the power, brothers and sisters. The Man’s always trying to keep us down, that’s what I say….

Er, except I can’t say it. Because I’m muzzled. Yeah, that’s it.


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The New Doctor Who: Fantasy EU Adventures

In the combox below, I got a comment that needed to be moved to the main page. Take it, Noah D!

“I don’t think he’s the Fantasy-American. Americans are almost always played as bumbling, militaristic fools, often with a streak of self-righteous religiosity – I think your evaluation of the Doctor as American grants the writers far too much subtlety that I have rarely seen.

“The Doctor is very old, from an ancient and wise civilization, gone now in a spasm of blood and death, sacrificed to bring down an implacable enemy (that they didn’t think would have required such sacrifice). The Doctor is utterly autocratic; he knows best, because he’s so old, has seen so much, and can see the future. The Earthers are children to be guided and protected. Most of them are there to run around, scream and die, except the ones that fall madly in love with the Doctor, and they almost always show some sort of anti-traditional features (but show up the clumsy traditionalists). The few who stand up on their own without obeisance to the Doctor are shown as wrong-headed at best. The Doctor declares himself to be Earth’s defender, then goes gallivanting about, always arriving after something horrible has happened. If the situation requires violence to solve, there’s a terrible gnashing of teeth and wailing afterwards. But he always solves it, always arrives in the nick of time (so to speak). He has great difficulty admitting that there is true evil in the world, even when confronted with it. The Doctor always knows better than you, and your attempts to stand up and fight on your own are always wrong.

He’s the European’s fantasy version of themselves.”

This actually explains a lot about the Doctor’s undermining of the PM, and of the new bloodfeud between the UK and the Doctor in the show, when the Doctor has always been a loyal opposition when opposition was needed. EU supporters down the years have been pretty darned dismissive of the UK’s sovereignty, the wishes of the ordinary voter, and of traditional customs and values.

Also, this would explain why the worst galactic swearword in Douglas Adams’ universe is “Belgium”.

But political snarking aside… this would explain why some people like the new Doctor Who and some people don’t, whereas the Fantasy-American concept would be loathsome to all. :)

DISCLAIMER: I don’t dislike Tennant or the other guy. I just don’t believe the stories they’re made to enact and the things their character is made to do. But I can’t go back in time and get Robert Holmes to write for them, alas.


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The New Doctor Who: Fantasy-American Adventures

I’ve finally figured out what annoys me so much about the newer Doctor Who adventures, ever since the restart.

The Doctor was always a sort of fantasy version of various heroic English archetypes. He would roam the worlds, finding himself in trouble and responding with pluck and making his own luck. Being a post-colonial archetype, he didn’t build the Empire; but he did save the UK’s collective butt. There were hints that his values might be alien and ancient, like some university professor or English aristocrat with ties to other times and genes from other countries; or that they might be cosmopolitan and new, like a glamorous jetsetter or explorer or university professor. But even as an outsider of that kind, he still was clearly part of the place and the people. His values meshed with all that was good and English.

Now, he does all kinds of crazy bizarre things for absolutely insufficient reasons. You can plead post-traumatic syndrome, but you can meet plenty of people who’ve done incredibly traumatic stuff. I guarantee they don’t run around with an attitude like the new Doctors have.

But who does have this attitude? Who claims to be reluctant to use violence, yet uses power with vast overkill? Who is self-righteous and intensely self-critical at the same time? Who is playful as a child, but demands that everybody take him seriously or else?

Why, how could I have missed it before? He’s the European fantasy American, the person they’re always complaining about. The person they’re afraid can bring down governments with a word, whose imperatives and limits they don’t understand, who unleashed atomic bombs once, and who is currently wandering the world with a 9/11 chip on his shoulder.

I’ll admit that the accent’s a bit deceiving. Also, the lack of cowboy hat. :)

This also explains why the Doctor has all this romance going on. English heroes don’t have to have love interests, especially if they’re over 500 years old. American heroes always have to, according to the Hollywood formula. It explains a lot about the Companions he’s chosen, too. I don’t know that the coming Doctor’s youthful appearance is supposed to be that of Mr. Obama, but it’s a theory.

Finally, it explains why I dislike the show so much. The Fantasy-American makes absolutely no sense to real Americans. It’s about as American as the horrible fake American accents you still will often hear on audiobooks from the BBC. And yet, everyone not American seems to buy it….

I suppose that’s a bit harsh. The Doctor has to have some sort of values in order to have adventures, and the BBC writers don’t seem to have any consensus on theirs to give him. At least fantasy-American values have some impelling power.

But then, the Fantasy-American fulfills a lot of fantasies for Europeans. They get to get drunk vicariously on power while condemning it solemnly. All the while, no matter what they say or do, they have the security of knowing that the US is too nice not to protect them.


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Latinization: “All Are Welcome”

It’s such a lurching set of song lyrics, and it doesn’t really point much to God except obliquely. So it’s one of those songs you can’t help mentally rewriting. First I rewrote it in Latin, and then in English. Enjoy my doggy Latin and doggier English!

Domus Domini, Caritatis-
-que aedificemus
Quo totus tutus est; sancti
cordis confessi erunt.
Somniabumus Lapidem
in caput anguli,
et Caritatis pro caemento.

The Lord’s own house is Love’s own house.
So let us build a place
Where all His saints confess their hearts
and where all men are safe. [Yes, that's a bad rhyme.]
We have dreamed a holy vision
Of the Rock as cornerstone,
And His Love to mortar us together.

Totus, totus,
vocatus est;
Venite ad

All are called here
To His wedding,
Come, o come here,
All are called.

Domus Domini, Veritatis-
-que aedificemus
Veniant parvuli, et prophetae
Veritatis Verbum dicent.
Stat testator ad gratiam
Dei, crux Christi.
Praedicamus Dominum Iesum.

The Lord’s own House is Wisdom’s house.
Oh, let the children come,
And prophets speak the Word of Truth
To ears that long for some.
The Cross shall stand as witness
to the grace of God most high
As we proclaim our Lord, Christ Jesus.

Domus Domini, Agnis Dei
-que aedificemus
basilicae in terram sanctam
quo coena regia est.
Caritas Iesum Christi
revelata in sponsae
Communicemus, ut fiamus salvi.

The Lord’s own house is the Lamb’s own house,
Who died for all our sin.
So let us build on holy ground
A banquet hall for Him.
The love of our Christ Jesus
Is revealed here to His Bride.
Let us share in Him, so He will save us.

Domus Domini, Artificis-
-que aedificemus,
doceamus et sanemus
sicut Medicus Bonus.
Vivamus verbum Dei.
Videamus Christum in
advenam, nolite timere.

The Lord’s own house is the Builder’s house,
The Good Physician’s too.
So let us build and heal, and teach
His Word in all we do.
And let us see Christ truly
In the stranger, in the poor.
And fear not, for our God is with us.

The last verse is… well, I don’t know what the heck it means, so I can’t very well rewrite it. No translation is possible, because I have no idea what the songwriter means by “named”. Baptized? Mentioned in conversation? Your guess is as good as mine. But anyway, there you go, as far as it went. As I say, doggy.

It was interesting to find out that the original rhymed a lot more than I thought. Usually, I’m so busy just being stoic about the weird wording, and worrying about the theological implications of what we’re being made to sing, that any reason behind said wording rather escaped me. I’m kinda sorry I noticed, though. “Jesus” and “frees us” is… um… not really the world’s greatest rhyme. Not in a formal hymn, anyway. I mean, in a funny song or maybe a Christian rock song, that’d work great.

It’s not really all that horrible, though, if you dig into it. Just needs work, like most of the contemporary hymns in the hymnal. If only their friends or editors would make them do some rewrites to bring out their scriptural imagery, and then make sure the theology is clear. But they don’t, and we have to suffer through it.

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