Monthly Archives: January 2013

Why Samoans Have Long Distance Relationships and Get Hoaxed

Apparently Manti Te’o isn’t the first Samoan guy to get tricked by an imaginary girl. Even before the Internet.

This is the first article I’ve read about this story that’s made any sense whatsoever.

Via Get Religion.

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Go, Blessed Margaret of Castello!

Blessed Margaret of Castello is apparently the go-to Blessed for kneecaps. You notice the points that atheists tend to think never happen: it involves both a non-Catholic and totally new body parts.

Bl. Margaret was disabled, abandoned as a child by her well-to-do family, and lived a difficult life, working and desperately poor. Yet she grew up not only not bitter, but a provider of alms to others whom she felt were less fortunate than she.

She also has a shrine in Columbus at Old St. Patrick’s, behind the Convention Center. The article also tells some interesting stories about stuff that’s happened there. Some people here in Ohio seem to think she’s a go-to blessed for babies and fertility problems also, but this isn’t mentioned in the article.

Anyway, the secondary point here is that this is the kind of miracle that might count as a sign in favor of canonization. Which would be a good thing, as she’s a great woman to know.

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Heresy as Pathetic Attempt to Be Liked

Because if we give up believing in the Trinity, everybody will like us, the Jews will admit that Christianity was right, and there’ll never be any arguments again.

Yeah, and that’s why everybody in the world is a Jewish Unitarian Jehovah’s Witness! Because eliminating theology and the Trinity is such a great recruiting tool, and produces instant Judeo-Christian unity!

Anyway, read the review. It’s a very strong takedown of the whole idea that early orthodox Christianity came up with its theology as some kind of “total global political dominion” technique, or at least of the facile way that people assume this without ever adducing any evidence. (Which is a shame, because personally I’d think such a conspiracist would enjoy making bizarre connections between imperial politics and Trinitarianism. It would be silly and not prove anything, but at least you’d have tried.)

Also, we learn that somewhere on the Internet, somebody takes poor heretical Michael Servetus seriously. He doesn’t write a book about Michael Servetus, because it’s a lot easier not to examine your idols closely, but at least somebody likes the poor guy. (Calvin burnt him at the stake. With his book chained to his leg so they could burn the book too. Which was what they normally did in Geneva to theologians Calvin didn’t like.)


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Blasphemy as Cry for Help

First of all, it’s fairly obvious that this has nothing to do with My Little Pony fandom, other than that bronies might need to know about this just to pity it. (And I link to it because it doesn’t link to the artist’s site or the magazine’s, which is handy for this purpose of criticism without providing traffic.)

Secondly, it’s fairly obvious that this “artist” wishes desperately to have the chops and courage to create real religious art of Mary, but turns to satire out of fear of putting himself on the line. It’s pretty sad to confess to the world instead that mass-market action figure designers and kitsch artists are braver and better at art than yourself, but I guess anything beats exposing your heart to the world.

MLP fandom has its failings (many) but fear of sincerity ain’t one of ’em.

However, the really ironic thing is that Mary, being a mother, probably did her bit of dress-up play with her Son and the neighbor kids as an adult, and with her friends as a kid. So dressing her up in Superman robes or a Power Ranger helmet isn’t exactly the way to shock her. So yeah, kinda pointless and fairly safe, on the supernatural level, especially since Mary is notoriously hard to torque off.

There’s one fairly nice one (albeit replacing the red hair of the House of David with orange hair is a silly ref) of Our Lady of Fatima in a space helmet, “standing on the Moon” as per the Book of Revelation. Mary merged with some kind of Annie Oakley doll, or a kimono, or some kind of Native American doll? That’s not even pop culture; it’s just normal to depict Mary in the garb of all world cultures. The artist also does one “ouvrante Vierge” with the aid of an inset Polly Pocket playset, but lacks the guts to do it unironically.

The useful point to take away is that damaged saint statues can be saved, and that a well-done repaint can make a big difference. (As opposed to a bad repaint, such as we suffered back at my original home parish.)

The artist does not just do Mary, though. Occasionally the artist also repaints female saint statues into Mary ones (for example, one repainted into Jedi Knight Mary), which is a bit hard on mother foundresses but certainly says something about blasphemy marketability. Since this is all supposed to be a comment on the role of women in the world, you can see that it’s really not the work of someone who likes individual women as people. But this kind of disrespect for others’ individual identity and goals (and heck, for that of the goals of toys and their creators) is always given a pass if you have the correct political view.

If you look long enough, the artist does actually manage a few really really offensive pieces. Also, some anti-American pieces and a singularly stupid version of the French Revolution symbol, Marianne. (Stupider because of course the French Revolution was also anti-Catholic, so yeah, it’s taking a Jewish girl and dressing her up as a Hitler Youth, while not realizing that was the offensive part.) So you’ll probably be happier if you don’t rubberneck Google Images. I do it so you don’t have to.

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If You Were Wondering Whether Dogs Like Paczki…

…the answer is yes.

Ruadh got into a closed (but not tied shut) bag, pulled out the plastic bag that the paczki were in, pushed her nose into the side of the box until she was inside it, and then inhaled three paczki with lemon filling and a light sugar glaze.

She wasn’t hungry for dinner much. Paczki stick to the ribs, I guess because of all the eggs in the dough.

I guess Ruadh heard that Lent is coming.

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Well, This Is a Wee Bit Embarrassing.

Either my esteemed relative quoted Archbishop Laud, from the Church of England, and his execution speech, or the pamphleteer decided to add some flourish to his pamphlet.

Here’s Archbishop Laud’s execution speech and his prayer. Archbishop Laud was executed in 1645. It’s possible that the printer wanted to put out a pamphlet about Laud and was using O’Brien as a cover, but most of these kinds of blackletter broadsheets and pamphlets included judicious copying/imitation/plagiarism whenever the printer felt like it.

Here’s more from the Harleian Miscellany.

It just goes to show that sometimes you can’t trust everything that sounds good. Even in 1651.

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The (Probably Not) Execution Speech of Bl. Bishop Terence Albert O’Brien

UPDATE: The pamphlet apparently is padded out with some Anglican material from Archbishop Laud’s execution. Oops. And here’s still more from the Harleian Miscellany. Oooooops. It looks like C.P. Meehan’s account is still the better one. Pretty much everything in this pamphlet is just an adaptation from the Anglican Laud pamphlet.

Oddly enough, the Harleian Miscellany’s pamphlet talks about Laud’s speech being transcribed by “John Hinde,” and the Collectanea Hibernica pamphlet from the British Museum is titled “The Humble Petition of James Hind.” So maybe this may be blamed on the filing system at the printer’s house?


Here’s a new-to-me account of Blessed Terence Albert O’Brien’s execution speech, from a pamphlet published on November 21, 1651 in London. O’Brien was martyred on Halloween of that year. It doesn’t mention his prophecy/diagnosis of General Ireton’s death eight days later, but it has a lot of good stuff in it. I’ve modernized the spelling and punctuation a bit.

Anyway, onward to the pamphlet’s text!

“When they were brought to the said place [a gallows set up in the marketplace at Limerick Castle], the Bishop was the first that tasted of the Cup; and coming to the foot of the ladder, he kissed it, saying,

‘Good people,

‘This is a very uncomfortable place for me to deliver myself unto you; but I beseech you pardon my failings, and the rather, by reason of the sad occasion that hath brought me hither. Indeed, I have been long in my race, and how I have looked unto Jesus the Author and finisher of my faith, is best known to Him. I am now come to the end of my race, which I find to be a death of shame, but the shame must be despised, or there is no coming to the right hand of God. Jesus despised the shame for me upon the Cross, and God forbid but I should despise the shame for Him upon the gallows. I am going apace, as you see, toward the Red Sea, and my feet are upon the very brinks of it; an argument. I hope, that God is bringing me to the Land of promise, for that was the way by which of old He led His people.

‘But before they came to the Sea, he instituted a passover for them: a Lamb it was, but it was to be eaten with very sour herbs, as in the 12th chapter of Exodus. I shall obey, and labor to digest the sour herbs as well as the Lamb, and I shall remember that it is the Lord’s Passover. I shall not think of the herbs nor be angry with the hands that gathered them, but look up only to Him who instituted the one and governeth the other. For men can have no more power over me than that which is given them from above, and although I am denied mercy here on earth, yet I doubt not to receive it in Heaven.

‘I am not in love with this passage through the Red Sea, for I have the weakness and infirmity of flesh and blood in me; and I have prayed as my Savior taught me and exampled me: “Ut transiret calix ista,” “That this cup might pass away” from me. But since it is not that my will may, His will be done; and I shall most willingly drink of it as deep as He pleases, and enter into this Sea, I; and I pass through it, in the way that He shall be pleased to lead me.

‘And yet, good people, it would be remembered that when the Servants of God, old Israel, were in this boisterous Sea, and Aaron with them, the Egyptians which persecuted them and did in a manner drive them into that Sea, were drowned in the same waters, while they were in pursuit of them. I know my God whom I serve is as able to deliver me from this Sea of blood as He was to deliver the Three Children from the furnace. [Dan. 3] And I most humbly thank my Savior for it.

‘My resolution is now as theirs was then. Their resolution was: they would not change their principles, nor worship the image which the King had set up. Nor shall I the imaginations which the People are setting up. Neither will I forsake the Temple and Truth of God to follow the bleating of Jeroboam’s calves in Dan and in Bethel. [1 Kings 12:26-30 – referring to idols of golden calves.]

‘And I pray God bless all this people, and open their eyes that they may see the right way; for if it fall out that the blind lead the blind, doubtless they will fall both in the ditch.

‘For myself, I am (and I acknowledge it in all humility) a most grievous sinner, and therefore I cannot doubt but that God hath mercy in store for me, a poor penitent, as well as for other sinners. I have upon this sad occasion ransacked every corner of my heart; and yet, I thank God I have not found any of my sins that are there, any sins now deserving death by any known law. And I thank God, though the weight of the sentence lie very hard on me, yet I am as quiet within (I thank Christ for it!) as I ever was in my life.

‘I shall hasten to go out of this miserable life, for I am not willing to be tedious, and I beseech you, as many as are within hearing, observe me. I was born and baptized in the bosom of the Church of Rome, the ancient and true Church; and in that profession I have ever since lived, and in the same I now die.

‘As touching my engagement in arms, I did it in two respects. First, for the preservation of my principles and tenets. And secondly, for the establishing of the King, and the rest of the Royal Issue, in their just rights and privileges.

‘I will not enlarge myself any further; I have done. I forgive all the world, all and every of these bitter enemies, or others whatsoever they have been, which have any ways prosecuted me in this kind. I humbly desire to be forgiven first of God, and then of every man, whether I have offended him or no, if he do but conceive that I have. Lord, do Thou forgive me! And I beg forgiveness of Him; and so I heartily desire you to join with me in prayer:

‘O Eternal God and merciful Father,
look down upon me in mercy.
In the riches and fullness of all Thy mercies,
look down upon me;
but not till Thou hast nailed my sins
to the Cross of Christ.
Look upon me,
but not till Thou hast bathed me
in the Blood of Christ,
that so the punishment that is due to my sins
may pass away and go over me.

‘I heartily beseech Thee,
give me now in this great instant:
full patience,
proportionable comfort,
a heart ready to die:
for Thine honor,
the King’s happiness,
and the Church’s preservation.

‘And my zeal to these (far from arrogancy be it spoken) is all the sin (human frailty excepted, and all incidents thereunto) which is yet known of me in this particular, for which I have come to suffer. I say “in this particular” of treason.

‘But otherwise, my sins are many and great. Lord, pardon them all, and those especially (whatsoever they may be) which have drawn down this present judgment upon me.

‘And when Thou hast given me strength to bear it, then do with me as seems best in Thine own eyes, and carry me through death, that I may look upon it in what visage soever it shall appear to me.

‘O Lord, I beseech Thee, give grace of repentance to all people that have a thirst for blood; but if they will not repent, then scatter their devices so, and such as are, or shall be, contrary to: the glory of Thy great Name, the truth and sincerity of the ancient Catholic religion, the establishing of the Royal Posterity in their just rights and liberties, the preservation of this poor Church in her truth, peace, and patrimony; and the settlement of this distracted and distressed people under their ancient laws and in their native liberties.

‘And when Thou hast done this in mere mercy for them, O Lord, fill their hearts with thankfulness and with religious dutiful obedience to Thee and Thy Commandments, all their days.

‘So Amen, Lord Jesus; and I beseech Thee receive my soul to mercy.’

When he had finished his prayer, he took his leave of some friends there present, saying, “God’s blessing and His mercy be upon you all;” and so went up to the ladder, where he again prayed as followeth.

‘Lord, I am coming as fast as I can. I know I must pass through the shadow of death before I can come to see Thee, but it is but “umbra mortis”, a mere _shadow_ of death, a little darkness upon nature. But Thou, by Thy merits and Passion, hast broke the jaws of death. So Lord, receive my soul, and have mercy upon me.’

No sooner had he uttered these expressions, but immediately he was turned off the ladder.

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Hana no Zubora Meshi: Japanese Dump-Dump Cooking Sitcom!

Hana no Zubora Meshi (Hana’s Sloppy Meals) is a popular josei (women’s) manga about a housewife who loves food, hates housework, and lets appearances slide while her husband’s away. (To be fair, his work keeping him away makes her a bit depressed and lonely, too, which isn’t a great motivator.) So she reads piles of romance comics and sleeps a lot, periodically emerging to do battle with the apartment or buy food.

Anyway, the point of the manga (besides being funny) is to showcase food that isn’t stereotypically Japanese-pretty and delicate, but rather is good, quick home cooking when you don’t need to impress anybody — and thus to encourage women who live alone to do more than just heat up TV dinners, fast food, and convenience-store riceballs.

(My mother calls this kind of thing “dump-dump” cooking, because you just dump, dump, dump ingredients into a pan and then cook them together.)

There’s now a live-action adaptation, which makes full use of the Japanese fashion with modern rebels/failures of household clutter, as contrasted against traditional Japanese neatness. What’s fascinating is that they essentially let the actress do a monologue show, although they break it up with various fantasy skits taking place in her head that feature other actors and actresses.

In the first episode, Hana makes a tuna salad sandwich — except that what she has around the house is salmon bits, so it’s a salmon salad sandwich. Open-face and toasted. Yum! She also makes an open-face pizza sandwich (it helps to know that Japanese pizza makes a lot of use of cabbage).
Then after the credits, there’s a full-fledged sloppy-cooking segment. In the first ep, they make an okonomiyaki flavored open-face sandwich, with okonomiyaki sauce and mayonnaise on top.

Btw, “itadakimasu” is what a polite Japanese person says before eating — it’s sort of like saying grace for us. Same thing with saying “Goutisousama” after a meal. You get increasingly bizarre and informal translations for this in many anime (like “let’s chow down” paired with “that was good food!”). But it really is more tinged with religion and formality than not, even if individuals may say it informally.

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This Is a Depressing List of Upcoming SF

This list of upcoming sf and fantasy from most of the big sf publishers includes precisely two (maybe three or four) of the books I’m interested in reading next year. No Baen books at all, though. Also, most of them have covers that seem to invite you to slit your wrists or turn into gray goo. Gah. Clearly their idea of “essential” is not mine.

On the bright side, the Westerly Gales series by E.C. Williams is a fast-moving tale of post-Holocaust steampunk/Napoleonic warfare at sea. Also about ten times cheaper than most of the single volume hardcovers listed in the “essential” list.

Tom Simon has two incredible fantasies available: the standalone Lord Talon’s Revenge, and the first book of a series, The End of Earth and Sky.

Elizabeth Moon is going to be releasing the next book of her Paksenarrion fantasy sequence, and David Drake has both sf and fantasy books coming out this year.

And so on… Plenty of good books to read. Just not ones listed by boring ol’ io9.


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Audible Loves R.A. MacAvoy

The renowned Eighties fantasy writer, R.A. McAvoy, was yet another casualty of the midlist chaos of the Nineties. It appears that she really did finish her Lens of the World trilogy, for one thing, but I never saw Book 2 or Book 3 until tonight, on the Audible page for her books.

She’s an interesting writer. Tea with the Black Dragon, and its lesser but fun sequel Twisting the Rope, are about an ancient dragon who falls in love with a geezerette Celtic musician who studies Zen. Her Raphael or Damiano trilogy (depending on whom you think the main character is) was one of those odd medieval fantasies of the Eighties that really took medieval history seriously. It’s about a Renaissance guy and an angel (and their friends and beloveds) getting into lots of trouble. The Gray Horse is about a pooka falling in love and getting into trouble. The Third Eagle is a funny book about a space traveler of Native American heritage. And The Book of Kells is about a couple of modern people timetraveling to medieval Ireland, falling in love, and getting into trouble. I don’t really remember The Lens of the World well, as it was sorta making MacAvoy do standard fantasy, but she even twisted that.

And yes, I suspect the urban fantasy/paranormal romance tie-in is why they’re reprinting her stuff. She’s not a romance writer per se, because she doesn’t follow the tropes, but she’s a very strong writer of love stories, and of fantasy situations that make romance possible and believable.

I don’t know that I found any of her books totally satisfying, because she was gently rebelling against Catholicism when I was trying to support mine. But they’re good solid books that are full of interest and enjoyment, and the characters live, and I re-read Black Dragon, Twisting the Rope, and The Gray Horse when I am in the mood for them. (And I really really liked The Third Eagle at some points.)

So check out the Audible page for her books, and her ebooks too.

(Audible Frontiers seems to be reprinting (in brand new audio format) a number of well-loved fantasy writers from back in the day, like Ru Emerson of the very popular cat questing with princess trilogy. I think this is probably because Amazon likes moneymaking writers, unlike the other publishers. She’s another one whose last few books never showed up on the shelves, so now you can catch up.)

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Arcabucero Angel

In Peru, especially in Cuzco, La Paz, and Callao, there are a lot of paintings of angels with harquebuses, blunderbusses, and other weaponry. They are often portrayed as guardians of the Eucharist and the Sacraments.

Here’s a very beautiful example.

I’d love to see someone do an angel like this with modern weaponry.


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“Megan the Mighty Demonslayer”

There are two third rails in MLP fandom which are very seldom mentioned or touched:

1) Realistic treatment of equine anatomy as influencing pony life.

2) The first generation (G1) continuity, with Megan and all of that. (Friendship Is Magic is technically G4.)

D.G.D. Davidson (whom we know as scificatholic) bravely goes forth to touch both rails at once in a fun new story, “A Mighty Demon-Slayer Grooms Some Ponies.” It’s got a lot of good stuff in it, so check it out.

Some horses really don’t like you touching their feet/hooves, but they have to get used to it or the physical problems described in the story will ensue. However, the depths of nerves that Rainbow Dash displays in this story (and in the original ep where hooficures were mentioned) suggests that something bad happened to her at some point. (Which may also explain why she makes a point of living off the ground, but alone; and it may even power her need for speed.) Horses admittedly are really good at getting themselves traumatized by scary things (like paper blowing in the wind) as well as by actual trauma, so it doesn’t necessarily mean that it was something Bad. But it’s a point that most fanfic writers seem to neglect, whereas most horsey fans seem to be very concerned about it as an important psychological point.

There’s also some fun links in the story comments to some of the old G1 comics and storybooks, which point out some plot points that show up again in MLP:FIM.


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Filker in Spaaaaace! Part II: The Wrath of Twitter.

William Shatner tweeted a question to his fellow Canadian, the astronaut/filker Chris Hadfield.

Of course he responded.

And of course it snowballed.

I’m starting to think that Chris Hadfield is the real life version of Hibito from Space Brothers — so unashamedly space-fannish that he’s cool!

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Putting the Mass in Polar Bear Cafe Christmas

I forgot to mention that on the Christmas episode of Polar Bear Cafe (episode 37), we had yet another instance of Catholicism in anime.

Penguin is asking the various cafe regulars about their Christmas plans, trying to get everyone to come together for a party. When he asks Llama and his friend Alpaca about their plans, they give their apologies and explain that they always go to Midnight Mass every year. This is followed by a shot of the two of them holding candles and songsheets, wearing white choir robes, and singing in the back row of the men’s section of their parish’s choir. (This segment starts 9 minutes in.) Penguin is disappointed and embarrassed (especially since he earlier opined that parties and Christmas cake were the reason for the season), and says, “You guys are really traditional, aren’t you?”

It’s an interesting little rebuke of societal attitudes by the writer, since most Japanese shows don’t notice Christmas as anything else but an excuse for winter presents, decorations, and romance.

Anyway, since this is a world where animals talk and work side-by-side with humans, and since Llama and Alpaca are Peruvian expatriates, this makes perfect sense. Of course they’d be Peruvian Catholics! But knowing that Llama is also a choir guy makes me like him even more. 🙂

This episode is currently free to anyone who’d care to watch it. (You’ll miss a bit of the humor, because this ep expects viewers to know the characters by now, but it’s essentially a sitcom and very accessible.)


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