Monthly Archives: July 2013

All My Children and One Life to Live — Still Alive!

All My Children and One Life to Live have survived cancellation. They now live on Hulu with all-new episodes continuing their stories, with 30 minutes of content and no commercials. (Soaps on TV were an hour of running time, but only 36 minutes of content.)

I don’t watch soaps, but this is a feel-good story of fandom and the love of story arcs. Plus a lot of stubborn, mixed with adaptability.

If you have relatives who are long-time soap fans but don’t get on the Internet, you might want to find out if they know about this and help them out with access.

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Sacramental Prep Is Not a Marathon

Okay, now I’m mad.

So I’m reading this highly inspirational tale of a possible saint, but definitely a person of holy life. Margaret Leo of McLean, Virginia. This girl lived her life in excruciating pain, great love, and simple faith. And after her death, miracles apparently have occurred by her intercession, which isn’t surprising except that it’s DC. 🙂

But anyway… the point is that this girl lived her life in excruciating pain. She could have died AT ANY TIME. They probably should have confirmed her as early as possible, i.e. about ten minutes after her First Communion. And they still made her wait until she was a teenager for Confirmation, and just like all the other kids in the diocese, study not one year, but TWO YEARS! to receive the Sacrament!

Were they high???

Seriously, who the heck waits to give a girl Confirmation, when she obviously could use strengthened faith and gifts of the Holy Spirit? Somebody who’s in danger of death needs to be LOADED UP with Sacraments, not held back!

And Confirmation, of all sacraments, is tied to Baptism. That’s why the Eastern folks do Baptism and Confirmation all at once. Even in the West, kids used to receive Confirmation a lot younger than we do now (ie, age 6 or 7), and the Vatican has long been pressuring the US to quit turning Confirmation into a Bar Mitzvah. So it literally would have been easier to Confirm this girl (and all her classmates too) on any random day before this girl was 14.

Is there some kind of rule that people have to ACT LIKE MISERLY IDIOTS around all saints and suffering people, just to make them suffer more? Is that really who we want to be, the meanie of the story?

Argh argh argh argh argh.

Please, bishops, wake up and take care of your people.

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HP and the Methods of Rationality

Well, people have been recommending this fanfic to me for quite a while. I read part of it, got sick from rolling my eyes, and went back to it this week.

The good news is that it’s a nice long alternate world Harry Potter fanfic with lots going on and some interesting comments on the series, as well as a few bits of original worldbuilding.

The bad news? Pretty much everything else.

The idea behind this fic was to introduce Harry Potter as he might have been, if his Aunt Petunia had married a nice Oxford science professor instead of a jerk businessman. So the good part is that Harry is interested in experiments to reveal magic theory and the why behind various magical things. Harry is also interested in exploiting these things in the same way a gamer would. This is all fairly entertaining. The author decides to stick Harry and Hermione in Ravenclaw accordingly, and jettisons Ron Weasley almost entirely, in favor of an uneasy friendship with Draco. Obviously this is all writer’s choice. Weirder is his decision to cram most of the major plot points of the entire HP series into the first year of Hogwarts, and to use D&D spells as wizarding world spells.

However, the author is also attempting to make the fic a grand tutorial on “the methods of rationality,” which is to say, a tiny bit about the scientific method, a tiny bit about general science (without clearly pointing out the differences between observational and experimental sciences), a huge amount about psychology experiments (most of them experiments from the Sixties that were big on drama, but not exactly models of double-blind experimental design), and a huge honking lot about atheism. Mystical atheism. Yeah. And Atlantis, because that’s sciencefictiony and rational. Also, the guy apparently knows nothing about the history of science, which he thinks started in the Enlightenment period.

The author bias turns this rational Harry Potter into a bigger Mary Sue (or Gary Stu, in this case) that Rowling’s Potter ever was. Rowling’s Harry does stupid stuff. This guy’s Harry does stupid stuff because he’s just so good and logical that it doesn’t occur to him. (This is also the most American Harry Potter I’ve ever encountered.) Also, this is the sort of book where the hero ends up with a utility belt full of stuff that totally doesn’t encumber him, because suddenly you can have bags of holding and chests of holding with no restrictions on their use. Yeah. More seriously, it’s the kind of fic where people can be politically astute one minute and total idiots the next. He’s not able to make the wizarding world drolly daft and eccentric enough to explain this, so he pretty much makes everybody who’s not Harry into an idiot. Draco is a teachable idiot. Hermione is also an idiot, except one who occasionally has good ideas and good grades. No other kids from the Muggle world are allowed to exploit this ignorance of science thing, even though Harry does it all the time.

The biggest consequence of author bias is that there’s a whole lot of redesign of Rowling’s worldbuilding. Then, when the world itself changes, the non-main characters are berated for still behaving as though Rowling’s world design is still in force. The biggest example of this is the fanfic’s use of dementors. Rowling was pretty darned clear that they and their soulsucking powers were symbols of depression (which is why chocolate combats their effects). But the fanfic author has apparently never fought depression or mental illness (lucky for him), and thus decides that they should be represent death and the fear of death. The fear of death makes you active. Depression makes you passive (except for suicidal impulses, of course). His choice makes noooooo sense. But it does apparently fit his issues, which is how fanfic usually is determined.

This is where the mystical atheism comes in. It’s apparently wrong to be mystical about God, angels, or an afterlife, but it’s perfectly okay to be mystical about physical immortality, space travel, and science. Oh, and it’s foolish to study philosophy or logic. So yeah, somewhere about Chapter 20, you have the beautiful experience of reading this guy attempt to disprove the existence of the soul, while actually “proving” that we can’t possibly have speech centers in our brains. Yeah. And Dumbledore totally can’t defend his views, because he’s the one who’s so stupid, and because somebody who lived through Victorian times has never run into atheism before.

This argument, however, is one of the few parts of the story I can totally believe. Because it’s exactly the kind of stupid argument that an eleven year old kid would think was a crushing argument for atheism. Unfortunately, college age and older people apparently can’t see the Mack truck holes in the argument or come up with better atheist arguments themselves. It’s embarrassing.

Anyhoo, the dementor death thing has now led the fanfic author to kill off Hermione and give Harry an obsession with bringing her back to life. So no, this isn’t the stoic moderation sort of atheism. Noopers. And since this is a fanfic, no doubt we will see Harry achieve his goal through SCIENCE!

Oh, well. I wasted several hours on this thing. It’s fun and entertaining, but it’s a mess. It proclaims rationality, but really it’s all about emotional thinking and wish fulfilment. If you want to savor the irony, go at it.

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“My Little Balladeer”: Wellman Fanfic Crossover

I wholeheartedly recommend the fanfic novel “My Little Balladeer,” a very clever and respectful fanfic crossover of Manly Wade Wellman’s American dark fantasy stories about John fighting occult evil in the Appalachians… and My Little Pony: FIM.

Seriously, it’s really good fantasy. You won’t regret it.

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Prayers Needed.

Please pray for my dad, who stepped on a nail the other day. His tetanus shots are current, but his foot got infected with some regular old infections. (Not in the puncture area, oddly.) He’s taking his meds and staying off his feet, but it’s worrisome.

However, really really pray for Thomas Peters, known as “American Papist” in the early Catholic blogosphere, and son of Ed Peters. He had a swimming accident last night and broke his neck, but he’s alive and can move his arms and respond to commands. You can keep in touch with his case by checking Ed Peters’ Facebook page.

This has been a weird week. Keep alert and keep praying!

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St. Arwen?

Well, it’s a bit literary or fannish for your parents to name you Arwen, and Tolkien, as a good Catholic, probably would have voted for a normal given name, with Arwen as a nickname (or “epessë“) if needed. And it’s likely that you’ll have a separate baptismal name somewhere if you got more than just a first name out of the deal, like most parents would do.

But if you are looking to find out who the patron saint or nameday saint of people named Arwen would be, just look at the name. Arwen means “royal maiden” or “royal lady” in the invented language of Quenya. So all you need are saints’ names that mean “princess” or “queen” or “royal,” and we’ve got them. (But don’t try to pick Arwen as a confirmation name, okay?)

Obviously, the Virgin Mary herself has pride of place here. She is a princess and queen mother of the House of David and of Heaven.

There’s also St. Regina, a convert in Gaul martyred for refusing an arranged marriage and fleeing to become a shepherdess. Her feastday is Sept. 7.

St. Rioghnach daughter of Feradhach was listed in the Martyrology of Donegal. (Dec. 18) Her name also means “royal” and therefore she is called “Regina” in Latin. She was the sister of St. Finian of Clonard.

Then there’s St. Basila, a Roman martyr (Sept. 22), several Ss. Basilia, including one martyred in Alexandria with Origen’s dad (April 22), and several Ss. Basilissa and Vasilissa. The Greek name for king is “basileos.”

Anyway, there are probably others I’m not thinking of, and of course there are lots of princesses and queens who became saints.

So yep, there are name saints for those of you named Arwen! Feel free to celebrate your name day on their days!

UPDATE: If anybody named their kid “Undomiel” or “Evenstar,” then you should know that the evening star (ie, the planet Venus seen in the evening) is “hesperos.” So your name saint would be St. Hesperus of Pamphylia (May 2), the father of a family of slaves who all refused to sacrifice to the gods and were martyred for it.

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St. Gandalf??

Yes, there’s a St. Gandalf. In fact, there’s more than one! Hahahahah! Man, it’s a good thing I didn’t know this when I was a kid picking Confirmation names.

St. Gondulphus of Metz (bishop, died in 923, feastday Sept. 6), St. Gondulphus of Tongres (aka Gondulphus of Maastricht, bishop in the 6th century, feastday July 16), and St. Gondulphus of Berry (bishop or holy man, feastday June 17).

So yes, two days from now is:

SAINT GANDALF’S DAY!

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