Monthly Archives: September 2014

The Magic Capital of the World

I can’t believe I never had heard of this town. It sounds amazing.

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The Strange Tale of Our Lady of Messines

Once upon a time, a couple named Hezo and Ida, from a West Flanders town called Wervik or Wervicq, had three beautiful daughters named Helwigis, Jutta, and Giselindis. These three girls were walking in the forest when they were accosted by three foresters bent on rape, and not picky about whether they killed them in the process. The girls begged to be allowed to pray, and the amused gang let them. They prayed to Our Lady to die rather than be raped, and instantly the ground collapsed underneath them and buried them completely. The foresters were terrified and reported themselves to the authorities. They ended up becoming extremely penitent monks.

This is the sort of thing that happens in some European miracle stories, but this time the authorities reported to higher authorities, who interested themselves in the story. The Count of Flanders, Baudouin V, had a mayor of his household that was called Landry, who had become totally paralyzed. He ended up visiting the giant sinkhole in the forest, and was totally healed in a moment. Baudouin’s wife Adela (aka Adele of France, daughter of King Robert II of France, mother-in-law of William the Conqueror and sister-in-law of the annoying Tostig) was impressed and grateful. So the Countess showed up and had the earth collapse excavated. To everyone’s surprise, the three girls’ bodies were found still incorrupt after two years, looking as if they’d fallen asleep and still kneeling, still with folded hands. They had obviously died instantly.

So Countess Adela had the girls’ bodies buried in a church she built in 1057, out in the forest near the earth collapse area. (The church stayed standing during medieval times, but no longer exists.) It was dedicated to Mary the Thrice Holy Virgin. She also founded an abbey nearby which was called Meyssen, Meessen, or Messines, which was supposed to mean “daughter” in Flemish. The new Benedictine convent started out with thirty nuns of noble birth, and twelve experienced canonesses (I guess to keep an eye on the thirty nuns). The convent and church became the center of a little town, and the shrine was famous for healings.

Countess Adela retired there after her husband’s death, and one night she saw an apparition of the Virgin Mary herself. Countess Adela possessed a splinter of the True Cross (showing that she had some kind of Byzantine diplomatic connections, or that she’d made off with her husband’s relic). Mary ordered her not to keep this relic to herself and the nuns, but to let all the faithful come see it. In the morning, the countess thought this was just a dream and ignored it, but she dreamed it twice more. The third time, Mary told her that she would receive a sign that it was a true command from God. In the morning, she would see a red thread running up to the altar of the church. She was to pick up this cord, wind it around her hand, and follow it with her reliquary wherever it went, until it ran out. That would be the route of the True Cross procession.

Countess Adela found the thread in the morning, and was so shocked and penitent about her disbelief that they say she followed the route on her hands and knees that first time, and the rest of the ladies in the convent followed her, including the normally-enclosed nuns; and the villagers and farmers who saw the procession followed too.

And so, every year on September the 14th, there was a procession along that route on the feast of the Exaltation of the True Cross, and they exhibited the little sacred splinter to the faithful. The procession continues even today. It is called the Grote Keer, or the Great Time, and it’s a nine-days procession. They process every day from September 14 until September 22. The procession route goes all around the town of Mesen for over 6 kilometers. At times the route travels through fields, where each year the farmers harvest a row of crops early to permit the procession to pass. During the Great Time, the church is open for pilgrims to visit.

Countess Adela ended up being canonized, as St. Adela of Mesen or St. Adele of Messines. Her old feastday is on January 8 and her new feastday is on September 8, so you get two namedays!

Flanders ended up going through a fair amount of both prosperity and wars. There were two big Battles of Messines in World War I, and the Germans and Allies blew the heck out of each other across their lines. Finally after weeks and months of secretly planting explosives underneath the hills that the Germans used to fortify their lines, the British forces blew them all up at once. The explosion was heard all the way in London, and the tremors from it were mistaken for an earthquake even by seismologists.

Three German soldiers were found in an underground bunker, dead from explosive shock but without a mark on them. They looked as if they had fallen asleep.

After the abbey died out and various wars had passed through, a smaller church had been built dedicated to St. Nicholas, with a little chapel to Our Lady. The upstairs bits have been reconstructed many times, but Countess St. Adela is still buried in its medieval crypt. The WWI Germans dug up the crypt again, by chance, and set up an aid station down in the crypt with Adela.

There’s apparently a sign that informs you that Corporal Adolf Hitler was treated there.

Not everybody makes good use of a miraculous second chance.

Pictures of St. Nicholas Church in Mesen, including the medieval crypt.

Picture of the modern copy of the medieval wooden statue of Our Lady of Mesen, which was destroyed during WWI.

Embroidery wonderfully returned to St. Nicholas Church and Our Lady of Messines.

A little porcelain devotional statue from Messines, also returned with gratitude.

A picture of Countess Adela and the apparition of Our Lady and the Christ Child, in Mons, at the parish of Notre Dame de Messines.

A statue of Onze Lieve Vrouwe de Mesen, in Mons, at the parish of Notre Dame de Messines, clearly modeled after the painting in the parish. You can clearly see the Christ Child holding the True Cross reliquary.

Weirdly, however, the city-folk have put Mesen totally out of their minds, even though it’s right down the road! The current legend is that the painting comes from Messina in Italy (also spelled “Messine” in French). But there’s poor St. Adela, large as life. It must be WWI trauma. Anyway, the painting used to be out in a cemetery chapel, but was moved inside the church after miracles happened. There’s a parish feast (“Ducasse de Messines”) for Our Lady of Messines on March 25, the feast of the Annunciation; it used to be on July 2, the feast of the Visitation.

A old Flemish novena of Our Lady of Mesen, from a holy card, which notes her in the 19th century as a patron against sciatica and gout:

(English translation via Google Translate and human smoothing:)

Whoever is in any emergency shall have recourse to Mary, and he will read the following prayer for nine days in church or at home, before a picture of Mary, in memory of the nine months that Christ Our Savior spent in the shelter of Our Lady’s virginity.

O blessed Virgin Mary, chosen from among all creatures by God the Father to be the mother of His only Son, Jesus — have pity on me. I ask thee for the unutterable joy which thou felt in thy Heart, and for the manifold graces which thou obtained, when the Fruit of Compassion was placed into thy virgin body. I now take recourse to thee. Stand by me in my emergency. I hope with certainty that thou shalt intercede for me.

Our Lady of Mesen, graciously hear the nine Hail Marys which I am about to read in thy honor. Help me with my request, if this favor will be useful and wholesome to me.

[And then you say nine Hail Marys.]

Novene ter eere van Onze Lieve Vrouw van Meesen

Alwie in eenigen nood verkeert zal zijne toevlucht tot Maria nemen, en negen dagen lang zal hij in eene kerk of te huis, voor een beeldeken van Maria het volgende gebed lezen, ter herinnering der negen maanden welke Christus Onze Zaligmaker doorgebracht heeft in den maagdelijken school van Onze Lieve Vrouw.

O gezegende Maagd Maria! tusschenalle schepselen door God den Vader uitverkoren om Moeder te worden van zijnen eenigen Zoon Jesus, heb medelijden metmij; ik bid U ef om door de nuitssprekilijke vreugd welke Gij in uw Hert gevoeld hebt en door de menigvuldige genaden welke Gij hebt verkregen wanneer de Vrucht van Bermhertigheid in uw maagdelijk lichaam verloefde. Ik neem nu mijnen toevlucht tot U, sta mij bij in mijnen nood, ik hoop vastelijk dat Gij mij zult verhooren.

Onze Lieve Vrouw van Meesen, aanhoor met welgevallen de negen Wees-Gegroeten welke ik ler uwer eere ga lezen, verkrijg mij wal ik verzoek indien nochtans deze gunst mij nuttig en heilzaam is… Amen.

[Negen Wees-Gegroeten.]

UPDATE: There’s a mysterious group of three virgin saints in Germany whose story and actual names have been forgotten; they’re known as the Three Beten. Possibly they are meant to be these three Flemish girls.

Also, Belgium sits on top of a lot of limestone and a big aquifer, so sinkholes do happen. One recently opened up next to the central train station in Brussels.

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In Which the Banshee Appears on a Map

The Cincinnati area Pilgrimage of Faith hikes have allowed Catholics and Boy Scouts to explore the local history of our faith. Now there’s going to be a Dayton Pilgrimage of Faith hike on October 4, and a big long hike out to Maria Stein and God’s Country in December.

(And the maps will remain on the website, so that’s a good resource for homeschoolers, later hikes, etc.)

Here’s the cool bit for me: my old blogpost on Dayton Catholic history is being used as one of the sources for history on the map! Awesome!

It’s primarily for Scouts, but anybody who wants to participate in the pilgrimage is welcome. If the weather turns out decent that weekend, I think I’ll have to shake my pegs and go!


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St. Arrrrrrrbinus, Patrrrrrron Saint of Pirrrrrates

St. Albinus of Angers, aka St. Aubin, is the medieval patron saint to call on against pirate attacks. He was also famous for healing the blind and paralyzed, raising the dead, bailing out prisoners, and miraculously opening a stone tower to let out prisoners when the local lord wouldn’t let him bail them out. Also, he won an argument with his brother bishops at the Third Council of Orleans by dying right in front of them. And then when the city decided to give him a bigger tomb and the workers were having trouble getting him out, he miraculously opened up the stone wall of his tomb. Don’t mess with him!

Other pirate-related saints include:

St. Vincent de Paul was kidnapped by Muslim Barbary pirates and spent a year in slavery, which was why he was late getting to the seminary from summer break. Made him a serious Catholic instead of a career one. Here’s more info.

Venerable George Gervase, the Pirate Priest. Yeah, that’s an unusual childhood for a martyr. “What I have said, my blood is ready to answer for.” Also Monsignor Cuarteron, reformed pirate turned missionary.

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Proofing Paper Books Is a Pain

Yup. But I’m almost finished with the paper version of On the Valiant Woman.

I also found a few oopsies in the Kindle version and fixed them. So if you’ve already bought the book there, and you get a note from Amazon saying there’s an updated version, feel free to download the update that fixes them.

This is killing me, because proofreading is something I’m usually good at. Where do all these typos and lacunas come from? It gets to the point that I can’t even feel embarrassed about it, because they seem to be non-obvious, and a lot of it is more about formatting than anything else. But it’s better to have things correct than not.

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Robert’s Rules of Order and Robert Boulevard in Dayton

Here’s an amazing story of a beautiful part of Dayton that is sadly gone, and the Rules of Order that live in meetings throughout the world.

Colored postcards and pictures of the lovely park homes on Robert Boulevard.

(There’s still a “Robert Dr.” in downtown Dayton, but it literally just runs up to various highway entrance ramps.)

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Found on YouTube

If you ever wanted to see hear the 2011 opera Heart of a Soldier, based on the true story of Rick Rescorla…

It’s on YouTube, believe it or not. In its entirety. Possibly not for long.

It starts with an opera, recitativo chorus version of a jody! Heh!

Act One’s first scene is Rick as a kid, meeting US soldiers during his childhood. So that’s why the boy soprano.

The second scene is Rick in Rhodesia, meeting Dan Hill, who becomes his best friend.

The third scene is both of them in US soldier training (because they came in as officers) and in Vietnam, so of course the opera has to show them becoming disillusioned. (Like Rhodesia wouldn’t do that.) So you can probably fast forward past some of the beginning of this, no great loss, though there’s a reprise of the heart training song from the first scene. There is a one-minute aria somewhere in the middle by the medic Tom’s girlfriend, singing about sending her guy a letter, but the orchestration isn’t great. The aria is echoed later on by the medic and the other guys, and much more beautifully. (Um, dude, not fair.)  There’s a reprise of the lion aria from earlier, which again is actually more beautiful than the first time. There’s a much longer song for Juliet about praying that Tom will come home, marred by unnecessary nasty tones. Then there’s a nice recitative for Rick from Chandler’s “Down these mean streets” essay. Then there’s a duet that never goes anywhere.

Last scene in Act One, Rescorla gets married to his girlfriend. There’s a song about being a soldier’s wife, and a song about how it’s no fun to get back from Vietnam and have people spit on you. As to ways of dealing with the transition to civilian life, Hill flashes back to his recent conversion to Islam during the longest freaking aria in this entire opera so far, and then there’s a muezzin singing the call to prayer or something. Oooookay. I guess it’s okay to check the box that not everybody Islamic is evil, but in the middle of a wedding, or the end of Act One?

That’s an hour. So you can skip the first hour if you like.

Second act starts in the US, Rescorla meeting his second wife. Um, seriously? Not classy to have a wedding and then the meet-cute. And I like his second wife. But you have to pick one or the other as your symbolism. Why show the first wedding at all?

Next scene, Rescorla argues that the Tower evacuation procedures aren’t sufficient. There’s a lot about how he drilled people so they could get out.

Then it’s all 9/11 all the time, until the end of the opera.

It’s fun to listen to an opera in English that isn’t all in some crazy twelve-tone. It does go a little Wagner oompah for no good reason, early on. (I mean, seriously, you’ve got to have somewhere to go, and a childhood story should be a little lighter than what’s coming.) There’s also a ton of Ominous Music during scenes that don’t really need it, and very seldom do they actually get away from recitative or speech and just sing an aria.

OTOH, it is at least trying to do something beautiful and heroic and interesting, instead of the usual godforsaken modern historical opera of boredom. The singers are excellent, and do their best with rather difficult material. It’s a lot harder to speak-sing for an hour and a half than to sing some good songs and actually have emotional release and such.

But yeah, it’s painfully obvious that the composer was desperate not to do any hummable melody for more than two seconds, or to suffer any comparison with a musical or a traditional opera. Even though it was painfully obvious that he could have done something really memorable.

OTOH, it seems to me that there’s room for a slight remix that would make it more audience-friendly and less headache-inducing. Like a lot of modern stuff, it just seems like it’s not a final draft – everything is very polished and organized, but it’s not an organization that makes sense for the audience. Composers of modern musicals don’t seem to have nearly this much trouble with format.

This is an opera with a lot of heart. It just needs to get the beat together.

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RIP, Piglette and Tuna!

Well, I don’t know if this counts as humor or as just a sort of visual signal or heraldry to mark out the loved one’s tomb. But Christian and pagan burials alike often included a visual version of the deceased’s name, or a terrible horrible canting pun on it.

Visual Puns and Epigraphy introduces you to the epitaphs of little three-year-old Porcella and Licinias Amias.

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DNA Says Kosminski Was Jack the Ripper

The dangerous lunatic Aaron Kosminski was always the most likely suspect, and now they’ve found his DNA on poor Catherine Eddowes’ shawl.

It’s a little late in the day, but it will be great to have this case closed.

(And none of that weird conspiracy junk, either.)

Of course, it is just barely possible (despite the weird provenance) that this shawl had gunk on it from an encounter between Eddowes and Kosminski before her murder. Victorian prostitutes in Whitechapel did their thing outside and mostly dressed, if they couldn’t afford a more elegant setting. But with her DNA and his DNA, and with her having pawned her shoes the day before and yet this shawl showing up, it seems pretty likely to be exactly what it was claimed to be – evidence improperly given after the case to a policeman, to keep as a souvenir.

Of course, the other question is what kind of police guy keeps this kind of souvenir. Sounds shady to me. but apparently this sergeant thought his wife would like it. She apparently didn’t want to wash and wear the creepy thing (no wonder!), but she did hold onto it anyway, like a true Victorian packrat. It became a historical curio handed down in the family.

It’s amazing that they were able to get good DNA from so long ago and from such a small sample in such a tough place….


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Catholicism in Manga: Baby Steps, Story #212

When Maruo goes to the All-Japan Juniors competition, he ends up running into several other tennis players at a restaurant. Before eating his curry udon, Ogata Katsumi, is shown saying grace and crossing himself before doing the usual “Itadakimasu” before eating. His friend Araya explains helpfully that Ogata is Catholic.


(Btw, the comicbook sound effect for doing the Sign of the Cross is apparently “sutsu, sutsu”. I think this is supposed to be the sound of touching the cloth of his shirt. The “butsu, butsu” sound effect while he’s saying grace is a standard murmur sound used in this comic.)

The story goes on to have Maruo mention this to his coach Aoi, who lets him know that of course you meet people of all faiths in international play. Aoi also says that when he played, he was envious of people who believed in something bigger than himself. (An interesting comment, given that Coach Aoi also took Maruo and Yukichi to a Buddhist shrine for Zen meditation practice, and said that it had helped him a lot. Since some Japanese apparently do practice all sorts of Japanese spiritual things without believing anything at all, this isn’t unheard of. However, it’s also fair to say that there have been indications in the manga that Coach Aoi was a little bit lost in both his pro career and his adult life outside of tennis; he’s gradually becoming a more grounded person as an adult.)

In #213, there’s a flashback to Ogata’s two years of rehab after a knee injury, which ends up with him thanking God for letting him play tennis again and for teaching him to love it so much, and another carefully drawn Sign of the Cross.

Also, this all happens fairly far into the storyline, so unless the Baby Steps anime is continued for three or four seasons, we’ll probably never see Ogata animated, alas!

Back to the grace plus itadakimasu – this is manga, not a documentary. So it’s hard to tell whether this is something true of Catholics in Japan, or only some Catholics, or what. I would believe that it is factual behavior for some Catholics at least, because the author of Baby Steps is one of those people who researches the heck out of her characters’ lives, and bases many things on interviews with young Japanese tennis players in real life. When she’s going to the extent of putting her characters in the same hotel where the real tennis teams stay, I don’t think she’d be making a cultural mistake.

Btw, “Itadakimasu” really doesn’t mean “thank you for the food” (albeit that’s implied). It means “I humbly receive.” Some say this implies Buddhist gratitude to all the creatures of the world, some say Shinto gratitude to all the gods, and some Japanese just think it means gratitude to the cook. Obviously adding the Sign of the Cross would make it clear that you are thanking God the Holy Trinity first and foremost.

The end of meal thank you, “Gotisoosama,” means “Your food was a feast.” (Albeit in very humble language.)

It’s amazingly difficult to find out the literal meaning of a lot of common Japanese greetings and rote polite expressions, because the expressions are old, the language is a humility level not used in daily modern life, and a lot of teachers don’t want you to bother your head about what you are really saying. (Especially since a lot of Japanese don’t want to bother themselves about that, either.) But it makes you feel amazingly stupid not to know what the heck you’re mouthing back at people!


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Noah’s Ark in the Caedmon Manuscript

I need this on a T-shirt or something.

Caedmon ms ship.jpg
Caedmon ms ship” by Unknown – Bodleian Library, Oxford MS Junius ii. originally from en:File:Caedmon ms ship.jpg. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

The disturbing bit was that Wikipedia doesn’t recognize this as Noah’s Ark, and that they didn’t bother to look up the relevant passage of Caedmon. So I edited a bit, and boy is that harder than it used to be.

Anyway, it’s an illustration for his Genesis poem, lib. 21, lines 1356-1370:

“And Noah departed, as the Lord commanded,
embarking his household upon the ark,
leading up his sons into the ship,
and their wives with them.
All that Almighty God would have for seed
went in under the roof of the ark
unto their food-giver,
even according as the Mighty Lord of hosts
gave bidding by His word.
And the Warden of that heavenly kingdom,
the God of victories,
locked the door of the ocean-house
behind him with His hands,
and Our Lord blessed all within the ark
with His blessing.”

Caedmon has an interesting take on Genesis. He’s probably one of Eve’s greatest defenders, as he figures that Eve was deceived into thinking God wanted them to eat the fruit, and that Adam was also acting in good faith in listening to Eve. Of course, this is not theologically correct. But the part where Eve initially is given more-than-human powers by Satan which make her see more of the beauty of God’s creation, and thus she is made more eager to get Adam to eat, is a nice touch of horror.

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Simon Templar and Lord Peter Wimsey and Good Omens and….

It’s been a while since I caught up with Marcus Rowland’s fanfic doings.

He wrote a fair number of stories about the Saint, apparently. (The book version.)

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Part 10: Unofficial Translation of Evangelii Gaudium

As always, boldface means something translated differently than the official version.

Chapter 2: On the Crisis of Community Commitment.

50. Before speaking about some fundamental questions related to evangelical action, it is suitable to recall briefly what the context is in which it touches us in living and acting. Today one is accustomed to speak of an “excess of diagnosis” which is not always accompanied by improved and actually applicable proposals. On the other hand, neither would a purely sociological viewpoint that would have pretensions of encompassing all reality with its methodology, supposedly of a neutral and aseptic manner. What I want to offer goes better along the line of an “evangelical discernment.” It is the missionary disciple’s viewpoint, which is “nourished on the light, and with the strength, of the Holy Spirit.”

51. It is not the Pope’s function to offer a detailed and complete analysis about [our] contemporaneous reality, but I encourage
all communities toward an “ever-vigilant capacity to study the signs of the times.” [54] One already deals with a grave responsibility, for if some realities of the present do not have a good result, they could unleash processes of dehumanization that will be hard to reverse further on. It is essential to clarify that which could be a fruit of the Kingdom and also that which is bent on being against God’s plan. This involves not only recognizing and interpreting the motions of the good spirit and of the evil one, but also — and here is rooted what is decisive — choosing those of the good spirit and rejecting those of the evil. I give as examples those diverse [motions] of which other documents of the universal Magisterium have offered analysis, such as those which the regional and national episcopates [bishops’ conferences] have proposed. In this Exhortation, I only intend to pause briefly, with a pastoral viewpoint, at some aspects of reality that can stop or debilitate the dynamisms of the missionary renovation of the Church: be it because they affect the life and dignity of the People of God, [or] be it because they also bear upon subjects which participate in a more direct mode in ecclesial institutions and in evangelizing tasks.

I. Some challenges of the present world.

52. Humanity at this moment lives through a historic turn that we can see in the progresses which are produced in diverse fields. The advances which contribute to the wellbeing of the people are to be praised; as for example, in the area of health, education, and communication. Without a doubt, it is not to be forgotten by us that the majority of men and women of our time live precariously from day to day, with dire consequences. Some pathologies go on the increase. Fear and desperation will take possession of the hearts of numerous persons, including those in the countries called “rich.” The happiness of living is frequently snuffed out; lack of respect and violence increase; unfairness is more patent each time. One must fight to live, and often, to live with little dignity. This change of epoch has generated itself by the enormous leaps — qualitative, quantitative, accelerative, and cumulative — which occur in scientific development, in technological innovations, and in their swift applications in distinct fields of nature and life. We are in the era of knowledge and information, a fount of new forms of power, and many times, of an anonymous power.

“Thou shalt not” to an economy of throwing away.

53. Even as the commandment of “Thou shalt not kill” puts a clear limit in order to secure the value of human life, today we have to say, “Thou shalt not” to an economy of throwing away and unfairness. This economy kills. It cannot be that it not be news that an old person in a situation on the street dies of cold; and that yes, it be [news] if there be a fall of two points on the stock market. This is throwing away. One cannot tolerate it anymore that one throws out food when there are people who endure hunger. This is unfairness. Today, it all enters into the game of competitiveness and of the law of the stronger, where the powerful eat the weaker. As a consequence of this situation, big masses of the population will be left excluded and marginalized: without work, without horizons, without a way out. One considers a human being in himself as a consumption good, which one can use and then throw out. We have given a start to a culture of “discard,” which also is promoted by itself. Already, one does not deal simply with a phenomenon of exploitation and oppression, but also with something new: with [this] throwing away, membership in the society in which one lives remains affected by its same root, yet already one is not in [society]; [not] a throwing away [which is] outside, on the periphery, or without power, but a throwing away which is inside. The thrown-away ones are not “exploited,” but rubbish, “surplus.”

54. In this context, some still defend the theories of “overflow” [trickle-down] which suppose that all economic growth, favored by the liberty of the market, manages all by itself to bring about greater fairness and social
in the world. This opinion expresses a rough and ingenuous confidence in the goodness of those who hold onto the economic power, and in the sacralized mechanisms of a reigning economic system, which never has been confirmed by their deeds. Meanwhile, the thrown-away ones continue hoping. For the power to sustain a style of life which throws away others, or for the power to enthuse oneself over this egoist ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed itself. Almost without meaning it, we turn incapable of feeling sorry for the cry of others; we already do not cry for the drama of the rest, nor does it interest us to care for them; as if everyone outside is somebody else’s responsibility which is not incumbent upon us. The culture of wellbeing anesthetizes us and we lose our cool if the market offers something that we have not bought yet; meanwhile those lives, truncated by a lack of possibilities, appear a mere spectacle to us which does not alter us in any way.

53: John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis (25 March 1992), 10: AAS 84 (1992), 673.

54: Paul VI, Encyclical Letter Ecclesiam Suam (6 August 1964), 19: AAS 56 (1964), 609.

55: Saint John Chrysostom, De Lazaro Concio, II, 6: PG 48, 992D.

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Wubwy Redefinitions

Apparently the new game is to pretend that words and concepts which have produced nothing but human misery actually mean something totally different which is bootiful and wubwy. You wouldn’t want to be against something bootiful, would oo? Oh, no!

So recently, I’ve seen “socialism” re-defined by a Loncon Worldcon panelist as “everybody who’s a panelist will share the profits equally.”

First off, that’s not what socialism means in this universe, where the sky is blue.

Second, obviously you don’t give a damn what gets shared with the volunteer staff, gofers, etc. So you’re an elitist who likes pretending that you’re all in this together, as long as you’ve got yours. It would be a lot more honest just to say you were honored to be invited, and happy to have your admission and hotel free while getting paid an appearance fee as well.

Third, I seriously doubt that there will be any Loncon profits, or that the profits would be shared by any of the vast majority of panelists who volunteer. What it means is “Loncon sweetened the deal with my agent, and with the agents of other professional guests who wanted more money, by promising profits that were very unlikely to materialize. So I’ve been taken, and I’m such a self-congratulating ditz that I haven’t even noticed.” It’s difficult to con an honest man, they say.

Then you have the redefinition of socialism as “the government has to do what everybody in society says,” as opposed to fascism, in which “the government tells everybody what to do.”

Actually, it would be “democracy” or “republicanism” when the government does the will of the people. Socialism doesn’t care what you think, any more than fascism does. The only differences are a little bit in the organization philosophy.

Finally, a person kindly explained this week, in comments about why the 1970’s version of Sesame Street is too dangerous to show kids today, that “political correctness is about not hurting the feelings of groups which have suffered prejudice in the past.”

Nooooo, “political correctness” is an old Maoist term for “adhering to the Communist Party’s party line, whatever that happens to be today,” and adopted as an apt description of the hard left’s procedures for enforcing their own party line. But thank you for playing Useful Idiot (a Stalinist term, since you have no historical perspective).

* From the 1963 Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, 1963:


1. Any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or government ownership and administration of the means of production and
distribution of goods.

2a. A system of society or group living in which there is no private property.

2b. A system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned or controlled by the state.

3. A stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done.

So if you assume that panelists work harder and are more vital to conventions than the people who actually run the thing, or unpaid panelists, I suppose that Loncon’s supposed profit-sharing might barely count as socialism. Of course, in real life it means “the socialist politicians pretend to be paying off the socialist intelligentsia more than they actually are, while massaging their egos to make sure they don’t start thinking,” while in this case it’s actually a convention-running corporation or LLC doing the massaging instead.

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