Portrait of a Mass Murderer

It turns out that Omar Mateen appeared briefly in the 2012 documentary The Big Fix, from back in 2010 when he was working as a G4S security guard at a BP oil cleanup site in Pensacola, Florida.

One thing you will notice is that he does a lot of code-switching. That’s what linguists call the switch between different dialects or registers of conversation. Most people do this, and certainly someone approached by a documentary camera crew in the middle of the night is someone who might be groping for appropriate responses. I also suspect that his response was cut together to sound like a single statement, whereas there were probably several minutes of conversation which were cut out. But Mateen has some interesting code-switches in his brief appearance:

1) High voice, normal schmuck.
2) Hints of the stereotypical gay-signaling uptalk.
3) Rougher, more stereotypically masculine complaint voice, combined with profanity. Claims that cleanup people don’t care about nature, and just want more spillage to give them more work hours.

Given that a night security guard watching for cars has an infinitely cleaner job than folks cleaning up an oil spill at night, I’m sure that they didn’t think much of his contempt for them!

So that’s interesting. Doesn’t prove anything, but there’s your Sudden Jihadi before his Sudden Jihadi Syndrome. (Although he’d been in touch with some extremely sketchy Muslim groups and imams before 2010.)

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Jihad Attack in Orlando on Gay Nightclub

Omar Mateen attacked the patrons of an Orlando nightclub called Pulse, killing up to fifty people. Please pray for them.

Video by Robert Spencer on Jihadist violence during Ramadan.

Although Ramadan was set up to be a time of fasting, and of truce among Muslims, it was also set up by some Muslim traditions as “a month of calamity for unbelievers.” Most of Muhammad’s raids and battles traditionally took place during Ramadan.

An article quoting the hadiths which demand expulsion and death for male adults who have sex with each other. (Meanwhile, men having non-consensual sex with boys is traditionally okay, and the description of heaven for Muslim jihadis includes both supernatural young women (houri) and younger boys (ghilman).) Persons convicted of homosexual sexual behavior are routinely hung in Iran, and by law they are subject to public execution or extremely long prison sentences in many other Muslim states.

Initial reporting has been very strange in the American media, with many sources refusing to report that Mateen was Muslim, that he attacked with every indication of committing jihad, or that he deliberately targeted a nightclub where he could kill homosexuals. Meanwhile, persons setting up as spokesmen for LGBT interests are not making much mention of the sharia law reasons for Mateen’s attack, but instead are attacking people like Marco Rubio, or the Miami Red Cross (for restricting blood donations from people with risky sexual behavior in order to avoid AIDS tests for every batch of blood, even though that is done only for public health reasons and benefits everyone).

Yeah, it’s really smart to attack the integrity of the blood supply, right after a mass shooting of people who need blood. Yup.

On the other hand, the Log Cabin Republicans have a truthful statement about the attack.

UPDATE: The news media finally did get around to reporting the obvious, on Monday. But some outlets are still downplaying or not reporting things like the imam Mateen followed in online classes and in a local visit to the Orlando mosque, who was quoted as saying in his Friday sermon that all homosexuals should be executed, and that it was an act of compassion to kill them. (Yeah, that guy.)

There are now some reports that Mateen had been interested in homosexual sex himself. Well, everybody knows that the Quran says that if you can just do some jihad and die, your previous sins won’t matter because you’ll go directly to heaven. So many terrorists feel that they should rack up more sins while they’re at it. Heck, the 9/11 terrorists made sure to go out and get drunk and do all sorts of “un-Islamic” things, rather than preparing for death by living clean and sober lives.


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Another Famous Deaconess Saint?

There’s an Episcopal icon-writer who has an icon of St. Gregory of Nyssa and St. Theosebia (“a deacon”), and says they were a married couple and a liturgical team.

Um. No.

First off, St. Theosebia was St. Gregory of Nyssa’s biological sister. Orthodox tradition says so, Catholic tradition says so, and only a few recent historians and theologians have interpreted the evidence in any other way.

Secondly, we don’t actually know if she was a deaconess or not, except that tradition does say she was. All we know from the materials is that she helped out St. Gregory and the Church. Since she is specifically called “support of women” and “hope of women” in various materials, she probably was a deaconess ministering to women. She may also have been the founder or leader of a “choir of virgins” that St. Gregory of Nyssa talks about elsewhere. So you can’t have it both ways. If you believe Eastern tradition about her being a deaconess, you need to believe it about her being the man’s sister.

The trouble seems to be that St. Gregory of Nazianzus’ consolation letter to St. Gregory of Nyssa, on the occasion of St. Theosebia’s death, identifies Theosebia as the yoke-partner (“syzygon”) of a priest (ie, of St. Greg of Nyssa). But this seems to be a running joke, because earlier, St. Gregory of Nazianzus also wrote an epigram (Epigram 161) that also talks about Theosebia being the yoke-partner of a priest (“hieros syzygon”). Then Epigram 164 is an actual epitaph for St. Theosebia, where he talks about St. Gregory of Nyssa’s mom, St. Emmelia, having a daughter who was the yoke-partner (“syzyge”) of St. Gregory of Nyssa!

The quotes are probably more of a joking references to Philippians 4:3 than anything.

Here’s the translation of Epigram 164:

“And you, Theosebia,
child of noble Emmelia,
and in truth yoke-partner of great Gregory,
lie here in holy soil,
O support of pious women.
At a seasonable age,
you departed this life.”

It was totally okay for a priest or bishop to live with a sister. Given that St. Gregory of Nyssa at one point lost his vocation and became a secular rhetoric teacher, she probably helped keep him on track as well as helping his work.

Possibly St. Gregory of Nyssa did get married during his secular period, but we don’t actually know that.

Theosebia’s name means “fear of God, reverence, piety.”

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A Connacht Prayer for Breadmaking

Paidir le Radh ag Deanamh Arain.

Rath De agus bail Padraig
ar a bhfeicfear me agus ar a nglacfas me.
An rath do chuir Dia
ar na cuig arain agus ar an da iasg
go gcuiridh Se ar an bheatha go e.

The abundance of God and the prosperity of Patrick
on all that I shall see, and on all that I shall take.
The abundance that God put
upon the five loaves and two fishes –
may He put it upon this sustenance.

Pretty good prayer, huh?

“Paidir” originally meant the Our Father, but in this case it’s used as a generic word for a prayer. (There are a lot of Irish terms for prayers.)

Anyway, this comes from V0lume II of The Religious Songs of Connacht (Abhrain Diadha chuige Connacht), collected and translated by Douglas Hyde, 1906.

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Dominican Ninja Warrior?

Man, what is it with Dominicans and game shows? Are they competitive or what?

Tonight on American Ninja Warrior, Sean Bryan, a layman and live-in IT guy for the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology (the West Coast branch in Berkeley) managed to get through the LA city course in one of the fastest times of the night.

He is competing with the nickname “Papal Ninja,” and his supporters wore yellow and white T-shirts featuring a cute mini-ninja in white. (Probably he was originally thinking “Papist Ninja,” but that’s a bit too much inside baseball. And yeah, not broadcast-standards-friendly.)

He was on the Berkeley gymnastics team, and he spent four years discerning with the Salesians (and a bit with the Dominicans) before deciding that he wasn’t called to be a religious. But they kept him on, as their IT guy, and he built a ninja gym in the Dominicans’ garage. (Without previous permission from the prior… but the prior said it was okay afterward.)

He has a BA in physics and a Masters in Theology. His thesis was on Vatican II ecclesiology, and the importance of liturgy in finding how to worship God both in liturgy and everyday life. He also works on the Lay Mission Project, designed to form and encourage Catholic laypeople to evangelize and do God’s will. So yeah, that’s pretty darned Salesian.

They had viewing parties for the guy. He also had Dominicans in full habit cheering him on at Universal Studios LA, where the event was held!

Here’s his lay ministry page, and here’s his Facebook page.

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“Love and Friendship” Is Hilarious Fun

The newest Jane Austen adaptation, Love and Friendship (based on Austen’s novella Lady Susan) is not Regency; it’s Georgian. And it’s not gently satirical; it has a villainess of “diabolical genius.” But the battlefields are still all family and social matters, and the ending is a happy one.

Lady Susan Vernon is a creature of charm, only because it serves her self-interest. She does have feelings, but mostly for herself. She always gets her own way… and that’s what makes her fascinating and terrifying to watch. Kate Beckinsale does a wonderful job with this part.

The rest of the cast is given some wonderful characters to play, as well as really good lines. They run with it. It’s the kind of movie where Stephen Fry plays a relatively minor role, and still has plenty to do.

The movie is set in England but was filmed on location in Ireland, using all sorts of gorgeous great houses and the Georgian-era neighborhoods of Dublin. The sets are great, and so are the costumes. (For history fans, it’s a lot of fun watching Lady Susan go from her mourning garb to half-blacks to colors again. The timing is perfect.)

It’s a wonderful example of how making everything period and believable doesn’t mean making everything deadly dull.

Go see it in the theater, if you can. It is worth it.

An interview with the director.

Austen’s epistolary novella, Lady Susan.

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St. Rogue?!

Okay, it’s still Blessed Rogue… but yep!

Blessed Pierre-Rene Rogue was a short guy (4’11), shortsighted, and sickly. He did have a good singing voice, though. He was from a merchant family in Brittany; his deceased father was a furrier, and his mom carried on the business. He became a priest in 1782, and joined the Vincentians as a priest after four years. After his training in his new order, he spent two and a half years teaching dogma at his old seminary, and then became a curate (associate pastor, we’d say today) on the side.

In 1791, Revolutionary officials persuaded or tricked the head of the seminary and some of the other priests to sign an oath that they would obey whatever the government ordered. Blessed Pierre-Rene heard about this (he hadn’t been at the meeting) and hurried to see the seminary head. He persuaded his boss to write out a letter taking back his oath, or rather, saying that he had never meant to swear to obey them in spiritual matters and wanted to clarify the language of the oath. Pierre-Rene then delivered the new letter to the officials. When the other priests heard about this, all but one of them also took back their oaths to the same extent. The seminarians were sent home to get them out of danger.

In retaliation, the Revolutionary government immediately put up the seminary for sale, along with all its contents. The seminary fought back by pointing out that they had also provided classes on theology to the general public, which meant they were exempted from the law about confiscating Church property, under the public education clause. They also pointed out that the seminary actually belonged by deed to a secular group called “the Congregation of the Mission,” (ie, the Vincentian Order) and thus was not Church property.

While this was being decided, the priests at the seminary pointed out that their stipends from various sources had been stopped, and that they were owed their money. The municipal government actually helped them get their money, so obviously somebody had a little shame. But matters worsened again when the Revolutionary government appointed their own bishop (illegitimately consecrated), the Congregation of the Mission was suppressed as a group, and the priests thrown out of the seminary. He was able to stay in town at his mom’s house, and he said Mass privately at faithful people’s houses.

More laws were passed and more oaths required. Priests were ordered to be deported. By September 8, 1792, Blessed Pierre-Rene was living underground, along with four other priests. Besides saying Mass and providing Sacraments, he also continued secretly to prepare seminarians for ordination. Those who had already been ordained as subdeacons were eventually to make their way to Paris and be ordained by a bishop there. Other priests were living underground in the Vannes area. But the Revolutionary government passed a new law in October of 1793: the penalty for being a non-government priest was now death. Fourteen Vannes-area priests were caught and guillotined from December 1793 through 1794.

On Christmas Eve, 1795, Blessed Pierre-Rene Rogue was bringing Communion to a sick parishioner. Two men recognized and captured him. One of them was a cobbler named Le Meut who had gotten his job through Father’s recommendation, and who was receiving financial help from Father’s mom. They brought him to the town hall, where the municipal authorities refused to take charge of him and tried to get him to escape. He refused their help, saying that he didn’t want them to get in trouble with the national Revolutionaries. (And get killed. They were guillotining a lot of government bureaucrats, too.) He refused the same offer from a jailer, and spent his time in prison ministering to the other prisoners. As was the custom at the time, his mom sent in meals. When she learned he was sharing them, she increased the servings. He also wrote poetry, including the song he sang on his way to the guillotine.

The public prosecutor recused himself from trying the case, because he was an old friend. The replacement prosecutor tried him quickly. Blessed Pierre-Rene readily admitted having refused to take any of the oaths and having broken all the Revolutionary laws against priests. He was sentenced to death the next day. He wrote a last letter to his mother, in which he asked her to be sure to continue giving money to Le Meut. His friends tried to set up an escape, but for the third time he refused their offer. His calmness in the face of death helped another priest, Fr. Alan Robin, who had also been condemned to die with him; and converted a young sergeant who had previously been known for his cruelty to prisoners. He gave his watch to Le Meut, sang his new song praising God, and comforted his executioner, who was one of his old lay pupils. He died on March 3, 1796.

The Revolution buried him and Fr. Robin in unmarked graves, but everyone in town knew the place. It became the object of pilgrimage. After the Revolution, his grave was marked, and his mother was eventually buried next to him. In 1934 at his beatification, his body was exhumed and translated to the cathedral. Healings and cures were soon reported there.

So that is the story of Blessed Pierre-Rene Rogue! His feastday is March 3. At Vannes’ cathedral (St. Pierre de Vannes), they also celebrate the approximate anniversary of his ordination, on the fourth Sunday in September. (You can have an outdoor parish festival in September. Not so much, in March.)

The French Wikipedia entry includes the new hymn he wrote for his day of martyrdom. The rhyme scheme is ABAB BCBC. It’s actually a bit of a last joke, because condemned criminals in Europe at the time often composed songs about their mistakes (or had them ghost-written) and publshed them on broadsides, for the moral benefit of the crowd or the posthumous benefit of their family’s coffers. This wasn’t permitted by the Revolutionary government, as far as I know. But yup, Father sang his song with a different moral, but did it just like he was a highwayman. (Comparable songs in the Anglosphere are “Sam Hill,” “Tom Dooley” [really Dula], etc.)

The 1824 book Recueil de Cantiques Spirituels includes a different version of this song, which is written from the viewpoint of a bad sinner returned to God. (Unfortunately, Air #294 doesn’t appear to be in the book, unless it’s printed as the first Air #295.) A different version of the same song appears in a songbook from Besancon from 1777, set to this Air #47.

So yes, Blessed Pierre-Rene Rogue was also a filker, and in the best Celtic folk tradition! Blessed Rogue, pray for us!

I’ve put in quotes the bit he took and adapted from the original version of the song.

“How charming is my lot!
My soul is thrilled.
At this moment I taste
An infinite” joy.
“For in me is made public
The Lord’s goodness!
My misery is done;
I feel my” happiness.

I have served God, my King,
By imitating His zeal.
I have kept the faith;
I am going to die for it.
How beautiful is this death,
And how worthy of a great heart!
Pray, faithful people,
That I am the victor.

O you whom my lot
Affects and interests —
Far from crying for my death,
Jump for gladness!
Turn your tenderness
On my persecutors.
Pray without cease
For the end of their errors.

Alas! They are no more
The children of light,
Because they do not listen anymore
To Peter’s successor.
But because they are our brothers,
Cherish them always,
Nor resist their war
Unless with meekness and love.

O Monarch of the heavens,
O God, full of clemency,
Deign to fix Your eyes
On the wrongs of France!
May my penance have power
Equal to these crimes
To disarm Your vengeance.
May You hold it back forever!

So at the end, he was a penitent Rogue who suffered a Rogue’s death. Heh!


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