Thursday, January 28, 2010


During the day I spend my time thinking on the greatest systems, politics and religion, this and the other world so to speak. But when it comes the evening, I like to relax in front of TV, not with realities or talk shows, so false in their wanting to be real, but with a TV series or a movie, so much more true by their being fiction.

I often fail to find any I like in the major channels, so I turn to the lesser ones… where I usually find an old Hollywood movie.

And this does it.

There was a magic in old Hollywood, which would deserve not to be just enjoyed, but also understood in what makes it so enjoyable.

Without the usual superciliousness of intellectuals.

For a couple of days in a raw, I run into a musical with Fred Astaire, and when I watch him dancing, with Ginger Rogers or his other partners, I know what it is.


Interesting word grace: it unites this world and the other.

Grace means a special kind of beauty, that communicates a sense of lightness and freedom; therefore grace is also the name for God's action in us.

It is the only experience to which I can appeal with people who declare themselves atheist. It's a pity that they most often refuse to recognize it. So when they make films (or write novels), they make them heavy and depressing. While the movies I am talking about are elating.

I don't need to add more for now.



Monday, January 25, 2010

Politics and appearances

"In his (Obama's) world," wrote The Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes, "everything is political and everything is about appearances."

Right, "everything is political and everything is about appearances": it is political, because everything, even what is most intimate, once it is expressed doesn't stay any longer hidden in oneself, but comes out in the open and becomes public; it is about appearances, because there is something thus made to appear.

I often heard people distinguish between outer and inner beauty. Wrong, I retorted each time, beauty is always outer. By whatever criteria we judge what is beautiful, there must be signs of it. So I can call a person beautiful, not because of fair features or a stunning body, but because of the loving-kindness that shows. It is not a question of outer or inner, but of what it is required from us to detect the signs of beauty.

The trouble with appearances is that they can be feigned. So they might not show what they seem to show. We can know though which is the case, by the consistency of the signs people give of themselves in all circumstances.

Many false prophets will come after me – said Jesus, in roughly these words – but you shall know them by their effects.

A man was elected as POTUS who acted as prophet of a renewed America, capable of uniting her again after the promises of her origin.

This was the appearance. What reality did people detect in his actions that made them vote against his party in the last three significant elections, for New Jersey and Virginia's governorship and for a new senator of Massachusetts?


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A short thought on an important event

The other day, during the visit to Rome's synagogue, the Pope stressed how Jews and Christians have the same roots.

Properly speaking, Judaism and Christianity aren't two different religions, but two different branches of the same: one characterize by Jewish faithfulness to the call of their election; the other by the opening of that elections to all people.

Hit on the way to Damascus by Christ, the Pharisee Saul, better known with the Latin name of Paul, saw in Him the bridge between Jews and Gentiles: in words dear to me, the universalizing restoration of the kingdom.

The bridge was hard to cross for many Jews, then and in the following times. And gentile Christians didn't always help with their example.

Actually S. Paul only exists in pointing to that bridge. And so should any Gentile who, from his side of the same bridge, enters in dialogue with the Jewish heirs of the Pharisees, who didn't want to hear of crossing it.

The Pope invited the two parties to acquire a better knowledge of each other. If this means for Christians to further their understanding of what kept Jews on their side of the bridge, so it should mean for Jews to take a look at that bridge himself:

without suspicion and fear, without taking offence.


Friday, January 15, 2010

Pray for Haiti

Pray, and give.

Catholic organizations were on the ground already and may be better placed most quickly to reach the most needy. The destruction, however, is so vast and so absolute that it is difficult to know where to start - and many of the people who were there to help are now themselves in need of succor.

America is the most successful society in history, by whatever measure: the help we owe our distressed neighbors is not principally a matter of charity - it is one of duty.



Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Political racism

I read Harry Reid's words, by which he assessed during the primaries the chances Obama had of being elected by saying that they were good, because he was "light skinned" and "with no negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one", and for which he has been going around apologizing.

Apologizing to whom?

To those, I suppose, who being more or less dark or light skinned and with a more or less heavy negro dialect might be offended by the remark.

How about if we reverse the thing?

Nothing wrong with being more or less dark or light skinned and talking in a certain way. The real bias is to think that "white" voters of a certain part are not able to look beyond it. The slander is to them, treated without distinction as a bunch of racists.

Is there something like "political racism"? Well, the word racism is here used improperly, just by analogy. But the answer should be yes. And Harry Reid seems to be a good exemplar of it.

Staying with analogies, "political racism" seemed to blend nicely with "sexism" in occasion of Sarah Palin's vice-presidential campaign.

Such a womanly woman, and talking so funny!

Paraphrasing Reid, if she had been more lightly woman, and didn't talk funny unless she wanted, her chances would have been greater.

If, by saying so, I should appear to be falling into the trap of "political racism", I apologize. It is just to put a mirror in the face of those who indulge in it.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Latest from the CCCF Blog

I posted about this new pro-life web resource awhile back.

Here is a link to their latest.

You can always find them on my sidebar - and I encourage reading bloggers to add the cccf to their rolls and feeds.


Saturday, January 09, 2010

More Thoughts Liturgical, Ritual, Political...

With the exception of the first bulleted item, which continues the reflections I began in the penultimate bullet of my last post, the following appear in no particular order:
  • Fr. Zuhlsdorf often decries the most recent book of blessings as 'nearly useless (and with other, similar and sometimes even stronger language viz. "essentially useless")'. I most certainly agree that the texts of the new blessings are truly dreadful - they are written in a way that betrays either an utter ignorance of the different kinds of blessing (broadly, blessings that obtain grace(s) and blessings that constitute, inter alia, objects and spaces as sacred) , and sometimes even omit the very words of blessing. Nevertheless, they are the texts approved and prescribed by Holy Mother Church. They are, therefore, efficacious. They are not useless in this very basic sense, even though they may very well be worse than useless for purposes of catechesis and formation, i.e. preaching and teaching on and about the Divine things claimed explicitly and implied in the specific acts of blessing. Said shortly, the new prayers are prayers of blessing because Holy Mother Church tells us they are - and only because She tells us that they are!
  • I would love to go see Avatar (google it youselves, if you must), but I would sooner search for a ping pong ball at the bottom of a large jar of rusty razor blades. The film is quite clearly an achievement: it is a greater and more sophomoric hodge-podge of pseudo-philosophical, quasi-religious, faux spiritual tropes than was even The Matrix.
  • Politico is praising Harry Reid's abilities as a manager of the Senate. In this piece (by Mike Allen and Jake Sherman, with contribution from Meredith Shiner), they show how the Dems plan to play the race card right back on the GOP, in the wake of the revelations about the deep-rooted racial prejudice of the hapless Senate Majority Leader (pace SF Chronicle editors). Fine. It is fair to point to Reid's record in defense of his fitness to remain in his post. The Politico piece praises Reid thus: "What Reid has lacked in PR ability he has made up in vote counting and internal Senate maneuvering. He has taken the Senate to the brink of passing the historic health reform bill, and he’s managed to hold together a nearly unmanageable caucus of 58 Democrats and two unpredictable independents. Aides tout his ability to find middle ground in a diverse caucus." I ask: "really?"

Friday, January 08, 2010

True science

I'm leaving town for a couple of days, and don't want to do it without dropping a thought or two.

I'd like to say that my vocation in life was the pursuit of science, not in the vulgar sense on which we divide ourselves, but in the original meaning of the word that was proper of classical, Platonic and Aristotelian, philosophy:

a reflection on human intercourse capable of finding what makes people converge in a shared judgment on the order of things, of which men partake by living in society.

(Notice, with the LD, that I am not talking of shared "values", but of a shared understanding of what makes life what it is: not "values", but sheer intelligence.)

Intelligence is not partisan. So, I strived to be what POTUS promised he would be when elected. And, from what I hear, he failed to maintain.

I try to be non partisan in what I write here: to the point I even avoid words like liberal or conservative, for fear to be too quickly identified one way or another. I could say, though, that I do like to define myself as conservative: it means recognition of having received a worthy inheritance, and readiness to make it grow while passing it on. Of course I know that there are many who don't think the same of that inheritance, who therefore will oppose themselves to me. And I also know that they often call themselves liberal.

To them I say: let's reason about it. Recognize that there is a problem, not mine or yours, but in the relation between us.

To be conservative doesn't mean to let oneself to be swallowed into partisan opposition, but to try to raise above it.

This means to achieve science, in the footsteps of those who have shown an understanding of what undermines human intercourse. Because they know the grace that makes it possible.

Partisanship, on the contrary, makes us opinionated, alien to any true science.

This is the true crisis that is plaguing America as well as Europe.


Thursday, January 07, 2010

Not Exactly Random Observations...

In no particular order:

  • There is a tendency to reduce traditional social mores Christian "values" and make the basic mode of Christian presence in society that of "prophetic witness" to "authentic values" or some such: this is dangerous. There are things we believe because the Church tells us they are true, and there are certain other things the Church tells us to believe because reason tells us they are true. Most social mores fall into the second class.
  • Civilization depends on critical, prudential thinking more than on anything else. Any barbarian can use technology, just fine.
  • Faith, hope and charity inform and perfect prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance; it is dangerous error to think the former replace the latter. The theological virtues cannot do the work of the cardinal virtues, while all true excellence praises God.
  • While I prefer the liturgy said according to the 1962 books, and am quite convinced of the greater theological precision and spititual superiority of the '62 Missal and various pre-Vatican II Rituals, what I really care about is that Fr. read all, exactly and only what the black parts say, and do all, only and exactly what the red parts say to do, when they say to do them. As my friend, Fr. Zuhlsdorf never tires of repeating: "Say the Black, Do the Red."
  • More on the last point later...

Monday, January 04, 2010

Celebrating life

Holydays are near to come to a close. Because, as we say in Italian, "l'Epifania tutte le feste porta via" (Epiphany carries away all feasts).

Of course I am speaking of the Christmas holydays.

Here, around the turning of the year, the liturgical cycle is started once again. All the other feasts will follow, until Pentecost comes, that really closes it, and the Church enters a period of the year defined as "ordinary time".

Once, a cousin of mine expressed her perplexity toward the religion from which she has been estranged since a long time, by questioning "all that ritualism". She simply couldn't understand why the Church indulges in her liturgy.

The answer wouldn't be hard to give, however hard it might be to comprehend it: to live eternity in time.

Without it minutes, hours, days, month, years, centuries, millennia, would flow indifferently one into the next. Nothing to make a difference. Even to speak of a new year has no meaning, save that of an arbitrary counting of the passing of time.

There would be no holydays, but at best vacation time. How utterly sad that would be, not to have anything to celebrate.

To celebrate means to make things new: to recall something, and, by recalling it, to make it happen again. Like when we celebrate an anniversary, to bring back the joy that somebody's birth brought into our lives. And what is after all Christmas, if not the celebration of an anniversary?

In the same way, all the following feasts of the liturgical calendar save us from time, as the pure abstract sequence in which things, no one knows how assembled together, run toward their dissolution.

Once again, Marry Christmas and a Happy New year. That it be for you all an year of epiphany.