Monday, July 15

Serves me right.

After a morning spent extolling the beauties of small and natural and authentic, I head to Kroger's and find, first of all, a strange plethora of parking spaces. Then I find a big rope strung across the entrance with a hand-scrawled sign reading:

Closed because of Board of Health and Fire Department. Will Reopen Soon.

That's reassuring.

Another excellent response to Granola/Pierced/Rockin' conservatives:

I see nothing odd in the GranCons. I had the great blessing to be
raised by my grandparents, Texan children of the last decade of the 19th century. They were never comfortable with disposable, inauthentic, stuff and hated the plastic-y, prefab culture that they were surrounded with in erm, 1960. So, I grew up with folk who understood how to put up the veggies, and take care of machines which were most likely hand/body powered because they were cheaper and did the job with a minimum of fuss and would last a (long) lifetime. I loved their approach, and have tried to follow it. So I mow my "lawn" with a Roy-powered reel mower, and shave with shaving soap and a straight razor. My politics/economics are more distributist than libertarian, but I am too lazy for ideopurity... I have recently adopted Belloc's Rule of Strong Beverages: nothing invented after the Protestant Rebel.. er "Reformation." Country music is wonderful because even the crap deals more with what is than does any pop song I've heard in decades. Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, Ralph Stanley, Willie Nelson, Lucinda Williams, George Jones are real, hoss, and that shines through in their music. George Strait and Alan Jackson are doing their best to keep
real country music in front of the public while still getting paid and they should be appreciated for their efforts. They are getting paid, but they need their props, too. Tim'n'Faif, Kenny, et al need to receive the bastinado and be barred from radio until Merle, Willie, Ralph an 'em get at least one song every half hour. I have become more and more devoted to the real as I have gotten older...and I think "what is" is the bedrock of any true conservatism. Maybe not"right wing idealism" but "conservatism." GranCons are not odd to me...

Here are some photos of our Canton/Pittsburgh trip.
Go. Read. Greg. Popcak. He's posted on the Fr. John Bertolucci situation, and his post is full of wisdom, as well as some personal insight.
A wonderful comment on Granola/Pierced Conservatives from a reader:

I enjoyed both Mr. Dreher's article and your essay concerning it very much. I think an important issue for this discussion is the decline of "restorationist conservatism" or at least the emergence of a non-reactionary, non-restorationist element among social conservatives. After the upheavals of the late 1960s, early 1970s, most conservatives defined themselves in opposition to the new mores and in favor of restoring
America as it was in 1960. So along with bringing back the prevailing (public) values of that time, restorationists also wanted to keep living the way people did in the 1950s, associating conservative dress etc. with their traditional religious faith. Smoking and steaks became a part of the whole restorationist package. This is not to say that there is anything wrong with it, I dress conservatively myself, but that has more to do with my aesthetic preference than my traditional, Catholic faith. While is still powerful, the restorationist element among social conservatives has lost ground in the face of younger conservatives, especially young religious conservatives whose faith has been shaped more by the defiant, combative evangelical movement and the similarly combative, traditional Roman Catholic response to the 1960s, both in the culture generally and within the Church. Because younger people who don't remember or are smart enough to recognize that it wasn't exactly a Christian paradise on earth do not share the restorationist views of their forebears (and some peers) they see no need to affect or adopt other social conventions of the pre-1960s era. This is important development, both culturally and intellectually, and bodes well for the future of traditional religion and social conservatism.

I'm late to the party in commenting on Rod Dreher's Confessions of a Granola Conservative in NRO, but better late than never, right?

I think part of the reason I couldn't comment immediately is that my first reaction to it was, "Huh?" as I tried to search through my own experiences that might resonate. It was hard. It's not that I don't share in the general gestalt Rod's talking about here: I'm generally conservative/libertarian politically, and I believe small and authentic is better, I like buying produce directly from farmers when I can (if only our Amish-run market weren't on the other end of town), I used to regularly bake my own bread (before I hit child #3 - then cooking became something other than a pleasure, as I was adjudicating battles between two then-younger boys and tending to a baby), Joseph has had maybe three jars of baby food in his life - I use a baby food grinder and make most of it myself, I still nurse him, I've had one child with midwives (the only time nurse-midwives were available in my area), I listen to Lucinda Williams and Robert Earl Keen, I wear sandals with my long flowing dresses with batik prints, and yes, up until the sixth month of my last pregnancy, I sported a naval ring.

So, sure, I'm with Rod and Julia, but still...

I guess my caveat lies in the fact that I find none of the above very unusual. Maybe if I were a GOP party activist, I would, but I'm not. Why? (I mean, why don't I see it as unusual...) I guess it's because I've known a lot of people of varying political ideologies who do exactly the same thing, and while a lot of items in the list above might seem counter-cultural to some, in most areas I've lived, they're not. Every place I've lived, the natural food co-op is frequented, not just by stereotypical granola types, but by lots of people who want their bulk herbs and their organic vegetables. (Joseph's babysitter, who is a member of our middle-America Catholic parish, bakes her own bread and does mostly natural foods, and I think they're vegetarians, as well. I wonder if their reasons are derived from the fact that both she and her husband have had careers in the restaurant business, and they know what processed food is all about...) Almost every retro/traditionally minded Catholic under 45 I've ever known has been mad for traditional country music and more alternative contemporary "Americana" sounds. By the way, most of them - the men, at least - have also been mad for The Simpsons, a phenomenon which would probably be much more shocking to some folk than liking organic vegetables. But more on that later. And believe me, down in Florida, it doesn't matter who you vote for - naval piercing is old news, as is casual, ethnic-flavored dress. It's not a symbol of anything except taste, and no one blinks.

But there are deeper points to examine here. Dreher speaks with Julianne Loesch Wiley and Frederica Mathewes-Green, both of whom I interesected with briefly back eons ago when I was involved with Feminists for Life (It's still the best pro-life group out there. It's just that my activism is mostly writing as well as tending to my own kids. For now). What he hints at in relation to these two, but doesn't bring out explicitly (perhaps he's letting us draw our own conclusions!) is the role that religion plays in shaping one's lifestyle. Business-type conservatives may (and I say may) walk in some sort of Celine Dion/Chrysler lockstep, but my experience tells me that those committed to faith within a more traditional framework - don't. At all. Evangelical churchdes that preach moral and theological hardlines are full of long-haired guys with earrings and kids with blue hair (well, not Pentecostals with strict dress codes, but a lot of the others are - think Vineyard, etc). Some of the post-Vatican II babies who are committed to faith and the converts who've joined them can, indeed, be pretty darn uptight, culturally speaking, but others are open, as Matthewes-Green (an Orthodox) comments, to the sacramentality of creation - all of it. There's a definite and frequent progression from Natural Family Planning, pro-life sentiments to natural birth, breastfeeding, attachment distrust of secular authority in all of its guises in school, government and the marketplace - the authorities that try to manipulate our bodies, mess up our kids with formula, distance us from our children, and control our thinking and our wallets - to a passionate conviction that no one except Christ is gonna tell us what to do.

The best way to think of it is the quote from Chesterton with which Mark Shea signs his emails: Break the conventions; obey the commandments.

But there's more, and another side to this. Two, actually, if you can take more of what Eve Tushnet would call a "vast post."

I think there are actually two other fault lines that divide those who call themselves conservative that are harder and faster than granola and organics. First is openness to contemporary culture. I remember when a uh...certain film reviewer for a...uh...certain Catholic publication wrote a positive review of American Beauty. I bet I don't even have to tell you what happened. You can probably imagine. There are NAKED PEOPLE in that movie. There are people USING DRUGS in that movie. How could a GOOD CATHOLIC be positive about such FILTH?

(For the record, I disagreed with This Reviewer, not because people were nekkid, but because I thought the movie was a pretentious, preening, load of crap.)

I am a devotee of a few (but not all) HBO shows - The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, and Curb Your Enthusiasm. I also watch Sex in the City with a certain grim horror regarding my gender - or at least about my gender as a presented in a show mostly written by gay men. But anyway. But you know, there's a lot of BAD STUFF in those shows - nekkidness, bad language, and so on. I guess you'd call it sin. I guess you'd call it stuff that happens in life. So it doesn't bother me. But it does, indeed, bother many, many social conservatives, who would see such programs as part of the problem and would question the credentials of anyone seeing anything positive in them.

The second fault line has to do with circumstances of one's personal life. It is not easy to speak on contemporary issues impacting our culture when you're divorced and remarried and when you've had some of the other experiences in life my husband and I have both had. You get nasty letters from people who question whether you should be writing for Catholic publications because of those circumstances. You may even have a hard time getting a job because people will become aware of a few things in your past and then reflexively think "liberal" or "not orthodox" or "sinner who's not worthy, unlike me, right, Lord?"

In other words, maybe some would say it would be better if my life had gone in a straight line, I had been married to one person for twenty years and had ten perfect children I was homeschooling. Maybe then I wouldn't get nasty letters and maybe then I could reach a wider audience. But that's not what happened, and, since I am more than content in my life now, I suppose I can only thank God for life as it is, and dare to be glad that my life has not been what some Catholic traditionalists tell me it should have been. And if they don't want to listen to me because of that, fine. There's plenty of other voices out there. Lots of pilgrims, with one marriage or two, munching granola or sipping lattes, homeschooling or not, watching The Sopranos or Lawrence Welk. The Lord God sees us all. And probably laughs.

Since the designer of this template seems to have lost the third image up top, I've decided to try to replace it with an image of a saint o' the day, when possible, along with a link to info on that saint.
Today is the feast of St. Bonaventure

Some glimpses into his life from For All the Saints

Born Giovanni (John) di Fidanza, an untrustworthy legend says that his name was changed to Bonaventure ("good fortune") by Saint Francis of Assisi, who miraculously cured him of a dangerous illness during his childhood and exclaimed: O buona ventura!....At the general chapter of Narbonne in 1260, Bonaventure designed a set of constitutions as a rule, which had a lasting effect on the order, and for which he is called the second founder of the Franciscans. It has, however, been claimed that he also weakened the spirit of Saint Francis; the Life that he wrote of him, in order to promote unity among the brothers, was accurate but incomplete, and he modified the rule that forbade the brothers to accept money or own property.
The severe-interpretation Spirituals valued poverty above all else, including learning. Bonaventure strongly supported the importance of study to the order and the need for the order to provide books and buildings. He confirmed the practice of monks teaching and studying at universities, believing that the Franciscans could better fulfill the need for preaching and spiritual guidance to compensate for other poorly educated clergy......Though Bonaventure and Aquinas were friends in their lifetime, the two men had strongly opposed each other on the question of the neo- Aristotelianism that was being introduced into theology, for Saint Bonaventure feared that as a result philosophy would be elevated above theology and that reason would be made more important than revelation. Saint Bonaventure was a man of the highest intellectual attainments, but he would emphasize that a fool's love and knowledge of God may be greater than that of a humanly wise man. To reach God, he said, "little attention must be given to reason and great attention to grace, little to books and everything to the gift of God, which is the Holy Spirit." Above all he emphasized charity: "For in truth, a poor and unlearned old woman can love God better than a Doctor of Theology."...

Hey, Garry, are you listening?

But that's an interesting contrast isn't it, and perhaps one that an expert on St. Bonaventure and/or the Franciscans can explain: He promoted scholarship among Franciscans, yet stood against an over-emphasis on reason and philosophy.

Brother Pedro Fever sweeping Guatemala

Juan Diego may be taking all the attention, but Pope John Paul II will be canonizing another figure on his visit to Latin America:

Pedro began his studies to be a Franciscan friar in Antigua, but poor health forced him to abandon this path. He then dedicated himself to the neediest and built a small hospital where he housed the sick at night and taught children during the day. He is said to have been responsible for many miracles during his lifetime.

His religious order, The Brothers of Bethlehem, was banned by the Spanish crown in 1820, and only restored in 1984 and, as a result, has only 15 members.

Here's a photo of people putting candles at Brother Pedro's tomb

From Relapsed Catholic:

Rational, free inquiry - unless you're up against Scientfic American:

Creationist institute answers Scientific American's critique of their views; gets threatened with a lawsuit

Surely we could do better:

A writer in the Chicago Tribune offers suggestions for "six books on the Catholic experience" to round out your reading of Garry Wills. His suggestions are:

Memories of a Catholic Girlhood, Conclave, The Life of Thomas More, Passionate Uncertainty (the new book on the Jesuits), Trinity, and The Secrets of Jesuit Soupmaking

What portrait of Catholicism would emerge from this collection? A political hierarchy staffed by "gaying and graying" clerics, filled with warring Irishmen, cyncial women and one martyr, all eating Jesuit soup.

Well, maybe....

How this happens, part 462:

Nun says archdiocese knew of abuse

A former Catholic school principal said in a deposition that the Archdiocese of Louisville knew about child sex-abuse allegations against a priest as early as 1975 even though it continued to assign him to parishes where he worked with children. The Rev. Louis Miller was moved from St. Aloysius Catholic Church during the 1975-76 school year, a couple of days after an eighth-grader alleged that Miller had molested him, said Sister Mary Fulgence Logsdon, the former principal of the parish's school.Logsdon said she was never interviewed about the allegation before Miller was installed six months later as pastor at St. Elizabeth of Hungary Catholic Church, where he is also accused of abusing students

Now don't get all worked up about this valiant sister. After all, as she admitted:

Logsdon, who is now retired, said she didn't warn the principal at the St. Elizabeth parish school about Miller, even though principals in the archdiocese met monthly. ''I didn't think it was my job to do that sort of thing,'' she said. ''I thought if he had had help and he was OK, who was I to dig up the trash?''


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