Saturday, February 28, 2015

Odd Day

I just wanted to watch Star Trek all day. [You do that every day.--ed.] I watched a 'TNG' episode right before I went to bed. I thought about "Unification" (where an aged Spock engages in overtures to peace with the Romulans, against the wishes of the Federation) but it's too soon.

I didn't feel this sad when James Doohan died. I didn't feel this sad when DeForest Kelley died. It was denial, maybe.

I think we know that Shatner doesn't have too terribly long, and that, when the last of those three goes to his rest, something will be very different. I also think Nimoy as Spock spoke to the marginalized, and that's why it hurts.

Data was Spock with a twist. Tuvok is Spock with another. I think Nimoy made it OK to talk about religion and the culture it creates in Star Trek. Let's face it: Roddenberry's vision undistilled is absurd; it's an optimistic secularism that has never actually existed, and it never will. That's why they took the keys away early in TNG. The first season is hopelessly naive and preachy, and we all know it. Watch the longer version of The Motion Picture; you'll see Spock weeping for the cold, searching V'Ger. (The theatrical version still makes the point well enough; the script was written by a devout Catholic.)

May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Leonard Nimoy, 1931-2015

What can you say? He was defined by a role, but he defined it. He played the character that ended up being the driving dramatic force behind a cultural touchstone. All an actor wants to do, if he's really passionate about his craft, is make enough money to begin to tell the stories that matter. Leonard Nimoy did that.

I think I can understand his ambivalence about being Spock, but then again, Star Trek is much bigger and greater than it appears, and he knew that. The greatness of Spock was what you might call the interior life of the character. You have to wonder how much of that mystique was driven forward by his own reflection on the experience of being Jewish.

I still say that Spock's death scene in The Wrath of Khan is one of the greatest visual portrayals of the gospel, encapsulated in John 15:13, that I have ever seen. "Greater love has no man than this: that he lay down his life for his friends."

One of the things I appreciate about his acting, in really every role I saw him play, was his beautiful enunciation. It's a small thing that isn't so small. It reflects dedication, and respect for the audience. Our language can be beautiful, and our stories, all the more so, when we decide that's how it's going to be.

These words aren't enough; they can't be. I only know that if he loved his family and friends as much as he loved to act, they were loved indeed. It was a love that spilled over to all of us. He has been, and always shall be, our friend.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Will Of God

I was praying the Rosary just a bit ago, and I had an insight I'd like to share. I've been drawn to the Sorrowful Mysteries ever since I began to pray the Rosary. You may recall that they culminate in Our Lord's death on the cross. I wondered at it many times, but as wise people have told me repeatedly, if you feel led to do a thing, just do it.

Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done. My heart kept coming back to this. Each suffering Jesus endured was absurd in its flagrant injustice, its obvious unfittingness. Yet He prayed this to the Father through each one. We know that all of it was the will of God. It doesn't change the evil of what was and is suffered, but it contextualizes it into a much greater whole.

I have no idea what these present sufferings are about in themselves. None at all. And if I'm being frank about it, I want them to end. Still, if this is like that, I don't hope for a greater good; I am absolutely certain of it. From the one man's trespass the many were made righteous, in what is the greatest good which has ever been done or seen. If I unite my life but a little with Christ, I'll be paid back more than I could possibly imagine. Not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us, says St. Paul. For the moment, I get the sense that he knows exactly what he's talking about.

 Joy comes from the certainty of faith, because it cannot come from the experiences themselves. Faith is a light which reveals the hidden truth of reality, truer than what is on the surface. The Kingdom is coming. It has come. Its truth is surer than the old undying rocks. That's a thought worth clasping tightly.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Just The NewsHour, If You Please

I decided recently that the only news I'm going to watch is the PBS NewsHour. Honestly, it was probably fueled by nostalgia for my childhood, watching the show in the late '80s and early '90s. But I was talking with my mom the other day, and I realized I didn't want to be told what to think, or who to be mad at, or about things either that I cannot control in any way, or that don't matter.

In other news tonight, Jim Lehrer--who admittedly doesn't host the show anymore--is probably better than you or me, at the news, or in general. It's just a guess, but he seems like a very honest dude.

I do recall that the best presidential debate nearly every time is the one he moderates. We gotta keep these old guys with us as long as we can; we've lost our way; maybe they can help us.

Confirmation Sponsor Guy would love the whole ethos of PBS: It's an entire network--in theory, if not in fact--that exists for the common good.

Read Of The Day

This is a thing.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

No, Seriously: The Roman Catholic Church Are Not The Bad Guys In Galatians

Eager young Johnny Baptist is eager to get out there and convert those Catholics! It's not new. The Church is not trembling, waiting for you to appear. I'm sorry to ruin your fun. We really aren't just dazzled by the incense. In obedience to Christ and the Church, we hold that Luther and the others were wrong, gravely wrong. We affirm in full the Council of Trent. Sessions 5-7 are the most relevant. Read it all in those parts. Good times.

You are perfectly free (in a certain sense) to believe they were wrong, but that brings up continuity problems that no one indebted to the Reformation is fully prepared to accept, given that you "don't wan't to throw the baby out with the bathwater," or some such. There's more bathwater than you realized. [Er, baby.--ed.] If Trent is wrong, someone could easily say Nicea was wrong, or Chalcedon. This is what "councils may err" fully implies. I also realize that there is a rhetorical and emotional need to consign Trent to the Evil Middle Ages, that have not yet stretched back to swallow the "pristine" early Church. Actually, that's more than slightly popish, too.

It's a simple change, really: What if Councils may not, and have not erred? I know, crazy. This was essentially the truth that helped me see what the Catholic Church was actually saying. I needed to actually consider that perhaps Luther, Calvin, etc. were not faithful carriers of the tradition (or Tradition, if you like). To simply assert they were is at some point question-begging, in a dispute of this type. The game has changed, when I must justify the existence of my community which was formed in response. What if we are in schism? What if we are holding a heresy to justify it?

I think we had been so comfortable begging the question because prejudice had been so effective that returning seemed like being assimilated into The Borg. What if it isn't so? What if it never was?

What is "the gospel"? What is "The Church"? How sure are you that you know?