Saturday, February 14, 2004

On Weblog Maintenance and the Continued Existence of This Weblog:
(Musings of your humble servant at Rerum Novarum)

First of all, to anyone whom I have not responded to via email in recent weeks, please accept my most sincere apology. There are a lot of you and I hope to catch up before the weekend is over in that area. I can only imagine the kind of mail that Mark Shea and Amy Welborn must get. But that is another thread completely and I need to stay focused here on the purpose of this post. It involves the existence of this weblog and that is always a rather staid matter of course.

This weblog is and has been quite a fun project -indeed I enjoy it in a way that I never enjoyed message board involvement years ago.{1} However, like every other project, times and seasons change and so too must priorities. And one thing that has definitely changed is that rare animal called "extra time" will be even rarer the rest of the year.

This weblog possesses some of the finest and most intelligent of readers of any weblog out there.{2} For that reason if nothing else, I feel that they are owed the same degree of unvarnished honesty that I have strove to always provide on other subjects. This post will outline my mind so that there are no misunderstandings on this matter. And as my scarce time will be even more constrained in the coming months starting next week, I might as well come out and admit that I have contemplated the idea of mothballing Rerum Novarum for an indefinite period of time if not perminantly. There are a lot of arguments in favour of doing this and very few opposed to it. I suppose noting the latter would be worth doing here so that is what I will do at this time.

Among the few arguments that oppose themselves to the aforementioned idea is that I can sense this weblog in some areas having an influence in the arena of ideas and of course I want it to have some role in shaping the culture.{3} Another is of course the fact that I quite enjoy this format so much more than stale message board formats from days of yore with all of their restrictions of topics and the like.{4} A third is that this medium really helps in honing out the many strands of thought that permeate my mind at various times. Those are the three arguments that favour not shutting the weblog down. The arguments against them however are legion.

As I see it, far too often do people write about things such as dreams -but by contrast very few of them do anything to make such things a reality. At this humble weblog, I emphasize repeatedly the importance of doing what works in reality rather than the abstract - seeing things as they are rather than as we wish they were. In going over my own faithfulness to this maxim in all areas of my life, a few areas where the principle was not being properly applied came to mind. And as I have been seriously considered these deficiencies, I have found myself blogging in 2004 in a reduced capacity compared to most of 2003. So in a sense this crossroads was inevitable even if I did not want to admit to it myself.

With regards to previous blogging excursions, it was difficult to balance things before with more time to do so than I will have starting in the coming week. However, things are going to get even more hectic around here and quite quickly. The scarcity of time as in all indicators (economic or otherwise) results in one having to reassess their priorities.

There are so many arguments in favour of what I have contemplated doing with this weblog but the three against it are enough to make the matter one of difficulty in coming to a sure judgment on. In short, the arguments by themselves result in a stalemate. The tie-breaker that determined the proper course to take came from the most unexpected of sources: this weblog itself.

For in looking over the weblog while doing some musing resulted in me coming face to face with my own words from about a year ago on the strain of website maintenance/blogging.{5} I guess the long and short of it is that not only can this weblog influence others but it can even influence its owner if you will. Anyway, following my own counsel to others from early February 2003, I will be scaling back but not ceasing to blog entirely.

As there have already been periods throughout the life of this weblog where I have gone from one to as much as four days without blogging before, those kinds of occasional lapses in regular blogging will probably become noticably more frequent.{6} I may explain why this is likely to be so at a later date but all of this is the result of seeds which were spread about throughout 2003 at divers times and which were finally sown explicitly back in early November as a result of unavoidable circumstances.{7}

One thing is certain though: due to necessity and no longer the mere luxury as I previously viewed it, I will have to get this weblog updated to RSS format and also to Blogger Pro in the next twelve weeks. Otherwise I will not be able to maximize my time for blogging beyond that point -if it can even go that much longer in the current lofi format.{8}

Despite that factor, this weblog will remain open and I will continue to blog new stuff throughout the rest of this year with God's will and your readership. However, I have noticed that when people go for a while without blogging that if they do not say anything about it, speculation tends to circulate. I therefore wanted to weigh in here with a post to nip such speculation in the bud upfront.

For if a period of days or even (perhaps) a week or longer go by where I do not blog anything, please do not read anything into that situation except what I note in this post. As far as projects planned for 2004, this will probably postpone nearly all of them (if not all of them) until 2005 but I will have to play that by ear to know for sure on that score.

2004 appers to present some good opportunities for revisiting some subjects stuff from the past year and a half -or even in essays I wrote years ago- and possibly developing them further.{9} There is also the political landscape which again has some shifting to it -validating my long-espoused axiom of a month being a long time in politics. That is another factor that needs tending to. But enough on all of that for now.

The long and short of it is this: Rerum Novarum will not be mothballed but blogging will be decreasing. It may not be noticable initially but during Lent and beyond for those who follow this weblog regularly that will be what will be happening for an indeterminable length of time -probably at least six months to perhaps the rest of the year if not longer. (All things to the contrary notwithstanding.)


{1} A subject I have discussed before though not in too much detail.

{2} And this weblog is a viable tool in my arsenal for that endeavour.

{3} Particularly in light of where society is going. If I saw others covering the subjects that I have covered in this area -and intend to continue covering- the imperative in this area would not exist as I see it.

{4} See footnote one as well as this link for more details.

{5} And also (though to a lessor extent) this followup from a few months later.

{6} Particularly for the next month or two when I will be slammed to a degree timewise that I have not been in years. As this will affect this weblog, readers who follow my subsidiary weblogs can expect even less new material on them.

I revisited my main secondary weblog early today and posted a lengthy post to it. That will not be the final post I put on it but certainly it will be the last post I envision putting up there for the rest of the month if not longer. (Excluding perhaps ultra-short comments here and there.) For that reason, it is not only a response to the person I was responding to but a kind of summation post as well. I am contemplating taking some measures to keep that weblog going but where I would no longer be the primary contributor to it. But that is all I will note at this time on the subject.

{7} The trip to Puerto Vallarta over Christmas only supplied high-octane nourishment to those seeds as have other events of the past month and a half possessing no small amount of influence on this shifting of paradigms. I could write a lot more on what I refer to but at this time do not want to do that.

{8} And that is a very liberal estimate -I expect realistically to hit critical mass before that point. And as I cannot update the weblog from this computer in lofi, that means upgrading my system software as well.

{9} I have noted before that this weblog is an ongoing process of ressourcement and recapitulation. These concepts admit of many possible applications much as the concept of the dialogue does. Those who notice the threads that I posted earlier for "possible development in the coming year" can see traces of my inclinations in this direction; ergo this announcement should not in retrospect come as a complete surprise.

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A nice two paragraph post on the Fraternity of St. Peter was just written and blogger lost it. Reserving the right to replace this post with a longer one later on (to duplicate much of what was said originally), at this time, We at Rerum Novarum simply want to point interested readers to the new site template for FSSP. It is impressive and We will be adding them finally to the side weblog links in the coming week. (They did not have a very good site before which was the only strike against adding them.)

Briefly on more news of the past ten odd months viz. FSSP, their Constitutions as of June 29, 2003 have finally been fully approved by the Holy See. Hence, they are no longer "an experiment" as they were for the first fifteen years of their existence. Instead, they are now established as a Society of Apostolic Life "in perpetuity all things to the contrary notwithstanding" as the legal terminology would state. We at this humble weblog rejoice at the aforementioned news and hope that Our readers who are faithful Catholics do likewise.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2004

We at Rerum Novarum would like to take the time to invite all of you to visit the website of Our friend Bill Bannon. Bill is about a zillion times better artist than your weblog host is and he is also a photographer. He has some very beautiful pencil sketches and pictures available for purchase. For decorating that home, apartment, or office, please stop by Bill's Place and pick up some fine art and pictures for adding a little culture to your home, apartment, or office.

For those who talk about Catholics supporting Catholics, well here is a chance for you Catholics viz. the area of art and photography to support a Catholic artist. If you are not Catholic than look at it as an opportunity to support a Christian artist. If you are not Christian at all, then look at it as an opportunity to support an artist who does excellent work that can actually benefit society rather than the ...stuff... so often peddled about by groups such as the NEA.

If Bill asks, let him know that Shawn McElhinney of Rerum Novarum sent you -not because of any expected renumerations but simply so that he knows where the referral came from.


Points to Ponder:
(From Melkite Patriarch Maximos IV Saigh, Cardinal of the Roman Church)

See this link for more information on the purpose of this particular series of points to ponder. To read the previous segment of this thread, please go HERE.

"Let us radically transform our way of teaching morality. It is presently too legalistic. We no longer love to deal with a closed and absolutist society. We are still too influenced by a juridic perspective." [Intervention of Wednesday October 24, 1964]


Tuesday, February 10, 2004

"SecretAgentMan" Dept.

There's a man who leads a life of danger.
To everyone he meets he stays a stranger
With every move he makes,
Another chance he takes.
Odds are he won't live to see tomorrow.

Secret Agent Man.
Secret Agent Man.
They've given you a number.
And taken away your name.

The Secret One in his customary fine form muses on the many ways that Catholicism is repugnant to the sensibilities of the "higher on the food chain than thou" types HERE. Though linking to it does not necessarily imply agreement with a particular position taken, on this one (for the record) We at Rerum Novarum concur completely with SAM's assessment. Also worth reading is his assessment of our mutual amigo Jeff Culbreath's musings on the Theology of the Body which can be read HERE.


Minor Rerum Novarum Update Completion:

As I noted earlier, I would be completing the previous weblog update with some overlooked links. Those which were previously mentioned -and a couple of others that came to mind in that interim- have been added and that promised completion has been done. These are the links that were added as of a few minutes ago to this humble weblog noted by category -the previously overlooked links being inserted into the margin in their respective categories in chronological order:

Under the On the Recent War and War in General Category:

On David Kay and His Testimony [>>>]

Under the 'Traditionalism' (Properly So-Called) Category:

On the Liturgical Movement (A Society of St. John Mini-Series; Prologue by I. Shawn McElhinney) [>>>]

Under the On Controverted Subjects Category:

On the Meaning of Life (Dialogue With Albert Cipriani) [>>>]

More on the Papacy and Ideas (Societas Christiana vs. Rerum Novarum) [>>>]

Under the Shawn Tested, Shawn Approved* Catholic Weblogs Category:

Dave Armstrong's Cor Ad Cor Loquitur BLOG [>>>]

G. Thomas Fitzpatrick's Recta Ratio BLOG [>>>]

By the authority vested in me as Sovereign Thane and Lord High Executioner of Rerum Novarum, I declare that the above links are hereunder added to the scroll motu proprio and furthermore decree that they are to be recognized herewith as stable and valid as they are hereby set forth in perpetuity all things to the contrary notwithstanding.


Points to Ponder:
(From Melkite Patriarch Maximos IV Saigh, Cardinal of the Roman Church)

See this link for more information on the purpose of this particular series of points to ponder. To read the previous segment of this thread, please go HERE.

This schema [on the Oriental Churches] certainly represents progress, but its central and ecumenical vision is altogether wrong. It is said, for example, that the Catholic Church respects the Oriental Church. It thus seems to insinuate that there are two churches. Are we then not the Church? Is the Latin Church the only one?

What is said of patriarchs makes a mockery of history. This is totally inadmissible, for after the papacy it is the most venerable institution. Patriarchs are spoken of mincingly, and then only on a canonical level. It is false to consider the patriarchate as an institution peculiar to Orthodoxy. It is an institution common to the universal Church. The pope is the patriarch of the West, as the Pontifical Roman Yearbook notes. St. John Lateran Church was once called the principal patriarchate. The patriarchate in no way compromises papal primacy, quite the contrary.

As Bishop of Rome, the pope is equal to the other bishops. In the West, the patriarchate has been confused with honorific titles. There are patriarchs of Venice, Lisbon, Madrid [and elsewhere], which means nothing. Let us bear the Oriental patriarchs in mind. This is an indispensable condition for dialogue. The patriarch is not an anonymous institution. The sees are determined by precise historical reasons. We cannot speak of Orthodoxy without citing the great sees and especially that of Constantinople. The writers of the schema seem ignorant of the meeting between Paul VI and Athenagoras. Doesn't this historical meeting mean anything to the writers?

The titularies of the historical patriarchates have always been intimately associated with a concern for the universal Church. In former times the pope sent his profession of faith to the four great patriarchs before his elevation. The patriarchal college has inalienable rights. Formerly the patriarch of the West commemorated the patriarchs of the East in the Mass. If we re-established these traditions we would be taking a serious step toward unity.

This schema should constitute a blueprint of the charter of union. It is not enough to heap honors upon us and then treat us as subalterns and simple subjects of the Roman congregation. This situation must change. An ultimate instance is the patriarch and his synod. This could be a valuable example and be followed with regard to other religious groups.

When we speak of the Orient, let us not only think of the churches in communion with Rome. Let us make room for those which are absent, not only for those which have been assimilated. I speak not for us, but for those absent. The Latinization of the Orient is still openly preached today despite repeated warnings by the popes. In view of this it seems ironic to claim as the schema does that the Catholic Church has always had great respect for the institutions of the Orient!" [Intervention of Friday, October 16, 1964]


Monday, February 09, 2004

"Spam of the Non-Lunchmeat Kind" Dept.

You are about to become an ordained minister

Boy, the stuff I wake up to find in my mailbox.

Minister Charles Simpson has the power to make you a LEGALLY ORDAINED MINISTER within 48 hours!

Who sent "Minister" Charles Simpson and did that person have the power and the authority to ordain???


Is this the same school that gave some of my friend Tim Enloe's old Reformed associates their "ThD's"???

As a minister, you will be authorized to perform the rites and ceremonies of the church!

If the ordination was valid (which I highly doubt it would be), there would still be the issue of liceity and illiceity. Korah, Dathan, and Abiron thought they could validly minister too. (Korah was even a Levite or part of the priestly class in Israel.) I think we know well what God thought about those who were not sent taking these responsibilities on themselves (see Numbers xvi).

Don't settle for being the BEST MAN OR BRIDES' MAID

Notice the way this is pitched as a powertrip and to the ego. It reminds me of the advocates for women's ordination who argue that "women do not have power" without ordination to the priesthood. People who argue like this miss the boat completely and are the last people who should *ever* be considered for ordination.{1}

Most states require that you register your certificate (THAT WE SEND YOU) with the state prior to conducting the ceremony.

I wonder how many people would deal with accountants, lawyers, doctors, mechanics, financial planners, or anyone else whose sole claim to credentials in their field was a certificate that they spent a hundred dollars or whatever on and got in less than a week.

A very hard time for you and your family
Don't settle for a minister you don't know!

See my above comments.

Most states require that you register your certificate (THAT WE SEND YOU) with the state prior to conducting the ceremony.

See my above comments.


I can already say that and it would have about as much authenticity as the scenario above.{2}

What a special way to welcome a child of God.

Yes, lies are precisely what a child needs to hear from an early age.

The Catholic Church has practiced the forgiveness of sins for centuries

Yeah, about twenty of them.

**Forgiveness of Sins is granted to all who ask in sincerity and willingness to change for the better!

Just as God refused to hear the prayers of Korah and company but listened to Aaron (his chosen priest) in ceasing the plague (see Numbers xvi), the same principle applies here. If the person is not properly ordained, they can say "your sins are forgiven" all they want and it means nothing.

Since you will be a Certified Minister, you can visit others in need!
Preach the Word of God to those who have strayed from the flock

How are they to preach if they have not been sent??? (See Romans x,14-15.) "Minister" Simpson without proving that he has both the power to ordain and the authority to do so is nothing but a cult shamen.


There are already enough cults out there without me starting another one.

After your LEGAL ORDINATION, you may start your own congregation!

And be a robber trying to get into the sheepsfold by climbing in another way than except through the proper door??? (See John x, 1-21.) No thankyou.

At this point you must be wondering how much the Certificate costs. Right?

It always boils down to money right???

Well, let's talk about how much the program is worth. Considering the value of becoming a CERTIFIED MINISTER I'd say the program is easily worth $100. Wouldn't you agree?

Somethings cannot have a price put on them. This is one of them but to answer the question: only someone without a normal intact functioning brain would want a "minister" who claims to be a "minister" because he spent a hundred dollars and got a certificate to say he was. Go to a doctor of medicine who got his license the same way for major surgery and THEN come back to me with the "great idea" that you are proposing here. Until then, no dice.

However, it won't cost that much. Not even close!

Well now, THAT certainly will raises the comfort level.

My goal is to make this life changing program affordable so average folks can benefit from the power of it.

Translation: my goal is to make a buck off of stupid people gullible enough to buy what I am selling. I would have sold Mobile 1 synthetic oil door to door as a cure for headaches, nausia, upset stomach, bruises, cuts, scrapes, baldness, skin blemishes, and impotence but Mobile rejected my proposed joint venture. So this is my default backup plan.

Since I know how much you want to help others, you're going to receive your Minister Certification for under $100.00... Not even $50.00... You are going to receive the entire life-changing course for only $29.95.

You can even put it on your credit fact: we *encourage* that!!!

For only $29.95 you will receive:
1. 8-inch by 10-inch certificate in color, with gold seal
(Certificate professionally printed by an ink press)
2. Proof of Minister Certification in your name
3. Shipping is free

Press this link to order and learn more

No folks, I am not about to supply the link for this.


{1} Of course the very idea that the Church even has the authority to ordain women is one that the Catholic Church rejects as do the Orthodox Churches.

{2} My sister having no children is I am sure no obstacle because "for ONLY a hundred dollars more, YOU can be someone's UNCLE!!!" I think I am getting the idea of how this works...


Points to Ponder:
(From Melkite Patriarch Maximos IV Saigh, Cardinal of the Roman Church)

See this link for more information on the purpose of this particular series of points to ponder. To read the previous segment of this thread, please go HERE.

The Latin Church is having trouble getting out of the post-Tridentine period. The West has a tendency to oppose Tradition and Scripture. This is a nominalist mentality. The East does not have this problem. Scripture is considered the mission of the Spirit. It is pneumatic, prophetic, and liturgical; it testifies to the Spirit's entrance into history. The speaker drew a parallel between the "liturgy of the word" and the "Eucharistic liturgy". Theologians have tried to confine truth to formulas. This is a mistake. What is said by the Spirit transcends all formulation. [Intervention of Tuesday, October 6, 1964]


"Raising an Irish Shotglass to Dad" Dept.

[Update: I added a footnote to this post earlier today. -ISM (2/10/04 6:15 pm)]

It is just about time for chocolate tequila and a Churchill from my humidor. But before I do that, I need to put a battery back in my van. After putting a starter in it on Saturday -and using the battery for another vehicle yesterday- these kinds of projects tend to find me pondering various things about my father.

It is not strange that this happened as I was preparing to go do that activity. After checking my lycos email account and reading some short notes from my friend Albert Cipriani, I found myself clicking on one of the links in my side margin where the memoirs of his father Hugo P. Cipriani can be accessed. In checking up on the progress of Hugo P. Cipriani's Memoirs, it is clear that Albert's dad has done a lot since I last read a section of them. My readers are wondering where on earth I am going with this I am sure so here is the connection.

The other day, I came across in my papers a letter that my father had written to the restaurant critic John Hinterburger of the Seattle Times back on July 10, 1980.{1} My father never mailed the letter but it is an interesting read for many reasons -not the least of which is the fact that apart from minor diagram sketches or compiling lists (such as what to buy at Home Depot, etc) my father did not write very much. I explained the reasons why in a couple of weblog links when dwelling on some of our differences but only this link comes immediately to mind. It is rather fitting perhaps that the aforementioned link mentioned Hugo Cipriani as well.

I suspect that Hugo and my father would have gotten along very well - even so far as finding amusement in the philosophical forays of their sons: sons who were beneficiaries of certain gifts that their fathers never received.{2} I cannot recall offhand where I discussed the differences between ordinary and extraordinary when it comes to people -it is in the archives and I apologize for not tracking it down.{3} But I just reread the above linked entry from about eighteen months ago and am having difficulty keeping my emotional composure as I write this. Reading the other entries of this nature would not be good for me right now so maybe later I will add them to this entry. But I digress.

I am considering posting that letter with spelling glitches corrected on my father's birthday this year -what would have been his 63rd birthday. The only other letter he wrote that I have in my files (that I can think of offhand) was one he wrote to me when I graduated from high school and was off to college.{4} But I have to sign off now and go swap car batteries. There is also the need for that tequila and Churchill.

Many a toasts have I made to my father in the past two and a half years -probably with enough alcohol "to float a battleship around."{5} Tonight it will be a toast to my dad and to Albert's dad. And another night of musing on the many little traditions that I have resolutely retained from him. (I discover more and more of them as time goes on.) Yes there is more to it than the appearances{6} -though the latter are themselves in so many ways striking.

I guess what I am stumbling in trying to say properly is this: cherish your fathers while they are still here my friends. And for those who are not, resolve to meet with them again on the other side while doing your part to help them.


{1} Hinterburger also wrote on other things besides restaurants but the latter was his "main gig" if you will.

{2} I doubt despite our many differences of opinion that Albert would argue with me on this one.

{3} I found the link on this subject and it can be read HERE.

{4} That letter ranks among my personal treasures and is worth more to me than everything I own or ever will own.

{5} To paraphrase one of Ronnie Van Zant's lyrics (may he rest in peace too).

{6} I am physically larger than he was and have more hair at least at this time. (Though there is some receding going on not to mention strategically placed gray hairs.) But the generally irenic yet forceful personality, the facial features, the Irish temper which burns white hot when triggered (but usually remains dormant): all of those are inherited traits.

Heck, even the vein in the middle of my forehead that stands in bold relief when I am under a lot of stress (and particularly when livid): that was his as well. Rest in peace father. Any future fishing trips will be on the other side of the eschaton. And next time we will not quibble about which lures to use as often happened before...anything you say will be fine with me.


Sunday, February 08, 2004

Points to Ponder:
(From Melkite Patriarch Maximos IV Saigh, Cardinal of the Roman Church)

See this link for more information on the purpose of this particular series of points to ponder.

Let the Council make it clear that the curia is the court of the bishops of Rome and in no way the college... The very fact that Roman cardinals are assigned to particular titular churches in Rome shows that they belong more to a particular church, that of Rome, than to the Church of Christ, for the latter is not limited to Rome. The Church should have at her disposal a genuine Sacred College, composed of patriarchs, according to the early Church councils; of cardinals, whose titles would come from the cathedral churches of their dioceses, not from a parish church in Rome; and of bishops elected by Episcopal conferences. To assist the Holy Father, there should be...a permanent synod with members succeeding each other by term. This body would be supreme, even over the Curia; with the last word always resting with the Sovereign Pontiff." [Intervention of Thursday, November 7, 1963]


Prologue to "Points to Ponder" Series on Melkite Patriarch Maximos IV Saigh:

[Update: I am adding below the footnote the various sections as they blog to this weblog -having already been entered into the threads days in advance of their actual posting. -ISM (2/10/04 6:30 pm)]

For the next five or six few days, the points to ponder segments of this weblog will be from the same person: the very influential Melkite Patriarch Maximos IV Saigh. This man was a titan at the Second Vatican Council and wielded an authority that far exceeded he and the Oriental Catholic's numbers. Determined to make the Council break out of its Counter-reformation mindset -and habitual Latin tendencies- he made many suggestions in his interventions that were eventually adopted by the Council Fathers and to which the Holy Father gave his concurrence.

As most ahistorical self-styled "traditionalists" view these kinds of proposals as "modernist-influenced"{1}, shining a light on a little known but influential Council Father who headed the Oriental Church's participation at the Council may help some of my readers see the forest for the trees on these issues. They will be listed in order. However, not everything is a speech as much as a particular demand. For example, Patriarch Maximos demanded that the arrangements of Ferrara-Florence whereby the Patriarches are properly recognized as having greater authority than Cardinals be re-established. He made this known at the Second Session and from that point onward it was.

Likewise, in the first session he criticized the absurd legalisms of the curial schemas -particularly the ones in the schemas on the Church and on ecumenism- and expressed hope that the Council would correct these many deficiencies later on. As Council historians know, all the curial schemas were thrown out in the first session and the Council started anew with the second session. But enough on these points now as I want to get to the first points to ponder segment of this series without further delay.


{1} And of course most pseudo-"progressivists" promote only the parts of them that they happen to like -while ignoring those which they do not like.

The second installment can be read HERE.

The third installment can be read HERE.

The fourth installment can be read HERE.