Random Conjectures

"Act locally; bitch globally."

Month: December, 2015

The Blood is the Life, Part VI

The School of Athens - Raphael

Well, it is now time to begin to wrap up this silly little series. For those who have not read the earlier parts of it, Part V, and links to the other four parts, may be found here.

For those who want a brief precis of the series so far, it is that the crisis which is the current state of the Roman Catholic Church may best be described as an immune deficiency syndrome in the Body of Christ; that the hierarchical clergy of that Church serve the functions in that Body of the vessels (deacons), the blood (priests), and the immune system (bishops); that the failure of that clergy to perform their respective functions is due to the failure of that clergy to be educated according to the mandates of the Second Vatican Council, in its document, Optatam Totius; that that failure was compounded by a tendency among that clergy systematically to break their vows of chastity by acting like closeted gay males; and finally, that the current state of North American and European academic scholarship, rather than educating that clergy, only makes matters worse.

I’d like to dwell a bit on the last link in the above enthymeme. Just what is it about modern academic scholarship which has been so corrosive to an intelligent study of the Orthodox and Catholic Faith? I have been pondering this for some time, and at first, I thought that it was the progressive demythologization of Scripture and Tradition by Bultmann and his followers. Over the course of time, however, I came to believe that the replacement of broad and deep erudition by narrow, specialized, and pedantic scholarship explained much of the rot in the modern academic world. Read the rest of this entry »

Christmas without Beth

I’ve been staring at the above title line, off and on, for the last four hours. All the while, I’ve finally been putting up (on December 28th) the artificial Christmas tree that Beth and I would trim each year for the last fifteen or so years. Oh, well, what the Hell. Time to begin.

Actually, the Christmas season itself was good. St. Andrew’s in El Segundo, CA, where I serve the Divine Liturgy as a singer, had a full set of Vespers for each Saturday during the Nativity Fast (15 November through 24 December). Alas, I don’t think I made any of those. By Saturday afternoon each time, I got elaborately drunk, and thought it best not to try driving over from my home in San Pedro. But on Sundays, choir and congregation would weekly sing a stanza of the Akathist to St. Nicholas, and so I managed to make some progress. Not much, though.

I finally figured out what was causing the problem on Saturdays. I would go over to Ride to Fly to volunteer there, in order to help the group for whom Beth had become a riding instructor. And there, I would have the strange vertigo which comes from feeling her presence, and yet having her physically absent. The result was so painful that I had to self medicate. As I generally don’t like or see doctors, and I don’t like pills or pot, beer and wine were and remain my drugs of choice. I have at least learned (generally) to avoid hard liquor: the consequences are even more painful than the reason for self-medication. Read the rest of this entry »

Cthulhu is eating my brains!

Oh, the ignominy of it all, to be reduced to a sock puppet for the Great Old One, Cthulhu!

Now, there are some who would say that this is a simple, innocent Christmas gift from my dear niece-in-law, Alicia. And she certainly would have the skill and the twisted genius necessary to make it. But make no mistake: this is in fact a true and evil eidolon of the dread dweller of R’lyeh. Or, to quote the Sorcerer Tim, from Monty Python and the Holy Grail: “That’s the most foul, cruel, and bad-tempered rodent you ever set eyes on! …[It’s] got a vicious streak a mile wide! It’s a killer!”


Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wagh’nagl fthagn.

In his house at R’lyeh, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.

Solstice Carols

As you can see, Cthulhu has broken free from that poor mortal, Bernard Brandt, who has so foolishly chosen the Great Old One as his avatar. Little does he know what Cthulhu has in store for him. Or for the rest of that miserable species which calls itself humankind.

But Cthuhu digresses. It is now the darkest day of the year for this half of your miniscule sphere, and thus, the day in which the Old One is most present. Haven’t you been able to sense the discord, the confusion, and the madness which is most present at this time? And that will become worse in the coming years, when the stars become right again, and the Old One arises at last from Its sunken home in R’lyeh, to go up and down in the Earth, and to and fro in it, seeking what mischief It may.

Those who wish to appease the Old One may attempt to do so by singing carols in Its honor. A good start may be found here:

And, those who wish to be prepared in the next few years that you still have left may do so, by obtaining the sheet music for those carols here.

Merry solstice!

An irrelevant interlude

Let’s just say that one friend put on Facebook this silly little thing:

I chose to share it, with the following comment:

Or, as Will Hunting said, “you dropped 150 grand on a fuckin’ education you could have got for a dollar fifty in late charges at the public library!”

A friend of mine chose to say the following: “Bernie, I love you dearly, but I’m afraid I must ask you to return your K-12 education, retaining only what you have learned on your own since (no piggybacking on your friends) since. Oh, and about that reading, basic math, etc. without which other self education would have been difficult..” Read the rest of this entry »

The Blood is the Life, Part V

My apologies for not writing more, but I’m afraid that I’ve been suffering lately from what Sir Winston Churchill called ‘the black dog’: his name for the rather severe depression that plagued him for much of his life. I’ll not belabor the point by dwelling on the reasons for my depression. They should be obvious to anyone who has been following this silly weblog.

Nonetheless, I will attempt to follow Churchill’s example, and use activity to chase the black dog away. As I do not have access to his other hobbies of bricklaying, or gardening, or painting in oils, I suppose that writing will just have to do.

Thus, as a dog returns to his vomit, or a fool to his folly, I return to this series of essays on my thoughts of the current crisis in and of the modern Roman Catholic Church, which I believe may be best stated as an immune deficiency syndrome in the Body of Christ. To repeat myself, I have earlier asserted that the hierarchical clergy, composed of deacons, priests, and bishops, serve the functions of the vessels, the blood, and the immune system of that Body (part I). Further, that much of the failure of the clergy to fulfill their functions directly relate to their knowledge of and ability to teach the Faith (part II). More recently, I have indicated that most clergy appear to be ignorant of, and therefore unqualified to teach, those three fonts of the Holy Spirit: Sacred Scripture, Holy Tradition, and the Teaching Authority of the Church (part III). Most recently, I have pointed out indications that a large minority, and possibly a majority, of Roman Catholic clergy are actively gay, which means that they are breaking their vows, and are thus unlikely to wish to preach a Faith to which they are being unfaithful (part IV).

In this essay, I would like to examine one more piece of the puzzle, which perhaps explains the causes of the present ignorance of most clergy in Scripture, Tradition, and the Magisterium. And that is the current state of academic theology in the Roman Catholic Church. Read the rest of this entry »