Friday, April 30, 2010

Ablaze!

11:07 PM Posted by Patrick No comments
I do not believe I have ever publicly expressed my thoughts on this program. I think I'll say something brief tonight.

Ablaze is a parasite, leeching off the potential for missionary work by the LCMS. It is a budget black hole. It reads like an ill conceived corporate scheme, and I daresay that any corporate scheme this ambiguous, poorly structured, poorly managed, and unrealistic would end in bankruptcy...wait.

Worse than the fact that this sounds like some loony business craze, it is pillaging the coffers that should be used to spread the Word of God where it cannot be found in its truth and purity. Instead, we are spending it on the aforementioned hair-brained scheme. To find a Lutheran pastor in the United States is no great task. There are lots of us here and we have the ability to receive the sacraments just about anywhere. The church is here; God will provide the faithful.

How many places in the world are there no missions? In how many places are the peoples cut off from the church? Have we recalled missionaries to fund this Willow Creek style debacle?

Bureaucrats dazzled themselves with charts and numbers and slogans, but they neglected the charge which was laid on them. They are commanded to tend God's sheep, but since some of the sheep would not eat their own feed, they took the feed from the hungrier poorer sheep to see if they could tempt the finicky sheep with it. Some eager sheep are left to starve while they shove the hay at a bunch of uninterested goats.

Preach the Word and administer the sacraments, and do so for as many people as you are able. God will supply increase for his church; pastors are merely to position themselves as to readily receive the increase and care for them. We have a paucity of men abroad and a program here that--to all appearances--is no more than weak competition with evangelicals, and an asinine money-pit to boot.

Just my first thoughts. I could be talked into believing that Ablaze$ is a device that has done far more mischief than good.

(Late Edit)

Nah. It's evil.

Guerrilla Cat

10:08 PM Posted by Patrick No comments
The Cat--the mean one--and I are sort of like Palestinians and Israelis. Every so often the cat comes to try and slash my shapely leg to ribbons, and I respond by poking the cat with a cane or umbrella every time it tries to get to me. The cat never says exactly why she is going after me, but she makes a bunch of loud noises and tries to blame me for the incident; I have my sneaking suspicions that it is over territory.

The cat is by no means my equal in combat, but she is sneaky and uses rocket fast attacks from behind. Moreover, it is very difficult to hunt the cat down in the many hidden places of the house. The rest of the household sits around and waits for me to land the final blow on that cat; they all know the cat will work it out of me eventually, and I expect to be condemned in the strongest language possible, but sanctions are unrealistic. Oh well.

Video Games

1:50 PM Posted by Patrick 2 comments
Video games are a perennial issue, and a favourite citation for armchair philosophers who pontificate on just what is wrong with the world. Video games and violence is one of the more overstressed pairings of recent parental and academic concern. O'Reilly tells us that we have to protect the children. Never mind that his childhood memoirs contain more instances of combat than many of us will ever know; kids are just more violent these days.

Are they really more violent, or is it just the omnipresence of video recording devices? In the last year it is not the children who have been bringing the guns to school. I would contend that we react more violently to their violence. From my reading of older American lit, and in hearing older people talk about their childhood, I would be lead to believe that a brief fistfight between school children was more acceptable then than it is now; still frowned on, but not likely to lead to immediate expulsion.

Bullying, which is tied to most school violence, has nothing to do with video games. If your children are becoming increasingly cliquish and nasty, then I think the first place to look is in a mirror, then at their friends, and then at their idols. Video games do not teach children to scorn others because of their speech or dress. Discrimination based on looks is not a characteristic of video game subplots. The 5'5 emo highschool kid who opens fire on classmates does not think he is running a mission on Grand Theft Auto; he is just a hurt misfit whose psyche is more fully shattered than originally believed.

But when I think about it, most parents do not know how nasty their children really are to other children. When I was babysitting the Jahns it would always astonish me just how foul many of the children who lived around them were. They would swear like sailors (language I never heard in a video game) when they thought you couldn't hear, call each other names, and just say the nastiest things...and I know at least two of the sets of parents didn't let their kids play video games.

The games give the parents a scape goat. They do not want to take responsibility for the final product of their indolent indulgence. They do not want to think that it is mostly their fault that their children are, let's face it, total brats. The part of society they turn to for the casting of blame is the part they have no hand in. Never mind that prime time television is in the gutter, the parents like it; it is far too early to send the kids to bed, and they need to watch their shows. Never mind that parents, in their dealings toward others, set the first examples for their children to follow. Never mind that they are weak and let the kids take charge.

Video games are, in my humble opinion, a far more cultured median than anything on television right now. It might be partially from the kinds of games I play (which are still, generally, rather violent) and the studios I support, but I am continually finding more literary illusions and subtle tippings of the hat to artists and authors long gone. It is a genre put together by wildly intelligent designers for consumers who are above average in the same department. Not every game will have intelligence, but I think my odds are better with a video game than with prime time TV, or even Discovery, for that matter (we won't even mention Disney).

In fact, I am going to challenge the assumption that youths should be sheltered from the sight of violence. I think violence is one of the harsh realities of the world that should not be hidden from the eyes of those mature enough to handle it. Hiding violence--especially when the kids know it is there--shrouds it in a macabre mystery; it is suddenly charged with the same magical energy as alcohol. Violence is one of those things that children need to learn about in the presence of responsible parents and elders.

Also, such things as, courage, honor, and beauty mean less in the absence of violence. Courage and honor are the province of martyrs and soldiers; To look into the magistrates eyes and announce that he cannot kill you, or to walk into that next cave when one of your friends did not walk out of that last one; these are both examples of courage which most of us could never imagine. We know of them because we read about them, and now, we play them in video games. It is a kind of vicarious heroics. To which concoction we add beauty, which is always most striking when we realize how fragile it is. You never feel a deep peace--and when one does, it often bores us--but a tenuous peace you cannot ignore.

There are, however, also games where you play the villain. Are there not books where the villain is the protagonist, and where the clever author makes you root for him? The core of the video game is, and shall remain, the story. And just as a good story can have you reading well after he splits the old woman's head with an axe to satisfy his greed and ego, so also, I am sure clever artists can wrap you up in the story of a gangster. It is a matter of skill in story telling. You will notice that there are no cases of parents or watch groups blaming GTA for drug dealers in the schools. Nor is Dostoevsky blamed for people killed by means of an axe. The thought is ridiculous. They are good stories, even if the characters are evil. (GTA knowledge is heresay, based entirely on the opinion of a pastor)

I consume my video games with the same relish as I consume my books. There are considered to be four gamer types for video games. They are achievers, killers, explorers, and social gamers. I am an explorer; I like to thresh out the interesting facets of a good game, and I love a good story. I think my love of books probably shaped that. I like my games extra heavy on story and innovative gameplay. Jonathan is a classic killer; Uber-competitive with a side of "gotcha!" He tends to prefer FPS style games, but, in my opinion, he is easily the least violent out of the three of us, and has the least stomach for violence in any form...despite the fact he is the meanest little virtual sniper to ever take me down 5 times straight.

Video games do not run parallel to real life, and no one really thinks that they do. Teenagers are not going to confuse the infamous God of War games (complete with giant man in skin-tight leotard fighting gods and lesser mortals, and one that I have heard mentioned as a game to be censored) with real life; not happening. Again, the game is not to my taste, but it is not exactly the scourge of civilization either.

The family, religion, the neighborhood, and our other sources of brotherhood and civil virtue have been eroding since the late fifties. Our communities are hardly that, and our neighbors are never likely to forgive us for not being normal like them. Cliques are omnipresent, religion is inconvenient, "I" is the emphasis, and the family is an optional thing that you aren't really tied to. Parents are selfish, and their children do their very best to eclipse them in that respect.

And--on top of all that has been stated before--children cannot buy an M rated game, only parents...well, adults. If your kid's uncle buys it and you don't approve...you will have to play the bad guy and take it away.

Perhaps there is a way to truncate this post? There are enough problems with the world, so keep thy legislative nanny-paws off of my video games. Seriously, they don't do it with any other form of private media, and it could be argued that public media is a lot worse, so why this particular genre? Answer: because this is the one that the people making the demands do not partake of and have no knowledge of; therefore, it must be dangerous.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Reaching for Summer.

2:59 PM Posted by Patrick No comments
Early this afternoon I finished with my final regular class of this semester, and that fact does not come without a certain relief. There is a mingled sadness that goes with it. Some of my classes seemed like--and were!--pointless drudgery, but I have a couple classes I am really going to miss.

Bartky is incredible, and though I do not agree with everything that he says, at least he makes me think about my every political position. I leave his class feeling like a much more educated human being, and a better citizen for it. I have gained invaluable arguments and defenses for my political beliefs and a much greater understanding of the thought which shaped my beliefs. I will definitely be taking future classes with him.

The other class that I will miss is German. Again, this class always leaves me with the feeling that I know more than when I came in. I can feel and measure my progress. I can actually understand most of the lyrics when I listen to Revolverheld, and that is in itself gratifying.

History...it seemed rather basic; it was all things that I had heard before, only with a strong progressive spin. Dr. Erickson is excellent in her manner and style, but everything we did was so cursory that it didn't hold the mind as well.

Com...many idiots and pretty young women (though I might note that the two often coincided). I have no real attachment to this class. The professor was good, but the textbook was boring and the class--after I stopped answering questions in lecture--would often sit in total silence for 45 seconds or more while she waited for someone to answer. Who knows what I would have done were it not for the generally decorative aspect of the other members; probably slept.

I am afraid that I have come to loathe smalltalk, particularly the, "oh, I can't stand her," or, "oh, she is a bitch," brands which are so common amongst the younger population. I get along better with the upperclassmen and professors than I do with my fellow freshmen. I just need to keep reminding myself that those seething masses of dim and coarse bawds are holding down my tuition prices. Walking down a hallway in CM I passed this guy who managed to loose 4 f-bombs before I was out of earshot, and if you have ever seen how fast I walk when I am alone, you will realize what an accomplishment that is.

*harumph, ahem*

I am going to have to stay useful this summer; that or go nuts. I have been constantly barraged with busy work since January, and before that I had just finished the same a few weeks before. At the top of my list is getting a job. Next on my list is returning my strength and body weight to their pre-infection levels. Lastly, it is my intention to work on all of the German that I will have next semester. I want this next semester to be more a practice of my actual speaking skills than just harried memorization of exam terms, and that starts with having all of the vocab and grammar concepts down.

Now I am just looking forward to finals. Barring disaster they should all be A's...although I might be staring down an -A for com, which is stupid, but I bunged one exam pretty badly. That exam was the first C of my life, and all because I drew a total blank on the short essay. We will see in a couple of weeks.

Ugh. I'm cranky. I hope it isn't tinging this post too much. I lost about four hours of possible sleep to tossing and turning because of a stiff back, neck, and burning knees. Add to that an unnecessary yank on my neck--administered by my overenthusiastic little brother--which was executed in such a way as to catch only a muscle or tendon--who knows which--in the side of my neck, briefly producing stars of pain before I recovered.

I am tired.

And,

Oh yeah,

Let us not forget.

Happy Birthday, Boss!!!

Love,
~Eddie

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Girls and Acolyting.

1:01 PM Posted by Patrick 2 comments
Acolyting in the Divine Service is incredibly fulfilling. No matter how hard you try to hold it down, you are always in grave danger of a gentle warming of the heart. It is good. It is the closest we get to perfection on earth.

Young men who join the Corp are being introduced to the service of Our Lord. They have the opportunity, should they so desire, to continue on to preforming a greater service in the Office of the Holy Ministry. Every single one of my guys will have that choice.

Winston--my dear friend and predecessor as Captain of Acolytes--is going to be a pastor, which is no great surprise. I believe my middle brother is also intending to be a pastor. Once you become accustomed to the Service...it is not so easy to leave it. Even when I sit out for a month or so--allowing the younger guys to get more practice--when I next serve there is a sense of return, of things being in their right place. It is right.

At this time, I am afraid that I do not intend to become a pastor. I have interests in other directions and I have seen to many men--whom I love--scorned and abused by wicked congregants(who want their own way) and sniveling bureaucrats(who want their own way). I do not think I would respond to either of these well, as my current response to such petty annoyances that cross my path is bitter sarcasm and sharp words.

There will, however, be definite pain upon leaving the service. My brothers, Jonathan and Winston, have no intention of parting themselves from the service. The only reason I haven't joined the choir yet is because I realize that my last day in acolyting will probably be my last as a servant at the Feast of Our Lord. The very thought is painful, almost enough to bring tears. At least I have a choice, and my choice might change with time and maturity.

You might wonder where this is going: I am there.

I have a choice. If I am to be separated from the service I take that cross on myself. I have been trained in the service, I love the service, and I can stay if I want.

Girls cannot stay in the Divine Service. Why would you encourage a young person into a service they could never continue, no matter how much they desired it? We are being trained in the workings of the Divine Service, yes, but also in the love of said Service. In my eyes, it is nothing less than base cruelty to allow girls a place in the ordering of the Feast, only to yank it out from under them. I have a choice; they cannot have a choice. Is the desire to kindle a want for something that cannot be? We are little prospective pastors-in-training. Are you intending the young ladies to pastors? No? In that case, what on earth are you doing to them???

There you have a tiny bit of the Human dynamics side. I'll get back into the workings of acolyting later.

Monday, April 19, 2010

...By the Grace of God.

1:18 PM Posted by Patrick 3 comments
What is it to be an acolyte? Any acolyte worth his salt--any of my guys--could tell you that it is a servant, not an "altar boy" or a "candle lighter." Well what does that mean? We all look the same don't we?

The truth is that it means nothing outside of the context of the Divine Service.

Have you ever noticed the waiters at a really nice restaurant? They aren't chummy like most waiters, but they are immaculately dressed and have absolutely rhadamanthine discipline. The immaculate dress is always the same; they have a uniform. The waiter is not important; he serves to make sure that the service in the restaurant goes smoothly and lend to the dignity of the environment. The best waiter are almost unnoticeable as they preform their duties.

An acolyte has a uniform; it covers over his individuality, physique, and personality. It is the same as every other acolyte around him. We are all the same, and it is not we that matter, but that which we serve. We are there to lend greater dignity to the celebration.

We, however, are only the lowliest on the scale of servants, and we serve the master of ceremonies; the man who sees that the feast is kept according dictum of the MASTER of The House. Our job, first and foremost, is to make his job easier and to assist him in any way that is needed.

We are servants at a feast; The Feast. We are servants of the Greatest King, at his high feast, and we conduct ourselves accordingly. We serve our King as best we can, in order that his feast might be carried out in all its sweet splendor.

To be an acolyte is no trifling matter. An acolyte must be disciplined, solemn, intelligent, solicitous, and always directing the guests to that which is important. We are always watching where there is something important. Our every action should point to the significance of the service, even our eyes should be so employed.

There are two reasons that our Corp does not use female acolytes. Firstly, and most significantly, acolyting is in large part a preparation for the Lord's service in higher capacity. One must be a waiter before one is the master of ceremonies. I have no doubt that some of my guys will end up as pastors. This is an opportunity to accustom them to the service and improve their knowledge of rubric and the conduct of the service while they are yet young.

Second...have you ever seen the difference between mixed gender and single gender middle school sports teams? I have been a member of both in my youth. Boys do not keep focus when the girls are around and they tend to goof around and show off a lot more. Their head has a tendency to go into the clouds. And, worst of all, guys get contentious. Nothing causes chaos quite like a pretty girl in the middle of a bunch of developing males with wacky hormones. We call ourselves the Corp for a reason; our camaraderie is aimed at a military style of connection. We are bound by mutual discipline and experience; it is a brotherhood.

A solid corp of acolytes requires; to start, a strong leader who takes it seriously and can get others to follow (we were lucky to start with a Winston); discipline; clergy who are available for questions and knowledgeable in the rubrics and theology of the service; a sense of brotherhood and belonging, as a kind of positive peer pressure; and responsibility: trust your acolytes with tasks and duties aside from lighting candles; the trust means more than you could ever know.

I think I'll extrapolate on this later, but this is a good beginning.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Misunderstanding the Significance of Religion in the Cold War

3:35 PM Posted by Patrick 1 comment
Cold War era American politicians sound like baptists. They had to mention God 8-9 times a paragraph; they sound like holy warriors on a crusade. We ridicule them for this. We say to ourselves, "If only we had been there with our reason and modern sensibilities; the cold war could have lasted just a few months." We see how they blew things out of proportion. What should have been a conversation became a deathmatch. If only they could have benefited from our sophistication.

They also sound like a bunch of nationalistic lunatics. "Freedom this," and, "Freedom that." Lines and lines about the superiority of our idea of freedom, our brand of freedom, and our acting out of freedom. They sound like Tea-baggers and maniacs. If only they could have benefited from our sophistication.

What has our sophistication brought?

To understand later problems we must first examine the way our views of freedom changed.

The progressive era saw many changes, but the only one I am concerned with right now is the shift it began in the American view of freedom. Previously, freedom was inherent, something we had from birth and could never be added to, only taken from. Equality was that we were all born with those rights, and that those rights only left us when they were yielded up by us. Therefore, all men inherently have equal political rights by nature.

Freedom under early progressives--and later augmented by FDR--is not something you are born with; it is something that is given or taken. Freedom is largely material in this right. You have the right to a job, food, clothing, house, and from fear of wicked men. These are all wonderful things, but you have taken freedom out of the realms of the self and put it into material goods. Those who have more of the above are more free. Who is more free? Is it the man who has to buy a crap used car? Or is it the man with the means to buy whichever car he wants? According to a progressive definition of freedom, the second man is more free.

Bear with me, I am about to take you back through the Greeks and Cicero again. What is it, according to almost all of the ancient and medieval philosophers, that is the measure and greatest desire of the democratic man? It is freedom. He who has the most freedom is greatest and best.

See the building problem?

Instead of political participation being the highest good of American democracy, we measure our good in wealth. Is it any coincidence that poll turnouts fell drastically after we entered the progressive era? No. The vote was no longer the greatest honor and duty of a citizen; money was. Despite the fact that it was a movement that was supposed to lift the downtrodden and oppressed, it saw drastically reduced electoral participation.

Now. You might ask, "what in hellfire has this to do with religion in the Cold War?" I respond with much patience, "I am getting there, but first we must detour again."

Capitalism, the unrestrained procurement and trade of goods, was restrained in our founding fathers plans, which they drew from the works of still greater men. There were two strong bulwarks against the economic chaos we are experiencing now. On the one hand, we had the emphasis of liberty of political action being the highest good and goal of the citizen, with political action as the place in which all men were as self determined as kings. And on the other hand we have the infinitely stronger and more important influence of religion.

Friendship and the common good must be in the heart of the citizens in order for a republic to work. This is universally acknowledged in all of the political theory that I have had the pleasure of reading this semester. Capitalism would seem a bit mercenary for the promotion of such lofty ideals. Whose good is capitalism aimed at? Mine. How do you chain such a beast? How do you prevent the citizens from becoming a flock of wolves? Religion.

The purpose of religion in a capitalist system is to sustain the most important values of the republic, and to encourage such virtues as charity, loyalty, faith, friendship, love for fellow man, honesty, and respect. Religion was supposed to aid the stability and longevity of the family, which is the basic building block of all human societies. Religion was supposed to temper our capitalist spirit in order that we, though we had unlimited potential for accumulation, might glory in liberality and philanthropy; that our heroes would be kings of generosity and civic good will.

Can you see the problem? Religion is a joke to so many now, and even many of those who have it are ashamed of it or do not think that it bears any relation to the realities of the political world. Religion has been mocked and ridiculed; it has been attacked as old fashioned and stupid, and has so been cast from its place of honor. We reap the benefits of that today. We are rampant competitive consumers. We have to have the newest car, clothes, and apple gadget. The American middle class just doesn't give to charity anymore--the number is something like 2% of income--and our heroes are masters of conspicuous consumption.

Behold, our sophistication.

Those crazy Baptists and Tea-baggers knew what they were saying. We were separated from the oppressive--if one more persons talks about "wealth disparity" to show we were as bad as them and I am going to feed them a picture of the mass graves dug for the millions killed by the forced starvations in Ukraine, or maybe the recently gassed and lifeless bodies of Bosnian children --and viciously brutal regimes of the (Godless) Soviet Union by a wall; this wall was religion, held together and augmented by the mortar of freedom.

Thanks be to God, we still maintain much of what we once had, but it is--in many respects--so much weaker than it was. We have our constitution, and she will not break easily, not even to the force of our sophistication. Religion in America is weaker, I think, because religious people do not defend themselves with the eloquence that constitutionally aware Americans do. American Christians do not understand their religion; they do not spend time on their religion. If the average Christian spent as much time on God as they did on football; they might actually have a chance in debate. In this respect, Comrade Brian--head of campus atheists and agnostics--has been good for me because he has forced me to explain my beliefs...add to the deal that he is an admitted Marxist and we have a nice contrast going.

Americans need to shore-up their understanding of freedom and religion. Religion especially, for its ramifications for the state, as well as the obvious soul thingy. ;-p

Maybe those Cold War politicians had no idea what they were doing. Perhaps it was all gut reaction. Could it be that it was all just indoctrinated jingo, spat out by scared men in tough times. What I would give for such leaders right now. Even if they did not understand; they placed importance where it belonged.

Fools, cowards, and yet still guardians of freedom, would that we had such right now.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Against The Rising Tide of Darkness.

12:46 PM Posted by Patrick 2 comments
*Journal of Patrick--Captain of Acolytes by the Grace of God--for April 16th in the Year of Our LORD 2010*

Woke up early. Clouds build on the horizon. Have been tasked to reinforce seminarian moving division. Coffee not strong enough. Heading for church to make rendezvous with the Holy Father.

Arrive at church; Holiness arrives shortly thereafter. Heading up to temporary encampment.

Arrive at temporary base, assist with pack-up. Glenn Beck and Gandalf present for work. Making way with Glen and subordinates to drop off supplies at Fort Redeemer. So far no resistance.

Finished massive supply unload, have received messenger from main unit: Horses have been unshod and lamed, send immediate reinforcement with replacements. I am closest to nearest stable, taking small task force to requisition the necessary goods.

Arrive at Petersen Stable. All is quiet. Bad feeling about this....

Sitting within the walls of my fortress, I will now take time to put to paper the earlier events that followed my arrival at Petersen stables.

I did not like the feel of things when I got there. The cat was spooked--might it have been the rain?--but nothing would have prepared me for what came next. I opened the main gates of the stable and was immediately overwhelmed by the stench of petroleum and mustiness. I reeled and recovered just in time to dive out of the path of the massive spider that had just charged me. I took my vorpal sword in hand and removed the manxome foe's legs with a snicker-snack!

Before I had time to glory in my victory, an exceeding great host of them was upon me. I laid to them where'er they rose up, but I was soon tired. My sword heavy in my hand, I fell. As they gathered gloatingly around me, I desperately offered a prayer: that I would not meet my end at the ravages of these horrid brown recluses, O Lord, have mercy.

At once my heart was brave again; my arm strong. I rose to give battle to my foes once more. My sword, however, was unnecessary, for even as my strength was restored to me, fire rained on all my foes, and from every dandelion burst a dazzling beam of sunshine that perished the unnamed darkness.

My work was not done. At once I turned back to the stable to face the last dread terror that had remained behind. For, as I had expected, the last and greatest of my vile foes was perched on top of the necessary supplies. From deepest corner to the highest shelf, I fought him; the Recluse of Garage. Until, at last I threw down my enemy and smote his ruin upon the asphalt.

It was not until I had escaped the stable with all of the needed supplies that the second messenger came to tell me that they did not actually need them.

Still, some of the evil that resided at the old Fort Peterson has now been vanquished. The rest will require greater hands and braver hearts than mine.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Peaks and Valleys.

9:47 PM Posted by Patrick No comments
Today started in a valley that I like to call "waking up." It is a very tiresome place to be; for it is very hard to see anything and there always seems to be a cat under your feet.

We moved along until reaching a slow ascent to this neat little peak called "time with friends." This peak started with breakfast with Theo and Pippin, and moved on to coffee with Brian, Joe, and John. This time was very good for my delicate psyche and included plenty of laughter and butchered German words. The good times extended right through German and all the way up to walking back to Kettler with Winston.

Things get ugly after that.

I returned to the library to meet with my Com classmates. I stayed in the place where we were supposed to meet and stayed there for fifteen minutes. I then made arrangements for extraction. After those arrangements were made I spent the next half hour waiting for my Com mates/scouring the library to make sure they hadn't situated themselves elsewhere. Having established that my group members were not around, I used my remaining time to write an email to my Com professor, going for the slightly hurt, frustrated, and pathetically dependent tone that compassionate liberals respond to like knights to the screams of a damsel.

I then spent what tiny time I had left standing under the rain to try and reduce the building heat and blood-pressure that comes from being stood up yet again.

That was a deep little valley, out of which it took a solid thunder storm to lift me. Lightning does the trick every time. To complete my therapy I indulged in the remainder of my Ben & Jerry's.

After I stopped reacting a touchily to every small offense I was able to get back to my homework, which is actually not that bad...I just couldn't bring myself to work on the group project research.

I need to work with these people, but how am I to smile at those who blow me off without a word, especially when such a large portion of my grade depends on our final project.

If I could ditch the others and reduce the group down to Laurel and I; then we could get something done. The others are turning out to be some really heavy baggage.

Heavy baggage is not conductive to my trip out of that valley.

At least I have Bartky and Erickson tomorrow, so my brain will get some action. I will be very glad to have Bartky back from all of his passover stuff.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Crucible.

10:02 PM Posted by Patrick 2 comments
This is the third straight meeting where at least half of my com group has skipped. It is no surprise that it is the same people who are skipping over and over. The anger stems mostly from the fact that they guarantee their presence when I speak with them after class, only to ignore all attempts to get a hold of them outside class (text, email, etc). I wrote the previous blog post while talking to the one member of the group who has deemed our meetings worth attending, and she is but a high-school student with limited time to devote to college pursuits.

I do not know what to do. I could have the presentation done in two days if it was left in my hands, but no; it has to be cooperative. Since we need to do it in some form other than just having each member give their spiel, it is impossible for me to write it for the whole group. The others wanted to do it as a skit. Do they realize that the preparation for a twenty-five to thirty minute skit takes time? If that little Aryan mentions drinking one more time in my presence, I will proceed to wring him dry. I could never resort to violence--that is the fourth "pillar of persuasion," my children--with ladies; I will need to find another motivator for the Irish Setter.

*Switching Gears*

I walked into the chapel this morning to the intensely shocking sight of a grinning Frau Schulz. Usually that look is the harbinger of some particularly devious bit of German grammar, mayhaps a quarter hour of solid socialist propaganda. To my marked relief it was neither. It was merely the precursor to a motion to sit by her and a couple minutes of chat in German. Her presence was also a startling reminder that I would do well to have my exercises finished before class. Sometimes it is a little bit of a shock to see someone transplanted from one area of your life to another.

I also got some weird looks when I answered some of the inquisitive individuals on campus that I was at church all week. No, really, I was. No, not Catholic, Rudisillian.

The Rudisillian part is not entirely a joke.

Campus is heavily populated with Lutherans who are used to their contemporary services and oscillating women in the chancel. How does one verbalize what it means to be a confessional Lutheran with a respect for the liturgy and the ancient practices and beliefs of the church? It is harder with another Lutheran than it is when I am telling a Catholic. One of the said things is that the Catholics I know actually know what they believe. We may have some fundamental issues, but they at least speak a kindred language. This is not true of the Lutherans I have met on campus. Notably, those Lutherans who know what they believe--that I have met--have either been named Patrick or Winston. I think there is something here that speaks to the catechetical nature of the liturgy...I'll have to think about it, talk it over with wiser heads, and write out my findings later.

Machiavelli.

2:31 PM Posted by Patrick 1 comment
Re-reading some of his works through much more mature eyes, I am of the opinion that Machiavelli gets a very bum rap. Machiavellian is a term for that which is self-serving in a particularly evil way and I don't think it fits. Something more concerned with result than substance.

This comes partially from the fact that his work The Prince was used by the protestant French as an evidence of the evils of Catholicism. The Prince, when seen in the absence of his other work, would certainly not speak well of Machiavelli. It is a work commissioned by the Borgias and deals with how to gain and keep power.

He has, however, a theme that repeats throughout this and his art of war is the idea--in order for Italy to maintain itself as a power in the world--that the princes need to allow the populace armaments and to have a unity amongst the Italian states.

What is that supposed to mean? Taken with his voluntary and un-commissioned discourses, we realize that his goal is an Italian democratic republic. He believes that the princes would be checked from excess by an armed public, and that an armed public would also guarantee the safety of the italian lands, which were at that point held by mercenaries.

He understands power as a desirable commodity and he is very shrewd in the ways of power, but he is a patriot who desires a republic as the best for his Italy. Yes, he is sarcastic, cynical, and knows that it is often the very bad people who get the best of the earthly goods. Machiavelli is a realist. He is not, unlike the species we have now, a realist who is without ideals. He is a man, who fully expects the worst, and is looking for a way to implement something that resembles his ideals.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Pange Lingua!

1:45 PM Posted by Patrick No comments
Tonight is the Easter Vigil. Tomorrow we will process in to the strong strain of Jesus Christ is Risen Today. Both of these services will be well attended and absolutely gorgeous. I, however, will feel a little sorry for many of those who attend these services because this is just the rejoicing that follows the climax. Yesterday, Holy Friday--the best Friday--saw our victory.

The end of the Holy Thursday leaves the church dark, mournful, and eerily silent. The altar is bare and the crucifix is gone. Our lord is departed from our sight and only he knows what the morning brings. The sight of the dark and empty chancel is a reminder like unto the removal of the Glorias, only to a much greater degree. Something is missing and it is unsettling.

The Service of Catechumens begins with pleading and lamentations. The hymns to this point are dirges, terribly beautiful and poetic dirges, but dirges none the less. Our Lord is dead and it is our own hands which have done this.

The Service of Holy Communion begins the same way. Reproaches: why have we done this thing? In return for His blessing blessing, we put our Lord to death. What have we done? As the final reproaches are hurled, the cross is returned to its place above the altar. Christ upon the cross, dead that we might live; thus has he loved us.

The hymn that strikes up as the cross is returned to its place above the altar is not another song of mourning like those that preceded it. Immediately after our hands come away from the cross, a song strikes up and resounds through all the church; a song that sounds like victory.

Sing My Tongue! It rings out like a song worthy of the warriors of Valhalla. The mourning spell is broken and life returns to the feast hall of our Lord. The master of ceremonies directs as the table is laid for the feast, bread and wine are brought for all, and the servants kindle the fires anew. The hall breaks forth in song.

We have done His will; His plan is complete and the enemy is overthrown. He is lifted up among us and the poisonous sting of our fear melts away; we know the grave will not long be able to hold our Captain. Easter is a Foregone conclusion, our debt is paid, and death is dead. The law is fulfilled and Satan cannot harm us; alleluia.

Our victory is not found on an empty cross, but on a full cross and in the broken body which hangs upon it. Yesterday, victory was revealed to us anew.

And now, for a short time, we are quiet and we wait. Our Lord has promised to return to us. We now prepare a feast for His return. It is not, however, with heavy hearts that we prepare for this feast; His return is not in question. We prepare now with light and rejoicing hearts. Tonight we will see our Lord at His feast, in His very body and blood, under the bread and the wine, for us sinful men to eat and drink. We wait until, at last, he brings us into His kingdom, to dwell with Him and all His saints forever and ever.

Sing, my tongue, the glorious battle,
Sing the ending of the fray;
Now above the cross, the trophy,
Sound the loud triumphant lay:
Tell how Christ the world’s Redeemer,
As a victim won the day.

He, our Maker, deeply grieving
That the first made Adam fell,
When he ate the fruit forbidden
Whose reward was death and hell,
Marked e’en then this Tree the ruin
Of the first tree to dispel.

Tell how, when at length the fullness,
Of th’appointed time was come,
Christ, the Word, was born of woman,
Left for us His heavenly home;
Showed us human life made perfect,
Shone as light amid the gloom.

Lo! He lies an Infant weeping,
Where the narrow manger stands,
While the Mother-Maid His members
Wraps in mean and lowly bands,
And the swaddling clothes is winding
Round His helpless feet and hands.

Thus, with thirty years accomplished,
Went He forth from Nazareth,
Destined, dedicated, willing,
Wrought His work, and met His death.
Like a lamb He humbly yielded
On the cross His dying breath.

There the nails and spears He suffers,
Vinegar, and gall, and reed;
From His sacred body piercèd
Blood and water both proceed;
Precious flood, which all creation
From the stain of sin hath freed.

Faithful cross, thou sign of triumph,
Now for us the noblest tree,
None in foliage, none in blossom,
None in fruit thy peer may be;
Symbol of the world’s redemption,
For the weight that hung on thee!

Bend thy boughs, O tree of glory!
Thy relaxing sinews bend;
For awhile the ancient rigor
That thy birth bestowed, suspend;
And the King of heavenly beauty
On thy bosom gently tend!

Thou alone wast counted worthy
This world’s ransom to sustain,
That a shipwrecked race forever
Might a port of refuge gain,
With the sacred blood anointed
Of the Lamb of sinners slain.

To the Trinity be glory
Everlasting, as is meet:
Equal to the Father, equal
To the Son, and Paraclete:
God the Three in One, whose praises
All created things repeat

-Venantius Fortunatus