Postage for Pakistan and other parts of the planet

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Who is really killing hip hop?

Today, I saw this post and it got me thinking about how parochial (?) its author is. This is for us, he seems to be saying, and isn't it terrible what white people are -- yet again -- doing to black folks' art forms?

White people have always taken to "black" music. And because so much of it so genius, it has lent itself to others riffing off of it. And thereby that which was exclusively of one demographic has become universal. In so becoming, it has become different.

Personally I hate how Renaissance and Baroque art has somehow through the centuries morphed into the ugly, soul-killing crud that passes as art today. Where is the search for the true, the good, and the beautiful?

My point is that art -- if it is art -- will always lend itself to others building off of it, for good or ill. Maybe you think that what Glenn Miller or Benny Goodman did with the music of Jelly Roll Morton is a travesty. Maybe you think what Elvis Presley did with the music of so many black artists is a travesty. Maybe you think what Eric Clapton did with the artistry of Robert Johnson is a travesty. Regardless, they took what those giants had done before them and built on it, expanding the reach, and actually expanding the number of those who were aware of those giants.

Who would remember the awesome Arthur Alexander were it not for the Beatles? A handful of people. Who would have known of so many blues artists were it not for the Rolling Stones? The only reason even the scant few who know about Louie Jordan today do is because of Joe Jackson doing an entire album of his and Cab Calloway's music. And on it goes. What is being complained about here is simply the common trajectory that should not be bemoaned but -- if you really love this music form -- be embraced. (Unless it makes it objectively worse. Then that's a different story.)

In any event, Iggy Azalea is not what's killing hip hop. Much of hip hop is killing hip hop. The lyrics, the attitudes, the hyper sexualization are what has put it on life support. You can say that all that's "keepin' it real." You can say it's just art reflecting life. That isn't art's purpose! At its best art ennobles. It lifts the souls of those it reaches. It makes us question, yes, ponder, yes, act, definitely. But most of all it lifts us up from the mundane and workaday and filth in which we might find ourselves and shows us something better and more pure to which we should want to attain.

Judged by this standard, I would humbly argue that much of hip hop is found desperately wanting. Or is the, "Let's get laid, drunk, and stoned" ethos of Snoop Dogg what we really want our young men emulating? Do we want our young women shaking their asses or even dressing like Little Kim or Rihanna or Nicki? Listen to or watch the video of "Anaconda" (or better yet, don't ... just please, don't). What a pathetic use of whatever talent God may have given this woman. Same thing with Rihanna. Or is the message of "Pour It Up" a positive one for youth or anyone?

Black, white, red, yellow, brown, purple, pink, or anything in between, we can do better than this. And yet we don't. Why not?

Friday, April 4, 2014

Saints news for February and March

February and March 2014 Saints News

Samurai’s cause for beatification forwarded to Rome

The Japanese bishops’ conference has sent the Vatican a 400-page application for the beatification of Takayam Ukon, a 16th century samurai who died exiled from his homeland for the sake of his Catholic Christian faith.

Fr. Anton Witwer, general postulator of the Society of Jesus said Takayama’s life is an example of “a great fidelity to the Christian vocation, persevering despite all difficulties.”

According to Catholic News Agency, “Takayama was born in 1552, three years after the Jesuit missionary St. Francis Xavier introduced Christianity to Japan. When he was 12, his father became Catholic, and Ukon was baptized as Justo by the Jesuit Fr. Gaspare di Lella.

“The Takayama were daimyo: members of the class of ruling feudal lords who ranked second to the shogun in medieval and early modern Japan. Daimyo held vast estates and were entitled to raise armies and hire samurai.

“Given their respected position, the Takayama were able to support missionary activities in Japan, serving as protectors of Japanese Christians and of the Jesuit missionaries. According to Fr. Witwer, who also chairs the Ignatian Institute for Spirituality at the Pontifical Gregorian University, they influenced the conversion of tens of thousands of Japanese.”

In 1587, Japan’s government expelled missionaries and began pressuring Japanese Christians to apostatize. While many daimyo acceded to the government’s demands, the Takayama clan gave up everything--their estates, their wealth, position, prestige--and became poor for Christ rather than forsaking Him.

For a while, some fellow aristocrats hid him. To remain Christian became punishable by death. What must have made this time particularly perplexing for Takayama was the execution of 26 foreign and Japanese Christians on February 5, 1597.

Nonetheless, he remained faithful. When the shogun outlawed Christianity for good in 1614, the samurai left the country with 300 of his countrymen for the Philippines. He died on February 4, 1615, just two months after his arrival. He had become very weak due to the mistreatment he suffered in Japan.

This is the third attempt to jump start Takayama’s beatification cause. One started shortly after his death, while the other started in the 1960s.

124 New Korean Martyrs to be Beatified

On February 7, Pope Francis approved a decree that the Servant of God Paul Yun Ji-Chung, a layman who died in odium fidei (in hatred of the Faith) between 1791 and 1888 were indeed martyrs. The decree further stated that the beatification ceremony would take place on August 15. Since the Asia Youth Day takes place in Seoul on August 13, it is quite likely the Pope will perform the beatifications.

According to, over 10,000 Catholics died for the Faith between 1785 and 1882, only 10 of them foreigners. One hundred and three are canonized, and a substantial number have been beatified. This gives Korea the fourth largest total of saints and blesseds amongst nations, even though the Church there is less than 300 years old. also reported that last July, the Korean faithful held a “rosary marathon” for the intention of God granting the beatification of Paul Yun and Companions. It seems those prayers were heard.

Italian Franciscan Declared Martyr

Also receiving the designation of martyr was seventeenth century Franciscan priest Francesco Zirano. Ordained at age 22 in 1586, Clement VIII gave him permission to raise money for the ransom of Christian slaves in Islamic northern Africa. Arriving in 1602 in Algiers, Algeria at a time when anti-Christian sentiment was fierce, Father’s position was always a precarious one. It was made more so by a war between Algeria and a neighboring kingdom that Spain was backing. When that country defeated Algeria, Father was given a message with the news to take the Spanish monarch. However, along the way, someone betrayed him to Algerian soldiers. They told him he could keep his faith and die, or convert to Islam and die. He chose death and so perished on January 25, 1603.

Three Servants of God Declared Venerable 

On February 7, Pope Francis approved the decree of heroic virtues for three Servants of God:

·          Servant of God Jesus Maria Echavarria y Aguirre, Mexican bishop of Saltillo and founder of the Guadalupan Catechist Sisters (1858-1954).
·          Servant of God Faustino Ghilardi (ne Guglielmo Giacomo), Italian professed priest of the Order of Friars Minor (1858-1937)
·          Servant of God Maria Rocio of Jesus Crucified (nee Maria Rafaela Rodriguez Xuarez de la Guardia), Spanish professed religious of the Congregation of Sisters of the Love of God (1923-1956).

 Miracle Approved for Paul VI

On February 21, it was reported that “The consulting theologians of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints have approved a miracle attributed to the intercession of Venerable Pope Paul VI, moving him closer to sainthood.

“Vatican Insider’s Andrea Tornielli reported Feb. 21 that earlier that week, the congregation’s theological experts had unanimously recognized the healing of an unborn child through the intercession of the late Roman Pontiff.

“In the mid-1990s in California, the then-unborn child was found to have a serious problem with a high risk of brain damage. Physicians advised that the child be aborted, but the mother entrusted her pregnancy to Paul VI.

“The child was born without problems, and now that he is an adolescent and remains healthy, he is regarded as having been completely healed."

Sheen Miracle for Beatification Approved by Vatican Panel

On March 6, the Peoria Journal Star reported, “A panel of medical experts has given its approval to reports of a miracle attributed to the intercession of Archbishop Fulton Sheen, bolstering the cause for his sainthood.

The seven-member board of experts that advises the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints at the Vatican gave its unanimous approval to the reported miracle, the foundation supporting the sainthood effort for the priest born in Woodford County announced Thursday.

The case involved a stillborn baby in September 2010 who demonstrated no signs of life for more than an hour as doctors worked over the child. The parents prayed and sought Sheen’s intercession, and after 61 minutes the baby, now 3 and in good health, was revived.

A board of theologians must now determine whether they concur with the medical experts that the alleged miracle has no natural explanation. Then, if they approve, the Pope must give his consent to the miracle’s validity. If that happens, the Vatican will set a date for Archbishop Sheen’s beatification.

Monday, March 31, 2014

The Society of Pope St. Pius I

Year ago, ca. 2004, the following was posted on the Internet and was a truly funny--and deadly--accurate of radical traditionalists. Given its age, it is in danger of being lost from the Internet, so in the interest of not having that happen, I've copied and pasted it.

The Society of St. Pius I

“To be any more Trad, you’d have to be Jewish.”

Welcome to the fledgling website of the Society of St. Pius I (SSPI). Unlike other so-called “traditionalist” Roman Catholic groups, we adhere to the ORIGINAL Roman Catholic Mass of A.D. 40-200, and described by St. Justin Martyr and the Apostolic Constitutions, and used by Pope St. Pius I of happy memory.

Don’t be fooled by PHONY “Vulgate” neotraditionalists, who claim to protect tradition, and yet still defend the RADICAL and totally UNCATHOLIC reforms of the 4th century A.D.

So-called “trads” pretend to be against the modernism of the last hundred years, but where were they when the original Rite of Rome, the Greek rite USED BY ST. PETER AND THE APOSTLES was being totally gutted and revised by unknown scholars and translated into the vernacular language of Latin?

Unlike other wimpy neotraditionalist groups who attach themselves to various other Piuses, we at the SSPI make absolutely ZERO compromises with modernism. We reject not just one, but BOTH “Novus Ordos”—the Novus Ordo of 1970 promulgated by Paul VI, and the Latin Vulgate Mass of 400 A.D. promulgated by Innocent I and Pope Gregory I, which we call the “Vulgar Mass.”

Thanks to the miracle of the internet, we can now spread the TRUTH about the REAL Roman liturgical tradition which is being kept alive only by a brave remnant of faithful Catholics: myself and whoever else wants to join.

--Klaudios Philadelphou, Archon and Caesaropapist of the SSPI

“We’re not approved...and we don’t want to be”.

Saturday, March 29, 2014


OK, so Dear Abby today has a letter from a 13-year-old girl who wants to not drink until she's 21 and keep her virginity as a gift for her husband. But "Jon" is said to want to ask her out on a date, which many of her friends are doing, but which often means, "Hi, come over to my house when my parents aren't home, we'll get drunk and have sex." There is, said girl informs, already a 12-year-old gi...rl on her school who is pregnant. Abby's advice? If Jon wants to date you, he has to come to your house, meet your parents, and have them establish firm ground rules with him. How about, "You're 13! You shouldn't be dating! Dating's to figure out who you're going to marry, when you're old enough to emotionally and financially meet the obligations that institution brings, and ours is not a culture where 13-year-olds marry in the first place!" Is this what contemporaries at the end of the Roman Empire witnessed and felt like? Who needs barbarians at the gate? We have met the enemy, and he is us. Insane.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Helpful hint

Ever have stale bread, the kind that has grown so hard, you could probably register it as a weapon? At the very least, chewing it is like chewing leather.

I think we all have had this experience. What can you do with stale bread? Use it to make stuffing? Throw it to the birds? Feed to farm animals? Throw it, heaven forebear, in the trash?

Actually, no. You can actually make it not quite like new but reasonably edible. Here's what you do:

Take a glass -- shot container, drinking glass, small bottle -- and put about an ounce of water in it. Then put it and your bread in a microwave. Put the bread in for roughly 40 seconds, turning over about half-way through. When the buzzer rings, you'll have soft bread that you can easily eat.

This works best if you put your microwave setting on "Bread Defrost" (assuming your machine has such).

Good luck and good eating!

Thursday, January 16, 2014


Depressed? The quickest way to get out of depression is to do something--an act of service, an act of charity, an act of kindness--for another. Depression, even at its chemical worst, has some element of self-centeredness. Not in the sense of being selfish (or not necessarily), but too focused on "self" and all that entails. Depression is an almost self feeding on self. This came to mind because I was reading St. Faustina Kowalska's diary, where she writes, "Pure love [i.e., not the feeling but the action, the act/choice of the will] ... is happy when it can empty itself and burn like a pure offering. The more it gives of itself, the happier it [presumably the soul] is. But also, no one can sense dangers from afar as can love; it knows how to unmask and also knows with whom it has to deal" (No. 140, Notebook 1). So be happy. Love.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Conversations with an atheist

On my Facebook page, I recently posted an observation about Pope Francis, who, if you've been living in a cave or were otherwise unaware, was named TIME's "Man of the Year."

To which my atheist chum responded thusly:
Why can't you catholic folks do your thing with god, Jesus, or whatever without supporting these men who are no better humans than you, living a lavish lifestyle while people all over the worlds suffer. They haven't talked to god and if they tell you they have they are lying.
I responded:

Why wouldn't we do the God thing? You misunderstand his purpose, it seems to me. To whit:

*If Catholic Christians and indeed all Christians believe Jesus is the ordinary means to eternal salvation, and;
*If this is not a relative belief (i.e., it is an objective rather than a subjective truth; not meaning to insult, but simply for the sake of brevity, if you don't know the difference b/t the 2, look it up), and;
*If it therefore follows that under ordinary circumstances, no Jesus, no salvation, and;
*If Christians are called to love (and they are), and;
*If what is meant by love is not a feeling but rather an act of the will, and;
*If that means love is to will the good of another, and;
*If we are to love, then, we love by wanting good for another, and;
*If the ultimate good for another (indeed, everyone) is eternal salvation, and;
*If the Pope's principal "job"---any Pope's job---is to work for the eternal salvation of all the faithful (and it is);
*Then it follows the Pope is simply trying to lead everyone to eternal salvation. Indeed, he's doing no more than what ATHEIST Penn Jillette observed in part: "How much do you have to hate someone to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?"

Furthermore, as an atheist, if you don't care or like that, why does it bother you? Why not just ignore it? It would seem the problem lies with he who is bothered rather than with he who bothers.

Also, you misunderstand the Pope's role as vicar of Christ. He's not an oracle, mate. I talk with God everyday. He doesn't always talk back, mind you, but He has. It's not a booming voice a la the Charlton Heston movie, "The Ten Commandments." Rather, it's a "still, small voice." You have to listen for it, of course, and it's not like some magic trick. ("OK, here I am, God, being silent. So speak, already. Get on with it.") It doesn't happen each and every time. That said, it does happen. You can call me crazy. You can say it's just my imagination, but that's a statement of faith on your part, for you really don't know, do you? Atheism is as much a faith based on reason (I would say fault reason, but that's another discussion) as is Christianity. Jillette, Hitchens et al are wrong when they say faith are inimical to science and reason. To say otherwise is just willfulness and ignorance.

Tell you what: When you can definitively refute Aquinas' "Five Proofs for the Existence of God," let's talk. It's a pretty safe bet I'm making. In fact, here: Let me give you a head start. Just read the bullet points under each proof's "Summary" section if you don't want to read the actual argument.

BTW, Dawkins' argument about smelliness is stupid b/c it goes away from perfection. He would have been better served had he gone in the direction of smell-less, but that wouldn't have worked for his argument now, would it have?

Incidentally, here is the Pope's "lavish" apartment.

Here's the layout of the "luxurious" papal apartment occupied by Benedict XVI (half of which space is taken up by the chapel).