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The Real Me
What you see is what you get.
Damned If I Know!
I wouldn’t be surprised if there were marches in the streets, soon; marches in support, and marches against. There has already been “Huffing and Puffing” from the professional huffers and puffers, and the elected ones, professionals of some kind or other themselves; the kind seemingly more interested in keeping their jobs, and the cushy retirement plan, than much of anything else; except for all that First Class flying time.
I am reading a book which I should like to recommend to your interest… And the interest of anyone else who uses their brain for anything other than to keep their ears apart. And that, I suppose, means all elected officials at any level, the vast majority of people born since, oh, 1970, and anyone who regularly watches broadcast TV or listens to all music written after 1945…anywhere. Oh, yeah, anyone who owns a “device”, like this one.
The book is thin, consisting of two longish lectures by then Cardinal Ratzinger and an Italian Journalist named Marcello Pera.
It is called “Without Roots: The West, Relativism, Christianity, Islam”. It was written about a dozen years ago, give or take
It is not a book which will make you smile. It is a book which will from time to time make you pray, curse the gods, throw a fit, kick the cat and punch the nearest wall. You will marvel at the pride, cowardice, stupidity, ignorance, naivete, blindness, evil and greed of the persons in whom millions of folks like you, ordinary people put their lives, faith, hopes and trust. And, you may even have nightmares. I have about grown out of that “faith” thing. But, the nightmares? You don’t want to watch.
In the end, which I have not reached, I suspect thta if you read it, you will become a more prayerful person than you obviously already are. But, in this case more mission oriented, perhaps? And, that mission being to pray and sacrifice more fervently, frequently, humbly and desperately for God’s mercy on the world. I am beginning to entertain those thoughts.
I don’t really think I exaggerate.
This best of all possible worlds is on a roller coaster ride into a brick wall, and we, 7 billion of us, are all in the front car….for the most part enjoying the ride of our lives. It ain’t gonna last much longer.
Anyway, get the book, read it. But not without you have a strong drink nearby. The first part is the reporter’s at bat, and it ain’t sweet. I suspect Benedict XVI’s part will be a little bit more gentle. The “Dear Reader” will need that. I know this one will.
Here is a quote from the book; a sample of Mr. Pera’s view of things, and perhaps that of the nice Pope. He has been writing about folks who have different ideas than I have, who doesn’t understand why some people think that way,: liberals, “one worlders”, Noam Chomskys and the like; folks who don’t like to hear other folks criticize a place like Iran, or a social club like Hezbollah, or maybe even CAIR:
“(C)ould one criticize…the Palestinian Authority? Not on your life!…Anyone who criticizes the faith of Israel… must pay a fine. The same hold true for anyone who dishonors the Koran… But when it comes to Jesus Christ and that which is sacred to Christians, instead, freedom of speech becomes the supreme good.” This is curious in a world where all cultures are supposed to be equal.”
Pera has bee writing about the European Union’srefusal to mention anything very much about Christianity in its foundational documents, or faith, or religion, by name. He refers to the difference (then) between the the European way of looking at things and the American one:
“In the words of John Adams, one of the Founding Fathers, the Constitution “was made only for a moral and religious people.” Take away religion and you take away the melting pot. Call religion a simple “spiritual inheritance” and the melting pot turns into a vague aggregate without true integration.”
Burning churches and Murder on Sunday, here. Beheadings everywhere else?
It’s not a bedtime story.
I have about solidified myself in concluding that the reason B16 gave up the job was so that, following the first one in the long Benedictine line, he could spend the remainder of his time here in his own Nursia doing the best thing, the only thing possible…praying that what’s gonna hit the fan soon misses.
Here is a poem I wrote the other day to replace one I wrote a dozen or so years ago and lost. I was really bothered by the loss, and wondered what to do. This is what I did.
WAITING ON GOD’S GRANDEUR
I’ve seen two eagles, tree-top high,
Down the air above the river fly.
Their black cloud wings, fan like, dip,
Cutting atmosphere as they slip
From transcendent space above
To steady water’s flow in arcs of love
Interweaving as they slowly go.
I’ve seen the fire of the rising sun’s
Cool pink first light lifting cold dark night,
And the return of a billion stars, bright
As stream ice cold splashed over shining stones
In the red sun’s sweet soft set.
Dawn brings pink sky light probe, whose slow surprise
Night wakes, and sends away
Beyond fading stars, bluing sky
Shy first, soon bold. A bright unfolds past
Venus’ eye, the last jewel left
Of universal dazzle of deep, deep, still
Deep lively night, endless energy, silent
Roar of all in vacuum eternal.
At the window here light roars on,
Birds, first awake, bring sound song
After silence has sung the day awake.
Watch us then while little crystals single
As the billion trillion stars go,… where?
They fall sounding stillness, tapping tiny notes
Each one, to their stately dance
Ringing in the wood off leaves
Left lingering, alone, watching day rise,
Night, fleeing, fade. Whisper, they, in lazy
Waking, long season’s work done, feeling
Wind’s kiss in the Nave of Trees, inside
The great Cathedral of the Nearby Wood.
By the riverside trees dance to wind songs.
Ballerinas at water’s edge take their cue
From the silver fish below, a butterfly
A jay, faint perfumed breeze
And all the other dancing trees.
O, here, at fingertip, a billion years,
Galaxies in their trillions rolling on
Pause so we may settle, as again
And yet again, we sip the Morning
Glory. Merry in our place made
Where Mighty Angels played
When, then long, long ago
As they in obedience proposed
All hills, rivers, canyons, and clever rose
And all the stars in darkness deep
Dancing while trees in night’s shade sleep.
Though a thousand city lights in canyons made
Blink to sleep, as they our will obeyed
God’s hovering hand open stays
While His servants hallow all.
His servants hallow all.
I am thinking that there ain’t much left to sing about. I mean it’s really a pretty good song, and Sinatra. Well Sinatra,you know? That’s about all that needs saying. My father used to sing it, and even though he’d never been south of Atlantic City in his short life, he thought that South of The Border had got to have been a great place for a song like that to be sung about it. Personally, there may be other songs. We’ll talk later.
But, I gotta confess, so too did I use to think that way. But now? Now, from the pictures I see of the stuff going on down there. I gotta say this. The place reminds me of an ill kept corral. And, for a corral to look ill kept? Well…
I have in mind of course the current goings on with the herd that’s lately arrived from even more south of the border in the rather wild hope of ending up somewhere closer to me than I thought was, well, decent; like my upstairs bedroom or my car. The back seat.
That’s just silly. Right? But is it as silly as some bewhiskered thug from Honduranama, or somewhere, demanding Uncle Sugar pay him $50,000.00 and he’ll go home and never bother us again. That is, he won’t until the 50K runs out.
Then there’s the rest of them, dragging along their kids as targets for those Border Patrol Nazis and their grenades, machine guns and nerve gas down there keeping America safe for White People and Republicans. At least that’s what all of the News Outlets, which are more and more reminding me of sewer outlets, keep telling me, while reminding me in their reports that the dude priming the pump for his 50K isn’t the crook I think he is; just a guy with hope. Like Clinton, I guess.
Then there’s the story that broke last week, about the kid. You know the one. This kid walked all the way from Costaragua, carrying the mule because it was a pet, and her parents I guess. She made the trip just so she could go to college at Berkeley and become a Senator after burning down a few neighborhoods in Frisco. It’s everybody’s dream down there; either that or running a few loads of nose candy up into Dallas or somewhere. But, all of her dreams ganged aft agley when she died while in ICE custody of dehydration and everything else. And herself, her parents and the mule were this close to finishing the trip; sneaking into Paradise when they got snapped up by the brutes from ICE. And, next thing you know, the little girl is with the fishes.
The girls and the boys on the six and eleven had a time with that, I guess. I don’t really know because I watch them about as much as I do push ups, which is never. What I do know is that bunches and bunches of people with big hearts all over this land were torn to pieces by this tragedy, and the bloodless behavior of the thugs in green uniforms killing a little girl just because she wanted to live here with us, and not in some mud hut drinking water horses pee in down Mexico way. But, I figure, what could they do. She wasn’t in tear gas or machine gun range. Anyway, it gave the moaners and weepers up here something really worth their moaning and weeping. Anyone, even the wettest weeper, can have a hard time working up a goo fit over some Dude demanding $50k to leave.
These folks, all of who have a stature of Emma Lazarus in their living rooms, and tattoos of her poem, the best one ever written, by anyone, anywhere, in the most odd places,were paroxysmic with woe, rage, and stupidity. Right hand to God, I came in contact with a few myself. One wrote demanding to know what I thought of the beasts from ICE killing a seven year old illegal alien. That she died of natural causes…well…natural if your father forces you to walk a couple of thousand miles on meager rations and then drags you through desert and mountain with no food and little water for a couple of days on your way to Shangri La…is not allowed to be considered.
When I suggested that it might be a good thing to go down there with a little water and food, I was told it was more important to put pressure on the government from home…where the water ran clear and cold and the freezer was full, I guess.
Well, she’s no poet, and there’s already one stupid thing on that statue in the herbor…besides pigeon caca. And all of that does no one any good.
I append something here which I wrote afew years ago, simply to note that not a single damn this has been done except let stuff get worse:
I started this with a Sinatra song. More apropos the situation is my favorite song about those places, sung by Miss Peggy Lee, my favorite lady singer:
Cicero, a dead Roman who hung out, more or less, with guys like Mark Antony and Julius Caesar, wrote a little book of advice to his son. It was more like a long letter, but then there weren’t as many things to distract a fellow from doing something like that as there are today. So, the letter goes into circulation, sometime, I guess around the time Cicero loses his head over politics; which is a thing that shows signs of becoming fashionable again, and I have a copy of it.
The English title is “On Duties”. That last is an old word, rarely used any longer, and it means stuff you should do before you do what you wanna do; like get stoned, or “chill”, alone or with your homies, or some ho du jour.
As a matter of fact, Cicero’s point in the whole thing seems to be that a real man will turn these “duties” into habits, and habits into the way men live. Habits back then, by the way, did not mean being peculiarly attracted to “substances” and chemicals of one kind or another; attracted so completely, that you cannot live without them; that you become, in a sense, your habit, and no longer a Man, or even a human being.
In other words, getting back to the book, a man is not yet a man, he is an unfinished thing somewhere between a blob and a living being until he has become, through exercise and attention to these duties, a Man, and can be among other men as an equal, a person, someone taken seriously; good company among good companions. And, until he has grown up and takes his place among the other men.
At one point along the way, Cicero devotes some time to such things as beauty, modesty, and proper dress. In fact, he modestly mentions dressing and behaving so that certain parts of the body are not exposed to other men, or in public. Imagine that?! The Kardashians would never make it in Rome, I think.
He says this about beauty:
“There are two kinds of beauty, in one of which grace, in the other dignity, predominates, we ought to regard grace as belonging to woman, dignity to man. Let then every species of apparel or adornment unworthy of a man be removed from his person, and let him guard against similar faults in attitude and gesture. For the manners of the wrestling ground are apt to be somewhat disagreeable, and the affected attitudes of actors frequently give offence; while in the entire carriage of the body whatever is direct and simple receives correction….. The same rule is to be observed in dress, in which, as in most things, that the which is becoming lies between the two extremes.”
And this ends my little excerpt: “Care must be taken lest in our gait we accustom ourselves to effeminate slowness.”
Poor man. He had probably seen never seen a gay pride demonstration, a rock concert or an antifa romp in the park, or Ru Paul. Though, if it would change his mind I am not too sure.
I think he would never get his book published today. As a matter of fact, I do not know if there is a recent edition of “On Duties” The one I have is a freebie on my Kindle. Anything in print is probably hidden back in the stacks of some college library…soon to be tossed out as homophobic, racist and anti LGBT.
And, the guy wanted to be, all he wanted to do was be a good father.
I remember my own father, God rest his poor soul, telling my brother and I to stop slouching, and get a decent haircut. He thought dungarees (an old and out of use word) were gangster clothes. He would probably be arrested today.
Acts of terror are as common as cats now. We even build years long TV series around terror of one kind or another, and monster movies with nearly supernatural heroes, full of sound and fury signifying in every case our ultimate victory over devilish cruelty. It’s NOT that way outside the theater, you know. Outside the theater we can’t even come up with a name or a reason beyond terror and terrorists. On an almost daily basis the major news outlets, both print and broadcast, let us know of bombings, knifings, poisonings, burnings and what all.
Across the globe, north and south it’s Terror and Terrorists. And that’s about as deep into the reasons and the forces for the worldwide havoc, the death tide that keeps getting a little bit higher every day. It sort of reminds me of the tale of the frog in the pot. Because, really, there is, there must be a reason. But we don’t talk about it.
It used to be that Jews were about the only ones murdered by terrorists. Every few months for years some Jew would be tossed off a ship, or a bunch of them would be massacred during some event or other in between the wars that were always won by the Israelies.
It’s been different since 9/11/2001. Now anyone, anywhere seems to have a target on them, and “only Jews” is so 20th Century.
It is past time to ignore the lion in the living room with us. Societies and governments, especially the latter, need to deal with this and deal with it so it ends, once and for all.
If it finally comes to a Crusade, make sure it doesn’t have to be repeated, that we don’t need another Lepanto or Vienna in another three or four hundred years.
We are always told that these terrible things are done by terrorists, irrational beasts, and except for the fiends in ISIS we are never allowed to speculate on a reason. Our news sources seem afraid to name the idea behind the act. All they can say is that ISIS is some kind of radical maniacal fringe of what we are all told, over and over again, is The Religion of Peace.
I am about finished reading a terribly scary and sad book by a kind and gentle Catholic priest who begins by talking about the slaughter of twelve Catholic monks at their monastery in the Atlas mountains, in the middle of a totally Muslim country. Father James Schall, the author, says the story is frightening for a number of reasons, but the one that frightens me most is the fact that the monks were slaughtered simply because they weren’t Muslim. And so, it seems to be the case, that is the truth, behind every last act of terrorism we have seen, from schools in Chechnya, to tall buildings in New York City, and Yazidis in Iraq is an effort at Islamic “missionary” work.
The book by Father Schall is called, simply enough “On Islam”. I do not recommend it if you like to sleep nights without dreaming dreams that will keep you shivering and thinking the next day. But I do recommend it if you think it might be nice to take a long trip, or visit, say, Paris, without worrying about dying there, or on the way, or home. The things you learn may help you understand why you may want to stay closer to home….as long as home, itself, remains a safe place to stay.
And that is something else you may have to come to terms with after reading the Schall book ( and there are many others like it). We really are not safe at home. One of the reasons that he wrote the book (really a number of essays he has written and published from 2002 to recently) is to call attention to one simple fact. The explanation for this woe is found in the basic principle of Islam: unrelenting war against the non-Islamic world at all costs and by any means until nothing but Islam remains.
And, until people and their leaders in the rest of the world recognize that we are facing an intractable, implacable and unreasoning enemy in Islam, and its fundamental doctrine that the world is to be Islamic in toto, and do something about it bad things will continue to happen; as they have been happening for more than a millennium.
I remember what the Taliban did in Pakistan to the two giant statues of Buddha. I remember what ISIS has done to churches and cemeteries, and ancient sites in the Middle East. And to Yazidi women and young girls, and Coptic men on the shore of the Mediterranean.
Just think how much fun they’ll have with St. Peter’s, the Vatican Museum, the Louvre, the Smithsonian…and you.
If only he had said in French what he said in English, he could have whispered it in some reporter’s ear and her toes would have curled. It might have been a Weinsteinian’s dream come true.
But, as my father used to say, “Wish in one hand and sh#t in the other. See which one fills up first.” Anyway, he said what he said, and it doesn’t matter if he never really said it. Everyone believes he said it, and that’s all that matters, in a time and place where 99% of the time, 99% of the people use that word or worse when talking about everything from the neighbor’s house next door to the way they arranged the seats at the new ball park, or how the street looks after the garbage is picked up. Probably the only people not using it and similar words are cloistered monks and nuns, who live their lives in silence.
I wonder about this, though: When anyone above the seventh grade’s been using words like that, and worse, good old Anglo-Saxon words, in every place but at the Communion rail, do you think that there could be a little, or more than a little bit, of hypocritical schadenfreude being indulged in here. I mean, these words were once, most of them I think, were every day words when words were young, before streets were paved and we had indoor plumbing in most places. And no one is too very far removed from that.
Especially not now. Even if we drive Lamborghini’s we live, eat, sleep and talk sh#, and worse. Why, we here in this country invented Playboy, and spend billions watching on our “devices” people who make a living doing what pigs do. What’s clean, wholesome, mannerly and nice about any of that? Don’t you have to wonder, don’t you, if the place has gone completely mad when everyone from kids to kings is talking potty mouthed everywhere; when every movie, every pop song, and every TV show sounds like an afternoon with a bunch of longshoreman on a bad day, or a bull session on the cell block? Maybe it’s because we no longer make mouth sized bars of soap that stuff like this is so common? Why the uproar over one word spoken by one guy in a private meeting?
And this thing makes headlines? What did I miss?
Oh, that’s right. It’s a racist remark. But, isn’t everything else these days; racist, or sexist, or ageist or some as yet un-identified form of discriminatory behavior, speech, dress or existence?
A bunch of years ago I spent a lot of time working in Harlem, and in some other places in and around New York’s metropolitan area. Most of the people who lived there in those places were black people, and most of them were poor, poorly fed, poorly educated, poorly housed and poorly treated by everyone around the towns and neighborhoods that they called home.
I once arrested someone who lived in a cellar and used the coal pile for her lavatory. The house she lived in was within walking distance of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She and thousands like her, tens of thousands, lived in homes which were once as posh as the ones a mile or two south on Park and Fifth Avenues. Until, that is, sharp business men learned they could buy them cheap, and pile three time the folks into them at three times the prices. That racket’s been around for centuries…all over the world. And I have a feeling that it’s how “les trous de merde” are made.
It ain’t only places like that, you know. Not too long ago I lived in a small town in Ohio on the edge of Appalachia. There were places in that town a lot like the places I saw back East; this, time filled with white people; toothless, badly dressed, poorly fed, poorly educated, chronically ill, dirt poor, men, women and children. How about half naked kids playing outside in the winter? Now, there’s a trou de merde you can drive through on your way to watch Ohio State play Michigan State.
Trump, if he said it, only called a spade a spade; and, my point is, he only used a term quite familiar to everyone above the age of ten in this country. The folks who are upset by it all are the nosegay and smelling salts phonies; the “whitened sepulchers”, the liars who are as familiar with those things as a seagull with gurry; which means most of the people yowling about how horrible this all is.
Gurry, for you folks unfamiliar with the word, is simply rotting fish offal. It looks and smells much better than it really is when in a black dress, topped with a pink hat and preceded by a hashtag.
In three days my daughter will be fifty-one. Yesterday I drove her to the doctor’s office. She injured her back several months ago while working as a nurse in the cardiac ward trying by herself to move a patient who weighed in excess of three hundred pounds; proving, I guess, not a few physical laws about mass, force, inertia, and movement. What she did move were several vertebrae and their connecting tissues which became the cause of my “moving” her to the doctor’s office for treatment.
Cause and effect is really interesting when you spend a little time thinking about it, don’t you know.
Along the way we talked about a few things, one of them being the current battle in the ongoing “war of the sexes”, for want of a better way of putting it; the one which might be called the “Battle of The Hash Tag”.
Perhaps it is because she is the daughter of a fellow who spent a number of years in law enforcement, in and out of court rooms, involved with attorneys offices, due process, yadda, yadda.., but she did surprise me a little with the vehemence of her reaction to the whole matter and her opinions about the opposing sides in the current bloody battle. She had no use for either of them, but the side she most criticized was the Hash Tags.
I listened to her criticisms of women who brought forth, after being given compensation it now appears in many cases to do so, complaints about sexual liberties taken by men with whom they worked, or knew or were simply around…and famous; and the guys who were, really, skunks and low-lifes, if that’s what happened, being marched before the lights and fitted for the noose like a bunch of bankers in Mao’s China, or a bunch of college professors being accused of telling the truth to idiots; coddled idiots to be sure, but….
As she spoke I remembered some things from other days not so long ago, and the word lynching, among others, crept into my mind, not for the first time in the past several months. Yes, lynching and the term “uppity Nigger”. As we all know, it can even take place in Senate chambers on TV given the proper circumstances. Who really needs a Coliseum any longer?
I also remembered the term “Casting Couch”, and how it was one of those things in the “not so long ago” that everyone acknowledged and more or less lived with; casting a wink, a nod and a knowing smile toward Show Biz folks, and corner office holders everywhere; at those who had made it a way of life, on both sides of the whole sordid mess. Who did not know that “stars” and “starlets”, that corner office holders and “executive assistants” were “like that” was, well, stupid. Who in their right mind marries seven times? Who lives in Connecticut with the wife and kids but has several apartments scattered across the country in case the meeting, the conference, the scene shoot, the whatever runs long?
I also remembered my mother Eleanor “Big Nell” Gallaher, and her sister, the formidable Violet Augustina Downs, two ladies from another age whose withering glances, and emasculating tongues combined with impeccable manners were more than a match for any animal on two or four feet. Their mother grew up in the notorious Five Corners section of Lower Manhattan whose gangs and rackets make today’s M-13 look like Cub Scouts and Little League Ball. I never heard one of them raise their voices. Nor, did I ever hear them once express regret at ever having done or not done anything. They knew right from wrong, clean from dirty, a gentleman from a jerk; and well knew the way to deal with each kind.
I sat thinking about those three women, and the others,the many, whom I knew growing up, and wondered what had happened since.
What upset her most, my daughter told me as I drove her home after her visit, was the fact that all of those accused were immediately judged to be as guilty as sin, frog marched through the papers and the evening news, “perp” walked across the country and ruined as completely as if they’d been the target of a sneak atomic attack; cast into the dark with the dogs the to weep and gnash their teeth for something that no one will really know happened as terribly and as frequently as it has been alleged to happen. Could something like that have happened with women like her grandmother, grand aunt and great grandmother?
Perhaps they deserved it! Perhaps the perverts were exactly that, perverts. But, the way in which things took place here is, I can’t help thinking, every bit as perverted and disgusting as the acts alleged, and, by the way acts not at all proven, yet. And the cast of thousands, the “lunch” mob of attorneys, commentators, reporters, editors, and guardians of the world who dine now on the rotting corpses of the condemned, the protectors of maids and maidenheads haven’t the slightest interest in that thing called truth.
Nor, if truth be told, am I in the least bit convinced of the sincerity of the “flash tag” legions. They are no different than the window breaking, flag burning, marching mobs who fill the streets at the drop of a hat, demanding an end to everything. Far from being something new, they are simply the same thugs and thieves screaming now in soprano voice; a hellish choir of angry demons, exploiting the latest, admittedly very exploitable, sorry mess we make of ourselves with great regularity; the latest sordid evidence of our own falleness.
On the way home we continued the conversation. My daughter asked me why I thought this whole mess of “sexual sinning” was being played out as it happens to be. My answer was simply that it is another set piece designed by the folks, or forces, who want an end at last to Western Civilization; another part of the multi pronged attack against it. That’s a pretty big thesis to defend, I know. And I freely admit, it’s beyond my little brain to defend it. But, it is the way it seems to me.
We had a cup of tea at her house, then I left. Driving home I remembered another day and time, a conversation with my brother-in-law Frank Morse, R.I.P, a cop in New York city, whose birthday is today. We were both young men talking about what we saw going on around us in the 1960’s during the Age of Aquarius, the Summer of Love, when everyone it seemed was turning on, tuning in””’ and dropping out and wondering when the tocsin would ring.
Over another beer he told me about the time his Uncle, who drove a car for some mobster in The City, and his Father had to visit a fellow and convince him he had to behave more gentlemanly to his wife. It took more than one lesson, one visit to the “family therapist”, but, despite the attention payed to the matter, no progress seemed ever to be made, and the marriage was ended.
If I had a nickle for the number of such counseling sessions I heard about during my growing up, and the number of lessons I received from them, and the men with whom I grew up, about the way a man should treat a woman I think I would be a rich fellow.
Now, there are no men. Now, there are no women either it seems. Summer is long over. So is the Age of Aquarius. Do you hear the bell ringing? It is the tocsin.