Tag: Catholic

The Weekly Eudemon

A round-up of good reading from the week

Saving your marriage from the Oxford comma, Bitcatholic, and rolling back restrictions. (Excerpts to follow in the Traditional TDE Blog over the next couple of days. “M” denotes “Medium.com” and, therefore, you may need a subscription to read.)

Bitcoin is anti-institutional. It’s anti-authoritarian. It’s linked to buying sex and drugs. It’s . . . Catholic? That’s not exactly what Eric Sammons argues here, but he endorses the Bitcoin approach for the Catholic Church in the 21st century. Bitcoin is all about decentralization, especially online. In this era when Google, Twitter, and other behemoths throttle traditional religion, we need to embrace a decentralized approach. (Which is one reason I encourage everyone to set up a “junk” email folder and use it to subscribe to the heterodox writers out there you enjoy. I hope to set up a TDE newsletter this year, btw.)

“I like depriving myself of things,” said Kramer on Seinfeld. “It’s very monastic.” I think it’s a natural human trait, though people find it kind of weird and resist it. Even in my small town, middle-aged men want to “look cool” and “with it.” That’s one thing millennials seem to have right: they resist conventions, including the ones that say we should be obsessed with acquisition. Their bohemian resistance is often frustrating, but at times, it borders on the graceful, like when one millennial declares that “Owning a Decrepit Shack in The Middle of Nowhere Is The New American Millennial Dream.” (M) But warning: the article isn’t very good. It’s a Socialist rant against “unregulated” landlords and that’s about it. This is one of those articles in which the entire value is in the headline.… Read the rest

The Real Transylvania

From the One Thing File

Dracula’s Castle. Photo by Jorge Fernández Salas on Unsplash

“The One Thing File” is a practice I learned from Econtalk. It’s the practice of writing just one thing (okay, maybe more than one) that I learn from a book, essay, documentary, podcast, whatever.

For younger TDE readers, think of it as Reddit’s “Today I Learned” feature.

The One Thing: William Penn was so impressed by the religious freedom in Transylvania that he almost named his American colony “Transylvania.”

Details: Transylvania is not culturally the same as the rest of Romania.

It lies west of the Carpathian Mountains and was not, unlike the rest of the Balkans, conquered by the Turks during the Middle Ages, meaning it experienced the high Middle Ages like the rest of Central and Western Europe and its cathedrals, Cistercians, Baroque, and the Enlightenment.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula—and its evil-looking and suspicious peasants, howling wolves, and midnight thunderstorms—resembles Moldavia far more than Transylvania (and Dracula himself is based on Vlad the Impaler, whose castle was in Wallachia, not Transylvania).

(Bonus one thing: Bram Stoker never visited Romania.)

Robert D. Kaplan, Balkan Ghosts.… Read the rest

Seven Days Make One Weak

Gardening is here, believe it or not

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

If you’re new to TDE,  you haven’t seen many gardening posts. That’ll change as spring nears. I already have posts and essays in the hopper.

Yeah, I know: “Scheske, it’s 10 degrees outside and a deep freeze is on the way. You shouldn’t even mention gardening!”

I disagree.

A farming client told me a late last month that seed companies were already running out of stock. I went (ran) home that night and put in my order at Johnny’s.

About 1/3rd of my selections were gone already, and then it took two weeks for my order to arrive.

I gotta believe the selections are going to get more sparse and delivery times slower as the temperatures warm.

So it’s not too early to think about April, not at all.

There’s a great gardening book called “The Tao of Vegetable Gardening.” The author, Carol Deppe, applies Taoist principles (especially that of wu-wei, “not doing”) to the soil, but the book isn’t about Taoism. It’s all about gardening. The Taoism is rarely explicit, but rather merely laces, or informs, the book as a whole.

I like the book because it cuts against “intensive gardening” (my phrase).

When I read about gardening, authors often talks about plotting out the land, keeping planting journals, etc.

I don’t do that. During idle moments, I often think about gardening, but I rarely resort to writing things down, except for reminders. I rarely plan and when I do, I don’t follow the plans.

Which really cuts against my nature. I plan, scheme, think about the future . . . worry . . . to an embarrassing extent. I am an affront to Matthew 6:27.

But not in the gardening at … Read the rest

Gomez: The Man. The Saint?

I’m pretty good friends with someone who is close with Bishop Gomez, who was the center of attention last week when he authorized a statement to President Biden on the day of his inauguration.

My friend assures me that Gomez is a saint. He looked me square in the eye when he said it, without really even a note of awe or admiration. He said it as matter-of-factly as someone might say, “Oh, Tom Brady is a great quarterback.”

So I’ve been very interested in Gomez over the past few years. When I’ve grown exasperated with what appears to be his liberal leanings, I remind myself that he’s a saint, not a politician. I likewise do the same when I applaud his conservative leanings: I remind myself he’s just being Catholic, not political.

Bishop Cupich apparently doesn’t see it that way. Man, that dude. Whatta piece of work. All politics all the time. It’s no wonder he’s a Pope Francis favorite.

So what exactly happened last Wednesday?

George Weigel breaks it down a bit in this piece, then goes on to examine the man that is Bishop Gomez.

“Archbishop Gomez is a quiet and gentle person who does not seek the spotlight; he is not an inveterate tweeter; he is not confrontational. More to the point, however, he is a man of deep faith and solid piety, who understood in November that an inflection point had been reached and that the Church’s evangelical credibility was at stake because of that. He offered a profile in episcopal courage at a moment when a few others—the real outliers in this drama—were demanding (one hopes without recognizing the analogy) a reprise of the accommodationist approach to Catholic public officials long championed by Theodore McCarrick, not least during the 2004 election.”… Read the rest

Everlasting GKC for Advent

Lynyrd Skynyrd wrote “Sweet Home Alabama” as a rejoinder to Neil Young’s smug “Southern Man. Likewise, GKC wrote The Everlasting Man as a rejoinder to H.G. Wells’ Outline of History.

In both cases, the rejoinders won.

The Everlasting Man explains history as part of the revelation of the Christ. It’s no wonder that the Advent season figures largely in it.

Some choice passages:

“Any agnostic or atheist whose childhood has known a real Christmas has ever afterwards, whether he likes it or not, an association in his mind between two ideas that most of mankind must regard as remote from each other; the idea of a baby and the idea of unknown strength that sustains the stars.”

“It is no more inevitable to connect God with an infant than to connect gravitation with a kitten.”

“Bethlehem is emphatically a place where extremes meet.”

“If the world wanted what is called a non-controversial aspect of Christianity, it would probably select Christmas.”

“You cannot chip away the statue of a mother from all round that of a new-born child. You cannot suspend the new-born child in mid-air; indeed you cannot really have a statue of a new-born child at all.”

“You cannot visit the child without visiting the mother; you cannot in common human life approach the child except through the mother. If we are to think of Christ in this aspect at all, the other idea follows as it is followed in history. We must either leave Christ out of Christmas, or Christmas out of Christ, or we must admit, if only as we admit it in an old picture, that those holy heads are too near together for the haloes not to mingle and cross.”… Read the rest

Satanism is on the Rise

And he’s not talking about BLM, transgenderism, that pitiful Vanderbilt place-kicker stunt, and couples wedding showers. He’s talking about actual Satanic activity.

Scary stuff at National Catholic Register this morning.

“Satanism is now a reality for many young people, who already know so much about it thanks to the resources they find online. On these websites, the figure of the devil is openly praised, and it attracts many people — this figure of the devil who emancipates himself from God to lead his life as he pleases. There is also a growth of real Satanic groups, whereas in the past they were a very exceptional reality. They are multiplying in a very worrying way. And I also see this through the victims of Satanism, of dangerous rites, who come to see me and who have lived unprecedented, unimaginable sufferings to their own skin. Personally, I can say that more people are coming to see me than before, and, unfortunately, I cannot follow all of them. Satanism has come out in the open, and we must be very careful about it.”… Read the rest

The Arius Puncher: St. Nicholas’ Feast Day

December 6: St. Nicholas’s feast day. John Zmirak writes everything you need to know. Excerpt:

The association of Nicholas with gift-giving isn’t entirely arbitrary. Some of the earliest accounts of his life include the charming suggestion that he would throw money through the windows of impoverished girls so their fathers could afford dowries and they could be married—instead of lapsing into lives of prostitution. It’s said that in one household he tossed three bags of gold—one for each endangered daughter. This inspired pawnbrokers ever after to hang three golden balls outside their windows. So the next time you swing by a pawn shop to pick up, say, an engagement ring or a .38, remember to say a little prayer to St. Nicholas for success in marriage or marksmanship.

This excerpt is an excerpt from his wonderful book, The Bad Catholic’s Guide to Good Living. … Read the rest

Finding Epicurus in a Time of Immense Woe and Suffering

How will I deal with Michigan shutting down the bars on Black Wednesday?

Well, the Fuhrer has shut down Michigan bars for three weeks.

It kills my glorious Black Wednesday streak, which reaches back 33 years.

Oh, the (lack of) memories!

Oh, the hangovers!

I think Black Wedneseday was the last annual night of decadence on my calendar.

In my early twenties, I had no fewer than eight annual occasions that called for a long bout of drinking, ribaldry, and music. They slowly dwindled down to one.

And now it’s gone. I’ll be resigned to drinking at home, shooting pool with fewer than 11 people from two households, and listening to the garage rock playlist I’ve been assembling from The Vault’s 165-hour Spotify collection.

I think I’ll be able to bear it. I suppose someone could argue that maybe, just maybe, there are bigger crosses to bear.

I am, of course, being ironic. Everything will be fine. Although I loathe the ruthless exercise of raw governmental power like this, there’s nothing I can do.

I’ll just have to face it with Stoic resolve.

Or maybe, given the nature of my anticipated response (a night of drinking), Epicurean embrace.

Epicurus and the Stoics

Epicureanism and Stoicism were rivals, but they had a lot in common. Stoicism didn’t reject pleasure and Epicureanism didn’t advocate excessive indulgence. Seneca quoted “the enemy” Epicurus fairly often; Marcus Aurelius did at least once. (Epictetus, on the other hand, shunned him as a “preacher of effeminacy” . . . good man, that cripple Epictetus).

The main difference between them was that Stoicism’s goal was virtue and Epicureanism’s was pleasure.

Both, like every philosopher and person, pursued happiness.

Epicurus’ disciple Philodemus put together the tetrapharmakos (four remedies) from fragments of his master’s teachings:

  1. Don’t fear God.
  2. Don’t
Read the rest