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Archive for March 6th, 2012

From St Theophan the Recluse:

Is someone seeking help? Help him.
Does someone ask something of you? Give it.
Has someone offended you? Forgive him.
Have you offended someone? Rush to ask forgiveness and make peace.
Does someone praise you? Do not be proud.
Does someone scold you? Do not be angry.
Do you have struggles and sufferings? Be patient.
Is it time to fast? Then fast.
Is it time to work? Then work.
Your Father in Heaven is Holy and Loving.
Strive to be holy and loving like Him.

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Stupid Tuesday

Though a few weeks ago I wrote of my problems with Ron Paul, I am going to vote for him today in the Ohio presidential primary. This comes in the wake of Senator McCain’s calls for an attack on Syria on the Senate floor: I view it not so much as a vote for Paul as a vote against the Empire and its stupid wars. After all, he is the only candidate of either party who favors restraint in foreign policy.

As for McCain, I said four years ago that I had my doubts about his stability and sanity, and I have seen nothing since to revise that assessment. As bad as Obama has been, thank God McCain is not the president.

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Tone Deaf

I have written about the dangers of Rick Santorum’s recent and unlikely surge in the polls, the way that his loudly and selectively Catholic identity can damage the credibility of the Church in this country and confirm Republicatholics in their errors. Indeed, Mr Santorum seems intent on proving me right, and the secular pundits are taking him to be some sort of Super Catholic, in spite of his selective dissent on important teachings.

I must, however, admit that I do find one positive thing about his newfound prominence: it must drive Dan Savage crazy.

Dan Savage, if you are fortunate enough to not know, is a gay activist and sex columnist (and a lapsed Catholic). When I say “sex columnist” you may form an image of a clinical, objective journalist offering dry and scientific advice to the bewildered. That is not Dan Savage. “Deviance columnist” would be more appropriate.

Mr Savage is famous for savaging Rick Santorum, after Mr Santorum rankled gay people by various rancorous insults. This post is titled “Tone Deaf”, and I would be remiss if I did not note that nearly everything that comes out of  Mr Santorum’s mouth is tone deaf; while it may endear him to the already convinced it seems intended to alienate everyone else. In response to Santorum’s intemperate language, Dan Savage started a campaign of internet subversion. He defined “santorum” as something gross, related to male-on-male sex, and through relentlessly googling his definition, made it the first thing one encounters when searching for “santorum” (I am being deliberately delicate here; if you don’t know what I am talking about you can search the term yourself).

Now this is tone deaf on many different levels for Mr Savage. First, any reasonable person will see such an antic for what it is: a juvenile, nay infantile, prank. No one in his right mind would see this as anything but a dirty trick. But on another level it is dense: it presents people with a vivid image of something repulsive that is identified with gay sex. If you are trying to make gayness acceptable to people, is grossing them out a good move?

But this tone deafness, this inability to understand how one is perceived by people who are not part of your tribe, is one of the phenomena of the modern cultural divide. We simply cannot imagine anyone not thinking like us, of how repulsive our actions may appear to The Other Side.

Take Rush Limbaugh’s latest outrage. Please.

Or, on the opposite end of the cultural divide from Mr Savage, I think of a small church in Texas that one of my young relatives has become involved in. They seem sort of hyper-Calvinist, and are convinced that the vast majority of people who call themselves Christians are in fact hellbound. Their website features articles with titles like “The God of the Bible Kills People” and videos of their “street preaching”, which consists of standing on street corners yelling at people. In one video they are outside a Catholic church as Mass is ending, yelling at the Catholics, who prove themselves also tone deaf: they start praying the rosary, thus confirming the zealots in their opinion of Catholic iniquity. In another, a young preacher walks up and down the aisles of the Staten Island ferry, berating the passengers, not a one of whom acknowledges his existence. This is New York, and shouting fanatics are part of the landscape, no more remarkable than fire hydrants. But the young man was so pleased with himself and his obviously ineffectual preaching that he posted the video on You Tube. Go figure.

Or take the recent move by Virginia anti-abortion forces to impose ultrasounds on women seeking abortions. At first glance this sounds like a good idea to anyone who values the life of the unborn: if only women could see the humanity of what they carry in the womb, surely they will refrain from killing it. We picture those photos of late term babies from Life magazine, perhaps, or the ultrasound pictures we have seen of our own unborn children.

But at the early stage at which most abortions take place, around 6 weeks, the fetus does not look like a baby yet; it is not yet “cute”. And when it became apparent that what was being proposed was the insertion of the ultrasound wand into the woman’s vagina, well, really. That fits the legal definition of “rape”. Do the good antiabortion folks of Virginia really wish to impose state-sanctioned rape to make their point? Did they really think that the public would stand for this?

Tone deaf, totally tone deaf.

But the scary thing is that by definition all these folks are completely unaware of how they are perceived by the Other Side. They are oblivious to the fact that they look like fools. So the question forms: do I do that? After all, I’d be the last to know, right?

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I now have done the details of the trim on the Virgin’s robe, and have done the highlights. I used three highlights, using ever lighter tones of the base colors; many iconographers only do one, but I like the brighter look. If the highlights look too bright to you, well, they are. The next step will tone them down considerably, and add new translucency. Stay tuned!

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