Middletown, Delaware I watched the Super Bowl this year after ignoring it for six years. I certainly chose the right year to tune in, because the actual game was one of the best I have ever seen. I was dismayed, though, that although there has always been a lot of hype and glitz associated with it, this seemed right out of The Hunger Games. It only needed Stanley Tucci as announcer to complete the image.
It got me to thinking. I first read The Hunger Games at the advice of my brother, Steve, about 13 years ago. We were able to see the first movie in the series together while I was in San Diego for the holidays during my pilgrimage. Panem, the capitol city of this fictional dystopian society, was the center of glitz, weird phony style, self-mutilation as a personal fashion statement, casual murderous brutality, phony empathy with the “little people” from the benighted districts (read ‘flyover country’), conspicuous consumption run amok, and vacuous self-regard. Watch it now and it feels like a bloody documentary.
That got me to thinking about the State of the Union Speech (SOTU) last week. Up until Bill Clinton, I watched SOTUs religiously. Though they were not as likely to deliver inspirational rhetoric as an inaugural address, they usually laid out what the priorities for the coming year would be, while touting successes of the previous year and glossing over failures. Some of that still held in Clinton’s early efforts, but he began the transition of SOTUs to a counter-factual partisan fantasy rally.
When young, my parents used to frequently take us to the Milwaukee Zoo. Our favorite exhibit there was Monkey Island, an island surrounded by a moat with hundreds of monkeys on it. They would engage in some hilarious antics at times, but mostly they just threw poop at each other. This year’s SOTU brought back nostalgic memories of those days. Don’t think I am criticizing Republicans for lack of decorum. If I were forced to sit and listen to a desiccated, old weirdo slander me for over an hour and lie about how wonderful the dystopia he has brought to the land is, I would want to shout a few reality checks, as well…maybe even throw the odd piece of scat that was lying about. But America sure ain’t what she used to be.
Of late, I have started thinking of Washington, D.C. as the “old capitol.” There is not a new capitol yet. I do not even know if there ever will be. But it feels more each day like a fading archeological site than the capitol of a once great nation. I have never once called Joe Biden “president,” (because he is a complete fraud from the top of his head to the tips of his big toes), but I find myself oddly comfortable thinking of him as a confederate president. The Injustice Dep’t., the FBI, Homeland Security, and the intelligence agencies and State Dep’t are the corps of flying monkeys the confederate president has at his disposal.
The things we debate seriously in official quarters are things that are so frivolous (but now maliciously frivolous) that they have no place even being a question in a healthy society, much less cause for earnest debate. Meanwhile, we are destroying our energy pipelines, regulating the supply chain out of existence, enacting medical practices that make the discredited old application of leeches seem downright efficacious, unleashing criminals to such an extent that many of our cities have become zones of anarchy, and progressively impoverishing all areas of the country that are not Panem. We studiously ignore all things that need serious attention while fighting ferociously over absurdities. And China sends its balloons to watch over it all.
I pondered what the first balloon was all about. There were many theories. I have heard from several mid-level officers retired from the military that it could get some useful signals intelligence that a satellite cannot. Yet I think it was more like the velociraptors testing the fences in the movie, “Jurassic Park.” I think China was probing to see what our response would be and how quickly decisive it would be. The codgers at the Old Capitol failed on both counts, while patting themselves heartily on the back after the balloon had accomplished its mission. China knows with certainty it has little to fear from us. Now we are getting balloons to shoot down every few days. So what, exactly, is happening?
I have long argued that China has no interest in invading us. It just wants to keep us out of the fight when it makes its moves on Taiwan and Southeast Asia. It just got hearty reassurance it has little to fear on that matter. (China must be glad that none of the lands it is targeting are centers for laundering the corruption of US officials like Ukraine is). So why send so many new balloons when they have gotten the answer they wanted? To make them commonplace, so we will not take them seriously, as we should have from the start. Why do this? America is a peculiar, potentially mighty giant – but only if its electronic crutches are operating properly. What is the easiest way to disable those electronic crutches? With a powerful EMP device. EMPs work on a line of sight basis – and disable all electronics within that line of sight. While we are busy congratulating ourselves on our prowess at shooting down balloons (and men like General Mark Milley, who has a chest full of participation medals but no actual accomplishments or victories, actually enjoy the faux sense of prowess the shooting down brings) China just has to get a few devices that can cause an EMP set off near key coastal areas. We immediately become a pitiful, helpless giant, thrashing about impotently like a Giant Galapagos Tortoise on its back.
I think it quite likely that China, itself, will provide the decisive push that topples national command authority. I also think that China is completely uninterested in trying to invade a land where the general populace is armed to the teeth. So then, from flyover country, we build anew under God, in a much simpler fashion based on some of the traditions that once made this the freest, greatest country in the world. Whether or not the men without chests who currently run the bureaucracy of this country and their screeching, woke minions are swept away by fire or ice I cannot say. I do know, though, that we are already in the last stages of the end of empire. The king is dead. Long live the King.
In these tumultuous times in the Church, I give a lot of latitude to people who are trying to keep their balance. There are many who I think err on some significant points – and I am sure I do on some, too. When you are running on suddenly very rough terrain, you are going to stumble from time to time. That is no excuse not to keep going. Nor is it an occasion to gleefully point out the stumbles of others. Just keep slogging.
Typically, I make my assessment of others based on their good will and sincerity. If a man is of good heart, he will find his way even if he is a bit off of it right now. That, I think, is part of how you go about trusting God with serenity. I cannot save or convert anyone: only Christ can. With people of good heart, what I can do is either erect barriers to or remove obstacles from the path for the encounter with the King. All too often we are actually erecting barriers when we think we are “saving” someone else’s soul.
Bishop Rene Gracida, the Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, has become a cherished friend of mine. We have known each other for a good eight or nine years. There are some things we disagree on. But I know how hard Bp. Gracida works to do the most right thing he can – and how seriously he takes it. He often writes in thundering tones, which masks how very tender his shepherd’s heart is. Years ago when I was visiting him, he was fretting over a piece he had written. He actually came to tears worrying about whether he had done the most right thing he could. Fortunately, the piece in question was one which had given me great heart and hope – and I was able to reassure him by telling him so and how, exactly, it had helped my discernment. He became a leader in the ‘Benedict is Pope’ movement, a take with which I profoundly disagreed. It did not affect our relationship a whit. I knew he was of honest good will and he knew the same of me. In fact, shortly after I founded CORAC, while at his residence with several friends and colleagues, Bp. Gracida did an extended Exorcism Prayer/Liturgy (45 minutes) that can only be done by Bishops – for CORAC.
Bp. Gracida is a man I cherish, one with whom I can disagree intently at times without having a single doubt about his good will or friendship. He has refined my thinking on some things and, I pray, I have occasionally refined his thinking. What a great heart he has!
I was deeply disappointed when I saw that Michael Voris, of Church Militant, lashed out at Bp. Gracida for his collaboration with some people from SSPX on a project. I have little sympathy for SSPX, a group of intense traditionalists, many of whose members maintain that since the death of Pope Pius XII in 1958 we have had no valid popes. Some of the more intense members argue that we have not had a valid pope since the death of Pius X in 1913. It is a marginal group with little influence that poses no serious threat to the Church. I regard many of them as misguided by their hearts broken by troubles within the hierarchy. Some are historically ignorant, having imbibed completely a particular and detailed narrative that, without deep knowledge of Church history, they are convinced in a cult-like manner must be true despite any and all evidence to the contrary. But at heart, they believe in the sovereignty of Christ. While refuting their errors we should be reaching out to bring them fully into the fold. When you look at what Bp. Gracida did, he did not even embrace the beliefs of SSPX, but merely gave some Priests a conditional ordination from a Bishop who had been ordained under old rites.
But this is not what raised my ire.
I have always recognized that there is some good work that Voris does, exposing problems that no one else will touch. But I have often been troubled that “attack” is the only mode Church Militant seems to have. To listen to them, there is no good in the Church, only corruption. Sorry, I can’t buy that. I am not shy about calling out offenses. But there are a lot of solid Bishops in the Church. Some are downright courageous while some are timid. The timidity is often NOT a product of cowardice, but of some Bishops seeing how bad things are and trying to avoid doing something that would unintentionally make them worse. It is not the position I would take but is a defensible position. And frankly, the many Bishops I know whose heart is for service and for Christ heartens me, even when I disagree with how they choose to administer that.
But even this is not what raised my ire.
Bp. Gracida is a dear friend of mine and Voris is an acquaintance. I know that Bp. Gracida has always been a good friend to Voris. To go publicly blazing after a trusted confidante and friend who has always been kind to you is, in my book, a form of deeply offensive fanaticism run amok. I know that Voris is almost obsessive in his vitriol towards SSPX. Frankly, his work on the subject often strikes me as akin to taking a howitzer to a gnat. But you don’t let that sort of obsessiveness lead you to brutally attack a trusted friend of good will.
Perhaps Voris thinks this is a way to save Gracida’s soul. Some of the greatest atrocities in history have been perpetrated based on that sort of fanaticism. In a minor episode a few years back, an authority at an otherwise credible publication commissioned a hit piece on me. Several friends who worked there tried to persuade him to at least talk to me first. They told me he refused saying that his aim was, instead, to save my soul. In the judicial murder of St. Joan of Arc, some of her tormenters justified their cruelty by saying it was to “save her soul.” I am sometimes wrong about some things. I have never had the hubris to think I could save anyone’s soul, knowing full well that my actions can only remove obstacles to or erect barriers to a person’s encounter with the only one who actually can save their – and my – soul.
When your righteousness reaches such a fever pitch that you will publicly rip up friends to save souls you are in no danger of saving anyone’s soul. You are, however, in danger of forfeiting your own.
Bp. Rene Gracida is a very good and thoughtful man, with a greater, more tender heart than any but his friends know. Michael Voris is a man who has done some seriously good work, work that is increasingly getting lost in the weeds of vitriol and anger pouring forth from his site. I have only received good from Gracida, even when we deeply disagree. I expected and hoped for better from Voris. When his judgment is restrained and judicious, he is an asset to the faith.
I thank you to all those who have donated to CORAC in these first few days of our fundraising drive. We are about $4,000 shy of covering our bills for next month – and when we went into the weekend we were about $7,000 shy. We depend on your generosity and kindness – and for two and a half years that generosity and kindness has been sufficient to keep the work we are on moving.
We will have a national virtual meeting late in the day on Sunday, February 26th. More details will follow soon, but you will be able to get on and participate. I will talk about the direction CORAC is taking this year, a direction to help us drill down more deeply to the local level, knitting together anew the social fabric that once raised neighborhoods around the country to joyful, safe places where everyone cared about each other. I am hoping to unveil a little on how to establish local and regional currencies when things go “ka-flooey.” (That word is not my formulation. I have now heard it independently about five or six times, so I figure if people are spontaneously using that term, I might as well crawl up on the bandwagon with them). After working on the subject since last June, I have had several enlightening breakthroughs in the last week. As always, those breakthroughs have come through deep contemplation on first principles. You almost always find the best answers in contemplation of the basics, not in the whistles and bells our over-complicated minds like to attach to them. So if you have not yet donated to CORAC for this fundraising drive, please do so if you can (if you can’t, volunteer your time and skill to each other). By sharing the little that we can, may we be clear glass through which the light of Christ may be magnified to our trembling world.
Lord, make each of us into a divine spark, carrying your light far and wide throughout the world so that everyone who encounters us will find renewed joy, hope, fortitude, courage and love for the Lord and for each other.
If communication goes out for any length of time, meet outside your local Church at 9 a.m. on Saturday mornings. Tell friends at Church now in case you can’t then. CORAC teams will be out looking for people to gather in and work with.
Find me on Twitter at @Charliej737