Monthly Archives: August 2016

In Defense Of Marriage

Today marks the martyrdom of St. John the Baptist and Forerunner. From the Gospel according to St. Mark:

14 King Herod heard of it; for Jesus’ name had become known. Some said, “John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; that is why these powers are at work in him.” 15 But others said, “It is Eli′jah.” And others said, “It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” 16 But when Herod heard of it he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.” 17 For Herod had sent and seized John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Hero′di-as, his brother Philip’s wife; because he had married her. 18 For John said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19 And Hero′di-as had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, 20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and kept him safe. When he heard him, he was much perplexed; and yet he heard him gladly. 21 But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and the leading men of Galilee. 22 For when Hero′di-as’ daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will grant it.” 23 And he vowed to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.” 24 And she went out, and said to her mother, “What shall I ask?” And she said, “The head of John the baptizer.” 25 And she came in immediately with haste to the king, and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” 26 And the king was exceedingly sorry; but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her. 27 And immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard and gave orders to bring his head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, 28 and brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother. 29 When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.

(Mark 6:14-29)

There is much that the life, and death, of St. John the Baptist can teach us.

First, marriage is a sacred thing. To defend God’s intentions and laws regarding marriage is something that is worth dying for.

Second, Mark’s Gospel tells us that John was having a positive influence on Herod. Despite what John was saying about Herod’s illicit union, Herod was glad to hear the Baptist speak. Clearly there was some part of him that was responding to God’s message. Unfortunately, his choice of “associates” meant that he never had the chance to continue to hear and to repent.

Third, we can see the danger of wine and women to a man’s senses. Herod never wanted John dead, despite what the Baptist said. But those two constant haunts of man led him to make a rash vow he felt compelled to honor. Important lesson for my male readers: wine + women = folly.

Fourth, we can see here that women are just as capable of wickedness as men. It was Herodias, not Herod, who wanted John dead. She was the instigator of this evil. And her daughter went right along with it.

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Selected Sunday Scriptures- #115

Let us start this post with the beginning of Psalm 37:

Fret not yourself because of the wicked,
    be not envious of wrongdoers!
For they will soon fade like the grass,
    and wither like the green herb.

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
    so you will dwell in the land, and enjoy security.
Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your vindication as the light,
    and your right as the noonday.

Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him;
    fret not yourself over him who prospers in his way,
    over the man who carries out evil devices!

Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
    Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
For the wicked shall be cut off;
    but those who wait for the Lord shall possess the land.

10 Yet a little while, and the wicked will be no more;
    though you look well at his place, he will not be there.
11 But the meek shall possess the land,
    and delight themselves in abundant prosperity.

(Psalm 37:1-11)

Patience is a virtue urged here. We are called to wait upon the Lord and His time. I think I can speak for all my believing readers that this is usually easier said than done. When we want something, we want it now. Even when, or perhaps especially when, that something comes from God. But God has an entirely different perspective on time than us mortals:

For a thousand years in thy sight
    are but as yesterday when it is past,
    or as a watch in the night.

(Psalm 90:4)

St. James offers some thoughts on time and human presumption in his letter to the Church:

13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and get gain”; 14 whereas you do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 Whoever knows what is right to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

(James 4:13-17)

Each day is a gift to us from God. We are not owed it. As a gift, we should treasure it and use it for all its worth. Do good today, for we know not what tomorrow may bring.

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Tradition Thursday- #57

Today’s post will feature a saint I don’t believe I have yet covered in this series, St. Augustine of Hippo. Here is the beginning part of his first book on our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount:

1. If any one will piously and soberly consider the sermon which our Lord Jesus Christ spoke on the mount, as we read it in the Gospel according to Matthew, I think that he will find in it, so far as regards the highest morals, a perfect standard of the Christian life: and this we do not rashly venture to promise, but gather it from the very words of the Lord Himself. For the sermon itself is brought to a close in such a way, that it is clear there are in it all the precepts which go to mould the life. For thus He speaks: Therefore, whosoever hears these words of mine, and does them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that hears these words of mine, and does them not, I will liken unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. Since, therefore, He has not simply said, Whosoever hears my words, but has made an addition, saying, Whosoever hears these words of mine, He has sufficiently indicated, as I think, that these sayings which He uttered on the mount so perfectly guide the life of those who may be willing to live according to them, that they may justly be compared to one building upon a rock. I have said this merely that it may be clear that the sermon before us is perfect in all the precepts by which the Christian life is moulded; for as regards this particular section a more careful treatment will be given in its own place.

2. The beginning, then, of this sermon is introduced as follows: And when He saw the great multitudes, He went up into a mountain: and when He was set, His disciples came unto Him: and He opened His mouth, and taught them, saying. If it is asked what the mountain means, it may well be understood as meaning the greater precepts of righteousness; for there were lesser ones which were given to the Jews. Yet it is one God who, through His holy prophets and servants, according to a thoroughly arranged distribution of times, gave the lesser precepts to a people who as yet required to be bound by fear; and who, through His Son, gave the greater ones to a people whom it had now become suitable to set free by love. Moreover, when the lesser are given to the lesser, and the greater to the greater, they are given by Him who alone knows how to present to the human race the medicine suited to the occasion. Nor is it surprising that the greater precepts are given for the kingdom of heaven, and the lesser for an earthly kingdom, by that one and the same God, who made heaven and earth. With respect, therefore, to that righteousness which is the greater, it is said through the prophet, Your righteousness is like the mountains of God: and this may well mean that the one Master alone fit to teach matters of so great importance teaches on a mountain. Then He teaches sitting, as behooves the dignity of the instructor’s office; and His disciples come to Him, in order that they might be nearer in body for hearing His words, as they also approached in spirit to fulfil His precepts. And He opened His mouth, and taught them, saying. The circumlocution before us, which runs, And He opened His mouth, perhaps gracefully intimates by the mere pause that the sermon will be somewhat longer than usual, unless, perchance, it should not be without meaning, that now He is said to have opened His own mouth, whereas under the old law He was accustomed to open the mouths of the prophets.

3. What, then, does He say? Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. We read in Scripture concerning the striving after temporal things, All is vanity and presumption of spirit; but presumption of spirit means audacity and pride: usually also the proud are said to have great spirits; and rightly, inasmuch as the wind also is called spirit. And hence it is written, Fire, hail, snow, ice, spirit of tempest. But, indeed, who does not know that the proud are spoken of as puffed up, as if swelled out with wind? And hence also that expression of the apostle, Knowledge puffs up, but charity edifies. And the poor in spirit are rightly understood here, as meaning the humble and God-fearing, i.e. those who have not the spirit which puffs up. Nor ought blessedness to begin at any other point whatever, if indeed it is to attain unto the highest wisdom; but the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; for, on the other hand also, pride is entitled the beginning of all sin. Let the proud, therefore, seek after and love the kingdoms of the earth; but blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Chapter 2

4. Blessed are the meek, for they shall by inheritance possess the earth: that earth, I suppose, of which it is said in the Psalm, You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living. For it signifies a certain firmness and stability of the perpetual inheritance, where the soul, by means of a good disposition, rests, as it were, in its own place, just as the body rests on the earth, and is nourished from it with its own food, as the body from the earth. This is the very rest and life of the saints. Then, the meek are those who yield to acts of wickedness, and do not resist evil, but overcome evil with good. Let those, then, who are not meek quarrel and fight for earthly and temporal things; but blessed are the meek, for they shall by inheritance possess the earth, from which they cannot be driven out.

5. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Mourning is sorrow arising from the loss of things held dear; but those who are converted to God lose those things which they were accustomed to embrace as dear in this world: for they do not rejoice in those things in which they formerly rejoiced; and until the love of eternal things be in them, they are wounded by some measure of grief. Therefore they will be comforted by the Holy Spirit, who on this account chiefly is called the Paraclete, i.e. the Comforter, in order that, while losing the temporal joy, they may enjoy to the full that which is eternal.

6. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Now He calls those parties, lovers of a true and indestructible good. They will therefore be filled with that food of which the Lord Himself says, My meat is to do the will of my Father, which is righteousness; and with that water, of which whosoever drinks, as he also says, it shall be in him a well of water, springing up into everlasting life.

7. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. He says that they are blessed who relieve the miserable, for it is paid back to them in such a way that they are freed from misery.

8. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. How foolish, therefore, are those who seek God with these outward eyes, since He is seen with the heart! As it is written elsewhere, And in singleness of heart seek Him. For that is a pure heart which is a single heart: and just as this light cannot be seen, except with pure eyes; so neither is God seen, unless that is pure by which He can be seen.

9. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. It is the perfection of peace, where nothing offers opposition; and the children of God are peacemakers, because nothing resists God, and surely children ought to have the likeness of their father. Now, they are peacemakers in themselves who, by bringing in order all the motions of their soul, and subjecting them to reason— i.e. to the mind and spirit— and by having their carnal lusts thoroughly subdued, become a kingdom of God: in which all things are so arranged, that that which is chief and pre-eminent in man rules without resistance over the other elements, which are common to us with the beasts; and that very element which is pre-eminent in man, i.e. mind and reason, is brought under subjection to something better still, which is the truth itself, the only-begotten Son of God. For a man is not able to rule over things which are inferior, unless he subjects himself to what is superior. And this is the peace which is given on earth to men of goodwill; this the life of the fully developed and perfect wise man. From a kingdom of this sort brought to a condition of thorough peace and order, the prince of this world is cast out, who rules where there is perversity and disorder. When this peace has been inwardly established and confirmed, whatever persecutions he who has been cast out shall stir up from without, he only increases the glory which is according to God; being unable to shake anything in that edifice, but by the failure of his machinations making it to be known with how great strength it has been built from within outwardly. Hence there follows: Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Chapter 3

10. There are in all, then, these eight sentences. For now in what remains He speaks in the way of direct address to those who were present, saying: Blessed shall you be when men shall revile you and persecute you. But the former sentences He addressed in a general way: for He did not say, Blessed are you poor in spirit, for yours is the kingdom of heaven; but He says, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven: nor, Blessed are you meek, for you shall inherit the earth; but, Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. And so the others up to the eighth sentence, where He says: Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. After that He now begins to speak in the way of direct address to those present, although what has been said before referred also to His present audience; and that which follows, and which seems to be spoken specially to those present, refers also to those who were absent, or who would afterwards come into existence.

For this reason the number of sentences before us is to be carefully considered. For the beatitudes begin with humility: Blessed are the poor in spirit, i.e. those not puffed up, while the soul submits itself to divine authority, fearing lest after this life it go away to punishment, although perhaps in this life it might seem to itself to be happy. Then it (the soul) comes to the knowledge of the divine Scriptures, where it must show itself meek in its piety, lest it should venture to condemn that which seems absurd to the unlearned, and should itself be rendered unteachable by obstinate disputations. After that, it now begins to know in what entanglements of this world it is held by reason of carnal custom and sins: and so in this third stage, in which there is knowledge, the loss of the highest good is mourned over, because it sticks fast in what is lowest. Then, in the fourth stage there is labour, where vehement exertion is put forth, in order that the mind may wrench itself away from those things in which, by reason of their pestilential sweetness, it is entangled: here therefore righteousness is hungered and thirsted after, and fortitude is very necessary; because what is retained with delight is not abandoned without pain. Then, at the fifth stage, to those persevering in labour, counsel for getting rid of it is given; for unless each one is assisted by a superior, in no way is he fit in his own case to extricate himself from so great entanglements of miseries. But it is a just counsel, that he who wishes to be assisted by a stronger should assist him who is weaker in that in which he himself is stronger: therefore blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. At the sixth stage there is purity of heart, able from a good conscience of good works to contemplate that highest good, which can be discerned by the pure and tranquil intellect alone. Lastly is the seventh, wisdom itself— i.e. the contemplation of the truth, tranquillizing the whole man, and assuming the likeness of God, which is thus summed up: Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God. The eighth, as it were, returns to the starting-point, because it shows and commends what is complete and perfect: therefore in the first and in the eighth the kingdom of heaven is named, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven; and, Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven: as it is now said, Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Seven in number, therefore, are the things which bring perfection: for the eighth brings into light and shows what is perfect, so that starting, as it were, from the beginning again, the others also are perfected by means of these stages.

Chapter 4

11. Hence also the sevenfold operation of the Holy Ghost, of which Isaiah speaks, seems to me to correspond to these stages and sentences. But there is a difference of order: for there the enumeration begins with the more excellent, but here with the inferior. For there it begins with wisdom, and closes with the fear of God: but the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. And therefore, if we reckon as it were in a gradually ascending series, there the fear of God is first, piety second, knowledge third, fortitude fourth, counsel fifth, understanding sixth, wisdom seventh. The fear of God corresponds to the humble, of whom it is here said, Blessed are the poor in spirit, i.e. those not puffed up, not proud: to whom the apostle says, Be not high-minded, but fear; i.e. be not lifted up. Piety corresponds to the meek: for he who inquires piously honours Holy Scripture, and does not censure what he does not yet understand, and on this account does not offer resistance; and this is to be meek: whence it is here said, Blessed are the meek. Knowledge corresponds to those that mourn who already have found out in the Scriptures by what evils they are held chained which they ignorantly have coveted as though they were good and useful. Fortitude corresponds to those hungering and thirsting: for they labour in earnestly desiring joy from things that are truly good, and in eagerly seeking to turn away their love from earthly and corporeal things: and of them it is here said, Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness. Counsel corresponds to the merciful: for this is the one remedy for escaping from so great evils, that we forgive, as we wish to be ourselves forgiven; and that we assist others so far as we are able, as we ourselves desire to be assisted where we are not able: and of them it is here said, Blessed are the merciful. Understanding corresponds to the pure in heart, the eye being as it were purged, by which that may be beheld which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, and what has not entered into the heart of man: and of them it is here said, Blessed are the pure in heart. Wisdom corresponds to the peacemakers, in whom all things are now brought into order, and no passion is in a state of rebellion against reason, but all things together obey the spirit of man, while he himself also obeys God: and of them it is here said, Blessed are the peacemakers.

12. Moreover, the one reward, which is the kingdom of heaven, is variously named according to these stages. In the first, just as ought to be the case, is placed the kingdom of heaven, which is the perfect and highest wisdom of the rational soul. Thus, therefore, it is said, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven: as if it were said, The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. To the meek an inheritance is given, as it were the testament of a father to those dutifully seeking it: Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. To the mourners comfort, as to those who know what they have lost, and in what evils they are sunk: Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. To those hungering and thirsting, a full supply, as it were a refreshment to those labouring and bravely contending for salvation: Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled. To the merciful mercy, as to those following a true and excellent counsel, so that this same treatment is extended toward them by one who is stronger, which they extend toward the weaker: Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. To the pure in heart is given the power of seeing God, as to those bearing about with them a pure eye for discerning eternal things: Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. To the peacemakers the likeness of God is given, as being perfectly wise, and formed after the image of God by means of the regeneration of the renewed man: Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God. And those promises can indeed be fulfilled in this life, as we believe them to have been fulfilled in the case of the apostles. For that all-embracing change into the angelic form, which is promised after this life, cannot be explained in any words. Blessed, therefore, are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. This eighth sentence, which goes back to the starting-point, and makes manifest the perfect man, is perhaps set forth in its meaning both by the circumcision on the eighth day in the Old Testament, and by the resurrection of the Lord after the Sabbath, the day which is certainly the eighth, and at the same time the first day; and by the celebration of the eight festival days which we celebrate in the case of the regeneration of the new man; and by the very number of Pentecost. For to the number seven, seven times multiplied, by which we make forty-nine, as it were an eighth is added, so that fifty may be made up, and we, as it were, return to the starting-point: on which day the Holy Spirit was sent, by whom we are led into the kingdom of heaven, and receive the inheritance, and are comforted; and are fed, and obtain mercy, and are purified, and are made peacemakers; and being thus perfect, we bear all troubles brought upon us from without for the sake of truth and righteousness.

Chapter 5

13. Blessed are you, says He, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven. Let any one who is seeking after the delights of this world and the riches of temporal things under the Christian name, consider that our blessedness is within; as it is said of the soul of the Church by the mouth of the prophet, All the beauty of the king’s daughter is within; for outwardly revilings, and persecutions, and disparagements are promised; and yet, from these things there is a great reward in heaven, which is felt in the heart of those who endure, those who can now say, We glory in tribulations: knowing that tribulation works patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope makes not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. For it is not simply the enduring of such things that is advantageous, but the bearing of such things for the name of Christ not only with tranquil mind, but even with exultation. For many heretics, deceiving souls under the Christian name, endure many such things; but they are excluded from that reward on this account, that it is not said merely, Blessed are they which endure persecution; but it is added, for righteousness’ sake. Now, where there is no sound faith, there can be no righteousness, for the just [righteous] man lives by faith. Neither let schismatics promise themselves anything of that reward; for similarly, where there is no love, there cannot be righteousness, for love works no ill to his neighbour; and if they had it, they would not tear in pieces Christ’s body, which is the Church.

14. But it may be asked, What is the difference when He says, when men shall revile you, and when they shall say all manner of evil against you, since to revile is just this, to say evil against? But it is one thing when the reviling word is hurled with contumely in presence of him who is reviled, as it was said to our Lord, Say we not the truth that you are a Samaritan, and hast a devil? and another thing, when our reputation is injured in our absence, as it is also written of Him, Some said, He is a prophet; others said, Nay, but He deceives the people. Then, further, to persecute is to inflict violence, or to assail with snares, as was done by him who betrayed Him, and by them who crucified Him. Certainly, as for the fact that this also is not put in a bare form, so that it should be said, and shall say all manner of evil against you, but there is added the word falsely, and also the expression for my sake; I think that the addition is made for the sake of those who wish to glory in persecutions, and in the baseness of their reputation; and to say that Christ belongs to them for this reason, that many bad things are said about them; while, on the one hand, the things said are true, when they are said respecting their error; and, on the other hand, if sometimes also some false charges are thrown out, which frequently happens from the rashness of men, yet they do not suffer such things for Christ’s sake. For he is not a follower of Christ who is not called a Christian according to the true faith and the catholic discipline.

15. Rejoice, says He, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven. I do not think that it is the higher parts of this visible world that are here called heaven. For our reward, which ought to be immoveable and eternal, is not to be placed in things fleeting and temporal. But I think the expression in heaven means in the spiritual firmament, where dwells everlasting righteousness: in comparison with which a wicked soul is called earth, to which it is said when it sins, Earth you are, and unto earth you shall return. Of this heaven the apostle says, For our conversation is in heaven. Hence they who rejoice in spiritual good are conscious of that reward now; but then it will be perfected in every part, when this mortal also shall have put on immortality. For, says He, so persecuted they the prophets also which were before you. In the present case He has used persecution in a general sense, as applying alike to abusive words and to the tearing in pieces of one’s reputation; and has well encouraged them by an example, because they who speak true things are wont to suffer persecution: nevertheless did not the ancient prophets on this account, through fear of persecution, give over the preaching of the truth.

(Source)

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Masculine Monday- #12

*Men Only*

Today’s brief post contains a brief message to men:

Stop apologizing so often.

Apologies should be given out sparingly. At the same time, they should be given out with full earnestness. A man should mean it when he apologizes for a wrong.

Saying you are sorry constantly takes a lot of the oomph from your apologies. They end up meaning little. And if it is really necessary, then it means you might not have really made up for whatever you did.

Also, and I don’t normally use this word… but saying “sorry” a ton comes off as incredibly Beta. It is extremely unattractive. Something to keep in mind.

[Note: there is an exception to the above- a carefully pulled off stream of melodramatic apologies can make for good teasing.]

So, in summary, watch it with apologies- seldom and meaningful should be the order of the day.

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Selected Sunday Scriptures- #114

In today’s post I want to examine the Fear of the Lord. Otherwise said, it can be scary to find yourself in the presence of God, or his actions. Here are but a few examples from the New Testament:

22 Then he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but the boat by this time was many furlongs distant from the land, beaten by the waves; for the wind was against them. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear. 27 But immediately he spoke to them, saying, “Take heart, it is I; have no fear.”

(Matthew 14:22-27)

11 Soon afterward he went to a city called Na′in, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. 12 As he drew near to the gate of the city, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow; and a large crowd from the city was with her. 13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 14 And he came and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” 15 And the dead man sat up, and began to speak. And he gave him to his mother. 16 Fear seized them all; and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!” 17 And this report concerning him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country.

(Luke 7:11-17)

28 Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And as he was praying, the appearance of his countenance was altered, and his raiment became dazzling white. 30 And behold, two men talked with him, Moses and Eli′jah, 31 who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep but kept awake, and they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 33 And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is well that we are here; let us make three booths, one for you and one for Moses and one for Eli′jah”—not knowing what he said. 34 As he said this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” 36 And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silence and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen.

(Luke 9:28-36)

Now after the sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Mag′dalene and the other Mary went to see the sepulchre. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. His appearance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men.

(Matthew 28:1-4)

When we think of God, and Jesus especially, we like to think of a comforting force. Of God as our loving Father, or Jesus as our brother. It is easy for us to forget that power, real power, as displayed by God, is a frightening thing.

Why so? I would wager it frightens us because it isn’t natural. It is supernatural. God’s power and presence defies the “natural order.” It forces us, creatures all too often locked into our material ways, to confront the very real fact that there are forces and powers that we cannot see and cannot hear, and above all else, cannot comprehend.

I am curious what my readers think about the subject. Also, I would appreciate any sayings of the Saints that anyone knows of that address this subject.

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Saturday Saints- #115

We resume where we left off, and that means the letter H. Thus, our saint for today is Saint Hilda of Whitby:

Hilda of Whitby or Hild of Whitby (c. 614–680) is a Christian saint and the founding abbess of the monastery at Whitby, which was chosen as the venue for the Synod of Whitby. An important figure in the conversion of Anglo-Saxon England to Christianity, she was abbess at several monasteries and recognised for the wisdom that drew kings to her for advice.

The source of information about Hilda is the Ecclesiastical History of the English by the Venerable Bede in 731, who was born approximately eight years before her death. He documented much of the Christian conversion of the Anglo-Saxons.

More can be found out about here at her wiki, located here.

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Feminism Is Comical

 

*WARNING: Spoilers will abound in this post, especially concerning DC and Marvel movies. You have been warned.*

Dalrock’s recent post “The real problem with the Ghostbuster’s Reboot” covered a wide array of feminism related topics. Among the areas covered were movies and comics, including the recent Suicide Squad movie. I had touched on that movie briefly in my post You Don’t Own Me. That particular post featured this class Cane Caldo gem:

It looks like a film about the government hiring a porn starlet and her prison groupies to kill a rapper.

Sadly, that was not what the film was about. Speaking of what films are “about”, that brings me to this post. I want to examine the role and impact on feminism in recent comic movies.

Now, I haven’t seen the new Ghostbusters movie (and hope to keep it that way). But from what others have indicated, it seems to be a Wave 2 Feminist work. This is quite different from the Wave 3 feminism I have seen in most comic movies. So lets cover them.

Suicide Squad

There are several characters to cover here: Harley Quin, Katana, Enchantress and Amanda Waller. Lets start with the crazy woman.

Harley Quin

Harley, as portrayed in the film, was the epitome of what Wave 3 Sex Positive Feminism is all about: Sexy, Strong, Smart. She uses her sex appeal as a weapon to get what she wants, and uses it to manipulate the men around her. She can hold her own in a fight. Oh, and did I mention funny too?

But here is the thing- that is a major shift from what her character was originally. In the beginning she was the poster child of DV- the Joker’s girlfriend whom he liked to abuse and hurt. Heck, the cartoon would show (sometimes off screen) her get struck by the Joker, and he once threw her out a window to her (intended) death.

If anything, she was a Wave 2 feminist icon at first- a sign of how evil and depraved men are.  How women cannot trust them and need to be in charge. But as people have pointed out, Wave 2 feminism doesn’t sell nearly as well as Wave 3. After all, Wave 3 women are empowered and hot, and who doesn’t like that?

So over time Harley Quin has changed as a character. Originally the battered GF of the Joker, she has becoming something else. Over time she became smarter (in the cunning variety). She was always smart (she was a shrink), but was easily manipulated. Now she is the one doing the manipulating.

Her sex appeal was upped, and she became more physically capable. In the movie the Joker couldn’t resist her, and it is implied that Batman could be swayed by her. Instead of becoming a punchline (hehe), she became an actual villain. Heck, she rose to be the “Queen of Crime.” Major promotion there.

Of course, that wasn’t quite right- she shouldn’t be a pure villain. No, just misunderstood . So now she is an anti-villian as much as anything, at least as portrayed in the comics. And the movie moved her along those lines too.

Also, in the movie she was said to be crazier than the Joker, and more fearless. Talk about “Girl Power” there. And of course, since she is hot, she can totally get away with crazy. There is a message there- women can be crazy if they want to. It is their female prerogative- especially if they are hot. And Margot Robbie really sold the role, too. Expect to see her in a solo film, or maybe DC Girl Power film, in the future.

Katana

Again, we have an attractive female who is quite physically proficient. Also, kind of sort of crazy in that she talks to the soul of her dead husband trapped in a sword. But it is all ok, because after all she is a kick-ass hot female.

Enchantress

This character has two kinds of hot going on- the crazed, kinky, fetish kind, and the sweet girl-next-door kind. Also, she is absurdly powerful. In fact, her power plays a significant part in the film’s plot.

Amanda Waller

Finally we come to the @&%#* herself. Now Waller is not exactly what one might call a “hot” character. Her character is known for being large and in-charge. And I mean that literally- she is normally portrayed as quite overweight. Naturally enough, she was not portrayed that way in the movie. Instead they had Viola Davis play her, and quite ably too. But again we see feminism slipping in. Since she isn’t really supposed to be hot, they didn’t or couldn’t pull that off. But they did manage to at least ensure she wasn’t ugly. Because for Wave 3 feminism, ugly is damned near a sin if it is assigned to a woman.

The Joker

I cannot leave this movie without covering the Joker. His character was quite different from The Dark Knight version. Frankly, I wasn’t impressed. Although from what I have heard they left much of his stuff on the cutting room floor. So perhaps the character would have been better with superior editing.

All the same, this Joker was very different from the normal way Joker is portrayed. How so? Simple- he actually loves Harley. Traditionally the Joker never loved Harley. She was a just a tool to him- one that he would use and abuse at whim. He never tried to rescue her unless there was something in it for him. However, the new Joker actually goes into an active hostile zone to rescue her. He risks his own life for her. Even more, there is nothing in it for him.

Not really a fan of that. Frankly, it weakens the Joker as a character. Now he has a redeeming quality, when his character is not supposed to have any redeeming qualities. A “soft” Joker just doesn’t have quite the right edge.

And that ends that movie.

Man of Steel

This movie was all about Lois Lane. And oh boy, where to begin. Lois Lane begins as a confident, powerful and respected/feared reporter who is herself fearless. No real character flaws that I could find anywhere. She, more than anyone, drives the plot in the movie. Now, I like Amy Adams as an actress, but she was a poor fit for Lois. Too old, wrong hair and wrong… flair.

Here is the thing- for the most part she was perfectly capable of taking care of herself. Only when Superman screws up does he have to rescue her. The thing is, I would argue that Lois, as originally envisioned, might have been a subtle swipe at earlier editions of feminism. If you look at the earlier works, she constantly got herself in trouble. And it was Superman who always got her out of trouble.  The confident, fearless and competent reporter Lois Lane only existed because Superman allowed her to exist as such. Without him she would have been dead many times over.

Here is a link to some of the old cartoons:

Watching through them it is pretty clear to me that Superman/Clarke Kent the force behind reporter Lois Lane. To me, that seems to be a subtle attack on Feminism. Namely, that women can only be strong and empowered if men enable that. Of course, I encourage my readers to offer their thoughts.

Batman v Superman

The same general pattern with Lois in this movie. But in addition we get Wonder Woman. If anyone is the stereotype of the strong, empowered and sexy woman, it is her. She basically runs circles around Batman/Bruce Wayne using her smarts. Then she does the same with her martial prowess. Basically, she leaves him in the dust.

Despite having only a small part in the movie, she played a significant role in the advertising- both before and after release.  Why? Because what she represents – Smart, Strong, Sexy- sells.

Marvel

Finally, we come to the Marvel movies. There have actually been a fair number of complaints against Marvel for their lack of strong female characters. Certainly, for the most part, they haven’t let women steal the show like DC has. Of course, that will change over time. Captain Marvel will provide their counterpart to Wonder Woman. And expect other female characters to start to provide that same, much desired mojo.

Mind you, they do have some that fit the profile.

Black Widow certainly does. Very capable, quite smart, and of course lots and lots of sex appeal. I mean black leather, right? All the same, she doesn’t have her own movie, and probably won’t. But they did get her into a number of other movies instead.

Ironman 3 saw the rise of a strong Pepper Potts. She basically got superpowers towards the end of the film and in a way that pushed hot in an almost literal fashion. Her character was already smart, and she ended up running roughshod over the male antagonist. All the same, she hasn’t shown up lately.

Conclusion

This post has run on long enough. Time to wrap things up.

Marvel has done much better than DC for a number of reasons. One of them, I believe, is because they for the most part haven’t let female characters push male characters out of the limelight. I suspect they will take a hit at the box  office if this starts to change. Not necessarily immediately, but over time the audience will react. While Wave 3 feminism sells better than Wave 2, that doesn’t mean that audiences want to be overloaded with it. Certainly not at the expense of emasculating male comic heroes. [Which I suppose I will cover in my next comic related post.]

Studios are in something of a tough spot. On the one hand, they need to stick to the narrative or face a backlash. On the other hand, they risk losing money if they cater to feminist demands too much. It will be interesting to see how they handle these conflicting demands. My money is that Marvel will pull it off, while DC won’t.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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