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Tuesday 31 January 2012

Bloggers' Request--Catholics Pay Attention, Please

Father Z has requested that bloggers pass on this information. Contact your bishops if you are in the States. To date, 107 have responded in demanding a repeal of the mandate against conscience. Also, Senator Rubio has drafted a bill to counter-act this heinous bill of Obama. Here are the links, one and two. If you never did anything political in your life, do it now.

I am a writing with an injured hand and arm, offering up this for all of the Catholic priests, sems, bishops and laity in the States. Read, pray, act. Act, please, now.

No democratic process in Britain--Government pushes its own agenda and against the wishes of the people

LifeSiteNews has published an excellent article on the fight to stop the Cameron government from pushing through gay civil "marriage". Anglican and Catholic bishops alike are asking for a concerted, interdenominational effort on the part of churches to stop this movement. Archbishop Conti of Glasgow wrote eloquently that, “Those in Government need to be respectfully reminded that a mandate to govern does not include a mandate to reconstruct society on ideological grounds, nor to undermine the very institution which, from the beginning, has been universally acknowledged as of the natural order and the bedrock of society, namely marriage and the family. In terms of law, its support and defence have been on a par with the defence of life itself. We weaken it at our peril.”

Those is Britain should be demanding an explanation of this obsession with the present coalition government, which, as the article notes, did not publicize this agenda either in any of the parties' platforms or in the run-up to the election. Gay "marriage" was not an issue.

So, why is it now? This is ideology gone mad. Cameron and company are undermining the democratic processes of Parliamentary government. 

SPUC has passed this resolution and we must all support these pro-life efforts.“That the Council of SPUC, noting the various proposals currently being made by the present Government and others in regard to the status and standing of marriage and its consequent effect upon family life; and further noting the higher proportionate incidence of abortion in unmarried women compared to married women, resolves to do its utmost to fight for the retention of the traditional understanding of marriage in the history, culture and law of the United Kingdom, namely the exclusive union of one man with one woman for life; and accordingly instructs its officers and executive committee to conduct a major campaign to this end, to co-operate with other persons and societies in so doing and specifically to target the Government’s consultation period starting in March, 2012, in regard to (so-called) same sex marriage.” 

And, now for something completely different

I remember an episode light years ago when I was engaged and visiting the home of my fiance in Hampstead. Before dinner, the Pater asked me what I would like for my aperitif. Knowing the good cellar of the household, I said "whiskey" and promptly got a jab in the ribs from my sweet intended. I should have said "sherry", being a lady. However, the Pater poured me a generous glass of the finest and said, "Ah, these American ladies are so independent." What he really meant was that I did not do quite the right thing.

However, given a choice between a Emilio Lustau Solera Reserva Dry Oloroso or The Macallan, at a younger age, I would have chosen The Macallan, still my favorite whiskey. However, as I have grown a bit older, I find that I like the dry sherries much more, even though they are out of fashion in most places. 
I did take a short wine course a million years ago when I was as Notre Dame, (not part of the curriculum), and learned all about before dinner wines, wines during various courses, dessert wines and so on. Plus, I was fortunate enough to hang around various connoisseurs in graduate school (and...what is graduate school for...?) and learned "at the table" as it were. Also, when I was in the Senior Common Room in Bristol, we always had sherry before dinner, but it was always Harvey's. The faculty was a bit happier when I bought the old La Guita from El Vino's, the real thing from Spain. When I lived in London, one could take a jug into El Vino's and fill it up with The Macallan from a cask. I wonder if one can do that now? Happy days.
As I am living in Ireland, I am surprised at two things in the range of alcohol. First, all wines are two to three times as expensive as even in Britain and I do not understand why. Wine is much more expensive than in Malta, and the United States, where the Californian and other State wines keep prices competitive. The prices here are ridiculous and probably have something to do with the new Irish budget and belt tightening. An not-so-nice ordinary wine is the same price as a nice Coppola in California.
Secondly, I cannot understand why so many American beers, and I do not mean lovely Wisconsin or Iowa real ales. are sold here instead of British beers. Amazingly, at the local Supervalu, Guinness is not to be found, unless the shop is simply out all the time. I learned about real ales when I lived in Wisconsin and we used to shop at a great store which sold only Wisconsin produce. Also, the family lived in Alaska for awhile, which, believe it or not, in Anchorage there are more Cordon Bleu chefs and great restaurants then any other city in all the fifty states. In Ireland, at least where I am, women do not go to pubs here as they do in England, escorted, of course. And, as I do not go out to dinner much, I do not drink unless with dinner. I wonder if Mary and Jesus drank the wine He made out of water at Cana? Most likely, and why not? 

Ah, well, as the Feast of St. Brigid of Ireland is tomorrow, maybe she would not mind someone raising a glass of The Macallan. God bless Ireland and boy, does this country need blessing.

Monday 30 January 2012

Perfection Part Three-Thomism and the Spiritual Life

The concept of grace is rarely taught in catechesis and yet, a Catholic needs an excellent grasp on the concept of, especially, sanctifying grace, in order to grow in the interior life. The other concepts which an adult Catholic needs to understand are the virtues, or the life of virtue. The title of a key book, based on many sources, but none more than St. Thomas Aquinas, is Garrigou-Lagrange's The Three Ages of the Interior Life. When St. Paul writes of giving his converts "meat", this is meat, not milk. And, a caution to the pilgrim is that one can learn something intellectually and not have such concepts actually be part of the interior life of the soul, but only head knowledge. An excellent spiritual director is a necessity and good luck trying to find one in this day and age. Also, before one engages the ideas of Garrigou-Lagrange, I highly suggest at least the lay version of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, again under a director. Again, good luck trying to find an orthodox, conservative director and not one involved in New Age interpretations of the classic thirty day retreat.

In a mini-series, of which this is the third part, I want to cover a basic approach to perfection, with an emphasis on the life of the virtues. One can read the complete discussion in Garrigou-Lagrange's great book, but I shall outline a few things on this blog just to interest readers. In this installment, I want to look at the infused virtues and in the next posting,  the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, which we all receive in Baptism. Here is a useful chart from the book:

 Charity -->
 Faith -->
 Hope -->
Gift of Wisdom
Gift of Understanding
Gift of Knowledge
Gift of Counsel
Gift of Piety
Gift of Fortitude
Gift of Fear
 Prudence -->
 - Religion -->
 - Penance
 - Obedience
 Fortitude -->
 - Patience
 - Humility
 - Meekness
 - Chasity

The Theological Virtues are infused, that is given to us by the Father. These are, of course, Faith, Hope and Charity. St. Thomas and Garrigou-Lagrange explain that the Theological Virtues are directed towards God as the End. We are given these virtues, but we must use and incorporate them into our souls. This is the job for each one of us, given these wonderful virtues at Baptism. One can read Garrigou-Lagrange for more detail. 

The Moral Virtues, however, help us get to Heaven-these are a means to that end. I highly recommend Josef Pieper's The Four Cardinal Virtues: Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, Temperance, a book I have used in class with great success in the past. These Cardinal Virtues may be considered Moral Virtues, but there are more Moral Virtues, while there are only the Four Cardinal Virtues.  I am not going into the entire list here. You can look here. One cannot be in mortal sin and develop the acquired Moral Virtues. Here is Garrigou-Lagrange: a man must no longer be in the state of mortal sin, but his will must be set straight in regard to his last end. He must love God more than himself, at least with a real and efficacious love of esteem, if not with a love that is felt. This love is impossible without the state of grace and without charity.(4) But after justification or conversion, these true acquired virtues may come to be stable virtues; they may become connected, relying on each other. Finally, under the influx of infused charity, they become the principle of acts meritorious of eternal life. For this reason, some theologians, such as Duns Scotus, have even thought it not necessary that we should have infused moral virtues.

As much as I would not like to do so, I shall leave Duns Scotus for another time. But, notice two words being used here-acquired and infused. Even pagans, state Aquinas, using Plato and Aristotle, can acquire virtues; however, an example from Garrigou-Lagrange helps here: As St. Thomas remarks,(8) acquired temperance has a rule and formal object different from those of infused temperance. Acquired temperance keeps a just medium in the matter of food in order that we may live reasonably, that we may not injure our health or the exercise of our reason. Infused temperance, on the contrary, keeps a superior happy mean in the use of food in order that we may live in a Christian manner, as children of God, en route to the wholly supernatural life of eternity. Infused temperance thus implies a more severe mortification than is implied by acquired temperance; it requires, as St. Paul says, that man chastise his body and bring it into subjection,(9) that he may become not only a virtuous citizen of society on earth, but one of the "fellow citizens with the saints, and the domestics of God." (10)

Part of the distinction here is the "end", the "reason" for the virtues. The Moral Virtues are practical to a certain extent, but if these are directed towards God, these become steps to heaven. Although the atheist, for example, may eat in a temperate manner, he is not directing his actions towards the Almighty and eternal life. He is acquiring virtue rationally, but without the supernatural motive. This is one of Aquinas' examples, as seen above.

There is a difference between motives and action. The Christian does all for the love of God and others, and not merely for one's self. Before moving on, I want to refer to a footnote here. Babies who are baptized receive all these virtues. This is why it is so important to have babies baptized and for parents to raise their children with the idea of cultivating these virtues. Here is the note:
Clement V at the Council of Vienna (Denzinger, Enchiridion, no. 483), thus settled this question, which was formulated under Innocent III (Den­zinger, no. 410): "Whether faith, charity, and the other virtues are infused into children in baptism." He answers: "We, however, considering the gen­eral efficacy of the death of Christ, which is applied by baptism equally to all the baptized, think that, with the approval of the sacred Council, we should choose as more probable and more consonant and harmonious with the teachings of the saints and of modern doctors of theology, the second opinion, which declares that informing grace and the virtues are bestowed in baptism on infants as well as adults." By these words, "and the virtues," Clement V means.not only the theological virtues, but the moral virtues, for they also were involved in the question formulated under Innocent III.

As I wrote earlier this week, there is no reason why a child cannot become a saint.

St. Artemius Died at AgeTwelve
And, it is imperative that Catholic parents are aware of the life of the virtues in order, not only to become holy themselves, but to nurture holiness in their children.

The virtues grow together and are all based on love, the love for God and neighbor. If one advances in one virtue, one will advance in all. But, it is imperative that the person is in sanctifying grace, receiving the sacraments regularly, and praying. Too many Catholics believe all this life in the virtues will "just happen". Not so. And, sadly, many Catholics do not even realize that the life of virtue must be lived in order to become perfect, as we are all called to be. We are all called to be perfect. Even those who could not read in the Middle Ages looked towards their books of stone for these truths. We have or are in danger of losing these truths today. We see a crisis in character formation all around us, in politics, in youth, in ourselves. Without virtue, there is no character. To be continued...

Only in Ireland--Bishop investigated for calling this age "Godless"

Ireland has again proven itself to be one of the nations most hateful of its former religion, Catholicism. And, a ridiculous sign of this is a formal complaint of a secular humanist against a bishop who made a sermon on this "Godless age" at Knock. The bishop, Dr. Philip Boyce gave a homily called "To Trust in God"


Mr. Colgan, a secular humanist who has brought the charges against the bishop, stated this: "I believe statements of this kind are an incitement to hatred of dissidents, outsiders, secularists, within the meaning of the [Incitement to Hatred] Act, who are perfectly good citizens within the meaning of the civil law.
"The statements exemplify the chronic antipathy towards secularists, humanists etc, which has manifested itself in the ostracising of otherwise perfectly good Irish citizens, who do not share the aims of the Vatican's Irish Mission Church."
It is obvious that Mr. Colgan does not understand that it is secular humanism which is attacking the Church, not the opposite. Shades of Voltaire, or will I get in trouble for saying this?

Just When You Thought Things Could Not Get Worse-A New Trinitarian Heresy in the United States for Export

This is too important to pass up. On JihadWatch this morning, a new translation of the Bible has been supported by groups working in Muslim countries. The Three Persons of the Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are not going to be the default Names for the Triune God. Instead, Father is changed to Lord or Allah, and Son is changed to Messiah. What the translators have done is created a heretical Bible-as the Revelation of God in the Scriptures is clearly that He is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Why would any Christian group change the very heart of Revelation as to the Trinity for political correctness? As pointed out in the article, and as I know having had to deal with non-Trinitarian forms of Baptism in RCIA, to baptize someone in the name of the Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer invalidates the Sacrament. So, too, would a formula of the Allah, the Messiah and the Holy Spirit. The article highlights this section from Matthew, sure to make real Christians appalled at the audacity of the change: (Matthew 28:19) reads, "Cleanse them by water in the name of Allah, his Messiah and his Holy Spirit" instead of "baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." 

The three groups responsible for this blasphemy are Wycliffe Bible Translators, Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) and Frontiers in North America.

That is all we need for Christian unity is another heresy which panders to a false religion. The impetus of Protestantism is to more and more division, and more and more disobedience to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Thank God for the Catholic Church, which holds the fullness of truth.

Perfection Part Two-Metanoia First

Last night, I had a lengthy discussion with a friend about "conversion" to Christ. Now, this concept of metanoia or repentance comes from Christ Himself, as seen especially in His late night discussions with Nicodemus on being born again in the Spirit. In John 3:3, we hear Christ's words, and said to him: Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of GodThe problem being addressed in Christ's admonition to Nicodemus and to us is the "changing" of the heart and mind to Christ, which cannot come about without Faith and the turning away from sin. Again, referring to Bonhoeffer, so many so-called Christians want the goodies of Christianity, such as salvation and community, without metanoia. It is only after conversion that one receives the graces, through the Sacraments of the Church, to grow in Christ, putting on His Mind and living in His Mystical Body, the Church.

The entitlement culture, which is obvious and much discussed on this blog and others, (see Dr. Sanity's excellent article on dependency), creates an atmosphere in the Church where some of the laity think they are entitled to grace without repentance. Example: when I was teaching RCIA, most of the participants finished the course and came into the Church at the Easter Vigil. However, there were always some, let us say 10%, who did not, who turned away at some point in the process. Why? The most commons reasons were contraception, the unwillingness to deal with irregular marriages, and the non-acceptance of the Church's Teaching on such hot topics as homosexuality. In these areas, there would appear a person who simply could not accept repentance, or metanoia, the turning around, the changing of a life for the sake of Christ-the Costly Grace.

If the change of mind does not happen, the life of the person will not change, as conversion is in the will. A huge mistake is made by some in the ministry who always want to appeal to the heart; they want people to "fall in love with Jesus". This is good, but if one looks at the progress of the sinners in the Scriptures, such as the woman caught in adultery, or the woman at the well, Truth and metanoia came first-that is, the realization of sin and the awareness that God, Christ, forgives sin comes first and then, and only then, the complete freedom and ability to love Love Himself follows. One responds to Love through metanoia.

Without conversion, our hearts are stone and our minds clouded by sin and death.

Conversion, love, the road to perfection. Perfection comes with the putting on and the habit of virtue. This can happen in the life of a child correctly raised in Faith, in a Catholic home. Many saints have been children or very young, but the perfection of their lives revealed that something, someone, helped them to know and love God. I think of the saints listed in the Canon of the Mass who were young when they died--Agatha, Lucy, Agnes, and Cecilia. Like the women in the New Testament, at some point in their young lives, they recognized their need for salvation, repented, and became lovers of Christ, following perfection even to face death itself.

I worked with youth many years ago. The success of one of my groups, happily, were the teens from excellent Catholic families, whose parents were Church-going Catholics, some home schooling. These teens and I planned May Crownings, Days of Renewal, Penance Services with the priest chaplain and many other worthwhile endeavors. We reached out to those who needed conversion from a position of strength, sharing the Gospel with those teens in the same high school who were drug addicts, alcoholics, fornicators, etc. Without the strength of that core group, there would have been no conversions. In another high school, I could not find that core group, even though the Catholic school had a population of 2,000 students. I failed to find the core group-those already converted who could share the Good News. I had to work on evangelization and at the level of conversion, but the students were too wealthy, too complacent and did not want metanoia. I left, shaking the proverbial dust off my feet when I realized the doors of their hearts were too closed for the Gospel message.

Christ Himself did not work in all places, towns, cities. He would go, preach, and leave. The Good News was available, God Himself was available, and He never chased after anyone. He simply was. He said, Come follow me, and those who responded to grace did follow Him. They began a road to perfection through conversion. Only those who turn and leave sin can be in the True Presence of God and learn the way of virtue. The others may be turned to salt, as they keep looking towards sin, instead of towards God. That is the lesson of Lot's wife. Her heart was still in Sodom and Gomorrah. She had not converted to God's message of salvation-to leave sin. She died, but she was already dead spiritually. To be continued.

Sunday 29 January 2012

A Traditional Catholic in Iowa: Bishop Nickless on HHS, Sebelius, and Obama...

A Traditional Catholic in Iowa: Bishop Nickless on HHS, Sebelius, and Obama...: I will reprint the entirety of this message. It is important and it is from one of the bishops in Iowa. Dear brothers and sisters in Ch...

That they may be one...John 17:21

Rorate Caeli has an excellent editorial article on the fact that now is the time for the SSPX to come into full communion with Rome. I shall let you read it here. We must pray and fast that this happens soon, very soon.

On Perfection Part One

Fervent souls shall quickly mount to high perfection.

(Dedicated to my seminarian friends, who in some places, are being taught to be mediocre.)

This is one of the promises given to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque for those who keep the Nine First Fridays of Masses. On June 11, 1899, Pope St. Leo the XIII dedicated the entire world to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

What is the connection between the pursuit of perfection and the Sacred Heart of Jesus? What is this seeking of perfection called for by Christ Himself?  In Matthew 5:48, Christ states, Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect.

In this Age of Mediocrity, I have heard very weak and mealy-mouthed sermons on this passage,to the point that the priests have deconstructed the text so that it no longer means what Christ intended. We are called to perfection. We are not called to second-best, or "good enough", or "getting by". Some preachers have compare "wholeness" to "holiness". This is not so. That is a New Age confusion of terms. We are called to be like the Father, Our Father, in whom we were made in His Image and Likeness. St. Bernard of Clairvaux has said that we have kept the Image,but lost the Likeness and that Likeness is living in the life of Sanctifying Grace.

In this age of the dumbing down of everything-politics, education, entertainment, culture-we have lost the sense of perfection. I hear good Catholics state, "I shall be happy if I get to Purgatory." That is not even good enough and it is false humility. To seek perfection is to want to bring Heaven down to Earth now, to be a saint now, in the messy world of secularism and sin. Christ always calls us to the hard and narrow way. If we aim at the wide way, we shall miss the mark.

My dad taught me archery. He also taught me how to shoot. He always said, "Aim at the center." If one concentrates on the bulls-eye, one will learn the technique and train the eye. No discipline, no success. I loved learning such skills, and I had to listen, be patient, practice over and over. Like all sports, one aims at perfection. I loved hitting the mark, the bulls-eye. Those who aim at the mediocre will never be great at anything.

This is not about competition, unless one is competing with one's self. Nor is it about pride. The fake humility in the world of the West, which discourages excellence and praise mediocrity,  the point of the drama, Amadeus, creates an atmosphere of envy. Evil hates good and mediocrity hates excellence. 

So why do priests in sermons give in to this Age of Mediocrity, not merely by ignoring the call to perfection, but by undermining God's Own Words in the Scriptures? Because they disagree with God, these priests at the pulpit lower their own standards and insult the laity by not calling them to perfection.

Why do I mean by this? The priests who teach mediocrity have lost the vision of holiness themselves and no longer believe that the laity can be holy. They have fallen into a trap of modern psychological interpretation which separates doctrinal teaching from pastoral teaching. There is no such separation. Pastoral theology is the application of doctrine, not the deviation from doctrine.

How to be perfect is simple. Put on the mind of Christ, writes St. Paul in many places in his epistles. One reference is from Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world; but be reformed in the newness of your mind, that you may prove what is the good, and the acceptable, and the perfect will of God.

Thinking like Christ brings us into relationship with the Father and the Holy Ghost. The Indwelling of the Trinity, given to us at Baptism and Confirmation, leads us to this perfection, if we cooperate. 

There can be no compromises, no watering down of the message. Bonhoeffer reminded us of this in his discussion of Cheap Grace and Costly Grace, in his The Cost of Discipleship, a book which changed my life when I read it at 23. One chooses either the less or the more. At about the same time, I read Harry Blamires, The Christian Mind. I was also "into" C. S. Lewis and Charles Williams at the time. There are excellent reads for young minds. The earlier that one realizes that the pursuit of excellence is the Way of Christ's Call to us, the better. Disciplining the mind and the heart are easier is one pursues Christ's Mind and Christ's Heart at a early age. Perfection of the mind is a theme in Thomas Aquinas, as I have written on this blog before. The intellect must be perfected in order to live the life of virtue.

However, it is never too late. God, who is Infinite and does not merely see us as we are at one moment in time, but as we are in our entire life, can do in months, even weeks, what we have not done in years. We only need to be convinced that the call to perfection is His Call. Ignore those mediocre priests, pray for them, call them to a higher vision. 

This is what St. Margaret Mary Alacoque and Pope St. Leo XIII did for the Church-give us a higher vision. The heart of Christ becomes our heart, in the world, wherever we find ourselves, and gives us confidence and grace to live His Will in the world. The next time I cover this topic, I shall look into what perfection looks like. By the way, martyrs are not suddenly "made". These men, women and children have lived perfection before being able to die for Christ.  Another Margaret, St. Margaret Clitherow, lived in a time when mediocrity was rewarded. She lived in the perfection of grace which led her to martyrdom. This is our call.

I do not have my works of St. Bernard of Clairvaux with me, but I can paraphrase one of his sayings: There is rejoicing in heaven when a bad man becomes good, but how much more rejoicing is there when a good man becomes perfect.

Saturday 28 January 2012

Great Britain's Discrimination against Christians

Yesterday, online at LifeSiteNews, there was a report that 74% of Christians in a poll believed that discrimination against Christians is a reality and a growing phenomenon. I hightly suggest reading the entire text here. This is not a new prejudice, or bias in the government and courts, but the trend is obviously threatening. The fact that the Queen is the Supreme Head or Supreme Governor of the Church in England does not seem to make a difference. I wonder why?

Cancers in the Culture from an American Point of View

Two articles in this morning's Irish Times refer to themes on this blog. The first is a semi-humorous, but serious article on stereotyping national characteristics, or, in other words, national racism. As an American, I am aware of these strange undercurrents in Ireland of disparaging remarks toward other nations, as well as the Irish "taking the mickey" out of their own. The sad and boring beliefs, it seems among some Europeans, as well as some Americans, concerning the base, supposed nasty habits of those who are not of the same ethnic background as themselves, have lost all reality, in my mind, as national characteristics may or may not be real. The truth of national characteristics may be found more in the positive expressions, rather than the negative. For example. on this tiny island, one can see a heritage of poetry and song, which is also shared with the slightly larger island to the east. Dare I say that the Irish and the British have something in common? Perhaps this is the problem, that the emphasis on stereotypes is merely an effort at defining differences. But, why can't we use definitions, or descriptions which are positive rather than negative? And, to add a historical wrinkle to the question, in Medieval times, when Europe was the Faith and the Faith Europe, when Christendom existed as a reality more cohesive than the EU, were there national stereotypes before nationalism? I suggest that stereotyping is a form of secular nationalism, not merely nationalism. If we were all related by a common religion, such as the Catholicism of Christendom, would we be telling Irish jokes, for example, or Polish ones, etc.?

The second article is one I barely know how to address. Monday is the 40th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, one of the times to which I inferred earlier on this blog, which needs to be marked by the spirit of forgiveness, rather than the re-living of a terrible crisis. The past is full of massacres, wars, individual murders, hatred. To keep "celebrating" a day with the idea of never forgetting seems to fester this hatred rather than to resolve, repent, forgive. There are days of victory in wars which even the Catholic Church celebrates. I think we need to celebrate victories hard-won and noble. There are weird celebrations in England on Guy Fawkes Day, which is blatantly anti-Catholic. But, one must look at the differences of these "remembrances". Does it help a country to grow, thrive, move on by celebrating hatred? Of course, we must honor the dead, the victims. But, to keep the hatred brewing is a sure sign of a cancer in the culture.

If a people hate another nation as an enemy, that group is not free, Freedom rests in forgiveness and reconciliation. To hold on to the hatred destroys the hearts of those who hate.

I refer you to my previous post of January 20th.

Friday 27 January 2012

Obama Against Home Schooling

Did many notice Obama's stand against homeschooling in his address this week? When I home schooled, I belonged to the Home School Legal Defense Association for most of the 14 years or so I home schooled. Thankfully, I never had a legal problem. In fact, my relationship with various state and council governments was cordial and, on the whole, supportive.

Now, we see the true tyrannical attitude of this man, as if we had any doubts, towards the authority of parents. And, who are the two groups who home school the most? Evangelical Christians and Catholics. No surprises here, as POTUS continues his assault on freedom of religion.

Please follow the instructions on the link above to stop further legislation against home schooling. The Catholic Church has consistently upheld the primary right and duty of the parent to educate their children. Several Popes have written on this, including our present Pope Benedict XVI, and Pope Paul VI among others. The links are on the names. Please pray about this, as a government which takes away the parents' right to educate their own children is a tyranny. If this happens, and if we lose freedom of religion in the other ways being pushed this week, America will no longer be a free country. Period.

"I say! You just can't say, 'You want to know', you know": On the Circumlocution Office in the Mind, Earthquakes and Cyclones and "Society"

Some people's minds, and maybe their hearts, are like the Circumlocution Office in Little Dorrit, my favorite book-read it at least four times and maybe five. Their minds are full of anxiety, useless information, fluff. They only want what the employees in the Circumlocution Office want-power, a comfortable income, status and a pension. In the older version of the movie, the 1988 interpretation, (I saw it in a special showing in 1987 in London), one sees the millions of folded, ignored documents falling under the weight of gravity and years of neglect, eaten away by water, wind, and fire. The piles fall, slowly, sliding into waste. The photos here are from the 2008 BBC version. But, I also want to write about sensitivity, paying attention, sensing earthquakes and cyclones. The silent, grave-like inertia of the Circumlocution Office is connected to the movement of earth, sea, sky, and our civilized world. 

This week, several earthquakes have occurred in Europe, in Italy, Greece, Norway and a small one in Ireland. Now, I knew there had been an earthquake before it was on the news in Ireland. I do not know why I knew, but I have been through a sizable one in Alaska , and my cats knew it was happening before we did. In Alaska, the walls of my apartment were going one way and the floor another. Days of aftershocks occurred as well.  I also experienced one in Illinois, which cracked my fireplace in the living room in 2004. Maybe I am like a cat in this regard, as my parents who were visiting me slept through it. I woke up,  heard it coming, like a wave on the sea, rumbling in, and felt it under the house, rush through the earth like the wave. Yesterday, I looked at the ceiling to see if the mini-chandeliers were moving, and I listened for the rumble. Nothing. But, I knew something had happened at about 1:00 AM, I knew it slightly before the time. This was one of many I detected in my life, the first being in Iowa, yes, Iowa, in 1968. I was in a bank at the time, and I saw the walls moving. Some people did not notice. I notice these things. Iowa, Alaska, Illinois, Ireland, there is probably no place in the world which has not experienced at least minor earthquakes.

I have also been in places where many tornadoes occurred, as I grew up in a tornado belt area. In one week, we experienced five tornadoes in north-west Iowa. One man died in a town where I was living, as he was picked up by a tornado and flung a half-mile away.  And, I was in Mississippi and New Orleans after Katrina, and personally saw the devastation.  I was living in Ealing when the great British Storm happened in 1987. I woke up just before that hit and told my husband we were going to have a tornado. He laughed at me, and said England did not have tornadoes, and fell back to sleep. Hundreds of trees fell in Ealing that day. But, as horrible as cyclones, hurricanes and tornadoes are, there seems to be something really uncanny about the earth moving. One can, if one has warning, get into a cellar or place of safety during a tornado, but in an earthquake one stands in a door jam, hoping for the best. In Alaska, my son, holding Puddy the cat, and me, holding Vladimir the cat, (after we caught them), stood in an apartment doorway for several minutes. If it had been worse, there really was no shelter.

Why some people are more sensitive to these things before or during, if the natural movement of the earth is mild, I do not understand. Some are more sensitive, that is all. The sensitive ones would not work in a Circumlocution Office.

But, the reason for these ramblings is that I want to make a spiritual connection to sensitivity about things around us. I am surrounded by people in denial about the economic situation in Europe. They believe in fairy tales told to them by bankers, politicians, even priests. I am surrounded by people who cannot see the decline of the West, the breakup of European countries, or the coming persecution of the Catholic Church in America, or the moral bankruptcy of this Millennial Generation. I am surrounded by Catholic people who plan ahead for holidays next year without any thought of their souls, the souls of their spouses, children, parents. They are living as they always have, and cannot see or sense that their lives may change drastically in a mere few months. They do not want to see. They are drunk with power or comfort or stupidity. They are drugged with complacency or fear. They are caught in a cultural inertia. They are caught in the Circumlocution Office.

The times are not "business as usual". I do not think we have had "business as usual" since before 1973. We are in crises in most of the levels of culture and civilization which marked the downfalls of hundreds of nations before us. Like those who cannot feel the earthquakes coming or sense the tornadoes, it is, as Christ said, They did eat and drink, they married wives, and were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark: and the flood came and destroyed them all.

Luke 17:27.

I am not a Cassandra. I am a realist and an idealist at the same time. My idealism rests on the Revelation and Teaching Magisterium of the Church, on the Three Persons of the Trinity. I do not read false prophets or follow the many, even local, Irish seers. I do not follow the Internet prophecy sites. Many are liars and cult leaders, as I wrote about in one of my first postings. These unscrupulous people make money out of the weak and the desperate. I am neither weak nor desperate. However, I can sense the signs of the times. Christ and His Church make up my ark. One of my lady friends whose mind is a Circumlocution Office said to me, "You are hard on yourself." I responded that, as Christ said, in Matthew 11:12 from the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent bear it away.

Those who do violence to themselves, that is, fast and pray and die to self, will see the Kingdom of God. Christ challenges us to leave the Circumlocution Office of our minds and heart and become simple, like children, like Little Dorrit.

In the meantime, responsible adults must work hard to try and stop the tide of religious persecution and the loss of freedom. Some bishops have made strong statements against the present administrations war on religions-specifically the Catholic Faith, this week in the States. Many of these statements are on blogs on my blog list to the right. We need grass roots reactions, practical and spiritual. Both passive, complacency and drunkenness are irresponsible responses. Some of us can fast and pray. I dedicate this posting to the four women, and a man I know who said recently to me, "Don't talk to me about such things. I do not want to know." Their minds have become the Circumlocution Office. Their minds are full of information, some good, some useless, but they do not want to know. They are not free. They are like those in the Marshalsea Prison, who cannot see reality and do not want to do so. Their minds, like the minds of William Dorrit, Fanny and Tip, are full of self-pity and complete selfishness. Their minds, hearts, souls are trapped in "society".  Society has become their guide, their god. Little Dorrit is free, in mind and spirit, which is the appeal of her character. She is also completely selfless, loving and kind. She is a free woman in or out of the prison. Unlike all the others in her family, the prison has not tainted her mind, which is one of the paradoxes in the book.

Another phrase in Little Dorrit, is "Nobody's Fault". Misery, poverty, stupidity, lies, madness, and even murder, are "nobody's fault". Those same people who do not want to know blame everyone else for their problems. If we tolerate evil in ourselves, we shall overlook evil in others. Now, we see the logical consequences of this toleration of evil. I hope and pray evil has not won the battles we now face, although Evil has lost the War. The same people who do not want to know, do not want to know their own sin and play the victims, as do Little Dorrit's family members. Sin is never their fault. They do not want to know about themselves, others, the times, society. They are imprisoned in their own minds and hearts. They have lost the sensitivity to feel the earthquakes and cyclones. And, they will be swept away, sadly, unless they come to their senses and become free again. They are caught up in their own Circumlocution Offices.

Thursday 26 January 2012

Meditation for the days before St. Valentine's Day

I know many single people, widows, those home alone do not like Valentine's Day. But, for me, it is a day to think about Love, Who is a Person. Christ is Love. All love is from Him. The many types of positive love, such as storge, philios, eros, and agape, come from Him. If love is destructive, it is not love, but something else, like lust or selfishness or control. My generation read two Shakespearean plays every year for four years in high school. We started with Julius Caesar, moved to Macbeth, then to Romeo and Juliet, then to The Merchant of Venice, then to Othello, then to The Taming of the Shrew and ended up in our last year with Midsummer Night's Dream. I read the others in the summer, until my mother took away my books so that I would first do my chores. Happy days.

We also had to memorize some of the sonnets, at least one a semester. One of my favourite sonnets is one I had to memorize. It is about true love. I am not too old, or too jaded not to appreciate the fine sentiments here. As God is Love, He is in this poem as well as the two lovers.

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
   If this be error and upon me proved,
   I never writ, nor no man ever loved. 

This is the intellectuals' dream poem. This is a poem of mature love. Mature love is complete, selfless, undying, unconditional, perfect, and eternal. The  fullness of Love rests only in God,in the Indwelling of the Trinity. Those of us who have experience this, at least for fleeting moments, or as a way of life, have been blessed.

Revival of the Jewish Hero

Steven Spielberg is going to direct a Moses big, big picture, one to rival the iconic The Ten Commandments of 1956. Mel Gibson and Joe Eszterhas are working on a film about the Maccabees. These plans show a mini-trend to return to several themes which have been lost in the past decades of anti-heroes, a la James Joyce's Leopold Bloom. I grew up on Charlton Heston's Moses, as that is one of the very first movie I ever saw. The 1995 version of Moses, with Ben Kingsley is good and historically more realistic than The Ten Commandments. Some Christians like it better.

The point here, however, is not so much a comparison of interpretations of Moses, the greatest Jewish hero, but the fact that two great directors have taken on Judaic, Old Testament historical and religious figures as heroes for two important movies. We are in need of role models in the States and elsewhere, and these leaders are good, old fashioned heroes.

Moses is a hero, as well as a religious leader, and maybe that is a point of concern. He cannot be seen merely as the man, who cooperating with the Will of God, freed the Hebrews from slavery. He must be seen as "the" Prophet, who transmitted the Decalogue to the entire world-Revelation from God through Moses.

The Maccabeus clan provides us with many heroes. I am not sure what Mel Gibson will do with Judas Maccabeus, but I am looking forward to the interpretation. Those two books of the Bible are some of my favorites, and I have taught Josephus in the past, who, of course, is the great historian outside the Biblical texts not only for the Maccabean Wars, but for references to Christ. I shall be following the making of these two movies with interest. A Judaic revival of heroes is a poignant sign of the times.

PS I cannot refer to The Ten Commandments without mentioning one of the worst lines in cinematic history: "O Moses, you stubborn, you splendid, you adorable fool!" Anne Baxter's famous line to Charlton Heston-her Nefretiri to his Moses. I am sure both Gibson and Spielberg will avoid such schlock.

Wednesday 25 January 2012

Lost Boys = Lost Civilizations

In America, now, almost 20% of young men from the ages of 25-34 live with their parents. In England, 25% of young men from 25-29 live with their parents. This is higher than the percentages of young women living at home in both countries.

Most pundits blame the economy is both nations, and one can say that is a factor, but that is not the main factor.

Disclaimer, my son left home at the age of 22. This should be normal. I left home at just over 23, and there was a shortage of good jobs in the early 1970s in certain areas as the baby-boomers left college and university. Still, we singles managed and without any government help.

One difference is that now parents allow this dependency and do not fight it. Parents have given up their parental authority. There is work, if one wants to do manual labor or take low-paying jobs. I know this. But, I have been told by some young people that they will not clean, do road work, work in factories, etc, which their dads and even grandads did . These young men do not want to get their hands dirty. They do not want to join the Army, Navy, or Marines. These young men do not want to suffer. They only want happy thoughts.

A second issue is more serious. The young men do not want to grow up. They simply do not want to take on responsibility for a house, a wife, children, themselves. They want the full fridge, the large screen tv, the social life of going out, the new clothes. We budgeted. I think this word has been forgotten. We paid cash in the days before the crazy use of credit, which really did not start until the 1980s where I lived. If one did not have the cash, one did not go out, or buy clothes, or drink, whatever.

I consider this desire to remain a Peter Pan the main reason for young men staying at home. There are other opportunities, which these “boys” are not considering. They can emigrate. One of my friends' sons who is 26 went to Australia, and is making excellent money in electrical engineering. He claims there are many jobs for men who want to work in building, contracting, plumbing, electrical work, etc. Many of our ancestors went to America for jobs and careers. What happened to the old pioneer spirit? I blame parents for coddling their kids and for being selfish. When a mom does not let go of her son, or her daughter-in-law and grandchildren, she is selfish. Here in Ireland, there are many Polish youth working in menial jobs, while there are Irish boys walking around doing nothing. What has happened to the work ethic? 

It was hard to let go of my son, but he is a man. I am proud of him. He is doing what he should be doing, following his role in society, taking responsibility for his finances, his future. He thinks of me and others, and not merely of himself. We do not live in the same country. This is sometimes what men have to do to be men-go where they will thrive.

This is normal behavior. The Peter Pan syndrome is sick and ruining both America and England. And, as a woman, I say, who wants to even date Peter Pan? The handwriting is on the wall. He would not be an independent, good provider for a family. If he sponges from his mom and dad, he would sponge from his mate.

The lack of religion has a lot to do with the Peter Pan syndrome. If a man does not have to take responsibility for sexual activity because of the Pill , he avoids growing up. He remains with the Lost Boys, and at least they lived away from their mom and dads in Neverland

The last issue to review is the social welfare state which allows young men to get money without working. Take a look at some towns in Kent. Young men are out, walking the streets, not working, but they have girlfriends, and smoke, and generally act like they deserve a living doing nothing. Socialism takes away personal pride and personal initiative. More than a hundred years of Church teaching from the Popes warned the West of the evil of socialism undermining the individual's need to work and the dignity of work. Now we see the result-in our lost boys. We shall see the complete denouement in the collapse of Western Civilization in these countries.

The Fractio

IBERA nos, quaesumus, Domine, ab omnibus malis, praeteritis, praesentibus, et futuris: et intercedente beata et gloriosa semper Virgine Dei Genitrice Maria, cum beatis Apostolis tuis Petro et Paulo, atque Andrea, et omnibus Sanctis, da propitius pacem in diebus nostris: ut ope misericordiae tuae adjuti, et a peccato simus semper liberi, et ab omni perturbatione securi. 
ELIVER us, we beg Thee, O Lord, from every evil, past, present, and to come; and by the intercession of the Blessed and glorious ever-Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and of the holy Apostles, Peter and Paul, and of Andrew, and of all the Saints, mercifully grant peace in our days, that through the assistance of Thy mercy, we may be always free from sin and safe from all disturbance

The priest then breaks the Host and says,

Per eumdem Dominum nostrum Jesus Christum Filium tuum. Qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus.

Through the same Jesus Christ, They Son, our Lord. Who with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost liveth and reigneth God.

This, the fractio, or the fraction, is my favorite part of the Mass after the Consecration. The poignant breaking of the Consecrated Host fills me with sadness and dread.
This action is to imitate the breaking of the Bread, the Body of Christ by Christ at the Last Supper. However, for me, this is the breaking of Christ's Own Body in the Passion, and the breaking of His People, the Church, into different groups. The pain of the fraction, in Late Latin, fractio, is the pain of the Broken Christ. It is, at this moment, that I can see the betrayal of Judas breaking Christ's Heart, the horrible, fake trial, the scourging, the crowning of thorns,the long road to Calvary, the execution by crucifixion all in that small gesture. In addition, I see the Protestant Revolt, those killed in Germany, the martyrs of England, Scotland and Wales, and even today's persecuted brothers and sisters in Egypt, Nigeria, Somalia, Indonesia, China, and I see the broken bodies of the babies after abortions.

The fractio resounds, When the priest breaks the Host and I hear the break, the sound rings out not only in the Church but down through the ages to the ruining of Fountains and Glastonbury, to the fires of Nero's Rome, to the very steps of the Praetorium in Jerusalem in 33 A.D.

And, today, on this Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, was he not broken of hatred, pride and false fanaticism? Are we not broken and humbled in order to be with Our Lord?

The fractio continues, daily, hourly, in every Catholic Church in the world. Christ is being broken over and over and over again. This is His Redemptive Act for us. We must enter into His suffering, becoming part of that fractio, now and forever until we are renewed in the Land of the Everlasting Joy, Heaven.

And, as a postscript, frequently, at least three times a week, I am given the half of the broken Host which the priest has held up for all to see-Ecce Homo. I feel part of that ministry to support priests in anyway that I can, and I pray daily for priests and seminarians. God bless you all.

Tuesday 24 January 2012

On this Post-Post Modern Generation: Oscillation into Self-Organization and Out Again

One of my young readers and friends stated that his generation (he is 23) are not Marxists or communists, or capitalists, or socialists, or Post-Modernists, but Post-Post-Modernists. Now, as he is in another generation, that of the emerging youth, I need to think about this. He blatantly stated that his friends do not care about Lenin, or Gramsci, or Obama, even though many of them voted the present president into office. My young friend claims that some of the same youth who voted in POTUS are now Ron Paul libertarians. If he is correct, then his assessment that his generation is made up of Post-Post-Moderns, (from now on called PPMs) is also correct. Why?

The PPMs are seen as a group with an "oscillating" or "moving polar philosophy" which goes between extremes of individualism (games) and group sectarianism (fanatic religions), anarchy (Occupy Rome) and totalitarianism (global markets and global economy buffs), relativism and orthodoxy (obvious), cynicism and sincerity or idealism ( The Daily Show and  EWTN ) and so on. His labeling seems to be spot-on when one examines these young people as individuals and as a group, which is hard, as the hegemony of the culture is gone and there are less and less real groups. Groupings tend to be based on small, very small, precious or keen interests, such as anime groups, animal rights groups, pro-life groups, anti-war groups, and so on. There is not necessarily any overlap of morals, ethics, world-view, religions, or philosophies in these groups. Individuals come together to form these groups for a time and five years is considered a long time. (Youth always thinks five years is a long time). They oscillate until they create self-organization, like the above nano-particles. And, like these particles, their organization may be based on reactions only, and not rational discourse, or even passionate emotions. I have seen this type of behavior in the college classroom, where reactive groups form quickly and dissipate as quickly. Young ones reacting against something rarely have a solid sense of who they are, either as individuals or as a group.

I think my friend is onto something. The PPMs are fluid for exactly the same reason my generation was not. How we were and how they were raised in the home created these mind-sets and ways of life. We were strongly conservative or liberal, country western or classical, Catholic or Lutheran, democrats or monarchists, Marxists or Catholics and so on. We chose to be (we were Pre-Post-Moderns) something, even if it was opposite our parents.

However, the differences between oscillation and surety lies in these facts. Number one, we did not believe in the Decline of the West-we loved the West. We were optimists as youths. Two, we were not relativists, nor subjectivists, but strove for objectivity and the rational. Three, we did not trust our emotions. Four, we belonged to stable groups, such as large families, parishes with continuity in the Mass, schools with Classical Education, and a pride in all of that. Five, we knew who we were. We had a core of being based on our training and discipline in the home. We did not have to totally invent ourselves. Our moms and dads loved us and we knew it, but we had to prove ourselves. We had to measure up and succeed.

The PPMs have to invent themselves. They have not had the core of being created for them and with them in the family or parish or school. They lack a framework for judging between good and evil, good taste and bad taste, the beautiful and the ugly, the true and the false, and so on. So, they vacillate, they oscillate in ideas and taste, like a little boat on the sea skimming the waves in order to find the berth which will give a comfort zone.

I once thought America, and maybe Europe, would see civil wars. Now, I doubt it. PPMs could not support one side for long. But, then, I think not all this generation of  PPMs are PPMs. How do we know if they keep changing? To be continued....
Disclaimer: I do not have a television. I have never seen CC. My PPM friends do and have.

Congratulations to Father Cassian of Norcia

Inside the Vatican has chosen Fr. Cassian Folsom of Norcia as one of the "Ten Persons of the Year". Congratulations. Here is the good news. Of course, these monks celebrate the Tridentine Mass of the ages.

The pursuit of the virtual replaces the pursuit of virtue

I know that I am going to make a lot of people angry or at least, irritated, with this post. However, with a following membership of 10 million people worldwide, it is time to look at World of Warcraft as a cult and not merely an online game. I have read the manual and looked at the game in order to understand the attraction it holds for many people and not merely the young. I am not going to emphasize lurid stories of marriage breakups, deaths, etc. regarding WoW, but only look at some of the characteristics of a cult with regard to this game.

First, I am admitting that I am changing the accepted definition of cult from the outset, as a cult usually is started by one charismatic figure, as already noted on this blog. However, the charism of the originators can be seen in the eclectic appeal and the use of many threads of myth and the occult, as well as violence and intrigue. Those inventors of the game obviously used popular modes of entertainment and popular literature in the genre of fantasy to create a complicated and appealing game.
Like a good German philosopher, I am provoking new definitions of cult.
I do not doubt the genius of the writers and artists, the logicians and who else were involved in the creation of WoW. I am questioning the power of the appeal and how it falls into the category of a cult.
Second, having thrown out the initial part of the definition, I move to the second part, which indicates that a cult has a religious basis. Reading the manual, it was clear to me that such things as spells were to be used and taken seriously in the game. Much of the game involves characters who are wizards or even necromancers. Already, a Catholic would have a "huh?" moment of enlightenment knowing that some of the characters fall in to the tried and true characterizations of damned behavior. Parallels are made with LOTR or even The Hobbit, but in those books and subsequent games, the powers of evil and good are clearly defined, and there is no such thing as good being confused with bad. No relativism in those books, movies, games and soon to be legos....:). Some people who state the opposite, that the spells are not taken seriously and are arbitrary, that is, not connected to an obvious evil source, such as Sauron in LOTR. Relativism is the secular idea that there is no good or bad except what one decides, and this modernist heresy is part of the ethos of WoW. If it were clearly defined what was necessary evil, and that, for example necromancy was always evil and never good, this problem would be solved. This is not the case. Some activities are always objectively evil according the Catholic teaching AND natural law philosophy.
Third, I have been puzzled by the use of unnecessary and extreme violence in the game. Those who are familiar with the game know these uses of violence. Some young people disagree with me on this point, stating that the ratings of teen was based not on violence but on drunkenness in the game. Some twenty-somethings say the cartoon and out-dated graphics make it less violent. But, as one NOT immune to violence, I find it disturbing.
Fourth, a cult changes peoples personalities and takes them into another realm of false reality. That is the entire point of this game. In cults, people get a new identity to the point where family members state that they do not even know the brother, sister, son, etc. any more after cult involvement. One of the signs of an occult is the addictive or compulsive behavior it causes in its members. One cannot live outside the cult, one defends the cult, one loses one's rational ability to critique the cult, all one's friends are in the cult and so on. WoW with shrinking membership is still a group of 10 Million. These people must play the game. To me, this is a sign of cultic brainwashing and addiction.
Fifth, ritual is a huge part of the game. Players get involved personally in these rituals in order to be the characters, etc. These rules and rituals create a vocabulary which is bizarre and particular to WoW. This fact alone is a sign of a cult. The topic will form a part of another posting in the near future.
Sixth, the game is a community just as a cult is a community, of closed membership, demanding certain commitments, to the point of becoming the most important interactive group of friends, relationships, in a person's life. The fact that it is virtual does not mean that this is less real than the Moonies or Heaven's Gate. The WoW community can become and does become the arena where people are accepted unconditionally without moral or any other type of outside input. The VIRTUAL has taken over the pursuit of VIRTUE. For example, in the days of chivalry and knighthood, the knight had to go through certain rituals in order to become a man capable of being knight. The same is still true for pursuing a career or a vocation. It takes six years to become a doctor, for example, after undergraduate school, and the same for becoming a priest. The preparation can be longer. The purification of the intellect necessary for forming a good conscience and the purification of the emotions necessary for becoming a man or woman who is mature takes time and energy wasted in the virtual world. What is truly based on a life of virtue has been lost in the game.
WoW which is from the manipulation of the community or rules of the game. Manipulation is only efficacious if; one, the person agrees to it; and two, if it is coherent. One of my young friends noted that all sport is manipulative to a certain extent. He wrote:

Shane Warne manipulated cricket for two decades by bowling a ball that no batsman could handle. As long as he was physically and mentally fit, he was unbeatable. That's not a problem with the game - merely an exceptional man with exceptional ability.

I may disagree with him on this point, but I say that cults attract people who are manipulable. That is the success of a cult. Those heavily independent minded people are not attracted to cults. However, some extremely intelligent and good people are, by the very fact that they are idealists and have a need for a community who agrees with their ideals. I think the point is that the cult is self-selecting.

WoW has or had people in the game who “policed it” and this in itself indicates to me it is a cult. Those who were policing it were still “in reality”. The fact that some left the real world is scary.