Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Eucharistic Miracles Being Catholic does not mean you have to believe in these things. In fact, at a conference some years ago when I asked a priest whether or not, as parish librarian, I should leave a VHS about "The Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano" in the parish library, he said angrily, "Get rid of it, it's heresy!" (Well, I wouldn't have gone quite that far. I'd have called it just silly.) The thing is, the Catholic tradition holds that the "species" (the consecrated bread and wine) become the actual Body and Blood of Jesus, this being God's loving way of sharing the Divine Essence with humanity as intimately as possible. Now, finding this principle a worthy base for my spiritual life, I absolutely revolt at the idea that this great and all-loving God would cancel out the sublime and meaningful wonder by turning the species into a form that most civilized worshipers can't comfortably consume. Sort of defeats the whole purpose, doesn't it? What a pitiful cheapening of the greatest miracle of all! What, does Jesus want us to barbecue His dead raw flesh and make czarnina (Polish duck's-blood soup) of His disembodied blood? And what ELSE can one do with Communion species that have been "miraculously" rendered inedible? I guess where such things are purported to happen, that's what the churches concerned in fact do ... but what a housekeeping nightmare! Of course, they can always trot them out for paying tourists to look at, so I guess it's a source of income ... As for the alleged "scientific" testimony: well, say you've miraculously got something you think might be the actual substance of Jesus: doesn't your sense of responsible belief demand that you turn samples over to none but scientists you can trust to handle and test it with Abject Respect? The very scientists who are most likely to bring in exactly the right results to bolster your belief. Not that atheistic scientists would be any better or less biased! As for the scientific results: as I remember that Lanciano VHS, they have seven separate lumps of purported human flesh, and all seven weigh exactly the same as a single one. What the heck is that supposed to prove? I was always taught that the entire Christ was present in every individual Host. So shouldn't even a fragment of one of those seven lumps weigh as much as Jesus Himself weighed in life? For that matter, what do we have, even by the most pious "miracle" interpretation, but DEAD human flesh? Myself, I trust, hope, and pray that all these things are either outright hoaxes or some have some such explanation as bacteria. IF they are in fact actual dead human flesh and blood, then either we have a rather cruel practical joker of a God, or the Devil's hand is more likely to be in it than that of the "Good God" (though for myself, I can't stop toying with the idea that the Devil is simply the "Shadow Side" of God), or we have evidence that would seem to favor the theory, which I understand has become respectable in scientific circles, that we are all of us living inside a computer simulation, and we've got mischievous programmers. My best understanding is that the Catholic Church does not require all its members to believe any miracles at all outside the ones recorded in the Bible: Rome simply declares certain alleged miracles, after due investigation, to be "worthy of belief," meaning you may or may not believe them, as you consider best. I consider best to regard such "miracles" as those of Lanciano as at best pieces of folklore. I don't believe that the famous Shroud of Turin was the burial cloth of Jesus, either ... but won't reopen that particular can of worms just now. And happens I also think that to "believe" in the miracles recorded in the Bible is not necessarily to believe they literally and historically happened. Many of them, especially those in the Gospels, may well have allegorical and symbolic meanings. As for the famous O.T. one when Josue made the sun stand still: I have long suspected there was some kind of idiom in the original language conveying the idea that they had plenty of time for what they needed to do, and later generations forgot the idiom, and/or translators were unaware of it, and so took literally what had been no more than an exaggerated figure of speech.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Tone Deafness?

Some years ago, running an Internet search on "tone deafness" got me very little. Trying one a few months ago got quite a lot, which is promising. Maybe people are starting to notice that there is indeed a legitimate disability here. But ... One of the most prominent sites i found offered a free online test for tone deafness. Out of curiosity to learn how they'd classify mine, i took this test ... and actually got contratulated on scoring 17 out of a possible 20 and having excellent tonal hearing! With more than half a century of direct evidence and testimony to the opposite, i knew better than to take these test results at face value. I must in fact be about as tone deaf as we come short of total and general deafness (which would probably be more socially acceptable). How could the professionals (i assume) who devised the test have gotten it so wildly inaccurate? A little thought showed me the answer: All it really tests is recognition of correct intervals in simple and very well-known tunes (e.g. "Happy Birthday to You") when played in simple, unadorned melody line. THIS, i can hear. But add instrumental accompaniment, and i'm hopelessly confused. Add harmonization of any complexity, and i don't even know where the melody line is, let alone recognize it. As for singing along in the same key as everybody else -- forget it! I can neither hear the difference nor understand, except as a purely intellecutal exercise, why it should be important. Nor do i possess enough sense of rhythm to clap along with everybody else, a lack which accompanies tone deafness. My fear is that other people as tone deaf as myself, but with less experience to recognize the fact, may suffer a false sense of security from such a flawed and imperceptive test as this. Incidentally, one sometimes meets the opinion that "there is no such thing as tone deafness." Of course there is! Though i will admit the name we commonly use for it is misleading, causing many of us -- including some who are actually affected -- to suppose that tone deaf people cannot hear music at all, only monotones. After years of casting about for a better tag, let me propose "untunable" as one to which i would feel little objection.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Curioser and curioser

Just Googled my own name and found a very curious entry in Japanese. It appears to be advertising for some kind of skin care product or establishment. It might be superlative, but, knowing nothing about it beyond what I see on my screen, I can hardly endorse it. How did it get so prominent, right beneath the Wikipedia entry? Does this kind of thing happen to other people?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Rebecca's Choice

Have recently watched (about the fifth time) the 1952 MGM movie version of IVANHOE, which occasionally strays to somewhere more or less in the near vicinity of the novel. (Took me years to learn to enjoy the movie on its own terms.)Just before the final, climactic battle, Rebecca (Elizabeth Taylor) stands at the foot of the stake, between Brian de Bois-Guilbert (George Sanders) and Ivanhoe (Robert Taylor). The two knights are about to engage in a trial by combat to the death. If Bois-Guilbert wins, Ivanhoe will die and Rebecca will be burned at that stake. Bois-Guilbert is in an unwelcome situation: he really loves Rebecca, though he will owe it to his knighthood to fight his best. At the last minute, he tells her softly that if he should concede the trial by combat, he will be forever disgraced in his knighthood but Ivanhoe will be declared the winner (without any danger to himself at all) and Rebecca will live. Bois-Guilbert is ready to bear the disgrace and humiliation, if only Rebecca will come live with him and be his love. (I paraphrase somewhat; I have not yet learned the movie line by line.) At this point, something very large in me always wants Rebecca to answer, "Brian, baby, you're on!" Now that they can do so much with computer graphics, think they'll ever be able to give us a doctored version of the movie with that outcome?
Critical and popular opinion seemed always to be asking about the novel, all through the 19th century, how Ivanhoe could prefer Rowena to Rebecca. (Joan Fontaine as Rowena leaves less of a question mark in the movie.) The question that always hits me, even in the movie -- where they managed to give the hero a lot more heroic stuff to do -- but most especially in the novel, is what on earth can Rebecca see in Ivanhoe? In her place, I'd certainly at least take Brian's offer under serious consideration.

Friday, November 18, 2011

All But a Pleasure

I have just written a novel of about 73,000 words in approximately two months, from initial idea to finished holograph draft. It was an invigorating experience, and one i cannot remember ever happening to me before. I seemed to be more "at play" than "at work" on ALL BUT A PLEASURE. Now, i've been in this game long enough to know that such ready inspiration is no indicator at all of the ultimate worth of any work, and may as easily point to pure trash as to pure gold. The best thing would be to let it mellow about a lustrum (5 years) and see if i still like it myself. Unfortunately, right not i need royalties and have to try bouncing it in its as good as "raw" state off a few editors at once. Starting with a search for a new agent to replace my last one, who unhappily moved out of his body a few years ago.
As i was beginning it, the host on TCM spoke of how Faulkner wrote his novel SANCTUARY, the basis for the movie they were premiering that evening, in 3 weeks, for the money. Obviously, my two months is a snail's pace compared with Faulkner's effort; and he at least did -- presumably -- make money with his novel, where mine could easily fizzle. It's aimed at the romance market; and who ever heard of using a mildly masochistic sesquipedalian virgin as the hero of a modern romance novel? (My toes got cold enough that i added a second pair of lovers with a hero more nearly fitting the template, just to play it a little safer.)
Wish me luck!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Enough, already!

No longer do I feel flattered by invitations to add me to online contact lists. They mean that either these people are paying no attention to my blog, or else they think I'm a liar.
To anyone out there who has paid attention to my blog and refrained from inviting me, MANY THANKS!
Send me a good, old-fashioned email, and I will try to answer it, sooner or later. Depending on what may be going on in my life away from the computer, it can sometimes take me a little while. Meantime, LoL.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Thanks, but no thanks, PLEASE

People are STILL requesting to add me to their online contacts. Again, many thanks for the compliment, but I simply don't indulge in this kind of activity, nor do I ever have "online chat time," if that's what it's called, either scheduled or otherwise. There's nothing personal when I decline your invitations: I must decline EVERYBODY'S invitations.
I don't know what happened to my old website, or when; but if it's going to cost me dollars to get it back, that may just have to wait a while. I've been out of contact with just about everything since my mother's stroke early this past Feb. She is 91, spent until Easter in the hospital and adjoining nursing home. Then back at home from Easter Monday until just last week, when we finally had to put her in a nice, friendly and clean assisted living facility. My time is still going to be quite limited, what with going back and forth to visit her (50 miles round trip), and meanwhile seeing if I can't crack into the modern romance market to take a bit of the pressure off my financial situation. Have been reading romances like crazy these past months: turns out that, if you get the nice, thick ones, there's an amazing lot of doggone good storytelling here, the kind of storytelling that attracted me to adult fantasy forty years ago.