Posts by Dunstan McShane

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  • Will C.S. Lewis’ spirituality survive in future Narnia films?

    07/29/2015 12:42:36 PM PDT · 26 of 26
    Dunstan McShane to AnAmericanMother
    No, they wouldn't touch Hideous Strength with a ten-foot pole.
  • 'Killing Jesus' Portrays Jesus as Man, Tones Down His Miracles and Power, Film's Actors Explain

    03/25/2015 9:06:26 AM PDT · 17 of 66
    Dunstan McShane to Mercat
    I’m passing on it and reading Benedict’s Jesus of Nazareth, Holy Week instead.

    I first read this about four years ago and was very impressed with the work. It sort of shook me up.

    I'll take Benedict XVI over O'Reilly any day. And won't be seeing the movie based on Killing Jesus.

  • Body of missing Missouri girl found in home of elementary school coach: police

    02/20/2014 9:31:35 AM PST · 76 of 100
    Dunstan McShane to shelterguy
    “”””He took everything from that little girl. Let’s hope there is a speedy trial and a speedy execution afterwards”””” How about a speedy execution and then maybe a slower trial at a later date?

    Much better: a meticulous and legally exacting trial, followed by a protracted and lavish execution (available on pay-per-view).

    Then again, that might be getting into some serious barbarism. Batter just make it available on DVD.

  • 'Les Miserables' Soundtrack Hits No. 1 On Billboard 200

    01/09/2013 10:13:40 AM PST · 9 of 19
    Dunstan McShane to memyselfandi59

    Thanks—the “Law/Grace” element is one I can get my head around!

  • 'Les Miserables' Soundtrack Hits No. 1 On Billboard 200

    01/09/2013 9:40:08 AM PST · 6 of 19
    Dunstan McShane to SeekAndFind
    I know that I am in an increasingly dwindling (and probably despised) minority in saying that I have never seen the show, have not heard (to my knowledge) a word or note of its music, and (or possibly therefore) cannot understand the mania it generates among so many people. And my admittedly contrarian leanings sort of want to keep it that way.

    I'm sure (or at least I'm willing to entertain the idea) that I'm missing out on something wonderful, but I know the plot of Hugo's novel, and as a source for an international musical-extravaganza hit, it seems a little less likely The Guide to Incredibly Communicable and Really Messy Diseases, but what do I know?

  • A Nostalgic New Year's Look At The 1950s

    12/31/2012 8:42:05 AM PST · 34 of 94
    Dunstan McShane to stanne
    If you had said let’s take God out of the school system you would have to say, “how are you going to guard against the onslaught of the enemy?”

    The whole point of getting God out of the school system was to make sure that there was nothing to guard against the onslaught of the enemy.

  • Jesus and Extraterrestrials according to Contactee Sixto Paz Wells

    11/29/2012 11:24:46 AM PST · 27 of 27
    Dunstan McShane to Psalm 73
    Decieving spirits. This person may be writing what he thinks is reality - "aliens" may very well be demons - we know they exist and are NOT our friends

    I will admit to being suspicious of superadvanced alien cultures that for some reason have to be contacted by means that sound a whole heck of a lot like the sorts of seances that Houdini debunked back in the early 20th century. There's also this from the original article: SPW- I am part of a contact group which for 37 years has been receiving psychographic messages

    "Psychographic messages" irresistably suggests what clairvoyantish seancey types call "automatic writing"--that is, open yourself to the "spirit world" and let your hand write whatever comes to "your" mind. Thank you, no. Even assuming that these were "only" the spirits of departed humans, they're frankly not the sorts I'd want to hang around and talk with, as that would be creepy enough on its own; if they were aliens, I'd want to know why, despite their "superadvanced-ism" they had to resort to dodgy dark-arts-type backroom parlor tricks for communication; and if they aren't either friendly dead guys or chatty aliens, well, then they're something else altogether, which does not encourage me to swap recipes with them or vacation snaps or access to the depths of my soul or anything else.

    The more that purported "super-science" resembles what we used to call black magic, the more I don't want nothin' to do with it, no matter how vacuum-tight its Tupperware is.

  • Risk of robot uprising wiping out human race to be studied

    11/29/2012 9:29:09 AM PST · 31 of 38
    Dunstan McShane to bigbob
    R. Daneel Olivaw

    If it were a robot uprising of the Daneel variety, one could probably be pretty certain that it would be humane and in accordance with the Three Laws, in which case it would not be a real "uprising" as such, just more of a "May I have your attention" situation.

  • Can an Adult Film Actress Truly Be Religious?

    11/28/2012 10:24:57 AM PST · 51 of 129
    Dunstan McShane to left that other site
    or Isaac Newton.

    Bingo! Can't think how I didn't think of him right off!

  • Woman wonders, ‘Will I be fat in heaven?’

    11/28/2012 9:41:56 AM PST · 100 of 111
    Dunstan McShane to Gamecock
    “Everything right now is about making sure I reach my preferred dress size in case I die suddenly,” she says. “I’m driving a lot more carefully now.” •

    Uncharitably, I think a more important worry for her is whether or not one is still brick stupid in Heaven.

    Or perhaps breathtakingly vain.

  • Can an Adult Film Actress Truly Be Religious?

    11/28/2012 8:26:29 AM PST · 26 of 129
    Dunstan McShane to CHRISTIAN DIARIST
    That includes a study, published in the journal Science, which asserted that people who believe in God are not analytical thinkers.

    Tell that to St Thomas Aquinas, whose approach to analytical thinking and the dialectical method approaches Spock-level, if not surpassing it. One might not agree with his conclusions (or even some of his premises), but there's no denying that the man was a rigorous thinker.

    Or St Augustine.

    Or Professor Einstein.

    I would myself assert that people who believe that people who believe in God are not analytical thinkers are themselves not thinking analytically but uncritically regurgitating commonplace bromides produced by amateur intermalekshals who fondly want to believe that merely holding certain opinions automatically either excludes one from consideration as a human being, or else elevates one to unassailable empyrean heights beyond reproach or criticism.

    In thinking circles, this is called "being lazily and intolerantly (as well as intolerably) stupid."

  • Why the Modern View of the Book of Revelation may be Flawed (Catholic Caucus)

    11/26/2012 4:37:56 PM PST · 14 of 31
    Dunstan McShane to Salvation
    This is indeed a worthy book--bought a copy at the Holy Spirit Abbey bookstore in Conyers, Georgia, some years back, and found it riveting.

    I have to confess that Hahn's style annoys me sometimes--too much cutesy punning for my tastes, and I wish he'd just settle down and play it straight--but this book opened up the Mass for me into four complete dimensions by tying it into the Temple and pointing out, rather convincingly, its place in the Revelation, or vice versa, and showing it as an almost extra-temporal event!

    Not quite as taken with some of Hahn's other books--it's that light, cutesy style that just rubs me the wrong way from time to time, but the guy does his research and is generally very readable.

    And yeah, The Lamb's Supper is a book I would recommend to anyone who wanted to know what is going on in the Mass and why it has its form, or even someone who would like a little speculation on the book of Revelation--that is, for the person who is actually willing to learn rather than to gather contention-fodder.

    But one suspects that this tribe is getting smaller yearly--maybe hourly!

  • On the Coming of the Son of Man

    11/19/2012 8:19:14 AM PST · 2 of 2
    Dunstan McShane to marshmallow
    “Then the Son of Man will come upon the clouds in the sky with great power and glory”

    The sooner, the better!

  • Skateboarders Throw Rocks, Bottles At Police During Hollywood Clash

    10/14/2012 5:24:12 PM PDT · 7 of 8
    Dunstan McShane to BenLurkin
    "Skateboarding is not a crime"


    Have nothing essential against skateboarding as a pastime. The problem is,of course, that skateboarders regard the sport as a natural right to which others' rights are secondary, if even that far up the scale of natural rights. The city where I live actually built a skateboarding park fairly close to the university campus, full of pits and steep inclines and all kinds of lovely opportunities to do oneself irreparable bodily harm--and they are still all over sidewalks, pedestrian plazas and parking lots, brim-full of arrogant certainty that they have "just as much right as anybody else" to use these surfaces for their enjoyment", and seemingly dismissive of anyone else's rights to be there. It is hard to walk along a sidewalk without having to dodge them several times a day. The skateboard park, when I passed it a couple of days ago, was completely vacant. One suspects that skateboarding may be as much a vague form of social protest as it is a game.

  • 'Justice League' #12: DC reveals Superman's new leading lady... and it's a doozy - EXCLUSIVE

    08/22/2012 1:23:44 PM PDT · 37 of 62
    Dunstan McShane to GodBlessRonaldReagan
    First off, how many $%@* times is DC gonna reboot their continuity?!?!

    How many bucks do comics collectors have in their pockets? n=n

    I thought the Supes/WW thing was handled best by Alan Moore in "For The Man Who Has everything" in a World's Finest annual. WW gives Supes a birthday kiss and Supes wonders why they don't do that more often. WW replies "Too obvious."

    I had not read comics for many years when a former student showed me a copy of this issue, and I read it and liked it more than I had expected. Took note of Moore's name, and later read both The Killing Joke (a Batman "graphic novel"--i.e., big long funny book) and Watchmen, which I appreciated on one level as an imaginative examination of what a world in which superheroes were real might really be like, and felt a little morally nauseated by on another, the latter because of the former.

    Though (or perhaps because) they were more simplistic, I guess I preferred the older DC comics of the late fifties and early sixties, when I was a kid, and superheroes were far less morally ambiguous, when it was simply assumed that any person who developed supernormal powers would naturally want to use them for the good of all. That was probably just as naive for that period as it may be for ours, but it's something I still want to believe. In the early 60's, I got my hands on the earliest runs of the Marvel comics (Fantastic Four, probably one of the first dozen issues) and liked what I read--the humor, the personal frictions between the heroes, etc., which were eventually to become standard operational procedures for the Marvel line), but I didn't abandon DC for them. I've always maintained that Marvel had good product, but DC had custody of the cultural myths, and I guess still kind of feel that way, though DC apparently isn't thinking like that any more.

    After all these years, I still don't like Jim Lee's artwork. Gimme Curt Swan, Dave Gibbons or Joe Kubert anyday.

    Don't know anything about Jim Lee, but Curt Swan (inked by Murphy Anderson) was, for me, the consummate Superman artist when I was a boy. Kubert I remember from Sgt. Rock, I think--wasn't Gibbons the artist for Watchmen? He had an interesting style for that book, but I don't recall seeing his work anywhere else.

  • Ouija Board Helps Psychologists Probe the Subconscious

    07/09/2012 7:35:47 AM PDT · 12 of 73
    Dunstan McShane to marshmallow
    Take driving your car along a familiar route while planning your day. On arrival, you realise you were not in conscious control of the car, it was your "inner zombie", said Hélène Gauchou at the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness conference in Brighton, UK, this week. "How can we communicate with that unconscious intelligence?"

    You know, it's not only the (at best) dodgy recommendation of the Ouija board as a means for "exploring the unconscious," but psychologists' insistence in using language like the above to describe mentative processes that send me running for the Crucifix and the holy water. Psychology has always seemed to me like (sincere apologies to any actual psychologists here) the unknowable researching the unknowable--or, in the words of a psychologist in Shafer's Equus, like performing brain surgery using an ice pick in total darkness: what seems to me (not, after all, a trained psychologist) as a distinct scarcity of verifiable objective truth in the field must lead some of the wackier practitioners to think, "Hey, it's all a crap shoot anyway--let's just make [stuff] up!"

  • C.S. Lewis and how the acceptance of "gay" sex leads to the eradication of friendship

    06/16/2012 12:09:12 PM PDT · 18 of 24
    Dunstan McShane to Oberon
    I just re-read Surprised by Joy a few months ago, and while I was doing so became re-acquainted with the fact that George MacDonald had been quite formative on Lewis as a 16-year-old.

    Get your hands on The Princess and Curdie by MacDonald. It's the sequel to The Princess and the Goblins by the same author, though I didn't enjoy Goblins half as much as I enjoyed Curdie. The latter is a work fairly ringing with warning (and, if one could dare say it, prophecy) relevant to our own age and current state of civilization, though I can't say whether MacDonald had any such conscious intentions of doing this (though he may well have done). Certain British authors of the late 19th and early 20th centuries (and this would include GK Chesterton) seemed to be at least vaguely aware that some sort of dreaded sea-change was taking place in western civilization, and that its Ruin was then well within sight on the horizon unless something were done.

    That aside, it's a good fantasy-adventure story on its own,

  • Attack in Great Smoky Mountains National Park 'rare,' official says

    06/09/2012 3:56:06 PM PDT · 19 of 25
    Dunstan McShane to gitmo
    I had my sons in a backpacking store a while back, and showed them a bear bell. They asked me what that was for. I explained that it is very dangerous to surprise a bear on the trail. The animal might feel threatened and attack. So you tie this bell to the bear so you’ll hear it and can avoid that area.

    They said, “Oh, that makes sense.”

    There's the mark of truly responsible parenting: providing an alternate reality against which the youngster will learn to judge, through his own experience, the true shape of Reality! (It might involve a consequent period of hospitalization, but no education comes without a price!)

    A friend of mine in California sent me a notice that local rangers were trying to educate the public about the differences between black bears and grizzlies, as well as how to distinguish the poop of each of the species of bear. Grizzly poop (he claimed they said, though I suspect a jocular lack of veracity) may be identified by the presence of exhausted cans of bear spray as well as bear bells.

    I once spoke to a Smokies ranger and asked what one really should do in case one was approached (or attacked) by a black bear, as I had read advice that ranged from "Hold your ground and the bear will likely turn aside" to "Lie still and pretend to be dead, as it is known that bears do not eat carrion," but I could not be sure that the bears had read those books that said this. The ranger replied that the best advice was to make yourself look as big as you could (by, perhaps, standing on a rock and spreading your arms wide) and to make as much noise as possible (I think my screaming and crying aloud to God would take care of that)--otherwise (I seem to remember her saying, but cannot be sure) to fight back with all you had--excellent advice, but not very encouraging in terms of probable outcome.

    Thank our blessed Lord, I have never been close enough to a bear in the wild to have to put any of these to the test--most have been across a field in Cades Cove, or up in a tree or off in a hollow to one side of US 441 (where "bear jams" take place once a bear has been sighted and traffic piles up as people rubberneck to see it) or safely dead and stuffed in that Sugarlands Visitors Center in the exhibit of Wildlife of the Smokies. Bears have also likely not seen Disney films in which bears are amiable buddies that can scat like Phil Harris.

  • Attack in Great Smoky Mountains National Park 'rare,' official says

    06/09/2012 11:35:35 AM PDT · 14 of 25
    Dunstan McShane to momincombatboots
    i have hiked that trail. Never alone though. No fun in exploring nature without someone to share it with.

    Depends on whether those you are exploring nature with are capable of shutting their mouths for more than two consecutive minutes. Constant, purposeless, inane, media-driven chatter and the Glories of Nature do not mix well.

    I have hiked this trail twice, once with company and the second time to escape from it. I encountered maybe one person along the trail, seated on one of the benches. I was less concerned with attacks from humans than with the big thunderstorm that was looming up behind me and echoing off the hills, and with the bears which had begun to frequent the area. Encountered no bears, and the rain didn't begin until I got off the trail (which, as you'll remember, emerges smack into a Gatlinburg parking lot with no preamble). Luckily, there was a pretty good barbecue place not too far along the River Road into which I could escape.

    In retrospect, I should probably have been more concerned about human aggression, which is more frequent than unprovoked bear attacks here. A black bear generally won't attack unless you've scared it, or have come too near its cubs, or just have something delicious which it feels it has every moral right to share, whereas humans seem to think along the lines of (a) "I want to hurt someone," and (b) "There you are!" I don't own a gun (no moral objections--just don't have a gun) and would frankly balk at the idea of having to carry one into the national park on the grounds of simple propriety ("One shouldn't have to do this!"), but this might be one of those cases where the moral high ground leads straight to the graveyard.

  • The HHS Mandate and Wily Providence

    06/08/2012 10:27:32 AM PDT · 3 of 6
    Dunstan McShane to In Maryland
    The author either doesn't know the definition of contraception (a method or means of preventing pregnancy) or he is unfamiliar with Humanae Vitae . . .

    What do you want it bet it's both? Or that he just doesn't care?

  • Did Veggie Tales...teach kids to behave Christianly without teaching them Christianity?

    05/29/2012 2:46:39 PM PDT · 50 of 86
    Dunstan McShane to Future Snake Eater
    No, I think it’s definitely a pretty heavy topic for something like Veggie Tales, and I don’t begrudge the creators for not approaching it.

    I’m merely taking issue with the idea that teaching Bible stories is equal to teaching Christianity. There are some pretty fine differences, but it’s still an important thing to do for kids, and Veggie Tales succeeds admirably.

    I agree completely. I regard the Veggie Tales as what some people have called a proto-evangelium--that is, a sort of introduction to or a precursor of the Gospel, providing a moral and conceptual context in which the Gospel, once presented, can make some sense, and within which one can make an appropriate response.

    The Veggie Tales provide the same sort of general service that Sunday schools and Bible Schools used to provide, before they became outlets for social engineering and political re-education--that is,they tell Bible Stories, which most kids enjoy hearing because they're often just cool stories--and learning some Biblical concepts of values like good and evil and and mercy and justice can't hurt--and can throw what Christ has to say about these things into sharper relief.

    I have no problem with what the Veggie Tales guys are trying to do, and applaud them for what I assume is their good sense in avoiding presenting Jesus directly in their shows, or cartoons, or whatever one might call them. There are some things that simply should not be attempted, and they seem to know this. I haven't seen this "Easter Carol" segment that some other poster has written about, and can only hope that they haven't crossed that line.

  • Did Veggie Tales...teach kids to behave Christianly without teaching them Christianity?

    05/29/2012 10:34:52 AM PDT · 43 of 86
    Dunstan McShane to Future Snake Eater
    Christianity is centered around the death and resurrection of Christ (as well as the purpose behind those events). To my knowledge, Veggie Tales has never approached that topic. They have related many other Bible stories, but not that one.

    Would you really want the Death and Resurrection of Christ to get the typical Veggie-Tales treatment?

    I assumed that the guys behind Veggie-Tales knew what they could and couldn't safely and reverently approach with the "talking & singing vegetables" shtick. My first real exposure to Veggie-Tales was through their Jonah movie a few years back, and I was agreeably surprised and actually a little impressed with how well they pulled it off--but under no conceivable circumstances could I imagine their dealing with the story of Christ without its being cringe-worthily irreverent and actually somewhat offensive--not that the creators of the Veggies would have intended it to be so; but there are just some stories that can't handle a bright-and-happy musical comedy treatment, among which that one is numero uno.

  • The Dumb Don't Know They're Dumb

    03/05/2012 6:38:54 AM PST · 29 of 29
    Dunstan McShane to lentulusgracchus
    Ignorance is a negative, it's the lack of knowledge, which approaches infinity in nearly all human subjects.

    No arguments here--given that we are finite creatures living in a universe that is, if not infinite, certainly transfinite (that is, finite but, like, real, real big!)the amount of what we not only don't but can't know is close enough to infinite as makes no practical difference!

    Stupidity is the straightforward lack of ability to think and reason and mentate. It is the thing that horses and dogs have, which flatworms lack from natural incapacity.

    The second sentence here is a little unclear to me; is the thing which horses and dogs have stupidity or the ability to reason and think and mentate? I have encountered horses and dogs that have at least a fundamental ability to solve problems, which suggests some element of reasoning in their mental make-up. If they have it but don't bother to use the abilities they have, this would make them, in my view, stupid. Flatworms, lacking these abilities, could not be called stupid any more than a snail could be blamed for not being able to gallop or hunt. Boethius (author of The Consolation of Philosophy, a rather short but very smart little book written in the sixth century AD) says that the signature quality of humans that makes us human (since nearly every physical ability we have is equaled or surpassed by other animals) is the ability to reason and make moral choices, and that we are human only insofar as we use this ability. Humans can be stupid in a way that other animals cannot be, and certainly cannot be blamed for being.

    In people, well, it's grounds for institutionalization or eleemosynary care by significant others.

    Agreed, particularly if there is a constitutional inability to think or behave in human ways such as Boethius outlines. But when a person has the ability but steadfastly or lazily refuses to use it because there is something he wants more than the truth, or just cannot be bothered to make the effort, then it is (as I see it) a sin, a morally blameworthy act. And if it is blameworthy, it is correctable by the person himself,

  • The Dumb Don't Know They're Dumb

    03/01/2012 4:35:35 PM PST · 12 of 29
    Dunstan McShane to MrEdd
    Stupidity is not a sin, the victim can’t help being stupid. But stupidity is the only universal capital crime: the sentence is death, there is no appeal, and execution is carried out automatically and without pity.

    Guess I'd disagree with Mr Heinlein on this point. Ignorance (in the sense of honestly lacking information) is not a sin, but stupidity is, since stupidity is ignorance which, through laziness, arrogance, fatal lack of imagination, hatred or any other attitude which prevents one from removing his head from his rectum, is willingly maintained for purposes other than conforming to what is true. Ignorant people can be filled with information, as a starving man can be filled with food; stupid people are like starving people who either reject the food given them or, consuming it, head directly for the vomitorium. Stupid people may suspect they are stupid, or they may well not know it, but even if they suspect they are, they will never admit it, as this will mean the complete reorganization of firmly-held opinions or fantasies or hatreds that are the foundations for their stupidity.

    And, unfortunately, in some professions (e.g., politics, acting, advertising) it can afford some success and a very nice living which can batten the barriers between their lives and reality, allowing them decades of damage. In fact, some professions provide stupidity with a broad, clear field to work in, and reward it handsomely, allowing the stupid to do years worth of damage to the real world before that supposedly inevitable verdict is issued by the universe.

    Or maybe not.

  • Archbishop of Canterbury: Let’s face it, Jesus would be part of the Occupy movement

    12/07/2011 8:06:29 AM PST · 23 of 43
    Dunstan McShane to SeekAndFind
    Ever get the feeling that Rowan Williams isn’t totally confident in his own belief system?

    Unfortunately, I suspect that Rowan Williams is perfectly and snugly comfortable in his own belief system--it just has no connection to Christian orthodoxy.

    For the modern relevancy-seeking, demythologizing deconstructionist, Jesus has had His significance erased, to become little more than a religious Rorschach blot into which (not "into Whom")one may read any significance necessary to justify the current media-driven frenzy into which Those Without Centers find themselves whipped, and which they mistake for a passion for the Kingdom of God--or, more precisely, hope that others will mistake for that passion.

    An earlier poster remarked that "the Anglicans have lost it;" but it's a much sadder and more damning truth that the Anglicans have not just lost it, but have been throwing it away with both hands for some time now--at least, many of the professional clergy have been doing so, and seem to think that believe means I am currently of the opinion that this ought to be true.

  • Why Monks?

    10/28/2011 5:34:58 PM PDT · 18 of 19
    Dunstan McShane to smvoice
    You need to get your mouth around a monastery fruitcake--absolutely no comparison to the congealed bricks that are usually advertised as fruitcakes. Monastery fruitcakes are . . . full of grace! And flavor (the good kind)! And they don't have that clay-like consistency that too often is a feature of the gas-station fruitcakes you find at the blessed tide of Christmas, but instead slice up nice and light!

    If that doesn't float your boat, try to get your hands on some Bourbon Chocolate Fudge from (I think) Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky. The bourbon gets poured on (I believe I read) during the cooling process, and does not lose its potency!

    And let's not forget that brandy was invented by monks! Apparently, asceticism sharpens the gustatory senses!

  • Despite The EU’s Demands on Human Rights, Turkey’s Persecution of Christians is Escalating

    07/28/2011 10:46:53 AM PDT · 8 of 9
    Dunstan McShane to muawiyah
    There is little doubt that the Turkish government’s anti-Christian policies have a good deal of popular support: this is, quite simply, an anti-Christian culture (and therefore incompatible, I would argue, with the European culture it claims to want to be part of).

    Think again. This may have been truer fifty to sixty years back. I get the feeling that contemporary European culture is willing to throw away its Christian heritage with both hands in the name of political expediency.

  • In Israel, rich and famous flock to wonder rabbi

    07/26/2011 3:46:06 PM PDT · 8 of 19
    Dunstan McShane to NYer
    rich and famous flock to wonder rabbi

    Boldfaced words may indicate what is often one of nature's warning signs.

  • Movie 1776

    07/04/2011 3:35:26 PM PDT · 15 of 75
    Dunstan McShane to traderrob6

    Finished watching it myself on TCM a little while ago. The music isn’t bad, but what moved me was the historical events it was representing and portraying. I was glad that someone had broadcast it today.

  • AP Exclusive: Woman claims miracle by WWII-era pope; backed by connected nun amid doubts

    07/04/2011 8:50:23 AM PDT · 12 of 12
    Dunstan McShane to will of the people
    Dear Dead Pope Peter:

    Papa Rock

    Dead Pope Pete

    You know, even if you don't accept the idea that Peter was the first of the "Popes," I'd think you might try to refer to the Apostle with a little less amused whimsy and a little more respect--he is, after all, a real person (just currently dead, not to remain so, if you believe Scripture)--I'd like to have you avoid socially awkward situations in the New Jerusalem, as this would not be the most auspicious way to begin Eternity--i.e., as a flippant wiseacre known for smarting off to his betters, believing he's safe in doing so because they can't hear him--and even if they can't, Someone Else can--specifically, the One Who named him "Kepha," the Rock. At least the level of courtesy and respect that you employ towards your own minister or even your teacher (assuming you provide these people with such courtesies) would be a refreshing change from the current tack.

    there are a few questions I have about the Coredemtrix The word you want is Coredemptrix. If you want to know more about the concept, you might want to check this thing called the Internet, specifically the online Catholic Encyclopedia, or even Wikipedia. The concept is based on the words of Mary, to wit: "And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word." That is, in agreeing to become the Mother of Christ (God Incarnate--hence her title among Catholics [and other Christians, as well], "The Mother of God"--not really that much of a stretch to figure out the reason for this one), she could be called "co-redeemer" in the sense that she willingly accepted becoming the mother of our Savior. But if I understand the concept properly, she is in no sense a Redeemer to the same degree as Christ, nor can anyone be but He alone.

    But I'm not going any farther into this--the information is out there if you're genuinely interested, and if you're only interested in pinching and running away with a merry giggle and laugh, I can't be bothered.

    A note that may possibly be of some help in your building anything like a possible future social network: jeering at other people's firmly-held beliefs does quite the opposite of winning them to your point of view or educating them--instead, it reveals your contempt for them and their beliefs, and so great a certainty in your own rightness and righteousness that you feel they are not deserving of respectful consideration.

    or six foot tall invisible rabbits named Harvey. Actually that last one seems unnecessarily specific.

    This is a reference to a 1950 fantasy film (named Harvey) starring James Stewart as Elwood Dowd, an eccentric fellow who believes that he has, as a friend, a six-foot-tall invisible rabbit. His family, doubtful of this proposition, has him shut up in an insane asylum, where it begins to be clear that Harvey is not quite as imaginary as others believe him to be. The theme of the movie (so far as it can be said to have one) is that you must not be hasty in judging a Reality that is unavailable to your senses unless you know, well, just a whole lot more than you probably already know. If you haven't seen it yet, you've got a real treat ahead of you--although it turns up from time to time on TCM, I'd get to Netflix or a Blockbusters and rent the thing, pop some corn, and prepare for fun.

    And my apologies if I have assumed a peremptory tone in this exchange. It is something I don't like in others, and am altogether too prone to myself, if I don't watch it. As Elwood says in Harvey (the quotation, though approximate, is fairly close), "My mother used to say to me, 'Elwood'--she called me 'Elwood'--'Elwood, in this life you must be oh-so-smart, or oh-so-nice.' Well, I've tried 'smart.' I prefer 'nice.'"

  • AP Exclusive: Woman claims miracle by WWII-era pope; backed by connected nun amid doubts

    07/03/2011 4:10:42 PM PDT · 10 of 12
    Dunstan McShane to will of the people
    So, if I understand correctly, you don’t need to invoke tooth fairies, Easter Bunnies, or six-foot-tall invisible rabbits named Harvey - you have dead popes.

    Well, I sure wouldn't invoke dead popes indiscriminately--you don't want some of those guys to know your name. Being a pope is no necessary guarantee of high personal character any more than being a president is any guarantee of his knowing his @nus from an excavation.

    My point was (a) we know there were popes, (b) we know they're dead, and (c) there is a long-standing tradition in the Church of asking prayers of the holy dead, just as you would ask your neighbor or friend to pray for you, as well as a number of stories of the efficacy of such prayers. This was tried when a woman asked for the intercession of Pope Pius. The prayer which Pius (supposedly) made to God was (apparently) granted. So there is no need to complicate the matter by introducing exotic explanations involving fanciful and pop-cultural para- or supernatural entities in whom no one seriously believes, or (for that matter) previously undetected etheric emanations from your Lionel electric train set (wish I still had mine!) to effect the cure, unless there is some a priori reason that you want or need to refuse the offered explanation--meaning, as I had written, that the burden of proof is upon the objector.

    So perhaps you didn't understand me correctly.

    Please pray that I can be healed from my tongue being planted firmly in my cheek.

    No need to pray for this cure when all that is needed to correct the problem is a pair of vise-grip pliers and a strong stomach! Or (less messily) a mind willing to entertain realities beyond those limited to your personal experience and the unreflective prejudices that we all pick up, like lint, throughout our lives and come to accept as bedrock verities.

  • Jesus Christ, Extraterrestrial? If life is found on other planets, does Christianity come unraveled?

    07/03/2011 10:00:38 AM PDT · 195 of 236
    Dunstan McShane to Artemis Webb
    It was “Man” that screwed himself over in The Garden of Eden. If there is life in outer space they no more need The Gospel than horses or birds do.

    On the other hand, you got: "at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth, and under the earth . . . " (Philippians 2.10) It might not matter whether the species is homo sapiens as much as whether it is rational, capable of perceiving the Good and able to choose otherwise and has become (in, I believe, Walker Percy's phrase) discontinuous with the Divine, and therefore will, as much as (if not more than ) Man need redemption--all of physical creation will be in need of redemption, which is held to have been accomplished in the death and resurrection of Christ.

    Just supposing, of course, and not attempting to establish an argument for extraterrestrial evangelization.

    But maybe those supposed flying saucers are full of religious pilgrims, coming to see the planet where God was born, suffered, died and was resurrected as a finite being like themselves (and us), as told to them by their prophets.

  • Dealing With The Dark Side: Exorcism's Link to Faith Decline

    07/03/2011 8:48:05 AM PDT · 9 of 9
    Dunstan McShane to clearcarbon
    An exorcism professional would never have to beg for work in Washington.

    It might take a platoon of them to overcome the diabolical resistance to their getting into the city in the first place!

  • AP Exclusive: Woman claims miracle by WWII-era pope; backed by connected nun amid doubts

    07/03/2011 7:09:47 AM PDT · 8 of 12
    Dunstan McShane to RVN Airplane Driver
    I think she was cured by the “tooth fairy”...who can prove me wrong? Not pontificate....real proof..

    Article XVII.a of the "Document Prohibiting Intervention of Subtheistic Entities Upon the Entreaty of Prayers of Omnipotence (whether by Self or Agents)" clearly restricts areas of operations by such entities as fairies or bunnies (Nymphae Dentis or Cuniculi Paschae) to the areas for which they are popularly or traditionally recognized, and in which operations are achieved through their own abilities, and not through direct Divine intervention (as opposed to the regular operations of Divine Providential Augmentation as supports all operations in Nature), that their actions may not exhibit qualities which would cause them to be attributed to the proper operations as limited to God Himself (e.g., revivification, healing, creation ex nihilo), causing a fatal misapprehension and a confusion between the Creator and the creature.

    The document does not, of course, forbid intervention of subtheistic supernaturals in areas of healing or otherwise miraculous events (which power they do not have anyway and cannot exhibit unless God, by direct fiat, grants it through them as His agents), but rather forbids finite intelligences (human or otherwise) from attributing such actions to superhuman (but subDivine) creatures themselves which are in fact the proper operations of the Omnipotence.

    There is, of course, as far as I know, no such document as described above (it's entirely possible that St. Thomas Aquinas may have addressed a similar matter in his immense Summa, which I hope to finish reading before I die, as afterwards I shall undoubtedly be otherwise occupied), but: Issue a silly and frivolous challenge, get a silly, frivolous and verbose reply.

    I myself would side with the above poster who noted that Pius (a real person whose existence is undoubted) was approached for prayers to God for His intervention, and that such intervention was apparently achieved, with the simplest explanation being that the prayers of Pius "worked," with no need to invoke tooth fairies, Easter Bunnies, or six-foot-tall invisible rabbits named Harvey (Santa Claus, AKA St. Nicholas of Myra, is another matter, he being recognized as a legitimate saint, whose prayers to God may be considered as efficacious).

    One might, of course, attribute all this to "coincidence," a word which actually explains nothing but simply gainsays other explanations inconvenient to the arguer--but, as a chain of entreaty has been offered, and the thing asked for granted, the burden of proof to the contrary rests, I believe, with you.

    I could, of course, be wrong. It has been a long time since I studied formal logic.

  • Let's hear it for prejudice

    07/01/2011 8:07:55 AM PDT · 13 of 15
    Dunstan McShane to cumbo78
    Why do we, who oppose Gay marriage, have to be tolerant of this practice, but those who support it, don’t have to have any understanding of why we oppose it?

    Because they can yell louder.

  • Choking and Pleading for Water as He Dies... This Has Been a Happy Event

    06/12/2011 8:50:14 AM PDT · 52 of 97
    Dunstan McShane to blueunicorn6
    Well thought out and well written.

    Thank you very kindly!

  • Choking and Pleading for Water as He Dies... This Has Been a Happy Event

    06/12/2011 8:48:48 AM PDT · 51 of 97
    Dunstan McShane to Ghost of Philip Marlowe
    You’ve stated my case in very good detail.

    You had already stated your case clearly. I just belabored the dickens out of it--but thanks for your kind words!

    I replied with a far more abbreviated explanation to another comment in my post 44 before I read yours. Had I read yours, I would have simply pointed the other freeper to your reply.

    Well, if I had read 44, I could have saved myself a lot of time! (Not, I suppose, that I would have done anything more useful with it!)

  • Choking and Pleading for Water as He Dies... This Has Been a Happy Event

    06/12/2011 7:54:08 AM PDT · 42 of 97
    Dunstan McShane to Ghost of Philip Marlowe
    I know there have been some horrid ages in the history of humanity.

    But I can’t help but wonder if this is the absolute most death-glorifying culture and immoral of all the ages.

    You may be onto something.

    There have been other, older, more overtly violent cultures--the Romans, for whom the most grisly executions and disembowellings were set up as crowd-pleasing public attractions--and certain other cultures for which war in itself, not so much for whatever supposed good was to be achieved by it, was the end.

    But the "attraction" of death (so to speak)came precisely from its being horrific and (in a sense) a novelty. It was outrageous and bloody and disgusting, of course--but that was why people went to see it, for the same reason that any fifth-rate movie studio can be sure of at least a meager income by releasing a slasher or splatter film to draw in the sorts of people who are amused by the artificial massacre of teenaged fornicators and jerks ("Hah! They deserved it! So that makes my enjoyment of it okay! I am justified in my contempt of them and their spurious values! Punish 'em some more!"--and so forth). This is (to put it mildly) both aesthetically and ethically repugnant--but it derives its visceral appeal from the fact that we do indeed find the things we see horrific. This is not exactly an appeal to the noblest elements of human nature, but it has its roots in the natural repugnance we have for violence, blood-letting and death. It is an abuse of a healthier element of human psychology.

    But the kind of thing presented in the above-mentioned film is a new, and more contemptible, variety of horror. It is, in a sense, an execution upon a public altar, a sacrifice performed to a sociological doctrine, the obvious horror washed away by the morally-deficient prat who has to try to convince us that this is a "beautiful" thing--and to no effect, as anybody with a healthy set of human emotional reactions can see for himself that what he has just witnessed is essentially the state-sponsored suicide of a man whose choice has earned him agony, excused by the idea that the man chose it himself, "choice" now having become the all-excusing and validating (and sanctifying) principle of any and all actions (so long as they are state-approved and validated, and can save a few bucks in its health-"care" system--you know, "the triumph of the will."

    What was (from the point of view of Hell) wrong with the Nazis was the fact that they were so over-the-top obviously evil--all that lock-step goose-step jack-bootery, and the evil-looking uniforms, and the death-processing centers, and the world-domination rhetoric worthy of a comic-book villain: any quasi-enlightened nation with even a vague memory of Judaeo-Christian (or, shoot, even the nobler elements of pagan) virtue would recognize it for what it was: it looked and smelled evil, and of course had to be resisted and destroyed.

    The real triumph of Hell will come when it can convince its victims that the deaths and indignities and personal violations it has planned for them are actually their "rights," and watch with delight as their victims march proudly to the gas-chambers and the scaffolds and firing squads set up for them, having been taught to choose these horrors for themselves, and to become willing participants in their own slaughter, which is the final indignity, the cherry on top of the repugnant dessert that Hell will consume happily, the little aftertaste of a despair that came too late which adds to the tang of the dish--though they will, of course, have a maitre d', snappily dressed in the deepest black, and with only the barest suggestion of horns under the hair, standing nearby to tell the dessert, as if goes down the gullet, what a happy dining experience it has provided for its consumers.

  • Margaret Thatcher to Sarah Palin: don't bother dropping by

    06/07/2011 9:28:50 AM PDT · 62 of 81
    Dunstan McShane to Texas Eagle
    It seems that Sarah isn't universally admired in the UK.Is anybody?

    Whoever is trying to destroy them, eviscerate them, and undermine their national and historical identity has their eager and fawning admiration.

    It shows that they are tolerant and gladly accept their oppressors, because they believe that this displays their lack of Judgment--as, of course, it does, though perhaps not in the way that they mean it.

    For the Press your god is a jealous god, and the best way to appease him is to abandon your history and heritage and traditions and freedoms--and of course, your religion, that oppressive engine which claims that certain things are unalterably true and not up for popular vote, and may not be abandoned or compromised for the sake of appeasement of either your enemies or the Press (but I am being redundant), so that you may you leave to your children and theirs a heritage that has been ravaged and laid waste, stripped of any values that your oppressors do not find convenient for your manipulation or which may be used to shame you if you don't stand patiently in line for the gruel doled out to you.

    Hard to believe that this is the same England who kept the Monster Hitler at arm's length, took the worst he could hammer them with and kept (for the most part) its spirit strong and its spine straight.

  • Ernie Pyle from Normandy D-Day June 6th 1944

    06/06/2011 9:52:09 AM PDT · 23 of 36
    Dunstan McShane to WKUHilltopper
    When Journalists were Journalists.

    When Journalists were still human.

  • G. K. Chesterton: "Who is this guy and why haven’t I heard of him?"

    05/30/2011 5:07:52 PM PDT · 80 of 95
    Dunstan McShane to Redbob
    Better yet: What are the five (or ten) best writings of Chesterton, the ones most likely to lead one to seek out still more?

    I'd suggest Orthodoxy as the first to get to, and the one most likely to take you all through the rest.

    Orthodoxy is a good introduction (I think) to the way GKC thinks,an amazing (one is tempted to say "universal") assemblage of various common-sense experiences and desires of all right-thinking humans, founding its observations not so much (at first) on theology or philosophy as on fairy tales, finding in them universal (and very practical and admirable) desires for the Good, the Just and the Heroic, which almost all of us feel as children, before the various ideologies we are made subject to throughout the process cruelly called our "education" weasels and shames them out of us, and we are set adrift in a dark world where we are cut off from not only the wisdom of our faith, but that of our ancestors and even our own experiences, and schooled to believe things that do good neither to us nor to our masters (though they will tell us, often enough, that it is all for our own good). Orthodoxy is the declaration of independence for the mind that would be free to perceive reality.

    That book gives you a general overview of the terrain of Planet Chesterton. If you want to get into sorts of adventures available there, I'd suggest either Manalive or (my personal recommendation) The Man Who Was Thursday. The former might (inaccurately, but what are you gonna do?) be described as a kind of social farce or (better, if used in the Aristotelian or Dantean sense) a comedy, but Thursday is a free-wheeling, extravagant and bizarre chase that is partly an espionage and detective thriller, and partly an absurdist-seeming farce (though it has nothing at all to do with absurdism--in fact, quite the opposite: it has everything to do with Sense!) And don't wait for the movie version because (please God) there will never be one. At the heart of the book is an Outlook and Attitude (I'm not completely sure that it can be called a "philosophy," though what there is of one may be found, if anywhere, in Orthodoxy) that would give most film-makers hives--and there is no director smart enough to make the movie, or even to understand the book without changing his life and career entirely--though, oddly, Orson Welles adapted it for his radio series The Mercury Theatre On The Air, the episode being available commercially and also (I believe) through legal and free download from various sites on the web (I bought mine on audiocassette before I realized this)--and I have to say it's not bad, though largely because, like the book, it's mostly a verbal experience. I have no idea how it would work as a film, unless it were a critically-opaque mixture of genres, up to and including animation, to make it work.

    Once you've got through these two works, you are free to the Chestertonian universe--though probably never completely stable on your feet: Chestertonia is earthquake country, and even the most seasoned traveler there is likely to be knocked off his feet from time to time, or have the country suddenly whip around under his feet and to find himself facing in an unexpected direction. It will be outlandish and challenging.

    And best of all, it will be Home--the place where you were always meant to live--not the drab, shallow, meaningless and truly absurd and wholly artificial low-level theme park that our so-called thinkers and social-engineering types have spent their lives (and yours) convincing you that you ought to be content with. It is the world humans were meant for.

    Get there as fast as your legs will carry you.

  • Rapture Prophet Harold Camping's 'Really Tough Weekend' (VIDEO: The man finally emerges and speaks)

    05/23/2011 12:11:56 PM PDT · 66 of 115
    Dunstan McShane to SeekAndFind
    RE: how did this become such a media hype?

    Same way the Koran Burning church became a huge media hype.

    In other words:

    1. Slow day for hard news (or at least, news that does not require effort, knowledge and research to present).

    2. Need to generate an excuse to keep the fearful tuning in to the news and updates (as if seeing the sky roll back as a scroll wouldn't be a big enough hint).

    3. Any chance to jeer and scoff at Christians must be exploited!

  • Voices of pros and cons over "the end of the world is May 21"

    05/19/2011 8:22:02 AM PDT · 38 of 39
    Dunstan McShane to pleaseloveme
    Voices of pros and cons over "the end of the world is May 21"


    (1) Won't have to go through another election year.

    (2)No more income tax, ever and forever, Amen!

    (3)Assuming one is saved, eternal and blessed life in the Presence of God; new heavens, new earth; dead friends and relatives back again! (And maybe even my old dog, Smokey!)


    (1) The whole "if one is NOT saved" thing--which pretty much takes up the entirety of the list.

  • Do space aliens have souls? Inquiring minds can check Jesuit's book

    05/19/2011 8:06:25 AM PDT · 84 of 84
    Dunstan McShane to Ransomed
    That is just a great post, thank you for the effort.

    Not much effort involved, sir--I blather my opinions incessantly at the drop of the proverbial (or literal) hat!

    One of the things he pointed out was that the taste makers usually dug things like the Odyssey, but anything modern dasn’t contain fantastic elements lest it be considered garbage.

    .The Odyssey comes pre-approved, and is one of the world's certificate-bearing classics, so it's safe (in fact, obligatory) to praise it. It's the same for HG Wells and Jules Verne--they're school-approved must-read (literally: you must read them!) classics. As for the newer stuff, a lot of it hasn't been around long enough for enough of the Right People to consume them and excrete the orthodox opinion which will be assimilated unthinkingly by the goose-stepping grunts and promulgated as doctrine.

    Anyhow I never come across folks who are jumping up and down to want to tell me all about this new novel concerning mundane folks self-loathing in their mundane world.

    There is no joy in Mudville, which is where most of these self-orbiting scroonts stumble somnambulistically through what they like to imagine as their lives. There will be no joy in Mudville, if they have anything to do with it! I mentioned that, a couple or so years ago, British readers chose The Lord of the Rings as the novel of the twentieth century--encouraging to me, as if suggests that the British have not yet (and fatally) lost touch with Reality.

    But the taste-makers and somber critics of Mudville would not have this! There wasn't much they could actually do about it, as the choice had been made, and stood--but they could lecture and complain about the choice. Apparently, the greatest weakness of the book was that so many people loved it! And in Mudville, the innate quality of a book is in inverse proportion to the number of people who like it--'cause, see, people (according to the Mudvillians) are mostly stupid cattle, and whatever lots of people like is automatically bad! They have not been given the gnosis--their tastes have not been made, but simply allowed to grow, as natural things will do until you take the hoe to 'em.

    Other "more deserving" novels were suggested to the benighted British reading masses, and included the list of the usual suspects: James Joyce, Virginia Wolfe, Hemingway, et al., ad infinitum--anyone but the one they had chosen and loved. I suspect the taste-makers' reaction were based not so much on literary quality as on the same reason that the Chinese government has recently banned (yes, banned!) time-travel fiction on Chinese TV--because you shall not, even in your imagination, prefer a China different from or (how dare one even think it?) perhaps better than the one in which you are currently and gloriously living? There shall be no escape! There shall not be even the dreams of escape!

    Well, like I said: blather on endlessly.

    I hope you like Pabst Blue Ribbon, selected as America’s Best in 1893.

    As a matter of fact, I am partial to Pabst Blue Ribbon, but haven't had a bottle in years! You've given me an idea . . .

  • Do space aliens have souls? Inquiring minds can check Jesuit's book

    05/18/2011 8:51:26 AM PDT · 82 of 84
    Dunstan McShane to Ransomed
    Vance didn’t write the Humanoids, as far as I can tell that was Jack Williamson.Well, it was a "Jack," anyway, so I was halfway there--and shoot, it was forty-five years ago! Some slack shalt thou cut me, I pray thee!

    I can’t stand supposed “modern literature”, or at least stories about mundane people being miserable in ordinary surroundings. I just read whatever trips my trigger, usually sci-fi or speculative fiction/fantasy.

    "Modern literature" is, technically, whatever gets written in the modern world, which includes Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings," accounted by British readers as "The Novel of the Century"--and rightly so, as I will explain at length and at the drop of a hat to anyone I can force to sit and listen to me--also, Gene Wolfe, Louis L'Amour, Isaac Asimov, C. S. Lewis, John Updike, Jack London, and even Garrison Keillor. What you are calling "Modern literature" (modern people who are miserable in their modern surroundings and reveling oh-so-miserably in their modernity--those who scoff and jeer and look askance at those bucolic dunces who haven't yet understood the hidden gnosis that drives them and enlightens them to Darkness--what we might call “the literature of misery“ or, for short, “mizlit“) is as surely a genre as any detective story, Harlequin romance, western, crime novel or bug-eyed science fiction adventure--that is, it is a distillation of human experiences, perceptions and interests into a particular little cocktail that floats the boat of the particular collective who embrace it--and it is nothing more. It is no more an indication of the true shape of reality or the true nature of modern life than a Zane Gray novel is: it is just the particular taste of a particular group of people who have decreed themselves the "taste-makers" of what we have decided to call "the modern world"--the academics, and the sorts of people who really believe that getting published in The New Yorker is the apotheosis of the writer and the validation of one's life as a human, making one one of the Chosen Jeerers.

    I think it was JRR Tolkien (or maybe it was his pal, CS Lewis) who responded to the charges of writing “escapist literature” by saying that there is nothing at all wrong with dreaming of escape if one is in prison, which is an apt description of the experience of living in the modern world, or reading what is taken by some to be its representative literature. SF (the “S” can stand either for “Science” or “Speculative”) and fantasy writers are engineering a jailbreak: they want, not unnaturally, to get the hell out of here! And who (besides the mizlit crowd, who have pre-emptively decreed that there is nowhere else to escape to) would disagree? It is a world of Fact without Meaning, of Desire without Hope, of Life without Joy-- the sort of place whose denizens congratulate themselves on their wisdom of realizing that they are imprisoned without Hope--because, without Hope, there is no reason to make the effort to escape; the fundamentally-disillusioned cannot, after all, ever be disappointed, because there was never anything to hope for anyway.

    The impulse towards fantasy and science fiction literature has, I believe, its grounding in what is inadequately called the “religious” impulse. It is the desire for the world as our more "ancient" (i.e., less delusional and more aware of the realities around them, and less sheltered by merely intellectual constructs that tend to disenchant reality so as to geld it and make it more malleable to our immediate plans for it) forbears experienced it: a world of awe and wonder and unimaginable danger, a world of infinite (or at least, really, really big) possibility, a world where Something or Someone far greater than oneself was waiting for you, a world full of freedoms and powers and astonishments undreamt of--in other words, we want miracles, which are not just wonders, but signs from the bigger world beyond--signposts, in fact, pointing THIS WAY OUT. Where SF too often fails (or rather, its practitioners fail) is that they wind up constructing immense Disneylands where everything is an E-ticket (and there is no Small World pavilion), and where you can have a great time while you're there--but it's really just this world rearranged, and with some new, cool gadgets that capture the attention--"and," as a friend of mine remarked, "eventually, you know, you have to go home."

    The best SF (like the best movies, plays, concerts, art exhibits, or anything) goes home with you. It actually shifts your vision and your understanding, at least on an intuitive level if not a cognitive one. You see the world differently; sometimes you see beyond the world (and I don't mean just the planet)--maybe to possibilities that you don't believe are true, but which may be possible--and even entertaining the possibility can be vision-shifting, maybe even a little disturbing, but the disturbance usually helps you to clarify your own vision. It can provide you (at least imaginatively) with experiences it isn't possible for you to have. It broadens you in a way that a mizlit addict can't be broadened, because his literature is a celebration of right where he is, and is based on the firm belief that there's no need to go anywhere else because nowhere else is really any different--it's just more of the same, but a different color.

    Way past time to shut up. Your serve.

  • Do space aliens have souls? Inquiring minds can check Jesuit's book

    05/17/2011 2:50:28 PM PDT · 79 of 84
    Dunstan McShane to Mrs. Don-o
    So I am gladly corrected!

    I am rarely gladly corrected, so you have the advantage of me!

  • Do space aliens have souls? Inquiring minds can check Jesuit's book

    05/17/2011 12:32:43 PM PDT · 76 of 84
    Dunstan McShane to Ransomed
    I am ashamed to say that I have never read Canticle despite hearing good things about it all my life and being a sci-fi/speculative fiction fan. I will go to the library and check it out.

    NPR Theater (or whatever it was called back then) did a multi-part radio-play adaptation of Canticle some time back in the late seventies or early eighties--and it wasn't at all bad, as I recall! It used to be available on a CD set, but I believe it is available somewhere online in a streamed or (marginally legal) downloadable mp3 format, if I am not mistaken. It would take probably as much time to listen to the thing as to read the book, but at least you'd have your hands free for work.

    Didn't Jack Vance write The Humanoids? I read that (at a friend's recommendation) way back in what used to be called "junior high school" in the sixties--and it had the salutary effect of putting me forever on my guard against people aggressively "doing me good" by their lights, and completely contrary to mine, and my values. I have no memory of what Vance was up to, but that's what I took away from the book.

    I just don't read much science fiction--or rather, I cycle through my comparatively small collection of favorites, over and over again, when I get the SF bug. I'm partial to Alfred Bester's The Stars My Destination and The Demolished Man, and though I'm not a big Greg Bear fan, I do enjoy The Forge of God with its increasingly chilling end-of-the-world vibe--and Niven & Pournelle's space-opera potboilers. I used to like Asimov, Clarke and Bradbury when I was a kid, but they generally give me hives now.

    What I'm looking for from fiction is a certain kind of experience. Sometimes science fiction provides it; most of the time, it doesn't. If I could quantify what I'm looking for, I could save myself a lot of time--but then I'd probably never have the joy of finding things that are better than what I was looking for!

  • Do space aliens have souls? Inquiring minds can check Jesuit's book

    05/17/2011 10:55:48 AM PDT · 75 of 84
    Dunstan McShane to Mrs. Don-o
    Ah! In this, if not in all, you resemble our Jesus Christ Our Lord.

    "Not at all" would be better put, except that I have a hairy face, as He is believed to have had, and as His only known photograph appears to indicate. I'll take whatever I can get.

    Some say he was a carpenter like his daddy; but I maintain, on the basis of his parables, that he was a farm boy; or at least a town boy who used to read farm magazines.

    I would very much like to see what farm magazines were available in first-century Judea!

    I go with the "Jesus the carpenter" tradition, largely because it is tradition, which should in no way be disregarded (cf Chesterton's "Tradition is the democracy of the dead," meaning that everyone gets to vote--not just those who arrogantly happen to be alive at the moment), and also because it was usually the case that sons, particularly first sons (as the world would have understood Him to be) to follow the perceived dad‘s trade; farm boy or not, I think He would have had to have been particularly unobservant, living in rural Galilee, not to have been aware of farmers and their lives and professions, and employed such imagery in parables as would immediately have been understood by a large percentage of His audience, whether they were themselves farmers or not.

    I am hoping that if there are intelligent space aliens, they have figured out ways to do horticulture without overly involving major muscle groups. They could give me some tips.

    Assuming the little grey buggers are out there, there are a number of human enterprises I would like them to keep their spidery little hands off of, which super-advanced technology could not help but ruin, gardening among them (also, music, carpentry, camping, art, story-telling--stuff like that, which I would call the Incarnational Arts). Aliens--keep away! You just don't get it, and you never will! (Of course, they might have some ergonomic suggestions with regard to use of muscles that could come in handy, assuming--and it‘s a big assumption--that their muscle groups aren‘t wholly unlike ours.)

    I tried having 2 boys, but that doesn't help, or only intermittently . . . No, don't say "small internal combustion engines." I won't have that!

    Yeah, but isn't that the very definition of "two boys"--”small internal combustion engines“? My brother and I would certainly have qualified! We could be induced to do yard and limited horticultural work with the right sorts of incentives (restored allowance privileges, absence of tanned bottoms) which are probably not de rigueur nowadays, but which (I can guarantee) worked wonders in the restoration of the enthusiasm for labor! Surely aliens capable of crossing vast interstellar distances would have developed something like the Spankatron 3000 or its analog by now! Or an exoskeletal electromasseur which could apply restorative muscular therapy as you worked to prevent knotting and cramping of muscles!

    You know, I like the latter idea well enough so that if I actually knew anything, I might look into developing it--except that I am virtually certain that the technology would likely be abused in some imaginative way.

  • Do space aliens have souls? Inquiring minds can check Jesuit's book

    05/17/2011 7:47:59 AM PDT · 70 of 84
    Dunstan McShane to Ransomed
    Do yourself a favour, check out Gene Wolfe again. I would say the most obviously Christian oriented series is the “book of the long sun”, which describes the adventures of a far, far future priest in a huge generational star ship. It’s just fantastic.

    I will indeed give him another try, and thanks for the suggestion!

    As far as future priests (and monks) go, though, it's hard to imagine anything beating A Canticle for Leibowitz, which I avoided for years largely because a snottily-worded blurb on the cover made it sound as if it was going to be a completely different sort of story than it turned out to be.

    Even Miller himself couldn't even equal it--the long-awaited (and practically despaired-for) sequel, Saint Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman, disappointed me so badly that as soon as I had finished it, I took it to a second-hand bookstore and sold it, suggesting that they put a warning sticker on the dust jacket: Not to be read by anyone who has enjoyed A CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ!

    They didn't do that, of course, not wishing to discourage its sale, but I think it would have been a simple act of courtesy, not to mention of charity.

    Canticle, however, is an annual treat, usually saved for the end of summer, when it's fittingly hot (helps in sympathizing with the desert ambience of most of the story).

    The problem with putting priests is science fiction is that, unless the writer either already knows what a priest does or at least has some sympathy for his work, this is going to involve more research than he might want to do on this subject--and might, in fact, reveal a figure which is directly contrary to his intentions for his use in the book. So he cobbles together a "priest-figure" based on popular representation in popular fiction or news media (if, in fact, there is a difference), puts a cassock and Roman collar on it, calls it a priest, and turns it loose to do whatever the clockwork of the novel requires him to do, which is usually to serve as the voice of unreflective reaction, providing warnings against "blasphemy" or "venturing into areas reserved to God," or bull-headedly (and intolerantly) trying to catechise the Belknarpfians of Llatitard-4 despite the Prime Directive's most hallowed dictum: that any species you encounter is to be regarded as a museum or zoo exhibit, isolate and untouchable, and not as actual people with whom you are to have normal interculture exchange, or whose lives you are even expected to save--for if you had not come along, the disaster which is going to wipe them out would certainly have happened anyway--and one must not go against the blind forces of Fate and Nature. Or something like that.

    But I digress.

  • Do space aliens have souls? Inquiring minds can check Jesuit's book

    05/16/2011 3:58:38 PM PDT · 65 of 84
    Dunstan McShane to Mrs. Don-o
    I’m in Johnson City. Watching my garden revel drunkenly in the rain!

    I'm just down the road from you in Knoxville (well, not "just" down the road, but down the road, anyway).

    I have frequently wished that I had a garden, and have read a number of books on gardening, before I finally figured out that what I really like is reading books on gardening more than the actual work.

    Wouldn't mind getting some of that rain you're getting as long as it could come without the golf-ball-sized hail we got a couple or so weeks back, which knocked out phone and power and punched a hole in my porch roof, and set off car alarms all over the neighborhood. Enjoyably dramatic while it was going on, though.